For those of you unaware, I currently work at Lexus of Manhattan. I previously worked at Lexus of Cerritos for seven years and Cerritos Ford for a year before that. I was pondering (as I do) the other day about the differences between the two Lexus dealers. First of all, the general manager himself is very different. Mr. Iacono is much more accessible, not just literally, but as a person, he always makes sure to say hi to everyone and he doesn’t feel the need to talk condescendingly to anyone. I’ve seen him treat Pedro, our maintenance guy, with the same respect he does his sales managers. My manager, too, is very different. I liked my managers, granted, but (he gets a code name, too) Boxer has somehow found the way to bridge that gap between being a sales manager and still protecting the BDC department. It seemed like the managers I’ve had before were either strictly BDC or still had their head on the sales floor. The biggest difference between the two is the general way that the dealership does business. I felt like my old dealer had none of the unity that this dealer does. There’s very little infighting and splitting deals is rarely a problem. I’ve also seen the way salespeople handle their customers and there’s really no bullshit. It’s very simply, “This is the price, if you want it, you want it.” Granted, there’s not as much inventory and we sell a good amount of vehicles, so they know another customer will come along, even in this economy.
That being said, it makes me realize that people’s conceptions of car dealers and car salesman, in general, has created this symbiotic cycle of disrespect between customers and salespeople. I understand it, because we’re not really a bargaining culture anymore. If you go to a supermarket, you don’t buy a tomato and go, “Can I get free strawberries with that?” or “I know what you paid the farmer for that tomato. I want it for forty cents less than what you paid.” There aren’t many other places where there isn’t a set price on the product and you actually negotiate (Saturn excluded because they’re mutants). Think of it this way, when there is a set price, you know what you’re going to pay and so it’s a very quick and defined transaction. When you buy a car, you want to try to get the lowest possible price you can and the salesperson wants to get the highest possible price he can, because that’s how he makes his living. And it does attract people of a more immoral nature, granted, because it’s one of the few places where you’re able to lie, cheat and steal because the rules are not set in stone. It does also attract people who are just good at talking to other people and they can make a good living selling cars. My friend, Wolfson, once told me he’d have to kill me for the good of the earth if I became a salesperson. In retrospect, I’d have no problem with my conscience selling cars HERE. It’s a very different mentality.
Here is my basic advice when you want to buy a car.
1. Always email or call first. NEVER just walk into a dealer. Even if you’re not sure you want the car and want to test drive it. I say that, also, because my job in Business Development hinges on that fact, but I more say it because when you just walk in, you’re walking in blind. No matter how much info you looked up on the internet, I guarantee at least 20% of it is inaccurate. Edmunds.com is the most guilty of that. It doesn’t tell you how a car is built or what options are going to be on it and so you get a very inaccurate idea of what you’ll be paying. If you call the dealer first, you can at least find out if they have what you’re looking for and if it’s within your budget. That leads into advice number two.
2. If you email or call ten dealers in the area, you will be wasting your time. I promise you, this is true. I’m not saying you can’t stumble upon some magical place that is doing well below what other dealers is doing, your chances are just ridiculously slim. As in 0.0001%. I don’t say to call ahead to get the best price over the phone. That leads to advice number three.
3. If you email a couple dealers, that’s fine, but most dealers shy away from giving prices over the phone or email because that’s not the way to sell a car. What you’re doing is drawing out a process that doesn’t need to be. If you CAN get a price, what you should do is then call another dealer and make an appointment to come in. There’s where the difference comes in. You will NEVER get a better price over the phone or internet than you would if you walk in. I hear all the time, “I don’t want to waste my time coming in if I can’t get the car.” Problem is, salespeople are less likly to be as competitive on the price over the phone because they don’t consider you a serious buyer yet. When you call and walk in that door, you’re telling them, “I care enough to come down and look at the car, so I’m serious.” We get at least ten emails a day from people KIND OF looking for a car.
4. Stop trying to get free shit. Just stop it. I hear about people all the time asking for free this and free that. It’s a business and if you want something free, here’s a pen. I guarantee when you do that, you just made a salesperson more likely to turn into that negative idea that most people have of salespeople and he’s going to make you pay for that floor mat one way or another.
5. Last but not least, don’t go into a dealership in defense mode. You go in hostile, you’re going to be met with hostility. They’re there to sell you a product you want. They’re not harassing you on the street, you are going to them. There’s a difference between being aware and protecting yourself and going in with guns blazing because you think all salespeople are liars. I promise you, a lot of them think the same of you, because sometimes, it’s true. I’ve had customers BOLDFACE LIE to me about something and those are the same ones who think everything I tell them is a trick.
That all being said, I actually like my job. 🙂