What do you feel when you hear phrases like “car salesperson”, “car dealership”, and “car buying”? If you’re like most people, these terms send shivers down your spine and remind you of unpleasant experiences. In fact, most people would rather have extensive dental work than visit a car dealership.
It doesn’t have to be this way though, honest! While buying a car is usually the second largest purchase that most people make in their lifetime, it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience.
I'm not talking about the certainly pleasant experience of the invigorating smell of a new car’s interior or the gleam in your eye as the sun glistens off of the untarnished exterior. I’m talking about having a painless experience during the process of visiting the dealership whether you’re buying new or used.
A Sobering Profession
A 2007 USA Today/Gallup poll finds that car salesmen are the least trusted professional. That’s no surprise you say, but did you know that while 2/3’s of consumers said that they were at least “satisfied” with their experience at the car dealership, 10 years ago that number was 80 %.
How could that percentage have gotten worse when there is much more focus on customer service in most businesses these days?
There are a few related reasons for this such as: higher turnover of salespeople, less commission based sales, more educated consumers leading to lower profit.
Take Control and Be Prepared
So how can any woman prevent unfair treatment, unprofessional sales tactics, and outrageous offers by auto salespeople?
The easiest way is by obeying the scout motto: Be Prepared.
By preparing yourself BEFORE entering the lion’s den, otherwise known as the auto dealership, the salesperson will have no choice but to treat you fairly, act professionally, and respect your wants, needs, and desires.
1. Know your budget – Only you (NOT the salesperson) should know how much you can spend. Hey, I’d like to be driving a Lamborghini, but I know at this point in my life all that I can afford and the vehicle that suits my needs is a Camry.
2. Secure Financing – Unless there are special manufacturer to consumer financing incentives, go to your bank or credit union, make some calls and look at some websites and get the best finance rate you can. It will almost certainly be better than any that the dealership will give you.
3. Research, Research, Research!
You’ve determined your budget. Now look at the various websites such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book that will give you an idea of the dealers approximate cost for the vehicle(s) you want to test drive. Assume a 2 to 3 % profit depending on make and model, and you’ve got an idea on what it will cost.
4. Test Drive and Be Quiet – After researching within your budget, driving habits, safety needs, etc., you’ll have a good idea as to what vehicle or vehicle class will suit your needs. Put the pedal to the medal and put the car through its paces. Tell the salesperson you’re there to test drive only and will not be discussing anything other than questions on the car or cars you’ll be driving. They won’t like this because their job is to get as much information from you as possible, but they’ll respect you more for being up front on your intentions and won’t pester you with questions.
5. Give Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse – Instead of wasting countless hours visiting multiple dealerships trying to haggle with a professional who’s prepared to rebut and refute anything you say, use the information you’ve collected in your research and tell them what you’re willing to pay. Talk to friends and family to get an idea of what they may have paid for similar vehicles. Try offering exactly what you’ve calculated the dealer’s cost to have been without adding profit. That way if they deny your offer, you can always add small dollar increments to the offer instead of having to beat them down.
6. Pat Yourself on the Back – By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to getting your way when it comes to buying a car!