The best time to buy a new or used car……

That is a question I was asked more than any other by people I met  (and still meet) while working in the car business. They were sure I had the inside scoop. From 28 years of experience as a salesperson and as a high-level manager, I knew the best time of year and month. I also knew what factors go into incentives and the Dealership’s position on when to run a sale on certain models, and when to take a deal or not. It’s a combination of a few things.

  1. Incentives: First and foremost, incentives amount to the biggest consumer discount available to get you either the lowest purchase price, the lowest interest rate, or the best lease rate, which will determine your payments. Unless you pay cash, it’s all about the payments anyway. Incentives come from the manufacturer (think Ford, Honda, Toyota, etc.) either as a direct consumer discount like a rebate, low-interest rate, or lease specials. The manufacturers also give incentives to the dealers as the form of dealer cash, to help move stale or too much inventory.
  2. Salesperson: Unless you have your own car guy, or have a friend in the business, your salesperson will be your ticket to either getting a great deal or paying too much. Salespeople are paid to sell cars, either by holding gross profit, or selling volume. That’s how they make a living and keep their jobs.
  3. Dealership: Let’s face it, Dealerships need to make money, just like any other business to keep the doors open. They have lot’s of profit centers, whether it’s the profit on the sale of the vehicle, the finance reserve (what they make off the financing), parts, service, accessories. They need to have the volume to stay in business.
  4. Vehicle Choice: Some cars are better than others. Some are more popular, hold more resale, have more or less supply, have more or less competition, and have too many or not enough Dealers. All of these factors can affect the selling price.
  5. Time of Year: Selling cars is a cyclical business. They have their slow months, and their busy months, doesn’t matter where they are. A lot of traffic is generated by Manufacturer rebates, and lease maturities (when the market gets flooded with off lease used cars).
  6. Time of Month: Depending on inventory levels and volume in any given month, the last week sometimes is a catch up to try to make a profit in a Dealership. This can work for or against you. They might be discounting their product more, but making up for it by increasing the profit in the other areas of the store.

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Whether you are buying a new or used vehicle, there is no one easy answer. Just like you do your research when you buy something off Amazon or eBay, you need to do that and more when it comes to buying a car. Spend some time communicating with several internet salespeople before you set foot in the door, and do your homework. They can tell if you do, and it will save you a tremendous amount of time and money. Don’t bother with buying services, you can get a better deal yourself just by shopping around.

Here is my cocktail party speech (Although I never go to cocktail parties) when asked when to buy a car. 

The biggest Manufacturer incentives come at the end of the year (think December) to get their sales ranking higher than others. (The brag factor). Try to get a hungry salesperson, the one who needs a sale, they will work the Manager for more. The Manager is the one who decides on the price, terms, and trade. Never go in the first week of the month. Everyone is tired from the previous month, and the end of the current month is too far off to worry about the results. You won’t be able to negotiate as much. If you are willing to be flexible on the model, try to pick something that they have plenty of inventory.  It’s a supply and demand issue just like everything else.

Never set foot in a Dealership until you have done your research, and have gotten firm commitments from several Dealers. If you walk in cold, your odds of getting a good deal go way down. Be careful of your car guy if you have one, or someone referred to. When you let your guard down and don’t shop to keep them honest, they will probably take advantage of that. It’s a well know fact that your previous customers are your highest gross customers.

Don’t let yourself get emotionally involved. If you fall in love with a car or think it’s the last one on the Planet, you just set yourself up. Car are like potato chips, they will always make more. If I can leave you with one thing, take your emotions out of it, shop the internet, and never take their first offer. You will never get the best deal until you stand up to leave or walk out. It’s that simple.

 

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Last and the most important thing. Read my book available on Amazon. $0 if you have Kindle Unlimited, $3.97 for a download copy, or $7.95 for a paperback mailed to you in a couple of days. (Who says I can’t sell anything anymore).

If you find this helpful, and know of someone who is looking to buy a vehicle, please share it with them. If you got something out of it yourself, please like. I appreciate you reading my post. Thank you.

Best of luck if you are getting a car, new or used. Hope you save a ton of money…..

Here is the link…………………..……..

