What you say to the agent has a significant impact on the negotiation process. However, what you don’t say is equally important.
Knowing what to say and what not to say as a dealer shopper is not playing games or being shy. It’s about you being as comfortable and as wise with your information as a seller is with theirs.
“I’m ready to buy now.”
This is an admission of weakness and an invitation to the dealer to bid slightly less than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) to see if you’ll take the bait. It shows you’re too eager and willing to consider an offer and also gives the seller an advantage by letting them talk to you rather than downplaying them.
Consumer Reports has something called the wholesale price, which is the regular retailer’s invoice price minus any related discounts and offers. Likewise, most permanent price information services advise buyers to research the dealer’s bill, along with any relevant offers, and then make a low offer perhaps only several hundred dollars on the bill. The dealer will follow your number with an opposite offer, and then allow you to come and go until a compromise is reached.
Today, many of the incentives offered to dealers are given to each dealer, often distributed to meet sales goals. As a result, you can’t pinpoint these offers on a particular vehicle, and you never know which dealer might offer the best price at any given time.
“I can pay that much a month.”
Don’t let the agency make a credit report on you. Once the dealer knows your credit score, it can affect the negotiations for the car you want to buy. Your best bet is to tell the seller that all you care about is getting the best price for the car. Don’t tell the dealer what you’re willing to pay each month. This is the biggest mistake a buyer can make. Usually, the agent will focus on the monthly payment system, emphasizing that you get a lot, but in the end, you won’t know what you paid.
If the agent can understand you, a common trick is to ask if you can get a slightly higher monthly payment and then increase the final price by hundreds or even thousands, respectively. Avoid this by insisting that you focus only on the purchase price. Walk away if the seller just wants to talk about monthly payments.
“Yes, I have a job.”
Try not to tell the seller that you have a deal until the final purchase price has been set. Ask the dealer how much they will give you in exchange. If you enter into negotiations with a sale, the agent may try to distract you with the “good” deal they make for your purchase while making the “bad” deal for you. The new car you are buying. It’s best to call your credit union and we’ll give you a fair price for your purchase before you go to the dealership.
“I only buy cars with money.”
Auto dealers make a huge profit when they sell you finance. If you don’t at least allow the agent to sell you financing, then you won’t get the best deal. It’s best not to commit to funding, but you should arrange temporary financing with MAFCU before you go shopping for a car. Once you know your sponsorship is approved, you don’t have to worry about anything.
“I’m not sure…which model do you think I need?”
If you are too indecisive, you may end up neither driving a car that you neither want nor need. Do your homework first. Take this opportunity to gather information and test drive your specific vehicle shortly. If your uncertainty is clear, you will likely buy the model with the most extras, the highest price, and, of course, the most profit for the dealer. Before shopping, limit your choice to three or four vehicles that meet your needs.
“What’s the lowest price you can give me?”
Most likely this question will not be taken seriously and you will get a predictable performance. The salesperson will wince, maybe talk to the manager, play with the numbers, and eventually come back with a price that may not be a good deal for you. But there may be so much apparent effort in that performance that you’ll be forced to accept that final number. Do not. To avoid this, make a reasonable and informed low offer, then wait for a counteroffer. Don’t fear silence. On the contrary, don’t be surprised if there is some drama.
“I think you can do much better than that.”
Never scold or accuse a salesperson. Go polite. Compliment them and show them respect. You will never get the best price if you talk to them. At least for now, you want them to be your friends. Let the situation unfold, but walk away when the deal isn’t good enough by quietly suggesting that a competitor in town might be more willing to work with you.