Tuesday 17 June 2014

Mum's the Word - Part 2

Those who have not yet had the chance to read part 1 of this series, I was asked by my mum to help her buy a car. With the specification and budget established we decided to visit the preferred car dealership having reviewed other substitute models and offers.

Within seconds of arrival we were approached by a salesman who invited us to his desk to discuss our requirements. Before we arrived I laid down some ground rules with my mum to try and give us as much ‘buying power’ as possible. Mum agreed, ‘its all with you’.

We took a test drive, during which I asked him some questions about what deals they had available and confirmed what was standard and optional. We also discussed what we liked about the other cars we had test driven and how keen the dealers seemed to strike a competitive offer. I was trying to understand his character whilst conditioning him to the fact that we had already had detailed discussions with his competitors and that some were very much options for us. One further question about his role led to some interesting information; he was new into the role having worked in the finance sector previously, “2 weeks in and keen to start well” he said. That’s good to know and as it’s coming to the end the month, he was likely to be on commission and very keen to impress his peers I thought.

Back at his desk, with the quote for the part exchange received, we started to discuss figures. I pulled out my laptop. He looked at me strangely. I showed him my screen and explained I had complied a table with the rates from his company’s website including the options such as sat-nav against those I have received from his competition (all publically available, nothing unethical here). I also applied a previously received part ex figure with a target discount to ‘meet the shortfall’ within our budget. His quotation for the part ex was under the desired figure and he looked upset that I wasn’t happy to spread the difference over a longer finance term to lower monthly repayments – I wanted the difference removed from the bottom line.

We went through the cars in stock. None matched our specification which meant it had to be made to order, 3 months lead time. My mother’s face dropped, visibly disappointed. He followed up by saying that there was a model available but with no sat-nav and if they matched our target budget against this model would we have a deal. Although I said no, he spotted my mum’s resolve was beginning to wane. He jumped on the opportunity to sell the stock car, discussing how good it would be to have a new car for the beginning of the summer. I countered; if the car with no sat-nav came under budget then we could compromise.

Cue the entrance of the sales manager. He was more of a typical car dealer. He couldn’t bring the price down any further. The car with no sat-nav could be sold at our target budget with a removable sat-nav thrown in as a compromise. The made to order model with options would be more expensive and delivered 3 months later.    

What would you do?

I emphasised our desire to buy today but only for the right deal. He continued his sales pitch, ‘my hands are tied’, ‘if only I could’ focussing on my mum. He could have been telling the truth of course, but we were not in a position to accept the offer on the table. The dealer had shown flexibility but there were a number of tradeoffs we (I) weren’t prepared to accept.

I closed my laptop, stood up and thanked them for their time – my mum, looking rather disappointed, followed my lead. Seeing that we were intent on leaving and his new protégé’s first sale slipping away he asked us to hold on for 5 minutes while he doubled checked the national stock. Sure enough, he had a found a car, in the right colour, integrated sat-nav, plus some additional ‘feature options’. Although this car was more expensive than model we wanted, he could meet our targeted budget but the compromise was a month’s lead time. I sat down, opened my laptop, adjusted my table, agreed with Mum, shook hands with the dealer and the deal was done.

Now, I am sure some of you are thinking “so what?  It was obvious that the dealer was holding something back”. This was true in this instance but it certainly wasn’t guaranteed at that point of negotiation, so would you have been prepared to walk away? It’s a risky tactic.

In the third and final part of this series, I will be summarising the steps and considerations I made during each of the phases and how they impacted the final deal. Skills are transferable and shouldn’t be confined to the workplace; I took my experience of being a professional buyer and now a seller to get to the deal I wanted. Some of these may help you structure your approach to negotiation, but feel free to share your top tips and methods.

1 comment:

  1. Loving it! My very worst experience of buying a car was when I had taken a friend along to vet the vehicle for mechanical soundness. We had gone through all the usual negotiations then I threw in, "Of course, we would need it taxed". And sat back to wait. Just as the salesman opened his mouth to concede - and I could tell by his expression that that was what was coming - my friend helpfully piped up - unable to stand the silence a moment longer - "Of course, we will pay for that". I'm not sure I have forgiven him yet and that was many many years ago!!