By on June 23, 2016

bark green screen

For over four years now I’ve contributed to this site and others as “Bark M.” Initially, there was some confusion about who I was, why I had a pseudonym, and if I was possibly Jack Baruth in disguise. I’ve spent that time giving you my insights on the automotive industry, the inside scoop on what goes on at dealers, and everything I know about the car-buying business.

Yet, now and then, somebody who disagreed with me would pipe up: “You don’t know what car dealerships are like,” or “What are your credentials, buddy?” I could never really share anything other than, “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

Today, I’m here to tell you that my name is Mark Baruth, and for the last four years I worked on the inside of one of the biggest companies in the automotive world. This is my story.

AutoTrader hired me in May 2012 as a Divisional Sales Trainer. My title changed a few times over the years, as did my job focus, but I was originally brought in to work in the field as a sales coach with our Advertising Consultants. Before that, I had worked in sales management and sales training with companies like Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Cricket, Men’s Wearhouse, and Xerox.

I’d always loved cars, of course, but I’d never worked in the car business. I watched my brother struggle through sales jobs at foreign and domestic dealers, and decided that wasn’t the course for me. However, the automotive space always held interest for me. I dreamed of maybe being a trainer for an OEM. One day, in April 2012, I was sitting at my desk at Xerox, where I was the Training and Development Specialist for one of their sales channels, when my desk phone rang. This was particularly odd, because I didn’t even know my desk phone numberNobody ever called me on it — they always used my cell phone. Nevertheless, I answered it.

It was a recruiter from AutoTrader, asking me if I knew anybody who would be interested in a Sales Trainer job in the Great Lakes area.

When you work in sales training, it’s never “if” you’ll be laid off, it’s always “when.” I had been laid off from Cricket Wireless a little less than a year earlier, along with several other trainers, and I knew that many of them were still looking for work. I offered to pass along the information to my friends, and didn’t think much of it after that.

However, once I received information from the recruiter, I began to realize that it was the perfect job for me; working with sales professionals one-on-one doing consultative sales training, and it was in the automotive field! Not quite an OEM job, but not schlepping used Kias, either. After about a month of interviews and background checks, I started with AutoTrader in May.

My recruiter and hiring manager both warned me there would be a steep learning curve — and they were right. It was a huge crash course in the automotive biz. I was assigned three sales reps per quarter to work with in our “Good to Great” program, which, in addition to being a huge copyright violation, was a program for sales reps who had indicated high potential but weren’t quite top performers yet. My very first quarter, I was assigned to two sales reps who had over a decade of experience as General Managers of large domestic dealerships. While I was supposed to be coaching them on sales processes, in reality, they were the ones who were coaching me on the processes and the inner workings of dealerships.

I learned what happens in an F&I office, how a parts department should be run, how to properly schedule your service techs, why CRM tools are essentially useless, how used cars are priced, and how auctions work. It wasn’t Automotive 101, but a graduate-level seminar for three months. I will forever be grateful to those two gentlemen for my education. I think I helped them a bit, too. They both went from middle-of-the-road performers to being two of the top 10 sales reps in the country.

The rest of that year, I spent three days a week visiting dealerships all across America (by the time I was done at AutoTrader, I would ultimately visit dealers in over 40 states). I began to see how dealers operated differently depending on different factors, such as market size, lot size, and franchise type. I examined the inner workings of independent dealers, too. I helped our consultants craft solutions that fit all of their online advertising needs. I had to be intimately familiar with every aspect of their business, because AutoTrader wasn’t just advertising. We had sister companies that managed inventory, CRM tools, pricing software, website hosting, SEO/SEM and targeting strategies, auctions … you name it. We had our fingers in every part of a customer’s operation.

Of course, along the way, I had access to all of our reporting tools, too. I learned what makes a car sell quickly and, inversely,  what makes it celebrate its first birthday on the lot. Eventually, I could analyze a dealer’s entire 200+ car inventory in seconds, and tell them exactly what they needed to do to increase activity on those cars. I watched as dealers either embraced the new digital landscape and thrived, or clung to their old brick-and-mortar ways and died slow, painful deaths.

In addition to my in-field coaching, I also spent a great deal of time doing classroom facilitation for our salespeople. I led two-day seminars for as many as 40 reps at a time, coaching them on sales and business development skills. I recorded instructional videos and webinars (as seen above — who can make the best Bark meme with that green screen pic?). Along the way, I kept refining my own skills and knowledge, too. I attended NADA Academy workshops to learn about dealership financials and operations. I read all of Dale Pollak’s books on his Velocity strategies, and was fortunate enough to hear him speak several times. I attended several auctions with our colleagues from Manheim. I went to the NADA conference. I wanted to do everything I could to assimilate into the car-dealer world. Eventually, nobody even asked if I had worked at a dealer before — they all just assumed that I had, because I had dedicated myself to becoming a student of the business.

While I never directly coached or trained dealers, I would invariably be asked for my advice when I visited. They saw me as the “guy from corporate.” I rarely told dealers that I was there to coach their AutoTrader rep, because I didn’t want them to think that their rep needed more or extra help. It was normally the opposite, as I only scheduled myself to work with our strong performers. I remember many times when I would sit with a dealer and go through their inventory with them, one car at a time, making suggestions on what they could do to improve. Sometimes it was little things: maybe the pictures were fuzzy, or they didn’t write good descriptions. Other times, it was a much more serious issue, like they were pricing their cars at 120 percent of the market average. I got kicked out of a few dealers over the years, too, for daring to challenge their methodologies. But I believed that it was my job to make sure that I coached our consultants to challenge our customers to evolve and think differently; to disrupt the business. Over my time at AutoTrader, I visited nearly 2,000 different dealers. (And no, Orlando Kia West wasn’t one of them — but they were a customer!)

Over time, AutoTrader evolved, too. They merged several of their media and software companies under one roof, first calling it AutoTrader Group then, finally, Cox Automotive. Nearly all the leadership roles in the company changed hands during my time there; every single executive officer and VP. As the company shifted gears, I began to feel a shift in culture.

Late last year, I was offered an opportunity to work for another digital advertising company, but the timing just wasn’t right. Even though it was a great organization, the role wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. However, earlier this year, I re-engaged with them on a new opportunity, and I ended up accepting an offer to manage their automotive development strategy. I’m still working in automotive, so I’m still going to be visiting dealers, finding out their needs, and helping our people recommend advertising strategies. My boss says there’s no conflict of interest, so I’m good to keep writing here at TTAC for the foreseeable future.

So there you have it. When I tell you what goes on in dealers, it’s because I’ve spent more time there over the last four years than even most former dealers have. I’ve been involved in discussing every single aspect of the business with GMs and dealer principals, face-to-face. Even though you know my real name, I like being Bark M., so I’m going to keep using my pen name here and elsewhere, and I’ll keep telling you what I know about this crazy business we all love so much.

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252 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: Who Is Bark, And Why Should We Listen To Him?...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    Wow! Great story. Good work!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Pretty cool mark ! .
    .
    Thanx for sharing your insights .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    You’re one of “of the Bobs” from Office Space.

    I’ve dealt with marketing people many times, which is really the category you best fit (not meant as an insult, but marketing has a bad name for very good reasons).

    I’ve seen many fads come & go, and marketing is responsible for a disproportionately high % of them.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      So, what exactly would you say you “do” around here?

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I thought Bob and Bob were “efficiency” consultants.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Bark is a Bob, who coaches/assesses Michael Boltons & Peters, on behalf of Lumbergs.

      He also tries to sell software (e.g. CRM crap that autospams customers) and proprietary hardware (made by Chinese companies, but sub-branded under some innocuous name associated with an affiliate company under Autotrader ownership) to the Lumbergs of the world.

      Then, when vehicle sales improve as a result of job gains and consumer spending and the overalls economy picking up, Bob shows some pie and graph charts to On berg “proving” Autotrader’s consultancy services deserve the credit and to re-sign up for the deluxe consultancy package (“go big or go home, look at these results; the time has come, Lumberg!”).

      • 0 avatar

        There’s literally nothing correct about what you just said. Like, not one thing. But keep on tilting at that windmill, my friend.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Okay, I’ll play –

          1) Does YOUR employer sell software?

          2) Does YOUR employer sell hardware?

          3) Does YOUR employer enter into contracts with auto-retailer clients whereby your paid a flat fee, a %, or a combination of both on the premise (though no guarantee) that you will increase their revenue, profitability, reduce their expenses, reduce their overhead, etc.?

          4) Critically – Are you paid as an independent contractor by YOUR company (1099) or are you a direct employee?

