Real Stories From Life at a Dealership

People are the experience

THE LOT PARTY

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

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 ericp

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The weekly sales meeting was held on Wednesday for reasons that escape me. For the first couple of months I thought sales meetings were exciting. Being new in the business and all. After that, it didn’t take long for the monotony to set in. A point of enlightenment happens when you realize that the Sales Manager has sales meetings only because the General Manager says that he should. We would hear what we had done wrong in the past week, how great the Sales manager was when he was selling, things like that. Sometimes they would go around the room and say how many units that each person had sold. We always had to pull out our ratty used car list and go over a few pieces of inventory that was either sold or had just arrived. Blah, Blah, Blah.

 

It seemed like the really bad meetings always ended the same way: with the announcement that it was once again time for a lot party.

 

A lot party is when the sales force goes out on the lot and rearranges, organizes and parks every single new vehicle in stock. It would be Mat, Rick, Linda, Dave, Don, Nick and myself. The disorganization was magnificent. One person would take the job of lining everybody up so that each car was park straight and even. The best ones were on the hottest days. Getting into a car, that had been sitting for a few weeks, putting the key in and starting the car, only to quickly find out that the last person in the car had left the air-conditioning on high. That meant all of the dust that had accumulated in the system was blown right into your face.car lot messy

 

I laugh at the fact that that is about as hazardous as car sales gets. Along with everybody barely missing each other as we move cars. I do remember a lot of barely awake or hung over people, stopping to smoke cigarettes too often and drinking coffee. Sometimes it was less than one hundred cars to move and it could take hours.

 

All of that changed with one simple phrase uttered by Dave; “We should just do it ourselves”.

 

It was Tuesday morning, the day before the sales meeting. Dave and I were out on the lot. We knew that the inventory was a mess. As soon as Dave said it, I knew he was completely correct. The two of us went and got every single set of keys and put them in every car and truck. We decided to start with the Pick-ups on the front row. One ton, first, followed by three quarter ton, then the half tons. Sport utilities were in the next line. Followed by a full line of Chevrolet cars. Small trucks and vans were parked on the last line. It looked great when we were done and it took about an hour.

 lot neat

Two great things happened. First, when we went into the sales meeting and the manager sent us out for a lot party, we were already done. I really think that irked him to not be in control. Second, we really knew our inventory.

 

Dave and I continued this activity for the rest of the time we were on the sales floor together. We had sat in half of the entire inventory every two weeks. The two of us knew every single car and truck by name. Knowing our inventory had an effect on our sales also. Dave and I dominated the sales floor from that point on. Out of the nine hundred new vehicles sold that year, we sold four hundred of them. That left five hundred for the other five to sell. Dave and I both received the prestige’s sales accolades of being inducted into Chevrolet’s Legion of Leaders and becoming charter members of the Chevrolet truck Honor Club.

 

We took ownership of the lot and made sure it was always just the way we wanted it. When other salespeople would make the stupid mistake of telling people that we didn’t have the car that they wanted in stock, we would know better and be able to take the customer that they had dropped, and make the sale.

 

I consider this a turning point in my sales career. Instead of waiting to be told, to do what you already knew, needed to be done, we just did it. This was true employee empowerment. Dave had opened my eyes on how to look at the things that needed done. Look around. Decide what needs done and do it. It was never again a matter of coming to work and being told what to do.

 

When we were able to take our biggest drudgery and turn it into a productive asset, a complete success, you would think that everybody would be happy, right? I remember it as a start of conflict between our manager and us. He had power and exercised authority when he told us to do things. After that, he had to find other ways to feel in command.

 

Dave had an amazing effect on my career. As General Manager of Sierra Motors in Jamestown, I still look at the lot through Dave’s eyes and see the jobs that need done. And just do them.

 

EP

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June 30, 2009 Posted by | Chevrolet, dealership, eric prothro, lot party, manager, sierra motors | , , , , , | 2 Comments

AT THE STANLEY CUP

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

 

I didn’t grow up being a Hockey fan. Chris Rowles was the only kid in the neighborhood who followed the NHL that I knew. He was of course a fan of the “Broad Street Bullies”. Back in the 70’s, the champion Philadelphia Flyers had the most physical and most penalized team ever. Chris’ favorite player was Dave “the Hammer” Schultz, who was the record holder for penalty minutes. At school, Chris would come up from behind and slam you into the wall while uttering things like “Schultz checks him into the boards” like he was announcing play by play.

