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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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.

Evolution of Car Shopping

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Connectivity Enhances Car Shopping

The car shopper of 2016 takes about 3 months to buy a car — often with the research process starting online.  Car shoppers will visit an auto dealership an average of two times before making a purchase; unlike 10 years prior, where the average car shopper would make 4.6 visits. Today, car shoppers rely heavily on social media and review sites to get advice, research makes and models, and to see which auto dealership has the best deal. In addition, car shoppers are filling out credit apps, working with auto payment calculators and using YouTube to take virtual test drives before even setting foot on the lot!

Car Shoppers are Researching More than Ever

This longer close cycle has a slower build up with a quick finish and requires dealerships and manufacturers to be omnipresent and synchronized across multiple marketing platforms. A study, by Digital Air Strike, includes findings from 2,000 car buyers and 2,000 service customers who either purchased or serviced a vehicle within the previous six months. The study covers all major U.S. geographic regions and represents domestic and foreign automotive brands, with even distribution across age and gender groups. The study concluded that 75 percent of car buyers and 68 percent of service customers say internet research, including social media and review sites, was the most helpful medium when selecting a car dealership – surpassing all other mediums including dealership websites which ranked highest with only 16 percent of car buyers (down from 19 percent in 2014 and 24 percent in 2013).

Influential Car Shoppers

In addition to social media, car shoppers are reading blogs, forums  and review sites like Quora, Kelly Blue Book, and Car and Driver, and watch auto review videos on YouTube for advice. When it comes to car shopping, social media sites and online research are a clear major influence in the decision making process. Although, car shoppers are also likely to reach out to friends and family, who are knowledgeable or passionate about cars, influencing their decision making process.

Increasing Dealer Interaction with Car Shoppers

How is your auto dealership interacting with potential car buyers? TapCars Dealer Marketing Suite for auto dealers helps to move auto dealer inventory online. TapCars distributes used car  inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond. Want to know more about TapCars Dealer Marketing Suite? Contact us at 408-725-2957, marketing@tapcars.com, or set up a FREE demo here: www.tapcars.com/dealers. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow TapCars on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Launching TapCars Acquire! Private Party Car Acquisition.

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Acquire is TapCars new service that alerts auto dealers when desirable private party cars are posted for sale — before the other guys do! Acquire technology uses market intelligence to find optimal inventory and pricing. Increase profits of your used car department by purchasing inventory from the private market at a fraction of the cost of purchasing at auction.

Acquire crawls popular marketplaces by searching for specific automotive makes, models, year and price range that you are interested in purchasing. TapCars Acquire goes to work by surveying popular marketplaces in your region and matches are delivered directly into your Inbox giving you a head start over other potential car buyers. TapCars innovative technology saves time and accelerates the acquisition of private party vehicles by doing the following:

  • TapCars Acquire works 24/7 alerting you as soon as a match hits the private marketplace.
  • Creates potential sales and service opportunities through increased showroom traffic.
  • Tees up quality used cars
  • Easy process to implement

Be the first to connect with private party sellers and secure great cars for your auto dealership! Want to know more about TapCars Acquire or our TapCars Dealer Marketing Suite? Contact us at 408-725-2957, getstarted@tapcars.com, or set up a FREE demo here: www.tapcars.com/dealers. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow TapCars on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

About TapCars:

TapCars postings distributes auto dealer inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM. We also help you on the auto inventory side though TapCars Acquire: crawling popular marketplaces to acquire private party inventory at a fraction of the cost of auction. Furthermore, we help make results across your campaigns easy for you to view via your own TapCars dashboard — with automated reporting right to your Inbox.

TapCars Reports a Record Number of Leads to Auto Dealers for November 2015!

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TapCars is unparalleled in generating and communicating leads, and tracking sales engagement. In November, TapCars directed hundreds of additional inbound calls to auto dealers as a result of our postings.  And, very notably, TapCars saw a dramatic 44% increase in one of the most valued types of leads to dealers: Credit Applications. TapCars “Credit App” Leads typically fill out several pages of details, almost always indicating that they are on their final leg of the buyers journey. Furthermore, they present dealers with both an opportunity around the car sale as well as an additional revenue opportunity around a financing package.

Additionally, TapCars dealerships reported a whopping 23% increase in shopper interactions to their site.  Specifically, dealers are seeing car shoppers scanning QR codes for a mobile car-profile or landing page visits, or shared a vehicle with a friend via social networks such as Craigslist and beyond.

Other shopper interactions that were monitored on the dealerships custom dashboard include car details viewed, clicks to dealer site, additional photos, address and directions to dealerships. Moreover, CARFAX clicks — a nice service which TapCars provides directly on it’s landing pages for dealers – were also up. These dashboards provide digital reporting that can be easily accessed and allow dealerships to respond accordingly and sell more cars!

