With Edmunds very "interesting" survey coming out and with so much material on how everyone hates haggling, I figured it would be a good time to offer a perspective from the other side of the coin. The salesman. Now I won't speak about all salesmen, just because I don't know everyone and I didn't know everyone's motivation I worked with. However, myself and a few of my fellow salesmen were very like-minded in their disgust at the same thing you are all disgusted with, haggling.
It's been a few years since I sold cars, but I do remember it vividly. Why, because I hated it. I worked for three different dealerships. All sold different cars, in different price brackets, and with different people at the helm of the dealerships. But all three had the same idea of how to sell cars, be pushy. When we followed this idea, we ended up losing many customers.
When you first start at a dealership and are put into training, the first thing the training salesman tells you to do is when a customer comes up on the lot walk right up to them as quickly as possible and engage them. This is to ensure they don't just come and look, they are instead obligated to talk with you. Like a helpless fly in a web. It's a way for dealers to get a hold of you and keep you at the dealership longer than you may want to. You may have also encountered the dealer holding the keys to your trade in to try and convince you to stay and buy a car. This is probably not news to you all; everyone has a dealership horror story.
What is news is the salesman you are dealing with probably doesn't have a choice in engaging you that quickly. It's beaten into our heads and they make you think you won't get a sale unless you are relentless. And being that most dealerships only pay commission, or at least my three did, that means unless you sell, you aren't eating that week.
After you break the customer down and finally get them to the table to discuss the purchase, you enter the haggling zone. Here's how it breaks down. First, you find the car you want, hopefully, I saw many people influenced into buying the wrong type of car. At one point in my work for one of these dealerships a young guy came in to get a new car. Nothing outlandish or much to write home about, then he began the financing. He was underwater on three separate cars, just rolling over the debt he has incurred onto a new car. His credit was so bad from all the other previous car sales that neither of his parents could cosign. At this point, I would have thrown his ass to the curb, but my manager encouraged the other salesman to see if anyone could cosign for him. Even when they brought up their hesitation noting that he shouldn't even do this, they still pushed. This guy's bright idea, his 87yr old blind and infirm grandmother, who at present resided in a nursing home. The kid walked out with a brand new car and most likely his grandmother's credit going to hell in a hand basket.
Now I bring up this story for two reasons. First, to illustrate dealerships can be assholes, and second and more importantly, some of us salesmen don't like the game either. Throughout my tenure with these dealerships, I saw many versions of this same story and most just made myself and a few others sick to our stomachs. But these pathetic stories aren't the only things that can turn a salesman's stomach.
The entire process of haggling is as many of you know rigged. Rather than giving you the best price available, the two parties will go back and forth trying to come up with a number that suits mostly the dealer. After a salesman leaves the table with the customer's offer they go to the sales manager and present the offer. You as the customer, see them talking about what you think is the price, when really they are just stalling and coming down maybe a few hundred to at most a grand. Every time I did this, all I could think of was why can't we just have a set price and be done with this?
Customer's would come in and pay drastically different prices for the exact same car. It was highway robbery. Inevitably most customers would get upset with the lack of actual savings and would storm out. I think most salesmen would gladly give up this game too because all this game of haggling does is drive down your monthly sales.
Recently I purchased my FR-S and had one of the best experiences you can have on a car lot. The salesman was unbelievably nice and let me sell myself on the car rather than push me one way or the other. After all the paperwork was done and I had my keys, I asked him why he sold cars this way, and what he told me is something all dealers and salesmen should take to heart. He said that he had been doing this for too damn long to not understand the one thing that turns off a potential buyer, being a pushy jerk. He said he got far more sales letting the customer talk themselves into buying the car. He just handled the paperwork really.
This experience is very similar to what you would find at a Tesla dealer and the reason why so many dealerships are pushing back against Tesla's model of sales. At Tesla the price you see is the price you pay. The salesmen at typical car dealerships are scared that people might want to get rid of them all together if they follow in Tesla's haggle-free footsteps. And according to the results of the Edmunds survey, their fears may be true. But we can live in a world where both are happy, that is if dealerships can learn that being a pushy asshole to the customer is not the way to do business.
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