Real Stories From Life at a Dealership

People are the experience

LIFEGUARD

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

My football playing days ended the same way a lot of other athletes did, with an injury. I sustained a major dislocation of the right knee. That means that the ACL and MCL ligaments were torn. I also ruptured my patella and shredded all of the cartilage. I asked the Doctor when I could play again and his answer was that I might be able to walk without a limp if I worked hard. Not only were my playing days over, so was running. He suggested that I take up swimming or cycling. Physically shot at 19 years of age.

 

I had aspirations of playing Division One football. Instead I started taking swimming classes while in college. After a couple of different ones I decided to take on the big one and become a WSI, Water Safety Instructor. After this class, I would be able to certify lifeguards. I was a pretty good swimmer, in very good physical condition and have always been willing to push myself, both mentally and physically.

 

The class Instructor was Coach Jordan. It was two hours per class, two days a week. I had no idea that I was going to swim that much. Most classes were spent swimming the entire two hours. I learned over twenty different strokes. I didn’t even know there were twenty different strokes. It was very physically demanding. A missed class meant 50 laps in the pool. I only missed one class the entire year.

 

Coach Jordan prepared us to save lives. We practiced techniques over and over. We could spend the entire two hours towing someone. A lot of classes, we were not allowed to touch the side or the bottom during the class. I gained a lot of respect for what had to be done and became rather fearless of water. We also had to become certified in CPR.

 

The most grueling part was that we had to swim a thousand meters in under 20 minutes, to pass the class. In a 50-meter pool, that is 20 laps. I finished in 18 minutes and 24 seconds. Great, so I am of to conquer the swimming world.

 

Beach lifeguard sounded great. I applied with the Los Angeles County. To test you have to have a timed effort of less than 18 minutes in the 1000 meter. I had never swam that fast in my life. Then at the first Saturday in April, was the qualifier. Everybody that applied was to report to the lifeguard station in Long Beach. A 500 meter run down the beach, followed by a swim around a buoy 500 meters out in the Pacific Ocean. Finishing with 500 more meters of running. The first 100 finishers were allowed to continue testing.

 

I applied at a country club instead. They hired me. There had not been a rescue at the Club in the twenty years that the pool was open. It was an insurance requirement to have guards. We did the pool maintenance. We baby sat club members kids. We watched the pool and kept it safe by saying things like “no running”. I did get to sit up in the cool wooden lifeguard tower and wear a whistle. It actually paid well and came with some interesting benefits.

 

I got hired often to personally lifeguard private parties held at the club and to give private swimming lessons. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. Those gigs were generally very good paying and some of the tips I received were rather interesting. Two young men got out of control at one such private party. They thought it was funny to throw clothed people into the pool and to damage the facilities. I gently intervened. As they were standing next to the edge of the pool, after throwing a person in, I came up behind them. I grabbed both of them around the neck and jumped in the pool. I exhaled all of my air out as to ensure sinking to the bottom with them. Tough guys aren’t so tough when they can’t breath.

lifeguard

 

When I let them go, they came up sputtering and angry. I asked them to depart from the premises. The two tough guys threatened me. I suggested that we go back in and visit the bottom of the pool again. They left rather hurriedly.

 

Later in the summer as I was getting off shift, a couple in the pool caught my attention. It was what Coach Jordan explained to be on the lookout for. Impending disaster.

 

A very out of shape club member, who after drinking for a while, decided to teach his twenty year younger wife how to swim. His plan was simple. The pool had an eleven-foot deep section under the diving board. He was in the middle, directly in front of his wife, who was on the diving board. He was treading water, while trying to talk her into jumping.

 

I quickly stripped back down to my swimsuit and watched this train wreck.

 

Wife was afraid to jump and husband was getting tired quickly. “Jump”. “Come on just jump” he kept saying. She finally did. It was perfect. She lands feet first, on his chest. That knocked all of the wind out of him. I thought that this was going to be the first rescue at the club. The wife ended up only about a foot from the edge of the pool. She was facing the other way and didn’t know it was so close. Panic quickly set in.

 

The husband came up from the depths after being submerged by his wife. I think he drank a lot of pool water. He went to the side and hung on, trying to get his breath back.

 

The wife started to flail her arms. Just as she started to let out a scream, she hit the side and grabbed on. Disaster averted. The other lifeguard and I just looked at each other and smiled. I was putting my shirt back on when I heard the husband tell his wife, “It’s just like riding a horse”. “You have to get right back on.”

 

“No, this attempt at drowning is over” I told them in no uncertain terms. They knew I was right and the wife was happy that I intervened.

 

My next lifeguard job was at the new indoor city pool. I gave a lot of group swimming lessons. Kids of all ages are fun to teach how to swim and more importantly, it saves lives. The senior class that I did for ages 70 and older was a disaster. One woman was on her fifth attempt to learn to swim and she monopolized the entire class time. Mostly by complaining, about everything.

lessons

 

I also had an amazing time coaching Special Olympics. I was asked to do some “one on one” training with an Autistic boy named Robin. I didn’t have any idea what to expect. It took a while to get Robin in the pool. He didn’t like physical contact with me. I worked hard to get him to hold his breath and put his head under water. He would never make eye contact with me. I felt as though I was not making progress with him. I was feeling disappointed with my results until Robin’s Father came up to me after the class.

 

Robins Father was in tears. I was the first one to get Robin all of the way into the water. It was a milestone to Robins Dad. He hugged me with a big Dad hug. He got to see his boy, being a boy. It was huge to him. I had no idea that I was doing that well.

