We women have a reputation for our love of shopping. For men shopping is a chore, whereas we like to stroll through clothing collections and detour through the designer shoe department; in short, men buy, women shop.
Yet when it comes to buying a new car many women feel dissatisfied. Research suggest that 65 to 80% of car buying, servicing and maintenance decisions are made by women.
So why do female car-buyers consistently complain that they feel uncomfortable in car dealerships and believe that they are not taken seriously?
To ensure you can confidently stride into a car showroom, we have 10 tips for women on getting the best car deal.
1. Do your Research.
The first step when preparing to buy a car is taking the time to thoroughly research your options and needs. Sales people love to persuade buyers, especially women, that they really need the optional surround sound system for €1,200, the electronic logbook for €600 or the voice control system for a mere €600. Understand what extras are available and what features are standard on the trim line that suits your budget, work out what you need in advance and you can resist their persuasive offers. Amber Johnson, from Carlow visited seven dealerships recently looking for a new car. “You don’t need to know all about engines and things, you just need to know what’s right for you,” says Amber. “Make a list of the things you need, cars you want to test and go in feeling confident,” she advises.
2. Leave the Man at Home.
If you need a second opinion bring a female friend. I have lost count of the number of times that women tell me once inside a dealership, if they are with a male they are far more likely to be ignored. According to Keely Deane, an automotive professional; “If I have had my husband with me they automatically talk to him and assume I am interested in the pretty stuff or storage in the car”.
3. Choose the right time.
If you’re looking to get information on a car or talk about a deal, but you aren’t quite ready to buy, a weekday afternoon is a great time to go visit a dealership. You’ll get more personal attention than you would on a busy weekend. Laura Murtagh, from Kildare advises going in to a dealership first thing in the morning.
“I had a chance to look at the car with no salesmen around, as it was 8am,” Says Laura. “I took some brochures home and went back a few weeks later myself to buy – armed with all the information I needed”.
4. Focus on Price, not payments.
When it comes to buying always negotiate the total price rather than a monthly repayment. Often monthly or weekly repayments can conceal an expensive deal. Also you’ll need to factor in running costs, insurance cover, warranties and breakdown cover – so don’t overstretch yourself and ask the dealer about any hidden fees or costs.
5. Keep your options open.
Always give the impression that you are still undecided. Find a similar car and price to the car you are interested in and tell the dealer you will be checking out the price and extras offered on that one at another dealership nearby.
6. Think about colour.
Car colour may be all some salespeople believe that women care about but it is an important consideration. When you come to sell the vehicle on, bright yellow isn’t as easily sold as silver so your choice of colour will have an impact on it’s resale capability.
Don’t be afraid to haggle before making any car purchase and agreeing on a finance deal. Obviously the more money you are spending on the car the greater the scope for manoeuvring. If you can’t secure a discount then don’t under estimate the value of some free optional extras instead.
8. Ask the right questions.
You may want to consider a service package when purchasing a new car, but you need to be sure that you will get full value from it and be aware of the kilometre and age parameters that may apply.
9. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal.
Women regularly recount stories of being ignored in dealerships, from failing to get the information they’ve asked for or simply not feeling comfortable that they are getting a good deal. If this is your experience then walk away.
10. Remember there also are good sales experiences.
Jackie Harrington, bought a Kia Picanto last year and recently returned to the garage for the first service. “I saw the guy that had sold me my car and he talked to me like it was only yesterday,” says Jackie. “That kind of personal touch really does go a long way”.
A version of this article by the author first appeared in the Sunday Independent
25th July, 2016