 

When I finally started going to Hockey games, it was because we received free tickets at the dealership that I managed. I had no Idea! Hockey is the greatest live sport that there is. When televised, most sports just follow the ball. In hockey the action is everywhere. The physical play, line changes, movement without the puck and fights are amazing to see up close. I was fortunate to get regular use of season tickets from Bob at the radio station. Really great seats too, third row from the glass. Hockey, up close and personal.

 

In 1988 “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky arrived in Los Angeles. Gretzky was amazing to watch. In 1993 the Los Angeles Kings made it to the Stanley Cup Championship. We had been to quite a few games that year and were really feeling it. We had tickets to one playoff game and loved it. I really wanted to see a championship game with the Great One leading the way. Stanley Cup tickets were just too expensive to buy.

Wayne_Gretzky_Kings_Photo1_mid

 

Suzanne, our comptroller at work, heard me talking about missing the game. She called me into her office and told me that her cousin worked at the Forum. She said that I could take a friend, and that he would get us into one game of the series. I immediately told my pal Larry Krystal. Larry was a great salesman, a great hockey fan and fun to be around.

 

We arraigned the time and the place to meet Suzanne’s cousin. The plan was simple; just walk right in with the cousin. He said that all of the Forum employees and the players come in through one gate. He made that great statement, “they never check Id’s”. So we went for it. Larry and I just walked up to the gate. Right behind Gretzky.

 

We stop in a moment of awe. It’s really him. Right behind him, of course is Marty McSorley. The team’s enforcer and Wayne’s on-ice bodyguard. I walk right up to Marty and say hello. I am a little taller than McSorley, but he is thicker. We start talking about the physicall play so far in the series. We are talking as we walk past the gate. The next thing I know, I am in the Kings locker room. This is amazing. I am taking it all in when I realize that Larry is not around.martymcsorley

 

After a moment of hesitation I backtrack my steps. After I get all the way back to where I can see the gate, I view Larry. Security has Him. I am at the Stanley Cup finals, in the locker room before the game, hanging with the guys and there’s Larry. When I walked in,  by the guy at the gate, I thought that he mistook me for a player. One security guy has a hold of Larry’s arm the other is calling on his radio. Time to act.

 

I walked right up to the them and pulled Larry’s arm away. “He’s with me” was all that I said. Larry and I walked quickley away. The two security men look at each other dumbfounded. As we are walking away I hear one say “wasn’t that….?”

 

Larry scolds me, “you didn’t have to do that, I would have been fine”. Larry continues. “but you were in”. “The Stanley Cup” he emphasises. “I came here to see a game with my friend and that’s what we’re going to do”, I told him. We went back to the car and drove to the nearest sports bar. Larry and I watched the game, had a few too many beers and some bad bar food. We cheered. We yelled. No one at the bar, believed that we were in the locker room when Larry told them. We just smiled.

 

After that there were more games. Larry and I worked together for a few more years, until he died of cancer. He had a loving wife and a cute daughter, that was a cheerleader. Larry was a valued friend to many people and a great car salesman. We both told stories, of the time at the Stanley Cup. We both knew,  that it is the friends that you are with, that make the times that you have, so special.

 

EP

June 28, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, gretzky, kings, mcsorley, stanley cup | , , , , | 4 Comments

CORVETTE ZR-1

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

In 1990, Chevrolet came out with the most amazing Corvette, the ZR-1. Early in the era of ever increasing horsepower, this four valve per cylinder, 350 cubic inch beauty, was rated at just under 400-horse power. It also had a top speed close to 200 mph. This was one of the few times that GM was able to captivate the entire performance car crowd. This is one car that did not disappoint.ZR-1

 

This super car had a MSRP of $50,000. The excitement surrounding the Vet caused the actual price to go up. Most dealerships were getting $20,000 to $50,000 over window for the high demand Corvette. Our Boss Gil told us that he was going to sell the only one that we were going to get to a friend of his. I was disappointed. I had already sold my Uncle Corky three Corvettes in the last six years and he was asking about this one.

 

I asked Gil if I could sell it to my Uncle instead. Then I asked again and again and again. In a moment of charity he said, “If you can get $10,000 over MSRP, then you can sell it”. I called my Uncle Corky and gave him the good news. When I told him that he could have it and how much it was going to cost, I knew that his annoyance of paying a premium for a car was overcome when he asked, “when can I have it?”

