Buying a car is an art. Yes, sales is basically a numbers game but if you think about it, being creative in the way you deal with your sales agent, the bank or even your own finances, can spell the difference between acquiring the car of your dreams, or a deadweight on your bank account.
Given that job security has been a touchy topic for more than a year now, it would be prudent to make sure that once you commit to purchasing a brand new car, you will at least get the best deal possible. And that means maximizing the discounts and freebies, not paying more than you have to for your car loan or insurance, and avoiding add-ons that only uselessly pad your car expenses.
So to give you the best information possible, we asked a veteran sales agent from a reputable car brand. We shall refer to this honest and upfront agent as the “source.” But, first things first, remember that sales agents are working people too. Their skill is to make customers pay for products and services they sell. But to them, it is all just a job.
Though they receive a commission for every sale they make, sales agents just see this is part of their work to incentivize them to strive harder. It follows though that the car model or brand that gives out the bigger incentive, will naturally be pushed to customers with extra gusto by sales agents.
But that does not mean you should accept what they offer: lock, stock, and barrel. So here are 14 tips on what to look out for, and how to negotiate with sales agents, when you are buying that brand new car you have been yearning to have.
1) If you can afford to, pay in cash. This ensures you will not shelve out for the added burden of additional interest over the loan period. Also, you can negotiate for maximum discounts if you have cash on hand since this is a guaranteed sale for the dealer.
2) If you have to pay by taking out a loan, pay the largest amount you can as down payment. This lowers your monthly payments and amount you lose through interest.
3) It is better to avail of a purchase order from your bank through a Purchase Order from a car loan than from in-house financing with dealerships. “You’ll get lower interest rates from a bank, around 6 to 8%, compared to in-house financing which has a 12 to 13% interest rate,” says our source.
4) Asking for discounts is a negotiating skill. According to our source, one has to have a thick skin when haggling with sales agents. “Let the sales agent court you. Make it seem you have other options, or you are talking to another branch,” shares our source. This is to ensure the agents will extend the best possible discount to you. Our source adds, “Let the sales agent know you are really interested in the car, then make them chase you until they offer the best discount they can afford. You will eventually know if they have nothing more to give.”
5) Scare tactics work better to maximize your discount versus taking a friendly approach with your sales agent. Of course, this all depends on the personality of your sales agent, but in general this is what works according to our source who has dealt with all sorts of customers throughout the years.
6) If the car model you fancy is selling like pancakes, sales agents will scamper to sell it to you at a high price. Chances are, if you are negotiating for a substantial discount, they will not budge because they know they can sell it to someone else at a more favorable rate.
Tint, umbrella, a keychain, sometimes even a dash camera can be given away as freebies, says our source.
7) Freebies and discounts are dependent on the subsidies extended by the distributor to the dealers. The bigger the subsidy, the more leeway a dealership or a sales agent can work with in extending a discount and the number of items or services they can include in the purchase. Distributor subsidies are basically marketing expenses for the brand to support its dealers in moving its inventory.
8) Agent-hopping happens even though some dealerships do not tolerate this practice among its own sales agents. But you can inquire with a sales agent of one dealer and another of the same brand. Some brands though impose a one-price policy, making this practice moot. However, if you have developed a good relationship with a particular agent or dealer, you will be surprised how far they can bend over to capture a repeat sale from you.
9) If you are planning to sell your current car to fund the purchase of a new one, it is best to sell the car to a private buyer rather than do a trade-in. In-house trade-in appraisals are usually Php 80,000 to Php 100,000 lower than selling outside. But if the convenience of taking the old car away from your hands is worth the price difference, then you can negotiate to have the dealership offset the price of the old car from the purchase price of the new one.
10) Since buying a brand new car involves purchasing comprehensive insurance for it, our source says it is best to get your own insurance from a legitimate third-party company. In-house insurance can be up to Php 5,000 more expensive than what is available from an outside insurance company. Also, our source says not to get the “free” insurance that is tied-in with car loans. “You will end up spending more in the succeeding years of your car loan because you will be locked to the bank’s insurer for a higher amount compared to a direct purchase from an insurance company which you can renegotiate to a lower amount each year,” explains our source.
11) Always pay directly to the dealership’s cashier, not through the sales agent. And always ask for receipts. This will ensure you will have a complete record of all your payments and no stressful finger pointing later on.
12) It is best to check the actual unit before finalizing the purchase. “So that you will be fully satisfied that you are getting the unit in its best condition – no scratches, or visible defects,” shares our source. Once you sign off and take possession of your car at the handover, it will be harder for the dealer to accept any possible repairs after the fact as their first instinct is to blame any damage on you. Also, check if your car is topped-up with fuel. Most dealerships will load a full-tank. Given the competition among dealerships, this is the least a customer can expect.
13) Take note of the mileage on your car upon handover. Some dealers sell cars that were either display or demo units. “A mileage of about 15 to 20 kilometers, not more than 30, is normal,” says our source. This takes into account transportation between the warehouse, or storage facility and the dealership.
14) And our source’s final piece of advice is to finalize your purchase closer towards the end of the month. “Because sales agents are struggling to meet their quotas, you can ask for more concessions such as discounts and freebies. You’ll be surprised how the impossible can become possible by month’s end,” reveals our source.
So there you have it, a no-nonsense guide to buying a brand new car. Armed with these insights, you can now have a better chance of making that car purchase worth your hard-earned peso.
Like most businesses today, the car industry is struggling to get back on its feet. And the people at the frontlines, like the sales agent, will be the most vulnerable at this time. Extending a bit of understanding and a helping arm towards them the next time you visit a showroom is a noble deed. At least now, you don’t have to give them the other arm to chew on too.
Motoring and motorsports are two of Mikko’s greatest passions. Combining more than twenty years of professional automotive photography and videography experience with years of touring car racing competition, and a deep understanding of the car industry, from both the manufacturers’ and consumers’ points of view, have given him a unique and insightful perspective in the motoring beat.