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I still remember my first car sale and the process I went through before I was allowed to wait on a single customer. Being fresh out of the Army I was accustomed to following directions. After almost 20 years I can still remember what was most emphasized in my "training".

Make a friend.
Find the right car.
Get them to the desk with an agreement to buy if the numbers are right.
Put it in writing.
Get a manager and keep my mouth shut.
Follow up with your customers
Bring them back into the cycle as soon as you can.

I learned tonight that my son Benjamin Rushing has entered the car business at the same Toyota point that I got my start. Of course I did not find out about this turn of events until after it was done, but then again at his age I did not talk things like that over with dad either.

He is now a third generation car guy!!!

Let's try to make this blog post the definitive guide on ADM for people just getting into the business by adding your knowledge and advice.

Paul Rushing
SEGA Systems, LLC
"Without Traffic Everything Fails"

Views: 96

Tags: benjamin rushing, new to car sales, paul rushing


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Comment by Paul Rushing on March 9, 2009 at 2:15am
This thread need to be included in every new hire package and incorporated into every training package.

A couple things that I am doing for my son:

  • Setting him up with inventory distribution with my craigslist service so he gets all of the calls to his cell. The dealer is not paying so he gets all the benefit.
  • Same with a blog and microsites
  • Getting on his arse for not contributing to the thread and thanking all of you who have contributed

If I can't give my kid some tools to use that work I should not do what I do..
Comment by Jim Vogel on March 8, 2009 at 4:26pm
To be a salesperson in the car business you must know a couple of things... It is your passion before you realize it is. Bell to bell takes on a new meaning. Success is when it is just you and the F&I guy left... and finally, THICK SKIN, SENSE OF HUMOR and SHORT-TERM MEMORY. Gotta have it!

I have literally taught hundreds this advice. Stay passionate. If you are a true "car guy", you know what I am talking about. Good luck, my little brother in profit!
Comment by Ryan Lucia on March 7, 2009 at 6:16pm
1) focus on what you can control
2) know the flow of the store
3) set goals and write them down
4) work smarter not harder
5) sell yourself....tell people stories (people love stories) get personal with your people
6) many sales people talk and never listen
7) Never be afraid to ask for the close (people want to be asked if they will buy)
8) if your funny be funny if your not don't :)
9) don't be afraid to ask for advice
10) have your dad build a website to help you generate leads ;-)
Comment by Joey Abna on March 3, 2009 at 8:49am
Treat every up whether its a phone up, walk in, email or referral like the prospect can buy, wants to buy and will buy.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 2, 2009 at 8:44am

Your comment is appreciated... If there is one thing the car business has taught me, it is to communicate and not be afraid of rejection. Being a single dad, trying to raise 2 daughters in a sole custody situation taught me not to be afraid of admitting error and then doing what is necessary to make it right. My daughters taught me that every woman I deal with in business or elsewhere is some other guy's daughter! That lesson learned ends up impacting the way you, as a man who is a father, treats women in the workplace, and as customers.

Then, when you face the VERY uncomfortable time when your daughter(s) start to date young men (believe me, you don't want them dating OLD men when they are 17), you come to the realization that many of your own actions when you were dating girls in HS and college were despicable and cowardly... And THAT can be a VERY humbling realization. Eventually, all those revelations will make most fathers a better man, especially from any woman's perspective.

What does any of this have to do with selling cars? Learning how to be a better father has definitely helped me learn how to be a better salesperson, manager and automotive marketer.
Comment by Bill Playford on March 2, 2009 at 8:21am

Thanks for reaching out. I certainly remember my first days on the lot (and getting stuck with everyone’s leftovers), and I identify with all of the advice that’s been given so far. I’ve seen a lot of turnover in my day (after three years, I quit counting at 27, which is more than 300% turnover at the store I worked at!), so I feel compelled to share some advice. If one of my children were starting in the car business, here’s what I’d share with them:

