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Stewart’s Auto pushes sales of Suzuki models with 10-cent campaign

Published:Sunday | March 15, 2015 | 3:00 AMTameka Gordon
The Suzuki Swift

Stewart's Auto Sales and its in-house financing partner, Simpson Finance Jamaica Limited, are making a more aggressive play for car sales by tacking on insurance coverage and servicing to sales of the Suzuki brand.

Stewart's is also running a 10-cent campaign for servicing and loan payments for three vehicles.

"At the beginning of the year people are not that fluid with cash; they have spent all their money over the Christmas holiday," said Suzuki brand manager, Mathew Stevenson.

The partners call it the 'Just One Red Cent' deal - a play on the popular 'red money' reference to the 10-cent Jamaican coin - under which loan payments for the Suzuki Grand Vitara SUV purchased with financing from Simpson will amount to just 10 cents per month for three months. The first three

servicings will cost a similar amount for the Vitara as well as the Suzuki Swift and Dzire cars.

Stevenson, who also doubles as business development manager for Suzuki, Mercedes and Mitsubishi, said the car dealership wanted to grab consumer attention coming out of the traditionally high-spend Christmas period.

Additionally, "We wanted to add value to money that has no value anymore," he said.

The campaign is meant to push sales of the older vehicle models that Stewart's still has in stock.

"The reason we were able to give the first three months of loan payments was we got a rebate from our manufacturer. They would look at our stock levels and say for the older vehicles that you have in stock, we will give you 'x' amount of money every time you sell one - essentially helping us a little bit," Stephenson said.

But instead of marking down the price of the cars, the company has decided to add the value to the other aspects of vehicle purchase that can be burdensome, he said.

For the one year comprehensive insurance, the sum is rolled into the cost of the cars and financed through Simpson Finance, and aided by rate agreements with a preferred insurer.

"It's not free insurance. We normally tack on the price of insurance onto the cost of the vehicle and then it can be financed throughout the loan term instead of customers forking over a lump sum for insurance at the beginning of a purchase of a vehicle," he said.

Customers will also get alarm systems, have their windows tinted and get a full tank of petrol on delivery of their new purchase.

Though declining to give precise figures on the number of cars sold since the 2013 launch of Stewart's partnership with Simpson Finance, Stephenson said 20 per cent of Suzuki's sales are through Simpson Finance.

"We have been performing really well; last year was really good," he said. " I think Toyota was the only one who beat us numbers-wise".

Overall, Stewart's Auto recorded a 25 per cent growth in business last year, "and a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have in-house financing," Stephenson said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com