Saturday, August 16, 2008

Car Buying Tips: Test the Dealer Before You Visit

The customer experience is important to some dealerships. Some. Most consider it a positive if it happens, but not a necessity. Good news for the consumers is that more dealers are becoming aware of the importance of good customer service.

Even better news for the consumer: you can usually determine if the dealership you are considering will give you an easy transaction, which in the end is what the consumer really wants.

It costs the average business 7 to 9 times more money to acquire a customer than to keep a current one. This holds true in the car business. Until recent years and the advent of the Internet, many car dealers did not practice this philosophy. The ones that do can be easily found through their automotive website and their Internet Sales Department.

The key to finding out is asking questions. In the old days (3 years ago) dealership’s employees, including the Internet department, were taught that less information is better. The goal was to get the customer to come to the dealership while giving out as little information as possible.

The thinking was that cars weren’t sold on the phone or over the Internet. Gross profit, on the other hand, was lost on the phone and over the Internet.

Flash forward to today and the facts have changed. People do buy cars on the phone and over the Internet. It just isn’t hard. Car dealerships who are willing to do this are also the ones that are willing to make the overall transaction easier.

Ask questions. It’s easy. Find automobile dealership websites that you are considering,search their inventory for vehicles, request information, and see what happens. Be honest (believe it or not, many dealerships are promoting honesty in their sales team). If you are wanting to buy a car within the next 3 days, tell them. It it’s something you are just starting, tell them. How they handle your needs is an important sign of their quality.

Once you have identified a vehicle of interest, go after the hard questions. How much, bottom dollar? What does the vehicle history report say? Dealers like Portland Honda Dealers and their fellow auto group stores Portland Toyota Dealers and Portland Lincoln Mercury Dealers are willing to get their customers vehicle history reports upon request.

Was it a trade-in, a local auction vehicle, or a program auction vehicle? These answers should come out easily and within an hour of asking (time enough to talk to the sales manager about pricing).

Trade-ins and interest rates are the only “cloudy” areas that the vast majority of dealers, even honest ones like Used Cars Shreveport, must try to avoid whenever possible. It is a trap, and too many people dishonestly catch dealers in it to the point that they must be defensive about it.

Consumers call regularly asking for a ballpark figure on their excellent condition vehicle and an average rate for their excellent credit. When they come to the dealership in their good (but not excellent) credit and in their nice (but not excellent trade-in), they make demands and threats, creating a bad experience for everyone involved. Within a week, 10 people that the customer knows will never shop at the crooked dealership again.

The best thing a consumer can do for trade-ins and interest rates is to check independently. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders can give a rate, while there are several trade evaluation sites on the web.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ask the tough questions. Get answers or move on to another dealership. Buying a car can be easy in today’s market for anyone willing to make it so.

Several automobile dealer websites like New Jersey Chevrolet Dealers will use honorable methods to sell you a car. To find dealers like this in your area, you just have be willing to ask the questions.

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