          5) Critically – Are the automotive retail clients the company you “work for” and that you solicit on its behalf offered any guarantees that anything stated in the contract “your company” enters into with them will guarantee such increases in revenue, profitability, reduction in expenses/overhead, etc.?

          • 0 avatar

            This is all past tense, since we’re discussing a company for which I no longer work.

            1) No. Other branches of the company did, but I was employed by the media sales division.
            2) No. No arm of Cox Automotive sells hardware (to my knowledge).
            3) No. We sold advertising space on a digital website. No premise or guarantee of increased revenue was made, nor was there an annual contract.
            4) I was a direct employee.
            5) No.

            So, yeah. You get an F.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            “We sold advertising space on a digital website.”

            You could have just left it that, bro!

            Those companies/arms of companies are literally a dime a dozen and the lowest common denominator in the new media-digital ad age space era!

            That makes it much simpler.

            (Did you use godaddy.com to host their websites? I kid, sort of.)

          • 0 avatar

            Are you aware of what Autotrader.com is? Or are you literally the world’s biggest troll?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            What is your exact beef here, that Bark was/is in marketing?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Autotrader is much broader than that – they sell digital automotive marketing AND pre-packaged software.

            You of all ex-marketing reps should know this.

            Moreover, Cox owns Autotrader.com and a whole lot more, and Cox owns cable networks, TV stations, radio staitons, newspapers, printing operations, telecommunication companies, other advertising/media operstions, and other “online properties.”

          • 0 avatar

            Jesus. Learn how to read. Autotrader doesn’t sell software. Perhaps you’re thinking of vAuto, Dealer.com, VinSolutions…none of which have a thing to do with Autotrader or Kelley Blue Book or the media division, which was all I was responsible for. They’re all sold by different divisions of Cox. Also, I’m not a marketing rep, nor have I ever been.

            That’s the end of my engagement with you.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Meaning…

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Bark presents himself as some sort of genius automotive expert, who, to be honest, has published a whole lot of nonsense IMO just here on TTAC (the ‘clever marketing to millennial’ nonsense last week that was the latest example).

            I don’t disagree with everything he writes/opines; maybe just 75%.

            But at any rate, ‘Ask Bark!”

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Just because you disagree with the opinions a man writes in a blog doesn’t mean that has a knowledge deficit in whatever he’s writing about.

            One of my favorite blogs is “The Cranky Flier”. He writes some excellent pieces but I often disagree with him about ancillary fees and minimum legroom standards. That doesn’t mean he lack knowledge of the industry or is on the take from the airlines.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Bark wrote: “Jesus. Learn how to read. Autotrader doesn’t sell software. Perhaps you’re thinking of vAuto, Dealer.com, VinSolutions…none of which have a thing to do with Autotrader or Kelley Blue Book or the media division,..”

            Bark, if you’re so smart, why don’t you know who/what autotrader.com owns (especially vAuto)?:

            http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303640604579296900799939482

            “After Providence invested in AutoTrader, the company embarked on more than $1 billion of acquisitions, according to securities filings. AutoTrader paid $532 million for car price guide Kelley Blue Book Co., which runs a site similar to AutoTrader.com. Then it added VinSolutions Inc. and vAuto Inc., which sell software services to auto dealers. And in late 2012, it paid about $60 million for a 21.8% stake in Bitauto Holdings Ltd., a leading online auto sales platform in China.”

            Ask Bark!

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            Not to stick up for my brother here, but the other companies he listed are all part of Cox as well.

            He’s trying to make the point that Jaguar doesn’t sell software, even though Tata does.

          • 0 avatar

            Congratulations on finding on article from about four years ago to describe the current state of Autotrader.

            Providence Equity hasn’t owned any stake in Cox Automotive (which is the actual company that owns vAuto, by the way) for years. Perhaps if you’d read the article, where I clearly state that AutoTrader Group, and now Cox Automotive, was the parent company of Autotrader itself, you’d spare yourself such embarrassing copypasta.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I generally skip the high level new car biz pieces he writes, but whatever its an opinion piece. Sure it would be nice for someone else to have access to that platform every once an awhile, but I don’t begrudge the man for meeting what I imagine is an article quota. I personally prefer the advice pieces over the op/eds but I’m not going to log in just to ridicule the latter. I generally understand and frequently agree with the objects of your scorn, but this one is a bit of a doozie. These aren’t the jag offs you’re looking for. Move along.

            Disclosure: Marketing/salesy types generally make me want to vomit, I think “the purge” style behavior should be committed and televised against at least one example weekly.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            “Oct 20, 2014, 14:27 ET from AutoTrader

            vAuto® and VinSolutions® Integrate Data to Help Dealers Make Better Inventory Management Decisions

            “OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Cox Automotive today announced that customers of both vAuto® and VinSolutions® will be able to take advantage of a powerful new integration which gives them access to VinSolutions CRM data in the vAuto Provision® suite. ”

            “Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, VinSolutions is wholly owned by Cox Automotive™. Additionally, Cox Automotive also owns Manheim Auctions, AutoTrader.com®, Kelley Blue Book®, vAuto®, and HomeNet Automotive®. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Visit VinSolutions online at http://www.vinsolutions.com.”

            “Headquartered near Chicago, Illinois, vAuto is wholly owned by Cox Automotive™, which also includes Manheim Auctions, AutoTrader.com®, Kelley Blue Book®, VinSolutions® and Haystak® Digital Marketing, and HomeNet Automotive®. For more information, visit http://www.vauto.com.”

            Ask Bark!

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Link:

            From PRNewswire

            http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vauto-and-vinsolutions-integrate-data-to-help-dealers-make-better-inventory-management-decisions-299924429.html

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            ENOUGH VAGINA MOANING FROM BARK’S BROOD (I call feverish devotees of Bark his “brood”).

            Let’s debate something IMPORTANT (versus Bark’s misunderstanding as to whether his former employer did or didn’t develop and sell dealer software).

            Jack recently wrote that Millennials are broke, indebted and won’t be buying new big ticket items like vehicles in droves anytime soon (as in within even a decade, if not longer):

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/04/no-fixed-abode-can-afford-new-car-anyway/

            But Bark, Jack’s own Brother!, claims clever marketing to Millennials can alter the economic reality!:

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/06/barks-bites-spend-money-cars/

            THIS is a worthy topic, with different sides taken by the two Beauty Brothers (autocorrect states “Baruth” is “beauty” so I’m going with it), for debate, not Bark’s lack of knowledge of his former employer.

            Discuss!

          • 0 avatar

            PWNED

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Jesus H, man. You would have to disclose what exactly you do and how that pertains to your opinion of what exactly Mark does for any of this trolling to have the slightest hint of merit.

            Do you no longer want a writer to share his inside knowledge of a facet of the automotive industry? Because this is how you lose that privilege. Slowly give him a sour taste and we’ll lose it.

            I’m not the best to cast judgement, but when I troll, it’s usually on non value added B&B discourse.

            If Mark reads this: thank you for your contributions. My dumb 4ss manufacturing brain enjoys seeing the more refined side of the business. My grandfather worked for GMAC so your knowledge sheds light on the side that I know nothing more than what I saw as a dealer lot / wash boy. Manufacturing, finance, marketing & sales.

          • 0 avatar

            Tres, your stories are much, much more interesting than mine!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “I’m not the best to cast judgement, but when I troll, it’s usually on non value added B&B discourse.”

            I read this in The Most Interesting Man in the World’s voice.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Here’s the thing.

            Some claim Jack has narcissistic tendencies in his tone, content, yarns, etc.

            I think that Bark has way more narcissism in everything from his tone to his demeanor, than Jack, and it rubs me deeply the wrong way, probably because Jack, for whatever transgressions and/or sins he has committed, and despite whatever flaws he possesses, is a damn fine writer, who has an uncanny ability to relate to and relay cultural things (using the automotive context as a canvass) to the reader, in a highly entertaining, non-condescending, yet bare-knuckled way, that few other writers can manage.

            Bark lecturing us all weekly or bi-weekly about how much inside baseball he possesses is not only boring, but condescending (coming off as arrogant), and self-masturbatory, and what makes it way more irritating is that his claims don’t even carry that much credibility (his last lecture as to how “clever” and aggressive marketing to millennials can somehow dramatically increase the frequency of their new vehicle purchases is a perfect example of Bark putting his “expert” foot in his mouth; that whole essay & thesis was built upon an idiotic premise).

            To the extent that we all judge those people we don’t know personally by what they write, I don’t care for or agree with a lot of what Bark writes, and his self-proclaimed expert designation is just the salt in the wounds.

