- What has your experience been?

SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
Have you used Autobytel? How did it work for you? Were you satisfied?


  • lauratlaurat Member Posts: 1
    I haven't used it, but a friend did and it just gave her a reference to one dealer in the area who gave her a fixed price. I just heard on KGO last Friday about a new service called, that is a reverse auction. The blurb mentioned that dealers place bids to try to win the customer business, I am thinking about trying it.
  • bcbobbcbob Member Posts: 13
    and was promptly responded to by a dealer which was rather far away - 2 hour ferry ride and two hours of driving to get there. Beyond the initial contact via em-ail the dealer wouldn't use the computer, relying instead on phone and ax because he felt it more reliable. Gave him my specific requirements over the phone (including the factory codes) for a factory order, received a ax which was simply a manufacturer's printout of the model with my desired options, with a hand-written clause' for me to sign saying I agreed to buy the vehicle described subject to agreement on price. Had to call him to get a correction on the printout. Then had to ax it back with my signature on the 'clause'. It was only then that he taxed me a quote of selling price plus documentation' fee. I had to calculate and add in the various taxes to figure the out the door price.

    My feelings on it: Very polite dealer, seemed to want my business and was working hard to get it. I was somewhat miffed that I had to do so much over the phone/with axes - #1 if I didn't want to do it using on-line resources I could have started out by taxing my requirements to the various dealers and asking them to submit their best deal for my consideration, #2 axes are a pain, having to either import it into a word processor, attach a signature and export to my ax software, or print it out, sign it and scan it in to be taxed back out, #3 the clause really didn't need to be signed, so there was a layer of unnecessary crap I had to cut through before I finally ended up with the quote I was after.

    As for the quote: I filed the quote with the others I had solicited from more local dealers, none of which I would reveal to any other dealers. In the end the Autobytel quote was essentially the same as the locals whom I had visited in person, within a few $ and about $1k over dealer cost. Because the ferry ride back and forth would have cost me at least $150, assuming the only time I'd be visiting the dealer was when I picked up the car, plus costs of driving, plus sundry other costs incurred when 2 people travel a min 8 hrs, it ended up being more costly.

    In the end I thanked the Autobytel dealer and went in person to a dealer a bit down the road whom I felt most comfortable with, haggling the price down to within a couple of $ of Autobytel's quote.

    I like the idea of the reverse auction, but I would think you'd have to be careful you didn't have to go with the lowest bidder just so you could have some choice in the dealer you'd be buying from.
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    your post is a perfect example why buying/referral services are a failure...
    they don't offer anything you cant get elsewhere doing business face to face...I realize that face to face is sorta out of fashion these days which is somewhat offensive to me (the I'm too busy stuff is BS)..Im glad you got what you wanted at the price u wanted but it was at the expense of somebody else...the guys who responded to your request, did the work, gave you a simple quick fair price, just like you wanted ( it is why you used ABT, isnt it?) and you just went somewhere else. Its the sales game and I'm not saying you did anything wrong, but it shows why dealer arent interested in middlemen and buying services. They are a huge cost for us as dealers and they just dont produce sales. Dealers are a very shrewd bunch and all the extra "fat" in a car sale has long been removed leaving nothing left when a middleman or service jumps in the mix...
    enjoy your car!!

  • bcbobbcbob Member Posts: 13
    I'd like to enjoy my new car but I'm still waiting for it! Dealer said he had a build date of 12 Dec (only 6 1/2 weeks after I signed). He advises that it will arrive late Jan. Probably right; doubtful anything will be moving until after the holiday season. There's got to be a better way. Wish there was some way I could track it, too bad Doraville wasn't one of the plants GM was putting webcams into. Come on GM, get with it! There, I feel better.

    Back to topic: I disagree that ABT was a failure. In fact it worked just as it promised to - prompt response, low competitive no haggle price quote. Where it started to fall apart was #1 there wasn't an ABT affiliated dealer in my area and #2 the dealer wouldn't work via the PC, relying instead on phone and fax which made it inconvenient. There's not much ABT can do about #2, and it takes a dealer to sign up to resolve #1.

    Perhaps you call it a failure because I didn't buy from the ABT dealer. Well, I didn't buy from the two other dealers I visited in person, or the two others I dealt with over the phone either. Were they failures? What about the dealers of the competing makes and models whose ads caught my eye or whose cars I also researched? Or the used car dealers? Did I get what I wanted at the price I wanted at their expense too? Gosh, I could have bought from you but didn't... (let's drop it here, huh?). If your perspective is that a prospective customer who takes up the dealer's time by looking at the product on the lot owes it to the dealer to buy something from them, that the dealer has a right to be compensated for displaying their wares by anyone who looks at those wares (reminds me of a couple of back-alley merchants I ran across in Cairo some 25 years ago...), then maybe you can say a buyer who 'just goes somewhere else' for their deal does so at that dealer's expense. But a consumer doesn't 'owe' anyone their business. Car dealers are merchants like any other, they choose to offer goods for sale and set their prices according to the market. They are not entitled to a profit just because they do, that would be like my demanding my salary just for showing up and offering to work but not actually doing any. If I don't do any work I wouldn't get paid, why should a car dealer?

