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I have been involved in dealership management for over twenty years. Interviews and hiring are one of the things that I do best. But hiring is not a science. I always try to hire for character first. I have been fooled more than once.
The shortest interview I ever did was with my friend Mitch. We were in many of the same classrooms from kindergarten thru high school. We played sports together. We grew up in the same neighborhood, a few streets apart. Mitch walked into the dealership and told me that he wanted to try selling cars. Without hesitation I said yes. He was Salesman of the Year his first year in the business. I guess that I was right on that one.
We needed two lot porters to wash cars. It was a full time job that paid minimum wage. I interviewed fifty applicants in one day. The two guys that I hired, Mark and Hakeem were excellent employees. They both went on to good career jobs.
Hiring a good Team manager is a bit harder. The position is commonly called a closer. The best part of the job is when they get to go in after their salespeople and close deals. That only takes up 10% of their day. Most of the hours they are at work are spent doing a form of adult daycare. Handling the salespeople. They are always up to something.
After reading thru some applications, I called a couple of promising guys in for an interview. Adrian stood out on his application and from the moment he walked into the showroom.
My first impression was that this guy was way too slick. Adrian was a Black man about six feet tall. He looked quite muscular. He wore a designer suit that had been tailored to fit. The shoes looked like they were expensive Italian leather. The watch was a Movado with the diamond at 12 o’clock. He wore is hair in a mid length pony tail. His socks, his tie and his smile were impeccable.
Great eye contact and a firm handshake started the interview. Before I could get very far into asking questions, Adrian was trying to take over the interview. He started telling me how great he was. He was giving me examples of how he had overpowered customers and closed them. He explained how his Martial Arts training translated into being a kick ass leader. I basically stopped interviewing to see how long he might go on gushing about himself.
Everybody knows not to interrupt when I am interviewing. Into the office walks Jerry. He addresses Adrian, “Hey brother is that your Z out front?” I wonder where this is going. Adrian answers, “Yes.” “Sweet ride” and Jerry continues, “Is it the white one?” Adrian starts spewing performance numbers like horsepower and top speed. Jerry interrupts Adrian by saying, “There’s a tow truck taking it away.”
Adrian bolts from my office. I guess the interview has been interrupted. Jerry and I watch from the showroom window as the sharp dressed interviewee confronts the Repo Man. The Z car is already on the hook. Adrian starts yelling at the truck operator to put his car back down. The driver shows some paperwork to Adrian. We don’t think he is going to get his car back. The Repo man tries to walk past Adrian to get to the drivers door. Adrian blocks his path and pushes him back. This particular repo man is very experienced. He has his mace out in an instant. The repo man literally paints Adrian’s face with mace. Adrian steps back in obvious pain.
What we saw next looked like a scene from a Hollywood movie. In his expensive suit, blinded with Mace, wearing Italian Loafers, Adrian executes a flying kick that Jet Li would be more than proud of. It sends the repo man to the ground. Adrian moves in for the kill and suddenly realizes that he is in trouble. Suddenly Adrian turns and runs down the street. His little ponytail and those leather shoes were cutting out.
The tow truck driver got up off of the ground and dusted himself off. He pulled out his cell phone and called in to report an assault. With the shiny fast Z car in tow, he left. I quipped to Jerry, “I wonder if he is going to come back so we can finish the interview?”
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I met Jeff Larson when I was three. He lived across the street and down four houses. When we met each other, we stood across the street and introduced ourselves. Jeff thought that I said my name was Harry. We were best friends for all of elementary school and walked together, to and from school most everyday.
My Mom took me to school the first day. I remember seeing the monkey bars for the first time. I was so excited that I took off running for them as soon as we set foot in the gate. I climbed up those two steps and grabbed a hold of the metal crossbars. Off I went. My grip wasn’t as good as I thought and slipped right off into the sand below. When I did a small patch of skin came off of the palm of my hand. It stung.
Quick, where’s Mom? I turned to where she had been standing. The gate was already closed. I could see her walking away. I was left to deal with the pain alone. I wasn’t sure that I was ready for this.
The only time that Jeff and I were in the same class was the first year. Our Kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Roselanski. She would divide unto groups and let us race to the fence. It was a red light, green light game. Jeff and I were both fast runners, or so it seemed at our advanced running age. One of us was always first to the fence.
School for us was a fenced in affair. There were only two gates. For someone to come thru the gate during class, they had to be special. Especially the person that brought the cartons of milk. Milk cost a nickel in those days. After a hard morning of playing with blocks and running, milk was just right. For some reason milk was served just before naptime.
