You would think this whole “selling cars” thing would be easy for dealers, especially if an interested customer comes in with a serious intent to buy. But you would be surprised how uninterested some stores are in selling certain cars to certain buyers.
If someone is looking for your run of the mill sedan or crossover, the shopping process is fairly straightforward. But buyers looking for specialty cars that are performance-oriented, rare, or unique in some way sometimes run into some frustrations with dealerships that just really uncooperative when handling this kind of transaction. Crazy markups are only part of it.
The reason for this resistance often comes down to the fact that serious buyers of specialty cars are typically more careful about doing their research than the person off the street. They ask more questions, they are more aware of the market pricing for this particular vehicle, and they usually want to have it checked out by an independent mechanic before they drop their hard earned money on it.
Some stores are happy to have this kind of buyer, but many aren’t.
Recently I was shopping for a used Chevrolet SS for a client. His price targets were reasonable and there was a decent amount of inventory out there for him. But like any good shopper who is buying a car like this from a distance, he insisted that we get the car checked out by a shop prior to purchase. A smart move.
But dealer after dealer just flat out refused to send the car to a local shop, despite the fact that the cost of the inspection was coming from the customer. They all came back with, “Well, we put all our cars through a 110-point inspection so it’s fine.”
One particular vehicle had minor damage reported on the vehicle history so it was even more crucial to get this car inspected to be sure there wasn’t something more serious. The dealer had this car in their inventory for over three months and still refused to accommodate this buyer by taking it to a shop that was literally down the street from the dealership.
The reason that came up over and over again for why these stores were so uncooperative was this: “We are waiting for the right buyer.” And that right buyer is likely someone who comes in off the street and says something like, “Oh, the Chevy SS, those are fast. Here is how much I want to pay per month... can you do that?” Not the person willing to do the research, push for a good deal and be generally difficult.
Remember folks, there are still millions of uninformed and uneducated car shoppers, and some dealerships would rather sell to those folks because it’s easy and because they can likely make more money off of them.
What this really comes down to is the type of dealership that is selling these cars. While I was on the hunt for this SS I was also shopping for a used Porsche Cayenne Turbo for a woman in Texas. I spotted a car at a Porsche dealer in the Chicago metro area.
Their approach was a night and day difference compared to the Chevy, Dodge and other random stores selling the SS. Within 10 minutes of our phone conversation, the Porsche dealer sent me all the shop paperwork on the car, the build sheet, and a list of local independent Porsche repair shops in the area that I could call to schedule an inspection.
Higher end dealers are accustomed to selling specialty cars to buyers, including ones who are purchasing from out of state and are more particular about their purchase. Dealers who don’t often work with that clientele are less likely to want to jump through the hoops.
So the next time you are shopping for something unique and face dealers that seem like they aren’t interested in making a sale, remember: they want to sell that car, they just want to sell it to someone who isn’t as smart. Stick to your guns, be patient and the right car at the right store will come along.