March 23, 2017. By Ashley Agnew:

Spring has finally arrived and you may have the bug to replace your vehicle now that the threat of snow is (hopefully) behind us for the season.  As with any large purchase, buying a car can be just as stressful as it is exciting.  Whether it is your first new car or just your first in a while, the same jitters arise. Furthermore, the list of questions you have before the purchase tend to transform once you step foot on the lot.  ‘What is my budget?’ turns into ‘how far can I stretch my budget?’, and ‘should I buy a used car to save money?’ turns into ‘will the warranty on a new car make up for the savings on a used one?’.  In the midst of this confusion, in most cases the only person to guide you through the plethora of decisions is a salesperson working on commission. The process, in short, can be quite overwhelming if you are not confident. Even just understanding key terms can be tricky. If you are educated in the process, however, you may be able to ramp up your excitement-to-stress ratio and actually enjoy your visit to the dealership.

Our first piece of advice would be to contact the dealer you are interested in visiting and ask if they have any VIP or concierge services. These services are a great help, and provide you with a representative rather than a salesperson. The representative will go through all of your wants and needs for your purchase, and will provide recommendations based on fit rather than a commission rate. Many of the dealerships offering concierge services also offer other perks for clients using the program including extended test drives, home vehicle delivery, and maintenance insurance options.

Our team recently met with Lori Talanian, Director of Corporate Partnerships and VIP sales at Prime Motor Group, a series of dealerships offering over 20 different brands and a wide range of vehicles. We frequently assist our clients with vehicle purchasing, so it was a pleasure to hear some of her insight into the process.  She leads the concierge program at Prime and understands that visiting a dealership can feel intimidating, however clients ultimately need to feel comfortable and confident with their decision, and this is only attained through a smooth and transparent experience. Lori confided:

I equate a vehicle purchase to a home purchase.  This is where families share many of their stories and experiences, and clients should feel just as safe in their car as they do at home.  Personally, my car is not just my ride to and from work; it is where some of my favorite conversations with my children have happened, it’s where I get to vent singing at the very top of my lungs at the end of a long day. Clients are coming in to purchase something for their families to enjoy. I take that very seriously.”

Lori shared with us that most research can be done prior to visiting the dealership. For example, the Prime website offers several tips and tricks including payment calculators, estimating trade-in value, and details about warranties.  Understandably, however, a few questions will remain.  Lori noted that “If the customer feels pressured, they will never feel comfortable asking the right questions”.  That said, our second piece of advice would be to keep a list of questions, and do not be afraid to ask them at the dealership, especially to a concierge representative.  It may help to run questions regarding interest payments, loans, and leasing options past your financial advisor prior to your visit to the dealership so that you can better participate in the discussion with your representative.

Lastly, take advantage of technology and do as much as you can over the phone or via e-mail. Waiting around in the dealership will only increase anxiety, and as anyone who has purchased a car in recently can attest to the fact that there is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait involved during the final moments of the purchase. Discussing which items can be completed remotely with your representative may help you avoid wasting a day at the car lot.

If you are considering a purchase, be sure to understand all of your options, costs, and insurance considerations involved, and whether is may be better to buy vs. lease your new vehicle.  We are happy to assist our clients with any related questions.