Tag Archives: Economy

2013 Audi A3 Sportback

You Have $15,000 In Cash, Do You Buy Or Lease A Car?

Some of you may know that I’m the creator of BostonAutoBlog.com, and if you’ve followed me for a while you also know that marketing, social media marketing, and business are topics that I discuss quite a bit on my own personal blog. I’m going to combine both of my interests into one article, asking a financial question that I don’t want a quick answer to in return, but rather the most logical solution to a problem many consumers who are in the market for a car face everyday. If you have $15,000 in cash, do you buy or lease a car? Actually, I’m going to make it more interesting. If you have $10,000 in cash would you buy or lease a car?

Having scanned through forums and Reddit, there are many young, and even older consumers, who ask the same question, usually with the same amount of money in hand asking for car buying advice. Now, if your commute to work and weekend trips make your annual mileage higher than 12,000 a year, then buying is the better option. But what about those who are driving around 8,000 – 10,000 miles a year. Would you still be so hasty to buy instead of lease?

Most people feel that leasing costs you more in the long run. But does it really? True, your car payments could be higher per month, but because it’s a new car, you won’t have to factor in major maintenance costs. At $10,000 – $15,000, you’re not going to end up with what you want. Certified pre-owned, you’re looking at the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, or Toyota Corolla to name a few. Used can be a case of trick or treat. There’s always diamonds in the rough, but more often than not, you’ll end up with someone else’s problem. Mechanical failure is likely, factoring into the overall cost of the car, while it’s aging, and every year the resale value is slowly tanking. You either wind up with a money pit, or a decent car that will last you a few years before maintenance issues could arise.

Now let’s look to leasing. You have $10,000 – $15,000 in hand and you’re visiting local dealership websites comparing lease offers and deciding which one works best for you. You stumble upon a great deal. Your local Ford dealership down the street has a lease offer for a new Ford Escape SE; $4,173 due at signing, $159 a month for 24 months. If my math is correct, for those 2 years it will cost you a grand total of $7,989, not including oil changes and annual maintenance. You’re saving $2,000 in the long run, which will be two grand more saved up for your next lease. If you buy a $10,000 car, you’re looking at a world of unknowns.

So the choice. A new Ford Escape SE or an 8 year old car with 50,000+ miles on it. $8,000 overall in 24 months, or $10,000, plus maintenance that will inevitably happen sometime during your ownership of the car.

Another example; this time you have $15,000. Now I’m sure you can find some sweetheart deal for a 6+ year old Infiniti G35 or G37 or an older BMW 3 Series, but again let’s factor in unforeseen maintenance. But you decide, “I’ll lease instead because I want to drive a new car”. Here are the potential options you have. Let me just say this is all predicated on what the dealerships in your area are offering. Here’s a few from my neck of the woods.

Audi A3: $2,694 downpayment, $299 a month for 36 months = $13,458

BMW X1: $4,000 downpayment, $239 a month for 36 months = $12,604

BMW 320i X-Drive: 4,000 downpayment, $239 a month for 36 months = $12,604 (Same offer as the X1)

Infiniti Q40: $1,499 downpayment, $229 a month for 39 months = $10,430

Lexus IS 250: $1,599 downpayment, 349 a month for 36 months = $14,163

These are just some of the deals that are out there. They all cost under $15,000 within the three year window you have the car. Most come with leather seats, heated seats, bluetooth, navigation, and electric sunroof. So think about it for a minute. You can have a luxury car for the same price, or less than if you bought a certified pre-owned Honda Civic. There are even better offers out there if you don’t want to spend $15,000.

After seeing this, would you still buy or would you lease?

cayman S

Car Dealerships: Don’t Be Afraid To Use Social Media

The name of the game is to sell cars, and what better way to do that than having an effective social media marketing strategy? Every other industry has hopped on board, and now it’s time for the auto industry to do the same. But what is really stopping dealerships across the country from branding and marketing their businesses to appeal to customers within their region? Unlike with TV ads, Facebook ads can target specific potential car buyers that live within walking and short driving distance of the dealerships that are advertising. So what’s the hold up?

