Category Archives: Dealerships

How to Buy a New Car

Buying a new car is a little like a game show. Choose the right door and you win your prize — a sweet deal on a good car. Choose the wrong door and you’ll lose money and hate the shopping experience. Navigating the car-buying process has never been easier, thanks to the transparency created by the internet.

Before we go into detail, here’s an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to buy a new car:

  1. Set your budget. Decide how much you can spend, what your monthly payment should be, and how you will finance your new car.
  2. Choose the right car. Narrow the field and choose the model that best serves your needs.
  3. Check reliability and ownership costs. Choose a reliable car that is inexpensive to own, even if it costs a bit more to buy.
  4. Test-drive the car. Test-drive your top choices to see which car is right for you.
  5. Locate your car. Cast a wide net by searching dealership inventories online.
  6. Find the right price. Use pricing guides to see what other people are paying for the car you like.
  7. Get dealer quotes. Contact several dealerships and ask for the best price.
  8. Maximize trade-in value. If you trade in your old car, figure out how to get the most for it.
  9. Seal the deal. Review the contract and sign documents.

With that road map, let’s get started. (If it isn’t a new car you want after all, check out guide on how to buy a used car.)

Set your budget

Start by deciding if you want to pay cash, take out a loan, or lease your new car. Paying cash makes your budgeting process pretty simple, but don’t spend all your savings. And remember that you will also have to pay sales tax, registration and insurance. Use the Nerdwallet auto loan calculator to figure out the right monthly payment and down payment.

Most people take out a car loan or, increasingly, opt for leasing a vehicle. It’s smart to get preapproved for a car loan because it simplifies the buying process and puts you in a stronger position at the dealership. Later, you’ll see how having a preapproved loan fits into the process.

Choose the right car

Now the fun begins — picking the right car for you. Think about how you plan to use this car. For example, if you have a family, you’ll want enough room for everyone plus ample cargo space. If safety is a top priority, check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for crash tests.

Narrow the field by making a list of must-have features. Then, search for models with the car finder tool found on some automotive sites. Filter your search according to your budget and desired features. As you move forward, list three target models to research in more detail.

Check reliability and ownership costs

You want to make sure to choose models not only for their dependability but also for their low cost of ownership. Consumer Reports and J.D. Power collect maintenance reports from owners and rate all cars for reliability.

A closely related issue is the total cost of ownership. Some cars are cheap to buy, but will cost a lot in the long run because of insurance, maintenance, repairs and depreciation. Several automotive websites — such as Kelley Blue Book’s Five-Year Cost to Own or Consumer Reports’ Cost of Vehicle Ownership — show estimates of these expenses. It may be wiser to shell out a bit more money upfront when buying a car. 

Test-drive the car

Ideally, you want to test-drive all the cars you’re interested in buying in quick succession so that the impressions will be fresh in your mind for comparison. Consider setting aside a morning or afternoon for the process, and, if possible, do it mid-week when the dealership isn’t too busy.

Rather than just walking on to the car lot, call ahead and schedule an appointment with the internet sales manager. That way, the right model will be pulled out and ready to go.

Select a test-drive route that has a bit of everything: hills, rough pavements, curves and even a stretch of highway.

Locate your car

Maybe one of the cars you tested meets your needs and is the right color. If not, you will have to search local dealerships until you find the right car.

Nearly all dealerships list their entire inventory online. But if you’re searching for an unusual color or option combination, you can use sites that cover an entire region — or even the whole country. Many new cars are listed on sites such as Autotrader.com or CarGuru.com. Manufacturer websites might also allow you to search a broader area rather than individual dealerships. Keep widening your search area until you find exactly the car you want.

Find the right price

Pricing guides, such as Kelley Blue Book, allow you to cut to the chase and find out what other people in your area are paying for the car you want. On the website, accurately input all the options you want and, in some cases, even the color, since all those factors affect the car’s price.

Make sure to see what, if any, incentives and rebates are available for the car you want. Most manufacturer websites list current offers, which usually change each month.

Get dealer quotes

Requesting dealer quotes by email can take the stress out of negotiating. You can ask for a price quote by emailing the dealership through its website. Or, to save time, use a third-party site such as Truecar.com to request quotes from multiple dealerships simultaneously. Compare the seller’s asking price to the average market price you determined through the pricing guides. Chances are, the seller is asking more than the market average.

