Behind the Wheel Home Delivery

Lines of unsold 2019 Pilot sports-utility vehicles sit at a Honda dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Savvy car shoppers can save time and reduce stress by taking delivery of their vehicle at their home and skip going to the dealership altogether.

Here’s a car-buying pro tip that may help shave serious time and negotiation stress from the average purchase process: Ask the dealership to deliver the new vehicle to your home. Taking delivery of a car can be done without ever setting foot on the dealership’s lot.

The industry term for a car deal completed away from a dealership is an “off-site delivery.” Bridget Stennis, a Volkswagen Santa Monica fleet manager with more than 20 years of dealership experience, said she does several off-site delivery deals monthly.

“Sometimes my clients simply can’t make it into my store because of schedule, distance or whatever. So occasionally I’ll offer to bring the deal to them,” Stennis said. She said that shoppers are usually surprised to hear that they can have the new car delivered, along with the purchase paperwork, and are often excited by the prospect.

Distance or time constraints aren’t the only reasons. You can also avoid what many shoppers see as a time-wasting hassle: price negotiations at the dealership. If you handle negotiations on the phone or online, you might be able to get the vehicle delivered to you without getting up from your couch.

Edmunds offers tips on how to negotiate a home delivery for your next vehicle.

Negotiating the price

These days, many new-car shoppers start negotiations online. When discussing pricing details with dealers, tell them that an at-home delivery would encourage you to give them your business.

For many dealers, the option of picking up a deal by simply doing the paperwork remotely will be too enticing to pass up.

Be flexible about timing

The chances of the dealership agreeing to an at-home delivery drop dramatically if you request delivery during a busy holiday sale or weekend. Consider trying to set up the drop-off when business is slower and fewer employees are needed on the sales floor, such as weekday mornings or evenings. You may also be able to arrange a weekend delivery if it is done in the earlier part of the morning.

Know your options

Industrious car dealership personnel aren’t the only force powering the home delivery movement. Newcomers to the automotive landscape such as Shift, Carvana and Vroom offer up used vehicles that can be purchased online and dropped off on a buyer’s driveway.

On the automaker side, Hyundai has what it calls the Shopper Assurance program, which allows customers to schedule test drives online. A local participating Hyundai dealership can deliver the test-drive vehicle to the customer’s home. Hyundai’s program also lets you see no-haggle pricing online, although the purchase paperwork still has to be done at the dealership.

Overcoming reluctance

Some dealerships will be hesitant to do an off-site delivery. It could be as simple of a barrier as the extra behind-the-scenes work for dealership employees needed to make it happen. Also, possible identity theft, forgery, or the prospect of losing a vehicle purchased unlawfully and shipped overseas may present more risk than some dealerships are willing to stomach. These cautious dealers will want documents signed in person, where the shopper can be vetted.

Other dealerships will want the deal done in-house because their long-term business model relies on car shoppers returning for vehicle servicing. These dealers believe the odds of that customer coming back drop if the final deal is done off-site or if the customer lives far away.

Another reason some dealers want deals done on their premises is that off-site delivery allows shoppers to bypass the traditional visit to the finance and insurance office. The F&I office is where shoppers can purchase aftermarket add-ons such as warranties and alarms. These products are often profitable for dealerships, and skipping that F&I visit virtually eliminates the dealership’s opportunities for those add-on sales.

All of this is to say that it may take some convincing to get a dealer to agree to an off-site delivery. Try asking your salesperson to find out what would motivate management to allow the deal to happen.

Edmunds said that in a retail landscape where even supermarkets deliver, it makes sense that the car business would eventually follow suit. As dealers look for new ways to please customers, expect to see more cars coming to customers instead of the other way around.

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mhastings@wsjournal.com

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@mhastingsWSJ

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