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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Non-Thrill of the Car Hunt- 5 Tips

This week yours truly have been spending endless amounts of time doing what millions of people are forced to do annually..  A time wasting, energy draining process known as car-shopping

In some ways after over a week of looking at practically every brand out there and the endless makes, models, styles, colors and options each manufacturer offers, I'm no closer now than at the beginning of this arduous process..

But there's still a confidence the "One" will just stand out and 'speak' to me

"Take me home please.."
Anyways, based on all my recent experiences, I wanted to take a few moments to give advice how to handle the car-looking process.

The focus isn't going to be so much on how to haggle and get the best price possible or the most skillful way to negotiate trade-in value so the dealer doesn't 100% come out on top..

Instead A&G's concern here is your time and sanity rather than your wallet and sincerely hope any of the following nuggets of advice help you
1)  Always Be In Control...

ABC..  Well, OK technically ABIC but this is a play on words on the famous speech by Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glen Ross" where he tells his sales team to 'ABC.. Always Be Closing"

That is their goal..

Your goal is to control your time..

If you want to only be at a dealership for 30 minutes to an hour, then do so..  The salesperson will try to keep you there longer, especially if he/she can smell a sale

So say and do what you must to take control..  You have to get back to work... You have an appointment..  You're blood sugar level is dropping and need to go have lunch/dinner..

Whatever is necessary and if the salesperson looks at you funny, so what..

2)  Never Ever Test Drive A Car With Empty Tank

This may seem on the surface like a no-brainer but it really is not.

Most new cars that arrive at a dealer's lot are at empty as a safety consideration so if a transport truck ever was to get into a major accident, you didn't have a bunch of vehicles exploding and bursting into flame
Problem is most dealerships are Very Very lazy and cheap and do not bother to add gas once the vehicle is taken off the truck.

I test drove a Volkswagen Passat with the tank at empty and the warning light on..  I mentioned it to the salesperson.. a twenty-something idiot who thought he was Mr Cool and told me not to worry..all was fine..

Yep.. All was wonderful..  for a quarter of a mile.

Then the car stalled and stopped on the highway because funny thing..  it needed gas
So we sat there for 15 minutes before someone from the dealership brought a fuel canister..  More specifically, I was the one who wasted 15 precious minutes of my life.

The sales guy?  Ehh.. He was getting paid (or not getting paid) either way..  What did it really matter to him if we stalled or not

Another experience happened to me just yesterday..  Similar but different..

I figured I learned my lesson.. Never drive a car with zero gas, but I was at a Volvo dealership and under a time crunch so I test drove one..
For whatever reason, early on I knew the vehicle wasn't for me so I mentioned we could make the drive short.

The salesperson-- a very heavy set man and probably the most lazy car salesperson I've ever encountered, mentioned he wanted to top off some gas at a nearby station first..

'Fine' I said.. Can't take too long to put a couple gallons in the vehicle..

Rrrrrr..  Stupid me once again..  This utter loser decides he's going to fill the car up from absolute zero gas to 100% full and trap me in the vehicle at the gas station with him in the meantime..
What did he care that another 15min of my life was utterly wasted sitting in this car while he did something I didn't need to be with him to accomplish..  He was working no matter what so my time was inconsequential..

Never Ever let a God-Damn salesperson ever control your time like I allowed some of mine to do..  Be a total Bitch/Bastard if need be..   Learn from my errors..

3)  Never Settle For An Unhelpful Or Ignorant Salesperson

A couple nights ago I went to my local Nissan to check them out..  After standing around and then sitting for a good spell while completely ignored, I got pro-active and hunted down a salesperson..

I mentioned I was interested in three different models and sought information and possibly a test drive. The guy did everything humanly possible to talk me out of looking at two of the three models and the other one?  He simply took a copy of my driver's licence, handed me a key and told me to test drive it myself with him not accompanying..

Turned out the guy had another person he was waiting for, didn't want to bother with me and one can only imagine, didn't believe I was sincerely looking..

So I yelled at him loud enough so everyone could hear that I didn't appreciate his laziness and he didn't deserve to work there..  He said nothing but the Sales Manager quickly came out of his office and found me a proper salesperson who Did show proper respect and courtesy..

Another thing I noticed among my car-hunting journey is the quick turnover of salespeople..

I make no exaggeration that at Volvo, Ford, Cadillac and Nissan (I had visited their dealership originally the day prior to the above incident but had to cut short due to other priorities) each person who helped me had less than a full month at their present employer..

This mattered when question upon question was asked and the similar refrain of "I'm not sure, I will ask.. was replied..

Also the less time a salesperson works at a dealership, the longer it takes for he/she to locate the vehicle and even longer to locate the key..
This only adds to the time you waste at these places..

4)  Avoid Physically Small Dealership Lots Wherever Possible

Recently, I visited Hyundai.. They had too many cars for the space the dealership possessed so cars were lined up three in a row..

This meant if you wanted to test drive that car at the back, you'd have to wait and wait while the salesperson retrieved three keys.. one for the car you wished to see and one for each car blocking

Just more time wasted

I also wanted to see a specific car they had at a really good sale price which happened to be in their showroom..  
Problem was it was the very far car at the back of the showroom with 5 other vehicles closer to the door and positioned in such a way that every car had to be moved in some way to get the other car out and available to test drive..

But I was adamant.. I wanted to see the car...

So i waited 10-15 min for all the cars to be moved, then the one I was interested in to be driven out of the showroom..

The vehicle itself drove terrible and I admit I was very disappointed but overall not as much as the 2hrs I wasted at a place I really only intended to spend 45min at..
5)  Save Loyalty for Friends/Family.. Not Salespeople

When you're looking for a car and you're serious about buying in the near future, your priority must be to yourself and your needs..

So lets say you are doing follow up at a particular dealership and you have Thurs free but your salesperson is off..

You don't fit your life around his/her schedule.. You better believe you still go back on Thurs and find whoever to assist in closing the deal with a sale..

And even if the person is there but with another customer, too bad on him/her..

You snooze, you lose..
Remember no matter how friendly or warm the chat, the salesperson is not there to be your buddy and pal..  The goal is to sell a car and the questions or conversation has purpose..

To size you up as to your seriousness, how much $$ you possess and what vehicle you can afford vs what you're asking a million Q's about and test-driving..

This is why I rarely am ever honest when asked probing Q's

"What do I do for a living?" ...  "I invented post-it notes.. happy now?!"
That's a "Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion" reference there..

Also most salespeople Never will call or email you back..   And those who do, its a basic follow-up..  Nothing more..

If you ever encounter a car salesperson who genuinely keeps in contact with car possibilities or takes the time to hunt for vehicles you mention you're open to seeing, then he/she is an absolute Winner..

And as rare as Haley's Comet.
So that's why we say its OK to be selfish and not work around another's schedule...

The only real exception to the rule is if a sale has already been completed and you need a specific person to give you the keys, etc..

As I said before, learn from my mistakes..  Don't let them control you or your precious time..

Now its time for me to visit more dealerships chock full of poorly trained salespeople..

Oh what fun!