Choosing Between a Franchise Car Dealership and an Independent Used Car Dealer
Before we get started, take a minute to think about all the car dealerships you’ve seen in your life. You can probably think of a few just off the top of your head that stick out more than others. The choices of where to buy a car is endless, but the right choices require a little bit more time and effort. In the early 1900s, before car dealerships existed in abundance, there were only a few ways to shop for a car. Manufacturers sold vehicles by mail order, retail department stores, traveling salesmen, and wholesale distributors. Overtime, the car-buying process has gotten much more convenient with dealerships on nearly every corner.
From a single dealership that obtained a franchise license to sell GM vehicles in 1898, more and more franchise dealerships have popped up over the course of 120 years. But with so many options on the market, which is really the best place to shop for a car? Between big-named franchise dealerships and independent used car dealers, and with so many options on the market, we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of working with both so you can get to a better starting point.
The Difference Between Franchise and Independent Car Dealerships
Franchise dealerships, with names such as “Fred Martin Nissan” or “John Doe Mazda,” have a contract with an automobile manufacturer that allows them to sell that manufacturer’s products. A franchise dealer will mostly purchase their inventory from the manufacturer and also obtain some inventory from customer trade-ins.
An independent used car dealer, with names such as “Jim’s Used Cars,” “Frank’s Auto World” or yours truly, Prestige Auto Mall, have no affiliation or ownership over a franchise from a specific manufacturer. This is why their titles don’t include the makes or models of vehicles. Independent car lots usually have a large selection of used cars in their inventory and few or no new cars. An independent car dealership obtains its inventory from customer trade-ins, auctions and private sellers and typically do not buy directly from the manufacturer. This is why the majority of independent car lots offer better prices on vehicles than the big-named dealerships.
Thanks to our current economic situation, independent car dealerships are becoming a popular choice for many buyers – even those who can afford to purchase a brand-new vehicle from a big box dealership. The reason is because no matter the style of car you choose, the value for any specific model tends to dramatically decrease after 1-2 years of their release dates, marking new cars as a cost-ineffective luxury.
Knowing this unfortunate truth, many people consider purchasing from a used car dealership versus pulling off the lot in a brand-new whip, because they can get the same quality car on the mechanical side, while still enjoying all other features for a cheaper price.
4 Reasons Why You Should Buy From an Independent Used Car Dealership
There’s really no right or wrong answer on where you should shop for a car, however, there is a lot of time and research that goes into the car-buying process. Before pulling out your wallet and signing on any dotted lines you want to do your due-diligence in researching quality, prices and financing options.
So, let’s dive into the benefits of working with an independent car dealership.
Because independent car dealerships obtain their inventory from customer trade-ins, auctions and private sellers, and not directly from the manufacturer, they don’t have the overhead associated with franchise royalties and large dealer groups that focus heavily on the bottom line. And because their inventory consists of used cars that are often older than those at a franchise dealership, you have a much better chance of finding an affordable used car, regardless of your situation. Independent dealers also provide better warranties for used cars than any other dealerships on the market.
Since independent used car dealers normally aren’t tied to a single bank they tend to have more flexibility on financing. Because of this, independent car lots may provide special benefits you cannot find at a larger dealership chain. You also have a better chance of getting pre-approved for a loan, even if you have bad credit! At Prestige Auto Mall, you can get pre-approved in as little as 5 minutes here!
At independent lots, it’s easy to talk to your salesman about down payment options, extended payment plans, and better warranties, without an unwarranted pressure.
Speaking of no pressure, that takes us to our next benefit of shopping at small dealerships vs big dealerships.
Attentive, Personalized Service
An independent used-car dealership thrives on building personal relationships with their customers. As a local business, you’ll enjoy excellent customer service and a more personal relationship with your car salesman. Independent dealers focus on getting you in the right car, so if you’re looking for a particular model or vehicles in a certain price range, a sales representative will work with you long term to find the right option for your needs!
Versatility of Vehicle Selection
Since independent dealers aren’t locked in to one manufacturer, they have the added benefit of being able to sell a wide range of vehicles. Instead of sticking to a single brand, an independent dealer has a variety of used cars for you to choose from. With this in mind, you’ll enjoy great prices and vehicles in affordable price ranges.
Some Things to Consider While Working with an Independent Dealer
Independent dealerships typically have their own certification standards that you have to be aware of. But as long as you aren’t afraid to ask questions and are honest with your expectations, there is nothing to be worried about.
Another factor to be cognizant of is typically higher interest rates. Since independent dealers often have in-house financing that caters to customers with poor credit or no credit, the interest rates are usually higher. If you keep this in mind when doing your car shopping there won’t be any surprises.
One more thing to be aware of is typically independent dealerships don’t have in-house service departments to work on your vehicles. However, this is what makes Prestige Auto Mall so great. We have an award-winning team of master service technicians that are here to help. We work on all vehicle makes and models, even if you didn’t purchase yours from us. And most importantly, we always use the highest-quality OEM parts. See if you’re pre-approved to start your car shopping today!
What to Expect Shopping at a Franchise Dealership
There’s a slightly different experience to be had from shopping at a franchise dealership. One noticeable difference is the pushy salesmen. At the big-brand dealerships, there is a professional sales team ready to pounce on any prey that come into the jungle, AKA dealership. This pushiness is derived from their commission-based salaries. Unfortunately, because of this, these sales personnel may not have your best interest in mind. Their main concern is getting you into any car – not the right car.
Franchise dealerships also have a much smaller used-car inventory and a larger inventory of newer models. If you’re starting this process with bad credit and not a lot of money to spare, a franchise dealership may not be your best bet. To purchase a vehicle from a franchise dealership, it’s necessary to have a good credit score, as the cars they typically offer are newer.
At Prestige Auto Mall, we’re dedicated to selecting the top pre-owned vehicles in Cuyahoga County and making them available to you at competitively low prices. Come see what we have to offer!
The Benefits of Buying from a Family-Owned Used Car Dealership
Over the last several years, there has been a larger push to shop local. But what does “shopping local” really mean? While many people look at local shopping as farm-to-table food, small boutiques or independent bookstores, it can also include any small business in your city.
Weighing out the pros and cons against your personal situation will help you decide which path is best for you. And this doesn’t mean you have to choose one or the other; but doing your homework on what each dealership offers can provide tremendous value before you start making plans for test driving.
Car shopping is a very long and tedious process, so make sure you take time researching before dedicating days on end to shopping for the right vehicle. By you reading this post, you’re obviously headed in the right direction, so keep up the good work!