Sunday, December 21, 2008

11 Most Common Phrases Uttered by Car Salesmen

While the car business has been forced to be more forthcoming because of the vast information and shopping power of the Internet, there are still those clinging to the "good 'ol days" by using lines that just don't hold up in today's car shopping environment.

Sometimes they work. Sometimes they make people mad. Sometimes they just make people laugh.

“I don’t know if I can do that it, but if I could, would you buy this car today?”

This is the classic non-committal, open-door, promise without actually promising tactic that salespeople love and consumers don’t always understand.

“What’s it going to take to put this car in your garage today?”

A good salesperson’s goal is to find your trigger that they can target for pulling. If you have a trigger, they want to find it and yank on it as hard as they can.

“We knew it had that problem. That’s why it’s priced so low.”

Turn objections into positives. That is what a GREAT car salesperson can do. The engine could be smoking, the gears could be grinding, and the radio may be stuck on polka, but a great salesperson handles it properly, and this is one of their best lines.

“I’ll even throw in the floor mats.”


“The price doesn’t matter. It’s all about the payments. If it were $5000 cheaper but the payments were $1000 per month, would you buy it?  Of course not!”

They can make the most money if you are focused on payments. Getting down to the right price or trade difference means only one thing to the dealership – less money. Getting down to the right payment can mean many things – longer term, lower rate, lower price, or a combination. If they can keep you looking at the payment, they may be able to sneak the price right by you.

“I’ll even throw in a tank of gas.”

Yippee! (I thought a tank of gas was included on new cars?)

“It’s not just leather, it’s Corinthian Leather.”

This has been a private joke in the industry for years. The definition of Corinthian is “the most ornate of the three Greek orders.” Coincidentally, it also means “playboy; a man devoted to the pursuit of pleasure.”

“I need a sale today to get my kids some clothes for school.”

A struggling salesperson will not use this line. If they use this line, they already have their kids clothes – now they are going for the upgraded golf clubs.

“Tell your friends where you got it, just don’t tell them what you paid for it.”

They are insinuating that you got a great deal. You may have. Then again, you may have been ripped and they don’t want anyone to tell you so.

“I’ll even throw in a free detail.”


Bonus: “I didn’t think you were an idiot, but if you were, I didn’t want to miss you.”

It's a strange world we live in.  Luckily, there are still some honest dealers out there.  In these tough times within the industry, let's hope that these dealerships are the ones that survive and thrive.

Read more Car Buying Tips on this blog.

Judging a Car Dealer by their Automotive Website

You can tell a lot about how a car dealer treats people by what appears on their websites. It's important to always visit their website to get an idea of how they operate. Here are five things to look for when you visit.

1) Prices on the Vehicles: It has been popular in the past to list the "price" on the website as "Call".  This is often an indication that the price of the vehicle depends on many variables such as trade-ins and customer disposition.  Our take - if they don't publish their prices, they're not ready to be open and honest with you even if you go there.

2) Parts and Service: There are two types of franchise dealers - those who have a strong parts and service department that are thriving and making money, and those who don't.  As strange as it may sound, a dealer who is doing well on "fixed ops" are more likely to have better prices on their vehicles.  Those who are struggling in service and parts need to make more money in sales to survive.  It's that simple.  Check out their service and parts pages on the website.  If they are prominent, that's a good sign.

3) Credit Applications: In 2009, a possible reason that a dealership would not have a nice, secure, interactive credit application is that they do not have a strong finance department.  In today's world where credit is more difficult to get than ever even with good credit, it is important to have a strong finance department working towards getting your loan approved at the best rate possible.

4) Clean Appearance: One trend of late has been to offer a no-frills website to customers.  While appearances are often superficial, sometimes they also mean that the dealership is in trouble, cutting back costs and having a greater need to make more money on each sale.  If the website looks good and clean like Orange County Toyota Dealers, you have a better chance of getting a good deal than on a plain-jane website.

5) Testimonials: Website providers today give dealers the ability to post written or video testimonials on a website. This is a light indicator as many dealers just haven't been given the option yet, so not having testimonials is not necessarily a bad thing.  Having them, however, is a good sign.

Read more car buying tips on this blog.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Consumers Take Advantage of Crashing Automotive Industry


One person's woes are often another person's delights.  That is the case now with the current state of the automotive industry.  As reports come in left and right about manufacturers in trouble, car dealers closing, and double digit dips in sales, consumers are in a position to make moves and get great deals.

