A true blue car guy will refer to President’s Day Weekend as Washington’s Birthday. It began a century ago, in good ol’ Massachusetts, with a Cadillac dealer by the name of, Alvan Fuller. He saw an opportunity to promote his dealership by inviting people to a Washington’s Birthday “open house.” His gimmick worked. Alvan soon became the top selling dealer of Cadillac’s in the Country. Naturally, fellow dealer’s followed suit and Washington’s Birthday (now President’s Day) was born.
To me, brain damage is shopping 5 or 6 dealers during President’s Day Weekend in search of some super deal. I was in the car business and I don’t like the thought of trolling around to different stores, so I only imagine how a non car-guy feels. The salesman all greet you with some bullshit line about how this is the best sale of the year, and he can’t believe his manager is taking such crazy deals. So unless, you are the 5% who enjoy spending a weekend playing the negotiating game, here are some tips to get you in and out with some savings in hand.
By waiting for President’s Day, you are simply waiting. You are waiting longer for a salesman, a price and a finance manager. Wait, wait wait. You may also wait longer for good service as the salesman is not too keen on spending time with a “shopper”. They will be looking over their shoulder for a “buyer” to drive on the lot.
Prior to the big weekend, research online and then test drive. Tell the salesman that you are planning on shopping around, and you intend to wait until President’s Day. As I have said before, Car Sales is a TODAY business. If the salesman has any sense (and assuming the manager filled his mouth with some word track in the morning meeting), that little sentence will trigger him to ask you if he can stop your search by giving you a President’s Day price, today. Say yes but tell him you need to be wowed.
The truth is Managers expect to do significant numbers on President’s Day, but a good manager knows that their month will be made by all the days surrounding it. If they let you shop you may not come back, so they will wow you. It might take some conversation , but they will do it. Get the price, say thank you and go home. Back at home call around to one or two of the store’s competitors. Let them know what you are looking at, and the price you were given, tell them that you were thinking of waiting until President’s Day for the “deals” and ask if they could beat it. They will give you a price, most likely it will be lower than what you left the previous store with.
Now I implore you, having been in this situation more than 1,000 times. Allow the dealer you visited, the one who spent time with you, showing you the car and trying to sell it to you, please allow them the opportunity to match or beat the price of their competitor. There is nothing wrong with a dealer trying to make a profit. There are many mouths to feed in that dealership and the money has to come from somewhere. So unless, the salesman was a total slime or the manager was a douche, give them the final shot. They may not like that their profit margin just dropped, but they will appreciate the deal.
Do not be seduced by the shiny extras. Dealers entice buyers by advertising FREE TV’s, gas cards, Navigation Systems, etc. with every purchase. Nothing is free. Some dealers will pack (add onto) the new vehicle the cost of the freebie. Ask the dealer what the price would be if you didn’t take the TV, Navi, Gas Card. Sometimes, not always, it will drop. Then tell them you want the lower price and the gift.
February marks the start of the selling season for car dealers. New models are coming, and they are looking to get rid of any old inventory that they have not been able to move. Yes, you will score a better deal on a “leftover” but that deal is as easily obtained on a basic Tuesday as it is President’s Day. If you are not married to the specifics of your vehicle and are looking more for the deal, then that is your second question when you begin your research. The first question is, “What President’s Day specials are they offering?” Then you ask if they have any demo’s, loaners, old age units they are looking to part with. What you want is the Sale price and the bonus gift. When the dealer tells you special offers can’t be combined, you can dig your heels in and say you want both. As long as the offers are not from the manufacturer (because that is the truth). You want with lowest possible price and the 32 inch television. Trust me they can do it, they just don’t want to.
Do not be hypnotized by the balloons and all the fanfare. Bottom lines are not lower on President’s Day. The only advantage I see is if a manufacturer comes out with a special finance rebate for the weekend, but that is few and far between. You do not have to wait for a great deal. If you want a bottom line price in less time, I say shop now. Remember have fun and if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!