 

Two years and two different lifeguard jobs and I had never rescued anyone. I think that was a good thing.

 

A couple of years after giving up the career as a lifeguard, I was working at a car dealership. My beautiful wife and I took our son Russ to stay at a resort at the beach for the weekend. Dana was up in our room. I was reading the latest Tom Clancy novel poolside, while Russell was swimming. Three kids lined up at the far end of the pool to race across.

 

As Coach Jordan impressed on me, look at what is happening.

 

It was two girls and one boy. They were all about twelve or thirteen. The girls were next to each other and the boy was on the right. It was a beautiful resort with a very big swimming pool. Just off to the right was the gazebo with a very fashionable wedding that had just gotten underway. The resort hotel was more than twenty stories high.  The three kids were almost half way across the pool and the boy had not yet taken a single breath.

del rey pool

 

I put my book down. The boy started to veer across in front of the two girls. He than stopped swimming for a moment. Somebody else was watching from above, because I heard a person yell from about ten floors up “Help that guy”. The boy started swimming again, but till had not taken a single breath. I stood up and took off my shoes. The boy had swam almost the entire length of the pool without taking a breath and had almost made it to the end. About five feet from the end he suddenly turned around and started swimming back to the other side.

 

I new that this was impossible. As he reached the middle of the deepest part of the pool it happened in a way that I did not expect. He just stopped swimming and blew out all of his air and immediately sank to the bottom. Russell watched me as I went into action. I heard that person ten floors up yell loudly “help that guy”.

 

It was very calm in the water. The boy was motionless on the bottom of the pool. Russell told me that there was a lot of screaming and yelling while I was underwater. I did as Coach Jordan had trained me. I placed my hand under his chin and brought him to the top with one strong lunge from the bottom. I quickly had him at the side of the pool. A few others helped me take him out of the water. I stretched his arms out and pushed once on his chest. A mouth full of pool water came out. He drew his next breath on his own.

 

During the commotion the wedding had stopped. The Bride was yelling, “give him mouth to mouth, give him mouth to mouth.” Some guy was hyperventilating, because he jumped in the pool and got caught up in all of the excitement. I backed everyone off of the kid to give him room to breath. He was okay, just very embarrassed. Soaking wet, I went back to the room. Dana ask’ “what happened to you?”

 

I made sure that I went and visited Coach Jordan. Let him know that his training had saved a life.

 

It was a few years later, at Bob and Deann’s house. This time I have Ryan and Erica with me. It is a simple pool party, with about ten to fifteen kids. There is a couple sitting on the grass facing away from the pool. Their daughter Rachel is next to them. I am standing on the patio having a beer with friends about twenty feet from the pool. In only took a moment of inattentiveness for three-year-old Rachel to walk over to the pool. The little girl just stepped right into the deep end. Deann screams “Rachel is in the pool”.

 

At the moment of crisis do you look or act? The Dad looked. In fact when he turned to look he spun so hard that his back popped and he was immobilized. I am just wired to act. Upon hearing Deann yell Rachel’s name, I was on the move. I don’t know how I got to her so fast, but I slid on the cement and had my hand on her instantly. She was making eye contact with me the entire time. I didn’t even get in the pool and pulled her out from under water into my arms. Rachel clung to me. I held her for a moment and then handed her over to her parents.

 

I like the fact that all three of my kids have witnessed me rescuing someone. As General Manager of Sierra Motors, I still think of the lessons learned from Coach Jordan. I don’t jump in and take people to the bottom of the pool anymore, but I still act in times of crisis. Still today, I can picture exactly what that young man looked like at the bottom of the pool and I can still see Rachel’s eyes looking at me. I watch the dealership, still on the lookout.

 

EP

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July 12, 2009 Posted by | coach jordan, eric prothro, lifeguard, sierra motors, swimming | , , , , | 5 Comments

FAMILY VACATION

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

Family vacation. We all have the memories and some stand out more than others. Mom, Dad and the kids, going place and seeing things. The planning, the packing, the cost and don’t forget to take pictures. What was your best family vacation? Maybe you are planning one now. Our family is a veteran of many such trips. My wife and I have wonderful memories of our entire family being together in places like Hawaii, Mexico, the Beach, mountain ski resorts, lakes and many more. We have taken the car, overloaded the Suburban and flown. I know, of all the vacations that we have taken, one stands out for my son Ryan, Cabo San Lucas.cabo hotel

 

In the good times, trips and the car business, go hand in hand. All three kids, Russell, Ryan and Erica, join my wife Dana and myself for five days in Mexico. We stayed at an all-inclusive beachfront resort. We travel fun. It’s just a good time when we are all together on a vacation. In an amply sized suite, over looking the bay, we were all smiles. We spent time on the beach and in the water. When it came time to rent watercraft, we only used four for the five of us. I had the privilege of having my precious Daughter on for the ride with me.

 Erica & Dad SeaDoo

The hours we spent zooming around, chasing each other and seeing the entire bay, is etched in my memory. Erica was holding on tight to me. I love the sound of my Daughter laughing.

 

Fishing, eating and sightseeing are all fun, but we had a special trip to the Cabo Wabo Cantina. The restaurant at Cabo Wabo is a great place to eat. They have great dishes like Sammy’s’ Tequila Shrimp and the Waburrito. It was a lively dinner with enjoyable food. We heard live music coming from the club and after finishing dinner, we decided to see who was playing. As we walked in, there were only three dudes in the entire place. Dana quickly assessed the situation and excused herself to look at a few nearby shops. The rest of us had a seat.