As unfortunate as the economic crisis is for so many, those who are in a position to capitolize should do just that.  In short, buy.  Hop in your car or go to the Internet and buy a new or pre-owned vehicle.  Car dealers are hungry for sales.  Traffic on both their automotive websites and their physical locations are down.  The phones aren't ringing like they should be.

Car deals are being made, regardless of what it takes, because the opportunities are slim and the cash-flow is even worse.

This is not a call for consumers to be brazen with their upper-hand.  Regardless of what conditions look like, a smart and polite consumer can always walk away with a better deal than an obnoxious one.  The problems in the industry are not a secret and few car dealers are trying to make it so.

The only negative for consumers is the reduction in trade values.  Because of the weak market, car dealers are not willing to "stretch" as far as they normally would.  They will let their vehicles go for slim profits, but they will not get "buried" in vehicles that will end up costing them more than they made in the first place.

There is no need to do anything different.  Follow the steps listed here or on other car buying tips websites.  The only difference is that now, with the conditional upper hand, the necessity to take a deal that isn't the best is out the window.  Play it smart.

To play it smart, you have to get in the game.  As many advertisements say year after year, now is the best time to buy.  The only difference is that now REALLY IS the best time to buy.

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Read more car buying advice articles right here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

9.5 Odd Car Buying Tips Nobody Will Tell You

Sometimes the best way to buy a car is to think outside of the box. In this article, I’ll show you how to turn the box inside out and have the absolute best car buying experience ever.

If you’re reading this article, you are savvy enough to look for information before you undergo the root-canal procedure known as car buying. If you are the type of person who can keep an open mind and maintain focus on the details, you should be able to use this information to quell any potential pains in the process.

(1) Eat Before You Go

The last thing you want to hear when in the heat of an important negotiation is your stomach. It has been scientifically proven that hunger can cloud our judgment and negatively affect our state of mind.

Eat. A car deal can take a long time to complete. Even those who pride themselves on being able to get in and out of a dealership can often run into the unforeseeable roadblock of waiting to get into finance to finalize the deal. A pleasant meal before embarking can eliminate a potentially unpleasant factor in the process.

(2) Ask the Receptionist

Most receptionists at car dealerships know more about salespeople, their styles, and their pitfalls than anyone. They are the least biased employees because their pay is rarely affected whether you buy a car or not.

Call ahead and ask point blank, “I really want an honest, pleasant salesperson to work with me. If you were buying a car, who would you want to buy it from?”

Some will answer. Some will need prodding. If you can get a response, it will most likely be a useful one.

(3) Bring Donuts

First impressions are important whenever you meet someone new, especially those who can help you. Salespeople are primarily out to help themselves (as most people are), but that indirectly means they want to help you to help them make money. If you don’t buy, they made nothing.

Bringing donuts sets the tone. You will be instantly liked, not only by your salesperson, but everyone who indulges in your treats. It sounds insane, but when it comes down to those final negotiating dollars and cents, a considerate customer will receive more consideration from the dealership.

If they like you and want you to be their customer, there is a decent chance they will step out a little further to earn your business. If it saves you $50, $100, or $500, why wouldn’t you want to spend $10 on a couple of boxes of donuts?

(4) Prepare to Make a Day of It

It’s possible to buy a car in an hour or less. It’s also possible to win the lottery. I would wager that the latter happens more often than the prior.

If you set aside a full day and start early, there won’t be any time constraints that can ruin a car deal. At busier dealers like Orange County Toyota Dealers, you don't want to be rushed by poor scheduling.  If you are able to wrap it up in 3 hours, that’s more time for the mall, golfing, or showing your new ride to friends and family. If it turns into an 8-hour day, at least you were prepared for it.

It happens every day. Someone goes to a dealership, finds a car, starts to negotiate, but has to leave for one reason or another.  The next day, the car is gone. They can get mad, but the reality is that people regularly promise to come back the next day and never show. Unless they put a deposit down, most vehicles cannot be held.

(5) No Distractions

Dealerships are rarely good places to bring kids. Buying a car can be long, tedious, and overall unpleasant. Don’t make it worse by bringing your (or someone else’s) children if at all possible.

Set your phone to silent. If you can’t, make sure the office and everyone else knows to only call for emergencies. Treat buying a car as if it is something important. That shouldn’t be hard – it IS important.

(6) Take a Long Test Drive

When you narrow it down to a vehicle that truly piques your interest, ask to take an extended test drive without a salesperson.

