Transparency: clear, unhindered honesty in the way that a person or company conducts business.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the world and its people went about their lives without telling a lie? If they conducted their personal and business lives with 100% transparency? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many businesses are looking for personal gains at the expense of their customers. This has been the case for many years, most notably in the automotive industry. The car business has earned a bad reputation since its existence and many people are extremely skeptical when they are shopping for a new or pre-owned vehicle.
Fortunately for the automotive consumer, the carbusiness has changed substantially over the past ten years. The internet has allowed the consumer to do a lot of research on the various makes and models while also providing the customer with dealership reviews. These reviews help the customer determine which dealership they would like to conduct business with. The internet also holds the dealership to a new standard. Not only do dealerships have to provide an extremely competitive selling price, they also need to protect their reputation more than ever.Customers can and will vent to the social world about a bad experience, this puts a dent in the probability that a new prospect will choose your dealership.
This is great news for the automotive buyer; it is what some may call a “buyer’s market”. Not only is it much easier for the consumer to do their vehicle research, it is also much easier to find a reputable dealership that conducts business the right way, while also receiving a hassle free deal! Most dealerships value each and every opportunity to do business and they have taken a few extra steps in order to earn the customers business. Dealerships understand that the customer has many options available to them and are most likely in contact with your competition.
This brings me to my next point. Although the internet has changed the automotive industry for the good, many dealerships have found a way to bend the truth in efforts to close the deal. They understand that you, the consumer have been in contact with many dealerships in regards to product info and pricing. Their main goal is to get you into their showroom so that they have an increased probability of closing the sale even if some of the terms have changed. Once a customer has taken the time and effort to test drive the vehicle and fill out the paper work they are less likely to back out of the deal if the terms of their agreement have changed. This is why it is extremely important to understand who you are dealing with beforehand. You must have an honest and transparent discussion with a representative from the dealership. For instance, If you have been in contact with five dealerships (selling the same exact vehicle) and they all came back with a price(3 dealers were @ $400 a month with 2,000 down / 1 dealer says $240 with 2,000 down / 1 dealer says $189 with 2,000 down) I would urge you to be careful with the two dealerships that gave you the lower price. I would use the quote “too good to be true” for this scenario.
To explain this in more detail I will break down the pricing structure of a new vehicle. All dealerships purchase their inventory for the same price, there are no incentives if you purchase more or less inventory from the manufacturer (a common saying), everyone is on an even playing field. Then you have to incorporate normal fees such as taxes, motor vehicle fees, bank fee, and destination& delivery fees, these are controlled by the manufacturer.Every other fee is controlled by the dealer. Most dealerships have a doc fee ranging from $45-$700; others may include online purchase fee, clerical fee, vehicle preparation fee, and more. This is where it is important to determine who to buy your vehicle from. You want to ask the dealership questions like “What are all the fees”, “What is the out the door price”. These are more important than “what is your selling price”.
In more detail “Dealership A” is selling their Ford Fusion for $25,800 after taxand “Dealership B” is selling the Fusion for $25,400 after tax. At first glance you might say well Dealership B has the better price so we are going with them. When you get to the dealership you might find out that on top of the selling price and manufacture fees there is an extra $850 in dealer fees.Dealership Amight only have $45 in dealer fees. That’s when you begin to realize that going with Dealership A will actually save you $405 once the purchase is complete despite the higher selling price. This can be confusing but it is very important to consider while looking for your next vehicle.
If you are looking to receive online quotes with monthly payments, be very weary. Some dealerships have different philosophies for giving out payments:
- Quote without tax: It’s become common practice for most dealers to provide a quote that doesn’t include tax in the payment or price. In some cases, they will insist this is included and it won’t be until you are in the dealership for 2 hours that the tax is added back into the price.
- Quote a lease based upon lowest mileage limits:With a Ford lease, your lease allowance mileage parameters begin at 10,500 miles per year and move up in increments of 1,500. Even if you tell a dealership to quote you on 15,000 miles per year they might provide you with a quote for 10,500 miles a year. They see this as an easy objection to overcome while beating the online price of the competition.
- Different definitions for money down: To some dealers, money down means the total amount out of pocket including taxes and fees. To others, money down is your money out of pocket without taxes and fees, which they will quietly add in and expect you to pay. Be care full, a simple $2,000 down quote can turn into $4,500 down in reality.
To summarize, while the internet is an excellent tool to assist the customer as they prepare to purchase or lease their next vehicle, it is not the end all solution. There are a lot of factors that will hold the dealer true to their word such as emails back and forth as well as online reviews about the dealership. There is also a lot of information on the product and tips to buying a vehicle; some of this information is 100% accurate while other sources are not even close to being true. My point, do your research on the product and the dealerships before you agree to a deal. If you happen to contact the dealership before you enter their showroom, be sure to ask the right questions to assure that there are no hidden tricks to come. If you do not trust the dealership and/or if they are sending you mixed signals, be weary. Try your best to determine if the dealership is being transparent with you and only when you trust them proceed to the next step.
Car Buying Tips:
- Research your local dealership on sites such as Dealerrater.com and Google to determine which salesperson you would like to deal with based upon their personal reviews.
- Stick with that salesperson. Loyalty goes a long way and it is hard to find a great car salesperson that will be there for you for years to come.
- Insist on an itemized list of fees that will be added back into the transaction.
- Don’t be afraid to walk out of a dealership if your price changes in finance, you are not locked into to a deal until you sign papers!
Example of Reviews:
Dealership to go to:
I was referred to Debbie and [Removed Dealer Name] from another customer who had a positive experience with her as well. I had dealt with many dealerships over the years and always felt like I was in the shark tank- what a contrast with [Removed Dealer Name]! From the first interaction through final negotiation, Debbie offered the most genuinely warm and friendly customer service. I never once felt pressured or cajoled to buy. She was not only extremely knowledgeable, but worked closely with my fiancée to tailor a deal that worked for me. I cannot fully express how thankful I am to Debbie for making it possible to drive away with a fantastic car and what a pleasant experience the entire interaction was. I personally recommend that if you are in the market for the brands of vehicles they sell that you save time and aggravation and just go to [Removed Dealer Name]- a matter of fact, I hadn’t even considered a Ford Fusion until we spoke to Debbie and I am elated with both the vehicle and the personalized deal I received. Debbie is more than a great “salesperson”. She is a real deal amazing person and I would be hard pressed to ever buy from someone else again. To the other dealerships- take note! This is how you earn satisfied customers for life.
Dealership to avoid:
These guys are awful. I’ve never dealt with a company as miserable. They are dishonest about their prices after 2 hours of waiting and an hour of negotiating they tried slipping in an extra $1000 dealer fee. They made no mention of it and tried to add it to the total. They blatantly waste their customer’s time and outright lie. I ended up walking out and won’t be back. If they are so dishonest about their pricing how can anyone trust their products? Do yourself a favor and go somewhere else to buy a car.