Buying a car should be (a) painless, (b) fun, or (c) joyful?

November 7, 2016

Shopping for a new car can be pretty exciting--until the point that you have to head to a dealership. That's when the migraine meds can come in handy.

At least one dealer wants to improve the experience, though. He's got his work cut out for him, because there are many reasons people hate interacting with dealers. A few of those include:

The size of the purchase: There's something to be said for retail therapy. Spending an afternoon shopping for a new pair of shoes or a new smartphone can, at least momentarily, distract you from things like credit card debt or a soul-crushing presidential election. 

But spending thousands of dollars on a car--if not tens of thousands--is a very different matter. For most folks, that's not "mad money", that's not something that can be paid off in a month or two, that's a long-term commitment. And that kind of commitment can make people queasy.

The complexity of the transaction: Whether a car is new or used, when you see the sticker price, you know that that's not the end of it. Long before you get to things like taxes and destination charges, there are options to consider like roof racks, safety packages, and deluxe finishes, all of which raise the price. You might be able to haggle it down a bit--if you can stomach it--but it's rarely going to go as low as you'd like. And don't even get us started on the complexities of car loans, which can make the process even more frustrating.

The sales personnel: We know plenty of car sales people, and they tend to be a pretty good lot, but a few bad apples have given them a very bad rap. In terms of trusworthiness, Americans consider them on par with telemarketers and members of Congress. And any time you distrust your salesperson, you're apt to dislike the sales process.

Beau Boeckmann of Galpin Motors wants to do away with the dread that many folks face when driving to a dealership. In fact, the Los Angeles-area dealer doesn't just want to make the car-buying process easier, which to him is a lowly goal. He aims much, much higher and aspires to make it downright fun.

He's done that by focusing not on the sales transaction but on the customer experience. For example, he runs an on-site restaurant and displays a lineup of snazzy custom cars. He's also instilled a customer-oriented mentality in his sales staff in which the shopper always comes first.

The most challenging obstacle Boeckmann faces is the restrictions put on dealerships by automakers. Rules about a showroom's look and size can hurt a dealer's efforts to make her/his space more customer-friendly.

Have you ever had a truly enjoyable experience at a dealership? Even one that was simply painless? Or has every trip to the dealership made you more resolved than ever to buy your next car on your smartphone. Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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