June 20, 2019 at 8:41 AM
Car buying can be a minefield, especially with the wide range of makes and models available, not to forget the number of dealers vying for your business. If you end up buying a car from the wrong place, you could end up making an expensive mistake.
There are two main types of car dealership you can buy from: franchised and independent. Both have their pros and cons and there are good and bad examples of each; however, a franchised dealer offers you a greater assurance of quality and peace of mind.
A franchise car dealer has a contract with a car manufacturer allowing them to sell new and approved-used versions of that brand's vehicles. It's easy to identify a franchise dealer just by looking at its name - a franchise dealer will include the name of the manufacturer it represents (e.g. Aberdare Ford).
Facilities at a franchise dealer tend to be more impressive compared to an independent dealer with financial backing from a multi-national car manufacturer that wants to try and make their products look as desirable as possible.
As well as looking more professional, buying from a franchised car dealer has a range of additional benefits.
When you decide to buy a brand new car, the only place you can go is a franchised dealer. As part of their contract with the manufacturer, they can order and purchase new inventory from the company's factory or production line and sell them exclusively within the dealer network.
This means that you can build your car to the exact specification you want - you can choose the colour, engine, gearbox and any optional extras. The franchise dealer can search the dealer network to see if there's a car with your configuration already built, which will help to speed up the delivery process.
NOTE: The more unusual your configuration (i.e. the less likely someone else is going to pick the same combinations), the longer you'll likely have to wait for the car to be built and delivered.
Franchise dealers also stock a range of nearly new and used cars. Typically, nearly new stock is purchased so that the dealer can meet monthly or quarterly sales targets - they represent an excellent opportunity for buyers that want all the advantages of a new car but can't afford the higher price tag.
A franchised dealer will buy nearly new cars in bulk directly from the manufacturer and pass the savings onto their customers. If your local dealer doesn't have the pre-registered model you're looking for, they can check the nationwide dealer network. For Ford, this network is called Ford Direct which comes with a package including 2 years unlimited mileage warranty and Ford Assistance.
Similarly, you can choose to buy a used car - franchise dealers tend to only stock the best examples of their particular manufacturer so that every car on their forecourt represents quality. Again, if you're looking for a specific model, your local franchise dealer has access to the full range of used cars across the dealer network. Ford's is called Ford Approved.
The point of a franchised dealer is that they're supposed to represent the manufacturer and sell their cars. By solely focusing on the line-up from one brand, the sales staff at a franchise dealer will have more in-depth and specialist knowledge compared to someone at an indendent dealer who has to know about a wider range of models. The latest brochures and literature will also be easily to hand so you can go away and think about your decision.
Likewise, the technicians employed in the service centre will usually only deal with cars built by the manufacturer, allowing them to build up superior knowledge about common faults and how to fix them. In addition, they will have access to specific tools and the latest software updates that might be impractical for an independent dealer to purchase.
To ensure all members of staff representing their brand are knowledgable, manufacturers will send sales and service staff on relevant training courses. Whenever a signicant new model or technical updates are released, further sessions will be organised.
As part of the contract franchised dealers have with the car manufacturer, they must follow strict guidelines on branding and customer service to offer uniformity across the network of dealers - regardless of where in the UK you visit to buy a car, the experience needs to be the same.
Franchise dealers are closely monitored by the manufacturer and they have to meet certain expectations. This level of accountability encourages them to present the brand professionally, rectify issues quickly and satisfactorily and source quality stock.
For example, Ford is the only car-maker to employ an independent company to check the quality of their servicing with around 10 unannounced visits per dealer every year. At Aberdare Ford, all our new cars undergo a full pre-delivery inspection to make sure they're ready to hit the road for the first time.
Similarly, all Ford Approved and Ford Direct cars we sell have been checked by expert Ford or RAC technicians. Any bodywork or mechanical issues are rectified and the car is only handed over once it's been fully valeted.
Although independent dealers can now service cars and maintain the manufacturer warranty, they have to follow very specific processes and conditions set out by the manufacturer. They could very well suggest that a subsequent fault was caused by poor workmanship from a mechanic without specialist knowledge.
On the other hand, any servicing or maintenance work carried out by a franchised dealer is guaranteed to keep the warranty in tact. The service centre is approved by the manufacturer and they exclusively use genuine replacement parts as standard.
When the time comes to sell your car, a full franchise service history is looked upon very favourably by used car buyers. It often increases the car's resale value and shortens the time to find a buyer.
Due to their closer relationship with the manufacturer, franchise dealerships can normally offer a lower interest rate compared to independent dealers. When it comes to brand new cars, manufacturers can even offer 0% interest on specific models for limited times during certain sales campaigns.
Typically, there will be a finance expert on site - commonly known as the Business Manager - who can provide advice on the best finance option for you. Most manufacturers have their own finance house that specialises in providing finance deals for their cars. Ford offer Ford Credit which is a trading style of FCE Bank.
We pride ourselves on upholding the high standards set by Ford. You can read the reviews left by customers on our public accounts, and those gathered by Ford themselves after a customer has used any of our services.