Posts Tagged ‘car business’


My daughter Mackenzie had a test coming up so we talked about her upcoming multiple choice test, then I had her go in the other room to study for it. In no time, she brought her worksheet back-all smiles, saying that she was ready for me to quiz her-only when I asked her the questions, I mixed up the her choices of answers. In other words, if the answer to #1 was “A,” I instead made “B” her first choice, “C” her second and so on. My intuition was right; Mack didn’t even wait for me to finish asking the question before she blurted out the letter as her answer-she got them all wrong because she had memorized the letter-she never learned the answers.

So much of what you and I do every day is through memorization-not learning. Many things have been downloaded into our internal hard drives from a very young age.  You’ve memorized the actions of others and today, you do many of the things your parents and family members did without even thinking about it. Every day you brush your teeth, bathe (hopefully), put your pants and socks on, drive to work, cook, and a thousand of other things without even thinking.

Every day, we’re picking the letter “D,” all of the above-we make decisions without challenging why we are making them.

If you find your career has plateaued; your weight is heading north; or your relationship has grown stagnant, chances are you’ve chosen “D.” You’ve stopped learning and now you’re just sleepwalking through life.

Life doesn’t have to be all multiple choice…as if there are only 4 possible options to choose from-no, from this moment on, start filling in the blank__________-a blank that YOU fill in…but don’t just fill it in with muscle memory or a I got if from my mama kind of legacy answer…

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Damn, go find your answer today…go find something today to put in your blank. There’s no right or wrong answer necessarily-sure you’re going to f’ up-you’re going to wish you would’ve done it a different way, but hell at least you filled in your blank instead of turning in your Life’s test with nothing put in those blanks….

This is YOUR Life…your blank…and it’s on you to fill in the blanks. 

I remember when I moved to F&I a little over a year ago. I hadn’t spun paper in nearly 2 decades so obviously things had changed. I’d gotten pretty good working at persuading and negotiating with a customer to buy a vehicle, but had lost the skill set and verbiage of how to handle all of the financing options for them. Life moved and I was forced to learn these skill sets again. I either had to adapt, gain my competence and confidence back or my career was dead.

Ask yourself this question today. “When was the last time it was the first time?” Think about that…when was the last time it was your first time attempting something new, different, or forgotten? That’s a question that stumps us all.

Toss the letters…

Fill in your blank today…

I’ll see you on the Blacktop.


In sales, we’ve always been taught to “mirror” our customers, but what do you do when your customer is rude?

Coming home from work the other night, I found my 11 year old son sitting on the couch engulfing a Rice Krispie Treat while watching wrestling. When I asked him if he’d finished his math homework, he proudly grinned and emphatically nodded a “Yes-” unable to talk because half of the treat was stuffed in his mouth. I then asked him if he’d remembered to go back over his work to catch any mistakes he may have made the first time around; not wanting me to catch him in a lie, he conceded and went into the office to double check his work. In only a few short minutes, Evan returned with his math worksheet in hand and proudly presented it to me by saying, “Done!” “Are you sure?” I asked. He went on to say that it was easy because he knew it all.

When I checked his work, I discovered that half of his answers were wrong-most of which were silly, mental errors.

With his paper murdered in X’s, I handed his homework back to him saying, “I guess you don’t know it all, huh?” Then I offered Evan this advice, “Do your work as if it’s all right; analyze your work as if it’s all wrong,” meaning that you should perform a task with confidence, but check your finished work with suspicion.

When working with a customer-albeit it asking questions, presenting a vehicle, negotiating, or following up with sold and unsold customer, you must work with confidence in order to be influential. If your customer doesn’t feel you are confident in what you are saying and/or demonstrating, you are less likely in being influential in making the sale (if you do, it’ll likely be a mini). But when it’s all said and done-sale or no sale, go back over your work suspiciously combing through the details of your last deal. With this mindset, you’ll quickly be able to spot key areas of improvement while it’s still fresh in your mind; for instance, maybe you greeted your customers wrong, maybe you found that you were asking limiting questions instead of optimistic ones; maybe you did a poor product presentation; your body language changed when they said, “No;” or you didn’t handle their objections the right way. The only reason why Know-it-all’s go over their work (if at all) is to mentally justify that they’re right and reason that everyone else- the factory, manager, and the customers, are all wrong. Learn-it-all’s on the other hand, seek to gain experiential knowledge by digging to discover their flaws and allow mentors to coach them on how to do it better next time.

Every one of your deals can be improved in some way, but you must have the right mindset. Today, work with confidence, but get better with suspicion.

I’ll see you next time on the Blacktop. 

The Golden Rule says that you should “treat others the way that you would want to be treated.”