Not about cars…………

Oh yeah, it’s coming. Don’t even think it’s not. This picture pretty much tells you why I got out of the car business and moved out of Minnesota. A dealership is a lot of physical and mental work in the winter. (In the summer too, but not so much).  Everyone has their reasons to leave, but how about reasons to start in the first place. That’s my story today.

I didn’t have the inclination or money to go to college and steer my working years towards a career. Instead, I drifted around traveling, and when not doing that, worked on the farm with my Dad. I was thirty-five when we sold the farm, my Dad retired, and I was on my own, with a live in girlfriend and her 10-year-old daughter. Got a little money from the sale, but that was soon gone, putting the bulk of it into an old house and living expenses. I tried selling real estate, but the market was not so good, and my selling skills double not so good.  With the remaining money I had, which was dwindling quickly, I bought a little sign installation business putting up real estate for sale signs. I worked hard for a year, didn’t make any money, then found a buyer for what I had paid for it. Unfortunately, he had to pay me on payments, and when he figured out he couldn’t make any money either, quit paying me. I didn’t even bother to go get the signs and equipment. Licked my wounds and went on.

I started a carpet cleaning business with an old van and a rented carpet cleaner. The worst was cleaning bathrooms that had carpet around the toilets. Yuck. After about six months of hard work, the van pooped out, but I didn’t want to give up my dream of becoming the Carpet Cleaning King of the World. The King needed a van quickly, so I turned to my best friend who had been selling cars for about six months in the town where we grew up, about 20 miles from where I had my money pit, I mean my house. I went up to see him, and it didn’t take long to find out someone with no money, no credit, and no real job couldn’t get a loan for a van. Even Fingerhut would have turned me down. He came up with a great idea, knowing my dire situation, why don’t I sell cars. He had come with me on a couple of my sign installs, and after driving 45 minutes and trying to dig through rock to put the sign in the ground, he had asked my how much I got for each install. I proudly told him $15, which included installation and removal. He told me something I will never forget, as he leaned on the tailgate puffing on a cigarette. “I wouldn’t do that job for $100 a sign” he proclaimed. And he meant it. It was at that moment I knew I was doomed doing that. That’s when I dumped it.

I didn’t particularly like car salesmen, people, or big business, so it was a hard sell. He worked on me and the manager for a few weeks, then I finally was able to get a position at the dealership selling cars, and the rest, as they say, is history. (28 years to be exact). He did me the biggest favor of my life.

I’m not going to toot my own horn (well maybe a little) but selling cars was what I guess I was destined to do. I loved it and was rewarded financially like I had not imagined. I didn’t know much about selling but learned quickly with cassette tapes in my car on the drive to and from work. I didn’t know much about cars but found out you didn’t have to. Keep in mind, this was before the internet, before cell phones. I got by with enthusiasm and a big smile.( I learned that by watching a young guy in our real estate office. He didn’t know one thing about houses but sold a ton of them. I knew a lot, and couldn’t close a sale. All he had was a huge grin and a big coffee mug.) People buy from someone they like. And I learned one thing about each car, just one. I remember we had acquired about 120 Eagle Premiers and Dodge Monocos, and everyone ignored them because they were a bit different. The dash moved and the engine was in sideways. I thought that was pretty cool, so everyone I talked to I showed them that car. I ended up selling about 60 of them myself, keep in mind we had 7 other salespeople besides me. My biggest selling tool was with the engine sideways, there was what was called a dog bone support that held the engine up. If you got in a head on crash, the dog bone would break, and the engine would drop to the ground and go under the car instead of in your lap. Pretty sure all the cars did that but didn’t matter. That seemed to strike a concern with people and they bought them like crazy. That has served me well ever since. That you don’t have to know everything, just the right thing.

Albert Einstein once said, ” The only source of knowledge is experience.” I have plenty of that now. Sometimes I don’t feel that way, but if the right question comes up, the right answer seems to follow, at least in what I have experienced.

So I am going to start posting lessons learned, inside tips, funny and sad stories, and other stuff about buying a car. I set up a category just for that, and know that a lot of it will not apply to your current needs, but at some point, it might. I enjoyed the car business and it was good to me financially. Of course, it also affected my personal life, which long hours and lots of stress will do. No one knows which path to choose. Even hindsight is not so clear. To be sure is to be certain beyond question. I am not sure about a lot of things. I’m certain about less.

But I do know one thing for sure. The car business is not about cars…………..it’s about people.