Four dollars and change. That's what it took for a car salesman to turn me from a lover to a hater. Now, don't zip away, this isn't a hater's screed, it's a point that can get you closer to the life you'd like to have so hang with me.
I'm looking for a new ride. My bomb is on its last wheels and as much as I don't want a payment I realize it's time to make a change.
There are two things you need to know about me and automobiles: First, call it small minded or not, but I like cars. I get the logic that they are simply boxes that get us from Point A to Point B, but you know what, some people like dogs or houses or surfboards or rings; I like a ride that's kinda cool.
There have been hot cars (a black Trans Am and three Mustangs), convertibles, a van, a couple of SUVs and a small Mercedes sedan among the 16 vehicles I've owned. I want to see something I like when I'm walking up to what I'll drive away.
So, last week I stopped by a large dealership on US 64 close to Wendell, NC, and found something that seemed to fit my needs and tried not to dance. You know the sales dance when you're buying a car, the one where you go back and forth and lie to each other and they act like you're family and you act like they have Ebola?
Now, here's the second thing: I don't like the dance. I think it's demeaning for them and insulting to me and it's worth money to me to not have to play it. I'm not going to spend a lot of time weaseling a salesperson down to a greasy spot. Usually, the difference in their offer after I say, "C'mon, what's your best price" and what I might get if I weaseled is about what I make for having fun talking to folks for a few hours or writing something. If we can get even remotely in the neighborhood of what I think is fair I'll pay it.
And, that's what I told the sales folks. I even told them the dollar amount, "Get us to X per monthly payment and we're fine." I KNEW they'd be making a better-than-average chunk of money on me, but it didn't matter. It would be a win/win.
Well, they either didn't believe me or they couldn't fathom that someone would be that open with them...'cause they came back with a figure that was four dollars and change over what I told them I'd pay.
I know what you're thinking, "After running the numbers they found that X plus $4 and change is what they had to have."
Nope. It's gotten ugly now. They're begging like a drunk for a drink five minutes after closing time. They've come back with a monthly payment that is X minus $10. If they had come back, originally, with X minus 2 dollars I'd have been their friend for life, buying'em drinks and saying good things about them. They would have gotten first look for vehicles in the future. As it is, I'm writing this blog and telling my neighbors not to buy cars from them.
Here's the lesson: All of this could have been avoided if they'd listened. They had a customer who was being honest with them and they couldn't believe it. They couldn't believe someone wouldn't want to dance. For four dollars and change they've converted a customer into a hater...and this happens every day in every industry.
In your career, in life, are YOU listening?