The drumbeat of progress in the business world has always been about disruption, and displacement. Out with the old and in with the new. It is unstoppable. The introduction of the low priced, mass produced, Model T Ford in 1908 is a classic example. It disrupted the transportation market and displaced the horse drawn carriage as the primary mode of transportation.
Recently, the internet has been the catalyst of disruption in most markets, displacing old methods of commerce with newer, more efficient and transparent business models. The retail automobile market is no exception to this trend. The manner by which a dealer now markets automobiles to the consumer has been changed forever.
Today, anybody with a smart phone is able to learn the cost and current selling price of any car in less than 30 minutes. Before ever stepping foot on the dealer's lot, the savvy customer can know, exactly how much of her hard earned cash she will need to part with to own the car of her dreams. But what about the trade in vehicle? Is there anything this same consumer can do before visiting the showroom to prepare herself for a smooth and fair transaction with a trade? There certainly is! And knowing the trade-in value alone is not enough. You'll need to know a thing or two about dealer negotiation strategies too. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to successfully navigate the transaction so that it works for both you and the dealer.
You have most likely heard, more than once, that the purchase of a new car and the sale of your old car (the trade-in) are really two transactions and should remain separate from one another. But what does that mean exactly? It means that these are the two items that you should discuss with the dealer individually, before you have any discussions about financing the new vehicle or purchasing an extended warranty. But that method of negotiation works against the dealer because he is forced to lay all of his cards on the table up front and he will try to resist doing so. If you forget this, the dealer will control the flow of the negotiation process and the trade-in price you receive for your old car will be cloaked in the mystery of the transaction itself. The dealer will attempt to find a way to shift the conversation away from the purchase price of the new car and the price of the trade and gravitate toward a monthly payment for the new vehicle. By negotiating in this manner, the dealer is often times able to pay less than market value for the trade and increase his profit on the transaction. If you stay focused, you will be able to stop this tactic in its' tracks
The Four Square
All car dealers use a standard work order or sales sheet to negotiate a vehicle purchase. It is know as the four square or by many other names. In reality, it is simply a worksheet that contains all 4 of the primary elements of an automobile purchase. The four main elements (hence the name) are; the selling price of the new vehicle, the value paid for the trade in, the down payment for the purchase of the new vehicle and the monthly payments of the new vehicle. While all 4 squares or elements are important, ultimately for many consumers the monthly payment is the most important square closely followed by the down payment (the dealer knows this). By moving the focus of the negotiation to the payment square, the customer loses focus on the trade and pays the greatest amount of attention to the monthly payment. This can be a very expensive mistake on the part of the customer since it allows the dealer to focus on the payment amount while ignoring the value of the trade!
The Difference Price
As a consumer, you will want to change the focus of the discussion to what is known in the industry as the difference price; or the cash payment required for the new car when the trade in has been subtracted from the price of the new vehicle. It is a rather straight forward and simple mathematical equation. You do your homework before you visit the dealer so you know the purchase price for the car of your dreams. Then, ask the salesperson to give you an out the door (OTD) price for the new vehicle which includes tax license and registration fees. Once this number is plainly in sight, you then ask the salesperson to buy your vehicle from you. The salesperson has been trained to learn if there is a trade in before you ever get to this point. It is up to you to let the salesperson know in no uncertain terms that you might want to keep your old car and are simply interested at this point in learning the total cost of the new car. You then negotiate and reach an agreeable amount for your trade in and then subtract that amount from the OTD price of the new car. In some states the trade is subtracted from the price of the new car before tax and license fees are calculated. If that is the case in your state, work with a difference price without tax and license included or you will end up getting less for the trade in as the tax was originally calculated on the higher selling price rather than the lower difference price!
The salesperson has been trained to move your focus away from the difference price and back to the monthly payment by pointing out that the monthly payment is the most important number to you if you are financing the new vehicle. He will tell you that difference price negotiations are reserved for cash buyers. Be prepared to walk out and find another dealer to work with if your salesperson insists on discussing only monthly payments with you.
Every square of the four square worksheet can be negotiated independently and the monthly payment is the final square for you to attend to after purchase price, trade price and down payment. Keep in mind that you do not have to actually write a check for the difference to be able to negotiate from this vantage point although the salesperson will try very hard to convince you otherwise and move you to the negotiating strategy that is better for him.
