Avoiding this one car-buying misstep can save you thousands of dollars and hours of your time.
Published on March 8th, 2021. Last Updated on .
The internet has done a lot for researching cars, but the rules car dealerships set for car buying have not changed much over time.
The truth is, you as a consumer, get to set the rules for the transaction. Dealerships need you. You don’t need them.
The first mistake car buyers make is trying to negotiate at the dealership.
You should never step foot inside a dealership before you know the entire deal.
I’m talking about the sale price, trade-in value, financing rates, taxes, tags/title, doc fees, any add-ons and the exact payment.
You acquire this information by making calls to dealerships from the comfort of your home. This should not involve signing up for “free” car buying sites either that claim to tell you the price other people paid for the car you want all the while bombarding you with emails and phone calls from dealers trying to get you to visit their store. Lead generators for dealerships. That’s their purpose.
You simply need to make phone calls and make the dealerships be transparent.
Call the dealership and get a proposal sent to you. You’ll need to provide your address to configure your taxes and ask them to send you a proposal or buyer's order.
The first rule of the dealership phone BDC process is to ask when you can come to visit the dealership. “When can you come in?” they ask.
If you have no need for a test drive, you have no need to visit the dealership to learn the cost of the vehicle. But that’s their process. They know that if you get inside the dealership you will be less likely to go shopping down the street.
If you need a test drive, then only spend your time doing the test drive. No need to negotiate on their turf. This puts you at a huge disadvantage. Many people will spend all day at the dealership only to feel like they got ripped off.
Just this morning I was told, “You’ll need to come in if you want to do an order.” I had the build from the manufacturer in an email ready to be sent so that the dealership could provide a proposal. But I was first met with that objection. Understandably, that’s what they are trained to say, so instead of arguing with the internet sales department I quickly asked to speak with the general sales manager.
And just like that, I was transferred to the GSM and I explained my goals. I asked for his email and sent him the info he needed to build the vehicle and provide me a buyer's order. He sent it over.
It’s not easy, but you need to speak to the right person and it takes some finesse, something I have perfected over my years negotiating for consumers.
In fact, I suggest you identify who you want to work with before making any calls. A lot of people look at reviews for the dealership itself but in the car business, there is a huge difference from one salesman to the next. Top-performing salesmen are the best to work with for multiple reasons.
Car dealers will say that because of the internet there is no negotiating like in the past. They will say that they have to price cars competitively to get people in the door. The problem is that dealers with the lowest prices online are sometimes the least transparent to deal with. If you find a deal listed online that seems super good, don’t assume that when you get there that’s what they are going to charge.
They know how you're shopping. They’ll show you an initial awesome price online only to change it when you get there.
The only way for you to buy a car without spending hours at multiple dealerships going through the gauntlet is to call them.
You’ll need to make them send proposals by assuring them you will not be visiting their dealership until you know the whole deal—not just the sale price.
If you’re able to get proposals this way you can then negotiate and make dealers compete for your business. And you’ll break the rules the dealerships set for the car buying process.
You need to know the whole deal before stepping foot inside the dealership. You need to make them play by your rules!