Real Stories From Life at a Dealership

People are the experience

Gold of the Mother Lode

It is exciting to see so many of you getting on board with Gold. This only works as a community. So continue to tell a friend. Please tag everything that you post with Gold of the Mother Lode. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to find us.

I also believe that we have not scratched the surface of how far this can take us as a group. There should come a time when every business that is on board has a placard in the window showing A billboard on Hwy 108 will be a logical step to follow. If the cost of the billboard is $6,000 per year, then with 100 participants the cost would only be $60.

Upon entering the area, visitors would be directed to check Gold of the Mother Lode to find everything that they might want, need or use. This is just a future idea. But the future is fast upon us.

Please spend time to improve your respective pages. Post often. Use videos. Have fun with it. Life is too short not to. See you soon.

Can you see the four circles?



August 22, 2009 Posted by | gold, lode, mother, motherlode | , , , , | Leave a comment


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

I was suspended from high school my sophomore year for fighting. My son Ryan was also suspended from high school his sophomore year for fighting. I still carry some emotional baggage from that fight. My son does not.


I was in Mr. Buda’s social studies class. Mr. Buda was also one of the freshman football coaches. A lot of athletes took his classes. He did not run the tightest structured class. There was always a lot of milling around during the first ten minutes. The best thing about class was a cute student aide named Brenda. She was a junior.


As a high school athlete, I had weight training twice a day. I came to school early and went to zero period to lift before school. I was all into getting bigger and adding muscle mass. One of the things that were emphasized by our coaches was neck strength. We had an array of machines and the result was we had a bunch of thick-necked guys that were very durable. I think it also saved my life.


There was also a big kid named Dave in Mr. Buda’s class. I didn’t have much interaction with him, but we knew that we didn’t like each other. When Dave was around smaller kids, he was one of those tough guys.

peechee 22

It was my second class of the day. The first thing I noticed, besides seeing Brenda sitting on Mr. Buda’s desk, was that the Adventure Club had left their rafting equipment in this classroom. Stuff like deflated rafts, boat oars and life preservers. I walked to my desk and set my textbook and my PeeChee notebook down. Everybody used a PeeChee.


There was Dave in the back of the class picking on a smaller kid named Keith. I saw him push Keith and act like he was going to hit him. I walked up directly behind Dave and nailed him with a good kidney shot. Dave winced with pain. “You’re pretty tough with small guys,” I told Dave. “Want to see what happens with someone your own size?” I asked. Dave backed up fast with his hands up. I told Keith that if Dave messed with him any more to just tell me.


What I didn’t see was that Dave walked up to the front of the classroom and grabbed a boat oar. As I finished talking to Keith, I turned to walk back to my desk. Dave took a swing at my head with a full size, wooden boat oar. It skimmed across my shoulder and connected with the trapezes muscle at the base of the backside of my neck. The blow sent me over the top of my desk. As I was getting up, I could tell by the look in Dave’s eyes that he could not believe I was unhurt.


I turned and hit Dave with a solid right. Smack! I heard Mr. Buda say very loudly, “Take him outside.” So I did. I grabbed Dave by the collar and threw him out the door. I then hit Dave with a couple of solid shots. He was backing up as far and fast as he could, until he ran into a teacher’s car that was parked near by. I held Dave on the hood and jacked him a couple of times. I then hit him the hardest yet. I heard a loud crack. I thought that it was the sound of David’s jaw breaking. The teacher who owned the car came out of the next classroom. The teacher was upset that I had Dave on his hood. He yelled at us to get off of his car. Dave took advantage of the distraction and beat feet. I didn’t know that he could run so fast. All I saw was the sole of his shoes as he disappeared around the corner.


I went back into class. Upon my entry Mr. Buda told everyone to settle down. He also said, “Take your seat Eric.” That was all that he said. It was class as normal after that.


When the bell rang I picked up my Peechee and went to my next class. It was about twenty minutes into class when my Vice-Principle came to get me. He walked me up to his office, where Dave was already sitting. His face already had noticeable swelling, especially his jaw.


The V.P. asked what happened. I told my version. He then asked Dave. Dave told his side and emphasized the part about me hitting him first. Then the V.P. asked Dave what he was trying to do with the boat oar. Dave answered, “I was trying to take his head off!” At that moment I wanted to beat him again. While every bone in my body said go, I didn’t. I remember gripping my PeeChee folder to keep from moving. Maybe it was out of respect for my VP, maybe something else. To this very moment, I wish that I had hit him again. I am sure that if I ran into David today, I would have to whip his ass just on principal.


