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Negotiations You Should Have: At the Dealership

Life Hacks

All day long I see stickers, licence plate frames, and other marketing contraband attached to the back of go-mobiles advertising awesome dealerships that have swindled these folks. Yes. Swindled. Every day, they are hocking these dealer’s  names at virgin eyeballs like mine and likely are passing up on an opportunity here. Next time, you start to walk out of your saleman’s office at the dealership, consider a slightly alternate reality:

Dimly lit office. A smug-looking, 40-something is seen watching on as you informally sign a price sheet that you have both agreed on a final price for that new, red beamer you’ve been eyeballing for a year or so.

The dealer stands and extends his hand to shake yours.

“Great! You won’t be disappointed! You’re lucky we have this one on the lot. You saved yourself a nice chunk avoiding those delivery fees.”

The dealer begins to walk toward the door with the price sheet in tow.

“I’ll just take this over to my finance department and see what sort of rate we…”

Still seated and smiling confidently.

“That’s not necessary. I’m paying cash, but speaking of, there is another item I want to discuss with you. I understand you’re interested in arranging some advertising to subsidize my purchase.”

Starts walking back to his desk, looking slightly confused.

“I’m not really sure what you’re talking about.”

Slowly sits down.

As the dealer is sitting, you lean forward to share your excellent offer.

“I’m referring to your dealership’s branding on my car. I drive approximately 25 miles each weekday on the interstate and conservatively estimate 100 unique views during my commute. My driving habits take me over most of the city so you’d be getting great reach for your advertising and I’d be happy to offer you placement for a licence plate frame for $35/mo. That’s  less than two cents for each person staring directly at the back of my car for an average of 1.5 minutes!”

Looking perplexed.

“I would even throw in placement for a your branded emblem for only $15 per month! Consider how much money your dealership pays in billboard advertising and people only get to see that for five, maybe ten seconds, tops!”


“Our emblems come standard on these cars. We’re not going to pay to have them on there.”

Looking the dealer in the eyes. Stone face.

__“Then I expect you to remove them leaving a mint paint job before I’ll accept delivery.”

Raises eyebrows and thinks for a moment.

As you begin to jot your phone number down on the price sheet…

“Feel free to get in touch with me when you’ve decided how you’d like to move forward. I have an appointment with the dealership across town.”

While you may not get what you want, you did a few important things here (aside from challenging the status quo, which you should ALWAYS attempt). Instead of asking the dealer to pay you for advertising, you did a little homework ahead of time to identify the market (how many eyeballs per day), figure out a price that’s competitive, and possibly understand what the competition is doing. What’s that? Competition? Absolutely! If you’re advertising their dealership, you’d be competing against billboards, radio, newspaper, etc.

Ultimately, you know that they are interested in advertising and the fact that a sale is on the line makes it much more likely that they will take your offer seriously. If you can time this sort of negotiation to be at the beginning of the year when they are trying to clear last year’s model off the lots, you will find yourself with a very strong upper-hand. If the conversation continues well, you could even offer to throw in some serious word-of-mouth advertising if they gave you a good break on the price.

Make the benefits clear and outline it to a dealership employee who can make decisions on pricing and I’m certain you could get them to seriously consider another discount on your next new vehicle purchase in exchange for some advertising. Worst case, your car will be free from extraneous ads. That’s a win-win in my book!