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Has anyone here ever sold cars for a living (past or present)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by jrthebassguy, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. Call me crazy, but as I drove by some dealerships the other day, I all of a sudden had this urge to become a car salesman. I must be crazy.

    Anyways, if you've worked as a carsalesman (either now or in the past) what are your experiences with it? How'd you get the job in the first place?

    Even if I got serious about this, I don't think anybody would hire some 19 year old whose only prior job experience is a nasa tour guide.

    It might be just a passing phase, but I'd like to at least look at all options that are out there. Thanks for any input you have.
  2. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    For the heck of it, I interviewed for a car sales position earlier this summer. It isn't your typical interview process. You more-or-less have to sit through a few days of training, which you have to pay for (you are supposedly reimbursed later) after you've been selected. There are definitely younger people doing this, so don't let age discourage you.

    But you'd also have to be ready for long days and not too many days off if you want to make money. The potential is there to make mounds of cash, and the longer you are there, the bigger discount you'd get towards your own new cars.

    If you really want to be in sales, you'd probably be better off selling cell phones or something.
  3. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I can tell you this. It can't be TOO fun because I used to work for a computer company that serviced the auto industry and it seemed like the sales staff would turn over very often. I think it's a lot of pressure plus at some dealerships there's definitely pressure to do things that aren't exactly what you would call "straightforward." Some common tactics (such as the "four square") exist solely to confuse the customer. If I were to become a salesman I'd definitely try and find a dealership that doesn't encourage such things...if such a place exists.

    brad cook
  4. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    and relatives have been car jockies, my dad even owned a small lot a couple of times.
    No time to talk now, I will try and email details later. It fouls up weekends, but a gigging weekedn guy can be a car weasel as well.

    Best of Luck,
    Wesley R.
  5. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I played with a guitarist who sold cars for a living prior to me joining the band. He actually has a degree in art and now paints guitars for a living.

    He never said a lot about the job, but as was stated earlier, it requires long hours. I don't know if there's a lot of difference between working for large dealerships and small used car lots. I'd imagine that large dealerships are more cut-throat, as your co-workers will fight for every potential sale.

    Though I don't know much about the auto-retail business, I can tell you that it would be like any other sales position: If you can't move the product then you're out; if you can sell, sell, sell, you'll be living on money street.
  6. I did it for two years when the economy for my usual gig went in the tank. My experience in a major metropolitan area is that there are very few really good dealerships (defined as treat customers fairly, treat employees fairly and make decent money), a few more decent places (usually make good money and treatment of employees and customers varies), a lot of mediocre places and an unusually high percentage of really bad places to work. In other words the bell curve is skewed to the negative end of the range. There is definitely a high turnover of sales staff. I worked at three dealerships in two years and while some sales staff stuck around for many years at the better dealerships, most (including some excellent salespeople) changed dealerships every year or two. I found that some very experienced sales people were willing to give me advice on managing both customers and the management staff. That was the major benefit of the job.
    Some lessons I picked up during that time were

    1. Always have a "get away" ride and always have the next job lined up because you could get fired or get fed up and quit on any day.
    2. Expect to hear "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out" directed at you or someone else at least once a month.
    3. Practice saying and believing, "Hey, I was looking for a job when I found this one."
    4. Every price, every salary, every percentage, every interest rate, everything in life is negotiable within a certain range.

    I found many of the employee management techniques were very abusive and the managers frequently lied to salespeople about the actual profit being made. You are paid a percentage of the profit. The less they pay you for each sale, the more that stays in their pockets. If you can put up with the abuse, it can be a superb education in how to negotiate, how a market economy actually works and how to deal with a variety of people. If you find a good dealership that provides lots of sales training and you get good at it, you can make very good money and learn skills that can be transferred to almost everything else you do in life. However, most people who try auto sales don't last a year, put up with a huge amount of abuse and make very little money.

    About 15 or 20 years ago there was a Robin Williams film called "Caddilac Man". While it was a little over the top, I thought it must have been written by someone with a lot of experience selling cars. I never saw people threatening each other with guns like in the movie, but I did witness a fist fight between a general manager and a customer that the sales staff had to break up!

    Overall, as an employment opportunity I would rank it somewhere above going to prison and going to war. You are going to learn very valuable lessons in each case, but you have the possibility of making more money from car sales and less possibility of dying.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member


    You might check into getting some Help ;)

  8. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I gave it a whirl when I was about your age. I was uncomfortable with the shady side, so I quit right away. I was never told to lie, but I was told to only directly answer questions that were asked. I was told....don't surrender any more information that you have to.

  9. If my previous post didn't scare you off, I want to give you an excellent example of car dealership humor and attitude. This was a used dealership that made more money per square foot of lot area than any other dealership in the metro area. The sales manager was the best closer I have ever seen: he was making $400,000 per year on a tiny used car lot 15 years ago!

    A customer came in who was a longtime car salesman and had worked at that lot previously. He should have known better, but a "con man" is often easily conned. We had an excellent looking late model truck with serious mechanical problems that had been covered up. The sales manager steered him toward that truck and closed the deal. Then he sold him an aftermarket warranty. This is generally difficult to sell to a salesman because they consider them icing on the profit cake instead of reasonable insurance. After the customer left in his "new" truck almost everybody stood around slapping the sales manager on the back, being astounded at the profit that had been made on the deal ($5,000 on a $12,000 sale) and placing bets on how long the truck would last before it broke down. A week later the truck quit and the customer came back really steamed that he had been made a fool. The sales manager convinced him that together they had really conned the after market warranty company and the joke was on them. Everybody had a good laugh.

    I quit shortly after that and moved on to a more honest lot. But I learned a lot of very valuable lessons there.
  10. Fo' Shizzle

    Fo' Shizzle

    Aug 28, 2003
    None of the statements made above surprised me. I've heard them hundreds of times. They are part and parcel in this trade. I know for a fact that people make a judgment about me when they hear what I do. I've seen it in their faces.
    Everything that has been outlined above has happened. And the job can be absolutely soul-crushing in the wrong environment. It makes me very humble and filled with gratitude for the chance to sell cars where I do.

    I run the internet department at a high-line import store here in D/FW. It is as different as night and day when compared to the generic domestic stores here in town. Clients (not customers) are treated exactly the way you hope to be treated. When you call or email me about a car, I will tell you what we feel your trade is worth and what I'll sell you my car for. Your decision is simple: say yes or say no.

    My advice is find a high-line import store. They charge more for everything (sales, service, parts, etc...) but people will pay more if they enjoy the process. Also, this is not something you can do half way. It is very, very hard to do well. If you can commit to it, and have the native ability required, it can be a great way to make money.

  11. Absolutely true. I have a friend who is a general manager at a Lexus dealership. They work hard, treat the customers & employees well and make a lot of money. You can also find good dealerships ranging from the corner used lot to major domestics. I like good auto sales personel. They are a lot of fun, and will work hard to take care of their custormers and make deals when things look bleak. But you have to sift through a lot of chaff to find the wheat.
  12. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    That sounds like a wonderful dream.

    If only they all operated like that. BTW, I don't automatically assume that anyone I meet who's a car salesman is a jerk or dishonest. That business does seem to have a lot of those but I won't assume that until I see the evidence.

    brad cook