Raise your hand if you hate buying a car.
That’s what I thought. 83% of you. New. Used. It doesn’t matter. Most people hate shopping for cars. Those that don’t are just gluttons for punishment, or love negotiating too much.
This past weekend I purchased a new car. I was not only determined to get a fair price, I was determined to make it as pleasurable of an experience as possible. I didn’t want to drive miles away (the last time I bought a car I drove to St. Louis to pick it up) and I didn’t want to fight and haggle for a half way decent price. I wanted to find a dealer that I could not only buy my car from, but, who’s service incentives I could actually use.
So, in preparation, I did my homework.
First, I spoke to my friend who owns a dealership.
Through him I learned more about the dealer business and how they make money. He demystified the business model for me.
Secondly, I did my research.
I read consumer reports and other reviews in order to narrow down my choices. I even refreshed my technique by reading all of the “how to” guides on negotiating your car.
And then, I went and test drove my top selections and narrowed down my selection. But once I made my decision, I deliberately left the dealer. I didn’t want to make an emotional decision or seem like an anxious buyer. Instead I met Teresa for lunch and talked through the decision.
As I returned to my preferred dealer (based on distance from my home), I made my intentions clear. “I’m here to buy a car. I don’t intend to haggle. I’m looking for a positive experience and a fair price. You have one chance.”
Unfortunately, my tactic failed.
I was offered a price that didn’t seem reasonable based upon my research. Sure enough, as soon as I held out my hand to thank the salesperson and stood up to leave, the sales manager came to intercept me before I hit the door. He tried to negotiate for a better deal.
I walked out on principle and spent the rest of the day online, on the phone, and at another dealer, attempting to discover what the market price for the vehicle was. At the end of the night, I was confident that I had my number; unfortunately, I was 15 miles away from my home. And so, I went home, empty-handed and slightly frustrated.
That evening, I emailed the General Manager at my preferred dealer directly. I told him about my experience and made him an offer. It was accepted first thing the next morning and when I walked in the door, the paperwork had already been started and my car had already been set aside and cleaned. I was out the door with little hassle.
Next time, I’m starting out this way.
The truth is that the car buying services don’t get you the optimal price and the “how-to’s” published by Consumer Reports and other entities only work if you want to fight and compete others against each other. I’m convinced that the method I tripped across will get you the optimal price, and save you the maximum amount of time nearly every time.