 

I hurriedly went in and told the Boss that he would take it and Gil’s reply was “don’t expect to get paid on this”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was to excited that I was going to sell my Uncle the only ZR-1. While I was waiting four months for the ZR-1 to arrive, my boss Gill, left to run another dealership that they owned.

 

During the build process, we were able to make a change. The color white was unavailable. At the last minute we were able to get his built in white. The only factory white ZR-1 built that year was delivered to my Uncle Corky on July of 1990.

 

My Uncle Corky, had to take it for a test drive. I grabbed a dealer plate and got in the passenger seat of the white Corvette. The sound of that motor was mechanical perfection. With sixteen exhaust valves, the sound is like nothing else. We drove directly to the freeway. After just a few quick miles, my Uncle opened it up a little. We amazingly shot past 150 mph in seconds. We only had the six-speed transmission in fourth gear.

 

We pulled into the dealership parking lot and my Uncle was smiling. Within minutes, three California Highway Patrol units drove slowly by the lot looking at us. So we went inside to ink up the deal. A man was waiting there for my Uncle. He somehow knew that my Uncle had the only white ZR-1 and offered him $10,000 more than whatever he was paying for the car. That just solidified the deal.

 

After finishing all of the paperwork, I went thru the delivery process that we had been thru many times before. The sound of that car as it pulled away was sweet.

 

The next day, the General sales manager called me in and gave me my voucher for the sale. This is the document that tells you how much commission was earned. It was for $500. I decided then and there to take a stand and roll the dice. “No way”, was my response. After a few words between us the GSM went back into the owners office. It took quite a while before he came back out. This time he handed me a voucher for $1,000. I knew that I had to be all in on this one. I’ll just say that I expressed my dissatisfaction with the offer and recommended that he check my pay plan. A good hour went by and I was called into the owner’s office. I had only been in there once before and it wasn’t a good place to frequent. I respected the owner, but knew that I was holding the winning hand. He spent over twenty minutes explaining why I was going to be paid only $1,000. When he finished, I simply repeated that I had a pay plan and would like them to continue to honor it. That ended that days meeting.

 

I actually had no idea how much was possible to make on that car. In those days the salesman received 30% of the profit above invoice. I was betting that it was a lot.

 

First thing in the morning, I am called back into the owner’s office. He has a yellow legal pad in front of him. He goes over pages of things and reasons of why that is all that I should be paid. After almost an hour my response was the same; “are you going to honor my pay plan? The General Sales Manager quickly escorted me out of the office. I didn’t think that I could be fired for disputing pay. I had to wait it out. It seemed like a long time before I was handed a final voucher, with the explanation that there was no way that I was ever going to be paid on the $10,000 premium. It was for $2,700.

 

I stood there and did the math in my head; I was paid 30% so the profit was $9,000. Including the premium it was $19,000. I had traveled from $500 to $2,700. I knew that I would be flushing my career in that store away if I went any further.

 

I accepted the voucher and said thank you. That sale holds the record for the highest profit and the highest commission ever paid in over 40 years of business. There was one more thing; when the guy offered my Uncle a cool $10,000 more for the car, he knew it was a great deal. My Uncle Corky tipped me a crisp $100 bill before he drove away.

Usdollar100front

 

If you go to see my Uncle, you will find that Corvette still in his driveway.

 

I am thankful, that was the only pay discrepancy I had in the entire 15 years I worked there. I used the $100 bill to take the entire family to Hometown Buffet. Hey, when you have a family that’s how you celebrate.

 

EP

June 25, 2009 Posted by | corky, corvette, eric prothro, sierra motors, zr-1 | , , , , | Leave a comment


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June 24, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro | Leave a comment

SEARS FOR ENTERTAINMENT

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

It was in 1984, that I was working at a Dealership that was located across the street from Sears. It was on the busiest intersection in town and Sears was the biggest store in the city. Sears was a stand-alone store, as if it didn’t think it would ever need any help. The front of the store faced a giant parking lot. The Sears store was great for entertainment, because it had shopping carts and shoplifters.sears

 

Living in the high Desert, the one constant is wind. Not just a 10-15 mph breeze, but real wind; the daily 25 to 35 mph kind with gusts that clocked over 50. The Sears parking lot covered several acres. It also had a substantial downhill slope. We were always amazed that the management of Sears did not put more effort in collecting shopping carts.