We were both suspended. While I was on suspension my Dad made me work at his business, for free. Once I was back at school, I am not saying that David hid every time he saw me, but I do not remember ever coming into contact with him again. And we were in the same school for almost three years.


A lot of things have changed in schools the last twenty-five years, but some things have not. I also think that most of today’s young teachers are an ill prepared lot. My son Ryan was in social studies with a teacher that did not have a very firm grip on the class The teacher had the class arranged so that students sat in groups of four, around a table. My son Ryan is a good-sized kid. The boy sitting across from him was substantially bigger.


Ryan told me that the big kid’s name was Todd. Ryan had never had any direct problems with him, but Todd ran his mouth a lot. Ryan and the boy next to him were working on a project. Ryan had a ruler in his hand. Todd decided that he needed to measure something and says “Gimme that”, as he reached across the table and grabbed the ruler.



Ryan has a very strong grip. Ryan held on firmly to the ruler. The rotund boy then told Ryan that he was going to kick his ass if he didn’t give him the ruler. Ryan and the stout boy both stood up, each holding onto the ruler. As Todd started telling Ryan what he was going to do, Ryan acted. He thru a hard right cross that landed square on his large round face. Big boy Todd let out a howl as blood started flowing freely from his nose.


The teacher did the only thing she could think of, she turned and grabbed the phone to call security. Even though Todd was holding his bloody nose, he was still running his mouth. He was walking towards the teacher, but he was telling Ryan that he was going to get him. Ryan went up to Todd and thru a hard right hand. He hit the big boy in the face while he had his hands cupped around his bloody nose. The force of the blow sprayed the blood in the boy’s hands onto the teacher. She screamed into the phone. The Sheriff Deputy on campus responded along with security.


The high school VP told me that the other boy was a problem at school and had started many such altercations. Ryan was only suspended because of the last punch. It was determined that Ryan had hit him while in a defenseless position. I asked Ryan why he hit him again. He said, “I knew that I was going to have to face him again if I didn’t finish it here.” “He was still threatening me, so I hit him again.” “I’m glad I did” Ryan later told me.


Ryan was right, in that, he never had any trouble with the big boy again. Ryan has had no regret over throwing the second punch. The funny thing is, I do, for not throwing mine.



August 17, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, fighting, oar, peechee, ruler, sierra motors, social studies | , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Some of the girls that I met when I was sixteen still have an influence on me. The mixture of teenage emotions and adolescent hormones left some deep impressions in me. I was lucky enough to make it past the initial stages of teen angst and actually start a relationship with a special few girls. What usually comes along next is meeting her family.


Sometimes just meeting parents can be extremely harrowing. The old saying is that you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. Meeting Lisa’s parents was something that I was not in a hurry to do. Speaking from experience I would also never recommend drinking heavily beforehand.


Whenever you are getting new neighbors you always hope for the best. In 1975 when the new family moved in two houses down, all of my hopes were exceeded. A brown-eyed beauty with a smile that could light up the room was my new neighbor. Her name was Lisa. She had dark hair, beautiful skin and all of the right curves. At 17, Lisa was a year older than me. She drove a gold Formula Firebird. It was too good to be true.




I had greeted her as a neighbor and said hello to her a few times. Then one night at a party we really had our first chance to get to know each other. I think that meant that we looked at each other and both felt a similar surge of hormones. Lisa only had a beer or two and while I had already been drinking for a couple of hours, I was still functioning somewhat normally.


It was already late into the night when we got together. We danced a couple of times, talked a little bit and kissed. Kissing a beautiful girl for the first time is one of life’s most memorable treasures. When Lisa said that it was late and that she was expected home, I suggested that I escort her. I wasn’t much of an escort as I had been drinking too much to even consider driving. Lisa was in her Firebird and we did only live two houses apart, so I rode with her.


After we pulled into her driveway, I walked her up to the front door. She unlocked the front door and turned back to me. She looked at me with the most beautiful brown eyes. I held her close and gave her a goodnight kiss. And then another. We were soon making out on her front porch. I was in the euphoric teenage grip of love and alcohol.



The headlights of a car coming into the driveway got our attention. I recognized the large 70’s model Cadillac, which came abruptly into the driveway. “My parents” is all that Lisa had to say. I removed my hand from under her blouse and tried to stifle myself. I had a sense of impending doom. Then her dad tried to get out of the passenger side of the car. Lisa’s mom had been driving.


The door flew open and out fell her Dad. He was way drunker than I was. He loudly rolled onto the grass with a few choice words. Her mom was yelling at him, “Be careful.” I was not one to waste such an opportunity.


