Buying a car isn’t rocket science, but it can certainly feel overwhelming and confusing. There are some easy things you can do, though, to make the process easier and more pleasant. It may seem simple and, perhaps, even unnecessary, but making an appointment at a dealership can save a ton of time and aggravation when buying a car, because it gets the entire process off to a more controlled, professional start.
Now, this assumes you’ve done some online research beforehand. Of course, you’re reading this on Autotrader, so maybe that goes without saying. Either way, identify what cars you want to consider. This could broadly mean a year/make/model, a more specific trim or color or even an exact in-stock vehicle (make sure to note its vehicle identification or stock number).
Next, we generally suggest calling the dealer and asking for the internet manager. You should be able to make an appointment with them to check out the car(s) in question. Don’t be surprised on your arrival if the manager has someone else show you the car. It’s perfectly normal for the manager to delegate to a salesperson or product specialist (increasingly common).
This process is already far more controlled than just walking onto a lot and waiting for a random salesperson to eventually come up to you. Now, here’s where it saves you time.
By letting the dealer know what car(s) you want to see, you’re giving them the opportunity ahead of time to find the car, bring it out of inventory and clean it up. This process can often, quite understandably, take a very long time. A dealer can have hundreds of cars spread throughout multiple lots or one colossal one. Making an appointment should therefore eliminate your wait time and lets the dealer find the car at their own pace.
Of course, this also provides an opportunity to assess the dealer’s professionalism. Were they ready for your arrival? Was your requested car, especially if it’s a specific used car, prepped and ready to go? Were you greeted with respect and professionalism? If it wasn’t and you weren’t, it’s a pretty good sign you should buy a car somewhere else.
There are other time-related advantages, too. Making an appointment gives you the opportunity to better schedule your test-driving day and hopefully cut down on the amount of time between test drives (makes comparisons between cars much easier). Plus, multiple appointments give you a legitimate, honest out should you finish your time at the dealer and just want to leave. You probably should leave, since taking time to think about your big purchase and conduct some internet price shopping is always a good idea.
Go ahead, make an appointment. Sometimes, the smallest things can really make the biggest difference.