 

Don’t judge me when I tell you what my son Ryan and I did. He asked and I agreed to have our first shot of tequila together. Russ and Erica stayed at the table as Ryan and I went to the shooter bar. The only way to properly abide with Sammy is simple; three double shot glasses apiece. One each of Blanco, Reposada and Anejo. Yes that totals six shots each. The bartender served the sliced lime and with a simple toast to Father and Son, here we go. The 3 tequilasbartender took a great picture of us half way thru.

 

After a minute to breath, it was off to see if we could make it back to the table. Being the observant fellows that we are, we instantly noticed things had changed. A dance floor that was totally empty mere moments ago was now filled with women. Not just your run of the mill pretty women, I mean smoking hot women. It looked like a beer commercial gone bad. There were about forty women, ages 19 to 25 out on the dance floor. Not a single guy. My Daughter says, “They just walked in”.

 

 My 17-year-old son is Ryan surveys the room and says a simple “Dad”. I pulled out a fifty-dollar bill and handed it to him in case he had to buy a drink. He strolled very confidently for a young man of seventeen. (Read Tequila) The crowd of women just swallowed him up. Within seconds he was dancing with a group of them. Being the good son that he is, Ryan grabs a couple of beauties and sends them to our table. As two of them take me by the arms, they tell me that I have to dance with them. After an almost unnoticeable moment of hesitation, out I go. My son and I were on the Dance floor at Cabo Wabo with 40 gorgeous women. I knew better and cut out after just one song. I did ask before the dance ended. “Who are you girls”?

 chargers_cheerleader_medium

My dance partner told me that they were the San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders, who are billed as America’s most beautiful Cheerleaders. She said that they are not supposed to identify them self’s as such, because they were here unofficially. They had done a favor for the Team’s owner and he had sent them all on a paid vacation.

 

Dana walked back in just as I was getting back to the table. “What’s going on?” she queried. “I just danced with those two over there” I quickly responded, pointing to the floor. “You should have waited until I was here,” said my wife dryly. “I wouldn’t have had the opportunity” was out of my mouth before I thought.

 

The most amazing looking blonde cheerleader is arm and arm with my son, on the way to the shooter bar. By the time they are done with their shots, the mood on the floor had changed. It was time to go to the next bar. A group of girls grabs my son and off they go out the door, to the next club. My wife and I figure that they will make to the door and our son will get his Id checked. No such luck. It is an outside club. The girls are now taking turns pole dancing for Ryan. After a lot of screaming and photoflashes they move again. They are off to the world famous El Squid Row.

 squid roe

How fast they turn. The guy at the door asks my son for Id. As soon as the girls realize they are partying with a seventeen year old, So long Charlie. Such a look of dejection. Like a puppy who doesn’t get taken for a walk. We all get into a taxi and head back to the resort.

 

Ryan tells me that he took a lot of pictures. He then ask’ me “Can we come back here next year”?

 

EP

July 2, 2009 Posted by | cabo wabo, eric prothro, family, sierra motors, vacation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Validation Thru Public Affirmation

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

Life throws you hardballs at a speed of which mere mortals cannot even swing at. God grants you opportunities through loss to walk toward his light in this unjust world.

I don’t have the knowledge of why this happens…I only have the feelings that have resulted. I have decided to share with the help of the written word my life’s experience.

This blog is the result of of over 30 years of moments locked in my head about my life in the automotive business. Sometimes these tidbits will leave a smile, sometimes will make you think, and sometimes will open up your memories of your own life.

The reason you get an emotional response to my stories is simple. I write the truth from my heart of the human experience and that connects us all together. By connecting with you I am connecting you with me. With connection comes the hope of understanding…and this I need.    

Along life’s path, some of us pick up some very special friends.  Barry Kluger is one of mine, for we have experienced the same type of loss. Barry Kluger is Managing Partner of Kluger Media Group and was Senior Vice President of VH1 and Viacom. A piece of advice from a friend like Barry is worth its weight in gold. Barry suggested that I submit some of my short stories to be published.  Amazingly enough this Sage was right! I am now published.

There is no more validation than the public affirmation of one’s faith. MY BLOG with the help of a jolly old elf, Jim Greenleaf, who begin in auto sales the same day I did, at my side. {and is this day is my Finance Manager right here at Sierra Motors in Jamestown, Ca.,}

In 1983 we started on a quest to conquer and take over the sales floor of our home town GM Dealership in Southern California, it was a time when the Industry was experiencing the biggest down fall in sales and production. As you might remember, here’s one of the best examples of the creative genius of GM; the Chevy “CITATION”, chevrolet-citation-2doesn’t that sound like your getting a ticket?

 

 

 Sorry …I digress.  Where was I… oh yeah … I’m now published and not only published but I’m the lead story in this number one insiders Automotive publications in the Country.

GetAttachment

 

 

Auto Dealership Monthly goes out to every auto dealership in the country. The asked for a humorous story, on page 5. Now is the validation or what?

 

 

 

 

 

A even bigger affirmation for me is when a friend, family member, a peer or even just a reader is so moved by a story to leave a comment. Wow! It makes it all so worth it.

