How To Survive a Car Dealership: The Personal Car Shopper

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Intimidated By Car Sales Reps? Working With A Personal Car Shopper Empowers Car Buyers

Car Salesman;   Photo: Upgradedmedia

Doesn’t inspire confidence, does he? Because of the perception of the car sales process, many buyers are opting to work with a personal car shopper. Photo: Upgraded Media

Negotiating for a car can be painful, but it many people believe that is the only way to get a good deal on a car. But is this true?

From  a guy’s perspective, it’s all gamesmanship: We’re ready to do battle with the sales reps and tell everyone all about our experience. At least, that’s what I thought until it was time to buy my last car. Then I set aside ego and macho attitude, and talked to a personal car shopper. 

Saving Time AND Money

On a $38,550 deal, he saved me $8,500. I walked out of the dealership in under an hour with a new car for $30,050. That price includes interest cost on a five year loan and the fee paid to the shopper. I never knew that interest rates were negotiable; my shopper got the dealer finance agency to drop an original 9.25 percent offer to 2.9 percent for the life of the loan.
What I learned from Brian Sinuk, chief ‘carsultant’ and owner of, Scottsdale, AZ, is that as a guy I was among the minority. “Most of my clients are women,” he said. “And a few smart men. Most men think they know how to play the game, but I can tell you from 20 years in the business, they don’t really.”
Sinuk told me that women seem to value their time more than men when it comes to buying a car. One of his clients, Rebecca from Phoenix, said that the last time in a dealership was “the worst experience I’ve ever had. I vowed never to do it again,” she says. “We were held hostage for nearly six hours.”

Sidestepping Car Sales Reps

Leeann Shattuck, The Car Chick

LeeAnn Shattuck, the Car Chick, goes to bat for consumers to help them buy a car

There are many horror stories—and a lot of the stories come from any number of women who have ventured alone into the realm of the car sales rep. Others just want an alternative of getting into that situation. “I never wanted to deal with a car salesman,” Cheryl told me. “[The personal car shopper] handled everything for me. We never even talked to a sales person.” She bought her car using a shopper, and her husband was so impressed, he bought his that way too.

When it comes to buying a car, it’s time to do the research: Type of car, budget, model, make, options, color, and dealing with the trade-in. A lot of resources are available on the Internet, but none really ready us for what happens when we enter the world of the dealership.
“Sometimes, it’s information overload. Women spend more time researching cars than men.” I’m on the phone with LeeAnn Shattuck, CEO of, Fort Mill, SC, and host of “America’s Garage Sale” radio show. “It’s like trying on too many wedding dresses.”

Different Personal Car Shoppers

LeeAnn and Brian are both car shoppers for clients. Mike Rabkin, president of From Car to Finish, Rockville, MD, is a negotiator. The three of them represent different approaches to a sale. “The buyer should love her car!” LeeAnn enthuses. “She [or he] should love the experience of picking it out, getting it delivered and driving around.”
You take your best friend, your mom, and a stack of magazines for a big purchase, like a wedding dress. So when you are shopping for an even bigger purchase, a new car, bring along someone who can help: a personal car shopper.

Car Shopping

Need a new car? Whether shopping for a new car or a used car we recommend using our car shopping service

Tire Shopping

Need new tires? We recommend Tire Rack

Car Repair

Need to get your car repaired? We recommend Repair Pal. Exclusively just for Girls Guide to Cars readers, call (877) 323-1708 to speak to RepairPal Car Genius for FREE automotive repair advice and if needed to find the right shop for you!

An Arizona-based journalist, business and travel writer, Eric writes about building, environmental, health and technology in addition to travel... More about Eric Jay Toll