Life Partners

My philosophy is you’re in pretty good shape if you have relationships with a/an: attorney, doctor, minister, banker, plumber, insurance agent, golfer and car dealer.

With three kids equally divided in age, our strategy for autos was simple: the 2001 Toyota Camry I drove for many years would be handed down as they, in turn, received their licenses – and no one would have a car her/his first two years in college.

During our eldest child’s junior year at UT-Austin, we decided to lease a Honda Civic. That went so well, we did the same thing for Kyle – and two weeks ago our youngest, who just finished her sophomore year, received her Civic, as she has a summer internship and needs transportation.

Add in cars for Kathy and me, plus additional leases for the oldest two, and we’ve purchased eight cars from Russell & Smith Honda – which is about a 45-minute drive from us – since 2009. We also referred four friends who bought from that dealership, so they know the Handlers well.

My strategy is simple: contact the sales manager a few days before and tell him we’ll be coming in to buy a car. Ask for his best price on the desired model. Send an email to five other dealerships in town requesting the same. Then see how the offers compare. Typically, their lease pricing is within $10-20 per month.

Then I reach out to Dino again, and tell him, “I’m seeing some good pricing, and I’d like you to sharpen your pencil.”

Sure enough, on Saturday, we walked in, Dino came right to us, and said, “We’ll take care of you.” He also said I was the subject of his morning sales meeting. “I told the team you’re a knowledgeable customer who always has his facts,” he said. “I used you as an example of how we have to take care of everyone.”

Kirsten took a test drive with a salesperson, picked out the color she wanted… and within two hours we were on our way home. Relationships mean everything. Be sure to cultivate yours.


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