Don’t Make Them Work! Be Available to Digital Car Buyers.

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Be Available. Be Where the Car Buyers are Shopping!

Car shoppers used to be loyal to car brands and got their information from one source – the auto dealership. But times have changed, and gone are the days when consumers would go from auto dealership to dealership looking for the right car to purchase. Now, with multiple digital devices at their fingertips, car shoppers are able to ask questions and do research before even setting foot on the lot! Purchasing a car is a very considered decision for car shoppers; so how has car shopping changed with the digital world? The average car shopper today makes only 2 dealerships visits before purchasing a vehicle. It used to be that people looking to buy a car would find a deal, research it online, and then go to a dealership to test drive and purchase a car.  Now, although there are still ads, car shoppers are less influenced by them – and more influenced by their own digital and mobile research, comparisons, and pricing. Even getting real time advice from resources and dealerships! According to Google Trends, auto shoppers use an average of 18.2 different sources of information from TV, news articles, online, family, etc. before finally forming their final decision.

Did You Know...

TapCars distributes to more channels than any other service.

Today’s Dealership

Before the dealership visit, car shoppers are making decisions and forming their opinions based on their digital and mobile research. That’s why it’s important for dealerships to be omnipresent in these moments — if a dealership wants to stay in the consideration pool! Meaning that automotive dealerships need to be available online where ever and whenever car buyers are shopping. In addition to being available to car shoppers, dealerships need to be providing useful information; car reviews, YouTube videos, location, and contact information, etc., so the car shopper can easily locate them. Being useful online is important as most car shoppers enter the market unsure of what car to buy. Initially, car shoppers might start by asking friends or family for their opinions on what to buy or research car review sites. According to a TNS Media Consumption Report, research is showing car buyers being heavily influenced by YouTube videos when shopping for cars – 70% of car shoppers had watched a YouTube video when car shopping—more than TV, newspapers or magazines.

Car Buying Research

After asking for advice and doing some initial research, car shoppers dive deeper and look to YouTube for a virtual test drives, research gas mileage, seating accommodations, and other personal assessments — and do a “reality check” to see if the vehicle they are interested in fits their lifestyle and needs. The time spent watching vehicle related YouTube video’s has more than doubled since 2015! Then it comes down to price and location. 70% of searches for car shopping on mobile include MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), list prices, and “locate a dealership near me”. Of those searches “locate a dealership near me” has also doubled in the last year. Now it’s off to the lot!

Closing the Car Deal!

Half of all car shoppers use their mobile phones once they have arrived at the dealership. Although the vehicle they have come for has been carefully researched and selected – car shoppers also want to leave feeling like they also get the best deal. While at the lot, consumers are researching Kelly Blue Book and comparing prices offered by other car dealerships to use as leverage when sitting in the Finance office! So again, being prepared and knowing your role as the dealership in the purchase funnel is more important than ever!

Moments of Truth – How Car Buyers Shop

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Moments of Truth – How Car Buyers Shop

Car shoppers around the world, including the US, are changing how they shop for new and used vehicles. Gone are the days when consumers would go from dealership to auto dealership looking for the right car to purchase. Now, with multiple digital devices at their fingertips, car shoppers are able to ask questions and do research before even setting foot on the lot! The average car shopper takes only 2-3 months before visiting a dealership to take a test drive. Purchasing a vehicle is a very considered decision for car shoppers; so how has car shopping changed with the digital world? It used to be that people looking to buy a car would find a deal, research it online, and then go to a dealership to test drive and purchase a car.  Now, although there are still ads, car shoppers are less influenced by them – and more influenced by their own research, comparisons, and pricing. According to Google Trends, auto shoppers use an average of 18.2 different sources of information from TV, news articles, online, family, etc. before finally forming their final decision.

