Almost everyone owns a vehicle, and the stakes are higher than ever. You not only have your long-term credit rating at risk, in a car purchase, but you have maintenance, payments, and fuel costs as well. Used car prices have soared and the cost of maintenance, parts and service have also followed this upward trend. As much as the auto industry wants us to have a love affair with our vehicles, at the end of the day, a love affair only works when everything is working, properly, and not costing us. People need vehicles to be reliable, uncomplicated and functional, like a loving partner.
I’m on the front lines, as a small independent auto dealer, for seventeen years, in the same city. There’s a big difference in the buying experience for my customers versus the big dealership experience www.carstream.us. I listen closely to my customers, and try to learn from them, many times, changing how I do business, based on customer needs. This doesn’t happen with big dealerships, who have their habits set in stone. Customer animosity very much exists in the car business and, on occasion, I am on the receiving end of this angst. The majority of the time it stems from customers’ past experiences, at the big dealerships.
Buying a car in real life, is not like it is depicted in TV commercials. Listening and being helpful to customers during the very stressful time of car buying is what customers need. Unfortunately, the same auto industry complaints I heard twenty-five years ago, still exist, and are getting worse. I used to think people were unfairly biased against the car business, until I spent enough years in this business to see how big dealerships, and the auto manufacturers treat people. I’ve learned, through the years, exactly why this business is “buyer beware,” and I’ve learned, first hand, why the car business can’t be trusted. It’s why bad airbags, lying emissions software, and bad starters, happen. Building a good, reliable vehicle for the customer, should be a given, but it’s not. As a buyer, you have to make many important decisions during the purchase process, and it’s hard to find a professional at the dealership, who has your best interest in mind, to help you with these big buying decisions.
The following are the top ten reasons you should seek out an independent, licensed dealer for your next used vehicle purchase. I give you these reasons to go with a small dealer, as I’d love for you, as a used vehicle buyer, to have a better experience, overall. It’s the first step in changing the customer experience in the car business.
1. You will save money buying a used car from a small dealer. Spending more, upfront, on a used vehicle, never means you are getting a better used vehicle. It just means you are paying too much from the start. Big dealerships try to go by the book, Kelley Blue Book retail, to be specific, and these prices are often one to four thousand dollars higher than the pricing you will find on a vehicle being offered by a small dealer. An independent, licensed, insured, small dealer can offer the same vehicle that a large franchise dealer offers, at a much lower price, because they don’t have the huge payroll and facility overhead.
2. You can ignore the local advertising by big dealerships, and you can click on craigslist, Facebook, eBay and auto-trader to find a great selection of vehicles from small independent dealers. Advertising is huge for the car business. Millions of dollars each week are funneled into ads that give you no hard information about cars, and for what? While a commercial about the most important things you need to know about the brand, and the vehicle, would be helpful, local automotive advertising still tries to entertain us with family, children, dogs, crazy managers, or sentimental themes.
3. You can buy a good used vehicle, without being pressured to buy a half dozen aftermarket products. It’s hard to trust a business that keeps trying to sell you more and more, when you only wanted to buy one thing, a car. Selling you a vehicle is just step one, in the big dealership. Today’s savvy customer has caught on, and they don’t like it. The sales process is too long, at the big dealers, say my customers. Big dealerships are trained in the various selling methods, and schooled in how to sell to you everything. Most of the people who buy cars from me bring this up as the thing they hate the most about shopping at a big dealership.
4. You can avoid high-priced service department rip-offs. Recently, a customer told me the story about a $3000 service bill at a Honda dealership. She was upset just talking about it, and couldn’t be clear about what they actually did for the $3000. A single, working mother of two, she was taken by the big dealership, and their over-the-top-service-selling. A story I hear often, because people don’t think this will happen to them at their “trusted” local dealership. That is, until they have to suffer the “gotcha.” What this customer needed, in a dealer, was help, advice, and the cheapest fix possible. She needed fair estimating and pricing, and she didn’t get it. Needless to say, she won’t be buying a car from them, ever, after this service experience. Service departments have changed, and are obviously trained to not share service information. The dealerships are far from going in the right direction with their service department trust issues. Customers can find cheaper service almost anywhere besides the big dealership. New studies find that most people cannot even afford a $600 repair, much less a $3000 repair. I know mechanics that charge $25-30 an hour as opposed to the $100 an hour the big guys charge. Many times, a reputable, small dealer in your area can help you with inexpensive service. You need only ask.