In part two of how Josh got into car sales, you should start putting together that he was like most other car salesman: no intelligible thoughts on where his life was going.
I’ll never forget my first meetings with the managers of the dealership I eventually worked for. My first meeting was just me stopping by to ask for an application -dressed in a coat and tie- and after borrowing a pen from a regional Mazda rep that was there that day, I filled it out and gave it back to the manager; he said, “Great, we’ll look it over and give you a call.” I said thank you, walked out and talked to a couple of the salesman about my Mazdaspeed6, then left.
Interestingly enough, my father had bought me a 2007 Mazda CX-7 when I decided to leave for Wilmington, NC to go back to college. I had spent part of 2006 at a private Jazz music school in Clearwater, FL, still with no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted a ‘Speed6, but my dad didn’t want me driving a manual in Wilmington traffic. In all honesty, my dad didn’t want me to have a manual at all, so my first four cars were all automatics. What a horrible thing to do to a young adult, I say.
I didn’t expect to love my CX-7 as much as I did, and neither did my father; and after 7 months of driving it he told me if I could find a Mazdaspeed6 I wanted that I could have it, provided that I work the deal by myself… with no one with me. So one Saturday I walked in to the dealership I’d later be working for, told a salesman I was there to purchase a ‘Speed6 with no need for a test drive since I’d already tested it months before, sat down and told him what was owed on my car, what my father would be willing to pay for the new car, and that no other numbers would work. I was lucky that he was one of the dumbest guys ever. After my father texted me to walk out of the dealership four separate times, the sales manager came over to tell me the deal would be what I wanted provided I pick the car up on Monday morning. I’ll never forget him saying to me, “I’m taking a bath on this ‘Speed6, but it’s not every day I get to put someone in this car, so it’s yours without any more haggling. Thank you, and congratulations, kid.”
Monday morning I showed up with a check from my father in hand for the down payment, paperwork signed, and ready to take delivery. Only, that wasn’t going to happen, because my father was mistaken with what was owed on my car. He was a full thousand dollars more in his estimation. Granted, this was the dealer’s fault for not calling my lien holder and getting the actual payoff, but needless to say they were pissed off when Monday morning came around and found out they had just given me an extra grand on the deal…
I walked out of the dealership while the salesman was on the phone with my father and drove away. He called my cell about a minute later asking, “Hey, where the hell did you go?” After telling him that I wanted the Mazda more than anything, I was not going to beg my father to do a deal that wasn’t a good one. He was annoyed, but he begged me to come back and told me we’d work it out. When I came back and sat down in the showroom, the salesperson walked up to the manager’s desk and I remember hearing the manager say, “F*** it… we really f***ed this one up. Just give him the damn car and get him out of here. I’m so tired of this s***.” I took my keys and was on my way out!
Having owned two Mazdas I really wanted to spread the word to the world about how great this car company was. Hence why I was back in that dealership about 5 months after owning the ‘Speed6 to ask for a job. Oh, and they definitely remembered me, too. They were the only cars I could see myself trying to sell at the time. Being a car guy, I knew they were great cars, but I also had a realization that not as many people bought Mazdas as hopeless Toyotas and marginal Hondas by comparison -I speak in terms of fun to drive.
I should have seen what my time would have become in the car sales world after I had to go back to the dealership 3 different times to talk to the managers about obtaining a job. As they said, they’d not yet checked out my information, and therefore hadn’t made any decision. However, I still had two different interviews, which I aced, obviously. The first interview I was asked, “If there’s a BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Cadillac CTS all for sale used on a lot, which one would carry the highest price/resale value?” My answer: “Well, depending on mileage, options and motor, the Mercedes will typically always carry a higher premium over a BMW, and a especially the CTS. Although I’m much more partial to BMWs, myself.” The manager replied, “Good, that’s correct. Oh, and I prefer BMWs, too. I have an E38 7-Series.” This was a man I could see myself getting along with, I thought at that time. Having worked with him, well, we’ll save that for part 3.
My second interview I had was with who I thought was the General Manager. I learned later that he just called himself that. He was actually a sales manager that was brought in to push one of the main sales managers out, because the real GM/part owner of the dealership and he didn’t get along well at all. He was very nice and pretty much just chit chatted with me about my love of cars, why I loved the Mazda brand, and what I thought I’d be willing to contribute. Then he went into the usual car sales spiel, “I could teach you a lot. These guys need me around here, and you’ll learn I can help you succeed. Hell, just last weekend I had to help sell cars. I sold 6 myself on Saturday.” Later I found out this was more than BS. He actually wasn’t that great of a manager, nor even that special of a seller.
Regardless of all this, I was hired. I introduced myself to the new guys I’d be working with. All of them very cool guys, it seemed -I still have good things to say about all of them. Bad things about some, too. I was to start work the following Monday at 9 AM. Upon arriving Monday morning my training commenced with the guy who was in charge of buying used cars and making the lot look good with cars. His name was Bob, but we called him Bobby. He was an older fella that was immensely courteous just an all-round good guy. He taught me all about the stickers you’ll see on the windshields of used cars, as well as the history of the Monroney sticker, and that was about it. After that I was off to move wholesale cars from our lot to the Honda/Acura dealership up the street (the guy who owns the Mazda/Kia dealer I worked for also has the Honda/Acura lot and a bunch of others nearby). So you could say that my training wasn’t really much. I was kind of just thrown into the deep end the first week without understanding how to really sell cars. I did a few half deals with other salesman to get the hang of things, and none of them wanted to give me any credit for the sale of the cars, so I was forced to quickly learn to go out and get my own cars.
Salesman have a hard time sharing commission, and you can best bet they’re not sharing a damn car deal in general. You see, salesman fight to sell the most cars each month, getting bonuses at times, and I’ll be damned if they were gonna let some new kid take them from a 16 car month to a 15 1/2 car month. Once I realized this, I quickly became known as the late-night deal maker. I wasn’t much of a hard ass when it came to sniping out potential deals on the lot. I was too afraid to take money from someone else’s pocket who needed it to support a family, or their alcohol and/or drug habits I later learned about. But when it came time to close up shop, anyone who pulled on to the lot to check out a car got me as their representative. I batted .900 when it came to that.
Don’t forget to come back to get part 3 of my life as a car salesman.