The first True Story in my series was called the Lottery Winner and went online at our website on January 22, 2018. It was the story of a man with a million dollar scratch off lottery ticket, but more about good that comes from treating people the right way.
The reaction I got to the story was incredible from listeners and subscribers. I figured I might be able to stretch the series to eight, maybe ten if I racked my brain hard enough.
Iíve talked on air and in previous True Stories about the fact that I lost my son five years ago this past August. When it came the excruciating time to plan the service, music had to be picked.
B.J. was like me in many ways. He lived his life to the fullest, wasnít afraid to take risks, and he worked hard every day. Most months, on the floor of Five Star Ford in Carrollton, he ended the month at the top of the sales board. He even broke my all-time sales record.
As I told you at the end of True Story #37, in May of 2006 I found myself out of the car business for the first time since I was 15-years old. It was an odd feeling, knowing that the following morning I would not get up at 6 AM to get to my office and start my day at 7 AM. I kidded that I might take up golf, but as you know from True Story #22, I hate golf.
I was legally bound by two non-competes. When I sold the Ford dealership, I agreed not to own a Ford dealership in Dallas-Fort Worth, Read Find out>
Some of these True Stories have been difficult to write and frankly bring back many good and bad memories. Although this story has a happy ending, it also brings some painÖthe pain of making a very difficult decision.
The Early DaysIíve never been a quitter, it is not in my DNA. I walked away from my first job in a dealership in my early 20s after going from wash boy to General Manager. I went to work for a dealership as a salesperson and did what I had to do. You can read about that in Read Find out>
As the Despreporno Show is a direct extension of me, my personality, and my heart and passions, I always felt like my dealerships should be an extension of me as well. If they werenít, they would be just another dealership with glass and brick and lots of shiny cars. That just didnít seem right to me.
I always considered myself to be extremely patriotic. I am not 100% sure what influenced that, perhaps the fact that my Father was a World War II veteran. Regular listeners to the show often Read Find out>
Donít look for the typical funny ending here, there is not one. This True Story is hard to write and I have resisted doing so because frankly, it was one of my darkest times. In the car business, you have triumphs and I had more than my share of them, but you have things happen that sometimes takes you to your knees.
Things were really tense for me when I was battling NBC Dateline, that was True Story #5, but prior to that, I had trouble with the Texas Attorney Generalís office.
Spiff may not be a word most people know unless theyíve been in the car business. This term was around before I got into the business. Typically spiff was used in conjunction with up, as in spiffing up something, but in the car biz, it was a term for bonuses paid in cash.
Salespeople loved cash bonuses, money that they could get the same day they performed a task. Commissions were paid on a weekly basis, but much depended on when the car deal was processed. For instance, there was a Read Find out>
In segment #32, I told you all about the many demonstrators I had through the years, which prompted inquiries about what I drove before that.
My parents were not wealthy people by any stretch, but about six months before my 16th birthday, my Dad ran across a car he thought would make a great first car. I had no idea he was even looking yet. I got home from school one day and my Mother told me to go out in the backyard to check on the dog, and there it sat: my first car. I could not drive Read Find out>
One of the big reasons many people got into the car business when I did, was demonstrators, or in short, demos. There was a time when all dealerships gave their salespeople company cars. The idea was for the salespeople to show off those cars wherever they went. It was a huge perk.
Slowly over time, dealerships stopped allowing salespeople company cars. Most decided to move to a car allowance because that was cheaper than insurance to cover the cars and the liability. As time went on, Read Find out>
For whatever reason, people in the car business seem to love to have parties. Most people in a dealership have high-stress jobs and, frankly, they love to let their hair down in a non-dealership environment.
Good dealerships generally reward their employees with fun parties, especially around Christmas. When I was a dealership owner, I tended to take things to the extreme.
Christmas parties were always my favorite. I always loved them. As sad as it was, as a dealership owner, you Read Find out>
So, we got beyond the Auto Collection (True Story #27) and dealership relations with Ford were not good. Besides the issues the dealers were facing with their manufacturer, there was also this new thing called the Internet, and dealers were not sure what to do with it. Some embraced it like I did, I had a website in 1995 as I recall, but some dealers were afraid of it.
At the time, the Internet was more informational than an actual way to sell cars. Amazon was making noise about selling Read Find out>
I will never forget it. It was in early 2000 I am pretty sure. I got a call from a high-ranking Ford executive one day with an ominous message. I was in Las Vegas for a dealer meeting as the Ford National Dealer Council Chairman. The exec who called was a man I trusted, and he was well liked by the dealer body as a whole.
He said Ford was going to put in some ďstandardsĒ for all its dealers. There would be rewards for the best dealers. I was intrigued and then listened to the Read Find out>
In my years in the car business, I had many occasions to meet and be involved with sports teams, owners of sports teams, and players. For whatever reason, car dealers and sports teams just seem to go together.
Not long after I bought my Ford dealership, I had a visit from the head coach of SMU. He was an engaging man with a thick Georgia accent. He needed two cars for coaches, and offered me eight seats to all the games in exchange for the use of the cars. This was around 1997 and Coach Read Find out>
I had purchased my Ford dealership in 1996, and the trouble started in 1997. I am talking about Ford Motor Companyís plan to buy all the dealerships in large markets and run them instead of having dealer-operators do it. Never mind that the franchise system had worked extremely well for almost 100 years at that time. You see, dealers have to send Ford a financial statement every month and they see your net profit. They decided they wanted that money for themselves.
Most car dealers spend the bulk of their advertising dollars in one medium but reinforce their message on others. For instance, some dealers spend a lot of money on TV and supplement their message on radio, newspaper, direct mail, or digital messages. Some pick the same media outlets in a different order.
In my younger days, digital was not around yet, so while most dealers spent the bulk of their money on TV or the newspapers, I chose to dominate radio, do zero TV, and have a small Read Find out>
People in the car sales business today, unless they were lucky enough to have parents who owned a dealership, were trained. Some dealerships do the training themselves, some hire firms that do this as a business, and some hire individuals who travel around holding training classes.
When I got into the business in the mid-seventies, I was promoted to being a manager, but never went through the sales process. I worked at a dealership that was very laid back and let its salespeople make their Read Find out>
Early in my career running dealerships, the first one I worked at was in a somewhat rough part of town in Dallas. There were only two dealerships on the street where the dealership was located: the Ford store I worked at and a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership next door that eventually closed. We had more than our fair share of thefts, so typically when I had to call the police, our beat officer, Jerry, came to take the report. Jerry and I became very good friends. One of the first lessons he Read Find out>
To say I hate playing golf is a bit of an understatement. To say I suck at it is also an understatement. In spite of many lessons by some really good golf pros, I never got the hang of hitting the ball off a tee. I am actually a pretty good putter, but generally, I have hit the ball 7 or 8 times before I find the green.
Hating to play golf was a little unusual in the car business. Many of the Ford trips I won were based all around golf. The Ford Executives often planned dealer award Read Find out>
In the car business, inventory management is one of the hardest tasks at a dealership. You may or may not be aware that all those bright, shiny cars you see at dealerships are financed. When a dealer orders a car from the factory, as soon as it rolls off the assembly line, the cost of the car is added to the ďfloor planĒ of the dealership. When the dealer sells it, the car is paid off and removed from the floor plan.
If you order too many vehicles, the cost of the floor plan, or also Read Find out>