As a “Valued Customer”, how should you be treated at the dealership?
Simple: With Respect.
You are the Customer! It’s your money! It’s an important financial decision! You have alternatives!
There are many vehicles that meet your basic needs from which to choose. The final decision rests with you, the Customer: Buy, Don’t Buy.
Plan to make multiple visits
Visit #1 (preview)
You are just shopping and you are interested in getting the dealership’s “best price” in order to “think it over”. You may also want to test drive the vehicle during your initial visit.
If the initial pricing looks good, you may wish to get a quote on your trade-in vehicle. However, if you have more dealerships to visit, you may defer the trade-in quote to your return visit.
You are gathering information. You are not yet negotiating.
Visit #2 (negotiate)
At this point you are interested in a specific vehicle and you are there to negotiate Purchase Price, Trade-In, Add-ons, and Warranty. If satisfied with these four items and you are looking for the dealership to arrange financing, submit a credit application and ask them for a rate quote.
Assuming the rate quote is satisfactory, you have now completed the negotiations, but you should take at least 24 hours to think it over before making a commitment. In the meantime, the Dealership can work towards getting your loan approved.
Test drive the vehicle if you have not yet done so. Also carefully look the vehicle over. You may wish to have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle if it is pre-owned, and particularly if it is older or has a lot of miles on it. Avoid relying on a 7-day satisfaction guarantee (your trade-in may be gone by then and you’re in a poor position to unwind the transaction or negotiate another vehicle.)
You may also wish to request a Vehicle History Report form CARFAX. Check out CARFAX.com for more information. Ask the Dealership if they will supply one or purchase one on line.
Visit #3 (complete negotiations)
At this point you will finalize the negotiations.
Very important: Don’t commit to buying the vehicle and certainly don’t take delivery until you have received “final approval” on any loan. This is particularly true for customers with less than perfect credit. Get the loan approval in writing. If for some reason the loan falls through, you are in a poor negotiating position. You do not want to “re-contract” the loan under less favorable terms.
Read all paperwork carefully before signing even though you may be in a hurry and it’s a tedious process. If short on time ask to take it with you. Ask questions. You are making an important financial decision.
Tip: Make sure the VIN on the paperwork matches the VIN on your vehicle in order to avoid any confusion.
Visit #4 (take delivery)
Take delivery only if you have written proof your loan is approved.
When the vehicle is delivered, it should be clean and you should be completely satisfied. (A free tank of gas is nice, too!)
Customer service both before and after the sale is very important!
Sometimes aggressive sales tactics result in poor treatment of customers and emotions can run high. When emotions run high, there is a tendency for customers to make decisions they later regret. As a Customer, this can cost you money. As for the Dealership, this can, and should, cost them a sale.
The best dealerships will treat you with respect! After all, this will not be the last car you ever buy. They want you to be a satisfied customer and they want you to come back for your next purchase. They want you to come to them for service, too. They also want you to send your car-buying friends!