In 2016, over 17,500,000 people bought new cars in America. That means that on a daily basis, including holidays, 47,945 people took the plunge. That is almost 2000 per hour, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Remember too, many other people visited a dealership and for one reason or another, didn’t buy. Is it any wonder dealerships are so busy and that it takes a while to buy a car?
There are things you can do to make the process faster in many cases, but it takes doing a little homework. Here are some good tips to speed things up:
1. Don’t just show up at a dealership.
Establish communication by phone or Internet and let them know you are coming, and when. Do your best to meet the agreed upon time. Most people in sales work on commission to feed their families. Take it from me, there is nothing worse than waiting for an appointment and not being able to start working with a new customer.
2. Try to select the vehicle you want from their website.
If you are pretty sure what you want to purchase, try to match your desires to their inventory and let them know which vehicle it is, in advance and ask them to locate the car. Often, inventory on their website was sold previously, but the paperwork is not complete. The car you want may be sitting at an offsite location buried behind five or more other vehicles. Keys get lost, batteries go down, things just happen. A good dealership will locate the car you want and having it sitting up front when you arrive, often washed.
3. Get a feel for the market.
Know what cars are hot and which ones are not. This will have an effect on what kind of deal you get. I had a listener to my show tell a Subaru dealer the other day that she “started negotiating at $200 over invoice and went down from there.” Needless to say, she didn’t buy a car. A little research online, like using Edmunds.com TMV (True Market Value) tool and she’d have known market demand is great than supply on Forester.
4. Know your credit score and what interest rate you can get.
It is always a good idea to know your credit score if you are going to finance a vehicle, and it is also good to know what interest rate you can get from your bank or credit union. If your dealer can match or even beat the best interest rate you can get, let them do the financing for you and make it a one-stop shopping experience.
5. Know the incentives.
You can find out online what the consumer incentives are from auto manufacturers. These should not be confused with discounts, they are two separate items. Some dealers will try to lump them together to show you a larger reduction from the MSRP of the vehicle. Know your choices in the case of a low interest rate versus a cash rebate. There is always a link in the Car Pro Newsletter to give you all the incentives, by brand.
6. If possible, go to the dealership mid-week.
Many people have no choice but to car shop on weekends when they are off. However, if it is possible, go in the middle of the week when the dealership is quieter and they can spend more time with you without being rushed.
There are some things you can’t do in advance, and in spite of all your research, you will still have questions, and questions take time. Patience on your part, and the part of the salesperson, can make a huge difference in whether you leave a dealership feeling good or bad about your experience. The tips above will certainly aid in making sure you get a great deal in the shortest time possible.