The top 5 things to look for in a dealer

Budds Dealer RaterCongratulations—you’ve made your decision, and you’re ready to purchase a car.

Now you have to find a dealer that meets your needs.

Today’s car dealerships might seem like they’re all alike—especially since dealers all pay the same price for the cars they sell, and you’ll see nearly identical deals on the car you want, regardless of where you go.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to tell a quality dealer from one that’s more… shady.

Here are the top 5 things you should be looking for when you’re doing your homework.

#5: Dealer history

Selling cars is a tough business, so it’s safe to assume that a dealership with years of experience is one that has learned how to do things the right way.

By choosing a dealer that’s a long-standing fixture of the community, you can trust that they’ve earned the trust of local buyers. Budds’, for example, has been in Oakville for more than 40 years.

That’s important for another reason, too—the longer a dealership has been around, the longer they’re likely to stay around… If you need service 10 years in the future, you’ll want to know the shop is still there.

#4. Customer service standards

The way a dealership’s staff treats its customers says a great deal about the dealership itself. Are you treated with respect and courtesy when you arrive on the lot? Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable?

When you make a purchase from a dealer, you’ll be working a great deal with your sales associate, of course. And if you bring your vehicle back for maintenance, the service team is where you’ll turn with questions and comments about your vehicle. So you’ll want to take pains to make sure both will treat you well.

#3. The facilities

Pay close attention to your first impressions of the dealership as you drive onto the lot. The facility should be neat, clean and well maintained. Whether the dealer sells new vehicles, used vehicles, or both like Budds’ does, the cars should be clean and displayed in a way that makes sense.

#2. Customer amenities

Whether you’re there to buy a car or just to get your tires rotated, chances are you’ll spend significant time at the dealership at some point.

That means, when you’re doing your scouting, you’ll want to find out what kinds of amenities will be available to you if you come back. Is there an after-hours service drop-off so you don’t have to miss work? Can they provide shuttle service? If you need to wait for your car to be serviced, is there a comfortable customer lounge area? Does the dealer offer express service or drive-in service?

#1. Dealer reviews

Without exaggeration, there is no more important factor in determining quality today than online customer reviews. The internet has changed everything, and bad dealers can no longer hide. Less-than-stellar customer service or shady deals simply don’t stay secret anymore—today’s empowered consumer is just a few clicks away from telling the world what’s really going on.

That’s why, when you’re choosing a dealer, it’s most important to look at trustworthy review sites such as DealerRater.

Don’t just look at the positive reviews, either: pay just as much attention to the negative ones. In fact, you might think about looking even more closely at the 1-star and 2-star reviews—the way that a dealer responds often holds telltale clues about the way they treat their customers, happy or unhappy.

One caveat, however: it can be easier than you think for a dealership to game the review system. To know you’re reading the real thing, look for a long and consistent history of reviews rather than just a collection of several good ones from around the same date. Dozens or hundreds of reviews over time indicate a dealer whose culture is focused on providing superior customer experiences; an isolated cluster of reviews can mean, at best, a sporadic approach to addressing customer service interactions—or at worst, evidence of fakes.

And finally, dealer ratings work both ways: if you found reviews helpful when you were buying, consider leaving a dealer review of your own. Your thoughtful comments about a dealer could help someone in the future who is also researching suitable places to purchase a vehicle.

And if that dealership happens to be Budds’, by all means—please feel free to leave us a review on DealerRater. We’d love to hear your opinion.