Each of us had our own thing to sleep on. For some it was a throw rug or for others it was a towel. Everyone got his or her mat out at naptime. I don’t remember ever going to sleep, but a lot of kids did. A half-day that included naptime, that sounds like a good thing theses days.
I don’t know if I learned to socialize, but I knew not to hang out with kids that wet their pants like Frank Batchen. I liked running with Jeff and at 50 we are still friends. If that is all that I learned from kindergarten then I guess that is enough.
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I was standing behind the backstop. Mike was at the plate and I was up next. The score was tied and we had a guy on first. The pitcher rolled a baby bounce pitch to Mike. He kicked it deep, but Mark, a third grader, caught it on the fly. In elementary school, kickball games seemed very important. It was midway thru recess and we had a chance to pull ahead.
From across the grass I saw my teacher, Mrs. Purdy, heading straight for us. She had an unmistakably purposeful walk. It was obvious that somebody had violated a rule. I knew that she was headed for me. Women teachers in those days wore dresses. They all had their hair done in some sort of beehive style. The ones that wore glasses wore those horn rim style that made them look so intent. Mrs. Purdy was intent on making me understand the error of my ways.
I hadn’t finished my lunch that day. I am very sure that it was Deborah Sayles who told on me. Deborah had this disapproving look that she gave when she saw others breaking the rules. When I dumped my half eaten lunch in the trash, I knew that Deborah saw me. When she gave me that look, my lunch was already in the trash. Too late to change things. I wanted to go play.
I usually brought lunch from home. I had one of those cool lunch boxes. The metal one with the matching thermos. This was before zip lock Baggies. Mom mostly made my favorite, which was peanut butter and grape jelly. The day before I was goofing around with my best friend Jeff and had broken another thermos. So regardless of what the daily menu we had at home said, I had to buy lunch.
School lunch in the 1960’s was not fine dining. Hamburgers on Thursday and fish on Friday. Not really fish, but fish sticks, Usually with tater tots. There were also a lot of mystery items in our meals. The one thing that I could not stand was Brussels sprouts. It was the perfect trifecta of texture; smell and taste that made me gag. We had a strictest kind of teacher that made sure we finished our lunch every day.
I sat down and ate some of my lunch. I noticed that our teacher wasn’t at our table checking on us yet. I saw my opportunity and took it. Our teacher Mrs. Purdy was a few minutes late getting to the lunchroom. I didn’t understand why we had to eat everything. I guess that it had something to do with all of all of the starving children in China. I hurriedly went to the trash and dumped the vile sprouts and got out before our teacher saw me. But alas the good girls were watching. This is a problem that would plague me for most of my youth.
Mrs. Purdy took me off of the playground and straight to her classroom. She made me write an apology for wasting food. I also had to spend the next three lunch periods writing that I would not waste any of my food. Worst of all I had to check out with the lunchroom attendant everyday and show her that I had eaten all of my food. I asked my Mom to make my lunch every day from then on. Except on Thursdays of course. I liked hamburger day.
In Mrs. Purdy’s second grade class, I received the best grades of my entire school career. I had straight A’s and one C. The C was in citizenship. It is amazing how early in life patterns are set.
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We went to the grand opening of Gianelli’s Vineyards new tasting room. To say that we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. My wife and I are veterans of many wine tastings. We are far from being experts, but we know what we like.
Gianelli’s is located at 18263 Main St. in downtown Jamestown, Ca. We found charming people in a lovely setting. We were offered samples of a variety of wines. Things went smoothly until the Cabernet Sauvigon was served.
Do you ever wonder what perfection might taste like? It has aromas of mint and dark chocolate that are married to toasty oak flavors. Quite simply the best Cab we have had the joy to experience. The dichotomy that we experienced next caught us by surprise.
Lorie Gianelli poured us a glass of 2007 Nino. This is a special blend dedicated to Ron’s father, Nino. This is a blend of Grenache 60%, Petite Sirah 20%, Dolcetto 17% And Sangiovese 3% all Gianelli Vineyards Estate grown. I thought that I tasted the apogee of generations of winemaking techniques and vineyard stewardship.
You need to decide on your own which is the best. I am saving a bottle of Nino for the soonest possible special occasion. I hope some friends hurry and visit us.
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 goldofthemotherlode.com. 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?
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.”
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.
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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.
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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.