            To the extent that what I am claiming about Bark’s writing style, presentation and content maybe closer to true than not (that’s admittely open for debate), maybe Jack can help Mark inject some humidity and self-deprecation, and pare down the heavy condescension in his writings.

            Or not.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            p.s. – Bark wrote that: “Tres, your stories are much, much more interesting than mine!”

            I echo that sentiment, and a huge reason why tres is one of the best commenters and sources of credible information is that he rarely if ever appears condescending, annoints himself an “expert” EVEN if he is one regarding any particular comment regarding manufzcturing (which is often), and isn’t an attention-starved, feedback craving legend in his own mind.

            Having credibility and actually making logical statements/contributions in his clear area of expertise goes a long way to make tresmonos’ opinions, writings and declarations truly interesting (and not at all grating).

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Bark- thank you. You are the one getting paid for your writing, which is deserving. I enjoy your pieces.

            DW- this may be the sleep deprivation speaking as I’ve been swinging shifts like a tool, but I do agree with the ‘tone’ which Bark and Jack have in their script. It doesn’t bother me. I consider it a family trait. I have a very close to identical brother and he and I share a lot of personality.

            All I’m saying is that there is a person on the other end of your criticisms. I have let a few B&B really have it. I regret it as I strive to keep this somewhat anonymous internet persona of mine representative of who I’d be if you met me in person. I’d probably spout off the same way in person, but at least I’d come back and apologize. The comment section here is hard to do that.

            I expect a little more of you because I find you to be hugely value added to TTAC. I still want to down some beers with you in RO. Bball would probably be down as well.

            Maybe I’m being too defensive of the paid authors, maybe I’m not. Eh f*ck it. Cheers.

            Edit: forgot to thank you too, DW (thank you). I’m not an expert. I have had the pleasure of working with many experts. Maybe some day.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Tres, I’ve said all I will about why Bark rubs me the wrong way and will let it rest.

            I am not blowing smoke regarding what I stated about you. You are someone who has literally been in the trenches and to he!! (metaphorically), working your a$$ off, to even different countries (like Mexico) as part of a full-fury push on the part of major manufacturers to aggressively expand production into that NAFTA nation.

            I once got into a running feud with mikey, which was mainly my fault (it really was), because I was particularly dogmatic, dismissive and flippant towards his airing of legitimate gripes about how the pendulum has swung way too far in the favor of the investor/executive/investor class, to the profound and direct detriment of labor.

            I realized the error of my demeanor and the flaw in my logic, and hope that I was humble enough to express to money over the last 1/2 year or so that I was very wrong in many of my perceptions and pronouncements, and that many of the the things he had been testing for a long time were far closer to true than I was giving him credit for.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            DW,
            the longer I work (it’s been short – 1/3 of most careers thus far), the more I appreciate Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals.’

            mikey was kind to shed his wisdom to us.

            my career is nothing to be envious of but it’s been an interesting ride. I hope the remaining 20-30 years are un-eventful. We will all be lucky if that’s the case as that will likely equate to economic stability.

    • 0 avatar
      gsf12man

      DeadWeight is, in fact, a dead weight.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yeah, I have no idea what crawled up his rectum. Guy’s just telling us what he does for a living. Not exactly a capital offense, y’know?

        What the actual f**k, DW?

      • 0 avatar
        cdrmike

        Yep. That’s five minutes of my life that I can never have back.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Yes, spouting his misinformation or heavily out-dated information to back up his irrational claims and opinions.

        Even when he’s proven wrong, nope, still your fault and worthy of Jr. High-grade trolling. And if you drive a Ford (or newer GM, FCA) and don’t “admit” that it SUCKS and breaks down every day that ends in “y”, God help you.

        TTAC could lose some “deadweight” and be a lot better off.

  • avatar
    srh

    I’ve been reading TTAC for quite a while, mostly as a non-participant. Your articles are the only ones to eclipse your brother’s in the percentage of times I click through from my RSS feed. Consistently informative, well written, and professional but without the overt narcissism.

    Your background is interesting, and i can see why you’ve been able to provide such valuable insight.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Are you Jack’s brother?

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I’d hit it.

  • avatar
    FlimFlamMan

    Thanks for sharing, Bark Baruth!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “When you work in sales training, it’s never “if” you’ll be laid off, it’s always “when.”

    Not just sales training – any training. When things go south, the trainers are the first ones you’ll see walking out with boxes. Every time.

    Happened to me in 2001 – I was a customer service trainer at WorldCom (yes, that WorldCom). The only good news was that at that point, the company hadn’t gone completely to sh!t, so I actually got severance, and was paid out for my accrued vacation time and vested pension funds. A year later, when the company went broke, they got rid of tens of thousands of people with nothing more than a smile and a handshake, and told them to get in line as an unsecured creditor.

    Nice story, Bark.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “When you work in *ANYTHING* it’s never “if” you’ll be laid off, it’s always “when.”

      Fixed it.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        True…but trainers are especially vulnerable. If there’s even a hint of downturn, then they’re taken out back in no time.

        Shame, because it’s a helluva fun job.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          I had my own training business back in the mid-80s. It was fun while it was profitable. I had a relationship with one firm that marketed classes to bankers. We both made good money and the clients loved us. They sold lots of slots because of word of mouth.

          Then the existing management changed and two MBAs from Harvard showed up. In our first (and last) meeting they said: “we going to cut your rate by 33%”. I said “No you won’t” and walked out. Within a few months their training business died.

          I made the shift to starting a software company, something I had wanted to do for a while.

          Good times! Nothing feels quite as good as firing a client.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            What kind of classes?

          • 0 avatar
            bunkie

            FreedMikep-

            I was teaching various levels of Lotus 1-2-3 and dBaseIII.

          • 0 avatar
            MeaMaximaCulpa

            MBAs…. Jesus that bunch can fudge up everything. A quite large law firm where I’m from had a stellar reputation as a good place to work, with nice pay, a good reputation among clients and competitors, lots of first rate applicants for associate positions, low employee turnover and the partners made more than decent money. That law firm hired a MBA as CEO, in the partners quest to make the firm more “competitive” (it already was in its niche) and “effective” , the result? Well all the talent is leaving the firm and the clients are leaving with them, it’s reputation is tanking, the employee turnover is through the roof and the firms profit is creeping down.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Lotus and dbase.

            Good Lord…how time has flown.

            My dad, who was a manufacturer’s rep, was an early PC adopter. Bought an IBM one (for about ten grand), and couldn’t figure out how to use it. He brought me in to teach him. To start Dbase, he was actually trying stuff like typing “run dbase please,” or “where is dbase?”

            I just typed in “dbase” and lo and behold, it started!

            (Of course, I had no idea what to DO with the program once it started – I was a journalism major – but it was the first time my dad actually looked at me with something resembling awe.)

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            My people!!

            I’ve been a classroom trainer, curriculum developer, trainer-of-trainers, implementation coach, implementation manager, e-learning system developer and e-learning courseware developer. The work certainly can be fun, especially if you roll onto a project that has you on the road 365 days a year, or living in new cities for months at a time. (Have I mentioned I don’t have kids?)

            I’m in a different line of work now, at a “steady” employer, and I guess I like my job, because I haven’t logged into LinkedIn for at least a year. I fear the endless time-suck of catching up with it.

            Taking the boring-but-steady job wasn’t an easy choice though, because I could have stayed on with my previous, fun employer instead–after all, they were “sure” they’d be getting the next project any day. It’s a good thing I didn’t. That project didn’t come through, and neither did the next, and my former co-workers were let go one by one, until the company’s owner herself was literally selling her house to keep the company afloat–heartbreaking, as it was a gorgeous custom home by a famous modern architect. She had lost everything and everyone and was about to sign the papers with the realtor when her phone buzzed–a project had come through. She ripped up the paperwork and now, five years later, the company is thriving again.

            Too much excitement for me.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yup 2010-2012 I was a “Teacher of Teachers” as a trainer to try to help them improve their processes.

      Luckily I also had an administrative license and the district decided to cut my position at the same time they decided to fire five principals for their incompetence. That got me my shot at the administrative world.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, at least they fired the incompetent principals. In the district where my kid goes, we have a “reformer” board (read: a bunch of rightwingnuts) who are busily trying to turn the (formerly excellent) district into a whole conservative social experiment. They’re pushing the good principals out and replacing them with ideological bots. I’m seriously considering moving.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          FreedMike –
          I see similar stuff like that in BC depending upon whom is in office. A Conservative government tries to push everything to that side of the spectrum and obviously the opposite happens when a socialist leaning party gets in. Even at the local level I see that sort of thing going on.
          Fortunately for my wife and we could afford to send our kids to Christian school that wasn’t traditionally right wing on most social issues. A large percentage of the population there was from various non-Christian ethnicities. The education was superior to similar conventional schools.

