The car is selected; everyone is wearing smiles. Then, with a crocodile grin, a salesman asks you to see the finance person in the “closing room.” Many folks start to feel the pressure come on and a slight uneasy feeling overtakes them. What many don’t know is that this is your time to shine. This room is where you, the customer, have them by the throat and you don’t even know it.
If I may be permitted a fishing metaphor here: if it’s the salesman’s job to hook and reel you in, it’s the finance person’s job to land you in the boat. I don’t begrudge either one of them their jobs because everyone needs to make a living — however, that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun messing with them just as hard as they’re messing with me. I normally start by calling them by a different random name each time I address them: Jimmy-Ray, Sam, Mike, Steve, Riley, Jack, and so on – just to keep things interesting.
Once you arrive in the finance office, don’t panic. All the closing room represents is the final chance for the dealership to super-size its profits. They have services and they want to try to sell them to you. There are extended warranties, service contracts, Sky Links, and protection plans. So many things start flying at you so fast it’s easy to get swept away. Remember two things: it’s mostly BS that will just add to your payment in the long run, and you can always say no.
“No” is a fascinating word in the finance office because they aren’t used to hearing it in repetition. “Do you want the extended warranty, Mr. O’Hara?” To which I replied, “No, it’s still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty for another 2 years for the mileage I put on it. ” What followed this statement was well-rehearsed pageantry and concerned disbelief about how I was riding the line of danger. “Really?” I asked, “So you’re expecting the truck to fall apart in a year from now?” A stammering stab at a save followed quickly. Then we moved on.
“Paint protection plan coverage, Mr. O’Hara?” That got another chuckle. “No, I own wax.” And we moved on again.
“Here’s your gap insurance coverage form.” I snorted quite loudly on this one and said, “Are you actually looking at the numbers here, Chief? I don’t need gap, I’m not upside down in the truck, and I’m financing less than 5k.” My personal favorite was the Sky Link offer, which for those not in the know, is a satellite-location recovery system that uses cell towers to locate your vehicle if it’s stolen. Their selling point was that it would be found in “less than an hour no matter what” and that it couldn’t be beaten — “very much worth the money, you know.”
When I told them you could defeat the entire system by driving the car to a parking garage right after stealing it and stripping it where there was no cell signal, then leaving it and making your escape without a care in the world — there was stunned silence.
The closing room is a state of mind, really. Just think of it like a game where you hold all the cards. The way I look at it, if you don’t get up to walk out at least once in the closing room you’re not playing the game hard enough.
One last tip — never let them charge you $250 for floor mats. They are just rolling extra money into the financed portion of the vehicle at your expense rather than ordering $35 mats from the dealer book.