Salem's Capitol Toyota dealership has a well-deserved reputation for dog friendliness. It paid off yesterday, when our dog ZuZu was cajoled into leasing a 2015 Chevy Volt.
(She wanted to get another Volt now that the lease on our 2012 Volt is about up. Liking the folks at Capitol Toyota, the deal was done through them; Capitol Chevrolet is right next door.)
On the drive to the dealership I'd warned ZuZu to focus on price and options. "Get the car you really want," I advised. "Don't be swayed by irrelevant incentives and salesmanship."
Ignoring me, ZuZu headed right to the dog snack area as soon as we walked in the door. The bowl of water didn't wow her, but...
The Have A Treat biscuit container sure did.
It seems like there should be a canine consumer protection law preventing auto dealerships from putting out "free" biscuits in a container with many open holes on the top. ZuZu was powerless to resist.
Then Nate McCall, the fleet manager whose nickname is N8puppy (these guys are shameless at luring dog customers), started in with the sales pitches to ZuZu.
We all gathered around a table that was -- no big surprise -- located close to the Have A Treat container. Soften up ZuZu with some biscuits, then have her put her paw print on the dotted line. Obviously that was the plan.
Geez, Nate was blatant. Key fobs. Pen. Lease price and terms. AND a freaking large Milkbone biscuit, five times the size of the biscuits in the Have A Treat container.
We give ZuZu super-healthy biscuits; Milkbone is the dog equivalent of a Big Mac for her, an irresistible guilty pleasure. Probably Capitol Toyota has baby squirrels in a back room that are brought out for really hard sells.
During a lull in the negotiating, other Capitol Toyota employees wandered over, seemingly at random (yeah, right) to sweet-pat ZuZu. She was putty in their hands. First with this guy...
The final lease deal met with ZuZu's approval. As I feared, she wasn't as interested in the price as in the extra edible incentive Nate had put in the envelope.
In the end, ZuZu was happy with the new car she and Laurel drove off in.
Why not? She's got a whole inch of extra headroom in the back compartment; her stomach was full of Milkbone biscuits; she'd almost overdosed from patting by Capitol Toyota staff.
And since our dog doesn't have a credit rating, nor a bank account, my wife and I ended up paying for her purchase.
Pretty doggone clever, Capitol Toyota.