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- Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Last Active
- Vehicle(s) that interest me
- All of them.
- More about me
- Have been in the car business for over 10 years and still in it.
- Vehicle(s) I currently own
- 2007 BMW 328i
Few cars i built out of Legos for my son: VW Vanagon with a flat 4 cylinder engine mounted in the rear connected to a working diff; and a Jeep Wrangler, also with a 4 cylinder engine (I only have a 4 cylinder block from Technic), with a driveshaft connected to a working diff.
Lol, broke in half. I know it sounds funny although it shouldn't be.
My first car was an 82 Honda Accord (bought in 95). It had about 2 inches of rust eaten away from the front fenders, each tire was different size and make, and when I lifted it on the jack to change the wheels the jack went through the floor so I had to prop it on the suspension.
The exhaust broke off while I was driving downtown with a few friends (it overheated at the same time), the fuel filler neck was so rusty that half the gas I put in would leak out right away (I changed that myself), and the dashboard was moldy because the previous owner replaced the windshield and sealed it poorly with tar like substance.
But it was my first car and I loved it. Paid $350 for it, learned to drive stick on the way home in it, and sold it for same money I paid for it about 6 month later.
It is tough but it all depends what sort of vehicles you are selling.You guys who were in the car business (@boomchek still is) know just how tough it is to make a living. I made a few observations while sitting at a salesman's desk that had been cleaned out doing some paperwork of my own while waiting for my Dad's 2015 Tahoe to get fixed. For those of you who are concerned, yes the navigation now works (after a new nav antenna and new on star module) as it should have when my Dad took delivery back in December.
The dealership is a small, family owned & operated, stand alone Chevrolet dealership. They squeeze four cars in the showroom. A 2015 C7 Corvette Stingray (with a sold tag on the windshield), a 2015 4WD LTZ Suburban (with an MSRP almost equal to the Corvette's), a 2015 Cruze LS, & a fully loaded 4WD Equinox LTZ (no way this is a $40K vehicle). I got there at 10:30 am and was there until about 3:00 pm on a Friday. There was one guy there trying to buy a used Malibu. He obviously had some sort of credit issue. The rest of the day, I saw 2 other people walk into the showroom to look around.
After I was done with my work, I struck up a conversation with one of the sales guys. I asked him what the hardest part of selling cars is. He told me a few things:
People try to be slick and think we aren't going to find out they have credit issues. Or they think we aren't going to notice they haven't paid their property taxes (we have a personal property tax on cars in CT).
Morally he said the hardest part are that people come in to buy a car from him with credit issues, and are upside down on their current loan. He knows he shouldn't try to sell them a car, but if he discourages them, they'll take off to the next lot and buy a car there.
The amount of time it takes for inventory to turn over is staggering. Especially when it comes to used cars. At the end of December, my best friend traded in his 2011 LTZ 4WD Tahoe & his leased 2014 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited. His trades are literally 10s and the dealer in turn paid him top dollar for them. Still sitting there. My Dad traded in his 2011 LTZ Tahoe that is still on the lot. A friend of my best friend traded in his wife's 2012 or 2013 MB GLK 350 in December and it is still there.
I've been in the car business since 2003 and worked 9 of those years at new car lots in various positions (sales, internet sales, marketing, sales management).
New car stores are a bit easier to work at (marketing support, traffic, warranties, newer nicer cars) but the commissions are much smaller (about $150-$300 on most new small and mid size cars). Import stores always have more traffic than domestic stores. Fridays are typically slowest of the week, and January/February are slowest times of the year, so when you were there you probably saw an extreme of how slow it can get at a dealership. Having said that I did once work at a GM dealer, for 2 days in March, during which about 3 customers in total walked in through the doorover those 2 days, while a sales staff of 14 were waiting to make a sale, which prompted me to leave after day 2 as I saw no hope of ever making a living there even though the managers tried to pump us up on how we can make $100k a year there.
Overall I prefer selling used cars as it's easier to make a sale. With new cars, your customers first compare your brand to the competition's, and if they decide to go with your brand, they have 5-10 local dealers they can shop you on a price. I just hated when I provided excellent service, and a great price only to lose a sale over $50-$100 to another dealer, which was common. It gets tiring after a while and demotivational.
So after 9 years I started selling used cars. I worked at a large busy used car lot, where traffic was good, prices were cheaper than that of the competitor's and sales came comparatively easier. (I did double the sale numbers and made more on each car, so about 300%+ increase in income). It's hard to compare and cross shop used cars as no two are alike. Most people figure out what they want and start looking for the cheapest available one for sale. Since we were the cheapest we would get a lot of traffic. There was also no manufacturer mandated follow up to do with surveys that in some cases would dock your already low commission because you didn't get 10 out of 10 on a survey.
Yes, there is a lot more "heat" with used cars, but I find it when everything is explained up front (powertrain warranty only, accessories etc not covered on older cheaper cars), then customers are ok with it as they're saving a few thousand dollars.
As for inventory, used cars tend to linger around during December/January as people are receiving their Christmas credit card bills in the mail and are on a spending hangover, meaning most are not in a mood to blow money on big ticket items unless it's super necessary (car died, etc.).
Most stores try to have a turnaround time for used cars, from the time it lands, to detail, inspection, repairs, recon, etc.. In busier stores it can be as long as a month, but usually it's a week or two. Dealers hate advertising and showing dirty cars that are not front line ready, most will not put it up for sale until they're 100% ready. I worked at a dealer where it took 60 days to get a car ready because the service department was jammed, and a detail place which was owned by the same dealer group had to service 4 different dealerships, and the dealer principal wouldn't let us get detailing done elsewhere.
That's why cars you saw that came in on trade in December are still there. It's fairly normal.
Most dealers however try not to have cars that are over 90 days old as that's the "best before" date before discounts are applied to move them and interest charges start racking up on inventory (yes dealers that finance their inventory have to pay interest on it and curtailment charges as time goes on). Sometimes dealers have to pay off as much as 10% of a car's wholesale value every month after it sits on the lot too long. So imagine a lot with 50 used cars, each purchased at $10k = $500,000 in inventory. Now try paying 10% down on that amount if there's little or no income coming in.
Now I run a smaller used car lot for a friend who owns the lot. I'm the only one here, have my own schedule, deal with everything including pricing the cars. The dealership owner just buys vehicles and sends them down and I do the rest.
Much more relaxing and because of virtually no overhead we price our cars cheap and they tend to go quickly.
Someone once told me a story (not sure if it was a joke or true story) about a customer coming in on the lot wanting to trade his "Gooolie", pronounced with a thick foreigh accent. Nobody knew what he was talking about, what a Gooolie was, or what it looked like. He kept saying it's a nice Pontiac Gooolie, and that the Gooolie is a common car.
The salesman went out with the customer to see this Gooolie. It turned out it was a Pontiac 6000LE.