 

A customer would unload whatever goods they had purchased and would then just leave the shopping cart where it was. There were not any collection areas. A good gust of wind would start everything in motion. “There goes another one,” someone would shout. With that kind of wind and a smooth downhill slope, the carts would pick up quite a bit of speed. We saw quite a few of them hit parked cars with a furious crash that definitely left a mark. It was like watching them try to escape. Some of the really lucky ones would be going very fast and actually be aimed at the driveway. Run, little shopping cart, run!

runaway-shopping-cart1

 

The havoc that a high speed shopping can wreak, when it hits traffic is amazing. I have seen carts that look like they a traveling at over 25 mph go into traffic and get hit by a car. The cart usually goes sailing, the cars skid to a stop and all of the other traffic tries to avoid the collision. And Sears never changed their cart collection policy.

 

Shoplifters were the best though. The only way we knew that they were shoplifters was because they came running out of the store. They always ran towards our dealership. I guess because it was downhill and with the wind. There were always security personnel giving chase. Two, three or more plainclothes security would make great tackles on the pavement. I guess road rash came with the job. Sometime the runner would get all the way to our lot. We have seen more than a few try to stash whatever they lifted under a car and try the innocent act where they hold up there hands a say “what did I do?” They usually got tackled too.

 

The one that really stood out was a skinny, shirtless kid with long greasy hair. He came out the door of Sears running full speed with a security guy right on his heals. He had that look in his eyes as he ran without ever looking back. It looked like a scene from a movie because the shirtless kid ran directly into traffic without looking and ran between several moving cars. The guy on his heels stopped at the curb to barely avoid getting run over. We heard a couple of skids and horns honking but the timing was perfect. He never slowed down. The greasy haired kid kept running to the safety of his neighborhood down the street.uniform1

 

More than twenty years have gone by. Sears no longer has shopping carts. Both Sears and the Dealership have moved to malls. That shirtless kid, if he is not currently serving time, has probably gone on to bigger and better endeavors like a meth lab. The security guards are now Mall Cops. And the wind is still blows.

 

EP

June 24, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, sears, security, sierra motors, wind | , , , , | 2 Comments

LATE FOR WORK

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

You think that you know someone. You see a guy eight hours a day, six days a week for few years and you get a pretty good idea of that person’s character. You get to see how hard they will work to make money and what they will do to get promoted. Greg was such a guy.

 

Greg never set any sales records. Sure he was nice to his customers and he didn’t get any complaints, but he never did enough to be the best. He never showed the kind of dedication and drive to get noticed. In a business culture that is built on production and getting promoted, Greg seemed like he was having problems just working a full day. He was always trying to leave early, mostly on Tuesday it seemed. Greg was late to work too often, usually on Wednesday. Not the earmarks of success.

 

costco-DSC_0884My wife, Dana and I were shopping in Costco. I went along to carry bulk products. We were headed to the dry goods section and ran into Greg and his wife. We all greeted each other, our wife’s had met before. Greg had a pallet full of food. I quipped, “That’s a lot of food for two people”. Greg’s wife responded with “hopefully that enough for them all”. His wife filled us in on Greg. He buys a lot of food.                                                                                                               

 

Greg has been feeding the homeless. He and his family volunteer and generally run Tuesday night at a Kitchen that helps families with children. Greg spends most of his extra money on weekly food runs. Greg also cooks the food; his specialty is spaghetti for 100. His family comes and helps him serve food to hungry families. Not only does Greg do most of the clean up, he stays until everybody has a way to shelter. That usually means that he is giving them a ride.spaghetti-carbonara

 

Greg’s not interested in taking credit for what he does. He does it because he cares. He is not a superstar at work. That’s not why he goes. He work’s to provide for his family and so he can use the rest to help families. Greg gets zero public credit or financial benefit, he just makes a difference. Families get to eat. Children get fed

 

To an employer, a manager or a Boss, what is the concept of a good employee? Do we only reward the driven or the selfish? Why is that guy late for work? There has to be room for people whose whole life doesn’t revolve around work. There needs to be more Greg’s.