If you negotiate in person, here are a few tips to use on the car lot:

  • Don’t be a monthly payment buyer. If you have a preapproved loan, you’re a cash buyer and you should negotiate the price of the car, not the size of the monthly payment.
  • Be unpredictable. Don’t let a salesman leave you trapped in a sales office while he “goes to talk with his boss.” Instead, roam around the showroom or go get a cup of coffee.
  • Negotiate slowly and repeat the numbers you hear. It’s easy to get confused, so go slow and even write down the numbers thrown at you. Make sure you know whether you’re talking about the “out-the-door” price, which includes all taxes and fees, or just the sale price of the car.
  • Ask about fees before saying yes to a deal. Some dealers may include bogus fees to recoup the profit they lose while negotiating. Ask for a breakdown of additional fees before you agree to any deal.
  • Be ready to walk. If you aren’t making progress toward a deal, or you don’t like the way you’re being treated, just walk out. No goodbyes are necessary.

Maximize trade-in value

A lot of people like to trade in their old car so they can resolve all their car-buying hassles at the same time. But this could be a costly choice. While trading in a vehicle is convenient, dealers usually may try to low-ball customers and only pay the wholesale price. To see how much that is, go online to a pricing guide, look up your car and compare the trade-in price (what you would receive) to dealer-retail (what the dealer will try to sell it for).

Often, the difference can be $3,000. For example, Edmunds.com’s True Market Value used-car pricing shows that for a 2013 Honda Accord EX, the difference between trade-in and dealer-retail is $3,100.

New trade-in options are available, such as selling the vehicle to CarMax. Or, you can sell it to a private party.  At the very least, look up the trade-in price of your car and negotiate the highest possible price for it.

Seal the deal

If you are negotiating via email or phone, ask to have the car delivered to you rather than picking it up at the dealership. It’s quick and stress-free.

But most people go to the dealership to sign papers in person. Even if you have a preapproved loan to pay for the car, the dealership’s finance manager may offer to beat the terms of the loan. It doesn’t hurt to see if he or she can get a better interest rate. Just make sure all the other terms of the loan are the same.

Before the contract is drawn up, the finance manager may also try to sell you additional products and services. Buying an extended car warranty at the right price can provide peace of mind. But check first to see how much warranty is included with the price of your new car. Most new cars have a bumper-to-bumper warranty covering at least three years and 36,000 miles, along with a powertrain warranty that typically lasts up to 75,000 miles. The powertrain warranty covers all the parts that make the car driveable, such as the engine, transmission and suspension.

Take your time reviewing the contract and don’t let yourself be pressured into signing just to get it over with. The contract will include the agreed-on sales price and these additional figures:

  • State sales tax. This is a percentage of the cost of the car.
  • Documentation fee. As crazy as it sounds, the dealership actually charges you for filling out the contract. This “doc fee” is capped in some states. In states such as Florida, some dealerships charge as much as $700 for doc fees.
  • Registration fees. A dealer has the ability to register the car for you, which is convenient.

Some dealerships might include additional fees, of which some may be bogus. It’s tricky to know what’s legit and what’s included just to boost their profit. If the dealer’s finance manager can’t explain a fee in the contract to your satisfaction, ask to have it removed.

How to Choose the Right Auto Dealer Software for Your Dealership

The automotive industry is at the heights of its “electric” revolution with new technology adoption and innovations like electric vehicles (EV). According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance:

  • EV revolution is set to take off by 2022 forming a major chunk of transportation
  • EVs will constitute 35 percent of global car sales by 2040

Based on these stats, the automotive industry is embracing new technological changes. But is your auto dealership still stuck with traditional paper and pencil approach to handle your customer and deal with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and franchises? Is your auto dealership finding it difficult to manage sales inventory of used and new cars? Excel spreadsheets or simple customized accounting programs won’t be enough to manage sales and customers of your auto dealership. What you need is auto dealership software.

Read this article to find out how an auto dealer software can help you grow your vehicle dealership business based on its benefits, features, pricing, and some examples of the software listed on GetApp’s auto dealer software directory.

Let’s start with defining an auto dealer management software.

What is auto dealer software?

Auto dealer management software automates and streamlines some of the redundant tasks that vehicle dealers face in their daily back-end office to front-end business. These tasks can be listed as follows:

  • Track financial accounts related to invoicing and ledger;
  • Manage inventory of used and unused vehicles;
  • Generate customized reports related to accident history and credit reports;
  • Optimize cost of vehicle repairs.