          High School will be a different story since the only “good” private school is too expensive for us. Since our sons weren’t in a public school stream we are not forced to conform to a geographic catchment area which is great since some of the high schools in our district suck.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Fortunately for my wife and we could afford to send our kids to Christian school that wasn’t traditionally right wing on most social issues. A large percentage of the population there were from various non-Christian ethnicities.”

            Wait, the Christian school had a large percentage of non-Christians?

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            @28-cars-later – I went to an Episcopal high school, but the second highest religious demographic at the school was Jews. Nominal Catholics were the biggest but many were not practicing. I think Episcopalians were #3. Large number of the various Asian cultures – east Asian, Buddhism, Hindu, and Arab/Muslim. It was the best prep school in the area and the religion was not very heavy handed. The school took great pains not to offend anyone. made for a surprisingly diverse student body religiously.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            28-Cars-Later – they gave first preference in enrolment to active Catholics i.e. went to church regular followed by Catholics less active i.e. me and then non-Catholic and/or non-Christian. It was a cool setup. Great diversity. Some of my son’s classmates were Sikhs and IIRC even Muslim.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        Dan, were you ever a coach for any sports, like a coach for the swim team? That would help make a teaching job more secure, especially if you are a football coach.

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    This is just the kind of thing Jack Baruth would write to fool people into thinking that Bark M is not Jack Baruth.

    • 0 avatar
      Yuppie

      Nah, not the current Jack. Jack would not have been able to help himself. If Jack wrote this article, it would have included at least one aside against Obama, democrats, women (other than Vodka McBigBra and her successors), or men who misguidedly live their lives according to a value system defined by women.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      He is better looking than Jack.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I dunno.

        He looks kinda like a (not crazy) David Avocado Wolfe.

        Jack looks like Stephen O’Malley.

        (http://www.ideologic.org/media/filter/l/img/420x280_images_stories_artists_2011_stephen_omalley.jpg)

        (I kid, a little – Mark looks fine.

        And I really like thinking of Jack as SOMa’s alter-ego when he’s not playing incredibly loud music.)

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Nice. These days I find the business of selling cars to be a lot more interesting than cars themselves. So hopefully you can remain in positions that don’t conflict with your writing here.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    TBH I am disappointed your job even exists. So you’re telling me that with guys like you around, the average dealer is still utterly USELESS in the digital space? Unbelievable, it really is.

    We recently spent a $40K+ on a BMW primarily because the BMW web site is very clear about what options are on their entire new and used inventory and Audi are ducking hopeless (intentional duck).

    When will dealers line to properly line out the options and details of a vehicle, it would save them so much time. i STILL see ads on autotrader with a looooong blurb aboout the dealership but SFA on the vehicle itself.

    Idiots.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Most USA dealer websites (including all of my local Audi dealers) have a feature that will get you to the window sticker of each new car in inventory.

      Unfortunately that feature is often hard to discover and time-consuming to use even when you know where it is.

      I would LOVE a manufacturer-level feature that would allow truly fine-grained searching through inventory at a nationwide level. Something like “show me all the blue cars with the Sport Differential and a sunroof.” Even the manufacturers with inventory search don’t allow you to use that kind of detail.

      • 0 avatar
        Alfisti

        dal20402,

        window stickers are not good enough as they just list the code for the options, now you’re going back and checking options codes for various years, nightmare. BMW lists the options when you click on the code. Done.

        There’s no reason for not having fine grain searching, it’s 2016, really should be done by now.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Autotrader and similar conglomerates (media/advertising/marketing/consultants/kitchen sink) are selling everything they can in terms of promises of more revenue, sales, market share, regional representation, etc., as a “new economy digital space and human resource + inventory management systems (with proprietary software systems sold by them, too), we-can-get-all-your-numbers-up type spielburger company.

      I have a friend from high school who worked for a similar company that did the same thing, biput specifically targeted government contracts by supplying hardware, software and HR resource training to police departments, fire departments and other 1st responders and government security/LE entities.

      This is just consultancy and marketing work, dressed up with digital age verbage, that’s been around forever.

      Even the big accounting firms now have departments that are trying to compete for these dollars.

    • 0 avatar
      windnsea00

      You wouldn’t believe how many car dealerships are still stuck in the pre-digital space, at least from a marketing side. I use to work for a well known SEO/SEM firm and would occasionally have meetings with dealerships. I was initially excited being a car nut to speak with people in the automotive space but then began to loathe talking to them as it was almost always a waste of time. Not to mention most of them were rather unpleasant people to speak with.

      A funny note, I was at a seminar at Google’s HQ last summer and spoke to a company that offered our same services but worked exclusively with car dealerships. Their knowledge of SEO/SEM was embarrassing but they had the car salesman mentality which probably worked better than my more consultative approach.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I like the dealer websites that list “the packages and options” on a car … and are self-contradictory.

      Oh, this car has the V6 AND the V8? I didn’t even know you could buy one with two engines!

    • 0 avatar

      The “All About the Dealer” default is placed there when the customer fails to write a description. Trust me, it’s incredibly frustrating.

      There’s something called a “VIN explosion” that should automatically list out the features of the vehicle on the vehicle details page, but not everything can be decoded from a VIN.

      • 0 avatar
        Alfisti

        This.

        Annoys me to NO END. I am shopping premium badges, have two kids, job, white (re. needy) wife .. I ain’t got no time to dig about the options guys, list them ffs.

        Even worse, Audi is utterly USELESS at even knowing what the vehicles themselves have. Three times, i swear, i call ahead or email and say “does it have nav, park assist and cameras” .. “yessir!” .. “sure, you freaking sure …” … “yessir!!” … I rock up with a baby and what not and no cameras.

        I could smack the guy right there.

        Yes i could buy new but at 10,000KM (6,000 miles) per year it makes no sense at all.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          I too have been pissed off by dealer web sites and lack of them bothering to use them in any way profitable .
          .
          A couple years ago one here in California (land of Fruits,Nuts and Flakes) posted an OnLine vintage car for sale , blahblahblah , I tried mightily to get them to tell me when to SHOW UP WITH CASH IN MY HAND TO BUY IT .
          .
          I can only DREAM of being right enough to ignore cash Customers .
          .
          No response no matter who I E-mailed / left voice messages with etc…..
          .
          -Nate

      • 0 avatar

        Here’s some other sins:

        The unapologetic embellishment:

        “YOU’LL BE THE TALK OF THE TOWN WHEN YOU ROLL UP IN THIS STYLISH” Toyota Yaris

        The “time saver”:

        “Look NO FURTHER because this Chevy Spark LS has EVERYTHING you need”

        The completely non-descript description written by an alien with Aspergers:

        “Traction control is standard for safety and hugs the road, lending security and support and road-handling through 180 degrees of tarmac, coupled with a synchro gearbox.”

        The high school dropout:

        “This car has four wheel drive and six speaker sound sys with rapd shift plus trunk lining an tw bar in back call JA at 392555555 call today”

        Ah, sweet! The exact car and trim level I’ve been looking for.

        “View Photos (1)”

        Well, at least they have a video.

        “COME TO KIA OF BURGSVILLE, HOME OF THE 50-YEAR WARRANTY”

        et. al.

        • 0 avatar

          Those comments are auto-generated by inventory management tools. Very, very, very few dealers write their own comments.

          • 0 avatar

            Well, then the inventory management tools suck, and dealerships should invest in some English majors working their way through college :)

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            And nobody looking for a car actually reads them either.

            (If they do, I fear for the gene pool.)

          • 0 avatar
            Steve Lynch

            Funny, after 18 months of being retired and just fing around, I stopped procrastinating a few days ago and sent out feelers to a few dealers about my plan to write customized individual unique ads for their used cars. The response has been positive because they all know their ads suck and don’t have the talent to do it themselves.

            Mark, you will LOL if I land this one dealer group, stay tuned.

            PS, as a long time OEM rep, I can tell you that the number of non-OEM reps who can actually impact a dealer is very very low. You are to be congratulated!

          • 0 avatar

            Sadly, I’ve come to rely on the photos, when used car shopping…the descriptions are often wrong. You figure out the unique trim bit your desired package has, and look for that…

            Half the BMW with “sport” in the description aren’t. I found the CTS Performance version I have now by photo…it was described incorrectly on the website.

            A dealer with a used car not their house brand is oft the worst offender.