 

EP

June 23, 2009 Posted by | costco, eric prothro, food, greg, homeless | , , , , | 3 Comments

KANSAS TO CALIFORNIA

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

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 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

In retrospect, we should be thankful that only seven of the twelve kids still lived at home when the family moved from Oxford Kansas. If you were traveling to California with two adults and seven kids, I wouldn’t guess that anyone’s ideal mode of transportation would be a 1940 Ford 2-door sedan. 1940_Ford_2-Door_SedanThe Ford deluxe came with a whopping 95 horsepower flathead V-8, mated to a manual three speed transmission. At that time 50 mph was flying down the road. Seat belts were still decades away and interior space was very limited. Add to that the fact that we were pulling a trailer and you can imagine that the load was almost too much to move. In fact the headlights were pointed up in the air and the tongue of the trailer was almost dragging on the ground.

The car belonged to Aunt Analee, who normally made a tidy sum of money driving people from the Midwest to California. Also In the car was Mother (Bertha Jane Prothro) age 44 along with us children, Doris 13, Bonita 11, Lloyd 9, Jimmy 7, Corky 5, Betty 3 and Patricia 1. The older kids were already living on their own. It was the day after Easter Sunday, 1941. Very early, on a rainy Monday morning, the nine Prothro’s set out for California. Dad, C.A. Prothro (44), had already been in California for a about a year. He was working in the Merced area. Baby Patricia kept saying “we goin to Cal pony, to see Daddy”.

The driver, Analee, didn’t need a map, she just drive south into Oklahoma until we hit Route 66 and turned right, all the way to California. It was two lane roads or just plain blacktop. The whole trip didn’t take any longer than a few days. Mom packed a basket full of food for the trip. Drinks were simple, water. Gas was between 15 and 20 cents a gallon, so it wasn’t very expensive, even if they didn’t get great mileage.

With nine people in a car made for four, you can’t imagine the cramped quarters and the problems we children could instigate. The most prized seat in the car was in the front of course. When Bonita and Doris sat in the front, they would pass time by reading every possible sign and constantly checking the odometer to see how much further. At only one year old, Patricia spent the entire trip in somebody’s lap. Car seats had not been invented yet.

After the first day, Analee tried to drive all night. When she became too tired, we stopped in the middle of nowhere and slept on the side of the road. It may have not been a bed, but at least we weren’t cramped into the car. The next night we spent in an inexpensive roadside motel, with just two beds. Doris, Bonita and Betty had their heads at one end of the bed and Lloyd, Jimmy and Corky had their heads on the other. Mom, Analee and Patricia in the other were in the other bed.

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The next day took our family into the Painted Desert. It was so different than being in Kansas with then endless plains and wheat fields. Bonita says that the Painted Desert was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, with all of the red, purple, orange and brown tones, it was just breathtaking. We stopped long enough for the boys to pick up pieces of petrified wood.

When we arrived at Kingman Arizona, a change of plans was made. Our family took a departure to see one of the new wonders of the world, Boulder Dam. I can’t imagine wanting to spend extra time with nine people packed in a car, but the idea of seeing the Dam was too good to pass up. We were all amazed at the sight of the newly built Dam. The view from the rail was amazing. The higher safety rails were installed later. Bonita scared our Mom to death by picking up Betty, so she could see over the rail. boulder view

The trip continued on to San Bernardino, where paternal Grandmother Rhoda Prothro owned a boarding house. After a quick stop, it was back on the road. Final destination point was the Merced area. C.A.’s sister Levina and her husband Earl Barnett were Cotton farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. We were glad to be with Dad and have the family back together again.

In California it was on to new adventures and growing up in the 1940’s. Our older brother Perry served in the Marine Corps during WWII. One by one, we moved out and set out on lives of our own. Most of us Prothro’s stayed in California. The families could be found congregating in the Merced and Lancaster areas, with C.A. and Bertha moving between the two cities until their death and burial in Lancaster.

Looking back, we have no idea how everybody survived that trip, we just know that Mom and Analee were sure glad that trip was over.

EP

June 22, 2009 Posted by | 1940 ford, 1941, california, kansas, prothro, route 66 | , , , , , | 4 Comments

RUNNING, READING AND NEIGHBORS

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

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 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

My mother still lives in the house that our family moved into in 1963. There are still a few original neighbors, but very few. It was a great neighborhood to grow up in and it is still what I call home. In the early 1970’s the house across the street went up for sale. Joe and his family were moving to the more upscale, College Terrace community. I didn’t know much about selling houses at the time. I guess there were a lot of things that I was unaware of.

