Real Stories From Life at a Dealership

People are the experience


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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


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 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.




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


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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


Over the dealership paging system I heard the familiar call “new car sales, line one”. I hurried to answer it, after all it was first come, first serve. I gave my usual greeting along with my name. A woman’s voice on the other end said with a laugh, “this is going to sound a little bit crazy”.

Her name was Muriel. She went on to tell me that she wanted to buy a truck for her husband. Muriel asked if she could do most of it over the phone. I agreed to help in any way that I could. When you say that, you don’t expect anything out of the norm. Little did I know. Muriel told me that she had put her husband through a lot, and that they had been discussing a new truck purchase. She felt that this was the time to buy.


Muriel told me what they wanted in a pick-up. It was a 1500 model with a 5.7-liter V-8 engine. They preferred a light color beige or tan. We had a joke in those days that you know you’ve lived in the dessert to long when everything you own is tan to hide the dust. They also wanted a towing package.

I took all of her credit information over the phone. I also got her insurance information and the finance terms that she expected. She then told me that I would only be able to speak to her during certain hours. Muriel gave me very exact instructions on how to get a hold of her.

We had exactly the right Chevrolet truck that she described in stock. We processed all of her paperwork and had an instant loan approval. I called Muriel at the specified time and told her all of the good news. Then the other shoe fell. Muriel told me that she was actually a patient in the Mental Health Ward of the Hospital. The ward is guarded. She told me that I would have to bring the paperwork to her. I started having visions of “One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest”.


As a salesperson I always dressed professionally. In those days it was a tailored Christian Dior shirt, pleated dress slacks, polished black dress shoes and belt. A silk tie, with of course the socks that match. I figured that I was dressed as well or better than any Doctor. I had the finance manager type up all of the contracts and paperwork, put them in a folder and drove to the hospital.

I am in the hospital and am looking at the Guard standing in front of the ward entrance. A pair of Doctors with a file in their hands walks right in. Hey, I have a file in my hand! I just fall in with the next small group of Doctors that comes walking by. Right by the guard and into the ward. I quickly looked around and made sure I didn’t see Randle Patrick McMurphy or Chief Bromden lurking about. I should have stopped for just a moment to ponder the exit strategy…whatever.


I followed Muriel’s instructions and go right to her room, where she is sitting on the edge of her bed. She is a nice person with a great smile. I introduce myself and we shake hands. I take time to go over all of the documents and she signs everything. She tells me she is going to tell her husband and that he will be in to take delivery tomorrow. She asks me to give him all of the copies of the contract and related paperwork. Muriel ask’ if I had any problem getting in to see her. “None at all” was my reply. Now to get out.


I survey my surroundings..and still only one way out. There are two guards on the inside. I guess it should be twice as hard to get out. I realize that I can’t just stand there in front of the guards and wait, so I try to look professional and occupied. As I was trying to look busy, I realize that everybody that isn’t a patient has a badge on and I don’t have a badge on. Great, do the guards look at the badges? It seemed to take a forever for a group of Doctors to walk by, but when they do, I am in instantly the middle of them. We walk in a group right by the guards. Once outside, I’m on my way back to the dealership. The thought of not getting out barely crossed my mind. (I’m not a patient; I’m a car salesman!)


Her husband came to the dealership and was more than happy to get the new truck that he had wanted. He received all of the paperwork along with a full tank of gas. All smiles as he drives away.

I didn’t think what I did was illegal or immoral. Quite the opposite. These people had to be completely satisfied. They had grounds to return the truck for any reason at any time. The beautiful thing is that they didn’t. They got a great truck and on the right terms. Best of all is that they came back four years later and traded up to a newer truck. It was great to earn their businesses again. This time, I was very happy that I didn’t have to get by any guards.