        • 0 avatar
          Michael McDonald

          Very little comments are actually written by the dealers. I worked for Olsen Cadillac, and the pre-owned manager wrote all the descriptions to the used cars. Lot’s of spelling errors but they’re amusing! Check it out :)

          • 0 avatar
            Steve Lynch

            Olsen Caddy Ads: Funny stuff! BUT ALL WRITTEN IN CAPS CAUSE THAT CREATES A SENSE OF URGENCY AND GETS CUSTOMERS EXCITED!!!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Nothing Cadillac sells is exciting enough to be denoted by caps, its not as if they are selling a HELLCAT after all.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I can’t believe anyone ever thought you were Jack in disguise. Your voices are so totally different.

    Keep up the good work.

  • avatar

    Bark, great story and gracious of you to clarify/explain how you acquired the retail automotive knowledge that you have.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    How do you get in a field like this without being well-connected? =) Asking for a friend.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Let e guess new job is at Ford, you seem to like them, just kidding go luck on the new gig.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I always wondered if your name was actually Mark and figured you were likely Jack’s brother from some of the more recent posts. Thanks for sharing your story, very interesting.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    Congrats on the new gig! Will you still be travelling so we can get some rental reviews?

    • 0 avatar

      You bet! Just returned a Santa Fe Sport last night.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        I had one for a week in Colorado for a vacation in the Grand Lake area. Handled well enough, but completely gutless. Dangerously slow with a family of 4 and a weeks worth of crap aboard at elevation. I give my 74-hp insight far less throttle than the theta engine requires to move at a similar speed.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Ooh! Interested to see what you think. Quite liked the one I rented: very attractive, very useful, good highway cruiser, sufficiently powerful, shockingly economical, aggressively priced, but a total f*ing snooze to drive. When Hyundais drive like Fords, I will own one.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    i’m a little confused, what do you mean by “their AutoTrader rep” ?

    • 0 avatar

      Autotrader’s main business is selling classified listings to dealers. Every car dealer in the country has either an inside or outside sales rep assigned to them.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Bark really doesn’t know the entities that Autotrader even owns, and has stated 100% factually wrong the GS about their software company holdings (saying these companies have nothing to do with Autotrader when, in fact, Autotrader owns them in whole:

      VinSolutions Inc. and vAuto Inc., which sell software services to auto dealers.

      But Bark stated Autotrader has nothing to do with either.

      Ask Bark!

      • 0 avatar

        I’m going to spell it out, nice and slowly for you, so you can stop embarrassing yourself and bothering me.

        Cox Automotive, formerly known as AutoTrader Group, is broken into several divisions. One of these divisions is Cox Automotive Media, which includes Autotrader and Kelly Blue Book. Another, ENTIRELY SEPARATE DIVISION, is Cox Automotive Software, which includes vAuto, VinSolutions, etc.

        Autotrader and vAuto have not a fucking thing to do with each other. They are not sold by the same reps. They are not managed by the same people. They are not serviced by the same people. If you work for the Media division, you aren’t even allowed to TALK about vAuto. You’re not allowed to have a password for vAuto’s software. You don’t get trained on it. If a customer indicates an interest in vAuto, you call SOMEBODY FROM VAUTO.

        Reading comprehension is not your friend, so I’ll just copy and paste what I said earlier in response to all of your questions:

        1) DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN THE EVIL SALES OF SOFTWARE?

        1) No. Other branches of the company did, but I was employed by the media sales division.

        Do YOU UnDeRsTaNd ThAt? Or is the concept that Cox might own multiple companies that don’t interact with each other too tough for you?

        • 0 avatar

          I enjoyed reading about you.

          I can see how your knowledge and success would make a loser misanthrope like DW feel jealous and small. Advice: don’t play his game.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          bark says: “Cox Automotive, formerly known as AutoTrader Group, is broken into several divisions. One of these divisions is Cox Automotive Media, which includes Autotrader and Kelly Blue Book. Another, ENTIRELY SEPARATE DIVISION, is Cox Automotive Software, which includes vAuto, VinSolutions, etc.”

          “OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Cox Automotive today announced that customers of both vAuto® and VinSolutions® will be able to take advantage of a powerful new integration which gives them access to VinSolutions CRM data in the vAuto Provision® suite. ”

          “Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, VinSolutions is wholly owned by Cox Automotive™. Additionally, Cox Automotive also owns Manheim Auctions, AutoTrader.com®, Kelley Blue Book®, vAuto®, and HomeNet Automotive®. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Visit VinSolutions online at http://www.vinsolutions.com.”

          “Headquartered near Chicago, Illinois, vAuto is wholly owned by Cox Automotive™, which also includes Manheim Auctions, AutoTrader.com®, Kelley Blue Book®, VinSolutions® and Haystak® Digital Marketing, and HomeNet Automotive®. For more information, visit http://www.vauto.com.”

          From PRNewswire

          http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vauto-and-vinsolutions-integrate-data-to-help-dealers-make-better-inventory-management-decisions-299924429.html

          Cox Automotive, through Cox Enterprises – PERIOD – owns the aforementioned software platforms/companies.

          “Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises.”

          There isn’t even a separate entity named Cox Software whatever.

          Ask Bark!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I think the biggest question I have is, “Who gives a [email protected]?”

          • 0 avatar

            Did you know that Cox also owns an interest in Tory Burch?

            OMG BARK MUST SELL HANDBAGS AND SHOES

            Hey, Cox also owns TV Stations!

            OMG BARK WAS INVOLVED IN THE EVENING NEWS

            What do you know about this? Cox owns a company that makes mulch!

            OMG BARK IS A GARDENER

            Cox also owns a cable company!

            OMG ITS BARKS FAULT MY INTERNETS ARE SLOW

            I’m sorry that the organizational structure of my former employer is confusing to you. I can’t explain it any more simply to you.

          • 0 avatar
            KrohmDohm

            Is there maybe, even the remotest chance that within Cox Automotive there is I don’t know…different divisions? You know just like Cox Automotive is a division of Cox? And maybe just maybe some of those would be a media division and a software division? And that possibly the media division and the software division have within them (like vAuto) the various companies aligned beneath them so you know, maybe the people well versed in each of those separate businesses can run them as they should be. Maybe there is the slightest chance that corporate operating policy is for employees of one division to not speak for other divisions and instead refer potential customers to said division to meet their needs.

            Or how about this just because a company is owned by a large conglomerate doesn’t mean the employees for one company are in any way familiar with the goings on in ANY OF THE OTHER COMPANIES?

            I worked for SAIC for several years and didn’t give a flying F#$K about what went on in other divisions or subsidiaries. Because you know, I had my own job to do.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Speaking of Shanghai Automotive, I was heavily involved in their renovation of, and move into, an office building in Birmingham, Michigan, which serves as their NA HQ, a few years back.

            BUT I DON’T FEEL COMPELLED TO CLAIM THIS MAKES ME AN EXPERT.

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            @Bark

            “Cox owns a cable company”

            Wait a minute, you work for THAT Cox! A pox against you and your house! I want my 37.50 back, a$$Hole.

            Never in my life have I ever seen or heard of being charged a “return fee” on a declined auto debit credit card transaction until Cox Cable did such a thing to me (the card had expired and it was auto-debit, I paid it on time with a non-expired card ON TIME) F*In crooks.

            By the way, now that they are all digital in my market, instead of PAYING for low res basic tv, I bought a 30 dollar antenna and get 55 over the air channels with all the majors in full HD. Who’s your God now?

          • 0 avatar

            I asked Bark for advice not too long ago, and his exact approach worked perfectly. Like, absolutely flawlessly. Rather than coming up with imagined conflicts of interest or trying to poke holes in his bio, DW, why don’t you just take his obvious knowledge at face value? The dude’s clearly spent a lot of time inside dealerships, understanding what makes them tick.

            It doesn’t matter one iota which subcompany was a division of what at his prior job. The issue is his expertise, which he clearly has. Lay off.

      • 0 avatar
        KrohmDohm

        Just keep trolling,
        Just keep trolling,
        Just keep trolling trolling trolling,
        What do we do we troll troll troll

        Ha ha ha ha ha ha I love to troll when,
        When you come just troll troll troll.

        • 0 avatar

          KrohmDohm – “I worked for SAIC for several years and didn’t give a flying F#$K about what went on in other divisions or subsidiaries. Because you know, I had my own job to do.”

          Ah, the real world. You strike me as the kind of mature, gracious person that someone as angry as DeadWeight should aspire to be. And not be a troll.