    I didn't buy from the dealer I did just because he offered the lowest price - all the initial quotes were pretty close but his was actually the highest. I returned to his lot because the reputation of his service department and after-sales support was the best compared to the other dealers, and on that basis gave him a chance to tip the scales with a price comparable to the others. Obviously he did. It still wasn't the lowest price I could have got but it was in the range I had set based the info I had on dealer cost and the minimum mark up standard fpor my region. I didn't appreciate the waiting game and other 'sales techniques' they used (I had to tell them I'd walk if they didn't stop with the BS) and I didn't relish haggling. I went to ABT to avoid the stress of all that.

    The reason I didn't go with their dealer wasn't because of the extra $ for travelling, it was the hassle of driving 1 hour to the ferry, 20-30 min waiting/loading, 1 3/4 hours sailing, and another hour driving to his lot. As it was the back and forth of driving to the dealer's lot, haggling on price, etc, took a fair bit of time. I could have made better use of that time fixing up the house, playing with my kids, or relaxing. Can't put a $ on that, but if I had spent the time working, well, my practice bills out at $95/hr.

    So why did I have to pay that cost? Why couldn't I just say I want this model in this colour with these options factory ordered, at the minimum mark-up, show me where to sign, here's my deposit, call me when it's ready for delivery. What would that take, 20 minutes? Why do I even have to go to the lot until it's ready? I hear you saying you find face to face being o
  • bcbobbcbob Member Posts: 13
    I hear you saying you find face to face being out of vogue somewhat offensive. My perspective is that just like any other store, I don't go to a car dealership to socialize, I go for business. If ABT can save me that business time so I can spend it with family and friends in activities of my choosing, well, all I have to say is get over it. After all, it is my time and I should have the right to decide with whom I spend it. Personally, I pine for the day when I can custom order my car using my PC, watch it get built, pick it up within 2 weeks without ever having to talk to a dealer until I do, and be billed factory cost plus a minimal dealer handling charge. From what the automakers are saying, it doesn't look like I'll be pining long.

    The reasons why dealers don't like the buying services is well documented in numerous topics throughout Town Hall and this topic joins those ranks. The point is well taken. Now can we please hear from people about their experience using Autobytel without cold water being thrown on their comments? Please?
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    dont' count on that build date...GM announced a slew of plant closings due to poor sales.

  • garcia2kogarcia2ko Member Posts: 16
    I requested a quote and got a call from a representative at a Houston area Nissan dealership (I lived there about a year ago.) He offered me something like $500 over invoice on a Quest minivan, just because I was an "internet customer."

    Funny thing is that the same person (I remembered his name and voice) offered us $200 over invoice when we stopped in the dealership a week earlier, within minutes of our arrival.

    Bottom line: I didn't expect (or want) a dealer to call me. Just e-mail me a quote. And make it the best deal you're willing to give. I could have gotten a better deal myself without Autobytel...they just had the dealer call me instead of me calling them.

    Finally, I got wise and bought a Honda Odyssey instead of a high-revving, small box like the Quest.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Sorry, buy I think you'll be "pining" for a long long time.

    The internet does not sell cars. Car dealers do.

    The way AutobyTel is supposted to work is pretty simple. The shopper submits a request and gets a quote from an abt dealer.

    This is designed to eliminate all of the things the buyers *say* they dislike about buying a car. No "going back and forth" etc. Just a fast,professional way to buy a car with a minimum of fuss

    Sounds good, hub?

    Sometimes it does work in it's intended fashion, but usually the price shoppers are just looking for a number to shop with.

    This, of course negates the intended purpose of the BAT program.

    It's the same people who will tell you how much they hate "the process" that will grind us the most as they pit one dealer against the other.

    That's just the reality of it.
  • maryg2maryg2 Member Posts: 33
    I requested a quote on an Accord EX6 from Autobytel and was contacted the next day by a dealer in my local area (not the closest one, but within 20 miles) with a quote. It was about the same price as the Edmunds TMV minus the destination charge, so it seemed like a pretty good deal. The dealer kept in touch me during the month it took me to sell my car (it sold within a week after listing it with Edmunds). I think I could have gotten the car for less, but I was tired of dealing with car salespeople, and this dealer gave me every courtesy on the phone and when I visited the dealership. So tomorrow I am picking up my new car. I also requested a quote from CarPoint, but they never called me, and I had to call the dealer myself. His quote was higher than the Autobytel dealer, although he was closer to my house.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,491
    I used Autobytel once in serious pursuit of a car, but admit I used it the wrong way. At the time, I didn't realize that those were no-haggle prices, so I just looked through listings like I would look through the Auto Trader or newspaper classifieds. At the time, I wanted a used Caprice, and found two at a dealership about 1/2 hour away...a '94 and a '96. The prices listed were $8260 and $13860, respectively.

