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Purchasing Strategies - Questions & Success Stories

Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
Have a question about how to start negotiations or need advice on a particular approach? Do you have a successful strategy that you'd like to share? Start here!


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  • richk1richk1 Posts: 51
    Hi All - I'm getting ready to purchase a new luxury car in the next couple of weeks. After much reading here and on other sites, I think I have my purchasing strategy figured out, but before I put it into action, I wanted to share it with this very knowledgeable group to get your feedback: do you think it will work? can it be improved? should parts be scraped? Thanks in advance for any feedback!


    Using the manufacturer website to find all dealers within a 100mi radius (not going to use online svcs that solicit quotes for me), I will call each to get the name of the fleet mgr and their fax number. On the morning of 2/21, I will fax each one a very respectful, but business-like letter letting them know that I am accepting bids for this specific car & options through 2/23 and that I WILL be purchasing this month. My ask is for their "all in" price on an in stock model. I'll specify that the bid should be inclusive of all non-finance related costs (dealer prep, doc fees, ADM). My intention is to end up with a mutually beneficial transaction where I get the lowest price possible while the dealer gets a relatively low maintenance sale so they can move product off of their lot and focus their time and efforts on other prospects.


    On Thursday 2/24, I’ll then fax each of the responding dealerships again letting them know the (honest) lowest bid that came in and will request one final bid before I decide who to go with and make arrangements to take delivery on the 28th.


    Well – what do you think? Does end of the month time frame help me at all? Do you think enough of the 15 dealerships in my radius will respond? Has anyone else done something similar? Do you think I’m I better off finding 3 local dealerships and just putting in the time to play the game and do the dance with them? Thanks!

  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    not to be abrupt, but I think you're wasting your time with the shotgun faxes - first, "fleet" managers handle "fleets" for business owners, not single cars for consumers. Secondly, they get BUNCHES of faxes just like what you're talking about and most get thrown into the round file.


    Pick two or three places, preferably close to you, check out their service departments, the attitudes of service and sales personnel, and the attitudes of their customers (big indicator), and go forward in person.
  • asafonovasafonov MinneapolisPosts: 409
    When I bought a (non-luxury) car 2 years ago, I found Edmunds' "Contact Dealer for quote" form very helpful. I emailed from a real account (non-AOL/Yahoo/MSN) and included my business and cell phone in the RFQ.


    When I received the responses (3 out of 5), I assumed the dealer's attitude was reflected in the salesperson's words and "tone." No response - obviously out. "Come on down we give you best price" - out. "We'll do you a favour by selling you this Accord at $500 off MSRP but the deal is good today only, and, BTW, we charge a couple hundred for dealer prep" - out. The one remaining dealership was straightforward and responsive. I was not disappointed with service experience either.


    Faxes (and blast-faxing) is so, ummm, 80s?
  • judejude Posts: 1
    Hi to all. First time user from Australia. Love the site.


    I have selected vehicle and started doing the rounds to get prices (am getting 4 quotes). I have put this in a table that I am happy for other dealers to look at so that they know what they are up against. My problem is that ALL of them say that they won't be beaten on price. How do I handle this aspect of the negotiation?


    I would be grateful if someone would offer words of wisdom.


    Thankyou and have a great day.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
    Ah, but some of the will be beaten on price. Otherwise, you could continue going from dealership to dealership and eventually get the car for free! Do they say they won't be beaten on fees? On financing? Doubt it. Some of these are used to cover up the actual cost to you.


    You're going to spend a lot of time going from dealership to dealership if you do it this way. Do you have a favorite dealership among the 4 - does one of them have a better reputation, or come recommended? If so, you can take your 4 quotes straight to that dealership and show them your lowest offer (if they're not the lowest), and let them know you'll buy from them today if they meet or beat that offer.


    If you don't have a favorite, go straight to the one with the lowest price, if that's important to you. But be VERY careful indeed. Often the "lowest price" doesn't end up being the lowest - you get stuck with fees and add-ons not quoted in the price, or bad financing.


