“Tell me,” I said to the team of experienced auto brokers, “what do you say when someone asks you why they should work with us instead of go to a dealership?”
We were having our weekly meeting and I had commandeered it once again to ask questions. This meeting is the only time during the week that all of the brokers are together and I am not shy about wresting control of the meeting for educational purposes.
“Well,” answered JP thoughtfully, “I usually compare our practices to those of dealer salespeople.” JP and some of the others had started their careers working for dealerships and they know all the tricks, the same tricks we’re afraid are being played on us when we try to buy a vehicle.
“For example,” he continued, “did you know that a dealership can raise the interest rate on your auto loan two percentage points above what you were approved for?”
“No,” interjected our boss without noticeable emotion, “it’s three points. They can raise the rate up to three percentage points.”
I stared at them, speechless.
“That’s… that’s legal??”, I finally sputtered out.
“Oh, yes!”. They both nodded. “They do it all the time. People don’t notice. They are looking at the monthly payments and gloss right over the details.”
And that’s Not All
Once I got over my shock, I ask them to tell me how dealer sales people work. There are many ways to sell a vehicle (or anything for that matter) and I wanted to know what strategies they are trained to use.
JP explained that the first thing the salesperson does is build rapport. Most salespeople do this, no matter what the product. We ask questions and make friends. That’s how we find out what you’re looking for and whether we can help you.
The dealer salespeople begin to diverge from brokers in the next step. They focus on emotions. They are encouraging you to feel attached to that particular vehicle.
Ultimately, the dealership wants you to buy a vehicle that day and they focus on your emotions and a sense of urgency to bring you to a point where you sign the paperwork.
Many of them would prefer that you don’t know what that car is selling for or what they bought it for. They certainly don’t want you to think about rebates and discounts they got from the manufacturer or what loan rate your bank would give you.
Just sign on the dotted line and go home with this car today. Don’t think about anything else.
A Broker is Very Different
A good auto broker has a different focus. We don’t want to sell you a vehicle on the lot today. We don’t even have a lot! What we want is for you to make a good financial decision and get a vehicle that fits well with your lifestyle.
For example, you may come in saying you want to buy a 2015 SUV. We’ll ask you some questions and show you the calculations on loans and leases for different vehicles. At the end of the appointment, you may still want us to search for the SUV or you may have decided to lease something completely different.
You make the decision, but we want to make sure you know your options and are making a decision you’ll be happy with once the initial excitement wears off.
The End of the Meeting
Just as the meeting was breaking up, I thought of something else.
“Wait! We don’t add anything to our clients’ loans, do we?”, I burst out anxiously.
“No,” our boss said firmly. “We certainly don’t.”
Now I feel like a super-hero. We’re like a secret financial weapon anyone can safely use against the confusion of buying a car.