    I emailed them, and a rep got right back to me, and I arranged to come in and check them out. I didn't care too much for the '94, and they wouldn't budge on the price of the '96. I still didn't realize the no-haggle aspect, until they finally told me that they give internet customers a break. If I just walked in off the street, the prices of those two cars would have been $10,995 and $15,995, respectively. BTW, they came down to $7860 on the '94, but still wouldn't budge on the '96, so I guess that shows that even no-haggle is subject to exceptions.

    Something else I notice about the listings on Autobytel...a lot of the pictures are taken with the dealership's sign in the background, so it's not hard to find out where the car is. What's to keep someone from finding the car on Autobytel, seeing the internet price, then just going directly to the dealership with that knowledge but not letting the dealer know?

  • bcbobbcbob Member Posts: 13
    Sorry I've been away for a bit, best of the season to you and yours.

    When I said I was pining, at the forefront of my mind was a article discussing the automakers' movements toward e-commerce and an order-to-delivery production system driven by customer-specific demands. GM's purchasing chief, for example, is looking toward a 3 day turnaround from the time the order is placed to the time the customer takes delivery, production driven by those orders, and the customers' able to watch their car move along the assembly line (GM is already installing web cams in some plants).

    It's something akin to the Dell Computer model: Customer orders and pays on-line, takes delivery of a customized computer system. Now the article points out that cars are more complex than computers, and it doesn't say that customers will have direct access to the automaker's order system. But why can't that occur once the system is in place? The Dell principles could still be applied: Customer places a custom order on-line, pays a deposit via credit card, gets the car delivered to a nearby dealership for pick-up. I understand that the laws of most states and provinces currently require the sale to go through a dealer, but the process being done primarily on-line isn't precluded. Nor are changes to laws which for the most part were enacted before e-commerce was a pipe dream. And what's to stop the automaker from designating the dealership to where the car will be delivered as the selling dealer? The automakers could virtually wipe ABT and the like from the new car scene by doing it themselves.

    In actual fact the basics of such a system are there already: Had I used the ABT dealer (and as I said, if it weren't for the 8hrs+ of travelling to take delivery I would have) I would have faxed the signed sales agreement to the dealer, given my credit card # for a deposit, and wouldn't have had to see him until my vehicle was ready. Before ABT I could have solicited quotes by fax. And if I really wanted to I could have used a buying service to do the shopping and deliver the car to my home, no dealer contact period (but where's the savings?). So what I'm pining for isn't that far a leap.

    As for the shopping a number stuff: I'm having some difficulty understanding. Do I misread when I read that dealers resent buyers shopping a number between different dealers? If I am misreading or missing something please correct me. If I'm not then please enlighten me as to why it's wrong for a buyer to get different price quotes, and go with the one they feel is best or ask for a yet better price if they don't like the quotes they get.
  • fsmilfsmil Member Posts: 1
    Shopped via autobytel and then went to the dealership to meet the salesman. He lied to me about the fuel economy of a Dodge Dakota pickup. I bought the truck with the final consideration being that milage. I've been sorry ever since. My average is about 13mpg and they say there's nothing that can be done. (V6 automatic 2wd ext cab)
  • tonychrystonychrys Member Posts: 1,310
    How could he "lie" to you? If it was a new truck, the EPA ratings would be right there listed on the window sticker.

    If it was used, and you didn't bother to check (very easy through any car site like Edmunds, Carpoint, KBB, etc.), then you only have yourself to blame. I'm not a car salesman, but there is a thing called due diligence and common sense.

    And also, Autobytel is only a middleman, the dealer sells the car.
  • raybearraybear Member Posts: 1,795
    I was an ABT dealer for BMW's I honestly tried to offer my best price to the ABT customer. Sales weren't all that great so we dropped the program. Maybe a more aggressively priced dealer would have done better, but I have my doubts. Many of the customers were noncommittal over buying a car, and it got to be so frustrating we just dropped the program altogether.

    We tried a few other internet services. After sampling them I wound up quitting the dealership and went to work for one of the internet companies. I have to say my success rate is much better today, and I get to work with a lot of really great dealers and customers.
  • commish_09322commish_09322 Member Posts: 1
    It was bad enough the dealer they referred me to was 55 miles away. When I got there, they misquoted the MSRP (somehow the car's price went up over night)and made an offer for $1800 less than the new sticker. Which was fine, but they only offered me $7500 for my trade that was appraised by Edmunds at $10200. The told me there were too many SUV's available, and the bottom fell out on the resale market. Of course, I didn't see one on their lot.
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    sorry to inform you but SUV's are huge dog's in the market right now...they dont even bring wholesale book let alone the often fantasy numbers found on the internet.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    I didn't know Edmunds could now actually appraise cars over the internet! I am impressed! :)

    Seriously, Rich is correct.

    But it also depends on the SUV. If it's a domestic, these are REALLY soft.

    The gas prices aren't helping.

