I learned a lot as Internet Manager for a major car dealer. One of the biggest lessons was that customers are encouraged to go to sleep in the process of buying a car so the dealer can direct them in a way that maximizes their profits. This isn’t a good or bad thing; it’s simply how the system works. The obligation is on the buyer to beware.
I liken the automobile dealership model to a shark tank where only the strongest survive. This is true for sales staff and management, as well as customers. It’s also true that this is the reality that all business ventures live and die by. Prior to being an automotive writer, I owned and operated three businesses simultaneously. I understand on a personal and intimate level the actual experience--and harsh reality--of small business ownership.
From the customer’s perspective, what is important to realize about the shark tank comparison is that no matter how nice, cordial, or pleasant the sales person you’re working with is, buying a vehicle from a dealer is an inherently antagonistic relationship. An antagonistic relationship simply means that you are taking mutually opposite positions.
Yes, it’s true that you want to buy a car and they want to sell you one. You’re both on the same page there. However, where you are mutually opposed is when it comes to price. It’s in the best interest of the sales staff and the dealership to sell you a car at the highest possible price. However, unless you’re purpose in life is giving money away, you’re best interest is served by getting the lowest price. These are mutually opposed positions.
Letting Your Guard Down
Most of us only buy a handful of vehicles in our lifetime and it’s a stressful experience. We’ve all heard stories about how car dealers have a bad reputation for good reason. Have you noticed that almost everyone you know has a horror story about their bad experience at a car dealership? So when you find a salesperson that is welcoming and helpful, something in you relaxes. You let your guard down in a natural reaction to a friendly face and an accommodating attitude.
So far so good, as long you don’t go to sleep to the fact that no matter how friendly or nice your sales person is, their interest is mutually opposed to yours. Tomorrow we take a look at ways you can make sure you don’t go to sleep to the sales process. This will help you save money, lower your stress, and not go home with your own horror story about a bad experience at your local car dealership.