Hammer Time: To My Fellow Dealers

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

You may have noticed that car dealers get bashed by the mainstream media on a regular basis.

There are a few good reasons for that.

We have what can be called an image problem. When folks think of a car dealer these days, they don’t think of a self-made man who started off with nothing but a love of cars and created a business that makes thousands of good folks happy.

What they think of is…


And this…

And most definitely this.

Colorful crappy flags flying in the wind with neon green stickers on a car’s windshield that say “$500 DOWN! ONE OWNER! WHAT A DEAL!”

As a guy who has been remarketing used cars for about 16 years now, this phony baloney image has always pissed me off. Like a lot of guys who love cars and are lucky enough to make a living at it, I work my vital organs off to make sure that my business serves my customers and reflects my values.

Most of the successful dealers I know have spent years building their auto-related knowledge in this business. Trust me: It’s not easy at all.

Everything changes quick. Sometimes when a manufacturer has built a vehicle with quality issues, we get to be the guinea pigs hit with buying the new engine or transmission. This happens after the manufacturer is already aware of the problem and buries their legal head in the sand.

This type of shit always flows downhill when you’re a dealer. Guess who gets blamed for a Mazda CX-7 that has an engine design as defective as Andy Dick? The dealer who sells it — always. We get to find out from the customer six months later that the nice shiny car was really a rolling turd on the inside.

The manufacturer just gets to deny the claim.

There are countless other issues. Some of our members really are douchebags and they range from the guy hawking junk to the stupid and ignorant, to the dealers association who thinks that fighting Tesla serves anyone’s interest — including their own.

I have gone on record on a long list of media outlets, from Al Jazeera to Yahoo, telling our representatives to knock it off when it comes to Tesla. They have the right to sell their own product, and the manufacturers who are encouraging dealers to oppose Tesla (click and skip to 36:30 for the testimony from two GM attorneys) are essentially trying to operate as a legalized theft cartel.

There is also, unfortunately, a lot of PR hell you catch for operating a successful small business in a profession where the big guys get to stir the pot. When it comes time for someone, somewhere, to become the spokesmen for our business in a respectful manner, it’s rarely a working class guy like the one above. They’re too normal to fit that deformed mold of extreme tabloid spin.

It’s a shame because the successful in our business do more to help everyday folks, and the environment, by properly repairing and reconditioning millions of used vehicles.

We collectively achieve this. Every. Single. Year.

In the real world, you have to know more than just cars to become successful. In my case it was as an auto auctioneer, a remarketing manager, and much later operating an auto auction that sold thousands of cars. Some of us in the car business start out as body men, mechanics, or even enthusiasts like many of you who buy and sell one vehicle at a time.

We build businesses…and in the eyes of many, we’re the bad guys.

Do we get the publicity for our good works? Nope! Instead, we collectively wind up having our image hijacked by a variety of extremists and scum who couldn’t create a healthy image to save their asses from first base.

Don’t get me wrong. We do have a ton of good folks that get their moment in the sun. Go find a charity fundraising effort in any community and chances are you will find a dealer there along with plenty of other good-hearted business folks.

What I also find amazing is that some of our spokesmen are not actually dealers themselves. It’s like automotive journalists who don’t even own a car, or politicians who pretend to know everything from hemorrhoids to hurricanes. I frankly don’t blame any guy who asks for help and credits the guy who helped him figure it all out.

But that’s often the industry exception to what should be a golden rule.

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3 of 77 comments
  • IronEagle IronEagle on Aug 21, 2015

    Oh l was laughing so hard l couldn't breathe from that second video. It hurt but thanks for the laugh!

  • DeWitt DeWitt on Aug 27, 2015

    What a bunch of cry-baby bs. Used car dealers right here in Georgia were able to get a new title tax law passed that has been a huge boon to car dealers. The idea that most used car dealers are self-made men just trying to build a business and serve the customer is a big load of crap. A lot of these dealers are trust-fund baby's playing with dad's money and otherwise unemployable.

  • Duane Baldinger Where can I send the cash? It's a surprise BDAY present for my cupcake Mailman. D Duane
  • Art Vandelay Pour one out for the Motors Liquidation Corporation
  • Bill Wade Norm, while true I'll leave you with this. My 2023 RAM is running Android 8 released in 2017.My wife's navigation on her GM truck is a 2021 release, I believe the latest. Android Auto seems to update very week or two. Now, which would you rather have? Anybody with a car a couple of years old NEVER sees any updates. Heck, if your TV is a few years old it's dead on updates. At least cell phones are rapidly updated. If your old phone won't update, buy another $200 phone. If your GM vehicle doesn't update do what, buy another $50,000 GM vehicle?
  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.
  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.