June 11, 2009 Posted by | Chevrolet, Crazy, Cuckoo's Nest, eric prothro, Hospital, sierra motors | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Legacy of Jack

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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


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”…



May 11, 2009 Posted by | 1984 corvette, Chevrolet, customer satisfaction, dealerships, eric prothro, jamestown, motherlode, sierra motors | , , , , , | 2 Comments

2010 Camaro RS

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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 




On any Saturday the dealership expects traffic to pick up significantly. Not so lately. This weekend was different. Why? Sitting front and center is the star of our franchise; the 2010 Camaro RS. Customers came to see the Camaro, Young and old. Affluent and base. It actually makes people feel good to see it.


For a multiplicity of reasons, from waxing nostalgic, to I just want to feel better about what an American company is capable of doing. How can you not feel good? With both classic late 60’s lines and a bold fresh look that just says yes. Yes, this is how I want to feel. Yes, this is how I want to look. Yes this is what I’ve always wanted. Yes it’s one of the rare times when the Id and the Ego can exist in the same space.


The smile on the faces of the people when they see the 2010 Camaro is unmistakable. It’s one that you don’t see too often these days. The Camaro has a 29 mpg rating and a price under $30,000, affordability and economy along with beauty. It is when the unattainable dream is suddenly within your grasp.


My advice to you is simple. Live the dream. Drive the new Camaro. The dream date that you never got to go on is here, ready, waiting and happy to go.


—-  Specifications  —-






6.2 liter V8


3860 lbs




408 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm


422 hp @ 5000 rpm


9.1 lbs per hp


68.1 hp per liter

1/4 mile 

0-62 mph 

Top Speed 

(from Chevrolet Press Release)  Chevrolet Unveils The 2010 Camaro – A Fun, Efficient Sports Car For The 21st Century

  • All-new, world-class sports car

  • Fuel-efficient, 3.6L direct-injected V-6 delivers an estimated 26 mpg on the highway

  • Range of fuel-saving, six-speed transmissions standard on all models and powertrains

  • Powerful SS models equipped with LS3 V-8 (manual transmission) and L99 with Active Fuel Management

  • Advanced vehicle technology, including Bluetooth

  • Designed, engineered and built with GM’s global development process

Advanced powertrain technologies, including engines with direct injection and Active Fuel Management, enable a satisfying balance of exhilarating performance and good fuel economy.

“The new Chevrolet Camaro delivers a thoroughly modern, advanced package of performance, comfort and technology,” said Peper. “It’s a sports car for a new generation of enthusiasts that doesn’t forget the heritage that helped make the original a cultural icon . That is no small feat and it took a worldwide commitment to achieve it.”

Indeed, the 2010 Camaro exemplifies GM’s global development process. The design concept originated in the United States; engineering was directed by GM’s global rear-wheel-drive team in Australia; validation was conducted on roads around the world and assembly will take place at GM’s award-winning Oshawa facility in Canada.



Product highlights include:

  • Sleek styling with contemporary cues and 10 available exterior colors

  • LS and LT models offered with an advanced, 3.6L direct-injected V-6 engine with variable valve timing and a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions

  • SS model offered with 6.2L V-8 – including fuel-saving Active Fuel Management on automatic-equipped combinations – and a six-speed manual transmission

  • Four-wheel independent suspension system, including a 4.5-link rear suspension

  • Variable-rate power steering with the rack mounted forward of the front axle for greater driver feel

  • Four-wheel disc brake systems standard on all models, including four-piston Brembo calipers on SS models

  • Stabilitrak stability control system and traction control standard on all models

  • Competitive/Sport modes for the stability system offered on SS models, including launch control on SS models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission

  • Family of 18-, 19- and 20-inch wheels

  • Detailed interior with heritage-inspired design, excellent attention to detail and available ambient lighting via LED light pipe technology

  • Robust body structure and exceptional build quality

  • Six standard air bags, including head curtain side-impact air bags and front seat-mounted thorax side air bags

  • RS appearance package available on LT and SS, including HID headlamps with integrated halo rings, spoiler, specific taillamps and 20-inch wheels

The new Camaro also has technologies that enhance performance, comfort and convenience, including:

  • Bluetooth phone connectivity

  • Premium Boston Acoustics audio system

  • USB connectivity

  • Ultrasonic rear parking assist (late introduction)

  • Remote vehicle starting system

  • OnStar

  • XM Satellite Radio

  • Additionally, details such as frameless door windows with automatic indexing glass contribute to the overall feeling of quality, substance and technical prowess.

