Could haggling on the price of a car soon be a thing of the past?

If we prepare and present cars to the highest possible standards, regardless of age and mileage will customers still want a discount? An interesting question put to me recently by a sales manager who, in these toughest of trading conditions, is searching for something a little different. He wants to offer something that separates him from the competition and enables him to offer his customers and prospects total peace of mind when buying used cars.

I have thought about this issue long and hard, on the one hand we are in an industry which has traditionally acknowledged that haggling over price is an accepted practice, indeed in many ways when both parties reach agreement it is still the most enjoyable part of the job. While on the other hand, when customers are told to haggle over price regardless of any other factors it is difficult for dealers, in a declining market, to retain diminishing margins when they have priced their cars attractively enough to generate enquiries but are put on the back foot when the buyer wants a better deal than the one advertised.

It’s a tough one but I believe that the transaction price is a small part of the overall package and in the long run buying a car from a successful dealer has to be the way forward.

If a car dealer attempts to present all their stock as ‘best in class’ with no excuses and no reason either from the sales person or the customer to talk about discounts, if the price represents the quality and all relevant mechanical or cosmetic re-conditioning has been carried out. If the customer can leave safe in the knowledge that they have paid a good price for a quality car and a great experience, and moreover if the car is not a run of the mill example then I believe that the days are coming when haggling may not be as prevalent in the car buying arena as perhaps it has been.

If dealers choose to discount cars or have sales then the public may have some confidence that the offers are genuine and not just part of a marketing gimmick.

The time it will take to reach that particular utopia is not so clear cut.


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