Today purchasing a new vehicle can prove to be a stressful event for most people. Visiting your local dealers can take up a lot of your time, and it often proves to be a frustrating experience. Luckily, you can buy almost anything online these days, and a new or used car is no exception. What are some of the best practices for online car shopping? Let’s dive into the topic.
1. Window Shop
With the internet at your disposal, this is your obvious first step when planning to purchase a new vehicle. It should come as no surprise that the majority of car buyers perform initial research online before visiting a dealer. The difference here is that most or all of the transaction will take place without you having to step foot outside your home. You’ll need to narrow down your options to one or two models, as well as decide whether you want to buy or lease a new or pre-owned vehicle. Figure out what features are needed in your new car, as well as which cars provide those features. A couple websites consumers use for research include Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds, who offer information on most cars as well as the price you should be paying for them.
This brings up the next step, which is to set your budget. Think carefully, and whatever you do, don’t settle for anything outside of your price range. With proper research and negotiation, you can buy your dream car without going bankrupt.
You may have opted for an online car-buying experience because of a past mishap at a dealership. Maybe you despise high-pressure sales situations (as we all do), which almost certainly await you once you set foot on the lot. However, haggling online is much less stressful than attempting to make a deal in person, with your precious time ticking away while you wait for the back and forth between your car salesman and his boss. Instead, you can enjoy negotiating behind your screen, on your time, and take as much of it as you need.
It’s easier than you think, too. Once you’ve narrowed down the particular make and model of your dream car, the next step is to locate dealers in your area who have this car and find their websites online. Many dealers these days have dedicated internet sales departments. The website may list a contact email for online inquiries, or there may be a form you can fill out on the page. Make sure you contact more than one. You don’t have to send twenty emails to dealers, but send two or three at the minimum. Name the car you’ve set your heart on, and simply ask for their best price. Include any extra features you want included in your car at this stage, but don’t mention your trade-in, if you have one, or talk about financing options.
The dealers you’ve contacted should start discussing prices with you, but make sure they’re discussing the price of the vehicle and any fees associated. If you feel that any listed fee sounds fishy, do a quick search for legitimacy. Once you’ve received a few quotes, take the lowest quote you receive and send it to the others. Ask them if they can do better. Continue this process until one of them offers you a price within your budget and the estimated ranges you found for the vehicle online.
If you can’t stand the thought of back-and-forth even through text conversation, websites like Truecar and Vinadvisor negotiate with dealers for you, eliminating tiresome haggling from the experience. Just make sure the quoted price falls within the ranges you found through your initial research.
3. Order a Third-Party Inspection
If you opt to buy a used car, especially from an individual seller, you should hire a mechanic to perform an inspection on the vehicle. Contact local mechanics near your dream car, and arrange a time with the seller for the inspection to take place. Many will offer pre-buy car inspections for roughly $100, which is well worth the peace of mind. Use the report findings to negotiate with the seller, or look elsewhere if needed.
4. Ship Your car
If your dream car is too far for you to travel, consider having your car shipped to you. There are many reliable auto transport options, such as Montway Auto Transport and Central Dispatch, who can ship your new (or new to you) car from anywhere in the country. In most situations, having your new car shipped to you is safer and less stressful than picking up the car yourself. You don’t need to bring an extra driver or buy a plane ticket; simply schedule a pickup window and make sure someone is available when the car will be picked up. Choose a less expensive uncovered option or a secure covered transport option for more expensive vehicles.
5. Skip the Dealer
Several websites offer a unique experience: purchasing your car completely online, without ever leaving your home. Below is a list of websites who perform this service, as well as some of the features they offer:
- Vroom.com – Vroom offers certified used cars, which must pass a 126-point inspection before they go up for sale. You can browse their website and list of vehicles right away, although you need an account to start the purchasing process. Vroom offers free nationwide shipping to your door, as well as a 7-day or 250-mile test drive to make sure you love your new car. All cars also come with a 90-day/30,000-mile warranty and a free year of roadside assistance 24/7. Vroom also offers access to financing from over 30 different lenders, which you can apply to on their website.
- Carvana.com – Carvana is another used car vendor. Cars sold to Carvana must pass a 150-point inspection, and all cars are subject to an Experian auto check report. Customers can test drive their car for seven days and return if they’re not satisfied. Pickup is free in the Atlanta area, but delivery to further locations is more complex. Delivery is free if you’re within 100 miles of Carvana’s Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN, Charlotte, NC, Birmingham, AL, or Dallas, TX hubs. If you are located between 100-250 miles of these hubs, delivery is quoted at $199, and beyond that range requires you to ship the car yourself.
- Nowcar.com – NowCar is a new vehicle seller in the state of Florida that claims to offer you a fixed price well below MSRP. Complete the entire transaction online, without negotiating, and have it delivered to your door for free. Customers have five days or 50 miles to exchange their vehicle for another car through the website, and a delivery fee is added to the second car delivered. Vehicles come with a full manufacturer warranty.
- Carsense.com – CarSense is a used car buying option in the Philadelphia/Pittsburg areas. Cars are delivered for free within 50 miles of their five Pennsylvania locations. Customers have five days or 500 miles to change their mind on their car. Each car comes with an AutoCheck report, and all vehicles undergo a 109-point inspection. CarSense also offers a 6-month or 6000-mile extended warranty for peace of mind.
- Beepi.com – Beepi is a used car buying option in the California and Nevada areas. Customers in neighboring states can have Beepi cars shipped to them for an extra $999. It works differently from other used car sellers online because the seller lists the car themselves, after it passes a 185-point inspection. All cars listed are less than six years old and have fewer than 60,000 miles. Customers have 10 days or 1000 miles to test drive their new car.
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.