As I rounded the corner in my wife’s silver, fully loaded Nisan 350Z a strange phenomenon began to occur. In hindsight, I wonder if the car had magnetic qualities. I pulled into the lot of a car dealership and you’d think that a wildebeest had strayed away from the herd on the Sahara. I think the Saharan desert analogy fits best for what goes on at car dealerships. Hungry, food-deprived lions (ever wonder why all the salesmen at dealerships are men) wait for “ups” (folks who pull up) ready to pounce on any unsuspecting, lost, or lonely prey. “Daniel” reached me first. He had dibs. I proceeded to tell him I was “just looking” and possibly looking to trade in the Z for some kind of sedan. A trade-in? Drop top? Two-seater? Daniel realized that he was in over his head. This required the heavy hitters. You can’t miss out on this sale. He talked me up for a few minutes and had the lot manager paged. Word got around about the potential trade-in and at least 8 or 9 salesmen did a walk around on the car. The lot manager came out. He had slicked back hair, long sleeve shirt and tie (in 90 degree weather? “Child Please”). He was ready to “give me a deal”. Little did he know, I had done my research. He wasn’t dealing with just any wildebeest. This one was ready for a fight.
Never Show Your Hand
I have a confession. I told the lot manager that I got the car appraised at other dealerships. And I did. He asked me what kind of offer they gave me for my trade-in. (Words of wisdom: NEVER give a car salesman any figures. Let them make the offer. As soon as you give them a number, they’ve got you.) I told him that I came to get an offer from them, not disclose information about another offer. In fact, I told him that I was close to buying a car at another dealership because they made me a good offer (which I kinda was…kinda). Long story short, because of my non-disclosure they made me an offer that way higher than any other offer I had gotten from any other dealership (I got it appraised at four places). They really wanted that Z. I wasn’t done though.
There’s a substantial difference between sticker price and what dealers are willing to accept for a car. I don’t care how much you are “balling”, you’d be stupid to walk on a lot and just say “I want that one” and let them start the paperwork. Most cars are priced at least 1,500 to 2,000 higher than dealerships are willing to accept for the vehicle. Again, NEVER give them a price you’d be willing to pay on a specific car. NEVER give them the amount you’d like your monthly payments to be. NEVER disclose personal information they may use to appeal to your emotions. I found a car we’d like and proceeded to tell the salesmen I wouldn’t pay what the sticker price said. “No problem, come inside and we can work on some numbers.” (Translation: Let me get you inside the dealership and convince you to let me run your credit app and write down the pre-fees/taxes price on a car to convince you that you’re getting a deal.)
My strategy was to negotiate an “out-the-door” price on the car I liked. The out-the-door price is just what it sounds like. It’s the price you pay walking “out the door”. This includes taxes, fees, title, and other costs associated with vehicle purchase. I told them I wanted them to offer me an “out-the-door” price on the car or else…I’m out the door. Serious threats get results. If they get you comfortable, offer you some water, walk back and forth to the “manager’s” office, then they’ve got you. Negotiating an out-the-door price will save you some surprises after you’ve agreed to buy a car not knowing the fees associated with the purchase.
Back to the Herd
Rounding the corner this time took a lot more effort. I’d gone from a compact two-seater to a full-sized sedan. As I made my way home to see my family (the herd), I had survived life in the lion’s den. I came out on top. I strategically used their emotional attachment to “the sale” against them. It was Jesus who said, “Be wise as serpents…” When you’re dealing with snakes, you have to know their tactics. Before you make a major purchase, always do your research. A well-informed consumer spells trouble for manipulative retailers. I told my wife that after negotiating with folks like that you leave feeling dirty. But, if I would have relented I would have come home with my pockets a little bit lighter and without a clear mind that I got the best deal I could have gotten. It took a lot of time and patience, but in the end it was all worth it. Most of all, my wife is happy. As the old adage goes: Happy wife, happy life.