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Old 10-23-2011, 10:20 AM   #1
Crashsector
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Default Ask a Car Salesman! Everything you ever wanted to know.

So I've been in the car business almost 3 years now, triple the average for people in the sales department. This is with three brands for two companies. I was thinking of writing a quick guide along the lines of "everything you thought you knew about buying from a dealership but didn't", but I had no idea of where to start.

So here's the deal... you ask, I answer. I'm in sales myself but know quite a bit about the parts and service side of the business.

I <3 the MAIC even though I don't have a Suby any more, so nothing is taboo. AKA it's Sunday, my team isn't playing today, and I'm bored.

Ask away!

--Andy
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:15 AM   #2
RaleighRider
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I'll have a go at it!

Do dealerships have as much incentive to sell a car to someone who lives far away (and will likely not use their service dept) as someone local? I mean, are all sales created equal?
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:18 AM   #3
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What do you really do when you are negotiating and say "I have to go talk to my manager about this?"

Go have a smoke and a wank? Get some coffee? Make fun of the customer with the other salesmen?
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:59 AM   #4
DavC825
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Yes, what do you actually go do when you say you have to go and ask your manager?
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Old 10-23-2011, 12:55 PM   #5
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What's the best way to beat the dealer down on a price? I know playing the waiting game usually works for the buyer, anything to speed it up?
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Old 10-23-2011, 04:44 PM   #6
Crashsector
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Quote:
Do dealerships have as much incentive to sell a car to someone who lives far away (and will likely not use their service dept) as someone local? I mean, are all sales created equal?
In regards to used cars... the further away from me you live the less I'm going to budge on the price. There's a 99% chance you found the car on the internet and the only reason you're calling me from so far away is because it is a really good price. Great example... guy calls me from New Hampshire on a used car I have, tells ME how rare they are especially with the miles mine has, and then demands a discount. What sense would it make to do that? He's calling me from New Hampshire. Unfortunately there are a lot of cards that you as a buyer are forced to put on the table. Location is one. Whether or not you visit the service department in the future isn't really a concern of mine.

On new cars I know you're just price shopping and it won't make much sense for you to drive 200 miles to save $200, so I'm going to let you out with a price I feel is appropriate and let it go from that. It's a 50/50 shot on my end - I'm not going to invest a ton of time in you being so far away.

Quote:
What do you really do when you are negotiating and say "I have to go talk to my manager about this?"

Go have a smoke and a wank? Get some coffee? Make fun of the customer with the other salesmen?
We're truly asking the manager, and then making fun of you. No salesperson has ultimate authority on price, but some have more input than others. It depends on the showroom. I have more leeway where I am than most. And yes, we're making fun of you. If you're a woman we're evaluating you and figuring out if we would or wouldn't. Sorry folks, that's genetics (and high school humor) at work.

Quote:
What's the best way to beat the dealer down on a price? I know playing the waiting game usually works for the buyer, anything to speed it up?
Don't. Car salespeople are human too. Even the dickheads still have bills to pay and families to feed. The cooler and more upfront you are about the situation the better things will turn out for you. If this level of interaction isn't returned, find another dealer that will.

There are a few things to understand about price. On new cars, just do your research. Edmund's TMV is a great way to find out what people are really paying for the car. Know invoice price, know what incentives are available, and make an up-front, respectable offer. Lowballing with ridiculous offers and demanding the dealer take a huge loss on a new car will get you laughed out of a showroom faster than a fat kid showing up at cheerleading practice. It's disrespectful and it wastes time. Start at a REASONABLE offer and work from there. And don't ask for our "best price." This will also make us point and laugh at you because you obviously have no idea how to buy a car. The salesperson will come out with an initial "pencil" and you should ignore it and retort with the number you calculated before you came in. The salesperson will simply say yes, or no. If no, they'll counter-offer.

At the end of the day we know you're going to take the lowest offer you get to the closest dealer from where you live, so the only thing we have to gain by blowing out a car is to ruin the deal for another guy.

On used cars, just wait. The longer a car sits the lower the price gets. The larger the dealer-group is the more aggressive the discount vs. time line seems to be. Increased inventory carries increased liability. Used cars are not floorplanned (paid for with a loan with interest). It is tying up cash the dealership could otherwise be using. If you see a car you like, research the market price. Again, Autotrader and Edmunds are your best tool. Find the next closest match in age, mileage, and options, and make an offer of about 1% under that. Don't focus on how much of a discount from starting price you get, focus on how good of a deal you're getting for that vehicle compared to the market.

