Car buyers welcome a new friend
Industries that involve a complex decision provide consumers with some type of consultant or expert guide. We’re talking about real estate, taxes, insurance, travel, law, and even medicine. These people are professionals in their space and exist to guide you through the entire process. Historically, the automotive industry has offered consumers the car salesman to be their pro. This type of expert has a different skill set- saying the right things, getting you sold on the spot, and closing deals, rather than offering real guidance.
So why is the automotive industry just now catching up? For one, this industry has done an exceptional job over the years convincing consumers they’ve got everything within their grasp to make an informed decision. Most people know that dealers aren’t the most trustworthy source. If you don’t believe us, read Harvard Business School’s article called “Fix this! Why is it so painful to buy a new car.”
To compensate for the pain, we’ve turned to the internet. The upside is that buyers have gained back a sense of control over their purchasing decision. The downside is the general market of consumers still don’t know what they’re doing. The web convinces us that we can compare multiple cars online before we buy. Buyers walk away feeling empowered by the piles of accessible data and ready to determine which cars are worth going to see. So, why is this way of car shopping leading 69% of us car buyers to have buyers remorse? Read the full blog here.
Until recent disruptions in automotive retail, consumers hadn’t considered alternatives. People are putting their foot down and saying, “Wait, I have options!” They’re also continually becoming more aware of the tricks and traps to navigate. Despite this increase in confidence, many people still don’t know how to buy a car. An article by ‘Think with Google’ says, “6 out of 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure which car to buy. To help narrow their choices, many start by consulting someone they trust.” But, who can people trust in such a complex space? And as the standard dealer model makes its way to the grave, what are your car buying options?
Self-guided – You can go at it alone. You can research online, field your options, then go out and buy. The plus side? You’ve got control. The downside? You take on all the risk. Most consumers don’t attempt to buy a house or insurance alone due to the complexity and lack of knowledge around the industry. Car buying, like real estate and insurance, contains countless moving parts that must be considered as you search. That’s why experts are typically involved. The self-guided route is your most accessible option but is likely your riskiest play, no thanks to online comparison sites making this complex buy seem so simple.
Dealers – You can use a dealership. A 2017 report shows the downward trend in dealer influence when it comes to consumer car buying. Inevitably, dealers are forced to adapt to the times and the way people want to buy. The trend towards consumers wanting a consultative buying experience means that dealers will look like, sound like, and walk like they’re consulting for you. Be careful. Like we mentioned above, they’re experts in things like closing deals, knowing the hottest features and functions, and selling add ons. For example, it’s now common for dealers to advertise their ability to find you a car if they don’t have what you are looking for. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Your typical car salesman has never gone to market and bought a car. They may hear you list your search parameters but in the end, they plan to send the list to the purchase manager. At that point, you’re dealing with someone well trained in keeping the dealership stocked with cars most sold rather than matchmaking customers to cars that make sense for them. You’re not getting a real consultation from an expert.
Auto Brokers – You can use an auto broker. This is someone who meets with you to understand what car you’re looking for, searches the dealer market to find that car, and negotiates on your behalf. When it comes to consulting, brokers know their stuff and are significantly more equipped than car salesmen. One man broker operations usually have a background in car sales and decide to leave the high-pressure environment. These are automotive experts that grew tired of taking advantage of customers and wanted to actually help. Larger regional outfits have several offices full of consultants ready to walk you through the process. However, there are three things to keep in mind when using an auto broker:
- They have a limited inventory to search through. Since they don’t carry a dealer license they can’t search through dealer only networks and can’t attend nationwide dealer-only auctions. This limits their search to local dealers.
- They have very limited control or insight into the condition of the car. Brokers don’t own service shops and don’t have history reports on cars, therefore, they have to trust the condition they’re given. This can be risky.
- They charge a fee. The usual broker model attempts to find a fair price and get you the best deal on your trade. The market drives price which means “good deals” are never what they seem. The fee you pay to have an expert, in this case, is above and beyond the cost of the car. Even though it’s common to pay for convenience, you’ll want some way to verify the condition matches the price you are paying.
Mats.org – You can let MATS help. Like an auto broker, we consult with you so you buy the right car. Unlike an auto broker, our business model equips us with more ways to help buy. Since we do hold a dealer license, we have the ability to search for cars through a national wholesale network and see condition reports. We don’t charge you an auto broker fee. Our ability to purchase through wholesale networks and recondition in house allows us to be successful while sticking to market price; a fair price. We know that most buyers want to spend their money well. They want a car that fits their life, a fair price, and absolutely no surprise repairs after they buy. That’s the way MATS has done it for 40 years by focusing on buying quality cars at the right price for our customers. The story of our organization will help you understand how and why we are the best at what we do. Check it out here.
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