All of these services combined increase brand engagement and actual hard leads that TapCars delivers to dealers.

About TapCars:

TapCars postings distributes auto dealer inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM. We also help you on the auto inventory side though TapCars Acquire: crawling popular marketplaces to acquire private party inventory at a fraction of the cost of auction. Furthermore, we help make results across your campaigns easy for you to view via your own TapCars dashboard — with automated reporting right to your Inbox.

TapCars Introduces a New Auto Payment Calculator

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TapCars introduces a new auto payment calculator! Calculate your estimated monthly payments, to stay on budget, when buying your next used vehicle. With the TapCars calculator, you can calculate your monthly payment or financing based on purchase price. Our auto payment calculator is unique in that it has sliding scales to play out different scenarios – so you can get the best car in your purchasing power.

To calculate for either monthly payment or purchase price follow these easy steps:

  • Enter the total purchase price (before tax), or use the slide bars to the right, to enter the price of the car. The monthly payment or purchase price is automatically calculated based on the terms in months and interest rate you select.
  • The next step is to enter your down payment. Enter any rebates and cash down, trade allowance, and amount owed on trade vehicle.
  • Lastly, enter any taxes and fees. These include non-taxable and taxable fees as well as the sales tax rate. If there is a “no sales tax deduction” for your state check the box for “Check here if your state does not allow a sales tax deduction for trade-ins”.
  • Finally, click on “Request Quote” – you will be brought to a second page to fill in your personal information name, email, phone number and add a personal message – click “Request”. You will receive a thank you message saying that the car dealership will get back to you as soon as possible – which is usually within 24 hours.

Want to know more about our auto payment calculator or TapCars automotive posting service? Contact Zachary Jarvinen at 408-725-2957, getstarted@tapcars.com, or set up a FREE demo here: www.tapcars.com/dealers.

TapCars Generates Quality Leads From “Credit Apps”

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Purchasing a car can be one of the more significant investments for consumers. The majority of car shoppers take months to go from deciding on the right vehicle to actually purchasing it. One of the final steps in the buying process is filling out a credit application. TapCars generates quality leads from online credit applications; one of the most valued types of leads for automotive dealers. With TapCars “Credit App Leads” typically fill out several pages of details, almost always indicating that they are on their final leg of the buyers journey. Furthermore, they present dealers with both an opportunity around the car sale as well as an additional revenue opportunity around a financing package. Higher close rates and margins have also been attributed to credit app leads.

Walk through of our easy to use TapCars Credit App process:

Step 1 – Click on “Apply Now”. The car shopper fills out the basic information; name, address, phone number and email (The logo of our third-party security provider, SecureCredit, is prominent for ease of mind when filling out personal information) then click “Submit”.

Step 2 – The customer has the option to fill out the trade-in and housing information or click “Next”. Even if the shopper does not fill out the second page the important lead information has been captured for the dealer to follow up.

Within a matter of minutes TapCars has captured up to 20 consumer data points and provided the dealership with a highly motivated buyer. You can continually improve your used car sales performance by tracking the number of leads, calls and sales with TapCars Credit App process.

About TapCars:

TapCars postings distributes auto-dealer inventory across all the major classifieds and social sites, connecting with car buyers wherever they are — from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM. We also help you on the auto inventory side though TapCars Acquire: crawling popular marketplaces to acquire private party inventory at a fraction of the cost of auction. Furthermore, we help make results across your campaigns easy for you to view via your own TapCars dashboard — with automated reporting right to your Inbox.

Look to Vehicle Details Page Views to Increases Sales

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VinExposure

According to a Cobalt Business Study report,  automotive dealers with “higher VIN views” increased their sales. The buzz phrase in social media has been “More VDP (Vehicle Details Page) views, more sales”. Understanding the VIN process can help you be more efficient with your digital marketing efforts, by becoming more aware of the used car sales cycle, which will ultimately increase profitibility.

Based on an eight month study of 9 million Vehicle Details Page Views, 125 million website visits, and 250 million online actions, Cobalt’s automotive consumer research showed that Vehicle Details Page Views and time spent on VDP’s are 2 of the top 4 online sales predictors. Also, VDP’s with 20-30 page views spend 29% less time on the lot. And lastly, VDP’s with more than 30 page views spend 44% less time on the lot. Want to be a VIN factory? Look to TapCars to increase ROI.

TapCars differentiates itself by also providing dedicated landing pages for every car, mobile-friendly sites, QR codes, call tracking and photo galleries that measurably drives vehicle-specific car buyers to your reps and CRM.  Furthermore, TapCars metrics can help used car dealerships quickly assess the quality of their leads and the effectiveness of their digital marketing campaigns. For us, the best way to visualize this is through the TapCars Advanced Marketing Analytics Dashboard — which brings together all of your digital spend allowing you to maximize the power of each campaign.

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