In 1974 when I first ventured into Dealerland:

 

The population of the United States was 213,854,000.

 

Vehicle Sales were 11,541,000

 

The price of a domestic car was $4,524

 

A gallon of gas cost 0.52

 

A postage stamp cost .010

 

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were known as The Big Three and the market share of the top ten manufactures was:

 

Company

1974

 

 

GM

41.20

Ford

27.42

Chrysler

14.22

Volkswagen

3.35

American Motors

2.91

Toyota

2.34

Nissan

2.17

International

1.40

Fiat

0.65

Mazda

0.61

 

Source: Ward’s Automotive

 

AND THERE WAS:

 

No F & I Department – The salesperson secured financing and sold the aftermarket juice. And in many cases a salesperson that was standing around and kibitzing at the water cooler became the “chosen one” to make the run to the bank, the post office and the state office. 

 

No Internet Department – Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet.

 

No BDC Department - I still don’t understand what this is all about.

 

No CRM Department - Index cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, maybe a tin of cookies and an old fashion phone call ruled the day.

 

No Fax Machines – It was not until the 80’s that the fax machine came into being.

 

No Service Shuttles - Customers had to fend for themselves.

 

No Courtesy Loaners - A salesperson or manager might loan their demo for the day to a super good customer.

 

No Computers - If my grey matter serves me correctly the store I was working at in 1976 was either the first or second dealership in the metro Detroit area to venture into the computer age.  The number one selling point by the computer rep during the sales presentation was - the computer will reduce headcount and thus pay for itself.  Yeah, right.  I took the sales pitch with a grain of salt.  In thirty-two years I never laid-off or terminated an employee because of technology.          

 

No D-Trade Employees or D-Trade Drivers – The salesperson handled their own trades including delivering the out-going unit and picked-up the incoming unit.  The old pro would usually pay a green pea to pick-up and deliver the trade.

 

No Floor Credits – Don’t fail me now grey matter.  I believe floor plan credits arrived on the scene during the Peanut Farmer’s attempt at governing.  The dealer controlled inventory to minimize floor plan expense.

 

No Factory Rebates – Factory dealer cash, dealer incentives and sales contest trips to Vegas, Spain, Monte Carlo, etc. was the norm.  The factory did pay the dealer a year end model allowance to assist with model year carryover.

 

No E-Mail – We used the US Post Office  

 

No Cell Phones – How did we ever get through life without a ten-shooter, (111)111-1111?  I don’t own a ten-shooter.  However, there was a time when I did have a car phone.  When I was with the mega-dealer, he insisted that I have a car phone. I carried around a little black bag that housed the phone and its components and when the phone was plugged into the cigarette lighter, presto connection to the outside world. 

 

The dealer never understood why he had difficulty reaching me on the car phone.  It was new technology at the time and he assumed it was just the “bugs” that go with the technology.  I suppose if I had plugged the phone into the lighter receptacle the “bugs” would have been zapped.  

      

AND

 

No I-Phones 

No I-Pads

No Laptops

No Blogs

No Websites

No YouTube

No Hand Helds

No Facebook

No Linkedin

No Blackberries

No Twitter

No This

No That

 

Wow, how did we ever survive?

 

We did it the old fashioned way. 

 

We communicated by telephone, mail, face to face, pressed the flesh and looked into the whites of the eyes. 

 

We typed checks, receipts were hand written, deal paperwork was typed and daily business was posted by hand on green or yellow columnar sheets right along with hand posting the financial statement.

 

Whiteout was a major office supply expense.

 

And we did it with the same headcount we see in today’s dealerships; probably less since today’s Internet, CRM and BDC departments didn’t exist. 

 

Have a good day

 

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