Design details

With a design that is very faithful to the original concept, the 2010 Camaro is a 21 st century sports car that acknowledges its heritage. A long front dash-to-axle and short rear deck give the Camaro classic proportions, while a sleek windshield profile, wheels pushed to the corners and muscular fender forms are modern elements that reinforce its advanced engineering – and give the car a decidedly aggressive stance.
Elements such as a forward-V shape at the front of the car and “gills” in the rear quarter panels are distinctly Camaro cues, as are the broad rear fender “shoulders.” Those elements make the new Camaro instantly recognizable, but their execution is smoothly integrated into the contemporary exterior form. A family of large, 18-, 19- and 20-inch wheels also contributes to the Camaro’s modern appearance.
“The new Camaro is just that – new,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design. “We acknowledge the nameplate’s strong heritage in the design, but recognize that keeping this modern sports car relevant meant more than simply honoring a classic car. The line forms, stance and overall execution are consistent with other new Chevrolets.”

A well-executed balance of heritage, modern design and attention to detail also characterizes the Camaro’s interior. A pair of deeply recessed instrument binnacles that feature round gauges in square housings is a nod to classic Camaros, while an available ambient light package offers advanced LED light pipe technology to give the cabin a distinctive and inviting glow. Cloth upholstery is standard; heated leather-appointed seats are available.

Details such as large, chrome-trimmed controls, low-gloss surfaces and premium fabric or acrylic appliqués convey a richness that is unprecedented in previous Camaro models – and challenge its contemporary competitors. More great detail is evidenced in the available center-console gauge cluster, which takes its cue from a similar option on 1969 Camaros. It displays oil temperature, oil pressure, state-of-battery and transmission fluid temperature, all highlighted with modern LED backlighting.



An advanced, efficient 3.6L direct-injected V-6 with variable valve timing is standard on LS and LT models. Direct injection technology helps the engine deliver more power through increased efficiency, while maintaining fuel economy and lowering emissions. That means less fuel is consumed and lower emissions generated – including a 25-percent drop in cold-start hydrocarbon emissions.
The Camaro’s 3.6L engine also employs variable valve timing to optimize performance and fuel economy across the rpm range. It is rated at an estimated 300 horsepower (224 kW) and 273 lb.-ft. of torque (370 Nm). A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the 3.6L engine; a Hydra-Matic 6L50 electronically controlled six-speed automatic, with TAPshift control, is available.
The high-performance Camaro SS is equipped with a powerful 6.2L V-8, with a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Standard, manual transmission-equipped models receive the LS3 engine, estimated at 422 horsepower (315 kW) and 408 lb.-ft. of torque (553 Nm). The LS3 debuted on the 2008 Corvette and uses high-flow cylinder heads based on the Corvette Z06’s LS7 engine to enable great low-end torque and high-rpm power. It is paired with a TR6060 six-speed transmission.

A new, L99 V-8 engine is used on automatic transmission-equipped SS models. It is based on the LS3 and carries all of its high-performance design features, but also includes GM’s fuel-saving Active Fuel Management feature. It enables the engine to run on only four cylinders during light-load driving conditions, such as highway cruising, to improve fuel economy. The V-8 is estimated at 400 horsepower (299 kW) and 395 lb.-ft. of torque (535 Nm); and it is matched with a Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed transmission. This combination delivers an estimated 23 mpg on the highway.

