Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
I’m not really sure when the first time was that I heard somebody curse or that I even knew that it was a curse word at the time. I assume the first time I probably cursed myself was sometime in my teens, all the knuckleheads I hung around with did so of course I didn’t want to be odd man out… that's when it all began.
Nobody cussed on TV and none of the movies I was allowed to go see had any cussing in them, can’t recall hearing either one of my parents cuss, well maybe if my dad got home real late from a “meeting.”
Locker rooms were a perfect place for cussing, coaches, players, it was manly to curse, and the more blatant the word used at the right time in the exact right part of a sentence with the exact right tonality became an art form, of sorts.
Then I went to college, well sort of went to college as I recall. It’s a bit of a foggy part of my life that we may discuss on future post but I know we cussed a lot there.
Then I got into the car business, I started in the wash bay working with an old guy that I can clearly remember two things about, he had stubs for fingers due to working at a stamping plant for years and man could he cuss, he gave me an entire new repertoire of words and usage.
Next, I worked in the body shop and those guys liked to sneak a nip during the day, that mixed with the paint fumes made for some real colorful conversations. Next stop was the service department as a service writer, surrounded by tech’s in a big garage with high ceilings and lots of echo, made a great place to cuss and have the words amplify throughout the garage, EVERYBODY got to hear those, customers included.
Taking a guess at total number of times I have cussed in my 60 years, 40 of which have been in the car business, 10,000 plus (sounds like Wilt Chamberlain in regard to another matter…whoa!).
Then there was the sales department, but, maybe it was just the time period and it doesn’t happen anymore on showroom floors…. HA! It was so out of hand one manager called himself “Jim Joesph Andrew Mother ****ing Boni” really, no ***t!
I never thought much about it, I never cussed in front of a customer but I also didn’t really take any notice of who may be around me and over hear what I was saying or the “conversation” that was taking place between me and other salespeople.
The General Manager at one store I sold at would actually walk past my office when I was with a customer, drop his pants, and moon me while I was working a deal!
My first management position in a big city dealership was a complete cussin bonanza! Fifteen managers, 40 salespeople and with the possible exception of one salesperson who was a part time minister, there wasn’t a sentence spoken about any subject at anytime that somebody didn’t drop one of the & words you can’t say on TV **it, *iss, **ck, **nt, ****sucker, mothe****er, and **ts Figure it out…
The meetings were classic in terms of cussing, degrading, intimidation and flat out F bomb festivals, not dissimilar to a Glengarry Glen Ross Meeting:
Blake: What’s the problem, pal?
Dave Moss: You - [correcting him]
Dave Moss: Moss. You’re such a hero, you’re so rich, how come you’re coming down here wasting your time with such a bunch of bums?
Blake: You see this watch? You see this watch?
Dave Moss: Yeah.
Blake: That watch costs more than you car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see pal, that’s who I am, and you’re nothing. Nice guy? I don’t give a **it. Good father? **ck you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here – close! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you ****sucker? You can’t take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don’t like it, leave.
Blake: You got leads. Mitch & Murray paid good money. Get their names to sell them. You can’t close the leads you’re given, you can’t close **it, *you are* **it, hit the bricks pal, and beat it, ’cause you are going *out*.
Shelley Levene: The leads are weak.
Blake: “The leads are weak.” The ****ing leads are weak? You’re weak. I’ve been in this business fifteen years…
Dave Moss: What’s your name?
Blake: ***k you. That’s my name. [Moss laughs]
Blake: You know why, mister? ‘Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an eighty thousand dollar BMW. *That’s* my name.
I’m motivated now, how about you?
We actually had customers call and complain and they were told to **** off.
Well Craig those were the “old days” that doesn’t happen anymore in our industry… BULL****! I have 27 trainers that travel the country each week that will tell you differently, mom and pop stores, publicly traded operations, it’s still everywhere and it’s a problem and big one at that.
CUSTOMERS HEAR US!!!!!!!!!
Most everything we do because of what we have done in the past has been regulated by the government, do they need to actually come in and regulate the language that we use at the dealership now as well for it to change?
It’s uncomfortable for both your internal and external customers, both customers AND employees. Do you wonder why you have turnover? I’ll bet that some of it is based on both the cussing and the culture at your store, no wonder why you can’t or don’t hire female salespeople!
"Well Craig nobody seems to have an issue with it at my dealership…" Really? Come on man, if that’s even close to being true then you probably are the worst offender and that is a dealership my family isn’t going to come to buy a car from, and I certainly don’t want to work there.
About 12 years ago in the early years of AutoMax Recruiting and Training I can remember vividly doing a recruiting/training campaign at a dealership, I sat down with the GM to make sure we were on the same page, what he was looking for, HR policies, training etc. and I mentioned I needed a room to interview applicants in with a closed door. He said he didn’t have one other than his office, so I proceeded to ask him for his to use which he promptly replied "F*** you". This guy truly could not under any circumstance go one sentence without using the f word at least once and loudly as well.
Well, I begin to interview people on the showroom floor, him in his office on the phone or “talking” to salespeople about a deal and every 2 minutes INCOMING F BOMB! And each time that echoed through the showroom my applicant would flinch like they just got punched in the arm.
After about 5 of those I moved my “interview room” into a van on the showroom.
We all get so ***sed off about how people perceive our business, yet we do little to change it unless it’s regulated… come on man!
"Ok, Craig, you’re right, maybe it is an issue at my store, how do I stop it?"
Cuss jar? Somebody cusses and they throw $10 bucks in the jar and we have a HUGE party at the end of the month? Ummm, no, doesn’t work, people just walk in, stuff a $10 in the jar, and let loose. Heck the money from that jar could take care of your ad budget for the following month.
Want to really make this change in your dealerships culture? You may need to shock them, and I mean really shock them.
Let’s say you rarely cuss, if at all, take all your employees into a meeting and cuss up a storm, I mean really let loose… (Check with your HR department before executing this move.) Your people hearing those words coming out of your mouth just might re-set the tone for the dealership, followed up of course with how inappropriate it is and you will not tolerate it from this moment on, PERIOD!
When I bring on new trainers to AutoMax the very first thing I do is write several four letter words on a white board and ask each person to use that word in a sentence, they all look at me weird, and it’s uncomfortable for most.
When they all have finished I tell them that is the very last time those words will be spoken during the training and that is their only warning. I also tell them that no matter how much they hear a person cuss at a dealership that they are recruiting and training at, do NOT get involved in that language, even if they are cussing up a storm.
That too far outside your comfort zone? Then make it a policy and fire the very first offender no matter who it is, the higher up the dealership food chain the better.
Need another movie example?
Jim Young: They say money can’t buy happiness? Look at the F***ing smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby.
Jim Young: Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn’t F***ing have any.
Or take any movie ever made about the car biz and it’s littered with every foul word known to man, you guys really want it to be like this?
Look, I am FAR from perfect in regard to this matter, I hook one into the woods, miss a 3 foot putt, drop something on my foot or have somebody screw something up for the fifth time and I can still cut loose with one for sure, but I am ever cognizant of what I say, how I use the vocabulary I now have, shouldn’t we all?
Our employees and customers deserve better, let’s give to them.