If that’s the “rule” to ultimate success, why are you treating others the way that they treat you?

When a customer acts rude, is being blunt, or is inconsiderate in allowing you the time to do your job properly, do you mirror their bad behavior? Customers act out because they are sick of being lied to, tired of the empty promises, & terrified of making yet another mistake of buying a vehicle that they will hate 6 months later. 

They’re not resentful of you- they don’t know you, they’re resentful of the past and how you act will either confirm their negative feelings or cancel those perceptions with renewed hope and trust. 

So it says, “Treat others the way that you would want to be treated.”

Would you treat yourself the same way you just did with that customer?

If your effort is backwards, so too will be your results.

I’ll see you on the blacktop!


If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes in sales, then you’ve likely cried out, “These customers are wasting my time,” more times than you’d like to admit. And you know what? You’re right, they are a waste of your time. Here’s why:

  • You hold a grudge: Newsflash: When you show up to work today (and everyday after that), you will fail more often than you succeed. Now that you know that you will fail 70-80% of the time, what are you so scared of? If you’re going to fail, do it well and do it often. Failures are tragic only when you are unwilling to go out and fail again. What distinguishes great salespeople from the average ones is their ability to move on. Whether you make a sale or you don’t, hold it loosely-when we win we celebrate too often and when we loose, we commiserate too long. As the ancient saying goes, “Pray, but move your feet.”
  • You hold a gavel and not a brush: It seems as though we as salespeople attain our professorship in Sales-ology right around the 30 day mark. After about a month of getting screamed at for walking a customer, presenting numbers without a commitment, and sprinkling gallons of be-back dust all over our customers without success (the be-back dust must’ve been expired), we become jaded and cynical. I remember my first month in the car business; I  filled a 3 subject notebook full of customer’s names and phone numbers, their desired vehicle, what they were trading, what they did for a living, their hobbies- I was like a courtroom stenographer; anything I could think of I wrote it down. I thought I was going to be different…wrong! The more customers that didn’t show up, bought elsewhere,  lied to me, or hung up in my face, the more cynical I became. At one time, I was so cynical I didn’t even cover my draw-I couldn’t pay rent nor the day care, and my truck note was already 2 months past due. Athletes, writers, musicians, and yes, even salespeople are artists. Selling is your muse. Not every play will result in a touchdown, not every book is a best seller, not every song is a #1 hit, nor will every Up will result in a sale. Every day, every encounter with a prospect is an opportunity for you to create another masterpiece. Put down the gavel and pick up the brush-use your experience to work with your customers more efficiently, not judgmentally. Navigation systems efficiently follow roads not trails. If you were driving to Disney World, sure you could try to save time by driving though someone’s pasture, but eventually you’ll wind up stuck or in a ditch. If you want to find sustained success, find the disciplined roads and skip the trails. 
  • You’ve got to max out: Customer’s are a waste of your time if you don’t maximize their possibilities. Selling cars is physically easy, yet mentally tough. Not asking enough questions to uncover what and why your customer is in the market will lead to you looking like you’re trying to catch chickens in your back yard-before you know it your customers are all over the place leaving you mentally exhausted and frustrated (Which is precisely the time that you throw in the towel and cry to anyone who will listen that they are wasting your time). When you are working with a customer, do not give up until you’ve exhausted every possible opportunity: switching them from New to Used (I know the used car has 60,000 miles but let them say no, not you.), or Used to New (New rebates will help them with their negative equity situation.), more down payment and why (When you ask for [more] down payment, customers think of us as extortionists. Explain to them why more down payment is needed and how it will benefit them in the long run.), or adjust trim levels and option packages (Don’t say, “You need to be on a base model,” instead say, ” We need to adjust the package to get you closer to where you are trying to be.”). Just like exercising, the harder you are willing to push yourself, the greater the gains. 
  • You need books not lines: Legendary Coach Paul Brown said, “You can learn a line from a win, and book from a defeat.” The greatest injustice you can give to yourself is not drawing the lessons from your defeats. Instead of eulogizing with a bunch of other salespeople, who are glad it was you who “wasted time” and not them, recycle your defeats for fuel toward the next win. Sure there are people who want you to sell a car for $3000 below invoice; I know you printed out and showed your customers book values and market averages, but they still want retail for their car-stop getting hung up on the ten percenters. Don’t allow 10% of irrational people to screw up the other 90% of people who need your help. You are worth every dollar you ask for-act like it. After every encounter, ask yourself how could you have done better? (Every encounter, sale or no sale, can be improved.)  How could you have handled the phone call, demo, write-up, negotiation, or after sale service call better? Be absolutely honest with yourself to discover the miscues and missteps and make the mental adjustments needed in preparation for the next opportunity.  What the customer didn’t do isn’t the issue; what you could’ve done better is.
If you hold on to grudges, aren’t thinking creatively, not exhausting every possible option, nor learning from your mistakes, the customer’s aren’t wasting your time, you’re wasting theirs. 
I’ll see you next time on the blacktop. 


