Dear Car Salesmen: Please… GFY
You may or may not have seen the study before, but I’m sure that this will come as no surprise to you: “Car Salesmen” is consistently ranked on of the least trusted professions in this country. And if you’ve ever bought a car, you know exactly why. Some community college drop-out in his dad’s suit comes over and uses every trick they have to try to wring money out of you like a moist towelette. They’ll bait-n’-switch you, up-sell you, guilt you, and even go so far as to lie to your face just so they can close a sale. Fucks given about you? Zero. Fucks given about their commission? Oodles and oodles. In my opinion, there is no scummier industry than the car sales industry.
Yep, now you know: I HATE car salesmen.
A hate that was recently fueled by a recent purchase of a 2016 Hyundai Tucson. And instead of getting all mad and holding it all in, I decided that this would be an AWESOME opportunity to go through some of the tips and tricks of buying a car. I’ll tell you what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I will be doing (and suggest you do) in the future.
Buying a car can be easily split into four categories:
- First contact
So without further ado, lets get into what you can do to prevent getting screwed…
… and maybe piss off a salesman or two while you’re at it! 🙂
Step 1 – Research
Since we live in a world with Google, this part is actually pretty simple. The first step to research is figuring out what exactly it is you want in a new car! Depending on your age, you might just be looking for something to get you from point A to point B. Maybe you’re looking for something that give people whiplash as they turn and watch you drive off in something fancy. Maybe you don’t care about anything else except having ass-warmers during those frigid winter months. No judgement here. But whatever it is you want, make a list and start your search there.
Once you know that you can’t live without a hatchback or without something sporty, simply hop onto Google and get searching. There are a few sites that can help you get some idea of what make/model you should be looking at, and the prices that are a very rough estimate. They are:
Of course, if you’re looking for impartial information on buying a car, I would say hit up consumer reports and see what’s being said about the different makes and models. You should be looking at safety, reliability, maintenance, and resale value. Of course, if you care about how fast the thing goes from 0-60 mph, then I guess you can look it up. But chances are if you’re reading this blog then you are under the age of 30, and therefore shouldn’t even be considering a sports car. You want something that’s reliable, safe, and holds it’s value. After all, this is a financial blog, people…
Quick tip – Make sure you reach out to your car insurance company and see how much the car is going to increase your insurance. Your decision to get the car may or may not be swayed based on how much you’ll have to spend to insure it.
Step 2 – First Contact
There are two main ways of making your first contact. If you want to test drive the different vehicles (which I suggest you do) then I would simply find wherever your nearest dealer is and go for a couple test drives. Some things to keep in mind as your doing these tests:
- The goal of the car salesman is going to be to keep you there as long as possible. The thought is that the more time you invest in the purchase, the more likely you are to complete the purchase. It’s that whole “aversion to sunk costs” psychological bullshit that they’ll pull. I spent over an hour just test driving a car. BIG MISTAKE!!! Walk in, immediately tell the salesperson that you are leaving at a specific time, and that way they tend to be a little more accommodating.
- They might very well try to up-sell you. For example, “Would you like to try the Sport Edition? It has an ejection seat for safety, jet fuel turbo boost, and wings in case you ever need to fly over a traffic jam.” Make sure that you are driving the model that you want to drive! This would seem obvious but there is nothing wrong with telling a salesperson “No”. If they’re showing you a model that you know you can’t afford, there is 0 point in driving it! Move on!
- This will also be the first time that you’re interacting with a salesman. There are a BUNCH of questions you don’t want to answer right away them, such as:
- What’s your budget?
- How much do you want to spend per month?
- Are you trading in a vehicle?
- Will you be financing?
- Will you be the only person on the title?
There are lots of others I’m sure, but these are the one’s you want to avoid. When in doubt, a simple, “I don’t know, I haven’t decided yet.” is enough to get them off your back. The reason you don’t want to answer these is car salesmen will use your answers to bend you over and hump you into submission. It’s not a pretty picture.
Once you’ve test driven a few vehicles, you should be able to narrow down which ones you would actually consider purchasing. From there, we move on to the part that everyone absolutely hates…
Step 3 – Negotiation
Now, there have been volumes and volumes written on negotiation. I’m not going to go into painstaking detail here. There are two main ways that you can negotiate. The first is the method of spending hours in a dealership haggling with the grunt scum, and he/she runs back and forth to “boss-scum” as they try everything they can to emotionally drain you so that eventually you just give up. They’ll be nice to you, they’ll be mean, they’ll give you bullshit like, “If I give it to you for that price I don’t make any money, and I have a family at home I need to feed.” Some people thrive in that environment. Others prefer to not waste their time and use a much different method. This is what I did and it absolutely sucked!
Here’s what I would suggest doing instead. Let’s say you’re in the market for a 2014 Toyota Camry. Solid car, they don’t die, and you’ve let someone eat the depreciation for a couple years. Good for you! Here’s what I would do next time (instead of running around from dealer to dealer). Simply send an email to the internet sales manager of a dealership (pretty much all of them have one now). Say the following (hell, use this as a template for all I care).
