The biggest issue is that many dealers don’t give their Internet department personnel enough autonomy to set prices, negotiate deals or handle finance and accessories. You’ll end up having to negotiate with a manager anyway. At others, the Internet people just set appointments for you to meet a regular salesperson.
Many of the smaller dealers I work with give a dual role to their Internet manager, having him or her also handle fleet business. In my experience, the prices they quote aren’t as good as I can get dealing directly with the sales manager. But these folk are often more forthright than the normal sales people, giving straightforward answers on pricing and layering on less bull.
One of the best uses of an Internet department is to get written price quotes via email or fax, so you only visit the dealers likely to offer the best deal. Some Internet departments do handle most everything. Some questions from you via email (make a template of what you want to ask) will help you determine what kind you’re dealing with. Here’s what you need to know.
- Who is authorized to negotiate pricing and make final decisions?
- Who bids any trade-in?
- Who handles financing?
- Do you deal only with them, or will you still need to meet with a sales or finance manager to complete the deal?
Based on the answers you receive, you’ll know whether you’re talking to a glorified salesperson or someone who can actually make a deal. You can determine whether to continue with this dealership and you’ll have a preview of how they’re likely to treat you if you go in person.