Selling a car, van or truck on your own is a slow and demanding process. It is realistic to allow yourself 4 weeks to complete the sale. By following the suggestions listed below, you will be better able to negotiate a fair price for you car when you do locate a buyer.
Questions to Ponder
These are just a few of the many questions you will need to answer if you are going to be a successful DIY Seller. Be prepared for lots of phone calls, missed appointments, tire kickers and lowball offers. Be brutally honest with yourself because selling a vehicle is not for the faint of heart.
If you would rather skip the drama, Get a Quote to Sell Your Car Today
Give your car some curb appeal!
Selling a car is competitive. There are literally hundreds of similar vehicles for sale at any time in your market. If you want to compete, you want your car to stand out from the others. Buyers will look at many cars before making a decision. If your vehicle does not rise above the crowd you will only be able to compete on price. Why bother at all if you are just going to end up selling the vehicle for about the same price as we will pay you today?
Get a Quote to Sell Your Car Today
Pricing a car for sale is part art and part science. The science is easy to master by following the suggestions listed below. The art of pricing a vehicle comes with practice and common sense. Some factors that influence the pricing of a vehicle are esoteric and others such as pricing a convertible in the winter are more practical. Use common sense and you will do just fine.
Be prepared to negotiate the price with your buyer. Everybody wants to think that they are getting a "good deal" and nobody pays asking price when it comes to automobile sales. Regardless of the price you choose, the market is going to tell you if it is a fair price. The market does not care what you think. If you pick an asking price, advertise it in the online classifieds and find that nobody calls, you will know that the price is too high. Listen to the sounds of the market and above all stay flexible!
Is this process starting to sound like a time vampire?
Sales Strategies to Consider
You will want to be creative with your marketing strategies. Gone are the days when you could buy a classified ad in the Sunday paper and wait for the phone to ring. Today's car buyers have the entire world at their finger tips. Keep it simple, keep it local and keep it upbeat when your phone finally rings! On the other hand, you might have decided that the whole DIY process is more than you care to tackle.
Why not Get a Quote to Sell Your Car Today
Effective Showings of Your Vehicle
After spending days or even weeks locating a buyer your attention will turn to the form of payment you are willing to accept for the vehicle. This is usually dictated by the value of the car being sold. Let's take a look at the options and the challenges faced with each payment method.
Each state establishes their own regulations surrounding a vehicle sale. Be sure to check with the department of motor vehicles (DMV) before you sell your vehicle.
The Federal Odometer Act requires the disclosure of your vehicle's mileage. Your state may require additional disclosures. In some states, the license plates are transferred with the car and in others they stay with the seller.
You should furnish a release of liability statement to your buyer and keep a copy for your records. It's also a good idea to keep a bill of sale for the transaction.
The title (when present) is signed by the seller and given to the buyer. In some states, the signatures of the buyer and seller will need to be notarized -another good reason to close the sale at a bank. A new title will be issued and mailed to the new owner.
In many states, both the seller and the buyer have additional responsibilities during and after the transfer of a vehicle. Contact your local DMV field office to learn of the requirements in your state.
To avoid all of these aggravations Get a Quote to Sell Your Car Today
In most states, the sale of a used car is considered "as is" and no warranty is provided or implied. The old adage "buyer beware-caveat emptor" applies. Therefore if you sell a car and it breaks in half the buyer will own both halves. You are under no obligation to repair the vehicle.
That is not to say you are protected if you purposely conceal or lie about the condition of the vehicle. Be honest about the condition of the car before the sale and give the buyer an opportunity to obtain their own professional inspection.
As with most things in life, be fair, be honest and do the right thing. Our advice here is provided for your own personal use and to aid you in deciding if you want to undertake a DIY sale of a used car. It is not intended to provide you with legal advice. If you feel you need legal advice about the sale of your vehicle, you should seek it from from competent professionals in the jurisdiction where you reside.
If you have read this far, you are determined and just might be successful with a DIY sale of your car. None the less, you may still want to consider getting a free quote to sell your car. You might be surprised how simple it is to Sell Your Car Today!
When it comes to the value of a used vehicle, there are many factors that will play a role in determining how much someone is going to pay you for your used car. Some factors are beyond your control, but, many items influencing the value of your vehicle are squarely on your shoulders.