There is no way of knowing how much a dealer paid or has in a used car. Sorry, there just isn't. In fact right now most dealers are going to lose money on a used car - it's just the way the market is. For every 5 used cars I've sold, 3 are losers and 2 make a DECENT amount of money.

Here's a few extras most people don't know or I'd like to mention:

- Car salespeople don't make a lot of money. Seriously, they don't. Most work 45-55 hours a week and are lucky to bring in 35-45k/year BEFORE taxes/insurance/401k. I'm bucking the trend but just slightly due to the company and brand. This job has horrible hours and most times if you're talking to a salesman it's at a time when his family and/or friends are free and would rather be spending time with them. If it was a fantastic job there would be lines out the door at dealerships and stacks of resumes to sort through instead of a constant revolving door and empty desks. That brings me to my next point.

- Be nice. We're people too. Being a dick will only make us want to screw you over more. Don't lie either. We know more about buying cars than you do. Nothing will change this. Be honest and make us want to help you. You'll end up happier in the long run.

- Most cars only make $500-3000 each for the DEALERSHIP. Think about that. There is anywhere from 3-7% average markup in a car. Salespeople are usually paid 15-25% of this profit AFTER a ton of fees such as soft and hard packs, gas, cleanup, accessories, and floor mats are deducted from that profit amount.

- Your trade is NEVER worth what you think it is. We're really NOT beating your head in with trade numbers. We may hold back $500-2000, but remember the salesperson is only getting a fraction of that. Modifications REDUCE your trade value exponentially, they do NOT increase its value. Sell your car to Carmax if you can. I'd rather not deal with the extra paperwork.

- Car dealerships are not run by UNICEF. They are businesses and are designed to make money. They are not NON-PROFIT! This is how the world works and stop getting angry when you find out that they make money. I concede that there are right and wrong ways to make money, but we are providing a product and service and as long as we don't set you on fire, have sex with your wife and run over your dog, you still get a new car and have made out pretty good on the deal. Don't go in to a dealership with the goal of trying to get the dealer to lose as much money as possible and I PROMISE you'll be treated fairly and have a good experience.

That's all I have for now. Any other questions? This is fun!

--Andy
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Old 10-23-2011, 05:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crashsector View Post
We know more about buying cars than you do. Nothing will change this.

Andy - I appreciated reading your response. I think you make some really good points and it's good to hear some of the comments you made from someone who sells cars.

However, I have to completely disagree w/ the comment above. Maybe your talking about the actual car buying process?? I'm not sure. But I tend to attract car salesman who know very little.

While it may be true for some car salesman (clearly, you know what your talking about), it'd be willing to say that 50% of car salesman really know very little about cars in general. I've been on test drives or even just checking out a car and asked questions that I knew the answer (just trying to see what he/she knows) and they respond "I'm not 100% sure about that, but I can find out for you." OR I ask the year of a used car and they guess something completely wrong. I've asked the year of newer model civics and got the "oh, I think that's an 2003." Which clearly isn't correct. Not trying to hate on them, but I feel like it's their job to know info about the cars and sell me on it......just my 2 cents
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Old 10-23-2011, 05:33 PM   #8
Crashsector
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Originally Posted by brbauer View Post
Andy - I appreciated reading your response. I think you make some really good points and it's good to hear some of the comments you made from someone who sells cars.

However, I have to completely disagree w/ the comment above. Maybe your talking about the actual car buying process?? I'm not sure. But I tend to attract car salesman who know very little.

While it may be true for some car salesman (clearly, you know what your talking about), it'd be willing to say that 50% of car salesman really know very little about cars in general. I've been on test drives or even just checking out a car and asked questions that I knew the answer (just trying to see what he/she knows) and they respond "I'm not 100% sure about that, but I can find out for you." OR I ask the year of a used car and they guess something completely wrong. I've asked the year of newer model civics and got the "oh, I think that's an 2003." Which clearly isn't correct. Not trying to hate on them, but I feel like it's their job to know info about the cars and sell me on it......just my 2 cents
Good points. A few things to remember... 90% of whether you're going to buy a car from me is whether or not you like me. Also, I can't memorize 30 facts about every car we make for the last 10 years. That's impossible. I can't even imagine how much it sucks at a brand that has 10 or even 20 models. If you ask me a question I don't know that's exactly the line I'll give you... I don't know, but I'll find out. And then I'll hope you forget about it.

Also, you're right about getting newbies. Average stay in the car business is 1 year. Most of the guys on a floor are under 1 year - I'd say probably 80% in a large showroom. There's only one or two guys that are able to hack it on a long term basis and those are the guys that know more about the things you're asking about.

