The Great Debate -- How to Prepare to Buy Your Next Vehicle
Here are a few simple rules to follow when getting ready for the dealership experience.
1. Know your credit score (you can get your credit report from several on-line sites including www.freecreditreport.com, and others). Remember you don't have to pay for your first report. Know that if your score is under 700 you are going to have some issues getting a loan.
2. Check out all of your loan options, before contacting your dealership. i.e.: Credit Union, your own financial institutions, your insurance company are just a few of your personal options. Set your payment limits based on your income and ability to pay.
3. Calculate exactly how much you can afford and don't be tempted to exceed that number no matter how much you "love" that new car. It is so easy to get swept away with the excitement of getting a "new" car.
4. List what you like about your current car, what you dislike about your car. Know what is important to have in the new car and what you can and can't live without. Visit the manufacturer's web site to see what is available in models and accessories on the vehicles you like.
5. Research the true value of your current car, both in the local newspapers and on line at sites such as www.edmunds.com. You need to know exactly what your current car might be worth on a trade in. Don't let emotion rule this number. If you owe money on your current car, call your bank to get the Loan Payoff amount. This will be included in your final Bottom Line Number.
6. Be willing to walk away. If you are not comfortable with anything that happens at any time during your visit to the dealership, WALK. It is your money, your car, your future. There are a lot of cars out there and you can find another one you like just as much as the one you just test drove.
7. Don't be intimidated by pressure sales tactics. If you have done all of your preparation and practice you will be in control and less likely to make bad decisions.
8. FOCUS...the only number that matters is the bottom line number; it should be where you wanted it to be in your preparation. If it is over WALK, if it is under CELEBRATE! It is not important how they get to your number, but that they get to your number. Don't focus on Sale Price/Trade In Allowance/Payments, focus on the BOTTOM LINE. That is the amount of money coming out of your pocket for your new car. (note: the Bottom Line is always the total for the entire transaction, including all of the above, plus any items being presented by the Finance Manager at the time of signing your paperwork, that is the number that determines your monthly payment, term of your loan, required down payment, and if you will be able to afford the vehicle for the term of the loan.)
9. HAVE FUN....Enjoy the experience, do not be afraid, be prepared and practice your facts so you are an informed confident new car customer and walk out with YOUR DEAL!!
By Ask Patty Expert Woman Jessie L. Thatcher
Finance, Insurance, and Sales Specialist - Reynolds and Reynolds Company (Retired)
Jessie has over 17 years front-end retail dealership experience. She recently retired from the Reynolds and Reynolds Company where she helped develop software for Finance, Insurance, and Sales for the automotive dealerships.
Jessie has extensive front-end dealership experience. She began her career in retail automotive sales and in her first year won the Salesperson of the Year for the Buick GMC store during her second year she was honored as the #1 Buick Salesperson in the county. She has served as Sales Manager, F&I Manager, and Director of Finance & Insurance for a multi-franchise dealer. Jessie developed training programs for new and experienced sales staff with a heavy focus on Leasing and Customer Satisfaction. Her team set records in sales and F&I income during her tenure and maintained 90+ CSI rating She graduated from GM Dealer Management Academy as one of the few women to attend at that time.