We got our first new car last week and with that came countless hours at dealerships. I have a low tolerance for anything car-related and an even lower tolerance for smarmy salespeople, so dealerships are pretty much my idea of Hell. While visiting Hell last week, I got thinking that if I owned a dealership (i.e. if I had money and knew anything about cars) I would do things a lot differently.
First, I would let people browse the car lot at their leisure without the vultures swooping down the second they stepped from their current car. At the first dealership we visited, it took 5 seconds before a man pulled us into his cubicle to talk business. Thanks for asking me fifty questions about the kind of car I'm looking for before I actually had a chance to look at any of the cars, sir. There is no problem asking if someone needs assistance, but give them time to walk around the car, peek inside, and let them decide if they want to test drive.
I would also let customers test drive alone. I know this requires a level of trust, but copy their I.D., run a background check, hold the keys to their current car, whatever you have to do to give them some freedom. I loathe test driving cars because I feel like I'm back in driving school. This last guy asked me how the back window visibility was while he sat in the middle backseat blocking the entire back window with his giant head. When the salesman is in the car, I can't relax; I can't bond with the car; I can't focus on how it feels to drive it because I'm so focused on not crashing it.
Then when we got back to the office, I would make the process short and sweet. They make a deal, you make a deal, maybe you compromise and if you can't, move on. No need to hold anyone hostage. I love to bargain, but dealerships love to bargain more and they will bargain with you all day if that's what it takes.
Spending the day at dealerships always makes me hungry, actually it makes me ravenous. The very best part of my hypothetical dealership is that it would have a restaurant inside it. It doesn't so much matter what restaurant...after talking numbers for 15 minutes I'm about ready to eat a buffet at Denny's, but a nicer restaurant would be ideal. When Tommie and I got the lease for our Corolla, I was so hungry I could have chewed off the arm of the finance guy, who I still think was a robot the way he kept rattling on when I kept trying to get us out of there. Last week, we had to go back to the dealer after work for paperwork and pick up and I kept thinking about my restaurant idea because that old vending machine in the lobby just wasn't going to cut it.
Getting a new car is nice, but it the actual process of getting it isn't. Personally, if I could just get some Bertucci's rolls in front of me, I wouldn't put off car shopping for so many years.