If you’re a first-time car buyer, terrible at negotiating, get anxiety about the whole process, or just super busy, hiring a personal car shopper may be a great idea for you, and in the end, it can save you anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars on your next car purchase.
There are two main ways that personal car shopping services operate. They either charge you to find the car, or they charge the seller to find the buyer. Either service finds you the car you want and can save you money.
Charlie Giacobbe, owner of Sales Logistics DBA, started a personal car shopping service in August, 2008 after working in the auto industry for more than 30 years. As a previous car salesman and sales manager, Charlie knows exactly how to negotiate a sale on a car.
Giacobbe’s service helps car buyers through the shopping process in many different ways, from advice to doing almost the entire deal for them.
Giacobbe says that since 80 percent of car shoppers use the Internet to research the cars they are thinking about buying, they already know the current incentives and rebates on the cars.
"The majority of savings come in on the perceived value of a trade," he says. "Setting the price of the trade-in is a profit center for the dealer."
"I take no fee from the dealer," he says. "That would be a conflict of interest. The dealer always asks what’s in it for me. I tell them, ‘getting my client a good deal’. If the client doesn’t save at least two times my fee, they probably wouldn’t be happy."
Giacobbe says he has saved his clients several hundred to several thousand of dollars on their car purchases.
"The amount a client can save depends on the type of vehicle," he says. "They save more money on the trade-in value, because that’s mainly an opinion. Will the dealer sell the trade-in as wholesale or retail? Knowing this helps me going in. What can the dealer sell it for off the lot?"
Joey Bouknight, owner of The Automotive Advisor, also runs a personal car shopping service, but is more of a matchmaker, similar to a realtor. Bouknight started his service in 2000, after previously working as a car salesman himself.
Bouknight says that his company works with credit unions in the area and although most of his clients come from referrals from previous clients, he has received a lot of business from the credit unions.
"Although the client doesn’t pay my fee, I want to do the right thing because I want them to come back," he says. "If I come in too high, I could lose a customer. I charge the seller a fee for putting the deal together for them."
Bouknight also has the ability to go to auction to find cars for his clients. Since you have to be licensed to do this, he works with dealers in his area to buy cars at auction. If he finds the car at auction, he then has the car go through a post-sale and pre-delivery inspection.
"I send my clients profiles on the cars they are considering," he says. "I won’t send them the information if I’m not lower. I pre-negotiate the cars’ price before giving the information to my client. I also advise them on the cars’ reliability and color choice for resale value. I have them get pre-approved for financing beforehand so I know what the customer’s budget is. Some pay with cash though."
So if you hate car shopping, are bad at negotiating, or just don’t have time to find a car, a personal car shopper may be a good idea for you and could possibly save you a lot of money on your next vehicle purchase.