Part 2 – Safely and Successfully Show Your Car
Once you’ve created an effective ad and received interest on your vehicle, your ability to effectively show your car to buyers will play a large role in how quickly and profitably you can complete the sale. Communication and preparation will go a long way towards creating a great experience for the buyer and convincing them that your car is the right car for them.
Keys to Success
Whether by email or text, your communication style should be professional in order to set the tone for the rest of the process. This is also your chance to screen who you will meet – all money spends the same, but if the buyer’s communication makes you feel like they are immature, unprofessional, or not serious about the purchase, move on. Showing your car is a hassle and there’s no need to waste your time and energy on someone you don’t feel comfortable with.
Meet in a public space
The old adage of “better safe than sorry” applies here – don’t give out your home address when you don’t have to, and instead offer to meet your potential buyer at a public space convenient to both of you. The parking lots of libraries, shopping centers, and big box stores all make great locations for showing your car.
Prepare for questions in advance
Your ad should already have described the vehicle in great detail and been forthcoming with any issues the vehicle has, but you should expect the buyer to inquire further. Anticipate the questions by reviewing one of the many “buyers guides” available online, such as this one from cars.com.
Offer a test drive
The main reason the potential has met you is to take the car for a test drive, so be proactive and confidently ask them, “Would you like to take it for a drive?” Of course they would!
I recommend asking to see their Driver’s License and take a picture of it with your phone: your insurance is still covering your car when they’re driving, so protect yourself in case an accident happens. It also helps to confirm their identity and help put you at ease from a safety standpoint. I also recommend riding along for the test drive; first, you’ll want to make sure they treat the car well (an acceleration/break test is reasonable if takes place on a safe & quiet side road), and second, you’ll want to be available to address any questions or concerns.
The buyer may (and should) want a mechanic to check up on your car – my practical advice here is to schedule this as a follow-up meeting or you may spend all day waiting on this to be done. Ask the seller to book an appointment at a time that works for you, meet them there at the scheduled time, and remind yourself while you wait that anyone spending time and money on a check-up is probably going to buy your car!
Close the deal
Once the check-up comes back clean (as you knew it would!), the buyer is probably ready to negotiate the final price and move forward with the sale. You should be able to clearly articulate the value you have placed on your vehicle and know the lowest price you'll accept, and be firm with it. Odds are that the buyer’s first question when they’re ready to purchase is going to be “so what’s your bottom line?” and you should be prepared with a response. Something along the lines of the following is a good start: “I feel like I’ve priced my car fairly, but if you have a counter proposal I would listen to it.” While you definitely don’t want the deal to fall through at this point, neither does the buyer so don’t immediately offer your bottom line price.
Formalize the agreement
Once you’ve agreed to a price, I highly recommend demanding a non-refundable deposit from the buyer ($200 or so is easy enough to withdraw from an ATM) to lock in the price and earn your promise not to sell to another party. This deposit serves as a contract between you and the buyer, and as such it should be written out in plain English, dated, and signed by both parties. This helps to ensure that the understanding is mutual: the deposit will be credited towards the sales price upon completion of the sale, or it will be retained by you, the seller, in any other event. This simple written agreement will substantially increase the odds that the sale is completed in due time.
Part III - Completing the sale and tying up loose ends