I was inspired to write this based on the video that was posted on here, "Long day at the car dealership."


Salespeople selling vehicles in a car dealership can work some long hours as we all know. A 40 hour work week is unheard of for salespeople in this business (there are exceptions to all the rules). 50, 60, or even 70 hours a week is more the norm. A 70 hour work week combined with a paycheck that is less than an hourly employee at McDonalds equates to a quick causality, and another “turnover” in terms of salespeople.

Most salespeople will complain about the hours and how long they have to “work” in order to make a decent paycheck. But my question is always, “How much work are you doing?” The answers are always, “Well, I worked 65 hours last week. But the week before that I worked 70 hours. Hell, I never work less than 60 hour work weeks.”

Then I’ll ask, “So give me an example of a couple of days that you worked.”  The answers are all pretty much the same or a variation of the following: ” I got in at 9:00 AM. I made my follow up calls and sent out my emails out. I caught an “Up” and tried to sell a car.” Maybe they caught two ups and sold one. Or maybe they didn’t catch any ups for the day. But the days for most salespeople are all the same. They might be at the dealership for a 12 hour day or an 8 hour day, but how much time did they really “work?”

Is waiting outside the dealership for an Up really work? In my opinion the answer is a resounding NO! Is talking to fellow salespeople about last night’s game work even though it’s while you’re scheduled in on the floor? Nope! Is studying product considered work? Not in my opinion. What about reading a non fictional motivational book on closing deals while you’re scheduled on the floor? Another “no” in my book.

So how do I define work? It consists of two little actions; no more, no less. You’re either face to face with a prospect trying to sell a vehicle, or you’re trying to get face to face with a prospect to sell a vehicle. Reading books, walking the lot, doing product knowledge or waiting for an up doesn’t qualify as “work” in my book. You don’t get paid for showing up as a salesperson in a car dealership. You don’t get an hourly paycheck or a salary. They get paid for results; sales combined with gross profit. The only way to do that is to be in front of a prospect face to face, or tying to get in front of a prospect face to face.

If a salesperson is scheduled for a 10 hour day by the above definition of work, how much time does a salesperson really work on an average day? Two to three hours maybe during the week, and that’s probably generous. How many salespeople work a 12 hour day during the week and don’t work at all or very little? Too many in my book. Multiply that by the entire sales staff and you’ve got a plethora of wasted hours, and an underperforming store.

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Comment by Joe Clementi on June 11, 2012 at 11:06am

Well done Scott.  We have five simple productivity rules, the salesperson is either:

1. with a customer

2. preparing for a customer

3. prospecting for a customer

4. following up with a customer and/or

5. building product knowledge so that they can present to a customer.

Results are directly tied into the effort!


Comment by Scott Klein on June 6, 2012 at 5:00pm

You're so right Allan...My bad. That damn dyslexia got me again. (-:

Comment by Allan R Mullins on June 6, 2012 at 4:22pm

Actually Scott, I never said 'tell them' what to do, I said we need to 'Show them' what to do. "it's showing them how"- case in point. We could all be better at understanding how to allow all of us to be better by seeking first to understand and then be understood.

Comment by Scott Klein on June 6, 2012 at 3:40pm

I couldn't agree more Michael. Knowing your inventory like the back of your hand is crucial. I preach walking the lot at least three times a day.

Comment by Michael Del Priore on June 6, 2012 at 3:33pm

I agree. However I do feel training and knowing your inventory is important. By knowing your product better than the salesperson at a competeior could help towards the sale with the prospect. Also, knowing your own inventory helps land the sale vs the lazy salesperson helps towards the sale.

Comment by Scott Klein on June 6, 2012 at 2:33pm

I love your philosophy Anthony. If salespeople would come in and "work," they could spend less time at the dealership, make more money, and have more fun.

Telling them what to do doesn't work either like you said Allan. We need to lead by example which is the problem with most managers; they really never did what they tell their salespeople to do.

I'm not implying that they need to work 24/7 either Patrick. Family time is family time not work time. But time management is the key. Hell, a salesperson could make a CD of a particular vehicle that they wanted to learn (or a close, or another language for that matter), and listen to it on their commute to and from work. Within a week they'd have it memorized. I memorized over 500 prodigious and mellifluous (how’s that for a fancy word?) words one year on my commute to work just because I wanted to better myself. Now people think I have a PHD and a BS (LOL), but the reality is, I’m a college dropout that was labeled “mentally retarded” for my myriad learning deficiencies in elementary school. So if I can do it…(-;

And you are so right Joe. The J.O.B. mentality is a recipe for failure in this business. One foot in and one foot out usually equates to both feet being out. This just isn’t a career, it’s a bona fide business opportunity that you own and take ownership of. It’s like buying a franchise, but without having a monetary investment (of course if you run it like a real business there will be a monetary investment at some point). It doesn’t get any better than that!



Comment by Scott Hengtgen on June 6, 2012 at 2:08pm

Patrick one does not have to work 12 hours a day to make a good living in the car business. When you have pro-active management and good leadership a salesoerson can make a good living working 8 hour days and still have fun. We as leaders need to change the culture in the dealership and recruit career minded people.

Comment by Joe Webb on June 6, 2012 at 1:30pm

You're right on, Scott.  The reason I made the video "Long Day at the Car Dealership" is because far too many salespeople in our industry only consider it their job rather than their career.  If people recognized that this industry is where they want to (and should) stay, they need to be proactive.  They must embrace their technology, communicate their own personal brand through multiple mediums, fill up their own pipeline, value the CRM and find customers to retain, involve themselves in the other departments, and take ownership of all the time they spend in-store.

Comment by Patrick Downes on June 6, 2012 at 1:16pm

Thanks Scott, I think you make some valid points, but how is it supposed to "work"? These not to be trusted children are supposed to spend their 12 hours getting people in, then go home and ignore their families so they can do their product knowledge and self motivation in the other 12 hours?  If salespeople want to"work" 2 hours a day then that's the manager's fault, and if there's no foot traffic there's plenty of responsibility to share. You can't be effective by phone and email 100% of the time so we actively encourage our staff to be 100% prepared when a prospect presents itself by updating their knowledge, learning new closes or sharing positive experiences. Sometimes we just say screw it and have some fun!

Comment by Allan R Mullins on June 6, 2012 at 1:08pm

I don't really think getting salespeople to work is the challenge, it's showing them how. How many dealerships and managers hold their people accountable for work related activities. Many salespeople are so lacking in training on how to do their job correctly and efficiently and how many managers are trained on truly how to be leaders. Downsizing in many stores had caused many managers to have to do so many things not related to selling cars. As one who visits stores weekly, we have to get back to basics- tracking showroom activities (ups,demo's,TO's, Write-ups), phone/internet activities (leads,appts set-kept-sold) and get back to holding daily Save-a-Deal meetings. There is a lot of talent in dealerships today, very few are lazy and they all want to succeed if they're going to spend 60-70 hours a week at the store. We need to help everyone on the team to achieve their goals!

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