With most state laws regarding insurance, your full coverage should cover it. Any dealership who won’t allow it is one that doesn’t like losing control of a customer, and thus probably isn’t the right place to do business. Drive it on the highway. Find an empty parking lot if possible and test the feel of the brakes (without putting yourself in danger). Spend some time with your favorite station/cd/mp3 playing. Spend some time with the stereo off.

Take it home or to a parking lot where you can get out, look it over thoroughly, and decide if you can picture yourself in it.

Take it to a friend or family member to get their opinion.

Whatever you do, don’t make a large purchase like buying a vehicle without an extended test drive first.

(7) Use a Lifeline

Phone a Friend. On Who Wants to be a Millionaire, it’s the most important lifeline. On Who Wants a Good Deal on a Car, it is possibly more important.

Have someone available by a computer to look up anything you need to know. If you’ve found a used vehicle you like, have someone look it up with a large search radius on Richmond Used Cars or other local internet dealer listings.

There may be one with similar equipment and miles out there for thousands cheaper. It could help with negotiations. There may be tons out there that are more expensive, reaffirming that you’re getting a great deal.

For new cars, you should know all of the information before going to the dealership because you…

(8) Work the Internet First

Especially for new cars, it is important to get a quote online from the internet departments of good dealerships. Checking with Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book for new car values, then cross referencing your results with actual dealer inventories can give you the information you need to make a decision.

In some dealerships, the internet department is made up of salespeople. In others, like Oklahoma City Ford Trucks, the departments have Customer Resource Specialists, Business Development Operators, or one of a plethora of colorfully-titled, non-commissioned representatives to do research and get you the best prices.

The first thing you should ask when starting a dialogue with an internet department is whether or not they will be the salesperson assisting you. If not, you are probably dealing with a salaried employee who makes a bonus if you buy but who doesn’t make a percentage of the gross profit.

In other words, they get paid if you buy regardless of the profit, and thus will work harder to lower the price for you.

You have an opportunity to cut through much of the red tape and get straight to the price with a true internet coordinator. If they are commissioned salespeople, then you might as well refer back to “Ask the Receptionist” before deciding to work with them or not.

(9) Trust Your Gut

The human instinct is normally very trustworthy. If you feel that you have found a good car at a good price, you probably have. If you aren’t sure, keep working.

If you have a strong negative feeling about the car deal, chances are you haven’t found the right vehicle, haven’t gotten the best deal, or didn’t bring enough donuts.

This is the toughest part for many people.  Do they trust their gut normally?  Has their gut been wrong often before?

This is an ambiguous piece of advice, but if you've read this far down, you probably don't care how ambiguous it is.  At least it makes sense.

(9.5) Enjoy the Experience

In Princess Bride, Billy Crystal’s character says, “Have fun storming the castle!”

The line is nearly as ridiculous as someone saying, “Have fun buying a car!” Still, I will say it with feeling.

It doesn’t have to be bad. The dark ages of car buying (1978-1997) are all but gone, thanks tremendously to the internet. Many of the sleazy salesmen of yore have withered to selling furniture, vacuum cleaners, or real estate. Those who are left have been reprimanded often enough by an informed public and therefore have reluctantly adapted.

There are still bad ones out there, but not nearly in the bulk that existed before. An old- line salespeople used to use when getting caught asking for full sticker on a vehicle went like this:

“I didn’t think you were a fool, but if you were, I didn’t want to miss you!”
Thanks to the internet, many dealers start off discounting a car before the customer asks for it. The old line has been replaced by one that is more relevant in today’s competitive car market:

“You may not have checked it out online, but if you did, I didn’t want to insult you.”

Special thanks goes to Al Gore for inventing the internet.

I hope it helps.

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Read more Car Buying Tips on this blog.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Step by Step: The Car Buying Checklist

Many people feel that they know how to buy a car from a dealer. They've bought many cars in their lives and they "don't need no stinkin' advice" to make the best deal they can make.

Before you go into the process of purchasing a vehicle, remember 2 things:
  1. Regardless of how prepared you think you are, there's probably something you missed if you aren't systematic about it.
  2. Most people buy a car every 2-5 years. Most salespeople sell 2-5 cars a week. They have a little more experience than you on "the battlefield".
Here's a step-by-step checklist that briefly describes the process you should use before, during, and after making a car deal, whether you are working with Washington DC Dodge or Honda Dealers in Los Angeles.
Research Your Target Vehicles
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it's possibly the most important. Are you looking for something general, like a "low-mile import sedan" or something specific like a "new 2008 Honda Accord EX V6, Red". The internet is loaded with reviews and pricing guides to lead you in the right direction.

