Dealer’s Diary

Why Steven Ward isn’t fond of sale-or-re­turn ve­hi­cles.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

Some deal­ers ex­clu­sively use sale-or­re­turn ve­hi­cles for stock. Others won’t touch them at all. The vast ma­jor­ity use SOR to some ex­tent. SOR saves a dealer us­ing cap­i­tal to pur­chase a car for stock – maybe that model is a bit heavy for the dealer’s tar­get mar­ket? Mainly, how­ever, an SOR car is too ex­pen­sive for the dealer to buy out­right from the owner.

I usu­ally make a firm agree­ment on the sell­ing price of a car be­fore re­luc­tantly tak­ing it as SOR, but even this back­fired on me re­cently. I called the owner to say I’d sold their car and they’d be get­ting the agreed price. They went bal­lis­tic, want­ing more as they’d seen what I’d ad­ver­tised it for. Audi own­ers, eh?

The cus­tomer, of course, doesn’t ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that you’ve had to prep the car both me­chan­i­cally and cos­met­i­cally prior to putting it on sale. Nor will they fac­tor in the cost of ad­ver­tis­ing it on­line or, in my case, the cost of tak­ing up room in my show­room – that space comes at a premium – and the trade in­sur­ance. Then there’s the work in­volved in sell­ing it to a cus­tomer, the price of the part-ex you’ve just taken in against it or the fact that you’re li­able for the war­ranty for the next six months. These are all risks to my busi­ness.

For these rea­sons, not to men­tion the fact that you can agree on a price only for the book to drop, I’m now ut­terly loath to take in SOR cars.

The savvy, usu­ally high-end, deal­ers over­come these is­sues by charg­ing pun­ters be­tween £500-£1000 for the priv­i­lege of plac­ing a ve­hi­cle up for re­tail. This is paid up front, be­fore the car is even handed over. To me, this is the only way SOR makes sense. It cov­ers you for the time and costs in­volved, par­tic­u­larly if the owner then turns around and tells you they’ve sold it to a mate af­ter you’ve made it mint.

If they won’t agree to that, the owner knows where they can go: on­line.

‘I’m now ut­terly loath to take in sale-or-re­turn cars’

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