I have heard that question a LOT in this industry, usually when the customer is trying to contest the terms of the deal. It’s one of the first weapons the manager pulls out of the armory to use against the customer. “You agreed to this” they say, pointing insistently at the customers’ signature. After all, the manager argues, the signature indicates legal acceptance of the terms of the deal as shown.

Almost ironically, these same dealers are quite cavalier about the other signatures on the page, namely, the dealer representative who accepts the deal.

Let’s talk about that for a moment. Who do you allow to commit your dealership to the same legal acceptance of the deal?  After all, when the dealership wants to “walk back” something they have said or change a term or condition, the customer has the same legal standing to point at the contract and say “Whose signature is this?”

Having a policy that states only certain approved individuals accept and authorize deals on behalf of the company is a very good thing, and your attorney will thank you for it.

Ask yourself: Who do you trust to legally bind the dealership to a contract?

The dealer’s signature (or that of their authorized agent) is just as legally binding as the customers’.

Your dealership needs a policy that requires all sales staff to bring a printed deal to the owner or a defined sales or finance manager for approval before the customer signs. This way, the person or persons who are being held accountable for the deals that leave the lot can review and sign off on them.

Yes, you may have already approved the customer to pay $2000 down and pay $500 per month, but is that what the paperwork actually says? Computers and people make mistakes, although it is legitimately safe to say that the latter is almost always the cause of the former’s errors.

It is simply another way to manage your dealership. I need not remind some of you that UN-managed dealerships are also overwhelmingly UN-profitable.

Think about that until our next visit.

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