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Four ways to improve the used car buying process


Buying a car can be fraught with worry and problems. Sadly, the stereotypical image of a used car dealer stains the industry today, and for every reputable dealer out there, there’s a customer who thinks everyone is out to rip them off.

Characters from TV shows, such as Arthur Daley and Boycie, might have made us laugh, but they set the industry back years in doing so.

There are plenty of tools a customer can use these days to check used vehicles for things such as outstanding finance, MOT, tax and mileage history, but how can you make the process easier as a car dealer? If you’re a buyer, what should you look out for from the dealer as a sign that they’re putting you first, not profit?

We’ve picked some key pointers which should help those on either side of the buying process and ensure you don’t end up starring in your own used car horror story.

Be willing to negotiate

All customers like to think they’re getting a deal, so you should always be willing to negotiate on the price of the car.

This does come with dangers; if you price too high, you might put customers off. If you price too low, you won’t leave yourself any room for negotiation.

The trick is to find the middle ground, and some car valuation sites have made it harder – with We Buy Any Car having lowball prices, a customer might think they know the real value of your stock.

Remember, they won’t have access to a facility like HPI Black Book Live, which gives a better indication of real value, so price reasonably and be prepared to haggle.

Let the customer’s mechanic check it

It’s all well and good having your own mechanic check a car over, and you might be as reputable as they come, but perception is everything.

You’ll be selling cars you know are sound, so a customer’s mechanic won’t find anything wrong.

With that in mind, let a customer have their own expert have a look over the var if they feel like they need to do so.

It will deliver peace of mind and demonstrate your own trust in your stock. Indeed, Citizen’s Advice includes a section on buying cars.

They suggest customers find a garage where the cars have been checked by an independent mechanic, highlighting the importance customer place upon this process element.

Have payment options

There’s a common misconception when buying from a dealer that wads of cash are preferred with no traceability, but that’s obviously another horrible stereotype generated by pop culture.

However, having multiple payment options is a good way of demonstrating your flexibility as a dealer and giving the customer the widest range of options.

For instance, you might have more than one finance company for high-value cars, demonstrating you’re not on a kickback from a single company.

Even if you’re a small dealer with only a couple of cars, having a card payment machine will deliver a degree of comfort to a buyer.

In many instances, card sales are protected from fraud, so you show the customer the transaction is safe by offering card payment.

Of course, you might want to take cash as well, but increasingly cash purchases for cars are a thing of the past.

Offer a warranty

Finally, offering a warranty is a great way to demonstrate your trustworthiness as a dealer.

There are issues to overcome here; make sure that the warranty covers the things you might be expected to pick up as a garage, but not elements such as flat tires or accident damage, which would be the owner’s fault.

However, even if you’re selling cars that are ten years older or more, a warranty of six months is a great way to prove your trust in your product and for customers to have peace of mind.

You might offer a short warranty but with an extended labour-only cover, especially if you’re both a mechanical garage and a car dealer.