For new cars, make sure to visit the manufacturer's site to see what rebates and incentives are available. It can make a difference in your choice if you're considering multiple makes and models.
Secure Your Financing
It is amazing how many people start their loan process at the dealership. It's the lazy way out. FACT: Most dealers can get you a better rate than you can get elsewhere. FACT: Most dealers won't give you the best rate you can get if you don't have a better offer up front. Especially for used cars, get an idea from your bank, leasing company, credit union, or third party finance provider of what you qualify for based on your target vehicle. If you go in knowing what rate you should get, what term works for you, and what your approximate payment is, you can either negotiate a better rate at the dealer or have financing ready if they can't beat your rate.
Find Vehicle Candidates Online
The vast majority of dealer websites will have their inventory listed online. Use the search engines to find "Used Cars New Hampshire" or "Longview Texas Honda" to get a list of local dealerships that should have what you want. Check their inventory, then request a quote or call the dealership to verify availability. NEVER go to the dealership without making sure the vehicle you are considering is physically at the car lot. It also makes sense to get a vehicle history report on used cars as well.

You should also check out classified sites like CraigsList, Autotrader, Used Car Search,, and many of the other new and used car listing services. These will help you to sift through the dealer inventories and compare vehicles side by side. Need a new car? Get quotes from multiple dealers through lead services and car credit specialists that work with multiple dealers.

Perhaps most importantly on this point, expand your horizons. So many people search in a small radius. You have the internet. You can shop 20 dealer inventories in a couple of hours. Driving 100 miles -- pain in the rear, but hey, how often do you buy a car? Isn't it worth a longer drive to get the right deal?
Prep Your Trade-In
You've found some cars you like. You drive up, pick one out, get ready for the negotiations, and the salesperson asks you for the keys to your car. When he returns, you are one of the majority of people who isn't satisfied with what the dealer offers.

You can help this. It sounds simple, but pay attention. Before you go to the dealership, change your oil, empty the car out, and wash it. A full detail is preferred, but at the very least, make it clean. Make it smell good. Make it appear as close to immaculate as you can. Replace any inexpensive auto parts through national auto parts vendors or straight to Toyota Parts from the OEM.  A car that seems well cared for will get a higher trade value than one that does not have that "pampered" feel.

Check the value of your trade before going. You can use sites like Kelley Blue Book or Black Book, but your best bet is to get a real quote from a car buyer. Most areas have buyers like Car Cash New York. Find the one in your area and get a cash bid before heading out.
Price In Mind
Every car you are considering, whether new or used, has a market value. For used cars, it's normally somewhere below the average price listed on the classified sites above for similar vehicles to the one you're considering. For new, it can be anywhere between invoice and $1000 over invoice, depending on the demand of the vehicle. Some can be sold below invoice. More "in demand" vehicles can bring MSRP, though this is very rare.
At The Dealership
There are certain things to remember when you're at the dealership. Several articles can be written about what to do when you're there, how to inspect a preowned vehicle, negotiating techniques, finance office advice, and everything else that happens at the dealership itself. Instead of stuffing details into this article, we'll list a few pointers to remember:
  • Just about everything is negotiable. The price, the trade value, the interest rate, the extended warranty -- most dealerships will work with you on everything that you want to work on.
  • Avoid payment negotiations. If you go in knowing that a $9,000 car with $1,000 warranty on a 48 month loan at 7.9% with no trade or cash down should be a few dollars under $250 per month, then there's no need to freak out when they tell you on the sales floor that your payments will be $270. They are simply padding your payment expectations so the finance manager has room to negotiate interest rate and add-ons. No worries. Everyone has the right to try to make money. They just don't have to make it all on you.
  • Remember, you are in control. You're the buyer. You can walk out on a deal at any time prior to signing the papers and driving away. Don't feel pressured to make a move you don't want to make, but also, don't hesitate on a great deal. If it's great, make the deal.
  • Have fun! Sounds hard when buying a car, but the internet has changed the business for many car dealers. It's ultra-competitive now, so many dealerships are shifting towards a customer service attitude instead of a shark mentality. If you go in with the right attitude, it will probably be a smooth transaction. If things get fishy or turn towards high pressure, remember the advice bullet above. You are in control. You can always find a dealer that will work with you.
After the Deal
Again, this could be a long section, but we'll keep it to one or two paragraphs. File your paperwork in a safe place. You may need it later. Set your online (or, gulp, offline) calendars to the important dates -- payments due, scheduled maintenance, end of warranty, etc. Follow up on anything that is owed to you -- they may not call you when the add-on MP3 player you bought comes in, so be sure to keep in touch.