I rushed over to his side and said, “Let me help you Sir.” I picked him up from the front lawn. He asked, “Who are you?” I told him that I was his neighbor and was going to help him. I half-carried, half-dragged him into the house. Lisa’s Mom asked me to put him into a large chair.


I said goodnight to Lisa and her Mom. They thanked me for helping. Lisa’s mom looked at me in a way that only a girls Mom can. I don’t know what she knew, but I figured she would know a lot more in a little bit after they had talked. It was a good time to leave. I enjoyed the short walk home. The next day I had to ask one of my friends to take me back over to where I left my car. He asked, “What happened to you last night?” I smiled and said, “I met a girls Dad.”



August 15, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, firebird, hormones, kissing, lisa, parents | , , , , , | 2 Comments


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



Our fifteen member sales staff consisted of eleven men and four women. One of the reasons to have variety among your salespeople is for the variety of customers. Some salespeople match up well with certain types of customers. I have salespeople that only do well with couples or with people their own age. There is not any one single pairing that works every time. There are ones that work better than others. The matching of customers and salespeople is actually just a matter of luck of the draw.



When a woman like Abigail decides to go car shopping I would think that she would at least entertain the thought that she might be working with a male salesperson. Abigail parked in front of the dealership. She was greeted by an experienced salesperson, Marie. Marie spent a longer than usual amount of time listening to Abigail explain what she wanted in a new car. Abigail wasn’t always clear on what her expectations were and tended to ramble on when she spoke.


There was quite a contrast between the two women. Marie was always dressed like a businessperson. Marie seemed to be of average height and weight. About 5’ 4” and around 130 lbs. The dimensions listed on Abigail’s drivers license would have been fine on a football team roster. She was listed as 6’ 3” and 250 lbs. She looked bigger in person. Abigail was wearing what looked slightly like a female version of a leisure suit.


Marie asked many questions to help zero in on what Abigail was looking for. After careful investigation and much listening, Marie escorted Abigail to the area where the SUV’s were on display. Abigail lives in the higher hills of the local mountain range. She encountered snow from time to time. What she hauled sounded more like supplies than just mere groceries, so extra room was needed. A mid-size like the trailblazer fit the parameters that had been laid out.


Marie did a wonderful product presentation that covered many of the features and benefits of the Trailblazer. The two women then went on a lengthy test drive. When they arrived back at the dealership, Marie asked Abigail if she would like to get an idea of what to expect in the way of price and payments. Abigail hesitated. She looked into the showroom and observed all of the people. Abigail exhaled and said yes.


Marie and Abigail sat down in a booth that had a round table and three chairs. As Marie started the write-up phase, Abigail kept looking around the interior of the dealership, as what was going on around her was of importance. It took longer than usual to fill out the necessary paperwork. When Marie tried to discuss the amount of down payment needed, Abigail started asking what would happen if she put a lot more or a lot less down. Abigail started giving her opinion of banks and financing institutions in general.


Marie was getting to the point where she wasn’t sure how to help Abigail. Marie had filled out the credit application with all of her information and history. She had a copy of her driver’s license and her insurance information. Abigail kept getting distracted by all of the activity and people around her.


Marie decided to ask her manager for help. She went up to the platform where the two managers on duty were sitting. The manager John was a veteran car guy. John was genuinely nice but could also be as smooth as a gravy sandwich with hard to handle customers. Marie explained Abigail’s needs and what they had done so far. John told Marie, “lets go talk to Abigail.”



Marie made the introduction. “Abigail, this is my manager John.” John had a pleasant smile and put his hand out to greet Abigail. Abigail screamed.


Abigail was much larger than John. Upon seeing John in the booth, Abigail threw her arms up into the air and yelled “no men.” Abigail ran by John and out of the booth. Her arms were flailing in the air as she ran across the showroom floor, shrieking, “No men, No men.” All activity in the showroom stopped. John was speechless. Nothing in his twenty years of experience prepared him for this. Abigail kept running out the door. A stunned Marie and John just looked dumbfounded.


This very large woman was now out front of the dealership. She was running down the sidewalk her arms were flailing up in the air like a prisoner running to freedom. She was screaming, “No men.” John suggested to Marie that she try to go out and talk to Abigail but to be careful. John went back to look for clues in her paperwork.


Abigail continued her activity. She ran the length of the dealership several times screaming, “NO MEN, NO MEN.” No one knew what to make of this linebacker-sized woman screaming and running in front of the dealership. The other manager finally asked John, “What did you say to cause that?”


Marie finally got her to calm down by promising that she would not have to speak to another man. They cautiously headed back inside. John looked over Abigail’s credit application. When he read her residence and employment information, John almost choked.