Age and Mileage: Typical mileage on a vehicle ranges between 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year. Any more than that and you are going to see a significant reduction in the price the market is willing to pay you for your used car. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to sell a high mileage vehicle. It simply means that the vehicle will have to be priced significantly lower than an identical vehicle with lower miles in order to gain interest from shoppers. Here's some good news for sellers of high mileage, late model, luxury vehicles. Some buyers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford your model will consider the high mileage vehicle because it is now affordable for them.
Condition: The condition of your vehicle may be the single most important factor that will determine the price a buyer is going to offer you for the car. It is extremely important that your vehicle is impeccably clean and maintained. The tires should have 50% or more tread on them. They should all be the same brand (avoid cheap brands) and the wheels should be clean and complete. All scheduled maintenance should be completed, any broken or chipped glass repaired, all warning lights extinguished, any needed body repairs completed and the interior should be clean and absent of odors and stains. Anything less than near perfect and the buyer will automatically start discounting their offer heavily. Either your price compensates the buyer for the inconvenience of repairs you should perform or they will buy another vehicle.
Accidents: Nearly every buyer today is aware of CarFax and AutoCheck reports that reveal a high percentage of all accidents sustained by a vehicle. They are not 100% accurate and many times a simple parking lot ding that was turned in as an insurance claim will bear the same warning as a high speed collision on a freeway with dual airbag deployment. Yes, we know it’s not fair but it doesn’t change the fact that they are present and pervasive. As a seller, you need to be aware of them and adjust your price accordingly. If you are trying to sell a late model truck with a negative report for the same price as another identical truck in your market, you are in for a rude awakening. Simply deal with it and adjust the price accordingly. You will be much happier and in the end, sell your vehicle much quicker than if you try to ignore this market fact. If your vehicle title carries a salvage, rebuilt or other similar notation, be prepared to discount your vehicle as much as 50% below the value of a similar vehicle without this notation.
Vehicle Use History: CarFax and AutoCheck reports also reveal if your vehicle was used for commercial purposes such as a rental car or taxi, used by a government agency such as police, fire or military. These factors also play a role in determining how much the market will pay you for your used car. The discount you enjoyed when you purchased your used vehicle as a former rental etc. will now get passed on to the next owner. Just be prepared and price your vehicle accordingly. Many states also require the title to carry a notation of this type of former usage and state laws may require you to disclose the use to a prospective buyer.
Supply & Demand: This simple concept is often misunderstood by both buyers and sellers. In the “real world” with “all other things being equal”, supply always equals demand at the market clearing price. Translated into English, it simply means that when you place the correct price on your vehicle, it will sell quickly. Learn how to determine the value of your car here. You will find some notion of supply and demand entering into most of the factors listed here. It’s that important! Many folks assume that a quick sale means you priced your vehicle too low but that could not be further from the truth. You may have to test the market a bit in order to find the correct price (market clearing price) for your vehicle but this has never been easier to do in the history of the world. Today’s technology and access to information provides both buyers and sellers with the tools needed to properly price anything for sale including an automobile. Some factors to be aware of, especially if you are selling a late model vehicle include; rebates and special financing incentives. These factors will pull buyers out of the used car market and into the new car market thus lowering the price you will realize for your vehicle. Economists call this shift in buyer attitude a shift in the demand curve. Nothing has happened to the supply of used “Brand X” (insert your car here) automobiles up for sale. Simply stated there are fewer buyers looking for used Brand X vehicles due to the incentives, therefore Brand X sellers will have to lower their price in order to sell their vehicle.
Style: If your vehicle is a 4 door convertible, most likely there are fewer buyers than if it was a 2 door convertible. The same holds true for 2WD trucks in snowy regions of the country and minivans with seating for 5 instead of the standard 7 or 8 passengers. Being different may do wonders for your personal sense of well being but does little for you when it comes time to sell a used vehicle. When it comes to selling just about anything, being boring and normal will find more buyers than flamboyance. A factor completely out of your control occurs when the manufacturer of your vehicle completely revamps the styling of the vehicle the year after you bought your car. You will be punished particularly hard (in most instances) the newer the vehicle you are selling. Sometimes the manufacturer reads the market incorrectly as in Old Coke vs. New Coke but don’t count on that to bail you out most of the time.