    But, if you think it's worth more, spend the bucks and run an ad. Heck, you never know. It might be exactly what someone is looking for.
  • debbie33debbie33 Member Posts: 1
  • tcasboytcasboy Member Posts: 214
    If you dont have too much time to spend, you should do your research, determine which car(s) you want, which options, and what you are willing to pay. You can either walk into a dealer(s), make your offer, leave your number and walk away. Or you could fax several dealers your offer, but I've found that most dealers will be more willing to come down on a car that they have in stock, so it would help to go by the dealer to see if they have any models equipped the way you want them. I have bought cars over the phone after checking the lot, meeting a salesrep, leaving an offer and doing the fine tuning of the deal over the phone. Its only hard and time consuming if you let it. Make your case and if they won't deal, walk away and go to another dealer. Eventually they will either call you back or some other dealer will make a deal, provided your offer is reasonable. Thats where the research comes into play. Good luck.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    The easiest way to do it is simple.

    See those huge dealers that run screaming ads that are right off the highway? The ones with Huge baloons and free hot dogs? "We'll pay off your trade no matter wha you owe" "Open till Midnight!!!!" etc... Know the ones I mean?

    Avoid em.

    Figure out what you want, a test drive of course, is a good idea. Then once you've decided EXACTLY the car that you want, tou can do one of a few things:

    1) Walk in blind. Bad idea.

    2) Research the car you want. Read the message boards on here to get a general idea of what the car seems to be selling for, this works with more common cars. Figure that if 10 people in LA posted that they bought Accords, and 8 of them paid about $500 over, with a couple claiming to have bough them for $500 under invoice, then figure that about 500 over inv is market. Also look at TMV to give you a ballpark. This should give you an idea of roughly what to pay.

    Now that you've gotten your reseach done, you can either walk into the dealer and make an offer "I'll buy this car right NOW for $X" or you can try faxing that offer to a dealership.

    Faxing a "I want your best price" offer can often cause aggravation. First, as a dealer, I throw them out. For a simple reason: I've found that one of two things will happen: I give an agressive price and it's bounced off another dealer who will always beat or match it, or the customer will get lowballed by an unethical dealer. The faxed offer is much more sensible. I think the key is to concentrate on getting a fair price and once you get it, to grab it. Any number you get can be beaten, the key is to get a fair price from a place you feel comfortable doing business with.

  • cfg1cfg1 Member Posts: 85
    Seems like every dealership has a web site with an option to ask for a 'quick quote'. Same principal as a fax asking for a quote. If you fill out the 'quick quote' form, 90% of the dealers don't answer.

    I understand your reasoning for not responding to a fax/internet form like this, but if the dealer is not going to respond, why have the option on his web site to begin with? Is it something that is required by the manufacturer?
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    I honestly can't say why they don't respond. To me it seems silly. A lot of dealers are, however, backing off of their internet prescence to a degree simply because a lot of us have found that it isnt cost-effective.

    A lot of it is required byt the manufacturer to some degree. But putting on a site and not responding is silly.

    Still, as a dealer, the faxed offer is, in my opinion and experience, the best way to negotiate or buy a car.

    The dealer has, in his hand, an actual signed offer. That speaks volumes. Especially when a lot of the web-generated leads have a closing ratio of under 10%. Also, a lot of the ones that we do get are ridiculous. I saw tons of offers for LS430s and GSs and ISs at invoice via our website when I was at Lexus. I'm sure our net guy responded, but a lot of those are unsellable in my experience.

  • kem1kem1 Member Posts: 24
    Due to various state's laws, which highly favor the dealers over the consumer, most car sales have to go thru a dealership. has an article on this today (2/12/01). Eventually, the manufactures would like to do what the computer industry is doing now - mass customization, without the consumer having to pay for the retail middleman (the dealer) - which of course, the dealers hate. Some people like the face to face dealings with a salesman, others know what they want, don't want to pay for gimmicks, and just want the best possible price - period.

    How did the dealer's association get these laws passed? Because we, smart consumers, weren't looking. If you don't like it, contact your state representative - seriously. ("Bad things happen when good people stay silent")

    AAA also offers a car buying service. But again, everything eventually goes thru a dealer.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    Don't forget, The Average car dealership, a small and somewhat profitable one in a medium market, costs at least $5,000,000

    Of course we're going to protect our interests!

    Wouldnt you?

    Also, there have been a few instances where the manufacturers have tried direct marketing. Each one has been a failure. I remember reading that if you took all of the General Motors dealerships and combined them into one corporation, you'd have a company Larger than GM Itself.