Here now are some of those comments:

Patricia Mansel

Eric, Great story. Sorry I don’t remember the trip. You did a great job with it and we look forward to any more stories you want to share. Love, Aunt Patricia

  KANSAS TO CALIFORNIA
3 #
J & K

Eric, I can see how easy it would be to get hooked on hocky. I realy enjoyed the game we went to about three years ago. A good story. now lets go fishing. jp

J & K
1
AT THE STANLEY CUP
1 #
aunt bonita

enjoyed reliving our trip to ca. painted desert is still beautiful!!!! thank you, you did a great job.
love, auntie bon

aunt bonita
1
KANSAS TO CALIFORNIA
3 #
Kim Moser Johnson

Eric, what a beautiful story – I knew Mike from grade school, actually from church. Terrific family and great friend. Glad to hear he’s “down south” with me – I’ll try and look him up. Thank you for these stories, Goose! Much love to your family, Kim

Kim Moser Johnson
1
RUNNING, READING AND NEIGHBORS
4 #
J & K

Eric
Great story and we remember those days well, why do you think we moved? The wind is still there, so we hear. J&K

J & K
1
SEARS FOR ENTERTAINMENT
1 #
Brenda Robinson

Hello Eric,
That was quite an interesting story about our arrival into
the neighborhood. Yes one should not be judged by the color of one’s skin.
Mike, my cousin,lives in Temecula with his wife and 3 kids. He is a criminal defense lawyer for San Diego County.
Best wishes to you and your family,
Brenda

Brenda Robinson
1
RUNNING, READING AND NEIGHBORS
4 #
centerforrespitecare

Greg is pretty amazing. I wonder if he could get a break on being a bit late on Wednesdays from an understanding boss? And if not, maybe Greg’s calling is in the nonprofit sector, or somewhere other than where he is now

centerforrespitecare

http://centerforrespitecare.wordpress.com

1
LATE FOR WORK
2 #
J & K

We do need more souls out working like Greg and his familly so that others may have life. What a blessing to have worked with and known someone like Greg. J&K

J & K
1
LATE FOR WORK
2 #
J & K

Hi ya son, this turned out to be a story to remember and you did a great job telling it. Think of how many people came out to Calif. on Route 66. Anyway, keep up the great work, we are proud of you. Dad and Kay

J & K
1
KANSAS TO CALIFORNIA
3 #
ericprothro
sierramotors.net
efpro@msn.com
209.78.161.37

Thank you and yes I met Brenda in the sixties at Mikes home. Where is Mike?

ericprothro

http://www.sierramotors.net

1
RUNNING, READING AND NEIGHBORS
4 #
Dee Robinson

Bless your heart. That was an absolutely beautiful story, Eric. Thank you so much for sharing that. Much love, from my family to yours. P.S. You do know that Michael and Brenda are cousins, right? (small world)

Dee Robinson
1
RUNNING, READING AND NEIGHBORS
4 #
Anonymous

So Eric I remember a Trip we took in the Ranchero to a Beach Boys concert. You, Charlene Jordan, me and Don Boyer. I remember waking up in the back just in time to wake you up while driving off the side of the road. Crazy stuff. As I recall it was a long hot day at Angel’s Stadium. Fun times. Pa

1
PINSTRIPING
1 #
Anonymous

Yes those were the good old days!!!! Who knew we had espionage training while selling vehicles for a living.
Long live Linda .

Your friend,
Rick

1
THE GLASS IN THE OFFICE
1 #
Rick Abercrombie

Eric,

I forgot about Mike, that was great remembering him .

Your Bud,

Rick

Rick Abercrombie
1
INDEPENDENT LIVING
1 #
Carla Leopardo

GREAT story Eric! I think it may be a myth though! No teenager would do such a thing. Would they?

Carla Leopardo
1
REWARD FOR JULIE
1 #
Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat

Eric.

Jim and Betty were able to pull up web site,they really enjoyed the story…
Betty said it really touched Jim..

Keep up the good work..

P.S. We’re leaving for Reno Tuesday..

Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat.
1
Chicken Kid
1 #
Pamela Watson Gwin commented on your post
     
   

“Based on what I read you seem to be doing this in fine style. Keep up the good work. God is with you.”

 

 
Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat.

Eric I love this ..
Keep up the good “WORD’S ” and good Writting….

Love Aunt Pat.

P.S/ I will be checking in..

Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat.
1
The Legacy of Jack
1 #
Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat.

We both enjoyed your ride…
Our prayers our with you, and Mike..

With our love..

Aunt Pat.& Uncle Bill

Uncle Bill and Aunt Pat.
1
FIVE DEER TRAIL
1 #
ericprothro

Laugh, please laugh

 

Leah Alexander

Thanks, Eric. You’re da bomb!

 
Leah Alexander
 
HAPPY WE MOVED HERE
4 #
Carla Leopardo

Congratulations on your move Eric. It sounds like you have exactly the right frame of mind to stay in business and thrive, and in such an amazing place. I think you made the right move and I hope you will be happy there for a really long time! Cheers and good luck! Carla Leopardo

 
Carla Leopardo
HAPPY WE MOVED HERE
4 #

   
Here also are some comments from my peeps on Facebook    http://www.facebook.com/home.php  

Craig P. Earl sent you a message on Facebook…

That will be interesting. It will be fun to hear what you have to say.
I had asked my question about the articles because they are all very professionally done, and I was thinking that maybe you were grabbing them from some publications. It’s obvious that you’ve developed a talent that I was unaware of. Keep up the good work.

Pamela made a comment about your link:

“You are a good friend Eric Prothro.”

Alene Cates sent you a message on Facebook…‏

“Debbie read me the story on the dealership, we tryed to figure out who it was, think we did.”

