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December 15, 2018

Negotiating Tip 54: Car Buying Mistakes

People seem to actually dread the car buying process and for good reason.  Not only are most people ill-equipped to negotiate that transaction, our opponent (the car dealer) has built in advantages that tilt things in their favor.  Let's examine here five of the mistakes that people are prone to make during the car buying process.

Mistake#1: Complacency  In many of my negotiating seminars I mention how challenging it is to negotiate with car dealers.  I admit my vulnerabilities in this area.  It never fails.  After the seminar, a participant can't wait to share with me how successful they ALWAYS are when buying a car.  Now I'll admit that some people might just be successful in that process, but it is rare.

It's more likely that someone bragging on their car buying success is being 'taken' and they don't even recognize it.  If one doesn't come away from a car buying experience without feeling they've been in a tough negotiation, that's the sign that they've lost big time.  Check out Mistakes #2 and #3 and see if you don't agree.

Mistake#2: Experience  It is a well known that the more you do something the better you are at doing it.  Negotiating for a car is no exception.  How many car negotiating experiences does the typical person participate in during their lifetime?  Five, seven, ten, more?  To be sure most of us only deal with that every few years.  How good could we be at something that we only do every few years? 

On the other hand, how many car negotiations does your car dealer experience every month, every week and even every day?   By sheer weight of experience, they have a tremendous advantage.  Put another way, they've seen it all.  If we think that our frail attempt to match them will be automatically successful, we're just fooling ourselves.  Advantage:  Car Dealer

Mistake#3: Expertise  Herb Cohen in his classic book, "You Can Negotiate Anything" lists a number of power sources.  One that never gets much attention is expertise.  Expertise refers to special skills, knowledge and capabilities that one possesses.  He shares that the party with the most expertise has a negotiating advantage (power) in virtually all cases.

Who, in a car buying negotiations, has the most expertise?  Who knows more about the market and car buying and selling tends?  Who knows more about car values, prices and demands?  Who knows about the competition?  Who knows the various ways to structure a car purchase deal that would lead to a profit-making opportunity?  Who knows the used car and trade-in market better? Who knows the cost and value of options, accessories, warranties, etc.?     In each of the above situations, the expertise advantage goes to the car dealer.   Advantage:  Car Dealer

Mistake#4: Home Court  It is always tougher to play 'on the road'.  Going to the other party's place puts us at an automatic disadvantage.  That's almost always the case with car dealers.  We go to them.  They can control the environment, the activities, the progress of events and the extra parties that might be integrated into the negotiations.  

While the car dealer can go 'check with the manager',  'get an opinion from the used car department' and even 'excuse themselves to go check on something', we are left exposed and uncomfortable in the showroom or on the lot.  They've got references, forms, sales reports, data and other opinions, while we stand alone.  While they probably don't seek to make us uncomfortable, the way the game is played works out that way. Advantage:  Car Dealer

Mistake#5: Posture and Position  Face it.  It is tough to physically go to a car dealer and not indicate, to some degree or another, that we NEED another car.  Our physical presence testifies to our motives and possibly our desperation. It's like we walk in carrying a sign saying,  "I really need this deal."  

Oh, there are some who feign a casual 'just looking' demeanor, but if in fact we want (need) a new car, our cover is blown rather quickly.  Truth be told, the car dealer has a better feel for activity and buyer traffic than we do.  They know that we're not there just kicking tires and checking out the new models.  Car dealers can assume the posture of waiting for another buyer better than we can pretend that we're 'just looking'. 

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