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The Legacy of Jack
Who is the most important co-worker that you have ever worked with? Most of us have worked with a lot of people, hundreds at least, maybe, over a thousand. Some of them have been very memorable, some you would like to forget. But who has actually affected your job and life? Let me tell you about Jack.
In 1983, when I broke into the car business, the top dog in the store was Jack. He sold the most. He was there the longest. He took care of all of the Owners’ personal customers. He had a customer following that seemed like an endless supply of buyers. When we went through training, Jack trained us on the delivery process. He was a master of going over the new car in a methodical, yet comforting delivery that would ensure repeat business.
Jack openly stated that one of his best skills was that of a bus driver. Not the public transportation kind, but the “If you don’t do things my way you will get run over by the bus named Jack” kind. He was even complete with sound effects. Whenever someone was about to be or had just been run over by the bus, Jack would come out to wherever was the biggest group of people and simulate the sound of a bus going through the gears and then running over something with a “thump, thump” sound. He would do the bus braking, putting it in reverse and backing over the victim again. Then he’d pull forward again to run over the poor schmuck a third time. All with the “thump, thump”. He smiled and loved to make a public display of all who opposed him or maybe talked to one of “HIS” customers.
My Uncle Corky was in the dealership looking to order a new Corvette. He was working with Jack and realized that I worked there. So he told Jack that he would really like to buy from me if possible. Jack amazingly said no problem. He got me involved and walked me through the process of making my first factory order. Everything was finished, we took the deposit and said good-bye to my Uncle. My first week on the job and I already had a Corvette order. Jack was very polite and accommodating.
Jack then pulled me aside and explained to me that the Corvette order would take at least a couple of months and in no uncertain terms that I would no longer be there and he would get the sale anyway. Then he walked away. I realized that this business might be a little tougher than I had anticipated, but I was no quitter. Let’s dance.
It was about a month later when things came to a boil. Saturday lunch had just arrived for the sales department. The store used to buy lunch for the sales department on Saturdays. Jack went to get his. When he opened it up somebody had taken a bite out of his sandwich. Jack was out raged,” Nobody touches my lunch.” Jack started literally screaming that whoever did this was going to be fired. He was making an unbelievable scene over a free lunch. The store manager came to see what all the yelling was about, he ran into raving maniac Jack. The manager asked Jack to quiet down and explain to him what had happened.
Just being questioned at all sent Jack into a complete frenzy. Then the threats started. Fire whoever did this or you all will be gone. Then he came up with his best idea yet, fix this immediately or I will quit and go over to your competitor and take all of my business with me and put the whole dealership out of business. Jack was really proud of himself. “That’s it…I quit” yelled Jack. He assumed that when the owners found out what had happened that they would beg him to come back. He thought that this brilliant move would totally solidify his already lofty position. I guess they didn’t feel the same way.
The first thing that I noticed when I came to work Monday morning was that the dealership wasn’t closed. It was business as usual. A customer came in and asked for Jack. Someone else took care of them and sold the car. It actually got better without Jack. It became what was best for the store not Jack. When my uncle’s Corvette came in I was the one still working there and delivered it to him. The first of six Corvettes he bought from us. Jack didn’t fair well at the other dealership. Most of the customers didn’t follow him. He only stayed in the business a little longer. I heard that he became a prison guard.
I have always remembered what my Mom would call “getting too big for your britches”. Nobody should think that they are the business. It can and will survive without me or anyone else. I’m better off as a servant of all of those that work with me, to help them prosper. To get the customer what they want & need.
Most importantly…Don’t be a “Jack”…
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See you soon,