DeeDee Hanson made a comment about your link…‏

“Love that! I learned how to drive in that parking lot…”

Cynthia Shook-Hart made a comment about your link…‏

“I loved this one. Actually made me miss “home”. Yep, silly me, still missing Lancaster.”

Wayne Evan Foss made a comment about your link…

“Eric, the greasy guy with no shirt, he’s still here, in fact, I think he cloned himself many times.”

RE: ZR-1

That is a very cool and memorable sale!!!  You have quite a few great ones that I have heard…    Not to brag, but my two most memorable car sales day includes a 5-1/2 car sale sunday(non-tent sale, 2 appt’s, 1-2 car fresh up sale) and a two new corvette(nassau blue & silver) sale thursday at $18k over MSRP…  We were only paid 20% at that time w/%5 extra for over 12 cars in a month.  I don’t remember the exact voucher amount, the pack was only $2500 then, but the total voucher(s) was over $5k, I think Bill Penn was not happy…  Not long after and after leaving the floor a flat was paid for vette sales irrespective of profit(not good for motivation). 
Hope things are going well for you and yours, I still would like to visit in the not-so-distant future.  Really enjoy your writings and info, stay in touch…
Your Friend, Associate, & Biking partner Always,
Mitch

Michelle Prothro made a comment about your link on her Wall…‏

“Wow it is really cool to read about our family. I never really met any of my Papa Lloyds side of the family, I dont think anyways?well besides Corky and Jimmy. Have you written any others?”

Re: In the Forum‏

Excellent. Dave Atkins.

Pamela Watson Gwin made a comment about your link…‏

“Very thought provoking. Greg is a hero to so many. Thank you for sharing. Your reward will be in heaven Greg as well as on every face of the people you serve.”

July 1, 2009 Posted by | automotive, barry kluger, blogs, chevy, eric prothro, friends, gm, sierra motors | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THE LOT PARTY

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

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 face.car 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.

 

EP

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

CORVETTE ZR-1

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

In 1990, Chevrolet came out with the most amazing Corvette, the ZR-1. Early in the era of ever increasing horsepower, this four valve per cylinder, 350 cubic inch beauty, was rated at just under 400-horse power. It also had a top speed close to 200 mph. This was one of the few times that GM was able to captivate the entire performance car crowd. This is one car that did not disappoint.ZR-1

 

This super car had a MSRP of $50,000. The excitement surrounding the Vet caused the actual price to go up. Most dealerships were getting $20,000 to $50,000 over window for the high demand Corvette. Our Boss Gil told us that he was going to sell the only one that we were going to get to a friend of his. I was disappointed. I had already sold my Uncle Corky three Corvettes in the last six years and he was asking about this one.

 

I asked Gil if I could sell it to my Uncle instead. Then I asked again and again and again. In a moment of charity he said, “If you can get $10,000 over MSRP, then you can sell it”. I called my Uncle Corky and gave him the good news. When I told him that he could have it and how much it was going to cost, I knew that his annoyance of paying a premium for a car was overcome when he asked, “when can I have it?”

 

I hurriedly went in and told the Boss that he would take it and Gil’s reply was “don’t expect to get paid on this”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was to excited that I was going to sell my Uncle the only ZR-1. While I was waiting four months for the ZR-1 to arrive, my boss Gill, left to run another dealership that they owned.

 

During the build process, we were able to make a change. The color white was unavailable. At the last minute we were able to get his built in white. The only factory white ZR-1 built that year was delivered to my Uncle Corky on July of 1990.

 

My Uncle Corky, had to take it for a test drive. I grabbed a dealer plate and got in the passenger seat of the white Corvette. The sound of that motor was mechanical perfection. With sixteen exhaust valves, the sound is like nothing else. We drove directly to the freeway. After just a few quick miles, my Uncle opened it up a little. We amazingly shot past 150 mph in seconds. We only had the six-speed transmission in fourth gear.

 

We pulled into the dealership parking lot and my Uncle was smiling. Within minutes, three California Highway Patrol units drove slowly by the lot looking at us. So we went inside to ink up the deal. A man was waiting there for my Uncle. He somehow knew that my Uncle had the only white ZR-1 and offered him $10,000 more than whatever he was paying for the car. That just solidified the deal.

 

After finishing all of the paperwork, I went thru the delivery process that we had been thru many times before. The sound of that car as it pulled away was sweet.

 

The next day, the General sales manager called me in and gave me my voucher for the sale. This is the document that tells you how much commission was earned. It was for $500. I decided then and there to take a stand and roll the dice. “No way”, was my response. After a few words between us the GSM went back into the owners office. It took quite a while before he came back out. This time he handed me a voucher for $1,000. I knew that I had to be all in on this one. I’ll just say that I expressed my dissatisfaction with the offer and recommended that he check my pay plan. A good hour went by and I was called into the owner’s office. I had only been in there once before and it wasn’t a good place to frequent. I respected the owner, but knew that I was holding the winning hand. He spent over twenty minutes explaining why I was going to be paid only $1,000. When he finished, I simply repeated that I had a pay plan and would like them to continue to honor it. That ended that days meeting.

 

I actually had no idea how much was possible to make on that car. In those days the salesman received 30% of the profit above invoice. I was betting that it was a lot.

