I’ve actually had some of my better/easier deals on ordered cars.
I think the trick is to make sure the dealer knows you’re serious and knows you aren’t going to waste their time. It only takes about half an hour to put in an order and do the paperwork, so it would be silly of them to turn away a few hundred bucks profit and a future customer over a half hour of work.
Last time I ordered a BMW, I ended up at 9.5% off MSRP before incentives, so surely not the best deal in the world, but it was easy and I got the car I wanted.
Here’s what I did.
I got an actual order sheet from bimmperpost or one of the other forums, so that I had exact pricing and options codes for the optiosn I wanted (makes it easier for them to order). I then made an excel spreadsheet (though you could easily hand write it), which listed all the options with invoice and MSRP pricing ( calculated from: https://www.bimmerfest.com/news/917430/calculating-bmw-invoice-pricing-for-my-2017-models/ ). I also did out the entire lease on the same spreadsheet showing a discount of 4% under invoice (don’t forget lease acquisition and destination fees and stuff).
I then walked into my local dealership on a weeknight, holding a print out of that spread sheet, a pen, and my check book. I stood around looking confused until a free sales associate asked if he could help me. I said, “yes, you can order me this car at this price, so we can both go home,” and handed him the print out.
I got some minor pushback, the typical “we’d be losing money on this.” I told them, no they wouldn’t, they would make 1% of MSRP plus their crazy doc fee and I reminded them that I live nearby and would be getting all my service done there. I also told them that I could easily find someone to sell me a car at those numbers on the forums and just do a performance center delivery, but that I didn’t want to mess with a fax machine. That’s all it took.
Worth noting, BMW sets allocation limits on certain models/configurations that dealers can order. It will be harder to get a discount if the dealer is running low on them. This is mostly low production things (think M’s and i’s), but you can run into some weird ones too (xDrive in Floria for example).