Have you ever heard the phrase “white glove service” and wondered what exactly it meant?
This term gets tossed around a bit in the car business, but what do white gloves have to do with buying or leasing a car?
Well, it’s a bit of a long story, but this phrase could change the way you think about the process of car shopping. Read on to find out what it means to get the white glove treatment and how to enjoy it the next time you look for a new car.
A brief history of gloves
These days, we think of gloves mostly for their functional aspect. Gardening gloves, dishwashing gloves or a cozy knit pair to keep your hands warm in winter.
Throughout history, gloves have had many practical purposes but also symbolic meaning.
In ancient Egypt, gloves were seen as a marker of high status. The Pharaohs wore them – they were even buried with them, in fact – and noble women wore them to preserve the beauty and delicacy of their hands.
In Europe through the Middle Ages, gloves acted to clearly distinguish people’s social status. Peasants wore simple and functional gloves made from calf- or sheepskin, while the gloves worn by royalty, nobility, and high clergy were elaborately decorated with gold, silver, pearls and precious stones.
Among knights, throwing a glove at another’s feet meant a challenge to a duel, hence the expression “throwing down the gauntlet.” But if a woman offered her glove to a gentleman, it was a sign of great favor.
Gloves continued to symbolize high status and sophistication until the 1960s, when more simple clothing and the au naturel look started to gain ground.
So, what does all of this have to do with leasing a car?
It’s just an interesting segue into the idea of white glove service, an important phrase to look out for when you’re choosing an auto broker or dealership to work with.
Where does the phrase “white glove service” come from?
Generally, when people talk about “white glove service” or getting the “white glove treatment,” they mean something that’s over the top but in a good way.
The phrase has been used since the mid-20th century to describe service at the highest caliber, anticipating the client’s every need before they arise.
It refers to the uniform of English butlers and footmen, who traditionally would wear white gloves for a few reasons.
First, white is the most elegant color. Everything looks fancier in white!
White shows every stain or speck of dirt, so spotless white gloves are evidence that both the wearer is immaculately clean, and he or she has kept the surroundings at the same high level of hygiene. (Hence the “white glove test,” when something is clean enough that you can run a gloved finger over it without picking up a grain of dust.)
Finally, in Europe back in the day, most dishware used by the nobility was made of silver, which tarnishes when touched by human skin and its oils. Gloves for the servers were a way to ensure that the silver stayed clean and spotless.
These days, not so many of us have a personal butler. We can still, however, enjoy service that has all the qualities of a butler’s support: complete, attentive and personalized.
The phrase “white glove service” is meant to indicate this.
Since there’s no official standard for calling something “white glove,” sometimes it’s more of a marketing ploy, so always check what’s actually being offered before you commit.
What should white glove service include?
In order for a service to deserve the label “white glove,” it should go above and beyond. As a client, you should feel like you are personally being taken care of. Not only covering every detail, everything should be done in a way that you can relax and enjoy.
When it comes to buying or leasing a new car, you are most likely to get this kind of service from an auto broker rather than a standard car dealership.
Auto brokers are professional agents who help people buy cars. A good broker is with their client every step of the way, from researching models to negotiating contracts.
Why can you get the white glove treatment more easily from an auto broker than from a dealership?
Obviously, it’s not so cut and dried. There are some dealerships that provide high-level service for their customers, and plenty of lackluster auto brokers as well.
But think for a minute about the motivation of an auto broker versus that of a car dealer.
Dealerships are out to sell cars, simple as that. If they can push a customer into buying a more expensive car, they won’t hesitate for a minute, even if the customer would be better served by a cheaper model.
Many of the elements that make buying or leasing a car so unpleasant – the industry jargon, pushy salespeople, too much information, endless negotiations and confusing contracts – are useful for disorienting customers and pressuring them into accepting the car the dealer wants to sell, instead of the car they actually want.
Auto brokers, on the other hand, don’t make money directly from selling the car. (No pun intended.) They will usually take a flat fee for their services, meaning that they aren’t financially invested in which car you choose.
Their whole job is to make sure you have as smooth an experience as possible and end up with the right vehicle.
At Capital Motor Cars, for example, we go out of our way to simplify the leasing process and find the best possible deals for our clients. We even offer concierge auto delivery, a premium marker of true white glove service in auto leasing.
Concierge delivery means that when you sign on to lease a new car, we will deliver it straight to your home or work, whenever it’s convenient for you. No more hassle of getting to the dealership (without a car) just to pick up your new car!
We all deserve a little special treatment, especially this time of year. The holidays are upon us, everyone is feeling generous (and maybe a bit cold), so we might as well be generous to ourselves.
Finding a new car is enough of an effort. Make it easy on yourself by working with an auto broker who provides genuine white glove service, so you can find the car that fits you like a glove.