 

First thing in the morning, I am called back into the owner’s office. He has a yellow legal pad in front of him. He goes over pages of things and reasons of why that is all that I should be paid. After almost an hour my response was the same; “are you going to honor my pay plan? The General Sales Manager quickly escorted me out of the office. I didn’t think that I could be fired for disputing pay. I had to wait it out. It seemed like a long time before I was handed a final voucher, with the explanation that there was no way that I was ever going to be paid on the $10,000 premium. It was for $2,700.

 

I stood there and did the math in my head; I was paid 30% so the profit was $9,000. Including the premium it was $19,000. I had traveled from $500 to $2,700. I knew that I would be flushing my career in that store away if I went any further.

 

I accepted the voucher and said thank you. That sale holds the record for the highest profit and the highest commission ever paid in over 40 years of business. There was one more thing; when the guy offered my Uncle a cool $10,000 more for the car, he knew it was a great deal. My Uncle Corky tipped me a crisp $100 bill before he drove away.

Usdollar100front

 

If you go to see my Uncle, you will find that Corvette still in his driveway.

 

I am thankful, that was the only pay discrepancy I had in the entire 15 years I worked there. I used the $100 bill to take the entire family to Hometown Buffet. Hey, when you have a family that’s how you celebrate.

 

EP

June 25, 2009 Posted by | corky, corvette, eric prothro, sierra motors, zr-1 | , , , , | Leave a comment

SEARS FOR ENTERTAINMENT

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

It was in 1984, that I was working at a Dealership that was located across the street from Sears. It was on the busiest intersection in town and Sears was the biggest store in the city. Sears was a stand-alone store, as if it didn’t think it would ever need any help. The front of the store faced a giant parking lot. The Sears store was great for entertainment, because it had shopping carts and shoplifters.sears

 

Living in the high Desert, the one constant is wind. Not just a 10-15 mph breeze, but real wind; the daily 25 to 35 mph kind with gusts that clocked over 50. The Sears parking lot covered several acres. It also had a substantial downhill slope. We were always amazed that the management of Sears did not put more effort in collecting shopping carts.

 

A customer would unload whatever goods they had purchased and would then just leave the shopping cart where it was. There were not any collection areas. A good gust of wind would start everything in motion. “There goes another one,” someone would shout. With that kind of wind and a smooth downhill slope, the carts would pick up quite a bit of speed. We saw quite a few of them hit parked cars with a furious crash that definitely left a mark. It was like watching them try to escape. Some of the really lucky ones would be going very fast and actually be aimed at the driveway. Run, little shopping cart, run!

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The havoc that a high speed shopping can wreak, when it hits traffic is amazing. I have seen carts that look like they a traveling at over 25 mph go into traffic and get hit by a car. The cart usually goes sailing, the cars skid to a stop and all of the other traffic tries to avoid the collision. And Sears never changed their cart collection policy.

 

Shoplifters were the best though. The only way we knew that they were shoplifters was because they came running out of the store. They always ran towards our dealership. I guess because it was downhill and with the wind. There were always security personnel giving chase. Two, three or more plainclothes security would make great tackles on the pavement. I guess road rash came with the job. Sometime the runner would get all the way to our lot. We have seen more than a few try to stash whatever they lifted under a car and try the innocent act where they hold up there hands a say “what did I do?” They usually got tackled too.

 

The one that really stood out was a skinny, shirtless kid with long greasy hair. He came out the door of Sears running full speed with a security guy right on his heals. He had that look in his eyes as he ran without ever looking back. It looked like a scene from a movie because the shirtless kid ran directly into traffic without looking and ran between several moving cars. The guy on his heels stopped at the curb to barely avoid getting run over. We heard a couple of skids and horns honking but the timing was perfect. He never slowed down. The greasy haired kid kept running to the safety of his neighborhood down the street.uniform1

 

More than twenty years have gone by. Sears no longer has shopping carts. Both Sears and the Dealership have moved to malls. That shirtless kid, if he is not currently serving time, has probably gone on to bigger and better endeavors like a meth lab. The security guards are now Mall Cops. And the wind is still blows.

 

EP

June 24, 2009 Posted by | eric prothro, sears, security, sierra motors, wind | , , , , | 2 Comments

BIG HEADED OLD BOY

The car business has its share of characters. Billy was one of the most colorful. He was a bigheaded old boy. His hat size was bucket. His laugh was unmistakable: a long, slow, deep HEE…HEE…HEE. His version of the John Wayne walk was to point at his left toe with his right finger and say “right, right”. Billy had held a few jobs in his time and one of his favorites besides used car salesman was being a Hay loader.

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Billy told stories about things like winning a hay loading contest or almost getting hit by a mortar in Korea. The result of that was whenever he heard a loud bang, a car backfire or any whistling sound like a bomb dropping; it would send Billy ducking for cover. We were at a high school football game and the gun went off for half time, as Billy ducked for cover, he knocked five people out of their seats. Never a dull moment.

Billy showed me the three molars missing from his mouth. “I was the lucky one” is how he started. Billy and his best buddy Charlie were in Bakersfield looking for trouble. Nothing like a good scrap before getting drunk. They bumped shoulders with a guy on the way in. “Look out old-timer” was said to the wrong guy. It quickly escalated. Billy thrived on taking a punch, but not like this. Wham! Out go the molars and down goes Billy. His pal wasn’t so lucky.

Max

They found out later that the old-timer was the retired fighter, Max Baer. The smartest thing Billy did was to stay down. Charlie absorbed a couple of punches and was trying to crawl under a truck. Max had a hold of his leg and was hitting him in the ribs. Billy said that you could hear Charlie’s rib’s cracking and the wind leaving with each punch. He just watched and laughed.

