Andrew Tai brings the savvy, cold blooded, matter-of-factness of a former investment banker to car buying and it just might help you get a better deal on a new vehicle.
"The consumer doesn't want to go through that negotiation process," he says, noting that the light bulb lit for his venture www.unhaggle.com the last time he went to buy a new car for himself.
He'd done his research, knew what he wanted, knew the features he had to have, and what seemed like a reasonable price to pay. That was interesting and entertaining. The negotiation? Not so much.
"Figuring out what car you want is easy. That was the fun part. Buying it was when the fun ended," he says.
His story is not uncommon. Once in a showroom, Tai met a salesperson who was personable enough, yet was not as well versed in the product and the pricing as Andrew himself.
"Don't get me wrong," he adds. "There are lots of progressive dealers and they're great. But buying a new car is not always the most efficient way to spend your time and it's not always fun."
Thus unhaggle.com was born. It is a child of our data-filled age. To borrow a turn a phrase from the Clinton campaign of two decades ago and update it with a reference to the geek-driven Obama campaign – it's the data, stupid. Mountains of it readily available on the smart phones many car buyers carry into dealerships every day.
Today's buyers have vast piles of information at their fingertips – from dealer invoice pricing to sales incentives, interest rate deals and all the other sales sweeteners used to put a shine on the showroom sheetmetal. The Internet has forever changed the way people buy new cars.
As Tai says, the dealer who argues that the Internet is ruining his business is seeing his business ruined. On the other hand, retailers who embrace data and change can thrive and prosper and best of all make their customers very happy.
"You can't fight innovation and you can't fight transparency," says Tai. Of course, in a candid moment, most dealers would say they'd rather not see all that pricing and incentive information on the Internet and in the hands of customers. But there's no rolling back this data tide. "The consumer doesn't want to go through the negotiation process. I didn't." And the idea behind unhaggle.com is that the consumer who doesn't want to negotiate doesn't – for a $99 unhaggle.com fee.
Unhaggle.com the business is based on two pillars. One is all about offering visitors pure information, pure data, including dealer invoice pricing and lists of the latest sales incentives. Unhaggle.com makes money here by offering a referral to an unhaggle.com Certified Dealer.
Then there's the Unhaggle Marketplace Program. For $99, unhaggle.com will essentially set up an auction or a marketplace, if you will, for the car buyer. Dealers in a defined geographic area, up to 10 of them, are invited to give the customer their best "unhaggle.com bid." Tai refers to this as a "paid concierge service." For the car buyer, he says the service boils down to choosing the best deal, going to the dealership, doing the paperwork and driving away.
For some dealers, this sort of transparency might have been "a scary thing," says Tai. But many who have joined the program – some 700 in Canada and counting – are finding that when the customer sees how slim the profit margins are on new vehicles, the whole sales process is simplified. Transparency can win loyal customers, too.
So far more than 73,000 Canadians have made use of unhaggle.com's services in one form or another. In the United States, dealers and manufacturers have been even quicker to embrace this sort of strategy. As Tai says and other argue, the results have often been very positive for dealers and consumers alike.
"For a dealer, an educated consumer is one that is much more apt to close. The best dealers realized very quickly that it's the age of transparency," Andy O'Dower, director of mobile product management at Cars.com, recently told Automotive News.
Perhaps the tipping point has arrived in the age of the smart phone. Now car shoppers can have real-time information delivered to their handheld device while standing in the showroom or on a dealer lot. Instant data. Indeed, as Automotive News reports, a recent study by Nielsen for Cars.com found that 83 per cent of new-vehicle shoppers own a smartphone, and 43 per cent of those consumers – more than a third of all car-shoppers – consult their device on the dealership lot.
"The (vehicle retailing) industry is shifting; embrace it," says Tai.
So we're doing that at Deals of the Week. This time around we've selected four unhaggle.com offers and are highlighting them below. In the future, Deals plans to consult with unhaggle.com and other sources to keep Globe Drive readers on top of great offers and sales trends. As usual, pricing information here is subject to change, so consult your dealer for all the final details, including expiry dates for all offers.
2013 Nissan Rogue AWD SL
- MSRP: $34,398
- Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $1,885
- Factory discount: $5,000 (cash purchases only)
- Unhaggle savings: $1,466
- Total savings: $6,466
- Taxable subtotal: $29,817
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $33,693.21
- Note: 0.0 per cent financing for up to 84 months
2013 Mazda5 GS auto
- MSRP: $23,195
- Freight, dealer prep and air conditioning tax: $2,030
- Factory discount: $3,000 (cash purchases only)
- Unhaggle savings: $811
- Total savings: $3,811
- Taxable subtotal: $21,414
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $24,197.82
- Note: 0.0 per cent financing for up to 72 months
2013 Hyundai Elantra GT GLS auto
- MSRP: $22,599
- Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $1,630
- Factory discount: $2,200 (cash purchases only)
- Unhaggle savings: $889
- Total savings: 3,089
- Taxable subtotal: $21,140
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $23,888.20
- Note: manufacturer’s incentive for financing: $2,200 can be combined with 0.0 per cent for up to 36 months
2013 Ford Taurus SEL AWD
- MSRP: $36,199
- Freight, PDI and Tradesman package: $1,685
- Dealer discount (estimated): $900
- Factory discount: $5,500 (cash purchases only)
- Unhaggle savings: $2,003
- Taxable subtotal: $30,381
- Total price with 13 per cent HST: $34,330.53
- Note: the $5,500 incentive can be combined or “stacked” with 5.49 per cent financing for up to 60 months.
Pricing information source : www.unhaggle.com . Calculations based on Ontario customers. Please note that while the information above is accurate at the time of publication, incentives are given at the discretion of individual dealers, and may be changed or discontinued at any time. Dealer discounts are negotiated with the customer on a case-by-case basis.