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Reflecting from my office across the dealership at Sierra Motors in Jamestown I ofton wonder what little things in my life took place to lead me to become a GM.
I’m sure with a smile in my heart this is one of them.
We all have experienced disappointment at some point(s) in our lives. Friends, relatives, parents or children, not to mention jobs, athletic endeavors and relationships, all have their pitfalls. But do you remember your first disappointment?
As I grew up my Dad set a great example by having an excellent work ethic. He was never unemployed and always provided for our family. In retrospect, I always knew that my Father was very fortunate to work for a good man. Things were different back in the 60’s. Guys that worked together seemed to do family things together.
My dad’s Boss was Jim. It seemed to me as a kid that Jim was family. My Dad went and spent everyday with him at work and our families did things together on evenings and weekends. I even called him “Uncle Jim”. It never crossed my mind as a child that it was any other way.
I walked out of Jim’s front door, to go into his garage, where he and my Father were working on some project together. I heard Jim say to my Dad “I sure like it when Eric calls me Uncle Jim”. My five year old mind and body froze. I couldn’t even think of all of the ramifications of that statement.
On the way home, I asked my Dad, “Why did Jim say that he like me calling him Uncle Jim… isn’t he”? In my mind I addressed all of my Uncles and Aunts in the same manner. Weather it was Uncle Bill or Aunt Pat, it was their relationship followed by their first name. Then the bomb dropped. My Father told me, “He’s not really your uncle you just call him that.”
I couldn’t believe it. I had been duped. I knew that I would never call him Uncle Jim ever again. I was so disappointed!
I must have gotten over it soon though, as I happily spent time with Jim over the years. We did things like fishing together. When I was having trouble learning to water-ski he yelled out from the boat, “Ride it like a skate board” and I did. My back foot was sideways for the first summer of skiing. For some odd reason, he called me “Chicken Kid” and I called him “Chicken Man”. He still influences me to this day.
But, I really thought he was my Uncle. And at the end of the day it’s not blood it’s the heart. I love you uncle Jim…I mean chicken man…
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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.