Bottom line - Brian B. and Brown's Alexandria Mazda are terrific - GREAT price, GREAT customer service. Honest and very transparent about everything, every step of the way, not at all pushy, not the least bit condescending or predatory-feeling (and I'm a young, single, blonde female), and very responsive. If I needed to buy another car tomorrow, I'd go back without hesitation and highly recommend him/them.
My experience: First, I *hate* car shopping. Hate it. Dread the process and would rather get a root canal every day for a month. But my car was totaled in Hurricane Sandy and I needed a new one, so I started reading reviews, checking local inventories, and requesting quotes online.
Brian B. at Brown's Alexandria Mazda was the first person to respond, and it was clear he actually read my quote request because he sent me genuine follow up questions about what I wanted, not the VERBATIM form letter I got from every single other dealership (some even forgot to change the field that said ). He was incredibly responsive over email for the rest of the evening as I asked about cars, options, and prices. He was great about providing detailed quotes at every step - whereas many of the other dealers that contacted me just wanted to get me in the door to test drive first and talk price later. (I want prices while I'm home and on my computer and can comparison shop! I'm not coming in until I think I've found a good deal.)
Brian offered me a competitive price on a car I wanted, so I scheduled a test drive the next day. Despite the great email communication (polite, professional, not pushy in the least), I was still dreading actually walking into the dealership. In the past, I've felt like day-old carcass the way the vultures descended as soon as I walked in. But Brian was friendly and ...genuine. I didn't feel like I was on a clock and he wasn't overly familiar like some of the other salesman I dealt with. (You know the ones that act like you're their new best friend as soon as you meet them? That can't agree with you enough about everything you say while it's clear they're barely listening? I hate that, and this was the opposite.) Just genuinely friendly and professional.
We went out to the lot, he took me straight to the car I asked to see, didn't try to show me any of the fancier models on the way, and let me look things over at my own pace. He showed me features when I asked, and talked to me like an intelligent person, but in non-car-speak. We took a test drive and I didn't feel rushed. He pointed out a few driving/performance features along the way and let me go as far as I wanted to in order to get a feel for the car.
I still wasn't sure about the car when we got back, so I told him I wanted to think about it and he said, "I understand. It was great meeting you, and if you have any questions or want to come back for another drive or to check out a different car, just give me a call." That was it! No "what will it take to get you to change your mind and buy this car today" pressure. No wasting my time. Besides the time I spent driving, I was at the dealership for probably 20 minutes, tops. Looking at the car too, not sitting at a desk being grilled about "what's my price point?"
I test drove that same car and a few other models at two other area dealerships the next day, and those salesmen were pushy, didn't listen, and in general just put me off in a big way. I stayed long enough to give them Brian's quote and ask them to beat it. They made me offers in writing, and I left, but not before they could summon the managers to try to pressure me into buying on the spot.
I decided I did really like the car I drove (same model at 3 dealerships), so I emailed Brian, gave him the best price I'd been quoted, and he was able to come in just under that, which was *well* below invoice, and even well below Edmunds' own "True Market Value" price! I wanted one last test drive to be sure (hey, it's still a lot of money! I want to be sure!) and again, despite having spent 2 days emailing me and time on a test drive with me the day before, he was happy to go for another drive with me.
I loved the car, I got a great price, and even the paperwork to actually buy the car didn't take very long. No waiting for hours while they try to sneak extras into the bill. Honest, up-front pricing. Consistently great customer service from start to finish. Great value, and great experience. (and how many times can you ever say that about car buying??)