So, You Want to Buy A Car.
Maybe today’s the day. You’ve finally reached that point. Maybe it’s an issue with your current ride. Maybe there’s a new addition (driver/member) to your family. Or maybe it’s just time for a change. Whatever your reason, your about to venture into a process that most people compare to dental work or a colonoscopy! But does it really have to be that bad?
As a long-term member of the second most hated group of professionals in America, ranked behind lawyers in most informal surveys, the car salesman is perhaps the most untrustworthy, despised individual in America today! We are all lifelong members of the Villains, Thieves and Scoundrels Union, Local 3 (thanks to those of you who got the Rocky & Bullwinkle reference). We would lie to our mothers for a sale, and nothing we say or do can be taken at face value. We will lie, cheat and steal to make a commission, so you best leave your wallet at home and prepare for war.
According to a recent study by Cox Automotive (by the way, they own Manheim, the auto auction where most dealers get their used cars from, as well as some of the best-known consumer websites including Dealer.com, Autotrader, Kelly Blue Book) 61% of consumers do not feel the shopping experience has improved! While many consumers start their journey to buying a vehicle on line, most end up in a dealership to complete their purchase. Truth be told, I have bought one car in my lifetime entirely on-line, and the experience, while it saved me time and money, proved to be more time consuming when the vehicle I purchased (a convertible) showed up and malfunctioned (the top did not operate). It took me 3 months to resolve an $800 repair bill, and I vowed never again to do that.
So how can you make your car buying experience better?
Well, first, don’t expect to commit Grand Theft Auto. No dealership is willing to lose money to earn your business, so if you expect them to, be prepared for disappointment. Dealer and managers spend hours researching the prices of their units and realize that an unrealistic price will not attract any attention. Dealers tend to advertise their vehicles to be the lowest, or among the lowest priced in the market. At my dealership, we typically have the lowest price for a unit within 200 miles, and in some cases, in the entire United States. Expecting to get thousands off an advertised price is unrealistic, and sometimes, downright insulting. We know the value of our inventory and making a ridiculously low offer on a vehicle could have you insulting the very person who bought it for the dealership in the first place!
Expect a dealership to make a profit on the goods and services. Regardless of what you do for a living, you would not do it if you could not make money doing it. Keep in mind that a typical dealerships has several people involved in selling you your new vehicle, from the porter who pulled it off the truck, to the mechanic who serviced it, the detailer who cleaned up, the sales rep who showed it to you, the sales manager who priced it right for you, the business manage who completed the paperwork, the billing clerk, who processes the paper work, the title clerk, who handles your registration and DMV work, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone in this list. So, you see, it’s a lot more involved then you think. That’s why dealerships need to turn a profit on a sale.
What about all those internet pundits who “expose” the secret money-making schemes that dealer employ to “rob” you? Most are folk that tried and couldn’t succeed at auto sales, or any sale for that matter. Where I once described sales as “the art of extracting money from another man’s pocket without resorting to violence”, I came to realize that sales is really about providing information and insight to individuals in order to earn their trust, respect and ultimately, their business. My job is to provide you with information and options to help you make the best decision you can, and if I do my job correctly, you are my customer for life, as well as my friend. Are there customers that I didn’t like but still sold them a vehicle? Absolutely! And how about the ones that I really hit it off with, but didn’t sell them? I still hear from many of them over the years, and some have even followed me from dealer to dealer over the course of my career.