Equipment: Certain factors are givens in the vehicle marketplace and equipment is an area where this creed is particularly true. If you own a vehicle with different equipment than the market is expecting on a vehicle of your type, be prepared to adjust the price accordingly. An example would be a ¾ ton pickup with a regular cab, short bed and 6 cylinder stick shift. That truck may be your definition of ideal but falls short of most used truck buyers’ expectations of a serviceable vehicle. You can sell the truck but the price will need to be adjusted accordingly to find a buyer!
Accessories: This particular factor influencing value is the most misunderstood in the industry. It stems from the fact that when you customize your truck to suit your lifestyle, be prepared for most buyers to disagree with your idea of luxury or necessity. A classic example is the truck with the $6,000 custom stereo and $8,000 lift package. Quite simply, most truck buyers want a truck for a specific purpose and do not want to pay for your luxuries that they do not want or need. Point in fact; many buyers will avoid this customized vehicle due to increased insurance costs and greater probability that a thief will target the vehicle.
Season or Region: Most folks are familiar with the notion of white shoes after Labor Day (maybe not but keep reading to become familiar). There are certain things in life that one should not do. One of those would be trying to sell your Corvette convertible on December 1st in the northeast or midwest regions of the country. Like white shoes, convertibles aren’t used during the winter months. For most buyers they are second cars, toys or luxuries. Very few buyers are looking to purchase a depreciating asset in December that they aren’t going to be able to use until after the Spring Thaw. There are fewer buyers at certain times of year for certain types of vehicles. Try to avoid selling a seasonal vehicle off season or you will end up feeling like Macy’s with a huge clearance sale on your hands. Ouch!
Color: According to vehicle paint giant PPG Industries, white was the leading color on new vehicles sold in North America in 2014. With 22 percent of cars painted white, followed by black (18 percent), gray (16 percent) and silver (15 percent) there wasn’t much room left for the other colors in the rainbow. In fact, only 29% of new cars sold last year were not one of the top 4. You may be in love with your two tone teal and gold car with the bold red pinstripes. And, we are not here to begrudge you this luxury. But, just don’t expect the market to agree with your sense of fashion and intrigue. If nobody is calling, the price is too high! Adjust accordingly.
According to the most recent Auto Trader Automotive Buyer Influence Study, the average buyer spends 15.5 hours shopping online before completing a vehicle purchase. By the time they are ready to make a purchase, they know the year, make, model, miles and price they will have to pay for the vehicle they plan to purchase. If you expect to be successful with the sale of your used car you must possess the same information as the buyer and be prepared to use it to your advantage by pricing your vehicle right in the sweet spot of the market.
If your used car has been listed with any of the popular online classified services for more than one week and you are not receiving legitimate inquiries from buyers, then the asking price is most likely set too high. The invisible hand of the market is delivering a slap of common sense to you right now!
Vehicle pricing in the used car marketplace is driven by the supply and demand for a given model. Another less known factor known as substitution plays a vital role in determining the selling price of your used vehicle. You must consider not only how many Toyota Camrys are currently available but also any other reliable mid sized sedan that will substitute for the car you are selling. These models might include; Honda Accords, Hyundai Sonatas, Nissan Altimas, Ford Fusions, Mazda6s, Chrysler 200s, Subaru Legacys, Buick Regals, Chevy Malibus, Volkswagen Passats and Kia Optimas. Most buyers will start their buying process by considering many vehicles in a given category before zeroing in on a specific model. They are not as brand loyal as a new car buyer. When the buyer is unseccessful locating their first choice, they will substitute another model that meets their personal pricing and driving objective.
If you plan to sell your car any time soon, you should learn something from the lesson the market has delivered. Sometimes it is not just the price that is limiting the number of inquiries you receive. Correcting any of the 4 situations described below should help you achieve that goal.
Improperly Priced Cars do not Sell: If your car is listed for sale on a classified website or even with a for sale sign in the window, your goal should be to sell the vehicle. I talk to hundreds of people selling their vehicles every week and I always get a kick out of folks who tell me that they are going to test the market. I sometimes wonder what that means to them. Are they too lazy to do the homework necessary to determine the selling price for their vehicle or are they hoping for a miracle? Miracles happen in Hollywood in such classics as Miracle on 34th Street. I’ve never seen one in automobile sales.