Get involved with automotive forums, become a member of an auto club, and check out any programs that the manufacturer has for owners. There is normally great information as well as piece of mind that can be gained through these types of services.

Perhaps most importantly, talk about your experience. If it was a bad one, make sure people know (even though if it was a bad experience, you should have walked away before finishing the deal). If it was a good one, make sure EVERYONE you like knows about it. This is the 21st century. There are automotive blogs and review sites that can really get the word out. Whether they were good or bad, make sure to share the information. The more people know about a dealership, the better.

Also, the more people who talk/rate/blog about their experience, the closer we will get as a society to having dealers who are conscious of their customers' needs. It will happen some day. The more that people communicate about the good and bad dealers, the better off all of us will be in the long run.

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Read more Car Buying Tips on this blog.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Car Buying Tips: Buy for the Deal, not the Need

The smartest car buyers in the world are almost always in the market for a new (or new to them) vehicle. They keep their car in good shape, make their payments on or ahead of time, and their eyes and ears are always open for the next great deal.

Sadly, most people choose to buy a new (or new to them) car when the need arises. This majority is missing the point.

For new car buyers, the best time to buy a car is when the manufacturer needs to sell them. Last year's leftovers are potentially a good buy for those who drive their vehicles over 5 years at a time before trading, but otherwise, the money saved is lost in the trade or selling of the vehicle later.

Manufacturers come up with something new every year to get the instant boost in sales. These tactics create trends that sometimes last, but usually go away.

Take 0% financing, for example. A few years ago, it was big news when the manufacturer finance departments started offering 0% financing on short term loans. As the months moved forward and sales started stalling out again, the length was extended, capping in September of 2006 when Ford announced 0% for 72 months. Many of the other manufacturers followed the trend, and then, it was gone.

Employee pricing was a big deal in 2005. General Motors introduced it, and within a month, almost every manufacturer had some version of it. It was widely successful for bulk numbers, but the manufacturers and dealerships took major hits on their bottom line, so it went away, potentially for good.

Keep abreast of any changes that are happening. Many dealerships like Hyundai Washington DC, Shreveport Used Honda, and Toyota Dealers Minneapolis post their specials regularly and offer up-to-date incentives that can be a guide for their local car buyers.

These are the events that new car buyers should look for, but what about used car buyers? There are no magic incentives that point to a time for used car purchasing, is there?

On the contrary, cash back incentive announcements on new cars have a dramatic effect on the used car market. It is delayed, but when a particular model gets a major cash back incentive, the month or two that follows will show a decrease in late model used car prices.

When a dealer buys a program or late model used car at auction, the values that they pay will decrease when a major incentive occurs. When a new car cash back incentive comes out, check the used car values for that particular model. Check again a month later. Then once again a month later.

That 2nd month after an incentive is prime time to buy the late model used or program vehicles.
Finally, older used car buying is a game of patients. For those looking for vehicles under $5,000, the best thing they can do is wait, watch, and be ready to pounce. It can take months, or it could happen in a week, but there are individuals out there who want a quick, easy transaction, or who simply do not know the value of their vehicle. Watch the online and newspaper classifieds and be ready to make a move.

Instead of waiting for your car to reach a mileage milestone, or a change in circumstance, or a vehicle breaking down, do the research and buy your next vehicle at the exact right time.

This car buying article brought to you by Automotive SEO.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dealer Profile: San Diego Corvette Dealers

One of the top priorities for any car dealer is to focus on what you know. For some, it's used cars. For others, it's their fixed operations -- service, parts, body shop, etc.

In San Diego, there is one dealer whose focus is on Corvettes. Selling them. Lots of them. For San Diego Chevrolet Dealers, they know, live, and breath Corvettes. Call it a passion, even an obsession, but there's a reason why they sell to people across the country.

There are two reasons, actually. Price is always important when you're selling high-end vehicles such as the Chevy Corvette. The other reason is selection. These aren't Chevy Malibus. They are special vehicles and there just aren't a whole lot of them. Whether it's Chevrolet Dealers Washington DC, Detroit Chevrolet Dealers, or even Santa Fe Chevrolet Dealers, they all want to sell more Vettes.

If you're in the San Diego area, it's a good idea to give Bob Stall Chevrolet a call. Even if you aren't in the area, you should at least check out their website to see if they have what you want. When dealing with a vehicle as outstanding as a Corvette, a little travelling (or even having it shipped) should not be out of the question.

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Read more Car Dealer Profiles on this blog.