These are just some of the tasks that auto dealer software can help you automate. If you are a part of a sales team and office administration at an auto dealership, using auto dealer software will help you manage tasks much more efficiently. Most auto dealer software solutions also integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) and sales applications to offer you more scope in managing sales and customers separately.

Does my business really need an auto dealer software?

In 2016, the sales of vehicles in the US marginally increased to 17.55 million units, powered by record sales of SUVs. However, vehicle sales slumped by the end of 2016 and recorded a further decline in the first two quarters of 2017.

Industry analysts largely blame this slump in vehicle sales figure due to rising interest rate, increased tariffs, and political uncertainties, which means that your auto dealership could be in for a rough ride in 2017.

So, how do you maintain robust sales figures in these stormy waters? Auto dealer software solutions can help streamline your auto dealership business to enhance sales, manage customer relationships, and franchise locations. Here are some benefits of auto dealer software that can help you boost vehicle sales:

  • Improve marketing: Auto dealership marketing software such as Marketing 360 can help small business broaden their customer base and increase vehicle sales volume. Auto dealership management software streamlines marketing tasks such as managing campaigns for the sales of used and new vehicle on social media, which can be monitored through a user-friendly dashboard and analytical tools.
  • Accelerate your CRM: ELEAD1ONE is auto dealer CRM software that helps you manage customers through multiple communication channels like phone, email, text messaging, and social media to log customer queries and resolve complaints related to vehicle repair and sale of new or used vehicles. Auto dealer software can help your sales rep manage leads by maintaining and tracking communications channels with prospective customers.
  • Simplify backend and frontend: BiT Dealership Software helps you manage work orders, inventory, sales reports, and other back and front-end data that would require you to input data manually. With an auto dealership software, you can maintain customer database that makes entering details of the customer based on their license ID for future communications simpler. The software also sends automatic reminders to customers when their vehicle service is due through SMS text messages.

Is my business ready to implement an auto dealer software?

Before you implement any software in your business the key questions to ask is what are your business challenges and how would an auto dealer software help you resolve those challenges? Some of the questions that you should ask yourself while implementing an auto dealer software are as follows:

  • Do you find it difficult to manage multiple dealer locations? If your car dealership has more than one location or franchises then one of the challenges that you might be facing is coordinating with these franchise outlets. Multiple car dealerships make it a little difficult to share customer information, car servicing, and sales leads. However, a cloud storage solution is usually available in most auto dealer software, so you can centralize your information repository to work collaboratively with other car dealership outlets.
  • Is managing inventory of used and unused vehicle as well as spare parts a key business challenge? Keeping track of your vehicle inventory can be streamlined with auto dealer management software as it provides a listing of the vehicles on your website. All you have to do it update your inventory whenever you receive new or used cars from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or customers. Lastly, car dealer software notifies your service centers when you are running short on spare parts.
  • Do you find it difficult to manage customer database and credit reports? Auto dealer software helps you create custom forms with report builder features and adds extra fields to personalize documents based on customer loan requirements. Simplify the process of giving insurance to customers by reducing paperwork through auto-generated credit reports that are synced to credit loan bureaus such as Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, and others.

What to look for when buying an auto dealer software?

Here are some questions to keep in mind while buying an auto dealer software:

  • Will you go for on-premise software or a cloud-based solution?

Do you have multiple car dealership locations? If your answer is yes, then choose cloud-based auto dealer software because your sales rep throughout your dealerships can view the same data related to CRM, inventory management, and vehicle service records. You can streamline your operations and workforce management through a cloud-based auto dealer management software as your employees can view the same data regardless of location. Opt for an on-premise software if just have a single car dealership and you don’t need any collaboration with other business stakeholders.

  • Will you be able to integrate it with other software that you are already using?

Not all auto dealer software features inventory management, CRM, service repair management, and other essential features that you might need depending on your business requirements. By having auto dealer software that integrates with your software, you will have more options to prepare for unique business needs that may crop up in future.

  • Does the auto dealer software have an iOS and Android app?

The auto dealer software that you select should at least have an iOS or Android app as most customers view latest car deals on the smartphone. Besides you would also like your sales reps or employees to record information while they are at important car dealerships events, such as car auctions which can be managed through smartphone apps.

  • What are the pricing options available?

Auto dealer management software is mostly priced via one-time licenses and subscription-based models. If you want to make a single payment to purchase the software license, go for a one-time license plan. If you are not sure how long you would need auto dealer software, choose subscription-based pricing as you can renew your software license monthly.

