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JV’s Car-Buying Advice

Prior preparation is key.

Stepping into a car dealership can be one of the most anxiety-ridden experiences of adulthood – but it doesn’t have to be.

If we put a bit of time into preparing ourselves and our vehicles before the visit, it can be one of the most enjoyable and memorable experiences of our lives.

In this section, we’ll review the Six Simple Steps car-buyers can take to significantly increase the chances of a happy car deal, your personal satisfaction, and a great ongoing relationship with your local dealership.

But before we get into the Six Steps, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years in the car business, it’s this:

Very broadly speaking, nice people get the best deals.

Dealerships wants smooth, transparent transactions just as much as customers. We both have the same goal… to come to an agreement!

The way to keep both sides happy and conduct business in such a way that long-standing relationships are built is to maintain openness, transparency, and professionalism on both sides of the deal.

Now, the Six Simple Steps that customers can take to be informed, efficient, and happy with your next automotive sales appointment.

Six Steps to Customer Satisfaction

Know the basics of what you want.

To keep visits short, sweet, and to-the-point, salespeople need to know what vehicles to show their customers.

  • Car, truck, or SUV? Minivan, maybe?
  • How many seats should it have?
  • What safety features and luxuries?
  • What price point or payment range are you seeking? Remember, interest rates and manufacturer’s prices have gone up, and unfortunately both of these are out of the dealer’s control.
  • In your fantasy, what would happen when you visit the dealership?
Have an idea of how you’ll pay.

When it comes to payment: Dealers will usually give the best deals to those buyers who use the dealership’s financing, since the store receives small incentives from lenders for each approved loan it sends in.

  • To take advantage of special deals as a cash buyer, take the financing and pay your car off in full shortly thereafter.
  • If you’re using external financing, has your bank fully approved the exact VIN number? Or is it a basic pre-qualification?
  • Most dealers will only accept up to $5,000 on a card to reduce the chances of fraud and vehicle theft.
Understand your creditworthiness.

A customer’s individual creditworthiness is the number one factor in securing a loan.

  • First-time buyers and customers with credit challenges will typically need a down payment or positive trade equity for bank approval. Have you put aside some money for your down payment? Consider also gathering paystubs, a utility bill, and a cosigner just in case.
  • Average buyers can expect to pay $200/mo for every $10k financed, with fluctuation based on term length, creditworthiness, and manufacturer incentives. Do you have realistic payment expectations?
Clean and recondition your trade.

Reputable dealerships spend thousands of dollars on each trade-in prior to resale to address things like brakes, tires, fluids, wipers, lights, and cosmetics. If costs of reconditioning are low, we will always pay top dollar for a quality vehicle.

  • Be up-front with the dealership regarding any maintenance items, instead of having the Appraiser discover them during inspection and altering your quote.
  • Air out the car of any smoke smell.
  • Remove any personal belongings before heading to the dealership, as trade-ins are quickly detailed after intake and your items may be accidentally discarded.
Bring your trade information.

Maximize your vehicle’s value and keep the trade-in process as smooth as possible by bringing the following items with you to your sales appointment.

  • Name of current leinholder (bank)
  • Payoff amount
  • Service records
  • Both sets of keys
  • Owner’s manuals
  • Information on product cancelations – such as warranty & GAP – that you may have included at the time of purchase
  • Open insurance claim information, if applicable
Research your salesperson.

The best salespeople take their job – their career – seriously. They’ll go above and beyond, be quick to return calls, help you schedule service, and make sure you are treated with respect and care.

They also will typically have the pull to get the best deals approved by management since they sell so many cars.

And then they’ll do the same for everyone you refer to them.

Take a look at reviews, social media posts, and websites of your local dealerships and you’re sure to find a few who routinely create memorable experiences.