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Car Buying Advice: How to Choose the Best Dealership

Finding the right car dealership is essential when purchasing a vehicle. It can greatly impact your overall car buying experience, from the selection of vehicles available to the level of customer service you receive to the finances and structuring of the deal itself. Below, we provide a comprehensive guide to help you choose the right car dealership based on four key factors: inventory, reputation, location, and service. By considering these factors carefully, you can make an informed decision and ensure a satisfying car buying experience.

Inventory: Find the Perfect Vehicle

  1. Variety of Vehicles: Look for a dealership that offers a wide range of vehicles to choose from. A diverse inventory ensures you have options that suit your preferences and needs.
  2. New, CPO, and Used Selection: Determine whether you are interested in purchasing a new, certified pre-owned, or used vehicle. A reputable dealership should have all three options available. If you have a specific preference, ensure the dealership has available selections in that category.
  3. Vehicle Condition: Assess the quality of the vehicles in the dealership’s inventory. Look for well-maintained vehicles with detailed service records. If you are considering a used car, inquire about the dealership’s certification process and warranties for pre-owned vehicles.

Pro Tip: Dealerships with the largest inventories generally rank higher in customer service (CSI), sales volume, and overall profitability. These will typically be the dealerships you want to conduct business with, for several reasons:

  1. Higher CSI rankings indicate management’s customer-first approach, resulting in excellent buying experiences and after-sales support.
  2. Dealerships with higher sales volume are rewarded with additional and rarer inventory and will usually have a volume-first approach. Management believes in selling a lot of vehicles for a little bit of profit on each deal, versus selling a few vehicles for a lot of profit on each deal. Dealerships and salespeople who believe in “volume over gross” are the ones who will actually be straight with you and get you the best deal possible.
  3. Profitable dealerships have the cash flow to properly take care of their cars and their facilities. Vehicles will be thoroughly inspected and serviced, the grounds will be clean, and they have the financial bandwidth to provide excellent after-sales support.

We cover the benefits of doing business with a profitable dealership in much greater detail in the following post.

Reputation: Trust and Reliability

  1. Online Reviews: Research online reviews and ratings of the dealership. Websites like Google, Yelp, and automotive forums provide insights into the experiences of previous customers. Look for consistent positive feedback and evaluate how the dealership addresses any negative reviews.
  2. Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating: Check the dealership’s rating on the Better Business Bureau website. A high rating indicates that the dealership has a good track record and resolves customer complaints satisfactorily.
  3. Word-of-Mouth Recommendations: Seek recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues who have had positive experiences with specific dealerships. Personal referrals can be valuable in assessing a dealership’s reputation.

Location: Convenience and Accessibility

  1. Proximity: Consider the proximity of the dealership to your home or workplace. Choosing a dealership that is conveniently located can save you time and make it easier to visit for test drives, service appointments, and future maintenance needs. Broadly speaking, dealerships are also much more inclined to reserve the best deals for their local communities, since there is the greatest chance of repeat and referral business when dealing locally.
  2. Local Market Knowledge: Local dealerships often have a better understanding of the specific needs and preferences of customers in the area. They may be more knowledgeable about the local automotive market, including popular models and pricing trends.
  3. Service and Support: Evaluate the dealership’s service department, including their availability and the quality of their work. A nearby dealership with a reliable service department can provide convenient and efficient maintenance and repairs.

Pro Tip: If you are shopping locally, let your salesperson know that you live locally, will leave a good review, will refer friends and family, and will return to use the dealership’s service drive. This small piece of information will go a long way in ensuring you receive the best service and the best deal.

Service: Exceptional Customer Experience

  1. Customer-Focused Approach: Interact with the dealership’s sales and service staff to assess their professionalism, knowledge, and willingness to assist you. A customer-focused dealership will prioritize your needs and provide attentive service.
  2. Test Drive Experience: Request a test drive to evaluate the dealership’s commitment to customer service. Pay attention to how the staff handles your questions, accommodates your requests, and ensures your comfort and safety during the test drive.
  3. After-Sales Support: Inquire about the dealership’s after-sales services, such as maintenance and repairs. A dealership with a dedicated service department and certified technicians can provide reliable support for your vehicle in the long run.
  4. Additional Services: Consider the availability of additional services that enhance your car buying experience, such as vehicle customization options, GAP insurance, extended warranties, and financing assistance.


Choosing the right car dealership is a critical step in ensuring a smooth and satisfactory car buying experience. By considering factors such as inventory, reputation, location, and service, you can make an informed decision and find a dealership that meets your needs and expectations. Remember, a reliable dealership will prioritize customer satisfaction and guide you through the process, providing exceptional service from the moment you step through their doors. Happy car shopping!

In our next post, we take a deeper dive into the benefits of doing business at higher-ranked, profitable dealerships. Click Next to continue.