    When you start shopping a low price around, you're really opening the door for a lot of shenanigans that won't, in the end, benefit you.


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  • 1racefan1racefan Posts: 932
    Typically what I do is to give the dealer that I have had the best past experience with first crack at my buisness. For example, If I am interested in buying a Honda, and I have had good overall dealings with a particular dealer that sells Hondas, I will give them the first shot at my business. However, If I am looking for a Honda, and haven't had any dealing with any Honda dealers, I will go with the dealer that I have heard the best word-of-mouth feedback from my family and friends. The way I see it is that I would rather give my business to the dealer that treats me the best during the buying process, and that I feel like will treat me the best after the sale (ie..service) - even if I end up paying a few hundred dollars more. For me, it isn't worth it to feel like I have been through a 2 hour boxing match at a particular dealer all to save a couple hundred dollars. The only "pearl of wisdom" that I can really offer is that if you are going to buy a car, take the time to get pre approved for a loan thru a credit union or bank before going into a dealership. This makes negotiations a lot easier - plus you already know what kind of an interest rate you should expect. This way you can mainly focus on the price of the vehicle, instead of haggling over a monthly payment. I will always tell the dealership that I have arranged my own financing, but they may try to beat the interest rate if they would like.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
    Yes, if you shop the price all over town, you'll probably end up feeling like you've been battered by the end of it - and shopping when you're exhausted isn't a good idea.


    If you're quoted a super low price that seems too good to be true, it likely is. Check out the new cars page here first, and price out your vehicle so you'll have a ballpark idea of what to expect.


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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    My thoughts exactly!


    From my viewpoint, I am constantly amazed at the pain some people will put themselves through when they buy a car.


    Most dealers will round can "blast faxes". We get dozens of these a week usually on the same form letter that must be somewhere on the internet.


    It really doesn't have to be a miserable procedure. My advise would be to ask your family, friends and co-workers for a referral. Ask them how well they were treated, hw is the service department, and if they felt the price they paid was reasnoble.


    The "fleet manager" is usually just another salesperson with more experience than most. I have often been tempted to ask..." Oh, how many cars will you be needing for your fleet?"


    It really doesn't have to be hard. It can even be fun!
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    about a 2005 Civic EX...
  • richk1richk1 Posts: 51
    "Most dealers will round can "blast faxes". We get dozens of these a week usually on the same form letter that must be somewhere on the internet."


    thx for the responses everyone.....i hear what you are saying, and i agree that some dealerships won't want to play this game, but I've got to believe out of 15 dealers, there are 4 or 5 that are willing to trade some profit in exchange for a transaction that will take minimal time, and in order to make this work, I only need a few to play. Am I just blissfully ignorant here?


    In any event, based on all the invoice/holdback/rebate info available on the net, I pretty much know the price I'm looking for. If I can't get that price via this method (which is much less time consuming for me than dealer to dealer shopping), I can always go with plan B which is the dealer to dealer dance. I'll let everyone know how it works out.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    >>but I've got to believe out of 15 dealers, there are 4 or 5 that are willing to trade some profit in exchange for a transaction that will take minimal time<<


      You will more likely find the worst dealers will be the ones to respond to you ... and you'll generally find that they'll get the money from you in other ways ...
  • 1racefan1racefan Posts: 932
    Exactly - the ones that have turned off so many of their past customers that they now have to continually look for newbies.
  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    Why hasn't bobst chimed in?
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    From a dealer standpoint, bobst way of buying essentially gives him all the card and all the power. We like to rib him about it..but with a few twists his method of buying could be a textbook way of dealing with a less than professional dealer.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    Oregon, I knew that if I didn't respond that one of my many followers would respond for me.


    Thanks, Audia. You filled in for me in a commendable manner. You are hearby promoted from the 'Bobst in training' rank to the 'Bobst surrogate' title.