If it has been a week and you have not received a single call on your listing then you have a problem with your price. A car buyer moves through 4 distinct phases that culminates with a purchase. During the early, discovery phase, shoppers who are just starting to look around and forming opinions about which models to target will call and ask questions such as: “Did you like it?” “Would you buy it again?” If you aren’t getting calls with these types of questions, then the price is way out of range with the market. Learn how to price your used car
Improper or Limited Photos: You need photos to sell a car! It’s true they tell a thousand words! More important than the number of photos is the types of photos shown. You need to show the vehicle from every angle. If there are problems with the vehicle, especially cosmetic problems you need to show them. A buyer is not going to waste their time calling on a listing that lacks essential information. Damage to a vehicle is subjective. Something you have lived with for many years may be a deal breaker to your potential buyer. When you describe damage to your vehicle, you need to show the damage with a photograph.
Missing Information: As simple as this may seem, I am always amazed by the number of people that do not include a complete list of even the most basic items with an online advertisement. Humans are constantly forming subconscious opinions about everything we encounter. Right or wrong this is how our brain works. Whenever I encounter an ad with missing information, I form an opinion that the seller is sloppy or lazy and perhaps treated the item being sold in that manner. I don’t even consider their item and move right on to the next listing!
Undisclosed Problems: The price of a vehicle is primarily determined by the year, make, model, equipment, mileage and condition. The market does not care if it is all freeway miles or was only driven by a little old lady on her way to church and the grocery store.
You may be able to get your phone to ring and even have folks schedule appointments to see your vehicle by leaving out essential information. But, you are wasting everybody’s time including your own when you do that. Horses are not wishes. Buyers are going to learn about all of the warts and flaws with your used car when they show up to look at it. They are not going to fall in love with it and pay you too much money for your problems.
In fact, you are delaying the sale of your vehicle when you market it in this manner. Buyers who would consider a vehicle in your vehicle’s condition have passed it over because it is priced to high for their budget. Buyers looking at vehicles in the price range you have chosen are expecting more than they will find upon inspection. They will be angry, perhaps confrontational and will leave in a hurry. I’ve been there as the aggravated buyer discovering undisclosed flaws and would never consider purchasing from that dishonest person-I am left wondering what else they haven’t told me about or are hiding from me.
Selling a vehicle is not rocket science. You have to do your homework by starting out as a buyer would. Research the market; learn what substitute vehicles are selling for as well as the price of your model. Prepare an ad with proper pictures, description, and pertinent information. Above all else; disclose, disclose, disclose. HAPPY SELLING!
Your vehicle is worth whatever somebody will pay you for it!
Like it or not, it's true. The answer is not a flip response to the question, but the only answer possible until you know the buyer group that you choose to buy your vehicle. Your first goal should be to determine which buyer group you are targeting and then to rephrase the question so that it includes your target buyer group.
Your vehicle is valued differently by the three primary groups who buy used cars. Let's take a look at the three different groups of buyers, how to market your vehicle to each group and the amount of time and effort required if you are to realize the best sale price to each group. Generally speaking, the higher the value you are seeking for your automobile, the more time, energy and aggravation you will need to expend to reach your desired outcome.
Once you know the buyer group you are willing to target, you can turn to the question of how much cash you should expect from a sale of the vehicle and how to determine that value.
The 3 primary groups of buyers of used vehicles include: retail auto dealers, private parties and wholesale auto dealers. First, we'll take a look at the difference between the groups and then turn to the expected sale price for each group.
Retail Auto Dealers
Wholesale Auto Dealers
Private Party Buyer
Whether you are selling privately, trading in to a dealer, selling to a wholesale buyer or just plain curious about what your car is worth, it is important to know how to get an accurate valuation. Fortunately, there is no shortage of websites devoted to providing this information. As you will see later in this post, there is a great deal of variation in the pricing that comes from each of the sites listed below. This is partly due to the methodology used by each to produce their pricing models. Keep in mind that most derive a substantial if not lion's share of their revenue from Retail Auto Dealer advertising and paid inclusion in listings on the site. It's best to keep an open mind and do a lot of sleuthing at each site to determine how relevant and accurate their data really is.
