Negotiation tactics to help you get the best car deals

Michelle Lim
18 Apr 2018

Negotiation tactics to help you get the best car deals

Negotiation happens all the time: be it buying a new car, buying a used car, or heading to the workshop for servicing and maintenance. It is always good to know a thing or two on negotiation tactics and you won’t know when it will come in handy!

Before you start negotiating, you must first know what you would like to achieve from that entire episode. Are you looking at a short-term or once off huge discount? Or a long-term lasting relationship with the authorised dealer? For instance, even though low-balling would give you the best deal if the other individual is agreeable, but in the long run this may have caused a strain in the relationship.

Depending on your intentions, you will also have to pre-plan tactics and strategies in consideration of your goal. Here are 5 tactics that you can consider the next time you purchase a new or used car!

1. Reciprocity

Sometimes, when you have purchased X number of cars from an authorised dealer and have recommended multiple clients to your salesman, he may be obliged to return you the favour. In this case, the long-term relationship built with your salesman is extremely valuable.

Otherwise, receiving a recommendation from your friend or relative may also give you an upper-hand as the relationship forged by your friend or relative with the salesman puts him in a position to offer you the best deals.

Do also note that this favour may not necessarily just be a discount or freebies, sometimes it may also be truthful advice and opinion from a knowledgeable expert in the field. That too, can go a long way (especially if you are purchasing your first car).

2. Social Proof 

This tactic can only be used if you have done sufficient homework prior to the meeting. One will need to know what are the industry-standard practices in purchasing a new car, or a used car. For instance, new cars usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty for any defects or flaws over a certain period of time. Local authorised dealers will also provide extended coverage.

Cycle & Carriage offers engine warranty for an extended 5 years, totaling it to 10 years for Mitsubishi and Kia.

Since these warranties differ from each other, it is also wise to check and double-check on the warranty that they offer so that you can ask the appropriate privileges.

Sometimes, it is also still possible to ask for free service credits and complimentary accessories from your salesman. These are some freebies that your salesman will be able to throw in after getting that big fat commission from selling the car to you!

3. Scarcity

This technique of scarcity can only be used if you are looking at that one last car in the showroom before the new batch arrives, or if you don’t mind getting the car that the dealer has been using to provide prospective customers with a test drive. While these cars usually do not have discernible differences than the brand new vehicles, you could ask for a greater discount.

Do also check the manufacturing year of the car that you are purchasing. If the car has been manufactured many months ago, you may be able to ask for a discount. 

4. Good Cop / Bad Cop

This tactic can be used when you go car shopping with your spouse. Most negotiators work in a team, and this good cop / bad cop strategy is when two individuals in a team play opposing roles. The bad cop is the one who is excessively unreasonable or aggressive in the negotiation while the good cop often helps to calm the bad cop and tries to collaborate with the other party. In such scenarios, the good cop is trying to appeal to the car dealers using emotions. 

Then again, do note that most car dealers have been through it all and they are experienced enough to control their emotional states and not give in to the good cop / bad cop strategy. They may also attempt to play along and bring in their own version of the bad cop (usually their demanding boss) into the negotiation. But, like most Singaporeans often say, “no harm trying right?”

5. Shills

Unlike the previous strategies, this negotiation tactic is one that you’ll need to learn to snuff out! Shills are items that are utilised as a bait to lure customers. It is extremely popular in many industries. For instance, a discount that is given with a tight time frame may be used as a bait to get customers to put in a deposit, compelling them to make a quick decision. 

Although some of these shills are indeed great deals, if you miss the dates just by a few days, don’t hesitate to ask for a match!

Don’t forget to also do your homework such as knowing the prices of the cars, the latest promotions, and the latest COE. With these 5 tactics and doing your homework, you are now better armed when entering negotiations to get the best deals. 

Finally, purchasing a car does not just end once you drive your new ride home, you’ll probably still need to maintain a good relationship with your car dealer for future warranty claims or ask for help in terms of servicing and maintenance. These tactics are but just a guide, do also look out for non-verbal clues in which you should draw back your demands to avoid conflicts.

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