How to Buy a Car From the Fleet Department

By Michael Royce
Consumer advocate, former car salesman

Did you ever wonder how famous movie stars and top corporate executives buy their new cars? Do George Clooney or Bill Gates battle through lengthy negotiations with sly car salesmen like the rest of us? Hardly. Privileged folks such as stars and executives buy their new cars - hassle-free - from a little-known corner of the dealership called the Fleet Department. And believe it or not, so can you.

Almost every dealership has a Fleet Department, a small division usually consisting of only one to a handful of salespeople. The Fleet Department specializes in selling fleets of cars - large orders of several vehicles - direct to businesses. This department is authorized by the dealership to sell their cars at low bottom-line non-negotiable prices, making it easier and faster for both the buyer and seller. And the heavily discounted prices they offer are about the same you would receive after time-consuming and exhausting negotiations with a retail car salesman.

A secret of the car business is that many dealerships' Fleet Departments also sell direct to the public. By the rules of the game, however, they can't advertise that fact since they don't want to compete with the dealership's retail sales team. So to buy from the Fleet Department, you have to specifically ask. And it's a lot easier than you may think. Here's how:

1. Set an appointment.
Call the dealership where you plan on buying your car. Since the Fleet Department deals mostly with businesses, it's best to call during regular weekday business hours. When you call, be sure to first ask the dealership's operator for the name of the Fleet Manager. You need to know his name since many retail car salesmen like to intercept phone calls to the Fleet Department and pretend that they are fleet salesmen. Once you get the Fleet Manager's name, ask to speak with him.

When you get him on the line, tell him that you are going to buy a car soon and that you'd like to buy it from him. If he asks you what business you are associated with, tell him where you work. With that, he'll probably be happy to set up an appointment. As you talk with the Fleet Manager, you'll quickly notice that, unlike many car salesmen, these fleet folks are remarkably down-to-earth. That's because they have little to hide and no games to play. So feel free to ask him any questions you may have. He'll tell you exactly what you want to know. He may also tell you over the phone, if you ask, his exact bottom-line selling price for the car you plan on buying.

2. Go to the dealership.
When you arrive at the dealership for your appointment, be sure to ask for the Fleet Manager by name. When you meet him, shake his hand and greet him warmly. Be friendly and casual, but never forget that you're conducting an important business transaction.

The Fleet Manager will show you the vehicle you plan on buying. Look the car over carefully. Check for dings and scratches. Read the window sticker to be certain that this particular vehicle has all of the features and options you want. And don't expect the Fleet Manager to offer much help or product information at this point. Remember that his job is simply to sell cars fast and cheap. He may or may not know much about the car you're buying and he may or may not offer you much help with looking it over. Finally, be sure to take the car for a test drive, driving it as you normally would.

3. Buy the car.
When you return from the test drive, go to the Fleet Manager's office and ask him the current selling price for that car. Note that when discussing prices, the Fleet Manager may talk in relation to the invoice prices. For example, he may say, “That car is three over.” That means that his current selling price for that particular car is three hundred dollars over the invoice price. Fleet Department prices are based on a small profit over the invoice price (the dealer's cost) rather than on a discount from the window sticker price. This straightforwardness will certainly make your car buying experience that much easier. And if you ask, the Fleet Manager may also show you the vehicle's actual factory invoice.

If you agree to his price and want to close the deal, then tell him so. That's it. No games. No hassles. He'll shake your hand, do the paperwork and then take you to the Business Office. If you're not completely satisfied with the price, you are certainly not obligated to buy from him. Thank him for his time and leave on good terms. Then you can call or visit the Fleet Departments of other dealerships to compare prices. The selling prices offered by the various Fleet Departments can vary depending upon their inventories.

Whatever the case, you'll find that dealing with the Fleet Department is a whole new way of buying your next new car. You'll walk in like a movie star, be treated like a king, and drive out the proud owner of a shiny new car - no pressure, no negotiation, no bull. And best of all, you'll save lots of your hard-earned money and precious time.

Insiders Tip: Before you visit or call the dealership's Fleet Department, get a free price quote. That way you'll have a valid bottom-line selling price by which to judge the Fleet Department's price.

Get a free price quote now. Click here!

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