Car Buying

The Controversial `Puppy Dog’ Car Selling Technique – And Why Some People Will Still Not Buy A Car Without It

By April 1, 2018 No Comments


Q: What’s similar between a puppy dog and a new car?
A: They both become irresistible, once you bring them home.

Imagine you’re at a dog shelter, looking for a perfect puppy for the family. There are many dogs in there that suit the size, breed and temperament you like, and so you’re unsure about which one you should ultimately buy. At this juncture, the kind shelter manager steps in and says, “Hey, why don’t you find the one that seems most suitable, and take it home for the weekend? Watch the puppy in your home environment and get to know him. If the animal doesn’t feel right even after two days have passed, you can always bring him back and choose another.”

Who can say no to an open offer like that?

So you take the little doggie home, and the kids are delighted to have him. The animal becomes the center of all attention and everybody’s vying to have the pup sleep in their bed that night. Forty-eight hours is plenty of time when it comes to falling in love with a dog. And so the inevitable happens. Even if you notice certain things about the animal that are not to your liking, you make excuses to yourself, so that when Monday comes around, the puppy does not have to go back to the shelter.

Once he is home, he is home. And you’re head-over-heels in love with him.

When the term `puppy dogging’ is applied to the car industry, it’s pretty much the same scenario.

You’re very interested in a particular car model, but for some reason or other, you are still not fully committed to buying it. The car salesman speaks to the manager and makes you a puppy-dog offer. Take the car home, he says, and see how you feel when the vehicle is standing in your driveway. Test drive the machine at your leisure and size up its pros and cons in the comfort of your home environment. If you’re still unsure after the trial period is over, bring it back and we’ll see about setting you up with another car.

On most occasions, car dealerships use the puppy-dog marketing technique when potential customers are teetering on the brink of a sale. The invitation to “trial-own” the car just pushes them over the edge.

Even as the customers’ families are admiring the car, the neighbors are commenting on the new purchase, and the prospective buyer is enjoying the high of new-car ownership, an invisible emotional bond is silently tying man and car together. It’s a bond that will probably stand the test when the trial period is over, and the sale will go through.

Love will triumph once again when the relationship is blossoming on home turf.

Needless to say, this puppy-dog technique of selling cars is controversial. Some call it manipulation, because car-buyers are deliberately being set up to keep the car. Others argue that at no point in the puppy-dogging process is the customer obligated to buy anything. If he/she chooses to keep the vehicle after the trial period is over, it is the owner’s decision, which was taken at home, far away from any influence of the dealership staff. What’s more, dealerships are taking a huge risk each time they allow a potential buyer to drive away like this, and it is nothing sort of excellent customer service.

Puppy dogging isn’t a one-way street either.

A lot of seasoned car-buyers insist on being offered the puppy-dog trial because they are no soft-hearted players in this game. They know how to keep their emotions in check and how not to fall in love with a nice vehicle, just because it is looking great standing in their own driveway.

Rather, they use this opportunity to thoroughly test the car in ways that are impossible to do during a 30-minute test drive around the dealership lot.

And so, if they finally choose to go ahead with the purchase, they already know how it will fit into their unique lifestyle. They know what features of the car they really love, and what features are not-so-perfect but they’re willing to live with. There are less chances of ugly surprises and buyer’s remorse when a vehicle has been thoroughly vetted during a puppy dog trial ownership, and they wouldn’t buy a new vehicle any other way.

So what do you think about the puppy-dogging technique? Would you be tempted to test-own a car like this? Or would you be too afraid of not being able to make an unbiased decision afterwards?

We’d love to know…

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