        • 0 avatar
          garuda

          You work for SAIC? You are the first and only person who has admitted that instead of saying “i’m a contractor for SAIC”

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    What this story does NOT tell you is how my brother came up with “Bark Maruth”. It was very spur of the moment. Or perhaps the moment of the spur, so to speak.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      I’d bet that’s how most of our web handles came to be.

      Nineteen years ago I needed to register to comment on a discussion site; and this just came up. It’s off an old novelty truck mudflap that was popular in the early 1970s – in Comic Serif, “Just Passin’ Thru!”

      I never figured as an incipient senior citizen I’d still be posting under this handle. So…your brother wants to be Bark Maruth…that’s his pierogi.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      I have been meaning to encourage the telling of the story of Mark B => Bark M. I remember you said it was tied in to some (mis?)adventure a while back, and as long as it isn’t terribly embarrassing, and the relevant statutes of limitation, if any, have expired, why not let the cat out of the bag now?

      And I have a suggestion for a meme for Bark’s photo, though I lack the time to work up a prototype. This will have to do:

      “I’m from Washington, I’m here to help you!”

      “I’m from Autotrader, I’m here to help you!”

      “I’m from [fill in the blank], I’m here to help you!”

      Alternative #1:

      “You’re getting sleepy, very sleepy…close your eyes and [fill in the blank]”

      Alternative #2

      “Well, honestly, I really DON’T know ALL of the [corporate relationships of my last company OR fill in the blank], but I know what I know, if you know what I mean!”

      Alternative #3

      “You look MUCH better wearing that [fill in the blank]”

      Of kvndoom’s suggestions, I like “Barky Mark” the best. Barky Mark and the SPIF’s.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    Aso, 40 states eh?

    So, prefer CRJ or ERJ?

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, CRJ all the way.

      • 0 avatar
        Alfisti

        Really?? The ERJ is quieter for sure, only advantage i see from CRJ is the A seat.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Are we talking ERJ130-145 or the newer E-Jets? The E190/195 are way nicer than what they replaced.

          • 0 avatar
            Alfisti

            Originals for both families.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            That’s a hard choice because I flew a lot of miles on the absolute worst examples of both. I’ll take the American Eagle ERJs over the America West/US Airlines/Mesa Airlines CRJ900s. Those Mesa birds are the worst. But I prefer anyone else’s CRJ over the ERJ I think.

            The new CRJ900 Next Gens are really nice.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            meh, everyone knows the place to be is in the back four rows of a DC-9. skreeeEEEEEEEEEEEE

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Ah yes, the 50 year old NWA birds…JT8D screaming in your ear while obstructing your view.

            DTW isn’t the same without them.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            and to think that when those first came out, they were *quiet* engines.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Ain’t nobody like the ERJ145 family.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      ERJ every time. Nothing else about the airplane matters when you’ve got a window on one side, an aisle on the other, and no one else’s shoulders jamming into yours even though the flight is full.

      By contrast the CRJ-100/200 is a torture device.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Try a Mesa CRJ900 flying out of Phoenix with no working APU (because their APUs are never working…).

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          And the real torture device is the Delta 737-800 if you aren’t flying in Premium Economy or above. Give me the MD-88 instead!!!!

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            MD88, with the old school seat spacing and nicer cloth seats, all the way, every day!

            I miss MD…I personally know many of their former engineers and have nothing but respect for them…Boeing, not so much.

            I hate hate hate flying on either 737s or A319/320 variants.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Why the hate for A3xx?

          • 0 avatar
            nickoo

            28,

            I know it’s the airlines who outfit them, but I find them too cramped and the seats used on them are very uncomfortable and hurt my back when flying through AA, Delta, or United. I have flown a few A3XXs where the seats were higher quality and it wasn’t quite as bad.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I flew several recently on Swiss, I found the A319 to be decent vs the Avro 100s they also use. I probably preferred the 319 to the 777 I took on a short flight to Prague (but found the United 777 to be decent for the long ride over and back).

          • 0 avatar

            YUP. The designers of the slimline seats should be forced to use them for work, home and auto….oh, they’ll be OK with the two notch recline for sleeping, too.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I had that APU bull**** coming out of IAD, except the pilot admitted this model just didn’t have it vs it wasn’t working.

          My thought is, how do you build a plane without A/C post 1985? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The APU (“Auxiliary Power Unit”) isn’t the AC system. It’s a generator that can power the AC system, and the plane’s other systems, while the engines aren’t running. When on the ground, most aircraft are hooked up to ground AC (those giant yellow tubes you see getting hooked to aircraft), rather than running their engines or APUs to power the on-board AC. But if the ground AC is unavailable, or if you are in Phoenix and the ground AC can’t quite keep up with conditions, then running the APU to provide power to the aircraft AC may be needed.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Well it was 90 something that day, but with your explanation I still believe anything newer than the 80s should have this APU standard. I now understand the APU is used to power aux systems other than air conditioning, but I see it as APU = A/C, and as a paying customer A/C needs to be standard on MY90+ aircraft. My .02.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t fly CRJ200s any more. If they’re assigned to a flight, I just pick a different fight.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Shit, I’ll drive 12 hours just to avoid the airport and not fly either of those sewer pipes.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      are we talking in Y or F? I like the A seat on the ERJ in Y. Otherwise, I’d rather an E170 over either.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t mean to be an enabler, but watching Bark and Deadweight go at it twice a week is not unentertaining.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Nice coat. It appears your tailor does good work. Fire the stylist. The two button works on Fridays, but the coat appears to deserve cufflinks. Good luck.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re correct on both counts. I wasn’t planning to wear a jacket for the video shoot, but my boss insisted on one. I grabbed the least offensive option from my suitcase—a navy Hart Schaffner Marx blazer—and threw it on over my polo.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        It always amazes me what small things bring symmetry. I used to spend a years clothing allowance on two Zegna or Armani White Label suits. I finally went back to the classics and they never let me down. Brooks Brothers deserves your attention, too. Let the guys like your brother be the name droppers, you can be the best dressed with the sharpest eye.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Bark – Thanks for the great background info. Fascinating in many ways -obviously you’re not afraid to go out on a limb…

    Question –

    Where did you go to school and what degree did you get?

    You and your brother are both highly articulate writers…any special trainings (Catholic school, etc)? I greatly enjoy both your articles and voices…

    • 0 avatar

      I went to Ohio State and majored in Jazz Saxophone Performance. I took all the Honors writing courses in college, but it was just an interest at the time. I never intended to make money at it—I believed I would be the next Wayne Shorter.

      If I’m a decent writer, it’s because I read ravenously throughout my youth, and even today. Joseph Heller was my best teacher, although I also “studied” under Douglas Adams, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Iain Banks, C. S. Lewis, and Isaac Asimov.

      Jack and I read all of the same books growing up, too. When he’d finish a book, he’d often hand it to me to read.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Music major to boot?

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        I too always liked to read a great deal, by diverse authors.

        The greatest regret of my entire educational career was rushing to graduate engineering school, after partying for a good part of my twenties. In my last year, I had a completely full schedule both semesters, but Anthony Burgess was in residence one semester, and Kurt Vonnegut the other, and had I chosen to take the time, I could have taken a course with each of them. To rub salt in my wound, they were, and still are, two of my favorite twentieth century writers.

        It is one of the few regrets that I have about the life that I have lived, and I have no one to blame but myself and my false sense of urgency at the time.

        When life gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity, kiddies, take it. Because that is just what it is…a once in a lifetime opportunity.

  • avatar
    scirocco

    I had a question. Because of high pressure sales tactics at new car dealers plus their F&I offices, I do not buy new cars – much as I would like to. I generally buy from CraigsList from owners. I know I will be ripped off if I try to buy a new car myself.

    My question – are there businesses/services that will do all the negotiation and talking for me and looking after my interests – both for the new car price and my trade in value?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Scirocco – I would poke around with your co-workers or friends and find someone who is passionate about cars and can help guide you. I do similar advising as my hobby, and assist probably 25-30 people a year. I do so because many years ago I got royally ripped off on my first new car and swore it would never happen again. I’m not a hero, just someone who enjoys the battle of negotiation and doesn’t want my friend/associate ripped off.

      The games dealers play are amazing, yet please be assured there are some excellent dealers and salespeople out there…generally at the smaller mom and pop dealerships, where their reputation is paramount.

      That said, Edmunds has some decent calculators regarding trade-in value, etc. Also, CarMax will give you a free estimate on what they’d pay you for your car. The offer is usually good for 7 days.

      Edmunds, TrueCar and TrueDelta all have “configure your new car” build models that will also give the MSRP and what the going area market is for that vehicle, although the vast majority of time you can negotiate a better price.

      Many times emailing directly to the fleet or designated web manager for a dealership will take the heat off of negotiations in person.