Abigail lived at the local Priory with the Benedictine Monks. He thought that only men lived at a priory. Abigail listed her job as Psychiatrist.


This 6’ 3”, 250 lbs person, that lived in an all male environment, that was running, screaming no men, worked counseling Monks. The irony was not lost on John. John was retired Navy. He had been all around the world. John knew what he was dealing with.


Marie handled the rest of the paperwork and made the sale. Lucky for the everybody, there was a female finance manager on duty. Abigail signed everything and took delivery without further incidence. John pondered warning the service department. Abigail would be coming in for her first oil change. He decided not to.





August 7, 2009 Posted by | abigail, eric prothro, men, monks, screaming | , , , , | Leave a comment

5th Grade Teacher

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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

A 5th grade teacher from Modesto and his home school teaching wife came to gold country to go canoeing. After seeing smoke from the fire at higher elevations they changed their plans. They stopped at Sierra Motors and bought a new Chevrolet HHR today. The complimented their salesman Bill by saying that he was one of the main reasons for making the purchase.



For a friend in the car business call Bill @ 209.568.6526

Guys like Bill are only at Sierra Motors.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | bill renner, eric prothro, modesto, sierra motors, teacher | , , , , | Leave a comment


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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


My life in the car business started in 1983, when I stopped in to see if my buddy Mikey D. was going out that night. When I walked into the dealership to see him, the first thing he said was, “hey we’re hiring.” My initial response was that I didn’t want to be a car salesman. When Mike asked me why not, I didn’t have an answer, I just didn’t think that I wanted to sell cars.


What little I new of the car business was mostly from partying with Mike. A perfect example had been only a month before. I stopped in Maxdon’s for a drink. I didn’t see anybody that I knew. After my second drink I asked to pay my bill so I could leave. I questioned the bill amount and the bar maid said that the gentleman over there said your were paying his. She pointed to Mike.


Mike invited me along to look for a friend. It was late and we were driving fast. Mike took a turn too fast and we slid, hard into the curb. The car tipped up on two wheels for a second and came back down. Both right side wheels looked bent. We drove to the dealership where Mike worked and left the one we were driving. Mike had keys to another car and away we went. Mike saw somebody that he thought we should catch up with. Way too late, Mike decided that he should have turned and went for it any way. We missed the turn and hit the far side curb with the left front tire. It was now bent under a little.




We went back to the dealership. We got into another car Mike had keys to. Mike told me how fast this one was. Mike took off from the light like a drag racer. He missed a shift and locked the manual transmission in second gear. We have damaged three cars in one night. Mike told me that this had to be the last one, as he didn’t have keys to any others.


I later asked Mike what he did with the damaged cars. He told me that he took each one to a different service advisor, on a different day, with a different story of what a customer had done in the car. No one ever questioned him.


With that as an idea of what car sales are like, I listened to Mike.


Mike gave me a quick sales pitch, “You’ll make a lot of money and you get to dress nice.” He also explained the difference between a job that you shower after work, like a ditch digger and a job that you shower before work, like a businessman. That somehow made sense to me. So I filled out an application. Mike coached me on what to put down. Salary expected. Mike said, “Put down a big number.” So I did. I was working at American National Bank at the time. A big number to me was to double my income. I wrote $25,000 in the salary box.


Next came the interview. I interview with an old-time car guy named Joe Broom. Joe was going to be training a group of new people. Mike told me that I was going to be asked one important question, why do you want to be a car salesman? Mike told to answer it with, “Because I want a career were I can make a lot of money.”




I sat through a boring interview. Joe Broom finally looked me in the eye, leaned forward in his chair and asked me why I wanted to be a car salesman. I looked him straight in the eye and answered matter-of-factly, “Because I want a career where I can make a lot of money.” I would have never said that without being told. Joe responded with a very enthusiastic, “perfect answer.” I got hired.



I went to work at the Bank the next day and gave notice. Trudy Marvin was the person at the bank who told me that I’d be back. When she said that, I thought about people working at the bank. Most of the women working there were just given enough hours so they would not get benefits. I had run into Bill, the Bank assistant branch manager at K-mart last week. He was working there. I asked him what was going on. He explained that he had his third kid on the way and couldn’t afford another on what the bank paid. I knew that I wasn’t coming back.



