The Truth About Cars » The Car Salesmanuscripts The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 19:22:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » The Car Salesmanuscripts The Car Salesmanuscripts: Bounty Hunters Sat, 03 Nov 2012 05:04:42 +0000

A wad of hundred dollar bills flew through the air, landing in the center of the conference room table. It was the start of a new month, and the Dealer Principal was making what was to be our main focus quite clear.

“You’ve got an entire row of used cars out there that hasn’t moved in far too long,” he thundered at the sales staff. Producing a sheaf of papers from his jacket pocket, a list featuring about a dozen vehicles that had been on the lot approaching 100 days appeared. “These are all in Recon as we speak, getting turned into cream puffs. That cash goes to the person who sells the most off this list.” A bounty,  then. Game on.

I enjoyed selling second-hand vehicles off the lot, if for nothing else than earning the favorable commission when compared to most equivalent new models. Knowing the commission percentage of gross profit for new and used, and there was often a lot more profit built into the asking price of something from the left-hand side of the parking lot, I tended to sell as many used as possible. The smell of a new car is alluring; the smell of money even more so.

One month the Sales Manager inexplicably purchased from auction several used examples of a compact sedan when we already had a plethora of the exact same new sedans sitting unsold up in the back lot. Logically, the sales staff latched onto the used models like a newborn latches onto its mother. Equivalent car, more profit, more commission – what wasn’t to like? Predictably, a cease-and-desist order was issued by way of a bounty on the new models, causing all sales staff to gravitate towards those cars in search of extra cash.

This particular month, though, there would be no easy way to earn the extravagantly offered bounty. From the list, I recall a wretched station wagon in a horrible shade of green. A plain, no frills hatchback with mismatched side moldings – different textures from the factory. A sorry looking minivan whose interior appeared to have been previously inhabited by an angry lynx. Whatever the Sales Manager was smoking when he bought these cars to create this fiasco, he should have shared,  it must have been good.

Recon is a short term for reconditioning – the wash bay, in less glamorous terms. At the dealer, nearly everything looks nice and shiny. Those dozen cars in question? They all just got sprayed down by the pimply faced, minimum wage teenager in the wash bay before going up on the 3 foot high display overlooking the main road. Every one of those vehicles had languished on the lot for a reason. As a customer, it pays to look at and study used cars with the same care as if they are plutonium filled tax forms.

Three of the twelve was enough for me to earn the bounty. The wagon went to a local delivery company who mercifully painted it in their livery colors. The base model penalty box was pawned off to a new college student who was excited to simply have wheels. I vividly remember selling the mechanically sound but tattered minivan to a very nice family who apparently cared not one whit about the shredded interior. Perhaps they had a pet lynx of their own.

When shopping, go ahead and open the hood. Open the trunk. Open the doors. Listen to Steve Lang. I took pride in being as up front as humanly possible with those customers because referrals and repeat customers are the key to being successful in this business. An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.

Matthew buys, sells, repairs, & races cars. He is fond of making money and offering loud opinions. He can be found on Twitter @matthewkguy

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The Car Salesmanuscripts: Here’s My Card Mon, 09 Jul 2012 12:30:38 +0000 There’s not really any sense, I’ve learned, in trying to be subtle in this business. Bull in a china shop, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes is the modus operandi – at least when handling the antics of competing dealers.

Fresh out of business school, where my head was crammed with strategies and theories whilst my appetite was sorted with mucho beer and pizza, I had tons of ideas and concepts I wanted to employ. “Build your brand”, they said. “Be top of mind”, they exhorted. In my early efforts to do both, I took full advantage of all opportunities, earning business and pissing off competitors.

Being employed at the smaller of the two dealerships representing our brand only strengthened my resolve. They were the rich cousin but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I was in my early 20s and knew (knew!) that I was the best car salesman … in the world.

Towards the end of the calendar year, the other dealership decided to rent space at the local shopping mall to park some cars and build awareness. Privately, I thought it was a great idea. Publicly, I slagged it off with haughty derision in order to mirror the reaction of our Dealer Principal. I think he was just angry that he hadn’t thought of the idea first.