    Actually, I am going to try the internet approach in a few weeks. I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes.
  • 1racefan1racefan Posts: 932
    I think is a good way to go. I bought a car back in 2000, and I knew which dealer I wanted to buy from (I had already purchased a car from them before). I was able to find the specific car I wanted on their web site, contact a salesperson through the email link, and negotiate the sales price in about 30 minutes. I then made an appointment for the following Saturday morning to test drive the car. The nice thing was that I was able to get in and out of the dealership in minimal time since the negotiations had already been done. I imagine this approach might be tough if you were planning on doing a trade-in.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    As I recoup on my day off after a very busy and hectic weekend, I feel compelled to offer a couple of suggestions when buying a car.


    These comments are based on several of my recent expereinces and observations.


    1. I know I'm going to get blasted for this...but...IF at all possible, find a babysitter! A car dealership really isn't the place for active, demanding toddlers. They aren't happy being there and they usually present a tremendous distraction for all parties.

    Yes, I love kids. Same applies to dogs. I'll never understand why some people will bring a dog into a place of business?


    2. PLEASE, allow enough time! There is nothing worse than to have a customer take three hours deciding on what they want, working out a deal etc than have them look at their watch and tell us they have to be somewhere in a half hour! If you have time constraints, let us know in advance and we will try or best to streamline things.


    Buying a car isn't like buying a pair of shoes. There is a lot of time consuming paperwork involved for one thing.


    2. Know what you can afford. If your budget is 20,000, the 30 thousand dollars cars you want to test drive will not fit your budget.


    3. Be upfront. If you have had some credit issues in the past, let us know. Often, they aren't as bad as people think they are. If you have a trade-in, let us know. It'll be worth exactly the same now or later.


    4. A friendly straightforward posture will go a long way. If you don't receive the same in return, ask for a different salesperson or simply walk out.


    I realize these ideas may counter what you read in the "How to buy a Car" guides but they will help make it a more pleasant experience.


    Lastly, shop early if possible. People who come in an hour before closing may get rushed through the process.


    Hope this helps!


  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 127,999
    Great advice!!

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Appreciate that.


    It really doesn't have to be painful for either side. It isn't a battle.


    Best advise of all I can give is to ask friends and family for a referral. You will be treated like family and leave happy. You probably won't pay any more either!
  • asafonovasafonov MinneapolisPosts: 409
    Great advice, IF you are dealing with a professional like most dealers posting here on these boards.


    Problem is, not all dealerships are like this; how do you find one? How do you know it when you walk in the door? On the other hand, this straightforward approach probably works best no matter who you buy from...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Ask people you know for a referral. You can even ask people you don't know. If you are in the market for a new Dodge Caravan and you see someone getting ot of one in a parking lot you can ask them!


    " Excuse me...I see you just bought your Caravan from ABC Motors...can I ask you if you would reccommend that store?"


    People will usually be happy to share their experiences both good and bad.


    Or you can even call the store and ask...


    " Which of your long term salespeople would you reccomend? I want someone easy going that isn't pushy"


    I get a lot of business that way. :)


    Now that isn't always the best way, especially if the person answering the phone is dating the worst salesperson there!
  • gussguss Posts: 1,181


    I think you made several good points , but why would I leave my kids at home? They will be riding in any vehicle that I purchase , so I will need to see how the vehicle functions with the whole family aboard.


    I suppose you would need to make the test drive separate from the negotiations.


    When we purchased our Chrysler T&C 2 years ago I went in ready with what I felt was a fair price and was ready to deal that night. After my wife gave the van the Ok after the test drive I gave them my offer.


    Well, 2 hours later the deal is not done. The kids loved climbing all over the Jeaps while we waited.

    We left with no deal. Sales manager call that night and gives us another offer. Still not good enough. Finally he calls me the next day at work, and offer $200 more than my original offer.I accepted it because I like the green pea salesman we were working with.


    I just think that if dealerships wanted to they could speed up the process.


    Next time you are right we will be keeping test drive and negotiations seperate. Lesson learned.


