How One Dealership Employee Would Approach Car Shopping

knowledge imageThis weekend as I was driving home from a round of golf I noticed the car in front of me had temp tags. This got me thinking about how someone [myself] who currently handles the marketing and communications for a local car dealership would approach the car shopping experience from a consumer point-of-view.

Do more research on the product

Being able to conduct vehicle research has never been easier. If you’ve been living under a rock there’s a little something called the internet which allows you to go straight to the manufacturer, third party sites and even the dealer with a couple clicks of the mouse. I would utilize each of those in that order to check and balance the information provided. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s correct.

For those of you who consider yourselves “internet savvy” spending some time on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or just good ol’ forums can pay off dividends. Seek out friends or family members you know who currently own your vehicle of interest. You can also do targeted Twitter searches for key words such as “Fusion” or “Ford F-150”. Some manufacturers such as Ford have customer service twitter handles (@FordCustService) which would be more than happy to find fellow Twitter users. Once you find someone, start up a conversation regarding features, mpg, and how it fits into their lifestyle. Which brings me to my next point…

Ford Life tip: Doing more research and knowing the vehicle like the back of your hand makes the dealership experience much more comfortable. Not only will it give you the upper hand in the negotiation process but you’ll spend less time worrying about what is fact or fiction and more time enjoying the experience of purchasing a new car.

Do more research on yourself

You’d be surprised, but there are a number of people out there who don’t take the time to understand themselves before they pull the trigger. Knowing not just your financial situation, but your lifestyle and purchasing habits are just as important as knowing the features of the car you’re about to purchase. Understanding simple questions such as: what’s my credit score? Should I lease or buy? Should I finance out 72 months knowing I’ll be sick of it in three years can insure peace of mind during and after you purchase. If you need a little direction I recommend checking out our weekly Across the Lot podcast.

Check reviews in more than one place

As a consumer doing online research we instinctively gravitate to customer reviews to decide where we’re going spend our time and hard earned money. The automotive industry is no different. You wouldn’t know it but within the “automotive sphere” online reputation management (customer reviews) is all the rage. This has caused dealerships across the country with less than stellar reputations and customer reviews to begin hiring companies to write fraudulent reviews to boost their ratings and mask the bad ones. Yes, that’s right, dealerships are purchasing 5 star reviews from outside companies. Typical isn’t it.

Here’s an example of a couple Dayton, Ohio dealerships (I choose to hide the names for sake of saving them immediate embarrassment) who are partaking in a little review fraud. Below is a snap shot of all the recent reviews this particular phantom customer has posted. He/she apparently has pretty deep pockets considering they reviewed four different dealerships all within two days (Aug 25-26th). Not only are they paying someone to write fake reviews, they’re not doing a very good job of hiding the fact. This should send up an immediate red flag.

interstate ford image

The New York Times posted a fantastic article detailing how Cornell University researchers have developed a way to identify fraudulent reviews. Below are the tips to help you point out those customer review scofflaws:

 

fake customer reviews image

When it comes to dealership reviews it’s best to do a little research and use good judgment. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t genuine. It’s a best practive to check multiple sites such as: Dealerrater.com, Facebook, Yelp, Google Places, BBB to name a few.

A little research and planning goes a long way

Too many people enter the car shopping experience stressed out and highly defensive, which is completely understandable. Car dealerships in the past haven’t done a well enough job educating and empowering their customers to take ownership of the process. But If you do your product and internal research in addition to seeking out the dealership you know will treat you right, the experience will be wonderful and hassle free.

Relax, it’s only car shopping.

About Jeff Cryder Jr.