It must be sun spots. I'm about to write something favorable about a car dealership.
Its name is Don Beyer Volvo of Falls Church, and what it has done is to invent a 100,000 Mile Club. To join, you need to own a Volvo whose odometer registers 100,000 or more. The benefit: a 10 percent discount on parts or service, as well as an invitation to an annual picnic where hamburgers and old-Volvo war stories are served.
"Sure, we're aware that we're encouraging people to hold on to older cars longer," says Tom deSocio, a new car salesman at the dealership and coordinator of the 100,000 Mile Club. "But it's actually a way to help sales of new Volvos. We tell people about the club, and suddenly it's not just some salesman talking about how long the cars last. It's a fact."
The Beyer club was formed in July. Its membership is already 380, and Don Beyer, the dealership's president, thinks that figure may grow to 600 before the spring.
"There was a concern that we'd be giving away the store, but it hasn't happened," Beyer said. "It's actually helped build our service business a little. Before, we were getting people who were junking a perfectly good car just because the service costs sounded so high. Now they're keeping the old car on the road."
So are most of us, out of economic necessity, regardless of which manufacturer's name is on the grille. If you haven't checked out new car prices lately, bring an oxygen mask the next time you do. The numbers are breathtaking.
But Don Beyer realizes that 10 grand for a new car won't seem like quite so much if he helped a buyer squeeze two more years out of his old car. For that insight, Beyer and his 100,000 Mile Club deserve applause -- and a few copycats at other dealerships.