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I’m a 24-year-old, female car salesman. Or saleswoman, I guess.
I graduated from college two years ago, and I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I traveled abroad for awhile. When I got back about a year ago, I was beyond broke. I had $17 in my bank account when I landed, so I knew I had to find a job immediately. I applied to hundreds of job on Craigslist. I didn’t even remember that I’d applied to work at a car dealership, until they called me in.
There was a guaranteed salary for the first two months, which meant you’d make $2000 a month regardless of how many cars you sell. Now, I make money strictly on commission. At the time, I didn’t know anything about cars, and I’d never sold anything in my life, but I figured I’d take the $4000 and keep looking for other jobs.
The first month was pretty awful. I’m the only woman, and I’m much younger than everyone else — the guys are mostly in their 30s and up. And they’d all been selling cars forever. So it’s a total boys’ club. When I’d walk into a room, it would fall totally silent. Whether they were talking about cars, football or some woman in the showroom, they didn’t want to talk about it in front of me.
At first, I felt that since I had a college degree I was entitled to a better career, or something. When people asked me what my profession was, I didn’t like telling them I was selling cars.
But after a month I started to get along with everyone. I started to love it. And I sell a lot of cars.
I see now that being the only woman at the dealership is actually really powerful. When people come to buy a car, they feel like they’re going to be hustled. I look less intimidating, and it can make customers feel comfortable and relaxed. I am now one of top sellers each month, and my bosses compliment my sales style all the time.
As a woman, I do get passes made at me all the time. People are insulting. I tend to shrug it off, but my coworkers get very defensive. They treat me like a little sister. But I also get away with wearing whatever I want. The guys have to wear suits, but they have absolutely no concept of what appropriate professional attire is for a young woman, so I can wear black skinny jeans most of the time.
I always say there should be a show like The Office called The Dealership. It would be amazing.
It’s a weird industry. The weirdest. I recently went on a test drive with a guy who was carrying a gun. And I’ve had some bizarre customers. Recently, I was nearly abducted by a customer. An older man came in and wanted to test out all these different cars. Normally, the test drives are less than twenty minutes. This one was going much longer. He started saying he needed a woman to take care of him, and that I was cute, and that I should take care of him. It was incredibly creepy. Then he tried to cross the state line into another state. I had to beg him to turn around.
You can make more money selling used cars, but I still prefer to sell new ones. With a new car, typically we can only mark it up about $1000 from what the dealership pays for it. I make 25% commission. With a used car, you can mark it up more, because people just want to get rid of their old cars and they’ll sell it to you at a lower price. We can mark up the old cars a few thousand dollars more, even if the overall price is lower. But selling old cars requires a lot of reports that can be a pain to assemble.
Selling cars is very personal. First of all, you’re spending about two hours with someone, and you’re also seeing a lot about this person’s personal and private life. You are seeing their pay stubs and their credit scores, and then they’re explaining that their house was repossessed three years ago and that’s why their credit’s so bad. There’s a lot of up and down — people are really defensive, saying they deserve a better interest rate or something, and then five minutes later they’re telling you their whole emotional life story.
There’s something many car dealers don’t realize — when a couple comes in, you have to sell to the wife. The woman is making the decision 90% of the time. The wife always has to approve it. Also, whenever a married person buys a new car for himself or herself, you can expect the spouse will be getting one too within 6 months. I always keep in touch with those people.
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