In part 2 of this blog series, my wife and I had just finished the research phase of the buying cycle and were heading to the lots to check out the cars on our short list. Eventually, we found one to take out for a test drive — and loved it. Our research had paid off. Now it was time for the final leg of our car buying journey.
Now We Wait
My wife and I sat and waited while our salesperson:
- Checked for vehicles that matched what we were looking for
- Started our financing
- Disappeared for long stretches of time
Our salesperson finally reappeared and told me they could order the vehicle for us, and he would call us in about three days when it arrived.
To recap, we had been in the dealership about 2 two and half hours, and had:
- Driven the car
- Gotten approved for financing
- Found the car we wanted, at another dealership
- Negotiated a deal
- Put down a deposit
- Set an appointment to come back and finish the process
While I’d argue that the process could have been faster, I was pretty satisfied.
The Next Saturday
Our salesperson called during the week to let me know the car was in and that we were all set for pick-up on Saturday.
When we arrived, he took us out to look over the car. He also gave us the option to drive it, and we took him up on his offer. During the drive we noticed that the windshield was cracked. And not just chipped, it was a pretty noticeable flaw.
We took the car back and immediately let our salesperson know what we found. He promised to get it looked at, and sent his manager over to talk with us. I braced for the “how do we know you didn’t crack the windshield” discussion, but it didn’t happen. He was apologetic and professional, and offered to schedule us an appointment to get it repaired under warranty. We agreed to go forward with the deal.
While we were driving the new car, they appraised our trade-in. No surprises there. They actually offered slightly more than we had discussed the previous week, and more than my research had indicated we would get.
Our salesperson took us into the finance office to complete the final paperwork. She was patient with our questions, and checked several times to see if my wife needed anything. When we finished, we went back to her desk and waited for the car.
We waited. And waited. We waited over 90 minutes from the time the paperwork was signed until we were able to get the keys and drive off, all because the car hadn’t been washed and prepped. At this point, I was agitated.
I had a polite, but firm conversation with the sales manager about how this wait, at the final step, was getting our relationship off on the wrong foot. They knew when we were coming to get the car. It should have been prepped before we arrived, or at the very least while we were in finance. They also should have noticed the crack in the windshield, and brought it to our attention (instead of the other way around).
He handled it well, apologizing without making excuses. In the end, he offered me some service discounts as a good-faith gesture.
99% of car shoppers begin the process expecting a hassle — let’s prove them wrong!
As an industry, it’s time to work on improving all parts of the consumer experience. 99% of car shoppers begin the process expecting a hassle. Car buyers are still very impressionable even after they have signed on the dotted line. Ensure your customers walk away from the purchase process with a smile, and maybe even the desire to write a positive review. According to Driving Sales, “recommendations from friends and family are the most important influence for determining which brand to buy and which dealership to contact.” Make sure your dealership has a strong, positive online reputation and your customers share stories of a smooth experience with their network.
All of the people at the dealership could not have been more friendly or helpful. At no point did I feel like they were out to get me, rip me off, or make me miserable. I continue to believe that the car business is full of really good people trying their best to do a good job. Are there exceptions? Of course. There are jerks in every industry. But the auto industry doesn’t deserve its reputation.
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