      Key point – Any additional sticker beyond the Monroney (federally required sticker listing price, options, crash results, point of manufacture, mpgs) is pure additional dealer mark-up and either not necessary (or required) and completely negotiable. Toyota and Honda dealers are notorious for this (“It’s required at the Port”. “No, it’s not”.), but I’ve seen some rather ambitious Kia and Hyundai dealers lately.

      There’s a plethora of information available on the web with a little research…

      • 0 avatar
        scirocco

        Thanks Dave M. Funny part is my friends come to me for car advise from repairs to used cars. I work in software development and none of the folks I know are car guys.

        True internet would be the way to go. But I suck at negotiating.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Find out if anyone in your circle utilizes an auto broker.

      Usually, for a fixed sum of maybe $300 over invoice, they handle the negotiations, usually through the best area dealers, via their fleet or Internet manager. You might be able to make a little better deal depending on the car; time of year; phase of the moon, Jupiter, Mars, etc., but why? Let someone else do it for you! (Plus the dealers appreciate their business, and treat the customers well after the sale, since it’s not only the dealer, but the broker’s name on the line. And at least at the Honda dealer with whom I deal now, the brokered deals are shared equally among the employees, who have a decent salary and benefit package to begin with. As I’ve stated, within the last year, the most senior Honda salesman in my area left his 20+-year gig at a competitor to come work for my dealer.)

      The only thing to be aware of when dealing with a broker is to ensure that you DON’T test drive a car at a dealer with whom they do business, since that “messes things up,” ethnicity; they can usually bring a car to you to try, and will likely deliver the car to your home — my folks’ last several deals have all been done on the dining room table! (No F&I headaches; the worst that might happen is that the broker may have two sets of paperwork drawn up, one with an OEM-extended warranty included, if they feel you may be interested — they just shred it afterwards if you show no interest, and the broker gets nothing out of it either way.

      • 0 avatar
        scirocco

        Thanks and yes, I would use a broker. Anybody know of a broker (or a good dealer) in the Tampa – St. Pete – Clearwater – Orlando – Sarasota area.

        I currently have a X5 and a Lexus RX300. But one needs to go. I am thinking Mazda CX-9 because I need a 7 seater for school carpool duties.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Catholic school counts as special training?

    Wow……. I’m special ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Well, my left hand is still jittery from the constant ruler-beatings since left-handedness is the sign of the devil, but my manners are impeccable….

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Dave M.- left in French is gauche which also means awkward. In medical parlance left eye is abbreviated OS or Latin for oculus sinister. That translated to evil eye.

  • avatar
    brn

    So you spent a few years as a marketing guy, getting smoke blown up your arse by captive customers? You’re not that special. 50% of folk in the comments section have more automotive experience than you do, myself included. The way you write articles, you belong in the comments with the rest of us.

    • 0 avatar

      If you have something of value to add to the site, please feel free to make a submission.

      I have a feeling that submission will never, ever, ever arrive.

    • 0 avatar

      I suppose that I could say that I have much more automotive industry experience than Mark does. I worked for a tier one supplier for more than 20 years. He still has a better perspective on what goes on at car dealers than I do.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “So you spent a few years as a marketing guy, getting smoke blown up your arse by captive customers? You’re not that special. 50% of folk in the comments section have more automotive experience than you do, myself included. The way you write articles, you belong in the comments with the rest of us.”

      There’s so much finely-honed truth in this paragraph that I now need to reflect on, and curtail, my verbosity.

      Efficiency and clarity in writing is a noble & vital skill-set.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Hey you should start a blog or something.

      I never thought I’d say this, ever, but some days I miss Bertel.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Bark, I never claimed to be qualified to write articles for the site. 49% of folk in the comments section have more automotive experience than I do.

      If you re-read my post, you’ll see that I believe we both should be limited to the comments section where this banter is more appropriate.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Wow, tough room.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Thanks for finally sharing your story. You’re one of the 3rd party mice that inhabit our dealers, which is fine because at least you’re helping them sell cars in a (probably) reasonable way. At least you’re not one of those slasher private sale guys or a BG snake oil rep. Those are the rats.

    One point in particular I’d like to corroborate is spending the bulk of your time with better performing dealers. The good performers are always hungry for new ideas and will try anything. Middle of the road guys with promise can be pointed in the right direction. Poor performers are generally resistant to change, willfully ignorant and will die off no matter how hard you try to get them to self-actualize.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Late to the party (my 2 week long summer break started today, man the golf course was nice) but jeeze guys. I feels like a full 25% of the comments were from DeadWeight – go back on your meds dude.

    Bark, thank you for your contributions to this site. I find both of the Baruth brothers highly entertaining and informative and they are one of the reasons I have kept coming back here.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      And keep helping those public schools in the U.S. doing so well that they’re doing worse than Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, etc., Dan!

      (Institutional rot is institutional rot, and you’re on the payroll!)

      http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/study-finds-u.s.-students-lag-behind-those-in-other-industrialized-countries/article/2548346

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I feel like an intervention is coming on… what is going on with you man?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/06/everything-in-american-education-is-broken/488189/

        Fine DEADWeight, lets fight link wars.

        FYI I replaced someone who was fired for their incompetence and in the past 4 years the school has made consistent sustainable gains under my leadership. Even as the test has changed and the PARCC test has been instituted – my 5th grade students not only beat my district’s average but beat the average score of a 5th grader in the state of New Mexico. This is with students who fit into every “at risk of failure” category that can be thought of.

        Given the differences in testing all comparisons to other countries are apples to bananas, not even apples to oranges.

        BTW I recently changed my avatar to General Buck Turgidson of Doctor Strangelove fame because after the “How Decision 2016 Will Affect the Auto Industry” article I realized that the entirety of the B&B is insane to varying degrees. There isn’t even a Colonel Mandrake here that can lay claim to being the only sane one.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          LMFAO at the avatar reasoning!

          f*cking h3ll that is great.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I merely responded with a factual assertion about the broken U.S. public education system, which you’re a systemic part of, to your ad hominem attack upon me.

          That your district is doing better than some others – when most of that same system ranks behind near 2nd world nations (you actually rank behind Mexico, btw, in math & science) – is hardly reason to crow.

          Put your big boy pants on if you want to get in the ring.

          • 0 avatar

            DW – I take anti-depressants. It helps,especially on days when I hate the human race almost as much as myself. No shame in it. Just something to consider.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            BklnPete – I’m doing great. I’ve made more in the last 3 1/2 years than at any time since the 2002 to 2006 period.

            I run 6 miles per day 3 x a week, play soccer, have a great family unit, and am on my 11th month of a nearly zero-processed food, low glycemic, low carb, near-paleo diet.

            Stay away from psych meds (or any meds, to the degree possible). This advice extends as equally if not more so to antidepressants.

            When I find the links, I’ll pill up credible, peer-reviewed, double-blind studies that show that antidepressants of the SSRI variety are no more helpful than placebos (but with major adverse side effects), and that big pharma has criminally rigged clinical drug trial studies (and the FDA knows this and has done nothing).

            We learned, determined ones now know that big pharma and big medicine don’t want Americans (or others) to do simple, healthy, cost-effective things to keep from getting sick or getting through illness; there’s exponentionally more money to reap keeping diabetics on insulin and other meds for life than having them implement a healthiest and do even moderate exercise that can literally cure diabetes.

            Many Americans in modern times view angry, cynical responses by some as unhealthy. Why?

            Anger and cynicism have a healthy place in a healthy society. Anger is a normal & healthy response at times, and cynicism is more than not only NOT a bad thing, but a welcome thing in critically thinking, righteously skeptical, examining human beings.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            You put on your big boy pants.

            Will you at a minimum acknowledge that every method of measuring the success or failure of public education is a construct of a bunch of politicians who have a stake in holding onto their phony-baloney jobs? (Which I would say for politicians of any party.)

            That there may be people and industries and vested financial interests that are PROFITING off of the so called “failure of public education”?

            All of those things however do not stop me from making improvements while being measured by a yardstick that is being wielded by a hostile governor and public education department.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve Lynch

          “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the war room!”

          GeniusDan!

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Anger in this case isn’t normal or healthy and one’s comments are extremely distant from what one would consider as “righteously skeptical”.

            I read somewhere that the Tom Cruise character and makeup inspiration for Tropic Thunder was a penis.

            Seems fitting when one wades through this blog. (ironically spell check wanted to print “wad” not “wade”.)

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            And to think George C. Scott was embarrassed by and never forgave Kubrick for having tricked that “over-the-top” performance from him, the most brilliant comedic acting I’ve ever seen.