1.) Spend time getting to know the dealer’s staff (Service Writers, Service Techs, Office Admins, Detailers, Porters, etc). Not only are they (usually) great people to know, but they will also make your life easier. The referrals are nice too!
2.) Show initiative. It doesn’t hurt to turn the lights on in the morning, and lock the door with the Dealer Principal on a Saturday.
3.) Don’t be afraid to call your old customers “out of the blue, just to chat.” Fanatically keep notes about what you learned about your customers during the selling process (Rick’s hot rod Nash, Jenny’s ballet classes, Mike’s youth ministry…). Follow-up is fun when you have a personal relationship with your clients.
4.) Make yourself irreplaceable. Find a niche that is not being filled, and make yourself the best at filling that niche. Whether it’s being a product guru, a walk-around pro, or an Internet selling machine, find an area of improvement, and make it your own.
5.) Don’t be afraid to say no to a client. Evaluate what the sale is worth, beyond the gross. (Are they ever going to refer friends, family, and/or coworkers to you? Will they ever buy another vehicle from you? Are they going to have their vehicles serviced at your store?) Constantly being demoralized by customers puts you on the fast track to a new job.
6.) Don’t give up. Although it’s difficult, don’t measure yourself by your paycheck: measure yourself by your peers. In a business of attrition, the longer you stick with it, the more successful you will be.

I wish Benjamin the best of luck!
Comment by Joe Webb on March 1, 2009 at 10:13pm
First off, Ralph, can I get an ADM card? I promise not to withdrawal more than you can handle...though I will try. Also, as a father of a toddler, I want to tell you how wonderful it was for you to share your personal story with all of us. Only a person with the guts of a car guy could put that out there. Your story definitely reflects the resilience and dedication that this industry can provide. I can only imagine the struggles that you overcame as a father and understand how fathers still believe that if they can simply provide for their family, everything else eventually falls into place. It sounds as if you did what was needed for your daughters to grow into who they are today - better or worse - right or wrong - with no other options - they are stronger for it. Thanks again for sharing your personal experience along with some other great guidelines for keeping your head above water in this industry, being well-rounded, and supporting your interests.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 1, 2009 at 11:23am
Ooops... I meant to write "ATM" card, not ADM card, which is a very important point!
Comment by Ralph Paglia on March 1, 2009 at 11:21am

I know you are probably looking for more advice about selling cars, but I wanted to give you some advice that is strictly from one father to another... The car business is a great profession, it has provided me with a lifetime of income that is greater than 95% of all Americans, and has been the venue for giving me 28 years of experiences that include many which would sound like a Hollywood movie script or an Ernest Hemingway novel... By any measure, income, life experiences and personal rewards, the car business has provided me with far more than I could ever possibly have imagined 28 years ago.

I started selling cars at the age of 23, not much older than your son. If I had to do it all over again, there are only a few things I would change based on what i know now, versus what i knew then. Here's my guidance to YOU in regards to your son:

1. When the monthly wash-out checks come, where commissions are cleared for the prior month. Convince your son to put 50% of his take-home pay from those big(ger) checks into a savings account at a DIFFERENT BANK than where his checking account is at. And make sure it is an account without an ADM card so that your son can only get that money during banking hours. Don't ask me why... If you get him to do it, you'll thank me in a couple of years... This I know from actual experience!

2. If your son lives at home, encourage him to have his new-found car buddy friends visit him at your house and make sure you meet them, and act like a car guy, not his dad. Get to know the people he is hanging around with as a result of his job at the dealership.

3. Visit the dealership where your son works... Introduce yourself to the managers he works for and, if possible, to the dealer or GM. Let them know that you appreciate them providing your son with a job and that you plan on referring car buyers from your network of friends and business associates to the dealership and your son. Give them your business card and tell them that if your son ever let's them down in any way, you want them to call you so you can reinforce whatever guidance their are providing to your son. The reality is, you are setting up an early warning system to be alerted if your son is having any problems you should be aware of, but by stating the cause to be reinforcing management policy you are obligating them to keep you informed.

4. Coach your son on how to work the telephones and make sure he NEVER feels it is the store's responsibility to provide him with floor or showroom ups... Get him to think that it is his responsibility to set his own appointments and if he is slow, then he needs to start working phones, emails, SMS and blog posts to line up appointments that show up at the dealership.

