Saturday, April 4, 2009

Isn’t my Lancer Beautiful?

The Story
I had completed my undergrad and been employed for a few months when it struck me, “Time to buy a new Car!” I had a lot of fun looking and did a fair amount of research. I finally found a Mitsubishi Lancer that I was interested at Barber Brothers, a dealership about 100 miles south of where I was living. I made some phone calls, felt like I was promised a good price on the car, and made the trip down so I could drive home in my new Lancer.

When it came time to sign the dotted-line, there was $500 in discounts I had been promised that were not included in the contract. It was about 9:00 pm and the manager really wanted to go home—he had actually been fairly antagonistic to during the time I had spent there looking at the vehicle. After informing him something had been forgotten and that I had visited in anticipation of it being included, he told me in a very derogatory tone, “He’s [my salesman] is stupid. This is why we have contracts!”

That evening, I returned home without a new vehicle.

In the end, management called me and made some concessions and I got my vehicle that I wanted.

The Takeaways
Not too committed
On page 138, in Getting Past No, William Ury advises that it may be necessary to demonstrate your BATNA. I got lucky—I had not considered a BATNA, but I was not going to let Barber Brothers be this insulting to me. My impatience was not satiated, but my being willing to show power did get me a better deal than that which I initially sought.

I accidentally stumbled upon a good negotiating tactic. One of the reasons we have a BATNA is to keep in mind other options are available; we should not be too committed to seeing the negotiation through. Next time I will have a BATNA that will not allow me to

Look at my power
Fundamentally, there was a huge shift in our negotiation at this point. Barber Brothers was not only trying to get a customer back, they were also trying to do damage control (so hopefully a blog post such as mine showing Barber Brothers Stupidity would not appear). There were three Lancer dealerships between me and Barber Brothers; had I thought about it, I then had a great story that gave me a role of being a willing buyer, but also someone who had better be treated well.

I should have talked to other dealerships, explained what happened, and gauged if they would even more accommodating. I had this new power of being astute buyer but still willing to make a purchase as long as I was treated correctly.

I did use my new power to get some slightly better discounts, but further analysis would have shown many more options to strengthen my BATNA before accepting an offer.

Next Time?
Barring the economy not letting me work, I will be buying my wife a new vehicle in the next six-months. First, we will decide on the vehicle we want, and then do what we can to find a few options for purchase. Every salesman will be forced to listen to this story for five to ten minutes—I want the role of being willing to buy, but having dealerships throw barriers in my way.

I will most certainly have a BATNA setup through this research, and not be locked into wanting one vehicle (I do not want these blinders on again). And I’ll reevaluate often to see if there are more tactics for me to gain a better deal.

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