Money Matters: Special Dealer Deals
Take advantage of fleet, business and equipment purchase incentives to cut vehicle purchase costs
by Robin Walton, CPA/licensed contractor
Automotive manufacturers offer a variety of incentives to lure you into making your business pickup purchases with them.
Getting hooked isn’t all bad. In fact, taking advantage of these incentives can be a good way to keep your rolling stock up to date while saving money in other ways.
Vehicle vendors sell pickups on several different tiers including retail (for the general public), commercial (for small business owners with one or more trucks) and fleet (for businesses with qualifying numbers of vehicles).
Most vehicle incentives are structured according to this tiered system. But a recent trend toward “stacking” the incentives means, as a business owner, you can take advantage of the retail incentives plus incentives designed specifically for business owners.
SMALL BUSINESS INCENTIVES
Chrysler offers incentives for their Ram pickups in the form of their On The Job program. On The Job includes commercial equipment and upgrade allowances, commercial graphic allowances or two-year service contracts.
You can get upfit through Mopar, but Chrysler’s program is quite flexible and allows for equipment purchases from regional aftermarket manufacturers as well.
These upfits are extended to business owners in addition to the retail deals available to the general public.
General Motors rolls out Business Choice, which gives buyers options from upfits to cash cards. Upfits come in the form of cash to spend in the Adrian Steel catalog or via ship-thru packages.
Pickup accessories include bed liners, bed rail protectors, tool boxes, assist steps and tonneau covers.
An eligible purchase or lease of a Chevy or GMC pickup can also come with a $500 Lowe’s gift card, which you can use online or at one of 1,747 retail locations nationwide. Another option is a $500 statement credit on the GM Business Card World MasterCard from Chase.
An additional choice is $500 in “Customer Rewards,” which you can use at your local dealership to purchase GM accessories, service or parts.
Fleet qualifications vary between manufacturers, but generally include companies with 15 or more vehicles and/or companies that have purchased or leased five vehicles in one year.
A dealership with a business focus can walk you through the fleet application process, which gives you a fleet identification number. The number gains access to fleet deals and allows manufacturers to track your purchases to keep you up to speed on volume incentives throughout the year.
There is room for negotiation in these qualifications. You could, for example, come to the dealer with a plan for purchasing five vehicles during the course of the coming year and potentially get your fleet identification number.
Fleet programs include cash allowances, invoice credits and upgrade options (for example, power locks, windows, mirrors and keyless entry). These incentives are usually announced early and continue for the entire model year.
Some short-term retail programs, which are often regional, can beat the fleet deals. Manufacturers generally allow you to choose the program that benefits your company the most. Occasionally features of two programs can be stacked to provide maximum discounts.
Ford’s upfit and incentive program for commercial customers, Ford Truck Commercial Connection, provides cash incentives for a variety of aftermarket upfitting options including custom paint and vinyl graphics.
Ford offers some other programs that can stack with their fleet incentives such as their Customer Association incentive program.
Being a member of one of the Ford recognized customer associations can give you extra cash to spend on vehicles.
Customer associations include some contractors associations that can also provide material and insurance discounts for your company.
Don’t forget, while manufacturers themselves might not provide incentives for green, hybrid or alternate fuel vehicles there are some tax rebates and incentives available from state and federal programs.
Not all pickup dealerships are equipped to handle business and fleet pickup sales, so work through regional dealerships that specialize in business programs to make sure you are getting the best deals available.
Ford’s Business Preferred Network, for example, identifies dealers who have extra tools to help you as a small business owner.
Chrysler dealers who are part of their Business Link program offer member services and free programs to help with your business needs.
GM dealers who are part of the Business Central program are the Chevy and GMC dealers trained to help your small business.
HEAVY EQUIPMENT DEALS
Some pickup purchasing power begins with buying a piece of equipment.
Currently there is a program where a purchase of qualifying Case construction equipment or New Holland tractors can give you a $1,000 cash allowance toward the purchase or lease of a new Ram pickup.
Order three or more Ram pickups and you can get them painted in a color to match your equipment including Case Construction Yellow, Case IH Red or New Holland Blue.