Not All Services Are The Same: Which One Best Fits Your Style?
If negotiating for a car isn’t for you, then a personal car buyer may be for you. But deciding which type to use for your next purchase, it helps to know what services each type of business provides. Match the business model to your personal buying needs.
- Car Broker. Saves time. Saves money. Limited, but usually personal service. A broker is a dealer without a dealership. The broker takes an order to buy a car from a customer and purchases it at auction or at a reduced rate from a dealer, and then resells it. The deal may not include negotiating financing, trade-in or loan payoff. Some brokers will not show price breakdown, so savings may be difficult to calculate.
- Car Negotiator. Saves time. Saves money. Limited service. Offers website, email or phone assistance to help a buyer pick out the vehicle make and model. Offers advice and will consult by phone. Using a database of participating dealers, a car negotiator sends out an offer sheet asking dealers to submit a bottom line, out-the-door price. The negotiator then provides advice about skipping the costly add-ons, and arranges everything from locating the model to the delivery with dealership management. Customer selects the dealer from the bids, and must handle the trade, financing and final closing paperwork. A negotiator does not attend closing with buyer.
- Car Buyer or Concierge. The concierge approach starts with a buyer assessment and recommendations about the car that fits buyer lifestyle and budget. The concierge will handle negotiations with the dealer and may include financing and trade-in. Service levels can vary and need to be understood at the contract stage. Firms can work on national or local level. May or may not attend closing with buyer.
- Personal Car Shopper. Usually a local or regional business that represents buyers to a network of dealers. The personal shopper is usually present for the test drive, vehicle selection, handles all aspects of negotiations, and attends the closing and delivery. The personal shopper will assist with negotiating trade-in, payoff, and financing arrangements.
- Car Buying Service. Usually set up through membership stores, credit unions, insurance companies or affinity groups, the source contracts with dealers to sell vehicles at “invoice plus fee.” The buying service is affiliated with the dealer, not the buyer. While invoice cost is less than sticker price, it is not what the dealer paid for the vehicle. Buyers go to participating dealerships and still must handle the entire closing process—sales rep, closer and finance manager.