When using these sites it's equally important to be as accurate as possible about the condition of your vehicle. Otherwise, you are walking away with an unrealistic valuation for your vehicle and you will expend a great deal of energy and aggravation trying to sell your car for an unrealistic price.
In no particular order of importance some of the more popular sites include: Edmund's TrueMarketValue, Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com powered by Black Book, RPM's Fair Value and NADAguides Used Car Values. Our personal favorites include Black Book and Edmund's. Our experience has taught us that the prices obtained from these two sites will provide you with the most relevant pricing data.
Pricing Models Put to the Test
We decided to test drive the 5 sites listed above to learn how they compared to each other in terms of valuing a popular used car. For our test, we chose a 2010 Honda Accord LX Model 4DR 4 Cylinder Automatic with no extra equipment and 60,000 miles in a white color. We used the zip code of our office location which is 94607 and we conducted our survey on May 12, 2015. Here's what we learned.
Understanding the Price
Regardless of the websites you use to appraise your vehicle, you will be given some valuable information to help you make an informed decision of which sales method best suits your personal lifestyle and temperament. If you visit all 5 listed above, a very clear picture of your used vehicle's valuation will begin to emerge. With a clear and honest assessment of your vehicle's condition and a range of prices such as those shown above, a clear path to selling your old car will begin to emerge.
When you know the buyer group you are going to target and are equipped with a realistic understanding of what it takes to market your vehicle to each of the three groups, you will be able to know the answer to the question; "What's my car Worth?"
It's Easy To Be Real
Getting a realistic valuation for your used car is key to what you do next. Whether you choose to sell to a private party, trade it in, sell to a wholesale dealer or even keeping it for a while longer, having knowledge gives you the power to make the intelligent choice for your personal situation. By being honest about your vehicle's condition, you'll have a clear-eyed assessment of your car's real worth, not a number based on guesswork and high hopes.
Whenever people get together in an occupation, hobby or other field of interest, they form a vocabulary unique to that field. This vocabulary is referred to as slang or jargon. Like any other subculture, their shared language serves to separate them from the rest of society, to unite them and to announce to one another that they belong.
If you are a baseball fan, you will be familiar with an announcer describing a play as a routine 4-6-3 Double Play. This play begins as a ground ball to the second baseman (4) who throws to the shortstop (6) covering second base who then throws the ball to the first baseman (3) for the second out. If you are a newcomer to the game, you will be unfamiliar with what the announcer has just told you. You are an outsider and the jargon used reinforces your feelings of being on the outside.
With this post, I hope to bring you inside the world of the automobile sales profession, to help you gain an understanding of just what the heck is being discussed the next time you buy an automobile. Let's peel back the curtain and take a look under the hood.
This post, Part 2, covers the Sales Department and Part 1 highlights the slang of the Finance Department
Up: A customer visiting a dealership. Derived from the system used by salespeople to designate the next in line to speak with a customer; Who's up next?
Third Baseman: Person accompanying a customer to a dealership. Usually more experienced in negotiating a deal. There to assist the buyer.
Baby Sitter: Sometimes refers to a third baseman. Other times used to designate a co-signer to a buyer with limited credit.
Pipe Smoker: Other names include engineer and college professor. A thorough customer who wants all available technical information before making a decision to purchase a particular vehicle.
Tire Kicker: A shopper who just wants to look and touch, usually untethered to a salesperson. Sometimes referred to as a Looky Lou.
Flake: A customer with bad credit who is usually incapable of obtaining a loan on a vehicle purchase.
Be Back: A customer who is making a return visit to a dealership. These customers typically leave the first time by stating: "I'll be back".
Be Back Bus: The mythical bus that drives returning shoppers to a dealership to buy vehicles.
Bird Dog: A person who refers customers to a particular salesperson for a referral fee. Bird dogging is an illegal activity in many states.
Grape: An easy customer who pays full price with little or no resistance.
Lay Down: Similar to a grape. A lay down will usually pay full price and purchase anything offered to them.
Grinder: Customer who is never happy with the deal they have negotiated. They fight every step of the way and as they get into their new vehicle to leave the dealership, they ask for a full tank of fuel.