One of the biggest changes was how I dressed. It was now slacks, collared shirt and leather shoes. I also had to wear a tie every day. I didn’t even know how to tie one. Lucky for me I had a roommate named Joel Burnette. (When your roommate goes by Joel, Joel, the big butt hole, it is hard to say lucky). Joel showed me over and over how to wear a tie. He showed me how to do the knot and how to make the length just right. To this day I think of Joel as I put on my tie. I still do it exactly as he showed me. It is also the way I have taught my son to do his tie.


Mike only worked with me for a couple of months. Mike got himself fired, but he did it with style. He knew that he had messed up bad. When the managers were all together in one office, they called him in. He told them that he had to use the restroom and would be right in. Instead Mike went across the street to another dealership and got hired on the spot. They gave Mike a Cadillac for a demo.


When the managers got tired of waiting in the office to fire Mike, they came outside. Mike was just finishing loading his office into his new demo. The General Sales Manager asked Mike what he was doing. Mike told him that he was just going to come in and tell them that he took another job and was quitting. They were so let down that they did not get to fire Mike.


I went looking for a party and I found a career. That’s the best answer I have when people ask me how I got started selling. The old ways of the car salesman are about gone. That is a good thing. I still talk to Mike once in a while. I recently found Joel on Facebook. I have missed his friendship. We laughed about the tie thing.



It doesn’t really matter how I got into this. What matters is, this is my chosen profession. This is how I have provided for my family. It matters how we treat our customers. We treat them well. I am, after all, your friend in the car business.



August 3, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, joel burnette, sierra motors, three wrecks, trudy marvin | , , , , | Leave a comment


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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


I know that speeding is illegal and unsafe. I say that readily. I just had not integrated those facts into my behavior for the first 25 years in the car business. I always considered 100 miles an hour to be the starting point of driving fast. Starting in 1983, I have gone fast in almost every Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, Cadillac, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Chrysler and Dodge car possible. For the record I have never drove fast in a Bentley or a Ferrari. Those were driven at reasonable speeds.



Driving so many different new cars is a direct result of having a career in car sales. Driving them fast is more a matter of personal preference. During the first month that I was selling, I was assigned a dealer license plate and given the keys to my first Demo. It was a 1984 Camaro Berlinetta. It was only the first month in the business and I already had money in my pocket and my first new demo to drive. I knew car sales was for me.


Manufacturers like General Motors would pay Dealerships to use vehicles as demonstrators. It was considered advertising. The dealership’s Owner and family, the department managers and the entire sales department drove new cars as Demos. Everybody had a dealer License plate, with the owner and his wife having plate number 1A and 2A.



The factory money was applied to the cost of the demos. When they were taken out of demo service they could be sold cheaper than new cars. Many car buyers sought out demos to get a lower price. Even though those programs don’t exist any more, a lot of old school shoppers still want to buy a demo.


While the Demos were in use, the odometers couldn’t go over 6,000 miles. They also could not be driven out of state. We had to have the oil changed at 2000 and 5000 miles, which the dealership paid for. Those were the only rules. We were to show the cars, which should increase sales. I was told an old saying; break them in slow, they won’t go: break them in fast they won’t last. Salesmen always chose fast.


Demos meant car guys never had to own their own car, but always drove a new one. We also constantly changed cars, as it never took more than three months to use up the miles. Then you would just get another one. Car after car, I always drove a new one, for twenty-five years. I never had a single one of them for even five months. Many times I’ve had neighbors ask if I was either a drug dealer or rich. And that’s how we start talking of new cars.


There are dangerous consequences to all of these cars. I can’t smell new car smell. To me that is what everything I drive smells like. The bigger problem was that my kids grew up thinking that always having a new car was normal. I don’t think it warped them as much as might have given them the idea that everybody should be driving a new car. Shouldn’t they?


A Ride & Drive is what the factory calls the event where the sales people would get to learn about and drive the newest models. Cadillac put on one of the best every year. They would have all of the competitor’s cars there also, as to compare side by side. We would take these cars out on a test track and drive them hard. Driving a BMW, a Mercedes, a Lexus and a Cadillac at full speed was great fun.



Drag racing at Pomona raceway was an experience. We were all in new Pontiacs. Thirty-six dealerships drag raced new Firebirds and then drove them back to the dealership, where they were sold. It was an elimination event. Because we all had the same cars it was won at the start. I finished forth. I recorded the best reaction time (start) of the day as I was off by only 4/100’s of a second


Hot Laps events were held with pro drivers. A course would be set up that covered the entire Pomona fairgrounds parking lot. A professional would take us on a hot lap in a new car and then we would see how close we could come to their speed and time. The pros would share driving tips like preloading the front-end for better tracking thru a high-speed turn. Drifting into a turn at over 100 mph in a luxury/performance sedan is hard to beat for a real car enthusiast.




