Car broker does the dirty work

If buying or leasing a car makes you feel like you have been taken to the cleaners, you might want to try getting your next car through a broker.

Mississauga car broker Mark Derry owns Mark Derry’s CarSense. On behalf of his clients, he helps choose the type of vehicle, negotiates the price and delivers it to your door.

Derry has been brokering cars full-time since December of 1997 but he has been in car sales, on and off, since 1991. He was successful, but got tired working so hard to get past customers’ distrust. A 2003 Leger Marketing poll showed only 16 per cent of people in Ontario trusted car salesmen.

After working for Bell Mobility for two years, he put together a business plan that would let him sell cars on his own terms and CarSense was born.

“I found it frustrating to only be able to sell one kind of car when I knew that a different make and model had a better deal” said Derry. “The process was counter-intuitive. I had to get the most money from the client because that was how I made money. Now, with CarSense, I get to go against the dealers to get the best deal for my client.”

Because he charges set fees, the only way negotiating a lower price affects his bottom line is by getting him more referrals.

Derry estimates that, once consumers decide on the make and model, they spend about 20 hours in four dealerships negotiating for the best deal.

“It’s an exhausting process,” said Derry, and at the end of the day, most consumers feel they have been ripped off.”

Because there are so many dealerships competing against each other, Derry can broker a deal with dealership fleet managers that can beat the best price on the sales floor by up to $9,000. Fleet managers deal with him because of the volume of business he brings them and the fact that he does the work. It is an easy sale and keeps their numbers high.

For Derry’s client, it means a better price and Derry does the paper work and the negotiating – all of the dirty work.

Mark Horodezny of Mississauga figures Derry saved him between $600-$800 last year when he bought his new Toyota Sienna van and the process was easy and pleasant.

“I’m not afraid to haggle, so I went out and negotiated my best price and Mark beat it,” said Horodezny. “That surprised me because it was a popular new model van in high demand and there didn’t seem much room for negotiation. But Mark got me a better price and then arranged the trade-in of my old vehicle. It was great and I’ll definitely use him again.

Derry estimates half his clients come to him for price and half come because they don’t have the time to go through the process themselves.

He brokers deals on new cars that cost $60,000 as well as used cars that go for $10,000. The process is the same. The client gives him a $100 retainer. He finds the deal. Regardless of the cost of the vehicle, he charges $385 for brokering a new car and $550 to broker a used car, because buying used is more work. If you can find a lower price on your own, he refunds the $100 retainer.

As far as Derry knows, he is the only car broker based in Mississauga. He wishes there were a few more to spread the word that such a service exists. He relies on referrals and word-of-mouth for new business.

When he threw a customer appreciation picnic at Wildwood Park in September, 120 satisfied clients showed up.

Business is a bit slower this year, but still busy. During the last week of September he delivered five cars to clients.

Derry admits his business is an odd one, considering he has a degree in economics, but CarSense lets him be his own boss, work with people and buy cars full-time. They’re all activities he loves.

Derry can be reached at 416-697-8363. or at www.carsense.to.

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November 6, 2004

Jan Dean

The Mississauga News