(Photo Credit: One of my daughter’s pictures hanging in my office)

I think there are 2 defining moments for a leader: The first one is leading through adversity and the second is leading at midnight. Leading at midnight are those rare moments where it’s just you and a lingering salesperson-no incoming phone calls, no pages to the showroom floor, and everyone else has gone home for the night- the only light left on is the one in your office.  Initially, it looks like he’s just rehashing the day-he tells stories of the objections he overcame, the customer he bumped $40 dollars a month, and the phone call of a rude customer who refused to give his name and only wanted a rock bottom price-he survived another day on the blacktop.  As you tally the day’s numbers, you smile when prompted, and insert the, “oh really’s” in all of the right places, but the truth is, you’re just trying to get home. Then it happens; he comes back in to tell you goodnight for the third time, but this time it’s different. Instead of just walking out, he opens up. In a rare, vulnerable moment, he opens up to reveal what he’s going through in life. His wife has grown tired of him never being home-working long hours for a minimal paycheck; his daughter, limping into 6th grade, is failing miserably; and he just found out that his mother has been diagnosed with bone cancer. But even though he is terrified and has no idea what to do, you begin to see him come out from underneath the yokes of life; his burdens seem to become lighter, more manageable simply because he is able to talk about them. It’s as if his trials are temporarily suspended-almost as if life has given him a brief reprieve enabling him to catch his breath and reveal even more.


If you ever want to know the hopes and dreams of a child, give her a sheet of paper and a box of colors. She’ll draw a big house that she’ll one day live in, a solid gold car that she’ll be chauffeured in, and she’ll even bring a departed loved one back to life. She doesn’t worry about the messiness of the what and why’s in life, she just colors, unbridled. It is in these late night moments, after the venom of life is released, that your salesperson gets the chance to color. As if a child again, he opens up even more and begins to color his dreams for you-who he wants to meet, where he wants to live, what he wants to do in life and often, it’s got nothing to do with the car business. This is where I’ve failed many times as a leader because instead of admiring the picture they’ve colored for me, I’ve discredited their dreams-tearing them in half by calling them crazy, ludicrous, too expensive, too late-too anything if it had nothing to do with the car business. It’s as if I was insulted that their dreams had nothing to do with selling cars, becoming a manager, or even a dealer one day. I’ve come to realize that my dreams aren’t their dreams and instead of aborting their dreams, I want to give them life.


  • Respect their dreams. Respect the fact the fact that they have dreams. Most people go through life drifting along while those who have dreams are purposefully driven. It was Jim Rohn who said, “There’s a difference between making a living, and making a life.” Acorns of dreams, planted in the right soil, given the right nourishment become the mighty oaks of success. Sure their dream may seem far-fetched, insurmountable, downright crazy, but weren’t all great achievements? People thought humans flying through the air in cylinder tube was far-fetched; having an overweight black woman with her own TV talk show, eventually becoming a self-made billionaire seemed insurmountable; using your cell phone as a gateway to buy or know anything in the world seemed downright crazy. But yesterday’s dreams are commonplace today. 
  • Dreams need legs.  Give their dreams legs by having them write it down. There are no boundaries-no how’s, just let them color, unbridled and when they’re done, don’t judge the picture- just find a place in your heart to hang it.  They don’t need to worry about creating a best seller; they need to create a crappy first draft. Get it first down on paper; they can make revisions along the way. Use their dreams of tomorrow to fuel their motivations for today.
  • Believe in them. Their dreams will meet plenty of resistance from others. Including close friends and family, you are likely one of the few who believes in them. Everyone looks at them as who they are; you need to look at them as who they are to become. The people who try to talk them out of their dreams are the ones who have given up on their own. Give their dreams room to grow; you don’t have to understand their dreams today, you only need to believe that they’re capable of achieving great things. One spark of your belief can ignite the bonfires of their potential.

Some of us treat the car business as a home; others treat it as a highway. Many of us stumbled into our dreams and finally found a career where we could use our quirky skills and talents; others of us use this business as a byway-a detour toward what we feel are higher, loftier callings. One thing is certain, if allowed, this business of selling cars-all of the peaks, valleys, twists, turns, and calamities-all of the doubts, struggles, fights and strains you have to overcome will make achieving your dreams-whatever they may be, worthwhile.  


You have your dreams now let them have theirs.