What are the essential features of auto dealer software?

While purchasing auto dealer software here are some essential features that you should keep in mind to choose a software based on your business requirements:

Features Description
Regulatory compliance Complies with vehicle ownership and identification regulations based on Office of Foreign Assets Control and Specially Designated Nationals regulations, by automatically cross-checking individuals with criminal records.
Credit checking Synchronizes an auto dealership’s finance department with reports from credit bureaus such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
VIN database records Maintains a database of vehicle identification number (VIN) to add new vehicles to inventory and record sales data as it acts as a unique identification number.
Repair order tracking Manages customer complaints related to vehicle service repairs through repair order tracking feature to maintain a log of services conducted on a vehicle throughout its life-cycle.
Warranty and service Tracks and stores information related to vehicle warranty at the time of sale in a centralized database. Notifies vehicle dealerships when a customer’s vehicle warranty is to expire to extend it further.

What are the examples of a popular auto dealer software?

After getting a brief lowdown of some of the essential features that auto dealer software should have, here are some examples that are used across car dealerships.

DealersLink

DealersLink is solution customized for a dealer-to-dealer wholesale marketplace that has an inventory management feature to help dealers buy and sell used and new vehicles. The software comprises of the following modules:

  • AuctionLink is a free vehicle auction software module that helps vehicle dealers in live bidding, reserved bidding, and generating bidding price reports.
  • LiquidationLink module helps dealers post used vehicles below the wholesale book value price to remove inventory of old vehicles at a suitable price.
  • Dealership Tools module helps vehicle dealers with inventory booking and management, photo management, and vendor consolidation.
  • ExportPro module stores vehicle details related to specifications, pricing, and photos of used and unused vehicles. The module helps automate creates description, marketing content such as stickers and guides, exports vehicle logs and integrates vehicle videos from YouTube and publishes them on the internet. ExportPro is also available for Android and iOS devices.

All these modules are available in separate pricing plans.

Price: The Basic plan is available for $95 per month

ELEAD1ONE

ELEAD1ONE is a customer relationship management (CRM) software primarily designed for car dealerships. The software is custom made to easily integrate with multiple dealership management systems (DMS) and third-party software. To enhance customer channels of communication the software can integrate with phone, text, email, video, and direct mail system software. ELEAD1ONE features a mobile app for Android and iOS platforms to helps sales rep and car dealerships to connect with their customers and record customer data related to their driver’s license and vehicle identification number (VIN), and sales inventory.

Price: Available on request

BiT Dealership Software

BiT Dealership Software is an all-in-one complete solution for vehicle dealerships as the software helps to manage inventory, sales, work orders, lead management, and CRM. BiT Dealer Management Software has separate modules for all types of vehicles such as powersports dealer management system, powersports repair shop system, RV dealership system, OPE dealership system, and marine management solutions.

Price: Starts from $198 per month

3 Important Things To Consider When Choosing A Car Dealer

Owning a car is something you have always wanted; after months and months of saving, you are now ready to hit one of the car dealers in town for your dream car. However, the whole process being something you have never done before, just like any other first-time buyer, you are excited and confused all at the same time. You practically don’t know where to start. To help you find the best deal in town, here are top tips to consider when choosing a car dealer.

Finding the best dealer

What is that you want?

As when you are making any other big purchase, it will make a lot of sense if you know what you want before you see a car dealer. Do a little bit of research on the model of cars you have in mind and get a clear picture of what the cars currently cost. Thankfully, there are some ways you can pull this off. Other than talking to friends who already own cars, there are tons of websites that you can get useful information about cars. Take you PC and take a quick look at these sites for the amount of information you can net will simply blow off your mind. In other cases, knowing the type of car you want to buy can also determine the type of dealer to go for; For example, there are dealers that specialize only on top of the range cars, and they are those that deal with smaller and cheaper cars. So the amount of money you are willing to spend on your car will dictate where to go to.

Experience and reputation of the car dealer

How long has the dealer been in operation? The longer the time the dealer has been in business, the better. An experienced car dealer knows so much about cars, and you can be sure you will get the best. An experienced dealer will be able to advise on which options are best for you. It does not even stop there; buying a car is huge, and a small mishap could cost you a lot of money. For this reason, it will make sense if you know the type of dealer you are doing business with. Reputation is king, and you may want to check their track record before you buy the car. What are some of their previous customers saying? In the end, make sure you go to a reputable car dealer in town if you don’t want to get into problems later on. It is as simple as that.