First off, I’m just going to be straightforward. The social media accounts most dealerships operate are downright boring. You’re a business, not a virtual newspaper selling coupons every 3-6 months. Stop hard selling as if this is the 1950’s. One reason there is very little engagement with most dealerships’ social media pages is due to lack of trust. But more importantly, the content these accounts post aren’t worth reading or responding to. Instead of posting already used content by other dealerships that are selling the same brand, post unique content that shows off your showroom, best cars in your inventory, and interesting news or services that you provide.

Create a blog and share your content on your social media accounts. Tell possible car buyers why they should buy from you, why they should have their car serviced at your dealership, and explain the parts you use in the maintenance department to build trust and persuade car owners to come to you. Only posting when you have a sale or service special falls on deaf ears because you haven’t created good enough content that keeps people coming to your Facebook or Twitter page. They will inevitably glance or skip right over your post because 90% of your content is hard selling.

Post photos on Instagram. Herb Chambers BMW of Sudbury consistently posts pictures of BMW’s that are in their showroom. What 20, 30, or 40 year old doesn’t like a BMW M3, i8, or 435i Gran Coupe? You’re missing out by not posting on Instagram. The companies who are utilizing all social media platforms are increasing sales, but it’s their patience and determination that’s keeping them relevant because they’re posting good content that people want to see.

By being on social media, you’re in essence becoming an influencer. In studies, 27% of consumers are influenced by the cars they see on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Because the pictures contain the car on the road, in the city, or in the woods, consumers can visualize themselves driving that car, or taking that same photo on their vacation. You’re giving social media users eye candy that they just might indulge in.

This doesn’t just apply to car dealerships, but businesses in every industry. You have to capture the reader’s attention by posting articles that are worth reading, post photos worth liking and sharing, and posting quality content that will show up on people’s timelines. By not using social media, you’re feeding the perception consumers have of your business or industry as a whole. You can change that by showing who you are, what products you sell (in this case cars), and why consumers should walk into your doors and not the competition down the street.


It May Be A Great Product, But What Do The Sales Figures Say?

muadib.ar / Foter / CC BY-SA

Whether you’re selling candy, clothes, automobiles, tech gadgets, or any other products you can think of, everything you do behind the scenes and in your marketing strategy mean nothing unless the sales figures reflect the day-to-day operations and processes. The product may be great, it may look cool, and you may think it sells, but if there are no buyers and sales figures are down, changes have to be made to create a desire and want for the product you’re trying to sell. When it comes to products, there is so much to selling and marketing than what you, or your friends think, and what may seem popular in one clique, could be completely irrelevant to a broader customer base and bigger target markets.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony unveiled their new Walkman (I know, we’ve suddenly taken a trip to the past). It will be on sale for a mere $1200 this Spring. While Generation X can have their flashbacks down memory lane, the issue comes down to what we should expect in terms of sales figures. Taking on Apple where they’ve dominated since the beginning of the millennium is a very bold strategy. Most MP3 players have failed against the iPod, why should the Walkman expect to steal market share away from Apple?

At $1200, are consumers really going to buy that over the traditional iPod? As a consumer and student of business, these questions have to be raised. We’ll find out soon enough, but let’s move our attention to automobiles that are selling, and in particular Cadillac.

Over the past 6 months all you’ve heard from Cadillac is how they’re going to take on BMW, Audi, and Mercedes Benz. ‘The reign of the German Big Three is coming to a close because they’re not making cars like Cadillac’, is essentially what the leaders of the American luxury brand has bragged. Well, the annual sales figures have been released, and it’s time to see who has ended up with egg on their face.

According to goodcarbadcar.net here are the statistics.

Audi: Sales up 15.2% in 2014 from the previous year.
BMW: Sales up 9.8% in 2014 from the previous year.
Mercedes Benz: Sales up 6.5% in 2014 from the previous year

And then there’s Cadillac.

Sales figures down 6.5% in 2015 from the previous year.

Cadillac is improving from what they’ve produced over the past few years, the problem however is the very strong perception that Cadillacs are still owned by older folks, and even worse they’re still a branch of GM. Once again, the product can look great and may be a better option, but the sales figures don’t show that.