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Growing up, one of my best friends was a neighborhood kid named Michael Washington. Mike and I were in the same class every year. We were in a special education program called MGM. Mentally Gifted Minors. After a lot of testing, I guess they thought we were smart. I don’t know about that, but I do know that Mike and I were very competitive. We played hours of chess together. The other biggest things we had in common were reading and running.

We had the two highest reading scores in the entire school district. The director from the school district said that I had the second highest reading level ever tested. Michael of course, had the highest.

We were also the two best quarter-mile runners in the school. So a race was held to see who was the fastest. Mike and I came out strong and quickly dropped all of the other runners. With about 200 yards to go we agreed that being that we were such good friends and being so equal that we should cross the finish line together. Mike says that I broke first, but I say it was him. The last 100 yards becomes exactly what it should be, an all out sprint. I won a very close race.solosports8

The comments that followed I didn’t understand at the time. People said that it was backwards. Mike should have been the better runner and I should have been the better reader because Mike is black and I am white. Then the house across the street sold.

Our family was at home in the evening, when there came a knock at the door. I followed my Dad to the door. It was Joe from across the street. I remember he had his head hanging down like his dog had just died.

Joe says to my Dad, “Jim I came over to tell you that we sold our house”. My Dad’s response was “good did you get what you wanted for it? Joe explained, “yes, every penny of it.” “I had to sell it to them, I wanted to sell it to another family but these people offered full price and I had to take it.” Joe finally looked up at my Dad and made eye contact. He said, “Jim, I sold to a black family”. My Dad tells Joe, “good, I’m glad you got what you wanted, good luck with the move”. Joe hung his head again, said “so long” and went back across the street.

I asked my dad what that was all about. He explained that where Joe comes from you don’t let Black people move into a neighborhood. “Why”, I asked “aren’t they going to be good neighbors?” “Just like anybody else, we’ll just have to see when they get here.” was my Dads reply.

That was my first lesson in African-American Economics 101. Even as a kid I realized what Joe had said. Being a Black family, they did not have the same ability to negotiate the price. Their only chance was to pay full price or they could not get the home at all.

That family that moved in, is still across the street from my Mom. Reggie and his family are the best neighbors anybody could wish for. A great example would be when my Mom, in her 70’s fell and broke her arm. In the middle of the night, the first people to be there for her were Reggie and Brenda. Great people, great family and great friends.

So to hell with the people who said that said Michael and I got it backwards. Running, reading or playing chess, I am a better man for having been pushed by my friend Mike. And I am thankful for the great neighbors that live across the street from my Mom.

EP

June 19, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, michael washington, neighbors, reading, reggie, running | , , , , | 5 Comments

CHIEF PETTY OFFICER

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

Lew Stults is a friend who has been in the same neighborhoods that I have. We share a common history in business management. There is one Gentleman, that both of us, have had the opportunity to endure; we worked with Cliff. One of the Joys of management is the people that you get to hire. Lew got to hire Cliff.442M

 

 

 

In an automobile dealerships sales department, the average employee, isn’t always average. We get many people at different phases of their life and a lot of times, it’s in a transitional period for them. Sometimes it takes a while for that square peg to fit into a round hole.

Here’s Lew’s favorite Cliff story.

I hired him in 1986, Cliff was two years retired as a Chief Petty Officer from the Navy. His first day was a Monday morning sales meeting (8:00 am) in the conference room. The room was still littered with pizza boxes and coke cans from the weekend. As you may remember, six of my 12 salespeople were women. I had Barbara Bright, Peggy Slaton, Debbie Loggins and cpo cupthree others. I introduced Cliff to the sales team, they applauded and welcomed him, and I asked him if he had anything to say. He said: “Thanks for the welcome, but looking around the room, I can’t help but think that with all the women you’ve got working here you could have had this place cleaned up!” That was typical Cliff.

Thanks Lew

 

If would like me to share your Automotive story with my readers just leave a commit and I’ll get back to you.  Thanks again for taking the time to share with me my personal tidbits about the Industry that I love.

EP

June 18, 2009 Posted by | barbara bright, chief petty officer, lew stults, management, peggy slaton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Should be as Easy as Buying a Gallon of Milk

Sierra Motors        “One Low Price, Plain and Simple…ALWAYS !”

