There’s so much more to buying a car than the actual purchase itself. Researching all the models, finding the right car for your lifestyle and sorting out aftercare can be overwhelming, whether you’re buying your first or your fifth car.
So, we decided to get some answers from the real experts in the business – our product consultants! We asked Gerry Queen, Senior Product Consultant (working in sales for 13 years), Lee Gray, Product Consultant for 3 years, and Harry Cunningham, New Car Product Consultant for 10 years, about the questions customers most frequently ask, their main concerns and what tips they would give them.
Q: What’s the first thing a customer asks you?
GQ: In my experience, the first thing a customer asks is: ‘What’s the best deal I can get?’ It’s quite understandable as we all have bills to pay and need to look after our families. The days are gone when customers and salespeople negotiated for hours to get the price as low as possible, because right now, especially with Best Deal Guarantee, we do give them the best bargain straight away, without any hassle.
LG: I would agree that the financial aspect is the customer’s first concern. Everyone is budgeting for their monthly payment and customers always ask whether they can get finance, and how. They want to know whether the monthly payment is going to be lower or higher than what they are currently paying. The APR is also important and one of the reasons we have so many happy customers is because our rate is really good.
HC: I also get asked about the difference between PCP and hire purchase. Of course, people want to know if they can afford a certain car before they even start to imagine driving it! The difference is simple – with PCP, you can either buy the car, return or exchange it at the end of the contract, whereas with hire purchase you own the car at the end of it. The main difference is usually with the monthly installments – with hire purchase, they tend to be higher.
Q: What are the most popular questions you’re asked?
GQ: I think the number of previous owners comes up quite often, but customers have this pre-conceived notion that the more owners a car has had, the worse its condition is going to be. This really isn’t the case because the number of owners can be irrelevant if the car’s condition is really good. Often, the cars have one registered owner – Arnold Clark Automobiles. This means that we can give the customer a really good price for a car that only has delivery mileage and is brand new.
LG: My clients also ask the same questions and I agree with Gerry that the number of owners doesn’t really matter as long as the car is in good condition.
HC: As I sell new cars, previous owners aren’t a concern, but customers do tend to come to the branch with the wrong information and confusion about diesel and petrol engines. Most of them ask about their road tax, and in an attempt to save money on that they go for a diesel car, which isn’t the best idea. I always try to learn as much as possible about their average car usage in terms of mileage, car size, etc. and then I advise as appropriate. I also try to battle misconceptions about petrol and diesel engines and accommodate the customer’s needs when they’re choosing which engine they should go with.
Q: Do customers know what car they want?
GQ: I usually get two types of customers – people who know the car inside out, and people who don’t particularly know what they want. I think with both types of customers, a salesperson’s knowledge is crucial. For the first customers, I advise them to keep an open mind, because although they might think they know what car they want, it might not be the only car that’s right for them. With the second group, I take time to explain everything they might want to know about the car. I understand that’s a really big purchase and I want them to be as informed as possible before they buy.
HC: Sometimes, customers walk in the branch and they know exactly what car they want. But I always ask them why they want that car, and that helps them reflect on whether the thing they want is so important. For instance, I had a customer who had a really big car but wanted to go for a much smaller one to save money. We went through why they wanted the small car and I explained that a small car doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheaper to run. My biggest concern was the drastic change in car sizes, which I feared would make the car less enjoyable and practical for the customer. Eventually, I found them a good deal on a Dacia that wasn’t as small but was still cheap to run.
Q: Are the car’s specs very important to the customer?
LG: They are, but it all depends on the person’s needs and their day-to-day life. Usually, people will know what they want, but if they don’t, I’m there to help with whatever I can. Also, there’s a lot of information on our website about each model.
HC: Our product geniuses are very good at talking the customer through all the car specs – they also send a video through our Your Car Preview system so that the person can watch it all in their own time and decide if it’s the right car for them.
Q: Do customers often get in touch after the sale is finished?
GQ: We’re the ones who get in touch, actually! A few days after the sale is done, I give the customer a quick call to see if everything is okay with the new car. People sometimes ask me about when are they getting their V5 and other paperwork if it was delayed for some reason. Also, there’s the odd question about how to put the sat nav on or another spec-related query. It’s completely normal to forget how something works because we do give the customer a lot of information at the handover. This is why post-sale communication is very important.
LG: I rarely get questions to be honest, but when I do, it’s to do with the finance of the car – for example, when the first payment is due. I explain that it won’t be for another month or six weeks after purchasing and people are relieved! If there are any issues with the car, I always put them in touch with our Service department, which is here at the branch, so that’s very handy. Most of all, I try to make sure that the customer has all the necessary information about taxing, finance conditions, service history and fuel consumption before they leave.
HC: I like to keep in touch with customers and I try to help with any issues they might have – but they’re usually quite content with everything. Our product geniuses here at the branch are brilliant and they always manage to help the customer if they have forgotten something – they can just pop into the branch and ask if they can be shown how this or that works again.
Q: What’s the top tip you would give to future customers?
GQ: A lot of customers are concerned about being able to part-exchange their car at a later time, so I would advise them to always keep the car clean, tidy and in good condition to get the best price for it. Some of our competitors over-inflate the price of a car when they’re evaluating it to lure the customer in and then decrease it drastically – but this strategy doesn’t apply to us. The price you see is the price you get, but you should make sure you look after your car! This makes the process a lot easier for both the customer and us.
LG: I agree, and I would also add that before you come into the branch, have a think about what car suits your lifestyle, family, commute and personal needs. We’re always here to help with any advice as we have lots of experience with cars, so when we work together we can find your best car at the right price!
HC: I would tell the customers to always take a test drive. That’s a brilliant way to get a real feel of the car and see if you’ll enjoy driving it. We have tailor-made test drives here at Hillington, and the length of the test drive can be prolonged to match the customer’s preference – some people need a bit more time to ‘feel’ the car and decide if it’s for them.
Have a question of your own? Just ask us below!