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6 Tips for Talking to a Dealer When Buying Commercial Vehicles

buying a truck

For fleet managers or small business owners, part of buying a work truck or van in-person involves talking to and negotiating with a commercial vehicle dealer. It’s easy for buyers to become overwhelmed if they aren’t comfortable speaking with a dealer or if they’re not as informed on the research and buying process. No one wants to feel pressured to make a purchase outside of their budget, or drive away with a truck or van that doesn’t fit their needs. Commercial Truck Trader is here to help with six tips for talking to a dealer when buying commercial vehicles.

1. Do Some Research

Start your buying process by doing your homework on the type of commercial vehicle you’re shopping for and how much it will cost. Doing your research before talking to a dealership salesperson can help you sound more confident and knowledgeable. When you meet with a dealer, you’ll be able to get straight to the point by already knowing what you want. Here are a few questions to consider when shopping for your work truck or van:

  • What vehicles are you licensed to drive?
  • What is the primary purpose of your vehicle? (towing, utility, OTR transport, local or regional delivery, etc.)
  • What class of vehicle do you need?
  • What type of cargo are you transporting?
  • Do you want a new or used vehicle?
  • What type of fuel will the vehicle take?

Utilize online listings and reviews to get a feel for what’s on the market, then compare the inventory and prices at a local dealership. You should also find out if there are any local, state, or federal regulations that might require you to buy a specific type of commercial vehicle.

Having the answers to these questions is incredibly important, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, to keep you from potentially making a bad deal. Read our previous article on what to know before shopping for commercial vehicles for more tips.

2. Remember Your Budget

Once you determine what you’re looking for in a commercial vehicle, a good dealer should be able to sell you a truck or van that fits your needs and, most importantly, your budget. If you feel comfortable enough, you can let the dealership salesperson know that you’re prepared to buy same-day if the for-sale vehicle is within your price range.

If the dealer you’re talking to can’t meet your budget, and you feel like they want you to spend more, walk away and reach out to a different dealership. This is not the only dealer with an inventory of commercial vehicles, so you shouldn’t feel the need to settle outside of your planned budget.

3. Ask to Inspect the For-Sale Vehicle

If you aren’t planning on buying a new work truck or van, you should ask to see the exact for-sale vehicle to inspect its condition. If you’re familiar with how commercial vehicles look after regular use, then you can perform an inspection of the unit and determine if any of its parts are newer or if they’ll need to be replaced soon. If the parts are in good working condition, and aren’t an indication of a serious issue, you might be able to use what you find in the inspection to negotiate a lower price. Here are a few things to examine on the for-sale vehicle:

  • Vehicle body
  • Cab interior
  • Engine and transmission
  • Fluids, air filter, and exhaust
  • Tires

If this is your first time buying a commercial vehicle, or you’re not confident in your ability to perform an inspection, bring a friend or expert who can help you assess the condition of the for-sale truck or van. You can also check out our previous article on the six things to look for when inspecting commercial vehicles.

4. Negotiate for a Better Deal

As a buyer, you’re hoping to get the lowest price possible on your purchase, while a salesperson’s goal is to get the most money for their dealership. If you can’t get the price you want, come to a compromise and make a deal for a value in the middle. You’ll already have some leverage when you use the pricing information you researched before going to the dealership. Since you know the market value for the commercial vehicle you’re shopping for, as well as prices from other dealerships, you have some negotiating power.

You can give yourself more buying confidence by learning what your credit score is before meeting with a dealer. The credit report that a dealership will run on you can affect negotiations, and you don’t want to get a surprise while you’re sitting in the finance office. Stay one step ahead of the dealer by taking advantage of credit card companies and websites, such as CreditKarma.com, that will provide your credit score for free.

If you need to finance your commercial vehicle purchase, don’t just focus on your potential monthly payment. Look at the overall price of the work truck or van to focus on receiving the best deal on the bottom-line price, including financing, fees, and taxes. Some dealers will play with the other numbers in the transaction to get you the monthly payment you mention, and you could end up paying more long term.

5. Make a Deal Faster

Talking to dealers can feel like a time-consuming process, but it doesn’t have to be. During your first contact with a dealership salesperson, you can let them know how quickly you’re looking to purchase a commercial vehicle. Start the conversation by saying, “I plan to buy a delivery van this weekend,” to let the dealer know that you’re a hot prospect. This can lead to quicker, more eager service and better deal offers.

Of course you never want to come off too desperate by indicating that you want to buy quickly. You should also let the salesperson know that you’re shopping around to other dealers to show that you’re serious about getting the most competitive offer.

If you have a used commercial vehicle to trade in for a unit that is new or new-to-you, get an appraisal done before meeting with a dealer. This can speed up the trade-in process and let the salesperson know that you’re looking to get the most for your current work truck or van’s trade-in value.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

It can often seem like dealers are in control of negotiations during the buying process, but you do have power as a shopper. As we previously discussed, you have the ability to walk away from a deal that doesn’t work for you—something that many consumers don’t take advantage of. 

When you spend time talking with a salesperson, you might feel bad about walking away. Or, you feel like you’ve wasted both of your time when you leave without making a deal. Remember, buying a commercial vehicle is a business transaction, and investing your time is part of the process. This can even be educational since you’ll learn more about how salespeople work, and you’ll be able to better prepare for your meeting with the next dealer.

If you do have to walk away from a dealership without the keys to a new work truck or van, let the salesperson know that you’re not interested but they can still contact you if anything changes. This way, you’re leaving the door open for a potential purchase if the dealer is able to make a better offer at another time to meet their monthly sales quota.

Getting a good deal on a commercial vehicle that fits your needs and budget might take some time and effort, but it is possible. Doing some research beforehand, then approaching the dealer as a confident and knowledgeable buyer, can give you some power and prevent a salesperson from trying to leave you with a bad deal.

And, before you talk to a dealer, browse the nationwide online inventory of new and used commercial vehicles at CommercialTruckTrader.com.

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Arielle Patterson
Arielle Patterson

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One Response

  1. Thanks for the reminder that the fluids, the exhaust, and the filters should also be inspected when buying any sort of vehicle. I’m interested in looking for commercial trucks soon because I might need one for my plans to open a small grocery someday. Having my own vehicle for transporting goods will surely be useful.

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