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

It can be said that buying a car is the last great frontier of negotiation left in the retail buying market in today’s world. A store checker from Albertsons can walk into a Dealership and demand a lower price off the sticker price that the Federal Government has stamped with their seal of approval should be the retail price point.

 

Conversely, walk into Albertsons and try to get fifty cents off a off that gallon of milk from that same store clerk…not going to happen…And we know we pay too much for milk.

 

Here is a typical element in a car deal, “THE DOWN PAYMENT”.

 

Marcus (the car buyer) and Joel (the salesman) are going to negotiate the amount of money that Marcus is going to put down on the new vehicle that he purchasing. Joel is an old school, well-trained, salesman; Marcus is going to take several different paths through the sale. Marcus has settled on a $30,000 car.VOLT

 

Marcus has bought several cars the last one from Joel. Marcus has a good credit history and a well paying job with money in the bank.

 

Joel has been trained that down payment is good. Early training told him that banks finance the cost of any car, plus tax and license. Cost being represented by new car invoice or wholesale Kelley Blue Book. What the Bank won’t finance is profit. The lesson Joel has learned: the amount of profit can be determined by the amount of down payment.

 

Joel is also taught that down payment cures almost everything. If there are any credit problems a large down payment will overcome most of the associated problems. If the trade-in has negative equity (upside down) down payment solves that also. If there is a monthly payment issue, the down payment is a huge factor. When the interest rate is important positive equity in the form of a down payment is going to affect the rate available from Banks. If Joel wants to be able to take the car in trade from Marcus in the future, down payment will eliminate negative equity. Down payment is good.

 

Marcus and Joel are sitting at a table in the dealership. Joel is writing on a worksheet. Now we cut to the dialogue:

 

Joel

              Let me explain the cheapest way to buy anything; finance the smallest

              Amount for the shortest period of time, wouldn’t you agree?

 

                                                                    Marcus

              Yes.

 

Joel

              To accomplish this most people will put about one-third down.

              In your case that would be about $10,000, were you thinking that

              much or a little bit more?

 

                                                                  Marcus

            That’s more than I was planning on.

 

                                                                 Joel

           Would $8,000 be more what you were looking at?

                                                              

                                                                Marcus

           Still too much.

 

                                                                Joel

          Then $7,000 would probably be fine…

 

                                                              Marcus

          If it’s going to take that much I don’t know…

                                                         

                                                              Joel

         Only $6,500 down.

 

                                                             Marcus

        No way!

 

                                                             Joel

        $6,250 total down payment.

 

                                                            Marcus

        No, too much

                                                        

                                                           Joel

       $6,100, only $6,100 okay?

 

                                                          Marcus

       I can’t !

                                                          Joel

      $6,050…

 

(Marcus stands up)

 

                                                          Joel

      How much less are you thinking?

 

                                                          Marcus

(Setting back down)

 

      I was planning on putting $2,000 down

                  

                                                         Joel

     That’s not even enough to cover tax and license. If my own Mother

     were buying a car, I would tell her to put enough down to cover that.

     You don’t want to pay interest on Government fees, do you Marcus?

 

                                                        Marcus

     No, I don’t. How much do I need to cover all of that?

            

                                                        Joel

     $4,000. That’s a lot less than most people put down Marcus, but let me ask you:

     If we can get it done with only $4,000 down can we earn your business today?

    There is a long protracted silence. Joel has been taught that after offering a

    Closing question to just sit tight and to remember; the first one to speak loses.

 

                                                      Marcus

     Okay, I can put $4,000 down!!!CASH

 

This is Sales 101. Some of the techniques employed are:

  1. Telling Marcus a story
  2. Getting Marcus to say yes
  3. Establishing an amount
  4. Step selling
  5. The decreasing amounts are cut in half every time
  6. Making $50 sound like the end of the world
  7. Pushing Marcus until he stands up
  8. Sitting Marcus back down
  9. Getting an agreement through a down payment
  10. Using his Mom
  11. The “if I could would you?” close
  12. Knowing that the first one to speak loses
  13. Making Marcus feel as if he has won the negotiation

 

If the idea of negotiating a down payment like this sounds absurd, you are not alone.

 

We at Sierra Motors are dedicated to changing the way you purchase your next car. You do not have to commit to purchase to find out how much a car will cost. After all…at the end of the day…I’m your friend in the car business.

 

EP

June 16, 2009 Posted by | close, down payment, eric prothro, friend, mom, negotiate | , , , , | Leave a comment