  • jelliot2jelliot2 Member Posts: 17
    may be just an attempt to get your contact information.
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    If dealers go away, and the retail centers are run by the manufacturer (which they have failed everytime before) what makes anyone think they price will go down??? the expense of operating a dealership dosnt evaporate. Somebody must sell the stuff nobody wants (the majority of products offered), somebody has to service the car, somebody must keep the inventory in stock, somebody must run the parts department, the list goes on. Also the economic impact on local communities would be devastating to many towns...those of us in larger markets forget that most of america is "small town america" and usually the local car dealer represents a large part of the tax base and employment base...Many also forget that dealerships are not run by $5.00 per hour people but they pay higher than average wages....When Ford had the brilliant idea of buying up perceived under performing markets and run the stores themselves they found no way to make a profit and the consumers satisfaction plummeted. Ford thought that $20K per year "sales guides" was a winner...only they couldnt sell anything. This well documented disaster only happened last year and cost ford Billions.. Ford quickly figured out the value of the local dealership and franchise system to its future and sold almost all of the dealerships back to local owners...the ones they still own are on the block. Want to buy a Ford franchise in Rochester?? they have a bunch for sale there.

  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    I think what we see a lot on this forum, are people who are somewhat anti-dealer.

    Yup, I totally understand that. You want to know why I frequent these forums? To hear what customers have to say, and learn from that and build upon it.

    I hear a lot that people want to be able to simply get a price, spec out their car and have it ready for pickup or deliverd to them. That's where sites like carsdirect come into play.

    However, bear in mind, the people who use these forums are still (albeit rapidly growing) in a certain "niche". I've found that a huge percentage of our customers wake up one day, decide that their car is now 4 years old and has 50K miles and it's time for a new one, say a Camry. A large percentage do some basic research on the net, which is smart, and then they go out to their local dealer, look at the rows of Camrys in stock, pick one out that they like, haggle the price, and drive it home. That day. I can think of countless times people have come in looking for a very very specific car, find out that it isnt available locally and then decide that "well, ya know, that Black is nice" or "Hmm, so it's got a CD player in it it'll work".

    So we need to cater to the majority. And I think that dealers as a whole have become a lot easier to deal with. Remember, I'm also the one who has to buy over a dozen cars a year for my family and their businesses, and I usually keep my mouth shut about what I do.

    I've noticed that, as a rule, it's become a much more pleasant experience over the past couple of years than it was 5-6 years ago. So the industry is getting better, but a lot of dealers have a long way to go. The manufacturers are not the answer. They simply don't have the resources to do it.

    Heck, take a small franchise like Jaguar with 160 dealers nationwide. Say the average Jaguar store is worth about $9,000,000.

    That's $1,440,000,000 just to buy the stores. Then the manufacturers have to look at larger carrying costs because not all dealers floorplan their inventory. (Most do). And then they also have to carry all of those parts inventories..etc..

    Imagine what would happen with Ford, or Chevrolet, etc....

    The logistics alone would make it impossible.

  • maryg2maryg2 Member Posts: 33
    I am glad that car salespeople are "lurking" out there to find out what car shoppers are thinking. I went to Aubotytel after enjoying for several months and beginning to like the idea of using the Web to do business. Same reason I used E-Loan. I also spent a few months visiting dealerships, and I have some suggestions for the next salesperson to sell me a car:
    1) If a customer says that safety is important to him or her, please know something about the kind of airbags that are offered in your cars and other safety features, even safety ratings. Don't talk about trunk space instead.
    2) If a customer asks about financing, please don't say, "What do I look like, a bank?"
    3) Don't complain about spending time with a customer just because they went for a test drive and don't plan to buy a car today.
    4) When a customer asks for your card, don't run into the showroom and come back with another salesman who high pressures the customer. Instead, say, "And may I call you to see if you'd like to come back and talk some more about your needs? I'd like to stay in touch."
    5) If a customer says they have to sell their car first, ask if they'd like to get an idea of what a new car would cost with their trade-in. Don't mutter, "Oh, that's too bad."
    6) Don't insist on talking only monthly payments with a customer who just wants the "bottom line price." And don't ask, "What's your current monthly payment now?" Number one, the car is paid off, and number two, it's none of your business. I make a lot more money now.
    7. Know what the changes and improvements have been on a particular model during the past few years. If the customer is driving an earlier model, they might not know what's been added.
    8. Don't call the customer and leave messages saying, "I've got good news for you," when you weren't willing to share that good news during an hour at the dealership. Cutesy doesn't work.
    9. Discuss the options (extended warranty, leather protector, supplementary alarm, etc.) with a buyer well before they go to finance. They may not have the extra money at that moment, but might have planned to be able to buy something you informed them about before pick-up day.
    10. Make them feel like they got a good deal by offering them a break on something--maybe some free oil changes, mud flaps thrown in, a free service--SOMETHING so they can walk out feeling good after just having spent $20k or $30k or whatever.
    11. If you expect the customer to come by to pick up the car and arrange financing at a certain time, don't tell them the car hasn't been prepared because you "weren't absolutely sure they were going to take it," delaying them an extra hour.

    You get the idea. Who hired some of these bozos?
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883

    I agree with about everything you said!

    Who hired these Bozos? Not me :)

    But finding good salespeople is difficult. A lot of the good ones gravitate to luxury cars where, quite simply, there's a LOT more money to be made. It's rare to find a Toyota or Honda store where you can make a nice living.

