Supercars are some of the coolest, most exhilarating aspects of the motoring world. Who hasn’t seen a Lamborghini or a Ferrari on the road as a kid and said, “One day, when I’m rich and famous, I’m going to own that car!”? Many people want to own a supercar, and once they have the means, it can be difficult narrowing down which one you want.
That’s what dealers are there for—to help you make the best purchase. Supercar salespeople are meant to be knowledgeable about their vehicles—more so than regular car dealers—and friendly, but also serious. It takes a certain kind of person to buy a $200,000-plus vehicle. These six- and seven-figure cars are not for the faint of heart. With the insurance, warranties, options, add-ons, and extras available, buying a supercar can often become a very, very expensive endeavor, even if you’re super rich.
Supercar-makers also have a lot of rules to follow. They are the only car companies that have control over their vehicles AFTER they sell them to a buyer, which is crazy! Imagine buying a Toyota Corolla and then being told that you can’t put on a vinyl wrap or change up the speakers or exhaust. Basically, every supercar-maker believes that their cars are perfect right out of the gate. These cars should not be blasphemed by being modified, customized, or changed, practically in any way, shape, or form.
Dealers have to understand all of this. There are lots of strange rules and unwritten regulations that they need to follow when selling something like a Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bugatti, Maserati, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Koenigsegg, and a few choice others.
Here are 21 rules dealers have to follow when selling supercars.
21 Understanding Ferrari’s Fine Print
Being one of the most renowned and oldest sellers of supercars, Ferrari has its own set of often-absurd rules and regulations that need to be strictly followed, for both owner and seller. It’s important for any dealer to know the contracts and fine print front and back, so that their potential clients don’t accidentally make a mistake that breaks said rules (which could come back to bite the dealer). For instance, one strange rule that must be followed is that new Ferrari owners cannot sell their car within the first year of ownership. This hidden clause doesn’t sit well with a lot of people, who claim that Ferrari is too controlling with their cars, but that’s the way it is.
20 Don’t Modify The Ferrari Cars
Dealers have to also be aware of this particular rule set by the House of Ferrari. Potential owners of Ferraris have to comply and sign an agreement not to paint or add modifications to their car. This also counts for dealers—basically, the dealer has to sell the car straight out of the box, how it was made in the factory, and how it’s “meant” to be driven out of the showroom. One of the main additions that Ferrari is stringent on forbidding is the customization of the exhaust, mechanical parts, or anything that has to do with the engineering of the supercar, all of which would alter the heart of the vehicle.
19 Don’t Paint The Ferrari, Either
As you can probably tell, Ferrari takes their cars very seriously. As Enzo Ferrari once said, he’s in the business of “selling dreams.” Even after a buyer has paid for their car, the decisions they make about the exterior of the car are not totally theirs. Dealers are forbidden from painting any Ferraris given to their showroom, and buyers have to sign contracts that also strongly resist any restoration or painting of the vehicle. That means that vinyl wraps, custom paints, and complete redesigns of the color of the car is highly discouraged, and Ferrari is ready to jump on anyone who doesn’t comply.
18 Lamborghini Doors Should Be Open
This might sound like a strange request/rule from the OTHER big supercar-maker from Italy, but it makes sense, seeing as how Lamborghini prides themselves on their scissor-doors so much. Lamborghini is one of the most popular sellers of supercars—everyone wants one—so they can basically make their own rules that everyone, including dealers, has to follow. For any promotional pictures or showroom shots, dealers are required to open the doors in all photos, so that the cars’ most iconic features can be showcased. Not everyone abides by this rule, unfortunately, which makes the higher-ups at Lambo angry, and can even warrant a visit from one of their executives!
17 Bad Wraps Are Forbidden
A dealer probably wouldn’t do this anyway, but it’s an important rule that basically all supercar-makers force their people to follow. Once a supercar is manufactured and rolled off the production line, it’s supposed to be as perfect as it will ever be. That being the case, dealers (and customers) are not supposed to remove logos, add vinyl wraps, or paint the car the wrong colors. Bad wraps, especially, really fuel the rage of supercar-maker executives. For instance, when world-famous DJ Deadmau5 covered his Ferrari 458 Italia with his own custom wrap, a Nyan cat vinyl, Ferrari got extremely upset with him.
16 Never Pre-Qualify A Client
This is a very important unwritten rule of supercar selling that all dealers should be made aware of: NEVER pre-qualify a potential client. Yes, exotic car dealerships get a lot of “looky-loos,” but if you see a guy in jeans and a T-shirt, don’t assume that he can’t afford the car you’re selling. Generally speaking, people who buy supercars are eclectic, and not all of them are going to come into the dealership wearing a suit and tie. A classic story from Quora: a scruffy, jobless-looking man came into a dealership wanting to buy a Lambo, and he was blown off for looking like he couldn’t afford it. It turned out he was a member of Guns ‘n’ Roses and their biggest CD of all time, Appetite for Destruction, had just come out. Big blown sale there!