My name is Bob Barker and I am looking to gather information on 2014 Toyota Camry’s with under 32,000 miles. Here are my requirements:
- 2014 Toyota Camry
- Less than 32,000 miles
- Air Conditioning
- Power Seats
- Cruise Control
- No Accidents (please attach carfax vehicle history report)
Please send me the best deals with the absolute lowest price you have on your lot. When I say price, please keep in mind that I mean the cost of the vehicle plus any other taxes and fees that may be included. In the essence of saving your and my time, please do not send me prices that are MSRP/Invoice/listed on your website. If I choose to do business with you, the price quoted in our final conversation should the the out-the-door price. If I come to your dealership and the number put in front of me is different than the number in the final conversation, I will walk out.
Please know that I am ready, willing, able but also very price sensitive buyer. I have reached out to 5 other dealers with the exact same email above. Please respond within 24 hours with your best price and I will secure the deal with a credit card deposit.
Send this email out to at least five other internet sales managers. Some might not respond to you as this might come off as a little “rough”. Frankly, you shouldn’t care: these people are just pissed that you’re trying to play them at their own game.
Once you get a couple of prices, the real “negotiating” part comes into play. Simply take the lowest price you received, and send that number to all the other dealers. Ask if they can do any better than the offer you just received. One of three things will happen:
- The car salesmen won’t respond.
- The car salesmen will respond with a “Sorry, can’t go that low.”
- The car salesmen will respond with a lower number.
More than likely, the car salesmen will respond with number three. At which point, you send that new lowest price around to all the other dealers until eventually you whittle them all down and you’re left with the lowest price vehicle.
Always keep in mind: a vehicle is a commodity. There is no short supply of vehicles out there. Chances are you can find a Toyota Camry in lots of different places in your town. And since there are lot’s of Camry’s, and the only value that dealerships add is actually letting you see/test-drive the car, the only thing they really can compete on is price.
Step 4 – Closing
This is a pretty simple process. Make sure that once you find the dealer with the lowest price, that you go through and check that the last price that the car salesmen gave you is the final price you’ll pay. If it’s not, simply walk out the door. I’d even threaten with a 1-star review on Google. Some dealers will use a chicken-shit “bait n’ switch” move where they’ll give you a price and then raise it once you come in. Don’t let them screw around with you; be ready to walk at a moments notice.
Secondly, MAKE SURE YOU TEST DRIVE THE ACTUAL VEHICLE!!! God forbid you try to take the thing home without testing it first, and later you find out there’s a wheel missing or one of the doors doesn’t open. Simple risk mitigation guys: it’s a very small investment (5-minute test drive) to make sure the thing isn’t falling apart ($1,000’s in maintenance fees).
Of course, there are lots of different ways to financially close on a car. Are you going to use cash, dealer financing, or 3rd-party financing? How to finance a car is a topic for another day, but the big picture here is you’ve already negotiated the price of the car. Of course, if you wanted to be “that guy” you could always ask them to cut another few hundred off right before you start signing papers. Some people aren’t comfortable with that, some are.
Just remember: they’re going to do what they have to to get as much money from you as possible. I see no reason why you shouldn’t try everything in the book to make sure they don’t make as much money from you as possible.
Final Thoughts – Being an Asshole To Car Salesmen
Car salesmen have it made. They work in an industry where price is extremely fluid and there are no good sources out there on what a “good” price for a car is. You really should take the time to read this article about how even the Invoice price is complete bullshit. Car salesmen will take advantage of the fact that you really don’t have any good idea of what you should be paying for your car. Do I think that car salesmen are inherently bad people, the kind that will drown a litter of kittens or spit on your grandma’s grave? Not necessarily. But when it comes down to the business, I’ve never met a single salesmen who wouldn’t try ridiculous tricks and schemes to separate you from another $100. It’s despicable.
…And before anyone starts having a pity party for salesmen, please keep in mind: they were not bound and shackled into being a car salesman. No one EVER told them “You MUST do this or the world will end.” There are plenty of other self-respecting sales positions out there that don’t require you to leech off of hardworking men and women.
… and scene.
Dear Car Salesmen: Please… GFY – The Wrap Up
Alright, so this article was obviously to get some hate off my chest, but I hope it helped you out to. Remember, car salesmen can (and in every experience I’ve had, will) be absolutely ruthless, and you should have no qualms punching back. Figuratively, not literally. Last thing I need is a subpoena telling me I have to attend a court date because you punched a guy.
But these people are not nuns, they’re not saving puppies, and they’re not feeding the homeless. They’re going to do everything they can to separate you from as much money as possible. The steps to fight back are:
- Research – Knowledge is power, my friends.
- First Contact – You only get one chance at a first impression. So scare the shit out of them.
- Negotiation – Don’t accept anything more than you’re willing to pay, no matter how “nice” the guy seems.
- Close – Make sure you test drive the damn thing!
Finally, if you’re a car salesman and you’ve been offended by something I’ve written… good. Find some other way to contribute to society. <3
Keep trying to crack the code boys n’ girls,