Customers are Taking the Wheel

The car buying process usually kicks off with the potential car shopper seeing an advertisement on TV, newspaper, billboard, or radio. And then customers take the wheel; and the car shopping process turns to digital. Auto dealerships are finding a greater need to influence car shoppers online, especially when it comes to classified advertising, to get car shoppers to even go into a dealership! That’s where we fit in, TapCars is a managed service that posts auto dealerships used car inventory across social media — where consumers are looking! The top 5 sources of influence on the path to purchasing a vehicle include test drive, looking at vehicles, getting an online quote, talking to a sales person and comparison shopping online. Car shoppers consider these experiences to be the most important in the car buying process.

Top 5 Car Buying Sources

Test Driving a Car

74%

Looking at Vehicles

71%

Requesting an Online Quote

59%

Talked with a Salesperson

58%

Comparison Shopping Online

45%

*According to Google/Shopper Sciences, Zero Moment of Truth Study – Automotive, Apr 2011

Online Car Shopping Research

Car shoppers are doing more of their own research online and spending less time at dealerships. According to a McKinsey report the average buyer visits just 1.6 auto dealerships while car shopping, down from 10 years ago when shoppers visited an average of five dealerships. No matter the source, digital plays a a huge role in the car shopping experience today. In-market research and comparison searches on mobile devices has more than tripled since 2011 making mobile an important ad format for auto dealerships. According to JD Power, 48 percent of vehicle buyers that shop on a mobile device use their smartphone while at the dealership, primarily to access vehicle pricing as well as model information, inventory and classifieds searches, and special offers and incentives.

Post Car Buying Behavior

As a result of the car shopper being more invested in the decision making process – they are more devoted to the car brand they have chosen. After purchasing a vehicle, car buyers are excited to share their experience online! Many will call, text, email or meet with family or friends to talk about or show off their new or used car purchase. Over 41% will engage in sharing their vehicle purchase in some form of digital or Social Media – via blogging, tweeting, Facebook or writing a review on a website.

Is Your Car Inventory Online? The Rise of Digital Auto Shoppers

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Digital Drives Inspiration and Research

Car shoppers are doing their research online, 95% of car shoppers use digital channels for research and inspiration, with both mobile and video increasing year over year! So, how does digital drive car shopping decisions?  As a result, 80%+ of car shoppers are in-market 3 months or less. The car shopping process usually kicks off online with mobile and video ad formats prompting potential car shoppers to begin their research. Mobile ads have calls to action to visit the dealer, dealers website or contact the advertiser.

Online Discovery

No matter the source, digital plays a a huge role in the car buying experience today – from dealer visits, test drives, and reaching out to family and friends to help make a purchase decision! In-market research and comparison searches on mobile devices has more than tripled since 2011 making mobile an important ad format for auto dealerships. According to JD Power, 48 percent of vehicle buyers that shop on a mobile device use their smartphone while at the dealership, primarily to access vehicle pricing as well as model information, inventory and classifieds searches, and special offers and incentives. Thats where we fit in, TapCars is a managed service that posts auto dealerships used car inventory across social media — where consumers are looking!

When looking to buy a car, shoppers turn to mobile for a variety of reasons. The top 5 research activities on mobile are to view cars/trucks, call a dealer, read reviews, view current offers, and locate a dealer. Car shoppers are also using mobile for the same comparison activities. There are two primary actions in-market mobile shoppers do once they are on the lot; comparison/research and pricing activities. Comparison/research activities include looking at reviews, checking out a specific model, or reaching out to a family or friend for advice. If the car shopper is ready to buy they may search for pricing information, hours and contact information of a dealership, or researching discounts or other offers.

Video Engagement

Do you want to sell a vehicle? attach a video. Out of all the advertising formats, video ranks number one for driving consideration for car shoppers. The amount of time consumers are watching car videos is rising; one in four car shoppers watch an hour or more at some point during the research process, Google says. Video adds a human experience to the car brand, that text and photos can’t compete with. Things like infotainment systems, vehicle handling and emerging technology are easier and sometimes more exciting to illustrate with video. Nearly 84% of car shoppers said they would watch a video on their device next time they shop for a car. Videos help to introduce brands/new brands, help to learn more about specific cars/trucks, and to narrow down the purchase decision. In a research study by Google Think Insights, 74% of car shoppers said that they looked online at videos to learn about specific cars/trucks. And 57% said that videos helped introduce them to new brands. Almost half of all those who watched a video made a trip to the dealership!

