How To Negotiate Fairly With A Car Dealership
Written by DriveAxis.ca April 27, 2022
Everyone feels a rush of excitement when they go out to buy a new car, but they also dread the inevitable haggle that comes before signing on the dotted line. There are many stereotypes surrounding this process - some legitimate, and others exaggerated a little too much.
The truth is that negotiation is a pretty routine process when it comes to many buying and selling scenarios, and there’s nothing to worry about. Some people have difficulty with the friendly combative nature of a car deal, especially if they’re naturally afraid of conflict. Others walk in believing they’re armed to the teeth with superior knowledge, only to sabotage a potentially great deal.
So, what’s the best approach when it comes to negotiating a fair price with a car dealership? It involves mutual compromise, and a willingness to see it from the seller’s side. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll be in a much better position to pull the trigger on that sale, and feel great about it.
BE REALISTIC ABOUT EXPECTATIONS
The stereotype among car buyers is that all car salespeople are greedy and nefarious villains who will do anything to max out the sticker price in order to nab a nice commission. It’s not quite that simple, and it also doesn’t factor in the opposite - namely, the buyer who wants to walk out with their dream car at the lowest possible price.
Be honest about your own intentions, and it’ll become a lot easier to understand where the salesperson is coming from. The entire purpose of negotiation is to deny both of you exactly what you want, and find a comfortable and acceptable compromise in the middle. When two individuals are able to handshake on a mutually beneficial deal, both walk away smiling and feeling great.
RESEARCH YOUR VEHICLE
Many people walk into a car dealership to browse the merchandise, without knowing what they really want. That immediately puts you at a disadvantage, since salespeople will try to actively steer you into a vehicle that they think you might love, as opposed to need. This is understandable if you’re completely uneducated about cars, and don’t know where to start, but with all the information available on the internet, right at your fingertips, it pays to do your homework.
Remember that you can browse the full lineup of a dealership’s cars by visiting their website. From there, try to identify 1 to 3 cars that you’re interested in, and then research each one thoroughly by reading online reviews, and checking for things like production problems and recall histories, etc. Don’t neglect to check the Canadian Black Book, especially if you’re going after a pre-owned vehicle, as it will keep you up to date on the estimated value of a car at any given moment.
TO POKER FACE, OR NOT TO POKER FACE
The going rule of thumb is to walk into a dealership with a relaxed facial expression, nonchalant body language, and an unwillingness to settle on any one particular car, until you’ve looked around. However, that becomes more difficult for people who are excited about buying one particular car, and can’t wait to plop their rear end into the driver’s seat for a test drive. Car salespeople can detect this kind of excitement from a mile away, and it’s a surefire sign that you’re probably going to sign on the dotted line with very little haggling.
If money is no option, and you really want the car, you may have no problem with this. However, it’s never a good idea to pay more if you don’t have to, which means you should always exercise some self-restraint, even whilst drooling over that beautiful red V8 convertible glimmering in the center of the showroom. Buying a car is a business transaction, and should not be done on impulse, or emotion.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO WALK AWAY
The art of knowing when to walk away from a deal requires a lot of self-discipline, especially when negotiations are so tight. There are times when it’s Okay to stroll out the front door and not look back, even if all that excitement is begging you to sign the deal, and grab that beautiful new car you want so badly.
Walking away isn’t just a hardball negotiation tactic designed to try and bluff the other side into capitulation. Sometimes it’s necessary, especially when the deal simply isn’t in your best interests. In fact, the deal itself may be quite fair, but way too much for you to justify when leveraged against your living expenses, financial situation or job stability. It’s better to walk away from a deal that isn’t sitting right, and avoid a potentially messy situation later on.
Other times, walking away can open up new opportunities. If a deal falls through, make your exit, and follow up with the exact same salesperson at the end of the month. This is a great time to try and salvage a deal, since dealerships feel a lot of pressure to meet sales quotas in the final week of each month. You will already have a familiar relationship with the salesperson, and they’ll be more inclined to work with you as a result.
Everyone wants to waltz into a car dealership and strike a deal where they hold all the cards, and walk out with all the chips. It’s only natural to want to feel empowered by taking control of a deal, and making it your own. However, many people tend to go overboard with this assumption, and it’s not always their fault.
It can be hard to determine where the cutoff point is when negotiating for a reduced sticker price, but attempting to lowball the salesperson won’t do you any good. Every product has a floor when it comes to pricing, and there’s no going beyond it. Instead of trying to whack more dollars off an already slimmed down sticker tag, try to negotiate for ancillary incentives and benefits. For instance, you can try and negotiate for things like multiple free oil changes, which themselves can be a bit pricey, depending on whether your car needs synthetic oil. Sometimes the art of negotiation extends beyond just that dollar amount, and can include other perks and benefits you may not have thought of.
Important note - this can also apply to interest rates, so be sure to try and negotiate there, as well. The more interest you pay, the more money exits your bank account, so try and knock a few percentage points off your rate, and you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
Walking into a negotiation doesn’t have to be a negative experience, as long as you remember to remain realistic. Both sides have bills to pay, kids to feed, and expectations to meet. The art of the deal means knowing when to give and take, but it also means playing your cards close to your chest, and not giving too much away.
If you’re interested in buying a new car, and you aren’t sure how to approach the process of a negotiation, we can help take all the guesswork out of it. We’re here to help, so contact DriveAxis.ca today, and let’s see if we can find you a sweet new ride for you and your family to enjoy.