Every encounter with Billy starts with a big firm handshake and a smile. It was impossible to be in a bad mood around him. It was also great to team up with him and sell. Billy would flip a coin, so we could pick points on the lot. If we didn’t get a customer in 15 minutes we would meet at the water fountain. Billy would tell a corny joke and we would change places. We always had customer before too long. When we worked like that, we always managed to stay on top of the sales board. I learned a lot from Billy about work, like the fact that if you’re going to work, you might as well enjoy it. I never saw a day that Billy wasn’t ready to meet head on.

Boots

For being a big tough guy Billy was scared to death of blood. He was more even scared of a needle. Lucky for him I had just signed up for a Life insurance policy. A blood test was mandatory. The Phlebotomist came to work to take a sample. The tourniquet was on and the needle was ready. I asked her to wait until I said okay. “Hey Billy come look at this”. Here he comes.

Just as his eyes focus on the needle, I say “okay” and in goes the needle. That was all she wrote. He turned pale so fast. Lucky for Billy there was a truck behind him to fall back against or he would have gone down.

Gambling was also something Billy and I did. Not big stuff, just the change in our pockets. Billy would ask, “you got at least a buck?’ If I did, then we would both flip a coin. He would ask “odd or even?” Odd was one head and one tail. Don’t ask why, but the looser of the flip would then take all of the change out of his pocket and throw it on the ground. Either of us would of course pick it up because it was winnings won fair and square, not to mention it was over a buck.

spare

 

One warning that I must give you about car shopping is; if you are ever on a car lot and some bigheaded old boy comes walking up to you, pointing at his boots saying “right, right”, don’t stand too close. The sound of whistling like a bomb dropping will come over the PA system from one of the guys and Billy will grab a hold of anything or anybody to keep from going down. He reacts that much. Now that is a sight to behold. Billy, on his knees, hugging a customer, laughing the whole time, HEE…HEE…HEE.

EP

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

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Billy, eric prothro, handshake, max baer, sierra motors, Used car salesman | , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE BASEBALL STADIUM

There are many perks that can go with being at a successful dealership, such as professional baseball season tickets. Some years we would go to 20 or 30 games, usually in very good seats. I wouldn’t call myself a dedicated fan, but I more than enjoy the outings.

Taking kids to the ballpark is probably the most fun. I have taken all of my kids together and will always cherish those times. I tried to take a lot of other kids along as often as possible. There is something special about the first time a child walks into a Major League ballpark. When they walk out and see the players out on a huge field, the vast landscape of beautiful green grass, with it’s nice even patterns, against the backdrop of a perfect, cloudless blue sky, along with the immensity of the stadium itself, packed with thirty to forty thousand people, it is a jaw dropper.

stadium_480x200

Typically as their jaw drops their eyes get very wide and they stop for a moment and try to take it all in. It is a moment that I have seen on dozens of kids faces and it never ceased to bring a smile to my face. It reminds me of the good things in life. If you have the opportunity to get tickets to a game, please do yourself a favor and take some kids who have never been, the amazement and enthusiasm is contagious.

My son Russ asked if he could take one of his school mates along to the next game. I told him to let me talk to his parents and it would be no problem. I already had tickets to a game with Oral Hershiser pitching. Russ called his friend DeJon and told him the good news. I spoke to his Mom and it was all set.

When we arrived at the stadium the boys were excited. The moment when DeJon saw the players and the field was as expected, he stood there motionless for a minute taking it all in. I enjoyed the moment. I didn’t know that the real amazement for DeJon was yet to come.

Prosperity and good fortune can become too normal for us to realize what we have sometimes. It didn’t occur to me that the concession stand would be a big deal.

“All right boys, what do you want?” I asked. As Russell started discussing what type of Dog to eat, DeJon was completely quiet. His eyes were wide open and he asked very softly “I can get a Hotdog?” I saw his hesitation and suggested the “foot long”. DeJon just nodded. “Would you like a drink too?” I asked and DeJon said enthusiastically, “Yes please”.

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“What else would you like?” I asked and Dejon looked at me in wonderment and said, “You mean I can have more?” “Yes, anything you like”, was my reply. DeJon just looked at the concession stand. “Would you like some candy too?” I asked as I was getting caught up in his amazement. He pointed to a bag of peanut M&M’s

We had front row seats on the second level, just above third base, great seats for a foul ball and a perfect view of the field. I spent most of the game just watching the boys. They were talking baseball, cheering for the home team and yelling along with 30,000 of their friends at a questionable call at third base.

When the peanut guy came around, you know the one that makes the great throws; I gave him a whistle and pointed to the boys. They giggled with delight as the two-bagger of peanuts came sailing over to them. I knew that I was starting to go overboard, but I had to say yes to cotton candy also. I can still picture them, leaning against the rail, excitedly anticipating the next pitch, sticky fingers and all.

RichTomDodgerStadium1962shopped

Yes, they ate way too much junk food, but it seemed like it was all part of the experience. After all, I couldn’t shortchange a kid on his first trip to the ballpark. As the game ended and we walked back to the car, I was listening to the boy’s talk of all that they had seen and eaten. Russell and DeJon were as ten-year-old boys should be, happy.

EP

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

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, eric prothro, Russell, sierra motors, Stadium | , , , , | Leave a comment

REGGIE JACKSON AND FIVE CAMAROS

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

REGGIE JACKSON AND FIVE CAMAROS

 

You have to play the cards that are dealt to you. Those are the rules. Not just in Poker but in business and in life. Whining, crying and complaining are not going to produce anything on a paycheck. This was, and still is true.

