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Missouri Dealer's Gun Giveaway Hits Sales Target

May 28, 2008

Butler, Mo. A Missouri dealership has watched its May sales volume increase 200 percent in one week after it introduced a $250 gas card or credit towards the purchase of a handgun.

Max Motors, a new- and used-car dealership based in Butler, Mo., had total May sales of 138 vehicles, a figure close to the 150 cars and trucks the dealership moves in one month, said finance director Walter Moore. The dealership sells new- and used-vehicles from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

He attributes the sales increase to the incentive plan, which ends May 31, but said the dealership doesn’t have plans to extend the offer. The gas or gun credit is offered to customers by the sales end of the dealership. "Finance doesn’t have to do anything. Just ask the customer what they want," Moore said.

Customers from as far as Las Vegas, Texas and Indiana have come to the dealership just for the gas or gun program, Moore said. A majority of those car buyers have chosen the $250 gun credit over the gas card. "We've had three people take the gas cards," he said.

Gas prices in Missouri are at $3.75 per gallon, Moore estimated.

He said customers who take the gun credit aren’t guaranteed an actual firearm and must complete the legal paperwork. "They'll have to go to a local gun dealer and apply with a dealer. All we do is pay $250 dollars towards a gun," he said.

Moore said the dealership’s managers came up with the incentive plan and spent $30 to advertise it in the local paper. The dealership didn’t need an elaborate marketing campaign because local, national and international media quickly caught onto the unusual incentive plan.

The sudden jump in sales has created more paperwork for Moore, but the media attention has taken up most of his time. Posted on the dealership’s Website are video clips from MSNBC and the local ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates, as well as a link to Moore’s interview with Britain’s BBC News.

But despite all the media attention, Moore said he's pleased the incentive program is a success with the dealership's customers.

"It's something different. The manufacturers are doing it," Moore said, referring to recent incentive plans launched earlier in May by Chrysler and other manufacturers. "We're putting a twist on it and making it work for our local customers."

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