Owning it!

Trends in the automotive industry have changed with the rise of digital connectivity. The car shopper’s journey is self driven backed by deep research. With car shoppers being digital savvy, dealerships need a strong online, mobile, and video presence to keep up with consumers — from inspiration to ownership!

Does the Mobile Shopping Experience Come Up Short for Consumers?

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Mobile Comes Up Short Among Auto Shoppers

Although general mobile usage is about to surpass desktop, there are some activities that are still better suited for desktop, especially among automotive shoppers.

Desktop vs Mobile

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Have you ever tried building or customizing a vehicle from your phone? How about comparing specs across several different vehicles? The small screen of a mobile phone just doesn’t measure up to a desktop interface. Dealerships and manufacturers have made significant investments making sure their sites are mobile ready but simply relying on a responsive design doesn’t make it any easier to engage with these more complex tools. Other points that are better on desktop include researching warranty information and watching videos on manufacturer websites.

On the other hand, in-market research and comparison searches on mobile devices has more than tripled since 2011 making mobile an important ad format for auto dealerships. According to JD Power, 48 percent of vehicle buyers that shop on a mobile device use their smartphone while at the dealership, primarily to access vehicle pricing as well as model information, inventory searches, and special offers and incentives. When looking to buy a car, shoppers turn to mobile for a variety of reasons. The top 5 research activities on mobile are to view cars/trucks, call a dealer, read reviews, view current offers, and locate a dealer. Car shoppers are also using mobile for the same comparison activities. There are two primary actions in-market mobile shoppers do once they are on the lot; comparison/research and pricing activities. Comparison/research activities include looking at reviews, checking out a specific model, or reaching out to a family or friend for advice. If the car shopper is ready to buy they may search for pricing information, hours and contact information of a dealership, or researching discounts or other offers.

Automotive Mobile Usage

According to research from Facebook, vehicle shoppers in the US not only use mobile devices as they research both new and used cars, they even prefer them for other activities. A majority of vehicle shoppers, for example, said mobile was a better way to ask friends and family about auto options, and about two in five preferred to book a test drive from a mobile device.

Vehicle Shopping Activities That Work Better on Desktop vs Mobile Devices According to US Vehicle Shoppers Sept 2015

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Note: Ages 18-64 who intended to buy/lease a new vehicle in the next year; among those who primarily used a mobile device for auto research.
Source: emarketer.com

In Summary

So, instead of trying to recreate the desktop experience on a mobile phone or tablet, dealerships and manufacturers should focus on specific functionality within their mobile site; reading reviews and features, finding the nearest dealership, searching inventory, contacting a dealership, scheduling a test drive and communicating with a salesperson. 58% of car shoppers say, that in the future, their smartphone is likely to be the only device they use for all their vehicle research.

“To Buy” or “To Lease” Your Next Car – That Is The Question.

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Automotive Leasing Trends

According to an analysis by Polk, leasing a car has accounted for 28.9 percent of all new car purchases by Millennials, those under 35, in 2015. This percentage exceeds the industry wide lease penetration rate of 26.7 percent, and reflects a 46 percent increase in leasing by Millennials over the last five years. By comparison, the share of leasing among all car shoppers has increased 41.7 percent during that period. The younger generation are definitely leasing – with college students facing loan debt – they are looking for the best ride at the lowest monthly payment. Leasing provides, for drivers of all ages, an option to drive a car with little down payment and allows for lower monthly payments than a conventional auto loan. Leasing results in the car buyer driving a newer car, with low maintenance, and less money overall. How much money can be saved leasing vs buying a car? According to Experian Automotive leasing could save nearly $100 per month.

