Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sympathy for the Devil (I mean Car Salesperson) Part One

I spent eight months as a car salesman. I'm back in the restaurant business and couldn't be happier. Yet I learned some things. The first one: don't be so tough on car salespeople.

Buyers are Liars

It's a common saying amongst salespersons because it's true. My #1 takeaway from my time in car sales is that the salespeople are more honest than their reputation and buyers are less so. 

Car salesmen are at the store everyday and represent a business that is always there. If they lie, they will be called on it. People shopping for cars can and will say whatever they want. Faced with a clod of bullshit, the dealership will invite them back to make a purchase and forgive them swiftly.

The nicest guy I ever dealt with working for BMW was a sixty-plus retired fellow shopping for an exciting sports coupe. He said it would be the last car he'd ever own. He'd drive it for the next ten or twenty years and then pass away. Naturally, I wanted to help him make the right purchase.

The M235 is a hell of a car. For just over $50k you get over 300 horsepower and foot-pounds of torque. Most M cars are rear-wheel drive only, but you can get an M235 in all-wheel drive. Drive it all year round in the snow, sun, ice, mud or whatever. It's one of the best bang-for-your-buck machines BMW offers.

This guy didn't want to spent much over $50k. The only one we had on our lot was around $56k. It had some options he didn't want. It was gray with a black interior, but he wanted one that was white with a black interior. He didn't want fancy options or high-end leather interior. 

We almost made a deal on the one we had. A common question car sales managers ask is: "Can we sell the car for a price that would make you color-blind?" He said since this was the last car he'd ever buy, he didn't want to compromise.

So I got to work on the Build Your Own section of When I cut out the options he didn't want and put in the basic black interior with the non-metallic white paint, we had the perfect car for just under $50k.

It was mid December. He told me he had to spend some time with his mother over the holidays and would tell me what he decided to do after Christmas.

I called him a couple days after Christmas. What did he do? He had driven over to Seattle and bought a white M235 with a beige interior for about $54k. It wasn't the car he told me he wanted, but he bought it anyway. He said he wanted to think about it. Instead, he drove someplace and bought a car.

We'd talked about what he wanted for a few hours over a couple days. I offered to bring that car from Seattle to Spokane for him. He didn't want it when I asked. But he bought it from them anyway. He thanked me for all the work I had done. He complimented me on my professionality. Yet I made no money for all the time I'd worked for him.

That's a snippet of life in the car business. When a person takes the time to listen to you, ascertain your needs and find a car for you, let him make some commission from you. Don't waste your time and his by buying something you told him you didn't want anyway.

In retrospect, he was very nice. Yet I don't care at all if he's enjoying that car.