Why Australia’s Least Regarded Profession Deserves A Second Chance In 2021

"Put your trust in the process."

With demand for cars at an all-time high Down Under, there’s never been a better time to consider letting go of one of your four-wheeled friends.

But selling a car privately can be a real hassle. Not only do you need to be across all the different platforms – online marketplaces, classifieds, even the old sticker in the window – but you also have to contend with what sometimes feels like an endless cavalcade of tyre-kickers, lowballers and mouthbreathers ready to take advantage of you.

The alternative is to work with a dealer – but that too comes with its own concerns. According to Roy Morgan’s most recent Image of Professions Survey, car salesmen rank as Australia’s least regarded profession. Indeed, car salesmen have ranked as the least regarded profession in every year the survey has been conducted since 1976… Clearly, the stereotype of the shonky used car dealer still looms large in most Aussies’ minds.

But does that stereotype hold water in 2021? That’s the question we put to Richard Dicello, Dealer Sales Director at Autotrader and Gumtree Cars, who recognises that this trust deficit is still a hurdle car salesman need to contend with – but also suggests that the stereotype no longer rings true.

“We know that trust between buyer and seller can be crucial to building confidence and driving sales, especially as COVID-19 has accelerated the need for this relationship… The introduction of dealership standards and greater global visibility on behalf of automotive manufacturers have introduced a higher number of checks and regulations that all dealers need to abide by.”

“This means transparency is the new trust driver. Review platforms like Google or Yelp mean that customer feedback is visible, highlighting reputation and conduct. It has created a greater level of accountability across the board with businesses keen to ensure that they are a trusted retailer.”

“This is especially important as purchasing an automotive product is considered to be a daunting, safety-critical purchase making the reputation of the dealership vitally important to the consumer.”

Image: Privateer Garage

Essentially, it’s harder for dodgy dealers to get away with their previous bad behaviour, and the intense competition engendered by the rise of online classifieds means that dealers need to work hard to offer a decent value proposition – when it comes to both helping you sell your vehicle, or selling a vehicle to you.

“I think the level of communication has greatly improved over the past 10 years,” DMARGE founder and publisher Luc Wiesman relates, having recently successfully sold his rare BMW 335i Touring with the help of a dealer.

“I was surprised about much care was given not only to the sales process but ensuring I was kept in the loop every step of the way. Service, type fitting, detailing, I knew exactly when the dealer was at every point.”

“There is also a piece of mind that comes from buying used from the dealer. Sure you pay an extra 5%, but it’s in the dealer’s best interest not to buy and sell shitheaps.”

RELATED: Australia’s ‘Bogan Car Bubble’ Won’t Last Forever, Expert Warns

Indeed, in 2021’s super-hot and super-competitive car market, taking advantage of a dealer’s services might just be what you need to get the maximum sales price for your car. On the other side of the equation, buying a car from a dealer can give you peace of mind that you’re unlikely to find from a private sale – again, an important factor, especially right now when every man and his dog is trying to flip their motor.

“Automotive dealers help bridge the gap between the online classifieds space and buyer-to-buyer selling. By forming a relationship with your dealer and being clear on your needs, they can and often do the heavy lifting for you by liaising with their networks to provide you with the best stock available, contacting and delivering the vehicle that you’re looking for,” Dicello points out.

“Dealers are subject to operating standards that hold them accountable for the vehicles they sell…, are obliged to give you an honest assessment of the mechanical health of a vehicle and must provide accurate pricing for both sale and aftercare… Buying from a dealership provides protection to customers by extending the support of things like extended warranty or even in some instances fixed price servicing – which helps give customers peace of mind when it comes to purchasing the vehicle you’ve been dreaming about.”

Dicello’s biggest piece of advice?

“Be honest about your budget. A dealer’s primary objective is to sell cars and having a conversation with them about what you’re looking to spend [or make] will enable them to work with you…

“Rest assured they will find a way to make the price work for you if it means a sale for the dealership. So put your trust in the process and work with the business to negotiate the right sale price.”

Food for thought indeed.

Read Next