Often times, people are so happy to get rid of their current car that as soon as they set their eyes on a new vehicle, they’ve “checked out.” Rather than sell their car themselves, they trade it into the dealership. As we all know, there are a lot of benefits to selling your old car yourself. We’re going to take a look at the basic principles of finding a job and see how they perfectly apply to privately selling a car. It is not as hard as it seems and will earn you top dollar!

1. Post Your Ad Online

Applying for a Job

The point of submitting a resume isn’t to a get a job; it’s to get an interview. You just want to get your foot in the door. Accordingly, the point of posting an ad on car sites isn’t to make a sale; it is to get people to check out your car.

Verbiage and Presentation

My old boss told me I got the interview out of hundreds of candidates because I didn’t have spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors on my resume and cover letter. So take the time to put up a quality ad. Don’t simply copy and paste a bunch of uninteresting, boilerplate car facts because you see it from everyone else. Why? Just like an owner of a company assumes you already know Microsoft Word and Powerpoint, a potential buyer already knows the main components of your car. Accordingly, since buyers are reading hundreds of ads already, they don’t have time for fluff. Just like a resume, highlight your unique features that will separate you from the pack. For example, do you have all service records, or are you a non-smoker? Perhaps you only used the car to commute to work and back? Make these things clear. If you want to put in basic components after, go ahead. Just don’t crowd out the good stuff that help people mentally picture your vehicle.

Pictures are a definitely selling point. Never use stock photos. Take high quality photos of your clean looking car from the interior and exterior. People don’t want to assume that the rest of your car is in good shape. In some pictures, showcase the best features of your car. If you are able to include a video of your car, people will love that as well! Bonus points for that.

2. Meet the Buyer Face To Face

Dress to Impress

Based on our days as cavemen, our brains were programmed to make quick assumptions so we could survive. First impressions are everything. For example, if your potential boss sees an unkempt interviewee upon first arrival, they will assume they are a messy person in general. It doesn’t matter how many times that person dresses nicely, brushes their teeth, or combs their hair after that because that first image will always be in the back of the interviewer’s mind. Therefore, spending the extra $20 to get a thorough wash and vacuum could add thousands to your end price. Also, don’t forget to give your car a nice scent!

It’s the Little Things

Often a person isn’t hired for what is on the resume. It can be because a small comment was dropped about a favorite sports team. I’ve even heard of a person that was hired at a large law firm because he dropped off a thank you note to the secretary that buzzed him in. Apparently, she had some connections. Accordingly, be personable! It never hurts. A lot of private sellers treat potential buyers as if they just escaped out of prison. Instead, make them comfortable. If they’re coming to your house for a test drive, give them clear directions and offer them some water. Have a clear route picked out with less traffic. Tell them that you took it for an inspection or oil change already. Let them know how much you’ve taken care of the car with maintenance records, repair work documentation, and a Carfax (or Autocheck, which is cheaper) if you have one. Even take the time to fill the tank up in case they want to drive it then and there. Yes, that tells them something about yourself and your reputation adds value to your car!

Know How Much You’re Worth

So many people are in the final process of an interview when the question is asked, “how much are you looking for?” Based off their answer, I’ve known some people to receive a salary much more than they’re worth and others, much less. It all depends on how you play it. The worst thing you can do is state a salary less than they were willing to pay, and have them give you a lowball offer on top of that. Perhaps they may even second guess their hire because they are thinking there must be a reason this candidate thinks they are worth so little. It should be stressed the job isn’t about the money. Likewise, you want to sell that your car is not just about a price tag.

First, you can bet the people who are looking at your ad have spent dozens of hours researching for cars. So should you. Find out exactly how much your car is worth and the range it is valued at. Obviously, you want to go on the higher end of the spectrum. Never turn someone down on the phone. If your car is decent, encourage them to take a look. Never state your bottom dollar, but know EXACTLY the lowest you are willing to go. Start high and tell them other people have expressed interest. If you’re not good at negotiating, find a partner who can help you.

Lastly, and most importantly, know in advance what type of payments you’ll accept and how you will handle it. It will make you look much more professional and prevent you from being scammed. When it comes to buying your car, remember that YOU set the conditions. The most effective way is to do it at the bank. Give them two options: either go to their bank and be present while they withdraw a cashier’s check OR go to your bank while you cash their check. Never turn over any completed paperwork until the money is in your account. Now, have fun getting top dollar for your car!

Dan Loney has bought and sold a few cars in his day. He highly recommends the use of an Autotrader promotion code when attempting to sell a car.

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