Selling cars isn't about knowing cars, it's about knowing people. We as enthusiasts are the exception, not the rule. My job is to help you buy the car, not necessarily to educate you about every difference between an 03 and an 05 Civic. See what I mean?

In regards to my statement that you quoted, I sell on average 15 cars a month. That is 180 a year. How often do you buy them? Who has the upper hand? That's the point I was trying to make.

--Andy
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:00 PM   #9
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Great thread idea Andy. I hope you dont mind if I chime in a bit. I sold for 7 years and have been in service now for 2, starting when I was 19. I also work at a BMW/MINI dealership but have spent most my time on the MINI side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brbauer View Post
Andy - I appreciated reading your response. I think you make some really good points and it's good to hear some of the comments you made from someone who sells cars.

However, I have to completely disagree w/ the comment above. Maybe your talking about the actual car buying process?? I'm not sure. But I tend to attract car salesman who know very little.

While it may be true for some car salesman (clearly, you know what your talking about), it'd be willing to say that 50% of car salesman really know very little about cars in general. I've been on test drives or even just checking out a car and asked questions that I knew the answer (just trying to see what he/she knows) and they respond "I'm not 100% sure about that, but I can find out for you." OR I ask the year of a used car and they guess something completely wrong. I've asked the year of newer model civics and got the "oh, I think that's an 2003." Which clearly isn't correct. Not trying to hate on them, but I feel like it's their job to know info about the cars and sell me on it......just my 2 cents
I do agree a salesperson should know their product as well as their inventory. There is no excuse. But at the same time, it's not their job to know every little detial if you are buying a used car. He/she should do thier best to find the answer for you. The response you got is 100% correct. Would you have prefered a guess? Because you are quizing the salesperson, I'm sure if the guess would have been incorrect they would have lost all credibility with you. Do you do the same thing in fine resturaunts when you know you'll be leaving upwards of a $100 tip?

A new car is totally different as you're mastering one product and being trained at the same time.
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:07 PM   #10
Tripperfx3
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Glad to have run across this as I'm going to look at a 2006 Jeep Liberty tomorrow for the wife. Since I see your close to me were actually going to the Subaru dealership in Waldorf. I'm in the military and were using the recommendation off the USAA website, but there were some good tips in there.

I actually used to sell cars as well. I only did it for a month cause as you said the hours were crazy (50+ hours a week as you said) and it was too much BS. I had numerous people come back to buy a car after they're first visit because of how I treated them and how nice I was. I also wasn't very pushy. After I left I gave all my leads to the only guy there who was also a decent person and he made a good bit cause of me lol. Also the ones that came in guns blazing and were huge ******** made me want to screw em over and I didn't care if they bought a car or not. I tried my best to show em I'm not trying to screw em over, but you can't please everyone.
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:32 PM   #11
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When you are hired at a dealership as a sales person are you required to learn anything about the brand/type of cars you are selling? I ask because the local Subaru dealership i used to go to had several sales people who knew NOTHING about subarus. Its like they did no research nor read anything on the cars they were selling. For example, i had a salesman there argue with me for ten minutes saying that Subaru never made a wrx wagon, that they were coming out with a hatch back but never built a wagon. I had another female salesperson at same dealership say that the new bodystyle ie 08+ would not be out for another year. This is when Annapolis had had them on the lot for months. I told her i had already seen them and she called me a liar and wanted to know where. Maybe it was just this dealership.
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crashsector View Post
- Your trade is NEVER worth what you think it is. We're really NOT beating your head in with trade numbers. We may hold back $500-2000, but remember the salesperson is only getting a fraction of that. Modifications REDUCE your trade value exponentially, they do NOT increase its value. Sell your car to Carmax if you can. I'd rather not deal with the extra paperwork.
I always found if you go on KBB and average the good and poor numbers you have a good idea of your cars value. This is assuming it's in decent shape. I always found it funny how people swore up and down about internet values but even the websites were different from each other Just remember the check isn't coming from your printer!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jard View Post
What do you really do when you are negotiating and say "I have to go talk to my manager about this?"

Go have a smoke and a wank? Get some coffee? Make fun of the customer with the other salesmen?
Salesperson with little experience probably looking for a TO (turn over). When I sold cars, negotiations were my favorite part. My goal was to come to reasonable terms quickly so the only time you saw the manager was when he was shaking your hand thanking you for the business.

It depends on how the manager wants to do things though. Some may want to do most negotiations and train their salesperson to get them at any signs of being a serious buyer.

Keep in mind though if you want a deep discount you should settle for a vehicle a year or two old. There is usually much more room to play with and most dealers offer a certified pre-owned warranty.
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:42 PM   #13
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I had a bizarre experience, perhaps you can explain to me what happened.

