MTI guide to used car sales events


The season of sales events is well and truly upon us, look out for names like “blue cross”, “sales managers confidential events”, ”VIP promotions”, “midnight madness”, call them what they will, they are all designed to stimulate sales and profit and produce some incremental business. Whilst a good old sale can never be a bad thing (just ask DFS) there is only so much hype customers can take, and the big question facing buyers today is; when is a sale not a sale? Once you have passed through the balloons, bunting and glossy posters promising literally £000s off the list price are there any real bargains to be had? The answer, confusingly, is yes and no.

As usual, with many sales events, hype and perception are the keys to success. If a customer are looking to change their car and a sale event just happens to be taking place locally, the idea of a great deal may be easier to believe in terms of the perceived difference between a “was” and “now” price. If you are responding to a mail shot that lands on your mat inviting you down to the dealer for some crazy bargains when you may not necessarily be in the market to change, you may be more likely to do a bit more research and comparison before deciding whether a sale is genuine.

The basic concept of most car sales “events” are designed around dealers buying in lots of cars at volume based prices and then hopefully showing potential buyer’s large savings against list or previously advertised prices. But often during the course of a quiet weekend a customer could probably negotiate a ‘’sale’’ deal anyway without having to attend an event.

The good thing, however, is that during a visit to an event you can almost guarantee that staff will treat you like royalty, which, let’s face it, if you’re in the market for a new car they should be doing anyway! As a result of the dealer having invested heavily in the promotion, failure to sell cars is not an option, so an added bonus and the very least you may expect is some lovely canapés and maybe a glass of bubbly!

The slightly more irritating concept of a sales event is the loss leaders. It’s ironic that the greatest savings are always on the models which are either unpopular, majorly expensive, in the wrong colours or the one that’s just been sold! The key to getting the best deal in a sale is to look through the hype and ensure you don’t get carried away with the euphoria and become pressured into completing the deal there and then – which, form a dealer’s perspective is, after all, objective number one! If you are not ready, the deal will still be on the table the next day despite what they may say. the other thing to remember is that before attending the sale compare prices at other dealers just to ensure those savings are genuine. It is one thing having big banner headlines saying ‘save a massive £5,000 off this car!’’ it is quite another comparing whether an alternative vendor is selling something at a similar price without the need for a “sale”.
We all love a good bargain and can become intoxicated with hyperbole, however although it may seem a great deal, by taking a little time to prepare before entering the world of teeth, smiles and music you may actually get a bargain by cutting through the headlines and really driving the price down.

The other thing to consider of course is that these events are usually targeted and if dealers want to achieve certain numbers to declare the promotion a success, they will feel much more obliged than usual to give you the deal you need so don’t be afraid to walk away as you may find that they come running after you!


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