Another example is coming from a different side of the business spectrum, the branding, marketing, and advertising branch of business. Entrepreneur Magazine shared an article discussing 10 of the worst new logos for big companies in 2014. While a few are clearly bad, others were an improvement and further developed the brand and direction the company is moving in. Whether these logos were bad or not, what do the sales figures have to say?

Personal opinion is what blinds us all from seeing the truth, and in this instance I’m talking about business, and this can be from the owner or the consumer. Sales figures show no bias, they have no favorites, they reflect the changes that really matter, positive or negative. Sony’s Walkman could be a huge bust or a success, but at $1200 let’s see how long that price lasts when consumers can buy an iPod for much less. Cadillac is being aggressive, attacking the German auto brands and trying to compete against the most popular car companies in the world. In 2014 they failed to live up to the hype. Lastly, personal opinion that fails to see what the sales figures really say, loses all credibility.

In business there are two things you must be aware of, listen to, and learn from. Sales figures and the consumer. These two aspects tell the truth. The customer is always right, and sales figures are never wrong.

Value Unused = Waste

Your Specialty Is What Creates Value For Others

Value Unused = Waste
Kevin Krejci / Foter / CC BY

It’s safe to say that one point in your life you’ve asked yourself “Where do I fit in?” This question can pertain to a sports team, group project, or the business strategy you put in place before acquiring clients. It might also be safe to say that you’ve tried mirroring either a peer or other business to try fitting in and replicating what they do because they’re successful in that particular area. Usually the results weren’t what you had hoped, and that’s because you weren’t utilizing your own strengths, skills, or that one intangible asset your friend or business across town didn’t have.

By not using your strengths, you’re not only hurting yourself, but others around you who could have benefitted from your skills and specialty. Your strengths are what creates value for your clients, co-workers, and friends around you.

Having been in the sports journalism industry, it can be very hard to outshine other writers and get noticed by a wide range of viewers. By trying to be like other writers, posting the same type of content, writing a post-game article that fans could read from a number of different writers, and not putting your own informative input out on the web, will surely make your content invisible. You must find your specialty or niche that not many, if any are writing about, but you know there is a target audience that will benefit and enjoy reading your unique content that they can’t get anywhere else. Whether it’s discussing player performance, what different sets of plays a team runs throughout the game, what worked or didn’t work for the team, are just a few ways to enter into what appears as a saturated sports journalism market.

In business, you’ll find yourself dealing with the same scenario. What can you do that gets you noticed, acquire clients, and provide value to your customers? Is there a market in the industry that your business is a part of that rival companies aren’t serving to a target group that you can be successful in? With laptops and iPads making home computers and desktops obsolete, there are still many small businesses that use desktop computers in the office. If you have a computer repair business, you have a niche market that still needs servicing but is slowly being forgotten about. Or, if your a software and technology consultant, you have a market where your can help these small businesses move to a more efficient way of getting work done.

Your specialty is what brings value, and that can’t be emphasized enough. Don’t ever feel that you’re inferior, or question your skills because no one else is doing what you’re trying to do. The truth is, businesses need people who can provide value in some way, shape, or form. If your skills can save businesses time, money, and resources, go out there and market your business and the services you provide. Thinking outside the box is sometimes frowned upon throughout our lives, but the reality is, the world we see around us was created by those who didn’t think like everyone else.

This can be applied in every aspect of life, whether it’s school, starting a blog or business, to even friendships and relationships. Providing value through your skills, experience, and knowledge is how you’ll become successful in anything you attempt to do. Don’t be conventional when there is a more efficient way of doing things. By being an individual and honing your skills, you’ll outshine everyone and they’ll see just how much you’re worth.

04 My Yahoo Cubicle

With A New Economy, Is It Time To Have A New Attitude Towards Internships?