I drove to a dealership to check out a 2006 STi with 60,000ish miles. The asking price was $17K.

I arrived at the dealership to find a 2006 STi with a salvage title, a CEL light on, and a non-working (locked) aftermarket double din system. The salesperson was unable to tell me what was wrong with the car, or why it had a salvage title, but did tell me they just completed the 60K mile service. I will never forget what she said next:

"If you buy this, we can put it in the shop and figure out what's wrong with it."

My response: "No one is going to pay seventeen grand for a car that is not working."

I left, frustrated, feeling as though I had just dealt with a very dishonest individual.
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:47 PM   #14
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That is just a ****ty dealership to begin with.
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Old 10-23-2011, 06:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorldRallyRedneck View Post
When you are hired at a dealership as a sales person are you required to learn anything about the brand/type of cars you are selling? I ask because the local Subaru dealership i used to go to had several sales people who knew NOTHING about subarus. Its like they did no research nor read anything on the cars they were selling. For example, i had a salesman there argue with me for ten minutes saying that Subaru never made a wrx wagon, that they were coming out with a hatch back but never built a wagon. I had another female salesperson at same dealership say that the new bodystyle ie 08+ would not be out for another year. This is when Annapolis had had them on the lot for months. I told her i had already seen them and she called me a liar and wanted to know where. Maybe it was just this dealership.
I promise I'm not trying to get flamed here, but what really is the difference between a "hatchback" and a "wagon". to me it seems like you were just arguing with the sales associate the definition of wagon and hatch. which i looked up, and what i got from it is that a wagon is just a bit longer. (Please correct me politely if I'm wrong) so by the wrx making a wagon, then i believe that the salesman would have been correct. i think that it actually would be a hatch, as there is not an extravagant addition to the rear end of the car. so with that i disagree with you. However, I do agree that if you are going to sell a car with such a fan base as Subaru, you should do like an hour of research. There is a reason that RK Subaru only has 3 Subarus on their lot, and there is also a reason that everyone who wants a subaru falls into a decent demographic of... well, lets just say like 23-35 years old, both sexes, but mostly men, and have an active/ up-beat lifestyle. I'm not saying they should do all kinds of research, but find out what it is about us, that keeps your stock sold out.
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:26 PM   #16
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So, I'm looking at various 40 mpg cheap practical hatchbacky things.

I am looking for a dealership that will do what Stohlman did when I bought my WRX - invoice price, no haggling, no BS. Quick deal, easy for everyone.

Other than saying, "Hi, I would like this car, but don't want to pay more than invoice, I know this means less profit for you, but hey, it's a sale", how do you get there?

Also, if you really are just in a windowshopping phase, and you don't want to waste the saleperson's time, what's a polite way to say that you'd like to test drive the car solo?

So, yeah, not your ideal customer...
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
I arrived at the dealership to find a 2006 STi with a salvage title, a CEL light on, and a non-working (locked) aftermarket double din system.
Walk away. End of story. No car is worth that, STI or not.

Quote:
Other than saying, "Hi, I would like this car, but don't want to pay more than invoice, I know this means less profit for you, but hey, it's a sale", how do you get there?
You need to prioritize what is more important to you: the way it drives, or your price. Doesn't matter, just pick one.

If it's the drive, it's not fair to the salesperson to start discussing price if you have no intention of buying that day. In my opinion, walk in to the showroom (don't just walk around the lot - this is the #1 way to get a newbie), walk past the receptionist (helps to come in through the service entrance) and try to find the guy at his desk that looks like the #1 salesperson. Should be pretty easy. Ask him if he has a second, shake his hand, offer your name/phone/email/address/license and say today is not a price day, it's a driving day. Allow them to follow up with you - answer their phone calls and be honest. They only make money if you buy, not to test drive. Make your intentions clear from the get go.

(BTW most dealers require SP to go on test drives now, so I don't think you'll be able to fly solo. Getting the "Top Dog" gets you the best bets, since he usually runs by his own rules, but it again depends on the dealer. If he is running his mouth too much just fart or something, turn up the radio, something to make it clear you don't want to chit-chat. Just don't be rude.)

Do your driving. THEN start working with price. Again, Edmunds TMV is severely underutilized and will let you know what the market value of that car is.

On the other hand, if price is more important than the drive, do the internet quote thing and take the lowest quote to the brand that you live closest to. Drive the car to make sure you like it and then offer your price on the car. They either take it or they don't. If the difference is too big, go to another dealer.