5. At every opportunity, teach your son and then reinforce by having him repeat this simple phrase: "I will never be the last person to speak with a customer who is leaving the dealership without buying a car". Make sure that he knows there is NO EXCUSE for being the last person to speak with a customer who is leaving the dealership without accomplishing what they set out to do when they headed for the dealership. If he tells you that a manager refuses to get out from behind the desk to speak with a customer, advise your son to get another salesperson, a service advisor, the lot attendant, F&I Manager, service cashier, ANYONE to thank that customer for coming in to the dealership.

6. Make sure that your son understands the difference between taking a car buyer out of the market and delivering a vehicle after it is sold. Then ensure that he understands his mission to be taking them out of the market from buying a car from anyone or anywhere else. This can be done a number of ways... Taking a deposit, dehorsing them from their current vehicle and letting them take an overnight test drive, using a CarFax "Be-Back" ticket for a used car buyer, not returning their driver's license, or title to their trade-in, keeping one of their children at the dealership until they come back with the down payment cash, holding their credit card, taking an order for a car that will be built for them or a dealer trade, completing the credit application process and informing the customer that any additional credit inquiries may negatively affect their approval or interest rates, etc. The important thing is to find a way to take every sales opportunity AWAY from the competition and make it exclusively YOURS!

One of the best car salesman I have ever known is my dear friend Danny Alkassmi... I met him when he came to San Diego after emigrating from Damascus, Syria with his brother, David and their family friend Ami Kherallah... All three of them worked for me when I was a floor closer. None of them would let a customer go unless the other two and me had already spoken to them. We sold more cars month in and month out than any other 4 people I have ever seen, and that includes 28 years of experience. By the time each customer had met all 4 of us, we either sold a car or guaranteed they would be back before they bought anywhere else. Today, more than ever before it will be a team selling approach that determines the winners. The lone gun man car salesman will never be able to maximize his or her sales productivity.

I am sure that you will get lots of sage and tactical advice from the other ADM professionals responding to your post... As a father whose daughters grew up in car dealerships, because their mother took off when they were 6 and 8 years old, and it was the only way I could spend time with my girls, plus saving big money on sitters, I can tell you that one of the most important things you can do for your son is reinforce and instill the confidence in him to be able to proudly say "I sell cars for a li8ving". Every week, when i am plane flights to meet with and negotiate deals with senior executives at car companies from the USA, Asia and Germany, when the person sitting next to me on that plane asks me what i do, I tell them "I sell cars for a living"... Because just like your son, if I do not find ways to get people into car dealerships to buy a new or used vehicle, I will not be able to earn a living.

In my opinion, the single greatest risk from a father's perspective in having a 20 year old son selling cars is that he makes so much money that he is tempted towards making lifestyle decisions that have a negative effect on his present and future... If he is a 1 out of 10 success story, then he will initially be out of balance in his lifestyle, with his career receiving the highest priority in his life. This is OK while he is single... But sooner or later he will meet a pretty girl who will capture his heart. If he is lucky, she will force him to eventually get m,ore balance into his work/personal/family lifestyle habits... If he is not lucky, he will lose her because of his commitment to work and career, and he will repeat the pattern several times getting his heart broken each time. I am convinced that for some of us, selling cars is like booze is to an alcoholic... We do not know when to stop, and selling our next car can become an obsession that more important than our love life or family.

I have been married 3 times and been forced to raise two daughters without their mother's assistance and supervision after she abandoned all 3 of us... All because I was making too much money selling cars to be able to see how important it was to invest time in my family... Moving them around the country every time a better career opportunity came my way, without any consideration for their wants or desires... Always placing career and getting the job done at a higher priority than my family... Until my daughters forced me to see what was really more important, and by then it was time for them to go out and establish their own family lives. My daughters, Sarah and Rachel are now 28 and 26 years old, each being blessed with a beautiful daughter and incredibly wonderful husbands... I do believe that growing up in car dealerships made them both become much better judges of character in men, and that is partly why they are both married to men that Oprah Winfrey would find adorable... And both of whom couldn't sell a car if their lives depended on it! Although it is entertaining to watch them order their husbands around and get them to do anything they need, and I am thankful that each of these two men keep my daughters happy, which is something I always found to be quite a challenge. Sarah celebrated her 10th anniversary in January and her daughter Alexis turned 9 this past December... Alexis works me over the phone better than any BDC rep I have ever known. Rachel lives with her husband in Santa Fe, NM with my other granddaughter, Audra who will be 6 years old in April. I suppose that Rachel's husband's biggest problems being related to always owing the IRS too much money is probably the kind of problems a father-in-law would rather have, but we all would prefer perfection for our children.