04 My Yahoo Cubicle
nicwn / Foter / CC BY-SA

Seven years after the beginning of the recession, the economy still isn’t where was pre 2008. Close to 33% of eligible adults have dropped out of the labor force, another third is either freelancing or starting businesses, and the final third are active in the labor force, whether that be full-time or part-time work. For Millennials, we are now going to be a part of this new economy, and the decisions we make could put us in one of the above groups. Internships have always been a way to gain experience and skills during, or shortly after college before applying for full-time jobs. But in 2014, is it time to have a new approach and attitude towards internships and the opportunities that they bring?

Some former interns have come out accusing companies of not paying them well, or paying them at all. While I’m no lawyer and not an interpreter of the law, I’m not going to discuss whether it’s legal or not. However, when you decide to be an intern you’re not an employee and the company doesn’t have to treat, or pay you like one. There is another form of compensation that internships provide, and that’s in experience, confidence, and learning how to navigate through an office setting. Seeing as though many young people are turning to starting their own business because of limited job opportunities, maybe it’s time to look at internships as a preparation and confidence booster towards starting businesses.

Some interns have proclaimed that they had multiple roles in the company, learning multiple aspects and performing an array of tasks. For small business owners overseeing, and at least having a hand in different departments and aspects of the business is necessary. These interns now have the experience of multi-tasking, and grasping the magnitude of being a part of multiple roles within a company.

Now rest assured there will be a majority of interns who won’t start a business or freelance, but for the small group who will, internships can be that confidence booster that they need to get over the initial fear of starting a business. Fear is what stops people from doing anything; all they need is self-confidence and a business mindset that tells them that they can succeed and be their own boss. Internships bring a lot to the table, but money should never be the top priority when seeking a summer intern job.

Get the experience and confidence that you need to be successful. Take advantage of the opportunity that internships bring. If you still decide to become an employee and not run a business, you’ll still walk away from an internship with self-confidence, business skills, and the ability adapt to different situations. Employers have a growing fear that Millennials aren’t ready to join the workforce because they’re not being taught the skills to succeed in an office environment. Get an internship and learn. That’s the best way to get real world experience before fully submerging yourself into the labor force.

Cartier on the Champs-Élysées at Christmas

Early Christmas Commercials Sign Of Poor Economy?

Cartier on the Champs-Élysées at Christmas
Stuck in Customs / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The Stock Market seems to hit all-time highs every week, but stepping away from Wall Street, what’s happening on Main Street? Labor participation rates are still at 30 year lows, 92 million Americans are not in the labor force, and eerily similar to 2007-2008, retail stores and car dealerships are promoting holiday specials; completely jumping over Thanksgiving and getting straight to the holiday season. Why? Are retail sales that poor? Are they trying to get a leg up on Amazon and Ebay? Are they anticipating lower sales figures this season?

During a normal holiday season, Black Friday sales promotions are usually the first commercials you see, and speaking of Black Friday, some stores are opening up on Thanksgiving and extending sales specials through the entire week. This really has been unprecedented as this can’t merely be just about generating more profits, but trying to leverage a slower economy by getting consumers into stores with unbeatable sales specials.

Car commercials have always been pushed during November and December, but it’s a surprise to see brands such as Jeep coming out with a holiday commercial of their own. Mercedes Benz and Lexus are constantly pushing sales this time of year, so it’s no surprise to see multiple commercials from these companies any given day. Leasing has been on the rise as it’s a more affordable options for consumers. People are slowly moving away from buying new and looking at leasing options. Currently the percentage of Americans leasing has surged to 20% since the recession in 2008, and that will probably grow heading into next year.

Having witnessed what the recession did in 2008, I wouldn’t go as far to say that we’re now dipping back into some volatile times such as those. However, with the mix of holiday commercials already being pushed in almost every sector, Santa already showing up in malls, and decorations being displayed this early, it’s possible that we might be seeing the symptoms of a slowing economy.

While being part of the millennial generation, I’ve also lived through the height of the American economy when it was at it’s strongest. Those days do not compare to what’s happening now. Ten years ago the holidays were anticipated but it was usually after Thanksgiving all the commercials started popping up on the TV screen. History tends to repeat itself, and seeing that retail stores and malls are already promoting Christmas this early in the season such as 2008, this could be sign of where we’re heading after January 1st and into the first quarter of next year.