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The Pressure On Car Sales

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The Pressure On Car Sales

Geoff Maxted
DriveWrite
September 8, 2013


Number Plates
Anyone who buys cars regularly more or less knows what the experience will be like. Anyone who sells a car privately knows how difficult it can be. Armed with this knowledge most fair-minded people will understand that a car salesperson is there to make a living and the dealer is there to make a profit. That ’s how the world turns.

Yet something has happened to change the nature of the main dealer car sales showroom. Before, a potential buyer would know what to expect. They would enter and battle would commence; the final price, the trade-in value, the bolt-on extras that they really don’t need. It’s a bit like modern dance - nobody knows what’s going on but it all sorts itself out in the end.

This piece is based on personal experience from just a few days ago. I don’t mean to suggest that what follows is policy across the trade. I went armed with a CAP valuation for my existing car and my secret weapon - Mrs M. She hates car showrooms, loathes the business of car buying and doesn’t suffer fools at all.

The icy barbs can actually draw blood.

At this particular showroom - as we had previously established - the sales staff were receiving a marginally higher basic wage but commission had dropped through the floor. This meant that the pressure was on to shift metal in volume. Added to this is the competitive nature of new car prices. Margins have been cut to the bone as manufacturers offer increasingly attractive terms to their customers.

At this particular venue we found out that the salesperson was not just someone with whom we were doing business but also a deep personal friend whose mission in life was to be scrupulously honest at all times even though we had met him once before some two years ago. He didn’t let up. Desperately, we looked around for a bucket.

My original call was to appoint a time to discuss a business arrangement but, yes, I was also thinking about buying another car. The meeting was arranged and we attended with fairly high hopes. It became clear that the company had no interest whatsoever in listening to that which we wanted to discuss - we were there solely to be sold a new motor. It was a trap!

Never in my life have I been bombarded with so many facts. There was this deal and that special coating and this Gap three year cover and when we tried to interject with our original intention we were talked over. The right car was there; the price was right yet we came home disappointed.

It seems to me that car dealers are under so much pressure from manufacturers to deliver the numbers that they have lost sight of how people expect to be treated. We know we will have to fight for the best deal and that used to be a part of the fun. This time it was an slightly unpleasant experience: the cloying mateyness, the chummy first-name-terms, the pressure to buy or rent via cash or PCP or some sort of leasing deal was simply too much and we walked away.

This is just one dealer. I don’t suggest for one minute that all are the same but it seems to me that too much pressure is put on sales staff to sell by managers whose only interest is the bottom line. I prefer the old days when sales personnel listened to the customer first.



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