    However, that being said: I am an absolute stickler for my salespeople having product knowledge. Nothing aggravates me more than salespeople who don't know their product. Peronally, I'm not good at all with remembering dimensions, but I always knew colors, equipment, pricing, features, etc. To me it's critical. Think about it, If I don't show you any value in the product, how are you supposed to buy it? Even a basic Family sedan is an easy $20K these days. That's a LOT of money. A proper product demonstration is the most crucial thing, after qualifying, in selling a car. If I don't show you all the cool things that my product can do for you, how are you supposed to buy it?

    And qualifying is also important. Listen to the customer! It's really simple. "Well, what kind of car were you looking for? Big? Small? 4-Door? SUV? How do you use it? What kind of driving do you do? What features were you looking for? What qualities are important to you?" etc.

    This is crucial. And poor qualifying is why so many salespeople blow deals.

    And there's ways to ask qualifying questions gently and professionally. I don't like to ask "whats your payment?" type of questions. (this is assuming the customer just walked onto the lot of Main Street Lexus and has no idea what they are looking at) What I do like to ask are questions like "Is there a budget we're working with? Or is there a payment range you had in mind?" This is to qualify the customer. If they say "$400 a month" then we're not going to look at $40K cars. I like open-ended questions that get the customer talking. Customer will tell you the way they want to be closed, and it's our job to work with that. Some people are payment buyers, some are trade difference shoppers, etc.

    If the customer wants a sports sedan, why the heck are you showing her an SUV?

    As far as trades go, whenever a customer mentions selling their trade, I always bring up that I'll be happy to appraise it, or just give them a rough idea and mention the sales tax savings. For a lot of the customers that I have dealt with, that can make a big difference (Remember I sell Luxury cars where we often see $20-30K trades. Sometimes a $1200-1800 tax credit can outweigh the aggravation of them selling it themselves!)

    As far as having a manager talk to someone , I like that idea but only if it's done with tact. A lot of times, people are unhappy with either the deal, the car, etc.. And I always liked to say something like "Hi, I'm Bill Weismann, I'm the sales manager and I wanted to thank you for stopping by today. Did everything go ok with Joe? OK, Great, were there any questions you may have had or anything we failed to touch upon? OK, great, here's my card, and if you have any questions feel free to call myself or Joe."

    That's how I did it. Now, I've had people on their way out say things like "Well, we were really looking for a red one and you didnt have one in stock so we were going to go to the dealer across town".

    Now, that's where I can see if I can get them the car.

    Or, sometimes, they're unhappy with the price or they've gotten a better offer. But I agree. Pressuring customers is a bad idea.

    As far as finance rates go, I have no problem quoting an approximate rate, but I always make sure the customer knows that its' contingent on seeing their credit app. Since banks these days charge rates based on a credit score, that is important.

    And, there's a LOT for us to learn from these forums, and the business does need to change, thankfully, it is.

  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    I enjoyed reading your post, This is the type of feedback that can be helpful to our selling process. The customer "perception" even if wrong must be addressed and the consumer must feel happy to business with us....let me give you my 2 cents to each of your statements.

    1. Agree 100%. Sell the customers hot button.
    2. Tough one, unless there is some sort of special financing we cant give you an answer on the rate until we know your credit beacon score. Guessing leads to disasters...but the explination about beacon scores should be upfront so the consumer dosnt think were being shifty.
    3. Agree
    4. The asking for the card is almost always a kiss off,not always but much more than not, sad but true. hence the hesitation. If the s/p does his job you will buy the car, not ask for the card
    5. not sure what your saying here, but an explination of the trade value and tax benefits should be explained. then if the consumer wants to sell his or her car, some advise should be safety, price etc..
    6. Nobody knows what you make and I dont know if you make more now or not. making professional inquiries are expected. It gives us a path to follow to help you buy the car. Some s/p dont do this in a tactful way which can be insulting to some
    7. agree
    8. Things often change. If the rebate goes from $500 to $1000 you don't want to know about it?
    I have seen rebates on cars change 3 times in one day. I also have had consumers say "nobody called me back so you didnt seem interested in my business"..again a pro knows when to call and when not to. cutesy is a no-no. professionalism isnt.
    9. Tough one, its hard enough for a s/p to know everything he or she should know about the car and the add all the extras is piling on. But basic knowledge of the accesories is important...I always have my s/p keep the accessories catalog on the desk for the consumer to review prior to any haggling.
    10. Throw ins are great, but somebody has to pay for them. If you want the best price on the car, forget any freebies. Pay a little extra I'll be glad to throw in a few goodies and often do...But a consumer should always be thrilled with the purchase and we try to make it as exciting and fun as possible.
    11. I agree but if the dealer dosnt have a deal with you, and you just pop in how are we expected to have it ready? If there is an agreed time and a signed deal it should be ready to go without any excuses.