15 Understanding The Different Ways Of Getting Paid
Because supercars are so expensive, between six and seven figures, there are many different types of payment plans and options that a customer can choose, all of which affect the way the dealer gets paid differently. For instance, there is a “flat rate” payment option, where no matter what the car sells for, the dealer will get a flat rate. For example, if the profit on a car is $5,000, and the dealer’s flat rate pay is $1,000, that’s all they’ll make, even if the car’s profit was $10,000. There’s percentage-based commission (anywhere from 10-20% of the front-end gross of the vehicle), back-end gross (profit made from any add-ons, such as Warranties, Gap Insurance, and “Points” from interest rate).
14 Get Used To Commission Caps When First Starting Out
When you are first starting out as a dealer at a supercar dealership, you should be aware that there will probably be a Commission Cap of some kind, which means that even if you sell a million-dollar car, you shouldn’t stop working for the rest of the year. At Maserati, for instance, there is a commission cap on their high-end vehicles (which is all of them). So, even if you have a 20% commission on selling a Maserati, and let’s say you sold a car with $20,000 profit in it, instead of making $4,000, you would be capped at something like $2,500. Once you show your chops and start selling better and more frequently, this cap can be lifted.
13 Many Of The Cars In The Dealership Aren’t For Sale
This heading might be slightly misleading, but here’s what we mean by it: A large number of the annual production of a supercar are “spoken for” very far in advance, and are not “sold” by the dealerships. They’re put in the windows to get people in the door, and sometimes the cars in the showroom are still available, but that’s not always the case. Since there is a very limited number of most of these cars being built every year, a great number of Lambos, Ferraris, and other exotics are bought and paid for before they even leave the factory. Others are “bought” by the dealership on behalf of a client/customer, and a salesperson never even comes close to being involved in the process.
12 Keeping The Used Cars Nice
In 2016, Lamborghini had a record-setting sales year, recording 3,457 sales worldwide. That’s less than 10 Lamborghinis sold a day, in all dealerships, in all cities, in all countries—together, in the world! That’s not very many! And that means that even exotic car dealerships could not survive on selling brand new supercars alone, let alone make it on one brand. (That’s why you see Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, and Lamborghinis, for instance, all selling in one place). That means that a dealer will be selling used high-end cars as well, which means the dealer should get used to dusting the used cars, cleaning them, and making sure they’re spick and span for any potential buyers.
11 The Lateral Move To Selling Supercars
It’s hard becoming a supercar salesperson. The quickest way to become one is . . . well, there isn’t a quick way. But your best bet is to work as a salesperson at a different car company (or even non-car related company that sells higher-end products), like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc. Then become the top salesman at the branch. Then move onto a higher-end dealer and become their best salesperson. Then become the best salesperson in the region. Then try to get into a luxury dealership, and become the best salesman in the region. THEN, move to a place that actually sells Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bugattis, Bentleys, Aston Martins, etc. And when you do, get used to selling only 2-3 cars a year, while mostly selling other high-end, non-supercar vehicles.
10 Not Every Used Supercar Can Be Sold
On some occasions, a dealership cannot sell a used supercar due to the way the previous owner kept it—meaning that the expenses on the car will be too high to recondition it, so the dealership instead will have to send it to a wholesale auction. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s important to know that not all supercars are made equal. Usually once a month, auction houses have high-end auctions where bidders can buy nice, exotic cars at extremely low prices. But then the cost to repair these supercars will dig into the time and wallet of the buyer. This is why a used exotic car dealer must take responsibility to repair/recondition the car, and then try to make a profit off of its market value.
9 The Personal Focus Of Selling Supercars
Supercars are supposed to be “extension of one's personality,” as an anonymous salesperson at Bentley told Quora. For instance, the dealer wrote about a sale to a family who was buying a Bentley Mulsanne as a surprise gift for an uncle, for his retirement. But the dealership wouldn’t sell to the family because the car was supposed to be personalized. The family brought in the uncle, put down a 10% deposit and scheduled a test drive and “personal session.” The family accompanied the uncle during the test drive, which was filled with rich Bentley history and details about the company’s heritage. Then, the uncle had to undergo a “personality assessment test,” where the family was allowed to listen, but not make any suggestions or inputs. This is when they started to understand the “personal focus” of the car they were buying.
8 What The “Personality Test” Entails
It might sound outlandish, but here are some of the things that dealers ask a potential buyer when they’re considering buying a Bentley. First, they go over various exotic locations, then some graphic designs and artwork. After the test results were populated, the buyer is to meet the design team, who reviews the test results and, based on the results, suggests a color, interior options, exterior design, and material to be used. Almost all of the aesthetics of a new Bentley are to be derived from the personality test, right down to the knobs and buttons. The personality mapping tool is efficient, coming up with leather samples and inlays that the buyer is made to touch, feel, and select. Then the buyer is given a personalized quote, with an expected delivery date 16 months later.