I am fortunate to have met my current (and until I die) wife, who is strong enough to keep me pointed in the right direction, which includes a little more balance... I am still a workaholic, but she keeps me from becoming a psychotic workaholic!

Yes, Paul... The good news is that your son has a job... The bad news is that if he becomes too good at it, you may lose him to his own passionate pursuit of professional success. Just remember to honk and wave when you drive by the dealership he works at!
Comment by Philip Zelinger on March 1, 2009 at 7:31am
Hey Paul,

First, my compliments on having a son who values his father's accomplishments and aspires to follow in his foot steps. That said - you can't drive a car looking in the rear view mirror so his next steps in building a career that will survive in his generation of "car guys/gals" is critical. My counsel may actually differ a little from my fellow ADM members but the car business of tomorrow needs new blood and it will provide new and better opportunities from a generation not limited by old habits and practices that can easily contaminate someone just getting into the business.

A six month "history" lesson is an excellent start to learning current selling procesess in the "real world" brick and mortar dealership as well as the developing online "virtual" showrooms that will absolutely dominate the landscape - and career opportunities - of the future. The unique "personalities" that still exist on both sides of the "negotiation" table in the car business will impact his opportunity to succeed now and in the future so he needs to listen and learn from them - as long as he learns what to keep and what to throw away!

The education that he will get on human nature is critical and there is no faster track to learn about people than in a car dealership. Human nature survivies in both the real and the virtual world so the people and commincation skills that he aquires will serve as the foundation of his career. Most of today's generation - I know that makes me sound old but that is an example of how human nature is not a generational trait - assumes that they know everything. His first impulse will be to ignore the advice of the "old car guys" that are likely going to be his managers so my first advice is to listen and learn and not throw the baby out with the bath water. There will be kernels of truth and wisdom in what they teach and his job will be to sort out the keepers and politely and with "political correction" filter out the dated advice. The phrase "when in Rome" applies even though it is hard to follow directions that you don't agree with but that is part of the lesson in human nature that he must learn to survive to become a manager himself so he can follow his own path. Until then - just go with the flow so you can survive to sell another day.

A "career" in the car busines is no different than any profession. Like a doctor, lawyer or engineer he must learn the facts and then how to apply them in his trade to justify someone exchanging cash for his services. The only difference is that a car salesperon can learn enough in six months to earn more than the doctor, lawyer or engineer so I respect his career choice!

Now comes the part that may not fit with the history lessons already posted and the succes stories that had value yesterday but will be hard to repeat tomorrow due to the ever changing auto industry and its new technology driven future. My advice to raise the ceiling and opportunities for your son in the car business would be that after six months of hard work of listening, learning and doing whatever he is told that he should GET OUT OF RETAIL!

Take the lessons and experience you have learned and open your own business! Why limit yourself to someone else's vision and dictate? Today's Internet, process and technology/application driven auto industry allows a true professional to reach beyond the confines of a single auto dealership or brand into a virtual shoroom that exists on the World Wide Web.

If he has the retail chops, open an eBay dealership and start selling vehicles one at a time by offering an online outlet to local dealerships to help them sell their aged inventory on a "virtual consignment" basis until he has the money and minimum display space needed to get his own dealer license.. If he needs a guaranteed paycheck then find a new cutting edge application and vendor that can attact a national market of consumers or dealers - or even other vendors - ang get into the mainstream of the new cash flow artery in the car business.

Basically, follow in your footsteps by taking his retail "real world" experience of yesterday he learns today and apply them to the "virtual world" of tomorrow without the restrictions of being and employee. America, and the car business, rewards entrepreneurs so find your passion and go where others can only follow. The future of the car business has yet to be written but I guarantee you that the path will be online - not on car row!

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