In Fontana, California, my son and I had the honor of driving the parade lap at the inaugural NASCAR race. We didn’t go very fast but it was still amazing. Those high-banked turns are over three stories tall. They seemed very steep going slow. I am amazed that the drivers can go into them three wide at speeds approaching 200 mph. We also got to watch Jeff Gordon win that first California 500.



Willow Springs Raceway was in our vicinity. It is one of the premier road courses in the west. General Motors decided that the Chevrolet Corvette Z-06 should set a new track record there. They shipped a Blue Z-06 to our dealership. Chevy people said that it was completely stock. It was just tuned for the racecourse. They also said that this one is really fast. One of the things that I found most interesting about it was that it was plated. It had a manufacturers license plate from Michigan. Number 15. Every one of the thousands of plates that Chevrolet uses are all number 15. That meant it was pretty much untraceable. The other thing was that when they had finished at the raceway, they left it and the keys in my department’s possession for a month.


When an engine puts out over 500 horsepower performance really increases. The Dodge Viper and the Corvette Z-06 both perform like real racecars. Having that much horsepower is a big responsibility. It is almost too much power to be fun. Almost. I enjoy the feeling of being pinned to the seat, while mashing on the throttle. When you are accelerating like that, everything happens fast. Roadhouse Blues had it right; keep you eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.


I had the keys to the Corvette and it was street legal. I drove it thru some of the canyons around where we lived. My pal Shaun called and had tickets to a San Diego Charger Football game. It was time for a road trip. We were on the 15 freeway going south. We were just cruising along. I checked my speed, we were going 138 mph. Have you ever gone on a trip in a car and not been doing anything legal the whole time? I’m not talking a fear and loathing in Las Vegas kind of road trip. Just never under the speed limit.




The very first set of 24” wheels that I ever saw were on my demo Denali. It was all black and chrome and shiny. The company that sold wheels to us always made sure that I had the latest new set. The first place that I went was to Staples Center for a Lakers game. As we were pulling into the parking lot, the attendant waived me out of line. He had me park next to a Porsche and a Massarati. Right in front. Another benefit of a nice looking ride.


When the Demo program ended it was a sad day in the car business. The tax laws changed and demos are now considered income instead of advertising. The Factory no longer has any reason to subsidize the program. They are taxable income. Demos aren’t any cheaper. And I haven’t been over 100 at any time in the last two years. When the latest, greatest Camaro arrived on the lot, I did not drive it. I knew that nothing good would become of it, if I did. I just looked at it.


I enjoy cars. Dealing with people suits me. I love the business that I am in. Even though I am the General Manager of the store, when I meet someone, I still like to say that I sell cars. I just don’t drive like that any more. (wink) I am, as always, your friend in the car business.



August 2, 2009 Posted by | demo, fast, sierra motors. eric prothro, speeding | , , , , | Leave a comment


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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


I don’t get caught off guard very often and that is a good thing. I have seen people try all kinds of maneuvers during a car purchase. Jeff, who was a manager of a local business, reached into his pocket and brought out six 9mm bullets and proceeded to line them up on the table between us. He told me that this was to show me how serious he was about getting a good deal.



Two gangster-looking guys negotiated a deal on an expensive Denali, equipped with a set of 22” wheels. They wore long leather coats, hats over bandanas and dark glasses. When we came to an agreement, they called their associate that was waiting outside in their car. They just said, “Bring it.” A very large man dressed like the others came inside. He had a metal briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. He set it on the table and one of the negotiators did the combination. He took out about $50,000 of what looked like about a half million dollars. The big guy walked back out to the car. That one was a cash sale.BusinessMoneyBriefcase2


I sold a car to Jack, who was dressed like pure scooter trash. Jack was close to 70 years old, but looked like his odometer was spun. Jack told me that in his younger days, he was one of the founding members of The Shaggers motorcycle gang. When he told me about how his old lady was forcing him to buy a car. I laughed, but only for a moment. I suddenly felt something sharp in my belly, just above my beltline. I looked down to see that Jack was holding a recently sharpened knife blade. He slowly asked me, “Do you know why it was better to have a short blade with a big handle? I answered “No.” Without ever breaking eye contact he told me “that way it won’t slip out of your hand when it gets bloody.” I sold Jack cars on two separate occasions, each one memorable.victors1


Dr Kamiar was Iranian. He came in to buy a new Cadillac. We had a demonstrator on the floor that was shiny black with all of the trim done in gold. His wife loved it. He was not a very pleasant man, but we came to an agreement. He wrote out a down payment check for $10,000 and signed all of the paperwork. Off they drove in their beautiful Cadillac. A week later Dr. and Mrs. Kamiar were back in the dealership. They had a problem. They had a copy of their contract and their down payment check from their bank. It had gone thru with out any problem, but I was caught by surprise with what followed.


