Special Report: Should you hire someone to buy your next car?
You go to a realtor to buy a house, a broker to buy stock, why not have a professional on your side when you buy a car? That's the idea behind Car Concierge, a new business that is helping people in SE Wisconsin get the car they want, for the best price possible.
Katy Matelski thinks so. Matelski says she was in the market for a new car late last year and had settled on a 2017 Honda CRV. But when she went to a dealership, she says that salespeople were high pressure, and they focused on her father, even though she was making the final purchasing decision. "It was like I was invisible," she said, "We realized after we left the first dealership that the salesman never even told me his name."
A second dealership got the same treatment-- that Matelski describes as sexist. "It was such a frustrating experience that I was just about to give up," she said.
But a friend referred Matelski to a professional car buyer. Andrew Guthmiller has ten years of experience at an auto dealer. "I was that closer guy," Guthmiller said, "So when you say 'I don't want to buy today,' I would say 'what's it going to take to put a car deal together?'"
Guthmiller calls his company "Car Concierge."
For a fee of $500, Guthmiller will negotiate your financing rate, the price of your trade-in, and the purchase price of your car. Guthmiller says he pits dealers in the buyer's area against each other. "I'll make sure you get the car you want for the absolute best deal," he said.
In Matelski's case, Car Concierge had the loan, trade-in, and new car price worked out in about two weeks. "All I had to do was walk in and sign the paperwork," she said. And Matelski was thrilled with the results, she said Guthmiller negotiated so well, she could afford a 2018 model at a steep discount. "In total, I saved about $5,000 off the price that was quoted me for the 2017," she said.
Jim Griffin of Griffin Ford in Waukesha can't speak for other car dealers but can say that Matelski would have had a much different experience in one of his showrooms. "Take a look out there", he said, "selling cars at one of our dealerships is fun, I mean it's a good time."
And while Griffin doesn't dispute that Matelski got a good deal on a car, he says the way he prices cars, no chance there would be $5,000 of wiggle room to negotiate. He says his pricing and his service department has a goal of earning a customer for life. "Every new car that's sold, the manufacturer surveys the customer, and all the dealerships score in the mid-90's (satisfaction) scale. When I went to school, that's an A-plus," Griffin said.
One thing Guthmiller admits, if the average person spends enough time, they could probably get the same deals that he does. That's why he focuses on convenience and peace of mind. "I don't focus so much on how much I'm going to save you, I don't want to set any false expectations," he said, "I take care of all the parts of buying a car that you don't want to do yourself."
Katy Matelski didn't do it herself, and can't imagine buying a car any other way. "I will never, ever shop for a car on my own again," she said.