Over the past five years, the car-buying experience has changed drastically. In the past, consumers used to visit an average of five (5) dealerships before making a purchase. They would take a weekend, drive to multiple stores “kicking tires”, check out several different models, learn about the packages/options for each vehicle during their visits, and then eventually choose a model to purchase.
Today, consumers “kick tires” online, spend an average of 18 hours researching their purchase, decide exactly what package and options they want, and then find a dealership that has their selected vehicle in stock. In fact, customers now visit only 1.4 stores before making a purchase.
Although consumers today visit a much smaller number of dealerships before making a purchase, the importance of selecting a good, reputable dealership has not changed. Making a poor decision selecting a dealer can lead to years of headache and financial hardship.
No matter where you live, there are multiple dealerships under the same brand within 100 kilometers (i.e. Ford, Dodge, Toyota, etc). So, how to you know which dealership to choose? Consider the following points when shopping for your next new or pre-owned vehicle:
- Up-Front Information Sharing – Find a dealership that’s willing to give you any/all the information you’re looking for up front, with zero hassle. Some dealers refuse to provide pricing or payment quotes without providing a deposit or a written offer to purchase. Others won’t even list their prices online. Also, make sure the dealership is willing to provide you with trade appraisal up front, with zero obligation. I’ve seen a number of dealerships that refuse to complete a trade appraisal unless the customer has test-driven a car, but a deposit down, or signed a worksheet indicating that they will “purchase today”. Stay away from these stores!
- Used Vehicle Reconditioning/Warranty – While new vehicles are backed with a manufacturer’s warranty, used vehicles are generally not. Question the dealership you’re considering about their reconditioning process on Used Vehicles. Do they perform a Multi-Point Inspection? Have the brakes, tires, and steering been checked (and fixed if required)? Is there a complementary warranty offered on all used vehicles?
- Communication – Make sure to shop at a dealership who returns your calls, e-mails, or text messages quickly, clearly, and professionally. Good dealers will answer all of your questions and provide you with a concise list of options to choose from. They will let you choose what suits you best as opposed to trying to push you into a vehicle that doesn’t meet your needs.
- Reviews – Check out the dealership’s reviews online. Pay special attention to how the dealership responds to a negative review (or even worse, if they don’t respond at all). If you find a good portion of the reviews are negative, or find a reoccurring negative trend on a certain topic, then stay away. Also, ask your friends and family where they bought their last vehicle and whether they were happy with the service. Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful tool.
- Atmosphere and Facilities – Are the employees having fun? Do they look like they enjoy their job? Are the facilities clean and in good order? Do you feel comfortable while shopping? While this point is more subjective than the previous points, it remains just as important. Simply put, the answers to these questions are a good indicator of how a dealership is operated (good or bad!)
Purchasing a new or pre-owned vehicle should be an exciting experience, not a stressful one. Make sure to find a dealership that you feel comfortable with before buying your next vehicle. After all, it is the second biggest purchase you will ever make!
At the Trotman Automotive Group, we make car buying easy with our express purchase experience, structured around the wants and needs of the today’s auto consumer.
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