I hated the mall. My girlfriend at the time did not. In pursuit of a “healthy relationship”, I agreed to go shopping with her there on a Friday evening. When we walked through the South Entrance, I saw the cars on display by the competing dealer. I don’t know how much the other guys were paying for space in the mall but if the number of people milling about was any indication – peering through windows, kicking tires, looking at window stickers – it sure seemed like the expenditure was worth every penny.

Then it struck me. “I sell the same damn cars!” I blurted out to no one in particular. While the existence of two competing dealers for the same brand was a huge source of disgruntlement for me, in reality most customers simply didn’t know the difference. I decided to use this to my advantage; and I had just picked up a box of shiny new business cards! How fortuitous. I ran out to my generously supplied dealer SUV to get them.

On returning, I talked to as many of the potential customers as humanly possible. Some were interested. Some treated me as if I were a soiled reader of Playboy Magazine. When I ran out of people to tempt, I plastered all of the competitor’s cars there in the mall with my business cards. They were everywhere. Legend has it that the owner of the other dealership ranted, raved, and generally frothed when he found out what I had done. It’s a documented fact that nine direct sales resulted because of my quick thinking. That’s nine that the other guys didn’t get. Fabulous.

After telling the Dealer Principal what I had done, he roared with laughter.

“Maybe displaying cars in the mall is not such a bad idea … especially if they’re spending money to send us customers!”

I had to agree. Around here, damn the torpedoes is a fine approach.

Matthew Guy buys and sell cars. He tweets as Matthew the Car Guy (@matthewkguy) and writes for the British website for young enthusiasts, Car Throttle.

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The Car Salesmanuscripts: Rewarding Bad Behaviour Sun, 08 Jul 2012 10:17:00 +0000 “This place smells like a distillery!” roared the Dealer Principal, hurling a previously useful phone book across the office. The veins in his neck popped out like redwood trees and I thought he was going to have a coronary right there on the spot.

“Clean yourself up or you’ll be looking for another job by 5 o’clock!”

In reality, his rage was not directed at me but rather at a co-worker who, by all accounts, seemed to have rolled into work that Saturday morning straight from the downtown bar district. Ron and I were both in our early 20s, but he had started at the dealership about a year earlier. Known for being greasier than an oil slick, Ron’s charm and sales ability generally kept him in the good books with his co-workers and the Dealer Principal. This time though, I wondered if his luck was about to run out.

“Shit, Ron. What the hell did you get up to last night?” I asked him. Ron truly did look like death warmed over.

“Not a clue, Matt”, he replied. At least I think that’s what he said. Now that I think about it, the words sounded more like “Nobaclew, Mzzz”.

“Listen, there’s a minivan I took in on trade last night that’s not entered into any of the systems yet. It’s parked around the building. Go lie down. And take these Tylenol”, I instructed. Ron grunted his thanks, shambling off in the direction of the back lot. It took him a couple of hours to resurface.

It was hardly his first time being threatened with job loss. The previous summer he and I had done particularly well with a specific leasing program on full size trucks and both of us were rewarded with a sport coupé each for a company demo. A dealership supplied car for personal use is a perk afforded to all sales staff, one for which I am grateful every waking minute of the day.

The quality of one’s demo is always directly proportional to one’s sales, or lack thereof. Do well, you drive well. Languish near the bottom of the Big Board, however, and a base model Penalty Box is your punishment. One month, all hands were deemed unworthy and the manager busted everybody down to used vehicles. His efforts were for naught. As there were a plethora of SUVs and trucks in the used inventory, most of us ended up driving better used demos than the new demos that were taken away. It wasn’t long before the manager wised up and we were all back in our original cars.

The sport coupé wasn’t in Ron’s possession for very long. A couple of weekends after being presented with the keys, he decided to attend a concert just outside of town. This was fine, except he chose to drive right down to the bottom of a steep grassy field – not unlike, upon reflection, that episode of Top Gear UK where the hosts bought crap cars and drove them like teenagers in a series of challenges.

After a night of partying and a morning of sobering up, Ron decided it was time to depart. It was at this time he discovered the grass had the approximate traction properties of the Jell-O shooters being consumed the previous evening. In a fit of frustration, the coupé was given bootfuls of right foot, creating a cloud of acrid clutch smoke that most definitely remedied the blackfly problem in that part of the world for at least three weeks.

