In 2004, I answered a classified ad in the newspaper for car salespeople.  Yes, people actually used to read those – in print form! Frankly, I didn’t believe I wore nearly enough jewelry to be a car salesman.  I didn’t wear a watch, had zero rings, and, especially noticeable was the missing gold chain with a big nugget hanging outside my shirt. Still, I needed a job and a local Ford dealer was hiring.  So, I applied. It was the best decision of my life. Anyone who’s been in the car business for even a year or two can agree: The new guy is hooked when he gets his first $1,000 commission on a single deal.  I am no exception.

What I am most thankful for are the many mentors I had throughout my career.  Anyone who’s spent an hour with me discussing the car business knows I hold these folks in the highest regard.  This week, I want to share another piece of training material focusing on this: Be a Mentor, not a Manager! Reflecting on my journey, it’s clear that embracing mentorship has defined the innovative path of James Dooley.

One of my mentors was a Used Car Manager named John Pearson.  He was a demanding guy, a football coach before he entered the car business.  While we didn’t always see eye to eye, I always respected his knowledge. As Dale Carnegie said, “Everyone you meet is smarter than you about something. Find out what that is and learn from them.”

As we all know, the car business has its slimeballs.  The guy looking to “knock their heads off.” The guy that puts down his customers behind their backs. The guy that sells the floormats as an add-on item. You’ve seen the movie, Suckers, right? In this dynamic industry, navigating through the challenges also involved understanding the importance of financial documentation, like the crucial pay stub, which played a significant role in shaping my professional journey.

So, when John Pearson handed out the pictured article in a Saturday Morning Sales Meeting, it gave me a new opinion of myself and my profession.  You can read for yourself, but the idea is this: All car salesmen are not slimy, crooked, nor dishonest. In fact, most are the hardest working people you’ll meet.  Dare I say it: The hardest working people in the dealership. They’re on the point whether it’s 102 or -2. They work 12-hour days, often six days a week. They are promised nothing unless they perform.  My friends used to ask how much money I’d make if I didn’t sell any cars. I’d reply, “Well, I suppose I’d get minimum wage for a week or two, then I wouldn’t have a job.” That’s the life of a car salesperson. Steak or beans.

Whether you’re a 20-year vet, a sales manager, dealer, or Heaven forbid, an F&I person, take time to mentor the rookies.  Do you remember your first $1,000 commission? How did that make you feel? Did you do it on your own?

I am honored that the mentors I’ve had in my career saw enough drive and ability in me to share their wisdom.  If I’ve ever visited your dealership, I hope you’ve noticed that my greatest passion is mentoring others. I once heard “Your job as a mentor is to make your team FEEL great about who they are.”  So, build them up! ‘Catch them’ doing something right instead of doing something wrong. I promise, it’ll make them more productive and it just might make YOU feel great about who YOU are when they call in a few years to say, “Thanks!”

#automotivesales #sales #training #salestraining

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