Don't waste too much of anyone's time test driving. You're looking at econoboxes not 65k sports cars. None of them are fun to drive

--Andy
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:49 PM   #18
Crashsector
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Oh, one more thing. This annoys the crap out of me.

You can NOT trade in your 3-5 year old car for a brand new car, which costs more, with no money out of pocket, and lower your payments.

It's impossible, so stop expecting it to happen and looking at me like I have 3 heads when I tell you your payment will be $150-300/mo more.

Thanks!

--Andy
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Old 10-23-2011, 09:05 PM   #19
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As a saleaman, what did they ask you at your interview? I have heard stories of skits, sell a car today and you are hired, and other gimmick'ish methods.

What was you current (or previous) car sales interview gauntlet like?
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Old 10-23-2011, 09:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thehollowrift View Post
As a saleaman, what did they ask you at your interview? I have heard stories of skits, sell a car today and you are hired, and other gimmick'ish methods.

What was you current (or previous) car sales interview gauntlet like?
Wow, good question. The second company was easy. Once you get in the business you can walk in pretty much where ever you want provided you've had mediocre success at your last company. It usually takes 2-3 years to get in to high-line though. Again, it depends. I haven't seen anyone prosper in high line that didn't cut their teeth on other brands first.

No gimmicks like that at the first company. It's mainly how you interact with the managers during your interview and if you pass a background check (you do have access to several million dollars worth of inventory after all).

Most stores have a 90 day trial period where you are evaluated. Some have a hard and fast minimum number of units you have to sell, others don't. Most guys leave if they're not a good fit, a few have to be asked to leave but usually see it coming. The rest just keep their heads down and crank out cars without causing too many problems.

It's easy to get a job in a showroom and there's the possibility to make a lot of money. Probably the most money without having a degree. But like I said the hours blow and depending on your company your coworkers usually suck and there could be a lot of bureaucratic red tape that makes it tough to do your job.

Keep em coming!

--Andy
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Old 10-23-2011, 09:26 PM   #21
2.5_IMP
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If he is running his mouth too much just fart or something. Just don't be rude.
I'm confused. If farting in a car while test driving it isn't rude, what is? Sharting?

Here's a serious question - Why are both your dealership and Annapolis Subaru closed on Sundays? Most retail establishments are open on Sundays. What gives?
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Old 10-23-2011, 09:27 PM   #22
brbauer
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Also, I can't memorize 30 facts about every car we make for the last 10 years.
True...I guess I'm just a dork a know a good bit about this stuff. For example, whenever a brother or sister of mine is buying a car, I always help them research and find a car. So....I tend to know these kinds of useless facts.

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Selling cars isn't about knowing cars, it's about knowing people.
Honestly, I think this is what frustrates me....b/c I believe a good salesman should know the car. But again, I've never been a salesman so I'm guessing the way to survive (sell as many cars in a month as possible) is to understand people, as compared to proving to them that this is a good car.
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Old 10-23-2011, 09:33 PM   #23
I WANT AN STI
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man Im so glad I never buy new cars right off the lot.
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Old 10-23-2011, 09:43 PM   #24
Crashsector
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Here's a serious question - Why are both your dealership and Annapolis Subaru closed on Sundays? Most retail establishments are open on Sundays. What gives?
It used to be illegal for sales departments to be open on Sundays. About 10 years ago the state made it a county issue. 4 counties in MD are currently open on Sundays, as well as most in VA.

Personally I like knowing I'll always have Sundays off. The extra time worked compared to any increase in units sold doesn't make it worth it.

Quote:
Honestly, I think this is what frustrates me....b/c I believe a good salesman should know the car. But again, I've never been a salesman so I'm guessing the way to survive (sell as many cars in a month as possible) is to understand people, as compared to proving to them that this is a good car.
I'll refer you to a point I made earlier. "We as enthusiasts are the exception, not the rule." Most people (90%) are interested in body configurations, horsepower, transmission, and color. That's it. It helps to know the most popular options off the top of your head, and what options aren't worth getting. But 90% of people don't get any deeper than that. In a year of selling BMW products only twice have I discussed the value of a twin-scroll turbo setup combined with infinitely variable valve timing and lift.

Also, people don't even drive on your lot if in their head it is not a "good car." It's not the salesperson's job to prove this. This is why companies like Jag/Land Rover and VW are still selling cars. Perception.

--Andy
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:32 AM   #25
Jard
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I am looking for a dealership that will do what Stohlman did when I bought my WRX - invoice price, no haggling, no BS. Quick deal, easy for everyone.
http://www.fitzmall.com/

???

Looks like they don't do Ford though, if you wanted a Fiesta or Focus.
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