Cheat Sheet Q & A


The topic/question:  Tesla direct to consumer sales


The question: I know that you are not in today when Mr. Edwards spoke of Tesla bypassing dealerships, and that it would be a bad thing. I am confused on how it would be bad. He had mentioned that there would be a loss of jobs, wouldn’t the Tesla sales Centers need a sales and service center?


Bottom Line:  I received this question last week (while I was on vacation).  This topic has been red hot recently as New Jersey took action to ban the ability for Tesla, which had opened stores inside its state, to be able to sell their products direct to the consumer.  So let’s get into it…


The traditional dealer certainly does offer a benefit to many customers including:


  • Service
  • Product Information
  • The ability to easily test drive many different products, even from different brands
  • Guidance on what vehicle may best suit your needs

So as a consumer you may choose to patronize a traditional dealer even if you had the option to buy direct from an auto company.  But to the premise of the question…  In my view it’s not a matter of if but when we do have the option to buy direct from a manufacture if they choose to sell directly to us.  Why do I have that view?  Because it’s already common place with so many other consumer products… 


We don’t have to look any further than the largest company in the world, Apple, to see where this already exists. 


  • Apple is a $480 billion company (as I write this entry)

And even as the largest company in the world they have the ability to sell their products directly to you through their website or their own company stores. Now Apple products are still sold by virtually all companies that sell consumer electronic products.  More sales actually still come from 3rd party vendors than direct from Apple because consumers choose to buy from those other companies.  But that’s the key – consumer choice. 


How can it be justified that the world’s largest company can sell direct to you but a company that’s worth $27 billion (as of this entry) or just 1/18 of the size of Apple can’t? 


If Tesla or any other company were to sell direct to you they would have to account for ongoing service and parts needs as your question suggests.  That would mean either opening physical service centers and/or contracting with existing dealer service centers for other brands, so yes people certainly will need to fill those roles but that’s actually beside the point anyway.  If we treated retail commerce as a protected industry on-line sales would be banned.  How many hundreds of thousands of retail jobs have been lost to online retailing?  The jobs argument really isn’t one that can justifiability be used in the Tesla example. 


So the end result in my view is that it’s a matter of when, not if, Tesla and/or other automotive companies have the ability to sell direct to you…  And you will decide what and where you’d like to buy it.  Just as in the Apple example it wouldn’t mean the end of the traditional auto dealer.  They would just have to adapt to the changing times like virtually all other retail business. 


If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:


Audio Report:



The best auto insurance companies right now:


Bottom Line: conducts and annual survey of the auto insurance industry to produce a list of the best overall auto insurance according to the following metrics:


  • Customer satisfaction
  • Handling of claims
  • Value
  • Renewal rates
  • Customer recommend rates


With that in mind…  Here are the top 5 auto insurance companies right now:


  • #5 Auto Club of Southern California
  • #4 GEICO
  • #3 Farmers
  • #2 State Farm
  • #1 USAA

All of those companies had scores of 90.5 or better (out of 100, USAA had a 93.9).  I can speak to USAA as they are my auto insurance company.  They truly are terrific and I would recommend them for you if you’re not happy with your current auto insurance company and if you’re eligible (as you have to have a military service connection within your family). 


Audio Report:


Small businesses may be ready to spring forward:


Bottom Line:  We know that a solid and meaningful economic recovery isn’t possible without small businesses being a leading part of the story.  With that in mind the next six months appear as though they should be better economically than the previous six. 


According to the most recent PNC biannual survey of small businesses:


  • 37% of small businesses are optimistic about the next six month compared to 22% six months ago


  • 22% plan to add full-time employees over the next six month compared to 16% six months ago


  • 32% intend on issuing pay raises to existing employees compared to 10% six months ago

So we still are a long way from a majority of small businesses feeling better about the future and having that translate into more job opportunity and higher wages… But at least there appears to be a much better trend that’s developing. 


Audio Report:



Florida's total tax burden & how it compares to other states:


Bottom Line:  As Floridians we’re all keenly aware of one of the biggest benefits (aside from the beaches & sunshine) of living in our state.  No personal income tax.  That’s a distinction we share with only a handful of other states.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t pay a significant amount of taxes to living this state. 


Each year the Tax Foundation evaluates the total tax burden for the each state for the average resident.  Here’s the result of their latest report just released (for 2011):


  • The highest overall tax burden is in New York, New Jersey & Connecticut with average burdens of 11.9%


  • The lowest overall tax burden is in Wyoming at 6.9%


  • The overall state average is 9.8%

So where do we stand in Florida?   


  • Our tax burden is 9.2% or 31st overall

So we do fare better than the average citizen of other states but still 18 other states have lower overall tax burdens, so we could be doing better – especially at the local tax level. 


Audio Report: