With Covid infections spiking at the same time that people are thinking about taking advantage of end-of-year car deals, we wondered how people could get the best deals without leaving their home. We sat down with Geoff Cudd, creator of FindTheBestCarPrice.com, to give us some shopper-savvy car buying advice on how to begin a car negotiation to develop a strategy to get the best car price.
Cudd’s philosophy is,“Car buying should be like buying a TV online: you should be able to select a model, see prices from different companies, purchase the cheapest one and have it shipped to your front door. It’s unfortunate that it’s difficult to get transparent pricing, and you must negotiate with a salesperson for several hours. Until that changes, I try to make it easier to navigate the process and get a good deal.”
Setting Up for Your Car Buying Strategy
The first thing that Geoff Cudd recommends is to set up a separate email address and telephone number. This will streamline your process so that the only communications you are receiving are related to your new car purchase. You can easily do both through Google, which will transfer calls to your cell. Once the car purchase is complete, you don’t need to use the email account again.
Take a Spin
You will know what your priorities are. Do you want a sleek, sexy car, or something that ranks high on the safety charts? Part of your selection process should include driving the vehicle. During the pandemic, many car dealers will drop a car off to your home for you to test drive, so make the request.
Make, Model, Multiplicity
Once you have narrowed down which make and model of car you want to buy, request prices from several dealerships online—and don’t forget to use your new email address and phone number. Dealers will usually send you prices within 24 hours and will reach out to you over email. Respond by saying that you plan to make your new car purchase within the next week. Let them know that you are going to go with the dealer who gives you the lowest price, and to start, you would like them to give you the best price they have available.
Let the Bidding Wars Commence!
You are now ready for the most fun part of the online car-buying experience—let the dealers compete against each other. You did your homework, now let them do their work.
Pro Tip: “Before you begin negotiating with car dealers, don’t ever make an offer like 2% above invoice or 10% below MSRP,” says Cudd. Once you make an offer you set a price floor that dealers won’t go below. Instead, let them compete with each other, and your price will keep going down. Depending on where the salesperson is in their selling cycle, they might even be willing to take a drop in commission to meet their sales targets and earn big bonuses.
It’s important to keep your bidding war to a week or less. Don’t waver on that deadline, and make sure you mention it in every email and/or phone call to the new car dealer. If you are the type of person who does not like to negotiate, fear not. You can limit your communications to email, and Cudd provides email templates in his new car buying guide which you can use. Once you start getting bids, organize them from highest to lowest. Starting with the highest, ask the dealer to beat your lowest price. Work your way down through the dealers updating your “price to beat” as you go. When you have finally gotten the lowest price you can—usually indicated when a dealer says they’re out, or it’s the lowest they can go—it’s time to close the deal. Ask the dealer to email you with the VIN number, MSRP, all taxes and fees, and the final out the door price so you have something in writing.
What About a Trade-In?
For many years, getting a trade-in value from a dealership involved a taciturn man taking your current car for a drive, squirrelling away to his office, returning mysteriously with a folded slip of paper that he handed to the dealer, then walking away wordlessly. The number was always lower than you expected, and you had no grounds for negotiation. Cudd says this is absolutely the wrong way to get the most money for your trade-in. First, get a third-party appraisal and use that only after you have agreed to purchase a new car, then negotiate with the dealer.
Love that new-car smell as long as you can!
Nick Ponte – The Tech entrepreneur who has aced the art of Digital Marketing.
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