Clown: A customer who has not done any research on models or pricing and has no intention of purchasing in the near future but will gladly waste a salesperson's time.
The Sales Rookies
Green Pea: This is the newest of all salespeople. How long someone stays in green pea status is a function of the culture of the dealership where they work and how quickly they exhibit ambition and skill towards selling vehicles.
Liner: This person is typically a green pea. Their primary job is to land a customer on a particular vehicle take them for a test drive and get them to commit to buying it today. They are typically too inexperienced to guide the deal through to a close and will hand-off the customer to a TO Man once they obtain a commitment from the customer.
Shadow: This person is the greenest of the green peas. They are brand new to the business and are often derided for being unable to close a door with two handles. Typically relegated to moving cars and shagging lunches, they literally shadow a more senior green pea while they learn the ropes.
Lot Lizard: This is the group of green peas who spend their days hanging out in the front of a dealership, on the lot, waiting, hoping, for a customer, most typically a grape or a lay down to pull in or jump off of the be back bus.
The Experienced Folks
Closer: This is the most experienced and most fearless salesperson at the dealership. They are know for their ability to close a deal.
Hammer: This person is the Black Belt Closer. Typically the hammer is brought in when all other attempts to close a deal have failed.
TO: Turn Over. The act of transferring a customer from a green pea to another green pea (uncommitted customer) or a closer (customer committed to buy today).
TO Man: The name given to the person who takes a turn from a green pea. Sometimes a green pea who has exhibited a degree of success and is being groomed for a closers role at the store will take turns from more inexperienced green peas to see if they are able to get a customer commitment.
Turn: The act of transferring a customer from one salesperson to another.
Flip: A synonym for a turn.
Touch Base: In a dealership with a tight customer control system, green peas are required to check in with more senior salespeople before allowing a customer to walk. They touch base or check with someone to get help with gaining a customer commitment to purchase a vehicle.
Walk: Allowing a customer to leave a dealership is usually reserved for more senior salespeople.
The Sales Manager
Pencil: Working the deal. The closer brings an offer to the desk and the desk man writes a counter offer on the 4 Square. They don't usually use a pencil but will typically use bright red and green markers to respond to the customer offer. Penciling the deal is another way of saying they are working a deal.
Desk: Literally the place where car deals are worked. Every aspect of the deal is controlled by and goes through the desk including trade-pricing, finance terms and payments.
Desk Man: The desk man is the most senior person in the sales department. Depending on the size of the dealership there can be one or many desk men. Sometimes they are referred to as Sales Manager, General Sales Manager or even General Manager in smaller rural dealerships.
Tower: Some dealerships, particularly larger urban stores will install a desk that is above the sales floor and behind glass so that the desk man can see everything happening on the lot and the sales floor but be able to speak privately with the closers as they discuss strategy.
Bricks: The pavement outside the sales offices. When a desk man has exhausted every possibility in making a car deal with a customer, they can sometimes be heard to tell the closer, in a loud and frustrated voice, "Tell that clown to hit the bricks."
Full Bore: A vehicle sold for full asking price with no discounts given.
Home Run: A deal that is very profitable for the dealer.
Laid Away: When a customer pays more than they should for a vehicle they are said to be laid away.
Bump: Increase the price that the customer will pay for a vehicle. If a deal is unattractive or unprofitable to the dealer, the desk will tell the closer that they need to bump the price higher.
Switch: Move a customer from a vehicle that they want to purchase to one that they are able to afford. Sometimes an inexperienced green pea will commit a customer to a vehicle that they can not afford or are unwilling to pay for. When that happens, the closer must switch the customer to one that they can afford.
Low Ball: Give an unrealistic price to a customer who is not buying today and has given an indication that they intend to shop the dealer's price. When the customer looks around, they are unable to find a better price and returns to the dealer only to learn that the price was indeed an illusion.
High Ball: Similar to a low ball except that the high ball is too much offered for the trade-in.
Buried: When the loan balance on a trade-in exceeds the ACV of the trade, the customer is said to be buried.
Back of Book: An offer for a trade-in vehicle that is below ACV. A vehicle that is in below average condition. An ugly vehicle.
Book Value: Typically used to mean Kelley Blue Book value but could be a generic statement about value in general.
ACV: Actual Cash Value. The price a dealer is willing to pay for your car outright even if you do not purchase a vehicle from them.