Car Leasing Pros

Some of the advantages of leasing, instead of buying, include lower monthly and down payments, pay sales tax only on the portion you are financing, and drive a newer vehicle with less maintenance costs (as most leases come with a factory warranty to cover most repairs). This option also allows you to drive a new vehicle every 2-3 years when your lease ends. Also, if your lifestyle changes, transferring a lease to someone else is usually pretty easy.  There are two websites that will handle the transfer paperwork — as well as help you find someone to take over your lease. One transfer site is called SwapaLease, and the other is LeaseTrader. Another benefit is that there are usually no hassles when your lease ends! simply turn it in and sign on the dotted line.

Car Leasing Cons

You don’t own the car you are making payments on – you are simply renting it. Also, in the lease agreement, a set amount of annual miles is determined (usually 12,000-15,000) — if you go over, you will need to pay for excess mileage. If you have accrued any damages to your leased vehicle, you will need to pay for them at the time you terminate your lease. Another con is if your driving needs change during your lease agreement and need to terminate your lease it could be costly to do so.

Car Buying Pros & Cons

When it comes to buying a vehicle there are pros and cons as well. If you own the car you are free own and to modify it as long as you wish. For example, Jeep owners enjoy upgrading, modifying and changing up the look and features of their vehicle – you can’t do that in a lease! Also, if you own your car for an extended period of time, buying does save you money in the form of a trade in vehicle. If you own the vehicle, there is no cap on the miles you put on it. If your lifestyle changes, you can sell the car whenever you would like without any termination fees. The cons of buying a vehicle include needing more money down to purchase and higher monthly payments. You also have more money tied up in your car — which is constantly depreciating. Based on the Car Depreciation Calculator on Money-Zine.com, a brand new $30,000 car will only be worth about $18,000 after 5 years! There might also be more hassles when it comes to selling your vehicle vs just being able to “turn in ” your leased vehicle. If neither of these options work for you, a 3rd option is to buy a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle (CPO). Using the same Depreciation Calculator, buying a 3 year old version of that same $30,000 car might only cost you about $18,000 and the depreciation rate slows down considerably. After 5 years you could still sell it for about $8,000. Also, the monthly payments and down payments for a used car are going to be similar to a lease.

In Summary

Is leasing a car right for you? It comes down to lifestyle and preferences. Some people like driving a new car every two to three years or it might make sense if you are in a profession that gets a tax write off? But for most, it comes down to budget.  Do your research – there are a ton of auto payment calculators that can help you determine if  leasing or buying new or used is the best option for you and what best suits your lifestyle and finances.

 

 

Calculate Your Depreciation

Car Buying; the “Where” and the “When”

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b2_istock_000072609389_large

Where should I buy it?

Although we see more of the car buying process happening online, visiting an automotive dealership is still a critical part of the process. According to Google Trends, search interest for “car dealerships near me” has doubled in the past year. And of those that used their mobile devices as part of the purchase process, one in three located or called a dealer on their mobile device. In addition to distance, car buyers look at other trends when looking to purchase a vehicle – some of them include seasonality, timing, to get the best deal!

Seasonality

Seasonality plays an important role for the used car shopper. Dealerships need to be on high alert in the Winter months – which offers the greatest potential discount to car buyers.  Every February, for instance, there is a spike in search interest for “cars for sale” possibly due to people anticipating a big tax return.  Summer is another important seasonal moment. When the temperatures rise, so does the interest in car shopping. Search interest for “lease deals” peaked last Summer, up 20% compared to 2014 according to Google Trends. One thing to note is if you have your heart set on a particular make or model, inventories can also become more limited during these peak times, so it is important to weigh the discount vs. getting the car you really want.

Timing; End of the Month, Quarter, Day and Time

As far as timing goes, leverage the best discount possible with the dealership at the end of the month. Also, buying a car at the end of a quarter might increase savings. Why is this a prime time to purchase?  It comes down to an auto dealerships goals, most automakers set sales goals for dealers, and then dealers set similar goals for themselves. Often, these goals include bonuses if they achieve them, which is a big incentive for auto dealers or salespeople who close extra car sales at the end of a month/quarter. Also, buying a car at the end of the day or week (Sunday) can also play into pricing. An eager dealer or sales person won’t let you leave if they know you are serious about buying which can also lead to savings.

