Online Car Shopping Explained

By , 9/9/2019

What happens when you hit that “Submit Info” button?

You’ve done your research and you're ready to talk to some dealers to get the best price. What happens between the time when you hit the submit button online and when you walk out with your new car?

You are a smart shopper. You’ve covered all your bases. You know the MSRP for every car, you’ve studied invoice price so much you have a self-declared Doctorates in Invoice. They call you Dr. Invoice. You are ready for the next step. So what is that next step? And what happens when you take it?

What you need to do now is submit your information to your local dealers so you can start receiving offers. So what are the steps to take?

Submitting Your Information

This can be a scary first step. With our privacy and security a top priority in today's hacker-prone world, the last thing you want is a stolen identity. Submitting your personal information like name, address, phone number, email, are all scary feelings. Being confident in where you submit your information is an important step. 

Always check the reliability of the source. Most dealer pages are safe to submit information on. They have gone through great lengths ensuring the safety of your information and have security measures in place to prevent your information from getting into the wrong hands.

There are also sites, such as our own, that help you to connect with your local dealers in a smarter way. We are able to share your information with your local dealers of your choice and have the right dealers reach out to you, all from one safe location. 

When your information is submitted, it gets sent to the dealers of your choice as what’s called a “lead”. Once the dealer receives your information, they touch base with you to get you the best information possible, including detailed pricing information on the vehicles you are looking for. The benefit here is you can receive multiple quotes from multiple dealers all in one location. This way you can compare and save while the dealers compete for your sale. 

Dealer Reaches Out

So here is where many of you are nervous about submitting your information, having the dealer reach out. But don’t shy away! Trust me, these aren’t the scoundrels trying every trick in the book to convince you to get the rust protection, these are good people like you and me, reaching out to help you get the best price for a car. Rember, the dealer knows that you are shopping around, and they get only one chance to convince you that their dealer is the best one to buy the car from, i.e., get you the best price!

Typically, when a dealer receives your information, it goes through their online department, or a Customer Care Team. These are sales team employees that are reaching out to answer the questions that you have to the best of their ability, and to help you schedule an appointment to come in and test drive the car, sit down with financing team, speak with the sales team, whatever you need to do.

This is where you start your interaction with the dealer. Your first contact. This team is here to help you get the best out of your car buying experience. They are a dedicated team of specialists to help move you along to the next step. What they are not, are salesmen. Which is both good and bad. What this means, for one, is they will not be able to negotiate a deal over the phone. Even a salesman can’t normally do that. 

The team can, however, give you the best pricing, including discounts, rebates and incentives, and give you a solid understanding of the out the door price. Some dealers will have the ability to email you a copy of a sales invoice, and some will not, but they all will give you far more information than you can find on their website. 

The other thing they can do is help you narrow down your search. If you know exactly what you are looking for, down to make, model, trim, color, packages, everything. They are able to search through the available inventory and let you know what they have in stock. If they don’t have your model in stock, they can also look into finding some way to get it there as well, saving you that time, hassle and frustration. 

If you aren’t as sure what you are looking for, you only know that you need a third-row SUV with Bluetooth and a backup camera, they can help with that too. Narrowing down your search and finding some of those "diamond in the rough" cars is their specialty.    

Remember the associate your speak with, text, or email doesn’t make the rules. They are here to help, as best as they can. So they will do everything within their power to make it the best experience for you. Treating them with the same respect and courtesy as they treat you is an important part of making this the best experience for everyone. Everyone is human and deserves to be treated as such. The dealers aren't out to “get you”, they have a product, you have the money, and they want to do their best to make the deal as sweet as possible for both parties. 

Compare and Save

Once you have submitted your information, it’s time to sit back, and let the dealers come to you. 

The dealer's internet departments will contact you, and you now have the ability to vet out your local dealers to find the one that fits you best, and has the best pricing. 

Remember, getting out the door pricing over the phone may prove to be very difficult. Most dealers aren’t able to provide that type of information without an in-store appointment, yet some will be able to get you some information, so don’t be afraid to ask! 

Comparing dealers can come down to many factors that are important to you. If you don’t care where you buy from, but only care about the lowest out the door price, by all means, get as much pricing information as you possibly can.

However, many people care about where they are buying from. Exceptional service and a trusting environment are important pieces of your car buying experience. When you purchase an item, you are purchasing more than just that item, you are financially supporting a company, brand, or store that you approve of. Handing over your hard-earned money to a dealer that has rubbed you the wrong way and you do not support can be a difficult task.

Sometimes finding a dealer with the same morals and values as your own is worth a few extra dollars. 

Dealers are more than just a store, though. They can also offer many additional services and your relationship doesn’t have to end when you drive away. 

Finding a dealer that you want to return to for all of your vehicle's service, products, and more is an important part of your decision as well. 

Further, a dealer can be very helpful in acquiring financing. Sometimes they can even get you better rates than your credit union or bank. Finding a dealer that is willing to work with you to get you into the best rate is another important factor when comparing dealers. 

Make an Appointment

After you have spoken with the sales team and have decided what vehicle is best for you, where it’s at, or are ready to come in to take some test drives, it’s time to make an appointment. I’ve talked about the importance of an appointment before, and I cannot emphasize how much this will ease your process. 

You have a lot on your plate. Between work and kids and school and sports and leisure and whatever else you crazies do out there, it rarely feels like there is enough time in the day. This is why setting an appointment is so important.

Having an appointment is going to establish a set time for you to make time in your day. When you have an appointment made, you mentally set aside that time as already allocated. 

On another note, dealers are just as busy as you are. They have hundreds of people coming through the dealer on any one day, and can’t always pull a salesman aside to assist you if you are a walk-in. Instead of sitting around and waiting for someone to help you, an appointment will ensure that they have a salesmen is there and ready to help. 

Setting up an appointment with the dealer before you go will make both your time, and theirs, more valuable creating a situation where you both respect each other's needs at a better level.


In the long run, submitting your information and having dealers contact you is a scary proposition. It may feel like a lot to sift through calls or emails, but in the long run, it isn’t a daunting task and is important to you getting the best deal on a car. 

As an online shopper, you are taking the smartest route to getting the best deal. Comparing dealers and finding the best price and location will result in you driving away on new car day happy and excited, rather than questioning if you got the best deal. An educated car shopper is a happy car shopper.

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