Upside Down: Phrase is used when the payoff amount on a vehicle loan is greater than the ACV for that vehicle.
4 Square: Worksheet used by dealers to gain customer commitment on a vehicle purchase. The worksheet literally contains 4 squares and each square represents one of 4 main components of a car deal: purchase price, trade-in value, down payment and monthly payment.
Selling a vehicle with an existing lien is not difficult but it does add an additional step or two to the process. It’s best to know the ins and outs of this type of transaction before you get started with any sale. Most importantly, you’ll want to avoid the 5 common mistakes listed below!
The first step in preparing yourself for the sale of a vehicle with an existing loan balance is to contact the lender and speak with an agent. Ask her to provide a 10 day payoff. 10 days is the standard length of time quoted in payoffs because it takes time to locate a buyer and get the payment to the lender. Ask the lender’s agent for the payment types accepted, how they prefer to receive payment, the necessary paperwork required and if they hold a physical title or an electronic title.
Armed with the 10 day payoff, compare the outstanding loan balance to the expected sale value of your used vehicle. Learn how to properly price your vehicle. If you owe more than a realistic sale price for the vehicle (negative equity), you’ll want to carefully consider your options. At this stage, it’s critical to avoid a situation where emotions cloud your marketing strategy. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a situation where the payoff becomes the tail wagging the dog! The outstanding loan balance on your vehicle is not the market value of your vehicle. If you owe more than the car is currently worth, you are either going to come out of pocket with the difference or delay selling the car until the opposite is true.
5 Mistakes to Avoid
Allowing a dealer to roll the negative equity into a new car loan: If your credit is strong and you have a good amount of income, a new car dealer will find a way to sell you a new car. They may “offer” to pay off your existing loan and can even make it appear on paper that they have paid you the full amount of the outstanding loan balance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your car’s value to a dealer is lower than it is to a private party. They might be able to make you feel good about the transaction and even have you believing that you are making the right decision. But is this really in your best interest? Most likely it is not. A new vehicle depreciates as much as 30% in the first year. If you owe more on your current vehicle than the private party value it is because you bought it when you could not afford it and are now trying to do the same thing again. A year from now the new vehicle loan balance will be further away from its’ market value than your current vehicle. Of course there are always exceptions to any rule. Try to avoid this situation most of the time but go into it with very open eyes if your personal situation dictates buying a new vehicle as a necessity.
Assuming that a trade-in is your only sales option: Owing money on a vehicle is a common situation. As many as 60% of new cars leave dealer inventory with a loan. Just because you have a lien on your car does not mean you have to trade it to a dealer. You will always sell a car for more cash if you sell it privately than if you trade it to a dealer. It will take a little longer and will require a bit of effort if you sell it yourself but your patience and determination will be rewarded.
Offering to let someone take over payments: Automobile loans all carry a due on sale clause. Taking over a loan payment or a lease payment is an urban legend that originated in the days of assumable mortgage loans on real estate. You might be able to “fool” your bank by letting someone else make the payments on your loan but the obligation still belongs to you as does the need for you to insure the vehicle. In fact, the person taking over the loan would not be able to obtain an insurance policy since they do not have an insurable interest (don’t legally own the vehicle). If someone wants the car, they will need to obtain their own loan or pay you cash.
Accepting a cashier's check for payment: If someone gives you a fraudulent or stolen form of payment for your vehicle and you turn it over to the lender or pay the loan balance with personal funds, you are the person who is left holding the bag. The lender is not going to release the lien and relinquish the title until the payment has completely cleared.
Releasing the title without first paying off the loan: Many states (New York and Michigan are two) record a lien on the title and then send the title to the registered owner (you). A common fraudulent scheme in these states is to give the seller a fraudulent form of payment and ask for the title to the vehicle. They leave with the vehicle and the title never to be seen again. They continue the fraud when they forge a lien release and obtain a new title so that they can then resell the vehicle to an unsuspecting third party.
We buy cars from private parties nationwide. We never meet our sellers in person and commonly purchase vehicles with outstanding loan balances. One method we employ to protect ourselves is processing the entire transaction through the escrow company, Escrow.com. You too can use them when selling a vehicle. The protection you receive is well worth the additional cost of the transaction!