  • maryg2maryg2 Member Posts: 33
    Thank you for your thoughtful responses to the issues I raised. You both made some good points. I agree that the salesperson needs to figure out what price range customers are looking at, but I have never been shy about saying, "I'm looking to sell my current car," and tell them what price range I am looking at--if I am asked nicely. As for the phone calls, I'd appreciate a message saying, "We just got news of a new rebate," or "We now have special interest rates for financing," Something that sounds businesslike and not sleazy.

    That's why I stayed in touch with the Autobytel dealer during the 5 weeks it took me to sell my car. He was professional on the phone, called me several times each week, and gave me a fair price (although probably not the best I could have gotten). I was disappointed that although I went in to test drive two cars, picked out the one I wanted, and then told him I would be back in three days to pick it up (I had to wait for a check to clear), then called him that morning to say what time I'd be in to pick up the car--he still didn't have it ready. That was tacky. After all, we had a six week relationship. I guess he should have asked me for a small deposit or something to reassure himself so he could put on the mud gards and wheel locks! LOL. Of course this is the same dealer that hadn't sent in the E-Loan check after six weeks, and I still don't have a payment booklet. If I wind up getting my $23,000 car for $13,000, I will certainly recommend this dealer to everyone I know. (I did, by the way, call to remind the finance person, who found the check in my file.)

    I raise charitable funds for a living, and I have to listen carefully to the donor's wishes and concerns, and I HAVE to be very honest and professional. Selling cars should not be too different. Maybe some day I'll try my hand at selling cars or real estate and see if this business is any easier when you have a concrete product.
  • perqueperque Member Posts: 9
    I had a great experience. Referred me to dealer. He responded quickly, no haggling, price was very fair, 2 days after initial contact, I drove away with the new highlander very pleased. Thanks Larry Caplan at the referred King Toyota.

    Earl Perque
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Member Posts: 647
    So that's why when I gave my card to salespeople with all of my contact information and asked them to look for a certain car for me, they didn't do anything.

    I didn't understand such subtle signals in the car biz.

    My point, there are enought tacky people on both sides of the table. Today, I was one of them. I had some time to kill between service calls today and was near a dealership I had asked about a particular vehicle. So I drop in and ask Mike if he found what I was looking for.

    He said he had one, but sold it. Uhh, ok, why didn't you call me?

    Dumb stare.

    I told him to never mind, I was no longer interested in buying a car from him.

    The bad part on my part was I had already purchased the model I was looking for a month ago.

    I was just curious if this guy was even trying to get me the car I wanted, nope.

    Took me all of 10 minutes, and I learned of a dealership I really don't wish to do business with.

    A bit anal retentive? Perhaps, but I learned something, and I hope the salesman learned something too.

    I liked Mary's points and the professional responses we've seen in this forum.

    I do believe that any real change will need to originate at the dealership side of the table. The buyers are not nearly as organized as the dealers, so for real change to occur in the relationship between the saleperson and the customer, it will need to originate from the sales side.

    Fair, or unfair, if change is to occur, it must come from that side of the table.

    Again, my unsolicited $0.02

  • abtsellerabtseller Member Posts: 291
    and I find that many customers are just wanting a price to shop their local dealers with. They don't understand the value of the service when it is used like its supposed to be. We quote a no-haggle price, do all the paperwork, credit, etc, over the phone/fax, handle the insurance transfer, etc, and deliver the car to the door of the new customer (free in our state). Our drivers are trained to demo the car's features, show the customer how to set the clock, etc, and they have the customer drive the vehicle and make sure they're happy 100% BEFORE the paperwork is brought out. Its really frustrating to do the followups and find out that the lead was just looking for a price to hit their local dealer with.
  • landru2landru2 Member Posts: 638
    Our store just ended our relationship with autobytel after 2 years. Although we had modest success it seems like the market has changed in the last 9 months or so and virtually everyone submitting a request now regards the service as a free information service with no intention of purchasing a vehicle from us. Lately, I've even had a few people from out of town come right out and tell me that they are looking for a number to offer their home town dealer.

    As a side note, I always found it amusing that people would use a service called autobyTEL and then complain about being called on the telephone.
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    their future is not only limited but questionable..anyone look at their stock value lately?? assuming you can even find it.

    once again proving that consumers are NOT willing to "pay" for a better buying experience.

  • frankrichardsfrankrichards Member Posts: 39
    Pick out the car you want to own, do basic research here at edmunds, print out everything and make a binder, then walk into the local dealer and open your binder up on the sales persons desk and say "I'll take that one right over there, ya, the silver one with the black interior, stock number 2109 and I think a $$$$ deal is fair for both of us."

    Three (3) hours tops, start to finish, from test drive to detail for delivery. Do not go to the dealer at 2 PM Saturday/Sunday afternoon -- that's it, easy.