The DEAL!

Start doing some research online by getting price quotes from multiple dealers before you go to the dealership to purchase. Also check if a car company is offering any bonus perks like cash back or special financing. If you are buying a used vehicle auto makers, like Ford, may offer lower pricing or special rates on CPO vehicles as an incentive – which can save you by having lower monthly payments. Also, refer to your bank to see if you can get a low interest loan, and then go to the car dealer to see what their financing offer is. Generally banks offer a 4% low interest loan.

Owning it…Our Tips? Shop for your ideal car early in the month or season, and purchase it later in the month or quarter/season. Get your test drives out of the way, and begin narrowing your list. When the last few days of the month come around, start visiting automotive dealerships to start the final negotiating process and own your ride!

Car buying; Is the car right for me?

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Woman shopping for a new car, talking to a car salesman.

Car buying

Do you remember the time when you were shopping with your parents or grandparents for a new or used car? Dealerships felt like playgrounds — as we climbed in and out of vehicles playing with buttons and pretending to be the driver in the front seat. The dealership visit would usually end with a test drive of a vehicle or two. It was also a time when people heavily relied on local dealerships to provide answers about a brand or features – far different from what we experience today. The car shopper today makes fewer dealership visits and depends on word of mouth, social media, digital, mobile, and video resources as their guide.

Car buying;  Is the car right for me?

Once you have shopped around – there is a moment when you ask yourself – is this car right for me? Depending on your circumstances and stage in life there are many things to consider. If you are a family, for instance, you might ask yourself if there are enough seats and room to transport your kids, friends & gear? SUV, Crossover, or Minivan? all are practical considerations. According to Google Trends, there has been an interest for luxury options on the rise with search interest up for features like panoramic sunroof and backup camera by 31% and 23% respectively, year-over-year. Also, during this phase car shoppers may look to YouTube for a virtual test drive prior to a visit to the dealership.

Manufacturer and Dealership Websites

Automotive manufacturer websites are also a good resource once you have decided on a vehicle. They generally feature packages, equipment options, and help you customize your vehicle with different configurations especially if you are looking for a new car. They can also help you find a nearby dealership and search their inventory. Click here for a list of the Top Best Car Manufacturer websites according to JD Power 2015.

Where should I buy it to get the best deal?

Next it is time to decide on whether you want to purchase a new, used, or certified used vehicle and start negotiating. Check the True Market Value (TMV) price of the car. Use the TMV price as a benchmark. For more on negotiating a used car, see the 10 Steps to Buying a Used Car to help give you tips and advice before going to the lot!

Owning it!

At the car dealership you will finish the sale in the Finance office. You will need to make sure you have insurance for the car before you driving it off the lot. The Finance department will try to sell you a number of additional items such as an additional warranty, anti-theft devices, prepaid service plans or fabric protection. Some people want peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider (unless your used car is Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) or still under the manufacturer’s warranty). Make sure that you review the dealership sales contract thoroughly. In most states the contract entails the cost of the vehicle, documentation fee, smog certificate, sales tax, and license fees.

In conclusion, after doing your homework, you can feel confident that you purchased a bargain instead of a lemon! Enjoy your ride.

On the Path to Purchase; How to Buy a Used Car in 5 Steps

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2016-03-15-1458081230-9409989-20cheapskate-thumbOn the “Path to Purchase”.

So, you have decided that it’s time to buy a vehicle? Purchasing “used” instead of “new” will offer you the best value in the automotive marketplace. Not only are the prices lower, but other benefits include; lower taxes, insurance, and depreciation costs. Whether you are looking to buy a car from a auto dealership, CPO, or private party, this list can help you make it the best car buying experience yet!

Budget and location.

