It's a freelance life for me. Or how to get burned in the car business without really trying.

I don't generally post too much about myself. I try to keep it car related, and this falls in to that category. But this has been simmering in my conscious for the last six months and I have to get it out.  I have worked in the car business for about 20 years now for a variety of dealers representing all of the big three and many import and exotic brands like Porsche, Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda and Audi. Yet following my heart to work for dealers representing brands I am passionate about wasn't always the best choice for me in the long run. The first one was a Ford dealer that closed in 2006 when Ford was starting to tighten their belts prior to the industry collapse. That then led to me working at a dealership only to be downsized out of the store when everything went to hell. That then led to a stint in selling life insurance followed by some time at a dealer group that was sold and brought in their own staff, essentially kicking me back out.

I've had interviews with other dealers in the past. And a lot of them I find don't really know what to do with someone who has a long term work history in the business who has held every job there is that also has an MBA. That is unless maybe to get some free consultation of their business while dangling the prospect of full time employment carrot at the end of a line. What am I on about? Here's the story.

In November of 2015 I approached one of the largest dealer groups in Pittsburgh with my resume. I got an email the following day from this dealer's Vice President of Operations wanting to meet with me as soon as possible. My initial phone call and reply email were not responded to as quickly, but was responded to. In that time he managed to forget who I was or that he had seen my resume and we had to start all over from scratch (strike 1). After sending my resume back I got a call that he wanted to meet but was short on a scheduled time as his wife was having a baby and was due to go in to labor at any time. So we played it by ear on getting together and when we finally did it was a few days in to December. Well, more like 11 days in we were set up to meet. Finally December 14th his wife is in pre labor but he will be at one of the dealerships near me so we set aside some time.

I showed up early as I always do. No one in the dealership knows if he is there. So I end up waiting for about 40-45 minutes while they track him down. After meeting him, I knew he had walked past me at least 4 times. We talked about my back ground and where I was looking to be in my career and what the dealership was looking to do. The job we ended up falling on as a good fit was to take over the Internet departments for two Lexus dealerships they own. We had talked for two hours and really hit it off. He and I both had a similar background and weren't far off in age. He asked me to put together a plan of what I would do essentially starting these departments from scratch and we would get together again and discuss. No problem, I have already had success and lots of manufacturer training on Internet departments as that is where I have specialized the last few years of my career. We agreed that I would put together a plan over the next week and we would meet after that.

With no info from him on what either of their stores did in terms of handling their online sales and marketing efforts, I took it upon myself to mystery shop them and about 8 other Lexus dealers in the neighboring cities and states so that I could get a base line of who does what well. This was paired with my proven success track of how I have run similar departments and what I would have each one doing on a day to day basis as well as my findings from mystery shopping and where these dealerships fell. It was an extensive report that involved hours of my time to compile. I sent my report and asked when we could meet again. Radio silence. I knew that we were now approaching the holidays and that it wouldn't likely happen until after Christmas that we would meet again. So I kept on top of it as this was the best prospect that I had going for me at the time. At this point now, my emails and phone calls which in the past had been responded to if not immediately would be returned quickly. New Years comes and goes, so January 1st I decide to try texting him. I get a response finally that he received my report and needed til the end of the week. As he put it, his wife should have delivered the baby by then (? strike 2). Two more weeks go by, emails and phone calls still go unanswered. Finally a response comes talking about being a salesman came on January 15th, which wasn't what we discussed at all. I laid it on the line at this point about what we had discussed and what the position was supposed to be for. Again, no response. Texts and emails and phone calls January 22, 23, 25th all again go with no response.

Finally I get a reply email on the 26th.

" Albert,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. The snow storm along with other pressing duties that come with the territory had me behind last week into yesterday. 
That said, I appreciate your feedback and tenacity. However, I'm choosing to go in a different direction. 
Best of luck to you. "
 
Really? That's the best that I can get? A snow storm can actually stop someone from just giving a short reply to an email? 
 
In my initial homework of this dealergroup, I had asked some colleagues in the business and several said to me that if I want to get somewhere with this dealership, I need to talk to John Doe (I'm purposely leaving his name out). So in doing that, and the fact that HE was the person who initially responded to me, I knew that it was fate that brought the two of us to meet. And being the trusting person that I am, believing that people will do the right thing. I got burned big time. One of my contacts that I had asked about this dealergroup was the one that ended up getting the job that I was after. I don't hold any grudges against him, he didn't know I was getting sand bagged by the other guy. 

So what did I learn from this? I learned that while there are still some good people that work in car dealerships, there are still lots of scumbags looking to take advantage of people. Be it customers, employees or prospects. I wasted close to 40 hours of my time analyzing an operation and did essentially what would have cost the dealer to do for $3,000 to $5,000 for free. Live and learn.


Comments

Auto Unik said…
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Neeraj said…
Thank You very much for sharing your experience. Thanks again for sharing it, for your attempt to save other peoples time as well. In case you need car dealership apps