Originally Posted by Flyflicker
Last but not least when I walk in with a duffel bag of cash. What kind of price should I reasonably expect?
You can actually work that out in advance, though the miracle of e-mail. When I bought my Airstream, that's what I did.
Contact your two closest dealers. Add in a few from farther away that have a good reputation, such as Foley in Gulfport, or Colonial if you're willing to travel that far for a better dealó but see below on how transport costs enter into it.
Give all of the dealers identical information on what you want, and get quotes from them. Tell them up-front that you're getting quotes from other dealers as well; that's only fair, and it's important to the process as well. After they all respond once, take the best price up to that point, and tell that price to the others. Give them a chance to beat that price. If they do, repeat the process with the new lowest price, until everyone says, "Nope, That's as low as I can go."
Then, figure out how much it will cost for a round-trip visit to that dealer to pick up your new acquisition. Add that cost to each dealer's best offer. Whichever one is lowest when you add in transportation costs is your winner.
It's basically "reverse bidding." Each dealer is bidding against the others to offer you a lower price and get your business. But it's important that in your comparison you include the round-trip cost. Spending $1000 in fuel to save $500 on the price of the trailer is no bargain.
Then, when you walk into the dealer's office, you'll have a hard-copy of the e-mailed quote in your grubby little hands, and there's no negotiations left to do. You just make the purchase at the already-agreed price.
When I negotiated this way, I selected five dealers that were all within the distance I was willing to travel. One dealer took himself out of the competition straight away because he tried to offer me a quote on something different from what I wanted, based on what he wanted to sell, not what I wanted to buy. One declined to even offer a quote because he didn't have what I wanted in stock (I wasn't willing to wait for a special-order).
Of the other three, Crain and Foley came in with identical pricing, which meant that Foley won in my case. The cost to drive an hour each way versus the cost to drive a day each way made the difference.
You may not get the absolute lowest rock-bottom price that a ruthless hardnosed negotiator might get in a face-off with the salesman by using reverse bidding, but you will get a respectable price at a decent discount off MSRP. And all without you having to come up with a price of your own to counter their offiers; by pitting different dealers against each other, you're making them do all of the negotiating for you.
One word of caution, though: When you ask for a quote, also ask the dealer how long that quote is good for. Some may say two weeks, others may say a month. But however long they say, if you go past the acceptance period without making up your mind, they have the right to renegotiate; quotes get "stale" the longer they sit on the table, as dealers rotate their stock or deal with other customers who may want the same trailer you negotiated for.