I work at a huge car dealership. And I’ve heard it so many times…
Don’t go to a dealership by yourself. They rip off women. Make sure your husband, boyfriend, friend, brother, or dad comes with you. Bring a man!
WHAT?! Ladies, ladies, ladies. We don’t need a man to buy a car. We’re smart. We’re educated buyers. We don’t live in the 1950s. And by golly, we can do this! We can overcome those sleazy salesmen.
I did you all a favor. I interviewed all of the people involved in your car purchase (I specifically picked men—even thought we have women in all of these roles—since the industry is statistically male dominated). I asked them all the same question, and they were eager to share all of the insider secrets with you!
Imagine your sister is coming to the dealership by herself. What does she need to do, say, ask to get a fair deal? Keep in mind, this is your sister. You love her, and you don’t want someone to take advantage of her.
- Before you even step foot in a dealership, do your research online. You should have a fairly good idea of what kind of car you would like before you arrive.
- Check the prices on Auto Trader. Chances are, the dealership you’re shopping is advertising inventory there. You can also compare prices at one dealership to another to get an idea of a fair price for a vehicle.
- Check the price one more time on Kelly Blue Book. You can also check the value of your trade here (if you have one).
- Now you’re ready to call the dealership. Do NOT come in yet! Call first. Only give them your first name. Ask them if they have the car you like in stock. Chances are, the Sales Consultant you speak to on the phone will assist you when you visit. It’s very important you feel comfortable with this person. If you don’t feel comfortable, you should hang up, call back, and ask for the Sales Manager. The Sales Manager can assign you to a new Sales Consultant.
- Once you like your Sales Consultant on the phone, you’re ready to come in and test drive the car. It’s time for some tire kicking. Do not seem overly eager to buy today (even if you want to).
- Ask for the price of the car, rates and terms of financing, and the value of your trade. If they don’t give you these numbers in writing, WALK OUT. This dealership is not for you.
- Know that it really is TRUE that we have no control over the price. We really DO have to ask our manager. The Sales Manager holds the key to getting you a lower price. This is not a game.
- Again, don’t seem overly eager to purchase that day. Stretch it out a few days if need be. And expect to be at the dealership on the day you test drive and get numbers for 4-5 hours. It will take that long to properly find you the best rates at various banks, test drive cars, and pin down a value on your trade and new car.
THE SALES MANAGER:
- My best advice? The best advice for my sister would be to have a solid idea of the type of vehicle that fits your needs and the cost of that vehicle before you ever step foot in a dealership. Auto Trader and Kelley Blue Book are great resources. You can read reviews, see prices, inventories, and trade values. Remember, on your trades, market value determines the value of the trade. While Kelley Blue Book is a great resource, and you need to check that because I also look at it, I have to make a profit on that car for it to be worth my time to take it on trade.
- Test drive a few cars. For example, you told me you would never drive a minivan. And now? You’re happier than ever with your van because it best fits the needs of your lifestyle. Be open to driving a few things.
- Don’t get numbers the first time you go to the dealership. Shop, drive, and then recontact them for numbers. It makes them want you more.
- Do not shop on the last day of the month. This is the busiest day at a dealership, and you won’t get the time and attention you deserve. Sales people are also more pushy at the end of the month because they have quotas to meet.
- Make this a 2-3 day process from start to finish.
- Ask for a CarFax on a pre-owned vehicle (the dealership should give you this for free!).
- Find a reputable dealer. Check out their Google Reviews, ask your friends and co-workers, and try to avoid small buy-here-pay-here lots.
- You can deal directly with the manager. I will to tell you, when a woman calls me first and talks to me, I feel humanly inclined to help her. For example, I had a woman call me and tell me she was buying a car for the first time by herself and she was recently divorced. She told me she was very nervous. She didn’t want to feel rushed or pushed around. I was very careful to match her up with a patient Sales Consultant, and I made sure she was given a fair deal. So know that it’s okay to call in and ask the Sales Manager for help before you ever come in to test drive.
- Yes, they are telling you the truth when they say they have to ask their manager for pricing (Ladies —I just needed to double verify that for all of you).
THE FINANCE MANAGER:
- I could write a book about advice when it comes to the Finance Department at a dealership. Where do I begin? Well, first you need to know your credit score. You get one free report each year. There are three credit reporting agencies.
- If you have bad credit (this is a score below a 700), you will pay a higher interest rate.
- If you have great credit (this is a score above a 750), you will pay a lower interest rate.
- Dealerships will most likely be able to get you a better interest rate than a bank because we price you out with several banks at the same time. Since we have such a high volume of business with various banks, they often cut our customers better deals.
- Consider leasing. A lease is often much less expensive than a purchase, and it is a great option for customers who do not put many miles on their cars in a year.
- Don’t come into my office, sit down, and be mean to me. It makes the situation worse for you because now I don’t really feel like helping you. You can be tough, hard nosed, and stern. But don’t be mean to me. I really am here to help you. I want to get your deal done because I am also paid on commissions.
- Finance offices are highly regulate by the government (just like a bank). So if something feels wrong or shady, you need to WALK AWAY. Finance is held to a higher standard and you should know exactly what you;re paying for a vehicle and why.
- I should go over all of your contracts with you. If you buy an extend warranty or GAP insurance, you need to know how much that adds to your payment each month. I always tell my customers, “I do this all day long for a living. Sometimes I go fast, and I don’t mean to rush you. If I’m going too fast for you, just slow me down and we can pick this contract apart piece by piece.”
See, ladies, we can do this. I want you all to print this article, and review it before you purchase your next vehicle. After all, buying a car is a major purchase. Let’s go in armed with all the tools we need.
Tell me about your car buying experiences. Have you ever been burned? Or have you mainly had positive experiences?