First, determine your budget and then begin researching car brands online before heading to the lot. Here is a list of the top used cars brands from Consumer Reports. Consider what cars fit your budget, lifestyle needs, and whether purchasing CPO is important. Next, you can research vehicles on Craigslist based on your criteria, such as, how long has the car been on the market? any reductions? typically cars over 30 days have had at least one mark down. You can also filter your search by distance, mileage, price, and features; to narrow your findings and get the car you desire. Also, compare auto dealerships in your area to see if any of them are offering a better deal on the same vehicle. You can purchase a used car at; used car dealerships, used car superstores, and private party sellers.

Don’t be afraid to ask. 

Once you have narrowed your search to a few vehicles, it is important not to be afraid to ask questions. This rule applies no matter where you end up buying your vehicle — it can mean the difference of purchasing a “bargain” or a “lemon“. According to Consumer Reports here is a list of questions that are good to ask the dealership:

  • “How many miles does it have?”
  • “How is it equipped?”
  • “What’s the car’s condition?”
  • “How about the body and interior?”
  • “Has it been in an accident?”
  • “Do you have service records?”
  • “Has the car been recalled?”

How much is the car worth?

Before starting to negotiate price. Do your homework and determine what the vehicle is worth; there are many factors and tools available to help you. Some of the factors for determining price include mileage, year of the vehicle, condition, and any optional/additional features. Online tools including Kelley Blue Book and the National Automobile Dealers Association can help to determine the book price. Also, check Carfax to get a vehicle history report, the report includes odometer readings, existence of a branded title such as a salvage/junk title, or past registration as a fleet vehicle. Checking multiple resources, before you negotiate, will support what you are offering to pay for the vehicle.

Automotive manufacturer websites are also a good resource once you have decided on a vehicle. They generally feature packages, equipment options, and help you customize your vehicle with different configurations especially if you are looking for a new car. They can also help you find a nearby dealership and search their inventory. Click here for a list of the Top Best Car Manufacturer websites according to JD Power 2015.

Contact the seller and test drive!

If everything is still looking good up until this point – it’s time to contact the dealership/seller and take a test drive! If you like the way the vehicle drives it is good to have it inspected by an auto mechanic before negotiating. If the car is CPO (certified pre-owned) there is no need to pay for an additional inspection.

Negotiate and Own it.

  • First settle on the price of the vehicle you are buying; a general rule is 5-10% lower than the sticker price
  • Expect a counter offer
  • Be firm, yet courteous, when you have reached your final offer
  • Don’t discuss your trade-in vehicle until after you have determined your negotiated price
  • Be prepared to walk away than pay more than you should

Our Tips? Shop for your ideal car early in the month or season, and purchase it later in the month or quarter/season. Get your test drives out of the way, and begin narrowing your list. When the last few days of the month come around, start visiting auto dealerships to start the final negotiating process and own your ride!

Getting the Best Deal on a Used Car

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buying-from-a-bhph-dealer

Getting the Best Deal on a Used Car

The car buying process is cyclical. As new cars are sold – used cars become available in the market. Buying “used” saves you money by avoiding depreciation associated with a new car. If you are shopping for a used car, and time is on your side, there are several strategies to help you shop smarter to get the best deal. According to Google Trends, half of all car shoppers with mobile devices use their smartphones while at the dealership. The top action people perform with their phones while on the lot is confirming that they are getting a good price on a vehicle. Searches for Kelley Blue Book and competing dealers occur more often when at the dealership.

Research Online

First, determine your budget and then begin researching car brands online before heading to the lot. Here is a list of the top used cars brands from Consumer Reports. Consider what cars fit your budget, lifestyle needs, and whether purchasing CPO is important. Next, you can research vehicles on Craigslist based on your criteria, such as, how long has the car been on the market? any reductions? typically cars over 30 days have had at least one mark down. You can also filter your search by distance, mileage, price, and features; to narrow your findings and get the car you desire. Also, compare auto dealerships in your area to see if any of them are offering a better deal on the same vehicle. You can purchase a used cars at; used car dealerships, used car superstores, and private-party sellers.

Trade-in’s, VIN’s and More!

