Going car shopping is a pain. And in order to shop smart, you really should communicate with the dealers via phone and email. The problem is once they have this information you are likely to get bombarded with calls and emails—including after you’re done shopping for a car.
Let’s say you buy a car at Dealership C, but already communicated with Dealerships A and B. Because they’re thirsty as hell, A and B will be in constant contact by phone and email to try and get you to come back, and may even bug you after the sale process to see if you’re up for a trade-in.
However, there are some tricks to doing this and keeping your sanity. Here are some ways to pick up a car without having dealers become a permanent part of your life afterward.
The first two weapons in your arsenal should be a separate phone number and email address. There are several apps and services that can provide a phone number for free, but I use Google Voice because it transcribes the voicemails and saves them in an easy spot for me to access.
You will want to link this number to your mobile device, and then you can unlink it once you have made your purchase. You will definitely want to disconnect this line because trust me, the calls will keep coming even long after a new car is in your driveway.
As for the email, any free email provider will do. When it comes to answering these dealer generated emails, you can either set up an auto forward to your usual personal email address, though be sure to respond using the new address to keep things organized, or you can just manage separate accounts on your mobile advice. I recommend you name the account something easy like “BobsNewCar@email.com.” (Please don’t take that one, I’m already using it.)
If you choose to go with Gmail for your shopping email, you can combine that with Google Voice and keep everything in one place.
There are two ways to initiate communication with the dealership. The first is to call them and speak to someone on the sales floor. Make sure you are actually talking to a salesperson and not a business development representative as those folks often just relay your information down the chain. Also, know that an “internet sales manager” might not actually be able to sell a car or have the powers of a “manager.” Some of them are just there to set up a appointments, while others can cut right to the chase and send you a competitive quote, but it varies from dealer to dealer.
Because you can solicit inquiries at your convenience, the other technique is to go to a dealership’s website and find a car that you are interested in. Even if they don’t have an exact match, don’t worry—chances are they can get what you want so find the car that is the closest match.
Usually, there will be an option to request more information or “Get Your EPrice!” or something along those lines. Click that button and put your info into the form. Remember to give them your unique number for buying a car and alternative email address. Your browser might autofill the form with your personal contact info so double check it before you click “submit.”
The “form blast,” as I call it, is an incredibly efficient way to get your name out to multiple dealers in a short period of time without having to make a dozen or more phone calls. But very quickly, your inbox will get inundated with messages. The first round of emails from the dealers will essentially be “We got your inquiry…” notes, and won’t contain much info. Feel free to ignore those. The ones you want to respond to are from an actual person at the dealership.
There will also be follow-up emails, and follow up messages to the follow ups. Some of them might be worded in a way that makes things sound really urgent or really awesome. These are just auto-generated messages to keep the communication lines constant. Ignore them and stay focused on the messages from an actual human.
Don’t be obligated to answer every call and be ready for a lot of them. Stay focused on the task at hand.
Once you have established communication with a dealership, you need to be very clear and tell them what you want, but you need to do so in a way that solicits their cooperation. Be very careful with your tone, they want to sell you a car, but they don’t want to bother with a customer that is going to be a hassle. Don’t make all kinds of demands and come off as combative. It is possible to negotiate effectively and not be a bastard about it.
Keep things friendly, but direct and to the point. As the quotes start to come in you can compare them and see who is willing to beat who in order to earn your business.
If this all sounds like a lot of work to buy a car, it’s because it is. Car buying can be a hassle and you shouldn’t have to come up with a communication strategy so you don’t get a thousand phone calls about HUGE SAVINGS.
However, if you want the best price without having to go to the dealership a combo of phone calls and emails will do the job.