Dr. Kamiar was yelling that we had ripped him off. He was actually saying that we had stolen from him. He was being very boisterous and waved his hands a lot while walking excitedly around the showroom. After asking several times what the problem was he finally showed me his down payment check. He had written in the memo area of the check “for tax and license.”Dr


He proceeded to show me his contract. He pointed out to me that tax and license was about $6,000. He said that he wanted the difference back. I looked the couple over for a moment as if in a poker game not wanting to tip my hand. I had no idea where this was going. I explained to the good doctor that what was written in the memo had no bearing on the check. I showed him were his down payment was disclosed on the contract and the ten places his signature was on the contract.


Then he started in on how he had misunderstood and that we had misled him. I knew that this wasn’t Dr. Kamiar’s first rodeo and he was trying to take me for a ride. I told him that we had not misled him in any way. I also explained that there was not any money due him. He loudly started back about how we had deceived him. I finally just asked, “What do you want from me?” He answered with a very prepared “LoJack, System 5.”


I looked him in the eye for a moment. I realized what I was dealing with, an immoral unethical person that went by the title of doctor. Seizing the moment I put both of my hands in the air like a person under arrest. I shouted out the word “Hostage.” I continued loudly with “I will not be held hostage for a LoJack.” Dr. and Mrs. Kamiar had a completely different expression on their face sitting across from me with my arms up in the air. They looked scared. I stated firmly again, “No Hostage.” “I will not be held hostage for a LoJack.”


The doctor started repeating in a lot lower tone, “no hostage, and no hostage.” I just sat across from them with my arms raised in the air. He and his wife hurriedly stood up and headed for the door. “Never mind” is all that he said as they went hastily out the door to their new Cadillac.



I never sold that doctor another car. I am glad that I never had to deal with him again. I guess the first thing came to my mind was the Iranian hostage crisis. It was a very spur of the moment reaction. I felt lucky it had worked. I didn’t really have a plan B other than just kicking him out.


He was a prominent Doctor who had run for an elected office recently. He had been on the local hospital board. He was clearly a liar, a swindler and a very poor negotiator. I was still just an honest car salesman. Imagine that a guy like him is held in higher esteem than a guy like me simple because of our job titles.


Honesty is the standard here at Sierra Motors. We have our lowest price posted in the window of every vehicle for sale. One low price, plain & simple…always, is how we do business. Our sales peoples are only interested in achieving your complete satisfaction. That is how they get paid. They are not paid on how much that you spend, just on how satisfied you are.


I know that I can’t control the behavior of others, but I can be responsible for my own and that of our employees. That is, as long as you don’t make me put my hands in the air.



July 28, 2009 Posted by | bullets, dr., eric prothro, hostage, sierra motors | , , , , | 4 Comments


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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


“You missed the heyday of the car salesman kid”. That’s what I was told by a well-worn veteran, who was still wearing a white belt that matched his shoes. When I started selling, we still had a couple of salespeople that been selling in the 1970’s. With what I saw in them, I don’t think I missed it. For the first few months in the car business I worked on the same floor with some old-style holdovers like Linda Kaye. She was a consistent performer. Consistently selling six cars a month.


Linda’s entire sales process involved a beer bar. Talk about one trick pony. It was back in the days when men shopped for a new car alone. Maybe that’s why they don’t shop alone much anymore. We sure never saw any salespeople taking couples to a bar for a few drinks.



Alcohol consumption is strictly voluntary these days. Some people still drink before shopping for a new car. They probably drink before everything they do. Working with people as much as I do, you see a lot of people who spend a large portion of their life somewhat inebriated.


In the film Glengarry, Glen Ross, Al Pacino’s character is working a customer over while sitting in a bar. He gets the guy plastered. Then takes his check and signs him up. That is the same plan Linda had without the finesse. That movie also had the greatest sales meeting of all time, given by Alec Baldwin.


Linda watched the floor for her ideal customer: A single guy, not looking for a station wagon. She quickly went on a demonstration drive. Her test drive route went down Division Street. She knew a dive bar, just far enough off the road, as to not be seen. If the male customer didn’t buy the first round Linda would start a tab. I am not one to speculate about whether Linda was in this for the male companionship, the free alcohol or actually was trying to make a sale. All I know is that she only occasionally sold more than one car in a week.



