A friend recently asked me to help her buy a used car. Her 2000 VW Beetle was racking up too many miles for her to feel comfortable commuting from the East Bay to San Francisco four days a week. Even though her budget was tight, she had an excellent credit rating. She also wanted me to walk her through every step of the car buying process. As it turned out, that was a good thing.
Opening My Eyes
Car dealers have a bad reputation for good reason. Virtually everyone I know has a horror story about their experience--or a friend’s, co-worker, or neighbor’s experience--while at a car dealership attempting to buy a new or used car, truck, or SUV.
As it turned out, it was a difficult experience for me when helping my friend, even though I thrived in my role as Internet Manager for a major car dealer. If I had problems, it’s no wonder that the average person who buys or sells just a handful of vehicles in a lifetime can face an enormous amount of difficulty when dealing with the negative aspects of buying a car through a dealer.
The Story Line
The short version of our interesting adventure is that my friend and I had a bad experience at the first dealership we dealt with. Then, we had a good experience at the second dealership. Obviously, we purchased the pre-owned 4-door sedan she wanted at the second dealership. But it’s the difference between the two dealers--and our very different experience at each one--that’s the real story.
By the way, I didn’t tell either dealership that I used to be one of them. A few years ago I had worked my way through the ranks of a car dealer’s sales staff to Internet Manager. I was also called on to train new sales hires, I acted as the “closer” for other sales staff, and I was the person asked to develop a new Internet marketing strategy for used cars at this very successful dealership. It’s a system I reworked for private sellers and put in book form. See below.
I didn’t tell either dealer any of that. What I did do was use every inside secret I knew to get my friend a good deal on the used car she wanted to buy. Then I used that knowledge to set up the deal in such a way as to eliminate the much-dreaded “car dealer stress” for her. However, even with my insider knowledge and experience, I failed miserably with the first dealership. We encountered lies, manipulation, “old school” tactics, awkward moments, dashed expectations, confusion, hard feelings, more lies, and so much more.
However, it’s also true that everything that could go right at the second dealership did. Nice people, honest, direct, upfront, transparent, met expectations, their word was good as gold, easy to deal with, honorable, more than a good deal, and so much more.
More on this tale of two dealerships, tomorrow.
The author recently published his new book, HELP! I Gotta Sell My Car NOW! New Rules for Selling Your Vehicle Online! It’s available at Amazon.com.