The Revolving Door

The sales department of your average dealership is a revolving door. Guys come in, make a decent living for a while, and then disappear. Some get jobs at other dealerships, others get jobs in other industries, still others get fired for a myriad of reasons. I've been at the dealership for more than 3 years at this point. I've seen no less than 10 guys come and go, some of them more than once. 

I left and came back myself. I had posted my resume on Monster.com prior to my interview. A credit-card machine processing company sent me an E-mail asked if I was still looking for a job. The dealership job was supposed to be temporary anyway, I figured. The company told me that I would be selling their machines to businesses, and there was the potential to make upwards of $400 per presentation. There was also a gas reimbursement plan (I had to use my own vehicle), and a $1,000 "fast start" bonus. 

So I left the dealership. I said my goodbyes to the other salesmen, some of which had become friends.

After two days, I was back.

A word of warning to anyone who is thinking about selling credit card processing machines to businesses: don't do it. The company, which was supposed to provide me with "qualified" leads, sent me to people's houses that were running home businesses instead of actual, legit, brick-and-mortar businesses. Now, I'm not saying that a home-based business isn't legitimate. What I am saying is that a home-based business really has little need for a credit card processing machine. Most of the people who were "qualified" either didn't know I was coming or thought the company was doing something else for them. I still remember the presentation I gave to this poor schmuck who thought that the company was going to be doing advertising for him. Like I said, don't do it. After two days of this crap, I was back at the dealership, to friends, to (somewhat) steady income.

Most guys don't come back. Most go about their separate way and you never hear from them again. A lot of guys are lifetime car salesmen who just move from dealership to dealership, looking for a good fit. We've had a couple guys come from the biggest dealership in the metro area. They complained about long hours and unfair business practices. One couldn't hack it in our store and left to sell building materials. The other is probably on his way out.

I don't want it to sound like I'm callous. I'm not. I'm realistic. I have beaten the odds by being able to support myself in this industry. I mentioned before that car sales is like a blast furnace. The way management has set up our working life contributes to that metaphor. Our hours are horrific. 50 hour weeks are normal. 60 hour weeks are commonplace. During big sales (tent events, 72 hour sales, etc), I've put in 70 hours. I don't have a wife (just a very beautiful and supportive girlfriend) or kids. I don't have a ridiculously large network of close friends. In other words, there aren't very many draws on my time. But I've seen what working like we work can do to people over time. I remember one salesman, who helped train me, suddenly went AWOL. Literally vanished.  We never heard from the guy again. The worst part about it is the guy had a little girl. He foisted her upon her grandparents.

Normally, guys don't do that. They put in their two days' notice and take off. We don't do 2 week notices unless you're going to be taking a manager position somewhere. If you're just going to another store to sell, you only need two days to handle what you need to handle, sign your papers, and leave.

The story about that AWOL salesman reminds me of another guy that disappeared. His disappearance hit a little closer to home for me, because I was training him. The guy had potential; he had sold for another automaker a few years prior to showing up on our doorstep. We gave him a shot. The guy had a propensity for mindless chatter, so we nicknamed him "Talkie". I didn't mind his blathering; I don't really talk too much, so I didn't care if he talked. He only had to listen when I was talking. He didn't have natural skills in salesmanship, but those skills can be taught. He managed to sell a car once. It was a lucky sale, and I had to help him close it, but he still got the credit for it. A couple days later, whoosh. Gone. No note. No phone call. "Talkie" had had enough, I guess.

No comments:

Post a Comment