I didn’t know buying a car really could suck this bad!
Guest Blogger, Tiea Roper, shares her latest experience trying to purchase a car. Tiea has been in the automotive industry for over 15 years in many capacities, including in the dealership, as a traininer, and her current role as Product Manager at Better Car People.
When you work in the automotive industry, you just seem to have selective memories of how this game is played when it’s you in the customer seat.
My last few vehicles were purchased new, where I worked, at the best price possible, and, well, the make was already decided for me.
By decided I mean “Highly recommended” if I liked where I was gainfully employed anyway. I put in my dealer trade request that went a little something like this…
Me: “I would like to have it in black with a sunroof or maybe that cute mocha color I’ve been seeing!”
Jim: “No trades! Have you checked our inventory for something similar?”
Me: “Hmmm well anything but red, I am pretty sure I hate red and it must have a USB port!”
Jim: “Nope, not available”
Me: (sigh)” I will take what we have then! UGH”
Looking back it may appear as if that selective memory thing has kicked in and I remember it being a little easier than it really was. Either way, fast-forward 6 years and 2 paid off vehicles later. We have a couple of teenagers who seem to have stolen the ability to have the front seat in a somewhat comfortable position without hearing “Moooommmmm really?!? You’re breaking my legs with your seat!” (Side eye, dramatic much?!)
The planning begins:
The new vehicle will be a 4WD SUV with space for 7 that is nicely equipped. It will be pre-owned and for that reason we will factor in the cost of an extended warranty. The Make and Model is open to debate but other factors like colors and dealership distance from our home are not an issue. Holidays are approaching quickly and most every weekend is full with one thing or another, so getting this completed sooner rather than later would be ideal. Mainly before I change my mind and then it will wait until spring!
The research begins:
The evenings become filled with Google searches to first narrow down the list of SUVs that we will have to choose from. After that, a crash course on the packages and options available on each to ensure all of the needs are covered. To date, I am not sure how I have lived without a heated steering wheel. Pretty sure that is a need! Dual panel sunroof, oh, and heated seats in the back. What if I have to sit back there for some reason! Totally a need!
Let’s start shopping!
Lesson One: There is a difference in shopping and buying.
Customers shop online everyday! I’m reminded of my habit by the disturbing amount of emails that let me know I have left something in my cart. Its pretty safe to say that feature was not created just for me. There is an art to putting it in the cart, continuing to research and making sure you feel the deal is worth it before completing the purchase. Your customers are shopping your site but are not always ready to buy TODAY. They will buy when the stars align for them. Try to remember it’s not always about you.
With the basics covered it’s time to start searching and comparing prices. You heard that right, PRICES and COMPARE in the same sentence. (GASP-no she didn’t)
It didn’t take long for the excitement of a new vehicle to be replaced by feelings of uneasiness. There were so many options within a couple thousand dollars of each other. How will we know we are getting a good deal? It will be highly disappointing to later find out we paid too much and didn’t get all the options that I needed. I can’t ignore the smoke and mirrors of the “eprice”, “was vs. now” “anniversary pricing” and lots of other things that seemed to muddy that water.
To narrow down the list we have to begin asking a few dealers for additional information.
Lesson Two: For goodness sake please read the request and respond!
I considered an alias email address to avoid tons of emails that I thought would come from a persistent salesperson. Negative ghost rider! I was lucky to get the email response back at all but when I did you can rest soundly knowing it had nothing to do with what I asked. Your Internet department is not a set it and forget department. Inspect what you expect! When you review your leads if notice any of them are mishandled you are leaving money on the table! You are making it easy for customers to deselect you.
No more informed than I was before giving out my email address to 5 dealerships we grabbed the kids and decided to go to a dealer and get behind the wheel. By chance it was not one that I inquired with.
Lesson Three: Please don’t kill my vibe!
There is nothing like seeing an underwhelmed salesperson or group of salespeople standing in front of the dealership when you pull up. When the gentleman halfheartedly walked over and asked, “What can I do for you?” I actually wanted the opportunity to pass on him in hopes that the next one would have a little more va-va-voom about themselves. Reluctantly I explained they had a vehicle that we would like to drive. He pulled it around, got in the back seat and told us the route that we would be taking. (Ding, ding, ding) You guessed it! That sound would be the low fuel notification just to make sure instead of enjoying the vehicle we concentrated on not running out of gas. With “Captain kill the fun” in back seat there would be no loud music, dancing or reciting of inappropriate lyrics to any of my favorite songs so that I could feel that this one was a great choice.
Upon returning to the dealership we would be held hostage for about 40 minutes playing the “what is it going to take for you to take this home today game”. The rules of the game were as followed:
1. The price is as low as it is going to be; did you notice all the markdown tags in it?
2. I cannot quote you a price on the warranty because there are just so many.
3. Everyone is trying to sell this one today, you have been warned.
4. In order for me to speak to my manager on your behalf he needs to know your serious
I was hungry, so we left.
Working in Charlotte this week has put the search on hold until I return. With Halloween we are going to be busy this weekend. Happy Halloween everyone!
That leaves us with 5 evenings before we leave for a pre planned road trip. That trip will either involve a brand new to us vehicle or the search will continue……...