First Dealership Experience: What to Expect

Posted by
Car Dealership/Image Credit: David Mcbee from Pexels

At one time or another most of us will have to go to a car dealership for the first time. Whether you’re absolutely excited or completely dreading this experience, it’s a major step that you should be prepared for. Now if you’re like me, you’ve done your research. Aside from seeing what car would be the best for you, it would sure help to have some confidence to get you through the car-buying process. Maybe it’s how to get the best deal or how to avoid overpaying. Regardless of the matter, the time is coming so here’s what to expect on your first dealership experience.

The first thing to know is that you aren’t alone. I recently bought my first vehicle from a dealer as well! Here are some recommendations based on my own first-hand experience combined with BestRide‘s industry knowledge. We’ll assume you’ve narrowed down the dealer you’ll be heading to and what cars to look at, so what’s next? Pick a date to go and make sure that there will be no other commitments on that date. The average buyer spends 3.6 hours in the dealership and since this is a very big decision, it is best not to rush through it.

The next step would be to check with family or friends to see if they’ll be able to come with on that day. Even better if they’ve already purchased a vehicle from a dealership before. Now I’m not saying you can’t do this on your own but going to a dealership for your first time can already be overwhelming so having someone with you can be helpful. One last thing you need to keep in mind are the documents you’ll need if you decide to go through with the transaction such as your form of payment, driver’s license, proof of income, proof of residence, proof of insurance as well as the title and registration for any vehicle you are trading in.

Shaking Hands/Image Credit: Gustavo Fring from Pexels

So, the date has come and it’s time to physically go to the dealership. You know what you want, your budget and how much you’re willing to compromise. Go walk around and take a look at the vehicles they have on their lot and showroom! If you can, try to find one of the vehicles you’re interested in. Pictures and seeing it in person are completely different ball games. Is it what you expected? Is it a different size than what you thought? Do you even actually like the vehicle in person? Keep those questions in mind and answer them for yourself. Before long, a member of the sales staff will come up to you and make conversation. Essentially, they’re going to ask you why you’re at the dealership that day. Tell them what you’re interested in and they’ll show you the options that they have. Take your time when looking at these vehicles, ask questions and most importantly, take a test drive. A vehicle is a commitment, and you want to be sure that you like what you have for the time that you’ll have it.

Assuming the test drive went well, you’ll go inside and work on the numbers. The most important part of this negotiation is to be firm but flexible. Make it clear what amount you’d want to pay while also having a number in mind that you’ll be willing to take if you have to compromise. This is also where qualification for financing will occur should that be the route you’re taking. If there is a trade-in vehicle involved, have them inspect it so they can include that for the negotiation. Remember to also let them know if you’ll be making a down payment for your new vehicle so it’s factored in as well. With these things included, the deal that they propose will be more accurate.

Once you do get the dealership’s proposal, know that it is not final. There is still some wiggle room even if it’s only a little bit so try to see if they’ll be able to give you a better deal. Remember, stay firm but be flexible. If you’re given numbers that you are not comfortable with, walk away and don’t be rude about it either. Simply say, “I want to think through this for a little bit and explore my other options. Thank you.” That’s it. At this point, something may happen that might vary with each experience or dealership. Your salesperson might tell you to wait a few minutes before you leave, and they’ll show up with another person. More than likely, this other person is a manager and they’re going to make one last attempt to make a deal. Remember what numbers you were comfortable with because if the dealership didn’t budge before, they might budge now. Like I said before if there’s anything you’re not on board with, walk away.

Holding Keys/Image Credit: Negative Space from Pexels

If a deal is proposed that you are happy with, then it’s time for the next step. There may be a couple of documents that you’re asked to sign and after you do, it’s time to wait for the financing team. While you are waiting, the vehicle that you are purchasing might be cleaned and prepared so that you are able to drive home with it. In the finance office, you’ll go through the details of your contract as well as hear pitches about additional coverage you might want. It’s completely alright to deny these but ultimately it is up to you whether they’ll be worth it or not. If everything goes well, you’ll show them any required documents and sign some documents so that you can be on your way. The overall time for this process may vary but after everything is in order, you will be good to go! Should your vehicle be ready to be driven home, you’ll be taken to it in order to transfer your belongings. Your salesperson will also go more in-depth with your new vehicle so feel free to ask any other questions that you may have. When you’re comfortable and ready to go, your next steps are up to you!

Now that you know what to expect, you should have all the confidence you need to get through your first new car buying experience. If you show up confident and prepared, I’m sure that you’ll drive away just as happy as I did recently. And if you’re still looking for the right dealership and your BestRide, you can begin your search here.

Adrien Perucho

Adrien Perucho

Born in the Philippines and moving to Massachusetts at the young age of 8 years old, Adrien has gathered a multitude of life experiences from which to draw inspiration. In 2020, he graduated from Arizona State University’s Digital Culture program and found work in automotive marketing later that year. One day his talents will afford him the luxury of driving a new Porsche 911.