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Despite the grim sales numbers we all see these days, I recently bought a new car. And… it was a good experience overall, quick and pleasant. (I wish I didn't have the bank note, but other than that!) As a consumer who also works with the automotive industry, I've been thinking about what made this a good experience to share a recent customer perspective with dealers. I think what made it positive was all relatively simple and what we read about every day. But I also know that most people I know don’t consider buying a car a pleasant experience, so I'll share my story just to get the message out there again.
To begin with, I (like the vast majority of automotive consumers) did a few weeks of online research through Edmonds and other sites, so I knew the make and model I wanted: a 2008 Mazda Speed 3 (zoom, zoom!).
What Made My Car Buying Experience Positive
1. The dealership was easy to find online. When I searched for "Mazda" "My Town," they had top organic search rankings and were also listed at the top of the Google map business listing.
2. Their online inventory was easy to search. Their site also had live chat, which I used to get fast answers to a couple of questions I had, such as: Is the Mazda Speed 3 available with a sunroof? Is black the only interior color available? It was very fast and helpful!
3. The physical dealership was clean, bright and modern, with fun colors and furniture, even in the offices. It felt very comfortable and a little exciting.*
*(I have been in some very depressing looking dealerships before, and I can tell you that the environment did not make me want to buy a car-- I just wanted to get out of there!)
4. At the dealership, friendly staff members greeted us immediately without being intrusive. I was with my husband and we had decided ahead of time that I would do most of the talking because I have worked with dealers. The main salesperson we worked with, Matthew, was perceptive and directed most of the communication to me, while being polite to my husband. We took a test drive and loved the vehicle. We got an estimate, which was competitive, but the APR offered on the loan was way too high. (My husband and I both have outstanding credit scores.)
5. Matthew said he would find out if any lower rates were available and follow up via email. He sent me a lower rate the next morning. It still wasn't low enough, however, so we talked about it on the phone. I let him know that we really wanted the car, but the interest rate was a deal breaker. (Because the vehicle price offered was competitive, the finance rate was of the most concern to us.) Again, he said he would see what he could do. He researched other finance offerings and finally came back with a rate that was low enough. We went in that afternoon and bought the car.
The whole process was really pretty fast and easy. I would (and have already) highly recommend the dealership and the sales person. And I would purchase another vehicle from the dealership. Isn't that the name of the game?