          • 0 avatar

            @Prinicipal Dan – DO. NOT. ENGAGE. Just don’t. If I were you, I’d just let it go. Bark M. seems to be doing just that. You cannot “win” with a troll. I believe most of the thrill they get from these exchanges is knowing how exasperated their prey will get. There always is another factoid, conspiracy theory, half-baked opinion piece or B.S. press release to back up his “argument.”

            I know and understand that you want to defend the honor of your accomplishments. But really, does anyone actually care about DW’s factpinion except DW?

            Last year, I had to ban my 2nd closest high school friend from my Facebook page. He was using it to attack both public education and troll my oldest friend (once his friend) in the most passive aggressive way possible. It was non-stop. Friend #2 pretended it was “just the facts” but it was pure anger and resentment. I’m sure #2 still thinks he’s right, but it was pathetic. I kind of miss the guy but I just cannot go there.

            “Anger in this case isn’t normal or healthy and one’s comments are extremely distant from what one would consider as “righteously skeptical”.

            @Lou_BC: Right on, brother!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I call the part of Colonel Bat Guano.

          You try any preversions in there and I’ll blow your head off.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “There isn’t even a Colonel Mandrake here…”

          I’ve got a gammy leg and can do a Received Pronunciation accent!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    ANY DAY THAT ENDS WITH THE UK LEAVING THE CESSPOOL, BORN-AS-A-MISTAKE UNION THAT IS THE EU, improbably heterozygous beginning the end of the open wound EU, as others will follow…

    …IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY! (intentional riff on U2’s Bono’s pathetic Remain scaremongering attempt)

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      F*cking WordPerfect (exacerbating simple spelling errors)!

      ANY DAY THAT ENDS WITH THE UK LEAVING THE CESSPOOL, BORN-AS-A-MISTAKE UNION THAT IS THE EU, ***probably heralding the*** beginning of the end of the open wound EU, as others will now likely follow…

      …IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY! (intentional riff on U2’s Bono’s pathetic Remain scaremongering attempt)

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    BRING ON FREXIT, SPEXIT & GREXIT!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Feel the burn [it down].

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The more people/nations that same up and realize financialization (shifting/trading/hedging assets via capital conduits, otherwise known as speculation, as a means of soaking up labor’s contribution) of the economy (vs real output of value added, tangible things), and that financial capitals such as London, New York City, Dubai, etc. are a pox on society as a whole, and on real people doing real work a d producing real value-added goods, the better, and the sooner we can cure the diseases that perverse, out of control financialization has imposed on mugshot the world’s citizens.

      This Brexit vote is a start; non-Londoner’s finally woke up to the reality that their work, fruits of their labor and taxes were being disproportionately siphoned off to subsidize the filth and scumbags in London.

      • 0 avatar
        Driver8

        This, this, a thousand times this.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        “I’m doing great. I’ve made more in the last 3 1/2 years than at any time since the 2002 to 2006 period”

        So have I, in construction management. What, might I ask, is it that you do?

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        Well Dead Weight, if Mark doesn’t make an underwater video, since you are so active maybe you can. Do you do much swimming? Don’t forget the Speedos.

      • 0 avatar
        truecarhipsterdouche

        Amen X a billion trillion FRNs. I love DW…I have stated it before…I feel like he is my spiritual twin. I rarely ever have to comment because he pretty much said what I had in mind. Carry on DW!!!

        Would you like to hear my plan on what I’d do to the financial class and the political whores they bought? It would make for astounding PPV television…I’m talking YUUUUGGGGEEEE revenue from that…and that’s just scratching the surface, there’s more to be had in apparel, JEWlery and other trinket sales that can be made!!!! And it would create so many good paying jobs, as well.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I can almost agree here! Ferchrissakes, at least take oil out of the commodities realm where it was pre-whateverthehellitwas in 2000, when Midwest gas prices started yo-yoing all over because of the GREEDway..oops..SPEEDWAY monopoly here!

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    I usually enjoy what Bark writes but truly believe his taste is in his azz, given his running love affair with that monstrosity, the Fiesta ST.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    So, why the picture of “Jack Baruth” from 10-12 years ago?

  • avatar
    claytori

    @DW – You are starting to make sense to me. Did you run out of Scotch?

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Bark, thanks for the background on yourself. I always found your articles considered, and insightful. Also enjoyed your guest appearance on the smoking tire podcast! Don’t let someone whose user name describes his burden on humanity, get to you.

  • avatar
    Shinoda is my middle name

    Altogether the most surreal thread I’ve ever read. Thanks for the entertainment.

    Mr. DW…you win.

    Your prize for the day…

    a tattered, battered and spine-broke copy of “How to win friends and influence people.”

    Can’t we all just get along?

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    Bark since you are musician and Jacks’ brother, I always wanted Jack to make an underwater music video of himself like the Switchfoot “Stars” video. But since I don’t know if Jack is recovered enough to get in the water, I would like to see you do an underwater video. There is even a saxophone player who did a video underwater so why don’t you? So go to the Y, get a water proof camera and a Speedo and make the video.

    https://youtu.be/P2dhPGVnUXE

    • 0 avatar
      BobinPgh

      Bark, look in You Tube for Voodoo Chill, it is an UW video with a tenor saxophone.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Wow.

      @ Bark – post a pic of yourself in a blazer in front of a green screen and people want to see you underwater in a speedo with a musical instrument.

      I’m not worthy

      I’m not worthy

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        Well, why not, I think it would be entertaining for Mark/Bark to make a Voodoo chill video. Mark, be sure to wear a Speedo underneath the costume, I don’t know if I want to explain why.

  • avatar
    rreichar

    Perfect. As a serial car buyer Ialways pay attention to your takes. Now even more so. Thanks for coming out of the closet. So to speak.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    The inability to reply to any and all comments on this site p!sseth me off no end. Now, more than ever…

    So although this probably would go better in the middle of the running commentaries between Bark and DW, I’ll just hang it here at the end.

    First, Bark has interesting points of view. I don’t agree with all of them, but all of them, even those I don’t agree with at all, are at least interesting, and often well thought out.

    However, he suffers somewhat from a common syndrome among those who are tasked with teaching and/or coaching others who themselves are fairly high achievers: the belief that one floats above the ordinary world, in some higher sphere.

    This can be unconsciously compounded when one does so while dwelling in the finest lodgings and while eating in the finest restaurants, as Bark has been able to do by virtue of his recent occupation.

    It does not mean that Bark is necessarily going to come off as condescending in face to face conversations, but it does tend to make one want to tell everyone else How It Really Is ™, for all of those who lack the experience and wisdom that the Purveyor Of All Wisdom ™ is privy to.

    But when he offers as absolute truth an opinion that he has, especially one that might not be universally true, and one that might contradict the experience of someone else, he can seem to be a bit pedantic.

    Still, he is a good writer, and he does offer interesting opinions. I haven’t always agreed with him, but I enjoy reading him. We have agreed to disagree about whether or not two button suits have made three button suits totally archaic, for example.

    Sometimes Bark reminds me of the character in a movie I believe was called Network. In it, a very bright young broadcast journalist is holding forth on something she believes she KNOWS, in contradistinction to the opinions of other, many more senior, co-workers in the room.

    Another character says somewhat sarcastically, but in a subdued manner “It must be difficult being the smartest person in the room.”

    And she replies, totally missing the sarcasm, “Oh, you just don’t know!”.

    Not that I think Bark is clueless like that…just that I can see how, when you have lived the good life, big bucks plus lavish lifestyle at work, for some time, it is easy to unconsciously come to believe that you must be doing something right that is heads and shoulders above and beyond mere mortals.

    I know that when I was a supposed IT guru on Wall Street and at Park Ave. law firms, I surely thought that my sh!t didn’t stink. Ditto when I worked for about a year for a year as an IT audit specialist for a US government agency, and carried a shiny badge that said that I was a “privileged character”.

    In retrospect, I realize that the main thing those experiences did for me was to teach me the value of humility, once I finally managed to obtain a small measure of it by osmosis.

    But while it was on, it was on. And IQ points did not alleviate the problem. They only aggravated it.

    So I can understand why Bark may sometimes come off as a bit pompous. Even so, I do not see him as a pompous person, just one who has been placed in a position where he has seen and learned a lit. Just, perhaps, not quite as much as he thinks he has, at least some of the time…

    Still I like you and respect you, Bark, and hope you keep putting your ideas out there, whether I agree with all of them or not.

    Bu I also feel the same way about DW, who does a righteous job of filling the role of B&B curmudgeon.

    The world would be a more boring place without either one them.

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