 

General Motors has had it’s share of problems over the years. Strikes can be one of the worse. In the mid-eighties it was a transportation strike that stopped the movement everything from the factory to the dealerships. No new inventory coming in, when existing inventory was sold, that was it for a long while.

 

Except when it came from the Van Nuys plant. They were local enough to get cars from. They only produced one thing at Van Nuys in those days, the Camaro. You never met a worse group of people than the ones that built the cars. The most amazing part was that they would complain the most about the quality. Go figure.

 

With the only thing for sale being Camaro’s, Chevrolet Zone management put on a contest. There would be a weekly winner for whoever sold the most new Camaro’s. The payout was $400 cash and four tickets to the California Angels. The big draw was Reggie Jackson. Mr. October seemed to either strike out or hit a home run, every time. I sold five new Camaro’s in one week and was recognized as California Salesman of the week.

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Greg, Andrew, Billy and I drove to Anaheim Stadium. The crowd there was a little different from the normal Dodger Stadium people we were used to. We were sitting front row behind home plate…Great seats! They served alcohol there, not just beer, so we drank. Being we were so close, we knew the players could hear us, so we let them know we were there. Each time Reggie came up to bat, we would let him have it and he struck out every time.

 

The season ticket holders sitting around us didn’t appreciate our loud obnoxious behavior and sent the ushers down to ask us to settle down. They announced my name as Chevrolet salesman of the week and put us up on the Jumbotron. We looked like fools but were having a good time.

 

Bottom of the 8th inning, two outs and two men on, Angels are down 6 to 5. Reggie is up next. We go crazy. He is in the batters box and calls time. Reggie steps back and turns to look at who is making all of this noise. He sees four idiots and points at us with his thumb and finger, six-gun style. Reggie stepped back into the box and takes two pitches. The next one is a fastball down the middle and Reggie crushes it out of the park. The crowd went wild and Reggie watches it sail before rounding the bases. After he steps on home plate he walks up to us and with a sly smile. Out comes the double six-gun hand gesture.

 

Suddenly the people sitting around us like us. “Reggie Jackson hit a home run for you”  they yell. “He never does that,” said another.

 

I sold five Camaros that week. That is because that is all that I had to sell. Five Camaros and my own little piece of History… Got to love the Car business .

EP

June 5, 2009 Posted by | angel stadium, best deal, general motors, reggie jackson, sierra motors | , , , , | Leave a comment

YOU GOT ME AGAIN

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

 

 CALL TODAY  @800.571.0275 

 ericp

http://www.sierramotors.net/HomePage

YOU GOT ME AGAIN

 

Over the loud speaker I hear the floor manager page me: wonderful, I have a customer asking for me. It is a young lady named Nancy. It is her second visit to the lot, but this time there is a guy with her. As I’m greeting Nancy the guy interjects “I’m her brother”. Nancy gives an odd reaction. Nancy came back to see a used Camaro. While we’re going over it, her “brother’ is offering a lot of objections.

 

The plan seems clear divide and conquer, besides who is this guy? Nancy is ready for a test drive, perfect. I got in the Camaro and locked the doors. I pulled it up to Nancy and put her in her driver’s seat. Her “brother” was trying to get in the other side but it was locked. I went around to the passenger door and used the key to open it and squeezed in front of the brother and quickly closed the door. I told Nancy “let’s go” and she went.

 

As we left the first thing she said is “that’s not my brother, he’s a salesman from another dealership”. She went on to explain that when she told him that she was coming to see me to look at a car that he insisted on going, so that he could make sure she got a good deal. She told me that she couldn’t get rid of him. “No problem” I assured Nancy.

 

We finished the test drive and went in a separate entrance. Nancy and I went directly into a finance office and finalized the deal. The Finance Manager came in and signed all of the documents with her. All the while her “brother” was running around the dealership looking for a way to disrupt the sale, but to no avail.

 

As she was taking delivery and leaving the dealership, I told her not to worry about the other salesman (her brother) and that I would take care of him. She smiled, thanked me and left. Her “Brother” watched as she pulled away. I walked up to him and was going to ask if he needed a ride. “You got me again” was all I heard.

 

I wondered what he meant, until he said “I was the guy across the street that you came and took your customer from last year”. I thought hard for a second, “What in the…Oh yeah… That guy.” I remember having a customer asking for me. It was Julio and I was about 20 minutes from arriving at work. “Tell Julio I’ll be there in 15!” off I ran to work. When I arrived I saw Julio’s car that I had sold him last time parked out front, but no Julio.

 

A New Nissan pulls up behind Julio’s car. It’s Julio on a test drive with a salesperson from Nissan. I watch as they pull into the dealership across the street. Only one thing strikes me as a course of action. I walk into the dealership across the street and directly up to Julio. “Hi Julio, just want to let you know I am ready when you are”. “I’ll be there in a minute”, Julio replies with a smile.

 

The salesman instantly turned bright red, sort of stomped his feet and blurted out, “thanks a lot! “ So I walked back to my dealership and waited. Julio came back over and we had another completely satisfied customer in no time.

 

A year later and I had never thought about the other salesman again. Who’d of known? Even after both encounters, I couldn’t bring myself to apologize. He called somebody to pick him up.

EP

June 3, 2009 Posted by | camaro, eric prothro, jamestown, sierra motors, test drive | , , , , | 1 Comment