Buying a new car - tricks of the trade: First impressions
It’s hard buying anything when you’re not as knowledgeable as the person selling and that’s never more obvious than when you’re buying a car.
Being British, we’re inclined to nod and agree to that body wax option for an extra £300 or lovely new set of floor mats for our new pride and joy.
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Fortunately at MotorTorque we’ve got an expert with over 30 years of experience as a car dealer, industry veteran Adam Leys, who’s on hand to guide us through the process of buying a new car and a sneak insight into the workings of a car salesman and a dealership – as well as some advice on how to get the best deal for your new car.
We’ll outline some of the tactics deployed in dealerships over the years in our articles this week, followed by some tips on how to get the deal you want in the showroom.
Never forget that car dealers are in it for the money and their outlook is to bring in as much profit as possible. Unfortunately that means you’ll spend more; no matter how nice and welcoming they might seem.
List prices are just one factor, because profit can be eked out in all sorts of way with poor part exchange rates, ghost cars and even fake ‘sold’ signs.
Here’s four ways a dealership can influence you and encourage a sale without you even talking to them:
The busy forecourt
A busy forecourt gives the impression of a successful dealership.
You’ll see all manner of cars, ‘for sale’ signs and action going on around a dealership, giving buyers lots of choice and more time to ponder – as well as giving the impression of a thriving business.
So be warned: as natural as it may seem, a lot of this is actually a conscious effort on the dealer’s part.
The 'sold’ sign
A basic method employed by dealers is to have 25 popular cars and slap ‘sold’ signs on 22 of them.
That creates urgency and allows dealers to employ the “only available now" or “only three left" lines in an attempt to push the buyer towards a purchase.
Whilst some of these cars could actually be sold, some will be ‘frauds’ – cars that are not sold or allocated but presented as such to give the impression of scarcity of stock.
The false price
All cars have their price. If a dealer values a car at £8K, a notional break-even point might be £9K. It’s likely to be advertised at £9,995.
This is a powerful bargaining tool because the dealer can drop the price down to £9,000 and give the impression of a discount or time-limited deal.
The buyer goes away happy with what appears to be a bargain price – but the dealer got the price he or she was after all along.
The ghost car
A similar tact is the pre-sell – or ‘ghosting’ as it’s known in the trade.
The term refers to cars advertised by the dealer that may not actually exist. When a buyer enquires about the car they’ll find out that isn’t available – not because it has been sold but because it wasn’t ever available, or was sold months before.
That brings the buyer into the forecourt and gives the dealer the chance to work their magic. The buyer has shown their hand in terms of price, preferred model and an eagerness to make a purchase.
Tomorrow: Our car industry expert gives you the lowdown on test drives