    Have fun!!!!!
  • aftyafty Member Posts: 499
    Forgive my ignorance, but when SHOULD we go to the dealer? Why not Saturday or Sunday at 2?
  • landru2landru2 Member Posts: 638
    Because this typically is a busy time for walk-in traffic and a time when the salesman can actually make a living. It would be considerate for the customer offering a skinny deal to not take up a salesman's valuable selling time. An evening would probably be better. Calling and making an appointment with someone would be better yet.
  • aftyafty Member Posts: 499
    Thanks for the tip!
  • mtanner5mtanner5 Member Posts: 15
    "good cop bad cop" game with me. Then they promised via email to let me take the car down the road for my husband to look at - he could NOT get there during their hours - then after I tested the car and decided I really liked it they decided no, I couldn't. I told them I would buy the car if he approved after seeing it. I told them that I would be doing my financing at my bank, and therefore would probably be able to take delivery the next day. All they needed to do was fax my bank all the paperwork. I even told them, here is my loan officer's direct number and name - she will tell you that I will NOT have any problem getting this loan! They did not even want to look at my trade, a nice late model Dakota truck with no payoff. I reported them to Autobytel and got a very concerned, nice response from their regional manager assuring me that this dealership would be reprimanded for this. This was 3 years ago. I would not return to that dealership NO MATTER WHAT!

    Autobytel was good for a friend of mine, though. Made her real happy with price, service, etc.
  • harry31harry31 Member Posts: 128
    Wife and I went to a local dealer this afternoon - we've settled on everything but the color . Never been to this dealer. While the loud speaker was blaring, "CUSTOMER ON THE LOT!!!", I was looking at the pricing sheets in the auto windows.
    Every new car (of every make) had a $380 charge for 'fabric guard' and 'paint guard' and 'pin striping'. Also, there was a 'dealer fee' of $395. The sales guy smoothly assured me that, "... everyone paid it".
    As the next closest dealer is approximately fifty miles away, I'm going back to the local guy for a test drive, but probably won't buy there. I DID take his card ...
  • landru2landru2 Member Posts: 638
    So you don't like their pricing policies? That's fine, it's a free market and you can choose to buy or not buy wherever you like. You probably feel like they are taking advantage of their customers because the closest competition is fifty miles away.

    But hang on now. It's unethical of them to price theirs cars the way they do but it's okay for you to con some salesman into giving you a test drive when you have absolutely no intention of buying there?

    Do what you like, but IMO, you've got a ways to climb to reach the moral high ground on this one.
  • suzzannsuzzann Member Posts: 56
    But I know people who did. It depends on the dealer they send you to.

    There's nothing wrong with shopping online for a deal. It saves time and it can be worth the money. I wish I'd done it sooner. I had a terrible time with salesmen on the lots.
  • harry31harry31 Member Posts: 128
    'Con' them into a test drive? Ever see those hooks that were used in vaudeville? Can't walk down the sidewalk in front of this dealer without 'getting the hook'!

    Con them into a test drive?! All I'd need to say would be, 'Wonder how that drives?' and there'd be five hands, each with a key, in front of my face with five guys in red, green, blue, gold and gray polyester suits yelling,' Try the red - green - blue - gold - gray truck'.

    Now the dealer can charge any price for any item that he thinks he might sell. Soitenly it's not unethical. BUT - they want to charge the customer (me) for dealer prep? What about the money the manufacturer pays the dealer for the 'prep'? They gonna credit that back to me? As for the 'mop and glow', you and I know it's a racket. Much more moral for the dealer to mark up the MSRP!

    I could probably take three or four hours some Saturday (after the test drive) to try and grind the salesman down, but if I didn't get (at least close) to 'my price', it's a wasted effort.

    A little aside here: several years ago, I went with one of my sons to a car dealership that advertised some 'deal' for college students. Asked a salesman about 'the deal' and the salesman said something about too late - or no longer applies (it was in the previous day's newspaper).
    I turned to my son and said I guess we missed it. The salesman asked if we wouldn't like to see a car - and I said no if we missed the deal we wern't interested. The salesman then SNARLED, "If you're not gonna buy a car, what'd you come in here for!".
    My son quickly glanced at me with a shocked look, I just laughed, turned, nodded to my son and we walked out. The whole thing didn't take three minutes. That's generally been my experience of the 'high ground', in car sales.
  • landru2landru2 Member Posts: 638
    Or were you planning to pay the sales guy for his time? Of course there will be salesmen that want to take you for a test drive - they do it because they assume that they will at least have the opportunity to sell a car. If you are not going to even give the salesman that opportunity then you are wasting his time. You are taking advantage of him. You don't like it when people take advantage of you do you? You think it's okay for you to do it?

    Justify your actions all you want but doing what you propose is just as sleazy as the stuff you don't like this dealer doing.
  • suzzannsuzzann Member Posts: 56
    Is the reason for shopping online. It minimizes the time wasted on unscrupulous dealers.
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    All I want to be able to do is use email to send my offer to a bunch of dealers without having to do all the driving. Also to check on inventory.
  • suzzannsuzzann Member Posts: 56
    I used Priceline to do that. It was a bit scary since you have to commit to a price but they contacted every dealer in my state in a lot less time than it would have taken me. Cost was $50 after I picked up the car.
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    That's sounds pretty good actually. But does it have to be every dealer in the state? I don't want to drive 2-4 hours just to save $100.
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