    It just should not have to be so hard.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    Buying a car is not that hard if you know what you are doing.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Please EAT before you come in. Especially if your plan is to grind us for the last possible dollar and ESPECIALLY if you bring your kids!


    guss, it doesn't have to be that hard but if you are absolutely determined to wring out the last possible dollar be prepared to spend some extra time!
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    but when they were 3 and 4, I wouldn't take them to a nice restaurant, out of respect for the other patrons and the wait staff. I wouldn't take them into the bank when doing a home loan, or even when I got a haircut, esssentially making someone else watch them while I was busy.


    It's very important to see if kids fit a vehicle, no doubt, but as parents, we should know how big our kids are, and maybe bring a stroller or car seat to make sure the trunk and rear seats work for you.


    My biggest peeve about kids is that when mommy and daddy and negotiating and signg up for a $30,000 vehicle, mommy and daddy need to be paying attention - it shouldn't take 10 attempts to make a car deal happen, but if junior has all of your attention, it likely will.


    I love my kids, but they don't belong in the middle of a business transaction, even as (now) teenagers. Get a sitter, or grandma, or drop them off at the movies.
  • gussguss Posts: 1,181
    I have learned to do my preparation here online. Saves a lot of time at the negotiation table(or desk).


    Alot of great information to be learned from the regulars that post here.


    Of course I don't expect anyone to watch my kids when I am out. They are well mannered enough to sit there while I sign a few papers.


    I disagree about not bringing them to a test drive. I am 6'6 . I put the seat all the way back. With car seats kids sit up higher. Guess where their little feat end up? Right in the middle of my back.


    There is no substitute for them actually being in the car and testing it out in real world conditions.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Just don't bring your dogs for the same reason! :)
  • manamalmanamal Posts: 434
    I think there is some advantage of having the kid on a test drive. However, after the test drive, there is no reason to have the kids there. Instead, the kids should be taken home or to a sitter.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,715
    I dunno guys... I've bought four new cars, from four different dealerships, and never sat around for more than 20 minutes "negotiating". Even when we couldn't put it together. I'm no bobst, but you can get a "no" pretty quick, especially if you are polite about it and don't burn any bridges.


    Secondly, of course you want the kids on the test drive, but that's another twenty minutes, big deal. My daughter doesn't whine, and she can be quiet for a half hour or less.


    Thirdly, I've never picked up a car the same day that the price was set. And by that I mean either OTD price, or "so much plus TTL". Never been jerked around on the math, either.


    Sometimes I test drive in June and buy in January... on my Sienna, I kept waiting for the end of the model run, and when the deals got really good, I went back and picked out my car. The salesman kept tabs, so he was suprised there was half a year between test drive and purchase, but he just kinda shrugged it off... sold is sold. And I always drive the specific car I'm buying; once around a long block is enough if I know the model.


    Another thing to consider is, go for the test drive, keep the salesman's card, and then go back to him or her... the good ones appreciate it, and they get the message you're not jerking them around, and when there's a sale, it'll be their sale. I think that makes a big difference in the amount of pressure.


    If you can keep your dealership visits short, you don't have to worry about half the points in isell's advice. And I agree: most people make it way too painful.


  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    because people are informed and/or unreasonable, perahps on both sides of the table.


    A college friend of my oldest son's tagged my son into helping him look at a used Mitsubishi Eclipse yesterday that his girlfriend and her father would be ultimately buying. The kid haggled his hardest with the salesman at the mom and pop store; offered HALF of what was on the sticker, because that's what his dad taught him; ground on the guy for an hour, nitpicking every little scratch on the car, royally made the sales guy mad.


    The girl dropped in, started in on the guy again, something about window tint.


    The girl's dad stopped by yesterday afternoon, almost got into a fight over the price.


    The girl's dad called me last night. I asked if he had looked up to see what the car was worth. He said ""


    The boy (19), the girl, and the dad, spent nearly 4 hours (total) beating up a sales guy, and they didn't take 3 minutes to check out NADA or Kelley to have some clue what the car was even worth, so they could make a reasonable, legitimate offer.


    I can't imagine having that kind of time to waste.
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