I’ve just emerged from the murky and bizarre world of the new vehicle shop-and-purchase experience. I am happy to claim 100% satisfaction with the final outcome, but most of my interaction with Austin new car dealerships and salespeople gets a thumbs down.
I’ve only bought 4 new vehicles in my life. I generally think new vehicles are a poor investment, but I also drove my previous 2001 Chevy Silverado (which I bought new in 2000) 130,000 miles and feel like, having only ever spent money for oil changes and new tires, it served me well and I got my money’s worth even though I bought it new.
That older 2001 Silverado has the rear swing extended cab doors though, which isn’t client friendly for getting in and out of the back seat, so I normally drive Sylvia’s minivan with clients. Lately it’s become a hassle trying to coordinate with Sylvia to swap out for the minivan when I have buyers. With gas prices the way they are and car dealers having a hard time selling trucks, this is an extremely good time to buy a new truck, for those of us who are going to drive one no matter what, so I made the decision to move up to a new crew cab 4 door truck. More about the great deal I got later.
I decided that a crew cab truck would be a good next vehicle. Something nice enough to drive clients in (like a Tahoe from the back seat forward) but which also works for hauling stuff and towing, which I need to do often enough to make a truck mandatory in my life.
That brings me to the process of buying a new vehicle. I do it in two steps. First, I go tire kicking and test driving and internet researching until I determine exactly what I want and exactly what I’m willing to pay. Second, I look for the dealer who has the vehicle I want and will sell it for the price I’m willing to pay. The research and test drive part is the most time consuming. I drove the Toyota, Ford, Dodge, GMC and Chevy trucks which is what brought me by necessity into contact with multiple dealerships and salespeople.
What would it be like if homes were sold like cars?
What sort of scripts would you hear when attending an open house or visiting a new home builder? Let’s take a look.
First of all, when you pull up in front of the open house, there would be 3 or 4 Realtors standing in the yard smoking. They would eye you like vultures as you search for a parking spot. When you step out of your vehicle, a Realtor would be standing 5ft from you, having just stamped out his cigarette under his shoe, and you would be greeted with a friendly ‘hello’ and a “what brings you here today?”
You’d say “I’m here to see the house” and the Realtor would say “great, come on over here (opposite direction of the house) to my desk.”
You’d say, “I just want to see the house”, but the Realtor would still try to get you to his desk to fill out some paperwork. If you refuse steadfastly, you’ll instead go see the house.
When you ask, “how much is the house including all the discounts and offers you are advertising, and what options or upgrades can you include?”, you’d be asked in return “if I can get you a price that will save you money are you ready to buy this house today?”
You’d say, “well, what price are you offering?” and the Realtor would again say, like a robot, “if I can get you a price that will save you money are you ready to buy this house today?”
You’d say “you’re advertising special discounts, I just want to know what the special price is and I want to get a feel for the home, but I’m not here to buy today. I’m just researching”. At that, the Realtor would take out a sales contract and say “well, let’s write it up for the price you want to pay and see what we can work out for you”. You’d say “Are you going to tell me the price or not?”
And so it went. Canned scripts, evasive lingo, and, as I’m sure the salespeople are trained to do, “ABC”, or Always Be Closing. Absent from most of the interaction was any consultative sales effort or any attempt to learn about my needs as a buyer or why I’m looking at crew cab trucks. It was, for the most part, all about trying to close the sale, write it up, and close it now.
Between two afternoons of test driving, eliminating candidate models, learning the specs, educating myself by reading reviews, reading user forums, etc., I eventually arrived at my mental place of full empowerment and readiness. I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew exactly what I was willing to pay.
I decided on a Chevy Silverado LT1 with the Texas Edition package (bigger engine, better tires, some other extras) that had to be a pre-Jan 22nd unit in order to qualify for the full $4500 factory rebates on top of the dealer discounts that are being heavily advertised. I also wanted leather seats but dropped that requirement because most trucks with factory leather have too many other upgrades and options that I don’t want or need. So I’ll add the leather after-market ($1,300) and come out ahead in doing so by not spending an extra $5,000 to get a leather equipped model with other upgrades.
I also wanted the LT1 (as apposed to LT2 or LTZ) because it has the front bench seats which offer a 6th passenger spot when hauling lots of kids and it leaves floor space front middle for my briefcase when riding with clients.
Finally, I determined, given the level of motivation of the dealerships and the vast number of trucks that would fit my needs, I should be able to buy the truck not only below dealer invoice price, but at or near the dealer “Triple Net”, which is the actual dealer bottom line cost after factoring in dealer cash, holdbacks and advertising. Most people think “Invoice” price is the dealer cost, it isn’t. It’s what they call “Triple Net” or “Net Net”.
So, the time consuming hard part was arriving at this level of knowledge and empowerment, feeling confident about the vehicle and options needed, and knowing what should be attainable from the dealer. I set my goal to get the truck at true dealer cost.
Next was simply an email to multiple dealers in the Austin area, saying basically, “I am going to buy a Silverado Crew LT1 Texas Edition, pre-Jan 22nd unit today from the dealer who responds with the best Out the Door price quote”.
That resulted in multiple return emails and lots of phone calls. Some with price quotes, others with canned “come on in and let’s talk”.
Capital Chevrolet was the most straight forward, no nonsense no their approach and pricing. They made a bottom line offer out of the gate and I didn’t even bother to haggle it down from there. Also, they had the best salesperson, John, when I visited (by “best”, I mean he wasn’t pushy or scripted and he actually was able to answer all my questions about the trucks and different options).
They gave me a straight bottom line price that I was happy with, which was $200 over dealer actual cost. I left $200 on the table so the salesperson would get something over his “mini”, which is the minimum salesperson commission (usually $50 or $100), and I let them charge me $50 in doc fees that I probably could have had removed had I asked. Also, they didn’t short me on the free full tank of gas which is an unspoken expected item, but which dealers are known to withhold in favor of a half or quarter tank if you drive too hard a bargain.
In other words, given an opportunity to act out of integrity, Capital Chevrolet acted in a straightforward an honest way through all my dealings with them, right up to and including my free full tank of gas!
If you need a Chevy truck, call Capital Chevrolet, ask for John and tell home Steve sent you. They treated me right. Call before June 2nd to get the $4500 in manufacturer rebates. They want to clear out the older stock and will make a sweet deal this week.