As things have consistently become tougher for all of us this year, cutting costs is on everybody’s agenda and none more so than the car buyer.
Car dealers are warning sales execs to be extra vigilant when appraising customer trade-ins because buyers are trying to save money by doing only the absolute minimum necessary to maintain their current cars and this is definitely having an effect on prices.
One way of looking at it of course is that we in the trade always like to pay top market prices for the cream of the crop. That low mileage, high spec beautiful ‘Alan’ (Motor Trade language is dying out) which has been cared for and immaculately maintained throughout its life. In a tough market, where demand is low and stock is in more plentiful supply, the cars that don’t come up to scratch don’t make good money and in many cases won’t be bought by the trade buyers.
So although you can somewhat understand a customer skipping a service or leaving tyres until they are nearly slick and not attending to the bumper scuff or car park dent, is this really a false economy?
The trade buyers we spoke to across the spectrum of the business confirm that this is absolutely the case. One told us that with many trade buyers all chasing the same kind of stock, the value of an exceptional example of any model will be pushed upwards as a result of having many interested bidders and in some cases by thousands of pounds.
With the likes of Kwik Fit and Halfords making inroads into the franchised aftersales market, buyers are at last having a true choice about who they want to maintain their vehicle but as we have said before (Can non-main dealer servicing be a false economy?) this can also be a false economy when looking at a car re-sale value of a main dealer serviced against an independent. Again in some cases the difference a trade or indeed retail buyer is prepared to pay for a car with the right service stamps can be startling, however that is really mostly applicable on higher end cars and not so much at the volume end. However buyers still need to consider that, before deciding to put off repairs and maintenance, when trading the car in the perception and first impressions of a car seen through the eyes of a car sales professional may be the lasting one.
Maintaining the vehicle to a standard commensurate with a vehicles age and value may just prove to be the best move in the long run for everyone.