Making Your Best Car Purchase: An Insider’s Perspective

Linda Berti, Your Car Girl Graham Spence Photography
Linda Berti, Your Car Girl
Graham Spence Photography

It is not often that you can find a woman who is able to provide an insider’s perspective on cars. My love affair with cars started right out of Mom’s womb, my little feet going “clutch-gas, clutch-gas”.  Just kidding.  But my first words were the names of cars, much to my parents’ chagrin!  I’m proud to be a trailblazer in the industry I’ve made a lifetime career of.

After 40+ years in the car biz, including co-owning an Alberta dealership during the exciting  Iacocca years, selling cars, financing them, managing incredible teams, I left the daily dealership scene in June of 2012 to start my own company, realizing my dream of working ONLY for my clients, picking and choosing who I wished to help.  People always referred to me as “my car girl” so the name of my company was a given.

Some dealers love me.  Some hate me.  And at my age, I don’t care.  I choose to do business with the former of course, the ones who mimic my personal values.  Keep our industry honest.  Treat everyone with dignity and respect.  Don’t “hard sell” – do not force someone into something they don’t want or need.  Be fully transparent, especially with the numbers.  Do not pull the wool over someone’s eyes to make extra profit – sell the features and benefits and make sure they know all their options, not just the ones that make extra money.  Do not lie to make a sale.  LISTEN!  Understand that the customer is #1, especially mine because they’re all awesome!

Cathy taking ownership of her new vehicle.
Cathy taking ownership of her new vehicle.

The  Insider’s Scoop

Now for some insider’s recommendations, cautionary advice and secrets to know when you’re shopping for a new or pre-owned ride.

      1. Be Confident:
        You are an intelligent, seasoned purchaser, whether it be cars, homes, clothes or groceries.  Do not get yourself backed into a corner or talked into something you don’t want or need.  YOU are in control here.  Be prepared to walk away.  Pay attention to ALL the details, especially the numbers/payments.  If your spidey-senses are tingling, pay attention – trust your intuition.  I do not want you to have Buyer’s Remorse, an incredible sad malady!
      2. Choose Who You Deal With: This should be a great experience for you!  If you’re at a dealership and not “clicking” with the sales rep who approaches you, please ask them to pass you on to someone else.  You may have to ask the sales manager and that original sales rep will get half a deal – better than nothing!
      3. Use This Insider Secret: the best sales reps are not the ones on the showroom floor.  They’re in the financial services (financing or business) office, sometimes called the financial services managers or business managers.  Be very cautious there.  That’s where the big money is made, much more than what the profit on the sale of the vehicle is!
      4. Be Realistic & Knowledgeable: While we’re on the subject of the profit in a vehicle, understand that it may not be as much as you think, especially in the case of a new vehicle. Many manufacturers now have a one-price policy, difficult to negotiate.  Be wary of additional crazy fees.  I always give my customers the “all-in” price, including all taxes and fees if there are any, less trade value.  Get the original selling price and trade-in value out of your mind – those numbers are never the real story and are often skewed – what you have to write a cheque (or finance) for is the only “real” number.
      5. Profit Margins Are Higher On A Used Vehicle: Why? Because they’re “one of a kind”. Again, be cautious of how you’re going to pay for it and make sure to get that “all-in final number” as your negotiating point.  Do your due diligence with a used vehicle – get the CarProof report, obtain a copy of the safety inspection that every single dealership is required by law to do on a used vehicle.  Full disclosure, remember?
      6. Grab A Few Last Insider’s Points: Make darn sure you’re going to love that vehicle for as long as you have it.  If you want a sunroof, get one.  Leather cools down quickly, it doesn’t stick to you for long and it sure makes it easier to slide in and out of if that’s an issue.  Red cars don’t get more speeding tickets.  White cars are actually the easiest to keep clean, not the hardest.  Black, however …  Power seats are awesome and can make your comfort level so much better, especially with the damn aches and pains we all experience.   Heated seats are fabulous even in the summer (with the air conditioning on!)  and also helps with those aches and pains.  Everyone has a “lemon” story.  Don’t pay too much attention to them or to blogs, Consumer Reports, etc.  (I’ll bet you can’t believe you’re reading that, can you?)  Everyone tends to tell their bad stories rather than good ones and if you fall in love with a vehicle, trust your own instincts and take it home, end your search and have a blast driving around feeling like a million bucks, knowing you deserve it!

Enjoy driving, go on some new adventures.  A car isn’t just something to get from point A to point B; when someone tells me that, I ask them what their Dad droBuying A Car At Forty Fiveve, what their first boyfriend drove, even how good at parking their Mom was, how they felt when passing their driver’s test, or when their kid got their driver’s license (I cried!).  You get the picture!  I’d love to share those stories in a book.  “Car Stories from the Heart”?  Memories are made in vehicles.  My wish for you is that yours are happy ones!

Learn More

This is the second in our series Making Your Best Car Purchase.

Check out the first article What Every Woman Wants To Know

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Linda Berti, Your Car Girl
Whether it be in her personal life or the way she conducts business, Linda believes that life should be lived to the fullest, with fun and joy! Known for her loud laugh, enthusiasm and for making friends with almost everyone she meets, Linda loves listening to stories from the heart and genuinely loves people. She is passionate about keeping the auto industry honest and her motto is “integrity, empathy, and respect, with a smile”.