New or used, it’s not always a simlple decision

New car sales people versus used car sales people; who has the easier life? There are many buyers out there who always have and always will buy brand new cars and of course those who would only buy used or second-hand (or as some prefer to call them, previously enjoyed).

This cemented position for many buyers may be due to bad experience; if you bought a new car for £20k and 2 years later when it was time to change it was only worth £5k that could be a big enough of a financial shock to never buy new again and believe me this has happened with many cars over the years (think Rover amongst quite a few others).

Conversely a buyer may have had nothing but trouble with a used car which may or may not have been treated properly by the previous owner and both of these scenarios would be enough for customers to stick with what they are comfortable with and never change their mind.

These are questions asked in showrooms everyday and increasingly so in the world of instant gratification. For example a customer comes in to the showroom and asks about a newer model in a certain style with specific specification in their favourite colour, which may entail a wait 3 months or more Alternatively they can have the demonstrator or nearly new ex-rental 2 days later. On the other hand a customer may see a car advertised on the internet, enquire about it then realise that the quality may not be quite what he was looking for having been used by someone else and the quick thinking sales guy could say for an extra £2,000 you could have a brand new one with no miles and the latest plate.

In showrooms across the country the used and new sales forces are mainly joined together, meaning everybody sells everything whereas a few years ago you specialised. A sales person was either new or used and there is a level of opinion which puts forward the theory that more cars were sold as a result of specifically targeting each sales person with a monthly figure they had to achieve.

The problem for sales mangers now, of course, is that most people will take the path of least resistance and it is clearly much easier to sell new cars than used because a customer can basically have exactly what they, if they are prepared to wait and all the sales person needs to do is hand it over once it arrives,

Whereas selling used cars involves overcoming any objections on colour, condition, mileage, specification and, of course price and involves sales people potentially trying to switch buyers into the cars they have available, if the first choice is not actually in their stock.

We only need to look at the scrappage scheme to see how easy it has become for sales staff to basically just sign customers up on a new car because the PR and discounting has already been done for them.

If I was ever asked by a buyer what’s your advice, should I buy new or used? I guess taking aside the specifics of what the manufacturer is and if price was not the ultimate consideration, I would have to say this; if you are planning on keeping the car for more than 5 years I would say new because the depreciation would be spread over a long time and you would never really know how much you have lost as a result. Also if you were doing more than 15k miles per year I would suggest new because you would then get maximum benefit from a car you would be spending a lot of time in and would appreciate driving a car which is exactly what you want.

On the other hand I would choose used if it was a high end model which depreciated rapidly i.e. cars which are £40k plus or a not very popular model which depreciated rapidly and you were not going to keep for more than 3 years thus giving someone else the depreciation loss.

For a low mileage infrequent car user it isn’t quite as important to consider mileage, colour and exact specification and buying a car which may have more miles than normal for its age is cheaper to buy as a result. This type of driver would bring the mileage back to where it should be and as a consequence have a significant saving on depreciation and, over the life of the car, that customer would be financially much better off.

That’s just an opinion though and there will be many that disagree.

Buying a car is always an individual decision and long may it continue.


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