Linda would commonly call the sales manager and tell the fish story about the one that got away. The three most common calls for help were: she needed to borrow money to pay the tab, she and the customer were too drunk to drive back to the lot or she wasn’t even coming back to work that day at all. She was finally let go for a combination of missed days and low performance.


I sure don’t miss people like Linda. They are the ones who helped create some of the negative stereotypes we still have to deal with. They are also part of the reason for the success that we are having at Sierra Motors. We have removed the old tactics and replaced them with customer friendly procedures and complete disclosure. What you see is what you get. And you get to see it up front.


The biggest buzz word and benchmark for success of a dealership is C.S.I. or customer satisfaction index. It is a score on how satisfied your customers are with the dealership, the personnel and the procedures. For the entire year, we at Sierra Motors are number one in the entire region. Our three-month score is a perfect 100. That means that 100% of the surveys returned are marked completely satisfied. We are not a perfect dealership, but we are committed to our customers.


It has been quite a journey from the old days to where we are now. One of the things that I learned along the way is simply that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. I was wise enough to read the back of the book and know how it all ends up. I also see the current economic situation as an opportunity to capitalize on the inability of others in business to adapt. As always I am your friend in the car business. Call or come by anytime. Experience complete customer satisfaction. Sorry, no beer on the test drive.



July 27, 2009 Posted by | beer, csi, eric prothro, sierra motors, test drive | , , , , | 2 Comments


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


 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 


The basic rule of sales: the one who is asking the questions is the one in control of the sale. I find that dialogue is an important part of sales. To get a customer to open up about him or herself is the key to making most sales. So I ask a lot of questions. It’s a lot like Joe Friday used to say: anything that you say can and will be used against you.


Its not that information is used against a customer, when properly applied, its used to sell the right vehicle. Someone might ask for a half-ton truck when they really need a three-quarter ton truck. There might be a model that cost les and does more of what they are looking for. Without asking what is right for somebody, how else would you know? A good salesman should know why somebody wants something, what is its primary use and what he or she likes about it before ever test driving anything.


A good example is a set of simple trade-in questions. What did you like best about it when you bought it? And what would you most like to change? Just the answers from those two questions alone will tell what moved them to buy last time and what they are looking for this time. This is all dependant on one simple factor, getting the customer to talk. I knew nothing of this couple when we went for a drive.

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The couple that I had on a test drive was nice enough. They weren’t rude or anything, the husband just would not talk. The wife would talk a little, but the husband was clearly the buyer. And no matter what I asked, the only response I got was a grunt. I tried different techniques and a variety of angles. Nothing. All I knew about him was that he was a D.E.A. Agent, formerly from the Midwest. I only learned that because when he got his drivers license out I saw his ID. I could feel that this sale was not very likely to happen. So I took a chance.



There have been few shows in the last twenty-five years that dictated the styles and trends of pop culture like Miami Vice. That show epitomized cool. The great music, like Phil Collins playing as Sonny Crocket drove thru the night in his Ferrari. The pastel color clothes. The beautiful woman. The decadent houses. Don Johnson was the master of wearing stubble on his face as fashion. That show was the eighties.


The test drive had been conducted in almost complete silence when I started my move. “I don’t pretend to know much about what you do for a living” I started. “But I do watch a bit of TV”. “I watch that show Miami Vice a lot and I bet your job is a lot like that”. There was a moment of complete silence, which seemed to last for minutes, before he started pounding on the steering wheel. “That show is complete Bull Sh#t” he actually yelled in response to me. He then proceeded to yell and pound the steering wheel as he informed me what a real DEA Agent did for a living compared to the television version.


I think it was sort of cathartic for him. He told me of starting in the Agency. He said that when they took a guy down with ten pounds of cocaine on Omaha, that they thought that they had crippled the entire drug trade for the mid-west portion of the United States. Then he received a transfer to good old sunny southern California. He informed me that bust here, were measured in tons, not pounds.



When he realized that twenty tons of Cocaine, with a street value in the millions of dollars, was a moderate size bust, he said he started planning to retire. The sheer scale of thing was beyond his imagination. He explained that when that many millions of dollars were involved, anything could happen. Compromises of judgment were possible. And lives were at stake. He didn’t like it.


I almost felt a slight sense of bonding. When he took delivery of his new car, he looked me in the eye and gave me a firm handshake. A simple “Thank you” was all that he said.


I still like to talk to customers here at Sierra Motors. I don’t get people to pound the steering wheel anymore. And I still enjoy a simple thank you at the end of a sale.



July 21, 2009 Posted by | cocaine, drive, eric prothro, miami vice, sierra motors | , , , , | 1 Comment