Limping back to the dealership, sporting a burnt and now useless clutch, the coupé was put on a lift in the service department for repairs and Ron was read the riot act by the Dealer Principal. Predictably, he got away with it based on his most recent sales performance and the assertion that he would be driving the worst car on the lot for the next two months. Unfazed, Ron continued to outsell almost everybody on staff.

Ron’s not at the dealership anymore, having moved on to greener pastures of his own volition. It’s the people that make this industry bearable and, dare I say it, fun. Ron is just another one of life’s characters. Wherever he is, someone’s probably throwing a phone book at him – and I mean that as a compliment.

Matthew Guy buys and sell cars. He tweets as Matthew the Car Guy (@matthewkguy) and writes for the British website for young enthusiasts, Car Throttle.

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The Car Salesmanuscripts: The Car That Got Away Mon, 18 Jun 2012 09:58:53 +0000 First in a series by car salesman Matthew Guy.

Trying to eke out a living in your early 20s is rarely an easy task. Compounded with fresh debt and a lack of solid work experience, I decided to parlay my knowledge of cars into making money, taking a job selling cars. It was intended to be a gap job –turned out I liked it and, more importantly, I was good at it. Some customers stick out in your mind. The 1000 watt bombshell with fabulous frontage to whom I sold a convertible. A raven haired beauty who was equally as sharp a negotiator as she was a testament to the female form. Too late in the game, I realized that dating customers was an extremely poor idea – especially if Check Engine lights and alternator problems were frequent. One red haired temptress refused to tell anyone how we met, lest people think she paid me to be her boyfriend through the commission. At 23 years old, I didn’t really care.

Not all notable customers were of the unfair sex. This guy, I chased for over a month. He was waffling between another car from me and a Subaru from across town. The industry is small, I knew the Subaru folks outside of work. On this particular customer, we agreed that whoever made the sale would get steak and the loser would get beans. As far as I was concerned, it was over before it began. They would dine on beans, I decided.

The Subaru boys were making it tough, pointing out to the customer that my new car was not significantly different than the 8 year old example he was trading, it was FWD vs their AWD, and so forth. I countered with tales of piston slap and a higher MSRP after rebates. It’s predictable who won; I wouldn’t be telling this story if I didn’t end up eating ribeye. But that steak came at a price that was dear. Once he had signed on the line that is dotted, I took his trade and parked it in the back, next to a clapped out Lumina and a Caravan that was leaking all its fluids.

Within an hour I was paged to my office for a phone call. “Hi. This is [customer]. I want to return my car.” Resisting the urge to groan out loud I mentally dug into every sales lesson I ever attended. I asked him what he most liked about the car. I asked him why he kept his current car for so long. I talked about buyer’s remorse.

It didn’t matter. “I’ll be there in about 20 minutes.” Damn. “OK.” I said, using a tone generally reserved for heart attack patients. So I rushed over to the office and explained what’s going on. Not without reason, the manager’s first question was “Where’s his trade?” “Out back, with the rest of the ones we took in today.” It dawned on me now if we explained that the trade was already sold to a wholesaler, it would muddy the waters enough that he probably would go away. Besides, it’s not like we had a return policy anyway.

Usain Bolt in the 100m did not move as quickly as I did. The body shop manager quickly saw what was up and opened the doors, first to the garage, then to the paint booth some 50ft inside. Comfortably ensconced by DuPont and Sherwin-Williams, the traded car had effectively vanished from the face of the earth.

The customer showed up in a cloud of dust and boiling brake fluid. It’s safe to say he did his best Andretti impersonation on the way to the dealership. We had a sit down. It turned out that Subaru called him on his mobile shortly after he left our lot and talked him into making the call back to us. Fair enough; I probably would have done the same thing. That customer returned thrice in seven years, buying a car each time, Check Engine lights be damned. God only knows how many referrals he sent. And that steak? Knowing that I beat the competition not only in the initial sale but also in their attempt to turn the tables made it taste that much better.

Matthew Guy buys and sell cars,  he tweets as Matthew the Car Guy (@matthewkguy) and writes for the British website 

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