If you are trading in your vehicle research how much it is worth – a good source is Kelley Blue Book. The more your vehicle is worth the less you will need to finance. Also, before contacting an auto dealership you should get a vehicle history report (VIN) from Carfax for the car you are interested in. If the car is a lemon it was save you a trip to the dealership! The VIN contains important information about the vehicle whether it been in an accident, salvage title, open recalls and odometer readings. If everything looks good up to this point it’s time to contact the dealership, take a test drive, and start negotiating!

Negotiating Tips:

  • First settle on the price of the vehicle you are buying; a general rule is 15-25% lower than the sticker price
  • Expect a counter offer
  • Be firm, yet courteous, when you have reached your final offer
  • Don’t discuss your trade-in vehicle until after you have determined your negotiated price
  • Be prepared to walk away than pay more than you should

Owning it…

You will finish the car sale in the Finance office and will need to make sure you are insured for the car before driving off the lot. The Finance department will try to sell you a number of additional items such as an additional warranty, anti-theft devices, prepaid service plans or fabric protection. Some car buyers want peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider (unless your used car is Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) or still under the manufacturer’s warranty). Make sure that you review the dealership sales contract thoroughly. In most states the contract entails the cost of the vehicle, documentation fee, smog certificate, sales tax, and license fees.

Our Tips? Shop for your ideal car early in the month or season, and purchase it later in the month or quarter/season. Get your test drives out of the way, and begin narrowing your list. When the last few days of the month come around, start visiting auto dealerships to start the final negotiating process and own your ride!

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Matching Affordability with Timing in the Used Car Buying Cycle

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Do-I-Need-Full-Coverage-on-a-Leased-Car

Car Shopping; is the time right and what can I afford?

Seasonality plays an important role for the used car shopper. Dealerships need to be on high alert this time of year –  every February, for instance, there is a spike in search interest for “cars for sale” possibly due to people anticipating a big tax return.  Summer is another important seasonal moment. When the temperatures rise, so does the interest in car shopping. Search interest for “lease deals” peaked last Summer, up 20% compared to 2014 according to Google Trends.

Path to Purchase

After a car shopper has decided a purchase path to a “new” or “used” vehicle. The next step is figuring out if they can afford owning it. Whether searching Craigslist online or mobile — list prices and interest for manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) (the amount of money for which the company that produces the product recommends that it be sold in dealerships) is researched. Another factor is the trade in value of the car shoppers current vehicle. All of these components come into play when deciding if the time is right. According to Google Trends search interest in trade in value was at record levels last Summer—up 17% in July. In fact, they saw more trade in interest than we during the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ major push in 2009.  As of August 2015, more than 50% of these searches were on mobile.

Auto Payment Calculators

Another tool that can be used by potential car shoppers to determine affordability are auto payment calculators. They can help calculate the estimated monthly payments, to stay on budget, when buying your next used vehicle. With auto payment calculators enter the vehicle price, down payment, trade-in value, sales tax, interest rate and term to determine your monthly payment. Once you have calculated, determine if you have the money for repairs, maintenance, gas, insurance, plates, taxes, registration, and all the other costs of owning a car. Purchasing a car is only one of the many expenses of owning it.

Do your Research Online

Before setting foot in the dealership there are many things you can research online. Once you have selected a vehicle you can research pricing, reviews, specs, fuel economy and lists of standard features. You can also locate used cars for sale in your area by zipcode, distance, mileage, price and features to find exactly the car you are looking for. You can also research other online classified ads such as Craigslist for used vehicles. Their services may vary but should include car inspections, warranties and return policies. Another important thing to research is the VIN or vehicle history reports. Carfax is a good resource for attaining these reports. These reports can reveal important information about the used car whether it has a salvage title, odometer readings, and any open recalls. These reports can be obtained prior to contacting the used car seller.

Know When the Time is Right

In summary, the path to purchase is roughly a 3 month cycle and can be powered by seasonal trends. Once a car shopper has determined the intent to purchase there are many online resources, including social media, to help make this process easier.

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