The Fleet Manager Car Dealer Scam

The Fleet Manager car dealer scam is a common tactic used by dealerships.

The fleet manager car dealer scam is relatively common in modern dealerships with no in-house fleet department.

If you called one of my dealerships, or many like it, ask for the fleet manager. You would be directed straight to one of the sales managers only acting as a fleet manager.

What is a Dealership Fleet Manager?

There are a few dealerships that still have a full-time fleet department. The fleet department of a dealership may consist of only a single fleet manager or may also include a couple of salespeople, depending on the volume of vehicles sold.

Some car dealers have combined their fleet and Internet departments. These departments deal with high volume, low-profit sales with highly educated car buyers.

These salespeople are in charge of selling cars and trucks in bulk to businesses, rental agencies, construction companies, utility companies, etc. When selling vehicles to these types of companies, the fleet managers have the power to discount and sell cars at rock bottom, discounted prices.

A huge misconception about fleet managers is they’re all on a salary; therefore, making money when they sell a car is not essential to them. This is NOT TRUE! Some are salaried employees, but some get a percentage of the car dealer holdback they don’t discount to the customer.

There are also several dealerships; their fleet manager is just another commission-based salesperson. You never know whom you are going to deal with.

Many individuals and websites claim they know the secret “two words” that make car dealers squirm when you say them. And they’ll tell you the super-secret to getting a great deal on a new car if you buy their book, pamphlet, or digital download for $29.95.

Here are the two words:

( Please make your check payable to Insider at Auto Cheat Sheet. )

These so-called experts tell you to call or go to a dealer and ask to speak with the fleet manager, and you’re guaranteed a great deal. I’m sorry, folks, but this is false. First, not all dealerships have a fleet manager or a fleet department. Second, they will treat you like any other uneducated customer off the street.

The Truth About Fleet Manager Books Online

I’ve seen some books on the web sell for as much as $99. These books claim to have the secret ingredient to buying a car. The sad thing is that people pay for this information every day. Even when they can get more information from websites like this one for free, it comes from a car business professional.

Asking for a “FLEET Manager” could get you a good deal when buying a vehicle from a car dealership. The hard part is finding a dealership with a fleet department and allowing you, as an individual, to meet with them.

More car buyers are using the Internet to comparison shop for cars. Most dealerships have phased out their fleet departments completely.

Some have combined them with their Internet departments. Calling local dealerships in your area to find a fleet manager may open you up to becoming a victim of the fleet manager scam.

If you don’t know what FLEET stands for in the car business, let me share it with you:

Full List Each and Every Time!

Instead of wasting time hunting down a dealership with a fleet department, protect yourself and avoid this scam by using online companies such as Ryde Shopper, Motor Trend, and Cars Direct to receive free new car quotes, and don’t rely on a “fleet manager.” You can use the quotes you receive to compare with what the fleet manager quotes you also.

Read more details on getting car dealers to bid for your business online.

How the Fleet Manager Scam Works

Buying a car through the dealership’s fleet manager sounds like a good deal. The problem is finding a car dealership with a fleet department with one of these individuals.

Car dealers with no fleet department like my own do not want to miss out on these sales opportunities. We have a plan when someone calls or emails inquiring about a fleet manager. These inquiries are typically forwarded to the new car manager; he will then “pose” as the fleet manager. We even had extra business cards printed with the fleet manager title for such an occasion.

The fleet manager scam works like this; you call a car dealership and ask to speak to the fleet manager. The receptionist notifies the new car manager there’s a phone call with a customer wanting to talk with the “fleet manager.” The sales manager picks up the phone “posing” as the fleet manager and sets an appointment with you.

You arrive at the dealership and ask for him by name; he then takes you to an office to negotiate a deal on the car you want to buy. The sales manager will discount the car, but did you get the lowest price? Who knows? Remember what FLEET means in the car dealership world: Full List Each and Every Time!

I promise you he will attempt to hold some profit on the car deal. This is where your free price quotes will come in handy. Do not offer them upfront; wait to hear what his best price is before referring to your quotes.

How to Avoid the Fleet Manager Car Buying Scam

  • Take advantage of competitive pricing by using recommended free online car buying tools to ensure a fleet manager is quoting you a fair price.
  • Don’t worry about seeking out a fleet manager at a car dealership. He’s not going to do any better than what you can do on your own, and you won’t end up in the middle of a fleet manager scam.
  • Figure how much a dealer paid for a new car from the manufacturer to determine the profit they’re attempting to make from your transaction.
  • Doing your research and negotiations online through a dealer’s internet department will benefit you more with better discounts and greater rewards when buying your next new car.
  • Take advantage of free car price quote sites to research and compare vehicles of interest to you.
  • Continually research new vehicles online before visiting a dealership to get a good idea of what the car sells for in your local area.

Benefits of Buying a Car From a Fleet Manager

There are some benefits to buying just a single car from the fleet department, and you may still get the same benefits that come with buying cars in bulk. This is what many books for sale on the Internet base their information on.

In my personal opinion, you should still do your research to make sure you’re getting a good deal, even if you buy from a fleet manager.

Benefits of buying a car from the fleet manager:

  • No hassles or haggling with the retail sales department. Not dealing with front-line car salespeople saves you time and stress from back and forth negotiating.
  • When dealing with a fleet manager, you’re generally able to deal with only him during the entire process of buying a car. This saves you time and money from worrying about those “I have to check with my manager” episodes.
  • The fleet manager deals in higher volume and sometimes can offer you a better price.
  • Fleet managers are professional salespeople and more knowledgeable about the product they’re selling. They are also more willing to locate a vehicle in a different color or with other options from a competing dealer for you.
  • The fleet department of a car dealership has less overhead than the retail sales side. They often benefit from special manufacturer incentives and kickbacks exclusive to the fleet department.

Why Doesn’t Everyone Purchase a Car From the Fleet Department?

The easy answer is, “not all car dealerships have fleet departments.” The ones that do will allow an individual to buy a single car but do not advertise the department to the general car-buying public. Some dealers will even use stratagem to keep a car buyer from reaching the fleet department.

Another reason a car dealer doesn’t advertise its fleet department is because they realize they don’t make as much money as if they sold the car to a buyer on the retail sales floor.

The dealer has a much greater chance to make money on an uneducated customer that comes through the door, looks at the M.S.R.P, negotiates the price, and finances through the dealer.

About the author
Carlton Wolf is the author and founder of Auto Cheat Sheet.My name is Carlton Wolf, and I’ve been in the car business since 1994, both retail and wholesale. I created the Auto Cheat Sheet to better educate buyers about the deceptive sales practices many dealerships use nationwide. Please understand that not all car dealers are dishonest. However, you never know who you’ll be dealing with, though. I’m willing to share my knowledge and experience with anyone who listens. Keep in mind that I’m a car guy, not a writer.

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