7 Having Control Over Inventory
Because of the high-end clientele, and the high-end products that are being sold at these dealerships, these dealerships don’t operate like most other dealerships. For instance, if someone wants a brand new supercar within 4-5 months, and the wait time is 16 months out . . . that’s not the end of the road. An individual dealership hardly has any control over its inventory. But for someone selling Lamborghini, Ferarri, Bentley, etc., within a week the potential buyer will be given a list of 6-10 names across the globe, with vehicles similar to the one you want, that are due for delivery before the date you requested. The supercar dealership will work out a transfer and manage all communications on behalf of the buyer. They might even invite the buyer to various owner’s clubs and exotic car events to connect with other owners!
6 Given The Royal Treatment
Not all supercar sales are like this, but at places like Bentley, it’s a big deal when you buy one of their cars. Remember, these are $200,000-plus vehicles. So on the day of delivery of the vehicle, it’s really like walking down the red carpet for the buyer. The buyer is the guest of honor, of course, at a personalized event, with the dealership’s owner handing over the keys to the car. The buyer’s personalized owner’s kit comes with that person’s name etched on the manual, a personalized section from the CEO, and a personalized section from the technical person who assembled the car! Even the documentation, the kit’s build material, and the fobs are classy. These are things that can’t be bought otherwise, but it’s a way of keeping the customer a returning customer for life.
5 Don’t Underestimate The Clientele
These days, money looks a lot different than it used to, meaning that old people with Rolexes and flashy outfits aren’t the only ones who are buying Maseratis and Lambos. In fact, one Maserati salesperson told Quora that their average age for buyers is between 30-35, sometimes even younger. But many dealerships still treat their guests by physical appearance—which is a big mistake. One potential buyer relayed a story of himself and a friend going to an Audi dealership. They’re young and wearing T-shirts and jeans (they’re in tech, and have no dress code at work). They walked the showroom for 45 minutes and examined every car, but no one greeted them. Every old person who walked in was instantly greeted. They were left entirely alone! They would have bought a new Audi R8 right then and there but ended up bringing their business to Tesla, down the street.
4 Many Buyers Will Buy “Sight Unseen”
Wealthy people are often busy people, too. They have a lot of things to do, and many of them don’t want to go through the rigmarole of going to a dealership, walking around, taking a test drive, signing documents, etc. So when a dealer gets a call from someone wanting a Lamborghini, for instance, and that person knows exactly what they want—what color, what specs, engine, etc.—take the person seriously. Money shouldn’t be the first thing mentioned to the buyer over the phone. The dealer should ask the buyer if they have a drivers’ license or any issues with insurance claims. They can also mention extras, service packages, and such. Some e-documents will need to be signed, a deposit will be put down, and the rest can all be done via email. Thus, the buyer never even steps foot into the showroom.
3 Pink Supercars Are Forbidden
Ferrari loves their cars red, but they are also willing to sell cars in interesting colors like black, yellow, orange, white, and sometimes blue. However, in the world of Ferarri, pink is a no-go. Of course, some buyers change their cars pink after buying (which is also a big no-no). Ferrari President and CEO of Ferrari Australia, Herbert Appleroth, has said, “We do reject the exterior color pink.” At Lamborghini, it’s the same thing: they highly discourage buyers (and of course dealers) from painting their cars pink. Of course, famed rapper Nicki Minaj painted her $400,000 Aventador hot pink, going against the stern wishes of the Lambo bigwigs. Minaj also painted her Bentley and Range Rover the same color.
2 Get Used To The Exclusive Business
Companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bugatti, and Maserati are extremely exclusive clubs to be a part of, and in some cases, too exclusive. Supercars are a niche, with several high-end brands only going to people who look a certain age, a certain way, with a certain number of zeroes in their bank account balance. No two supercars are ever the same, which makes things difficult when buying, selling, owning, and maintaining a supercar. That’s why these companies strongly suggest not tampering with the mechanicals, the paint job, or anything else—take it to a professional. Such “one-off” designs need to be studied by the dealer, since each one comes with different specifications.
1 The Car Comes Before The Insurance
Potential supercar buyers often make the mistake of focusing too much on the insurance before they’ve even bought the car. Dealers have been made aware of this by supercar-maker execs, and are told to showcase the car—and only the car—when trying to make a sale. They urge customers across the globe to focus only on the car that they want to buy, and not the insurance, or the warranties, or the maintenance costs, or shipping, or anything else. In fact, many buyers often let the insurance (which will be hefty, of course) sway their opinion when it comes to choosing a car. Instead, they’re left with buying a second-rate imposter to their dream car, instead. The dealer should not let this happen!
References: quora.com, wired.com, businessinsider.com, whichcar.com