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My Dad has a friend, Lovell. I have never heard anything but good about this guy. He is a gentleman in his 60’s and has a passion for his beliefs. I have had a few opportunities to converse with Lovell, and always enjoyed the conversation.
Lovell came to the dealership to look around. He was going to be in the market for another car soon. One of our nicest salespeople was with him. They spent a lot of time going over what he was looking for. They looked at more than a few cars. They spent time on options and safety equipment. Then there were a couple of test drives.
Prior to working in a best price up front environment, I always used to say, “That I could afford to give cars away to my friends because so many people wanted to negotiate.” If anybody would just come in and ask me to take care of them, I would. If someone didn’t trust me and thought that they could out negotiate us to get a better deal, that’s when we made most of our profit. Lovell wasn’t sure what position he was going to take on this issue, but I knew; he was a friend of my Dad’s.
We gave Lovell the absolute best price that we could right up front. Lovell liked the car; it fit his needs and was in his price range. It was a simple cash deal. Lovell put a stop to the sale “I would buy the car right now but I forgot my checkbook”. Poker is a dish best served with a winning hand. I had to call his bluff.
“My Dad trust’ you, so I trust you”, I continued, “So go ahead and take the car home and when you find your check book come back in and pay for it”. This stymied Lovell. We sat there, quietly for what seemed like a long couple of minutes.
Lovell did what I hoped that he would do. He reached into his back pocket and opened up not one, but two checkbooks and wrote checks from each for the purchase. He drove that car for a few years until he was in an accident. He fell asleep at the wheel and went up an embankment. The car was airborne and landed on its roof. He was completely unhurt. He came in and bought another one.
I think what doesn’t occur to people, even good honest people like Lovell, lying to a salesperson is still lying, which when I think about it, is the only defense a customer has.
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Nothing Fancy… Just a Simple Thumb
Once in a lifetime an idea comes along that is so original, so simplistic, yet works so perfectly, that it defies all previous conceptions of what it take to do a job successfully. Bob’s thumb auto appraisal is such a stroke of genius that is almost stupefying.
There was always a stereotype of the quisessential artist, painting something in the distance. What the artist invariably does is to hold up his thumb to derive some sort of scale of the piece he is conceiving. So to see an artist gazing at a subject with his thumb held high is considered an action taken to ensure the best possible results in the ensuing masterpiece. Bob was a trade- in artist.
When a customer would, during the course of a sale, make inflated statements about the value of their trade-in, Bob would stay calm and listen. Usually after the second or third time of the customer stating how valuable their trade-in is, Bob would simply say “let’s take a look”.
At that point Bob would ask the client to point out their trade-in. Bob would move to a point where he and the client would have a good view of the trade, never standing too close as to actually be able to see any small flaws. Bob would then raise his thumb up with his best artistic flair and ask “how much were you thinking?” never taking his gaze away from his thumb on the trade-in.
From the outlandish numbers that were being bantered about before viewing (ex: $20,000) would come a reply like “$18,000’. Bob still gazing at the trade and his thumb would calmly question “that much”? The next reply would be a sheepish “$16,000” as if they were questioning the master. You wouldn’t question Rembrandt, would you? Bob would tell them that we will take a closer look at it later and continue on to make the sale.
If momentum is important then Bob owned all of it. The pure scale of economy is breathtaking, $4,000 for seven words.
Nothing fancy… just a simple thumb.