BY LAWRENCE PAPOFF
Dealers thinking about doing away with salespeople and replacing them with product advisors may think they are doing away with salespeople but they are not. It may not be the product advisor’s job to discuss price, but they are still salespeople. That means they have to carry a sale’s person’s license. At least, that’s the law in Ontario, says OMVIC.
The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) says a salesperson is an “individual who is employed by a dealer to trade in motor vehicles on behalf of the dealer,” says Terry O’Keefe director of communications and education.
“The act states a trade includes “inducing or attempting to induce the buying, selling, leasing… a motor vehicle.”
So showing someone the features of a car or taking them for a test drive is still selling a car.
“Obviously, one of the roles of any salesperson or sales consultant or product specialist is to induce the sale/lease of a vehicle. Consumers are likely to rely on the representations made by these staff and therefore they must be registered with OMVIC as salespeople regardless of the title a dealership gives them,” he argues.
O’Keefe was responding to an article from the November 2014 edition of Canadian AutoWorld titled “The new look of retail at Meadowvale Kia.”
The article quotes Jennifer Armour, human resources coordinator for the Toyotoshi Group and Richard Davies, store general manager, discussing the benefits of doing away with salespeople because of the growing complexities of today’s cars.
Meadowvale Kia and Meadowvale Toyota, also a Toyotoshi store, are opting for product advisors with sales managers talking price and haggling.
Davies says customers prefer dealing with product advisors.
The concept is a part of a growing trend in automotive retail adopted from outside the industry. Most notably would be the idea of product geniuses employed in BMW dealerships and similarly titled workers in Tesla stores.
O’Keefe says there’s nothing wrong with making the car-buying process enjoyable, but he says that since the customer may rely on the advice of the product advisor even though they discuss only features, it still counts as selling.
“Obviously, one of the roles of any … salesperson is to induce the sale/lease of a vehicle,” he says, “regardless of the title a dealership gives them.”
O’Keefe also warns that posting a sign or ad that says in effect “no salespeople,” is a violation of OMVIC’s Code of Ethics, specifically the Standards of Business Practice section 4.6.
In short, OMVIC says you can call someone a product advisor, but they are still a salesperson and they still need a sales license.