Confessions of a Car Man


Car Business Blues

I have spent the last month or so contemplating my place in the automobile business. The second half of 2010 was rough for me and a real wake up call. One of The Others left a comment on my “I Hate Corvettes” piece that I’m “nothing but a burned out car salesman”. I always take things like this to heart, and I came to the conclusion that even though this idiot had no idea what the column was about he was right. I am burned out.

I think I’ve earned the right to be burned out, but that’s another story. The thing is what can I do about it? I have a little less than five years before I can move to the country and forget I was ever on a car lot. I’m 61 freaking years old. It’s way too late to consider a career change, so what can I do about it? What can I do to perform reasonably well and not be an embarrassment to myself or the dealership I work for?

I’ve decided to get dumb.

Knowing a lot about the car business can be a real plus, especially when it’s used to figure out the dynamics of a dealership. Being a former manager can help you in determining how to structure your write up and commitment. But it can also be a curse. I can size up a prospect in about thirty seconds. I’m sure that it’s helped me from getting jacked off a thousand times over, but it has also hindered me from writing up some people I should have written up.

The secret, I feel, is I have to try to go back to my basic training from all those years ago. I was trained well, by my brother, Danny, and the many other Car Men who gave me hints about the process of selling cars. I have to clear my mind of bad habits. I have got to stop sales managing my deals. I must take to heart the saying “He who sales manages his own deals has a fool for a desk man.”

Here is the beauty of our business: After a terrible December, I received my washout check and sat in my office stressing out over my poor performance. A near panic attack would be a good way to describe it. After a few minutes, I pulled myself together, went out to the showroom, and the first person I encountered bought a car from me.

What the hell is that all about?

Is it a message from the Car God telling me not to despair? What is in the past is in the past. In the car business today really is the first day of your life. Last month’s zero may very well be this month’s hero.

I’m taking a couple of days off. My wife broke her shoulder. I have to take her to the doctor. I have to take down the Christmas tree. And while I do this I will think about 2011, and try to find a way to make it better.