Hi guys. I'm Halley—a blogger, a writer, a mom—and last fall I was a car salesman for about three weeks. I talked a dealer into letting me try out the Internet Sales Person job at a local car dealership. I sold six cars the first "official" week, after a week of intense training. I got an incredible insider's view. So this is all about why you CAN'T buy a car on the internet and you should give it up now.
Here's the thing—to get a good deal on a car, you have to VISIT DEALERSHIPS AND TALK TO THE SALESPEOPLE! I know people are loath to do it, but the salespeople really do know a lot. They especially know most people think they are morons and they will cut a deal with someone who actually ... ready ... treats them with respect!
So many people think they can sit home and just ask questions via email and get a deal by pitting one dealership against another, based on price. I saw the thing up close. It was an eye-opener. The people who got a deal were the people who came in and spent time talking to the salespeople.
All the cars in one dealership are the same as the cars in another dealership. All the prices are within a few dollars of one another. Stop shopping cars and start shopping car salespeople! There are some excellent salesmen and saleswomen who can actually help you. Always find out who's been there the LONGEST. You don't last unless you can sell. The ones who can really sell can really cut you a deal.
I was knocked out by the amount of data, technical info, competitive analysis and basic automotive knowledge the HQ people made available to us as salespeople. I can tell you a ton of detail about the leading minivans—I had training CDs that showed me how to pull the seats in and out of all the top ones, while holding a baby on my hip (that is, the model in the training video held a baby).
Of course, I'm being a little facetious saying you can't buy a car on the Net. What I really mean is, do your research, use Consumers Reports to see what the invoice price to the dealer most likely was, take that price and realize there's a mark-up of some rational amount. Know you're negotiating to get as close to invoice price as you can.
But what you don't know is what deals the dealership might be running, what gossip is going around about other dealers, what is coming down the line—like the killer hybrid SUVs in April from a number of great car companies. And you can find good salespeople who will level with you and point you in the right direction. They want to sell you a car. They really don't want to rip you off. They make money by selling many cars—not by ripping off one person—and by referrals, so they want you to like them and be happy with the deal.
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
What we're talking about
on the front page.