Body structure and chassis


The 2010 Camaro is built on GM’s global rear-wheel-drive architecture, with a strong body structure that enhances safety, quietness and handling. World-class build quality and attention to detail are enabled by features including one-piece body side stampings and very precise tolerances between body panels.
Front and rear independent suspensions are mounted to the rigid chassis, including a multi-link strut arrangement in the front with a direct-acting stabilizer bar and a double ball-joint configuration; and a unique, 4.5-link rear suspension that is double-isolated from the chassis for smoother, quieter driving experience.
Camaro offers two suspensions. LS and LT models receive an FE2 (sport) suspension, while the SS receives the FE3 (performance) suspension, including a lower ride height. Each is tuned to match the performance capabilities of their respective powertrains, as are their wheel-and-tire combinations.

A variable-rate rack-and-pinion power steering system mounts the rack forward of the front axle, for more direct action, an enhanced feeling of driver feedback and better weight balance.

Brakes and chassis control


Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard on all models. LS and LT models receive single-piston calipers all around, with mass-reducing aluminum rear calipers. SS models have larger rotors that are acted upon by four-piston, aluminum Brembo calipers at all four corners. They are designed to stand up to the severe use encountered on road-race tracks, delivering excellent feedback and pedal feel, as well as fade-resistant performance during racing.
GM’s StabilTrak electronic stability control system is standard and incorporates traction control. The system on SS models includes Competitive/Sport mode that is adjustable for performance driving, such as on a racetrack; it also includes a Launch Control feature on SS models with the manual transmission. It enables quicker, more consistent takeoffs during performance driving.


Designed to protect occupants before, during and after a crash, the Camaro offers a comprehensive system of safety features – starting with a robust body structure and integral safety cage around the passenger compartment. High-strength steel and ultra high-strength steel are used in key areas throughout the structure.
Safety technologies integrated in the Camaro include:


  • Driver and front-passenger dual-stage air bags

  • Driver and front-passenger seat-mounted thorax side-impact air bags

  • Head curtain side-impact air bags for front and rear seat occupants

  • Front seat safety belt load limiters and pre-tensioners

The front passenger detection system senses children and small-stature adults and suppresses air bag deployment when appropriate.

Standard OnStar service assists after a crash. With OnStar’s Advanced Crash Response System, the vehicle automatically sends a signal to OnStar for assistance, even if the air bags don’t deploy.
Chevrolet is one of America’s best-known and best-selling automotive brands. With the largest dealer network in the United States, Chevy is the leader in full-size trucks and the leader in sales of vehicles priced $35,000 and above. Chevrolet delivers more-than-expected value in every vehicle category, offering cars and trucks priced from $12,120 to $103,300. Chevy delivers expressive design, spirited performance and great value with standard features usually found only on more expensive vehicles. More information on Chevrolet can be found at

May 4, 2009 Posted by | 2010 camaro, Chevrolet, chevy, cool, eric prothro, jamestown, sierra motors | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chevrolet and Cadillac will survive

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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


As a person that has been at the dealership level with GM since 1983, I find it interesting to read their own description of themselves. More for what isn’t said than is:


General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), one of the world’s largest automakers, was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 243,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at


Believe me when I say that GM was already lost by the mid 1980’s. Does anybody remember the great new models from Chevrolet? How about the Lumina, Corsica & Beretta? The Geo line featuring the Metro became the butt of low end car jokes. So what did Gm do? Advertise more and more.  Then they started down the path to doom, rebates and interest rate incentives. All the while dealership’s were asking for one simple thing; just build a good car.


The funniest thing of all, or tragic, or sublime is that GM and Ford for that matter, are finally building the best products that have ever been produced. But no one cares. Buy American, a great notion. Buy the best available? Even better. Too many people are confused by the social axiom that says they don’t build cars that people want. Wake up that was 20 years ago, imbecile.


I know that Chevrolet and Cadillac will survive. The rest is still conjecture. I also know that I will get up tomorrow and go to work at a dealership as I have for the last 26 years. I will still have a smile on my face. I will still by proud of my chosen profession. We will do the impossible a daily basis. This is after all an art form that few can master.

Eric Prothro


April 28, 2009 Posted by | buick, cadillac, car jokes, Chevrolet, detroit, ford, gm, hummer, imbecile., sierra motors | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment