Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Win a Little Less

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

First, I’d like to thank everybody for the warm birthday wishes on Friday. I won’t say how old I am, but I’ve been assured it’s at least a year older than last year. Okay, I’ve made 63 full trips around the sun. And the whole way, I kept hearing this voice from the front seat saying, “You should have gone before we left!” Thankfully, there have been a few rest stops along the way.

We bought a new car yesterday. There was nothing wrong with the old car, except it can’t be towed behind an RV. We knew that when we bought it, but that was three years ago when we didn’t know if we’d ever own an RV. Well, dreams do come true. And one thing we’ve learned about camping is there’s never a grocery store in walking distance. Not if you walk like we do.

I used to sell cars in a previous life. I was pretty good at it. And, having been through the gauntlet one more time, all I can say to those of you who have ever bought a car is, I’m sorry. I feel your pain. It’s a game of holding one hand over your mouth and the other over your wallet as your new “best friend” tries to take you for every penny you’ve got.

And the thing is, I tell every one of these guys I used to sell cars. The more intelligent ones read that for what it is – “Dave knows the games, and he’s not going to play.” That accounts for about a fourth of all new car salesmen. To the rest, it’s a challenge. “He used to sell cars, huh? Well, game on!” That was the first dealer I visited.

I often said it’s about seeing who can hold back that one card long enough to keep from showing their hand too soon. My daughter once told a salesman she had to buy a bigger car because she had another baby on the way and all three kids wouldn’t fit in the back seat of the car she was driving. The salesman went to Hawaii that year.

First you negotiate a great price on the new car. Or so they tell you. Then they take a look at your trade-in. The “used car manager” looks disapprovingly at your car, shaking his head and mumbling inaudibly to the salesman. “Well, we really don’t know if we can even sell your car, but you remind me of my favorite uncle, so we’ll do you a favor and take this beater off your hands.”

Then come the add-ons. When I sold cars, it was rustproofing & undercoating. Never mind that the car came that way from the factory. We’d have our body shop guy spray a light mist of something you could get for an additional three dollars in any automatic car wash, for the bargain price of only $359. Give or take $100. It’s all profit anyway.

Now it’s all about paint & fabric protection. “We put this protectant on all of our cars when they come in, free of charge. But just in case we did a crappy job of it, I’ve taken the liberty of adding this $1300 warranty to cover any incidental damage except damage we don’t cover, which means most damage, but we don’t tell you that until you file a claim.” I’m not making this up.

Long story short, the local dealer I visited first wanted that trip to Hawaii with one sale. He assured me their final offer was their best and asked if I needed to go home and discuss it with my wife. I said, “No – I can make this decision myself. Watch.” And I left. Forty miles away, another dealership saw the bigger picture.

Buying a car is like a lot of things in life. You have to go into it with the realization it’s a game that can only be played by two. It’s all about negotiation. We do it in our jobs, in relationships, and in our everyday life. And the best negotiations are the ones where neither side really wins, but both come away with enough to make any concessions worthwhile.

According to an old Kenny Rogers song, every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser. It’s not about the cards in your hand – it’s how you play them that counts. Play with integrity, respect, and fairness. You may not win it all today, but you can always come back for another round.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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