Unfortunately, this business is more than dream cars and slick talk.The reality is that no everyone has perfect credit like on "King of Cars." People with bad or no credit are exempt from this wonderland of car buying and must fend for themselves against a swarming pack of sub-prime lenders, eager to put the customer into anything with four wheels.
My three years in the car business have always been in sub-prime lending. I take pleasure from helping people who wouldn't normally be able to finance a vehicle. Many of my customers come to me depressed, dejected, and cynical. They've been "pre-approved" five times before sitting down at my desk. They're just waiting to hear those familiar lines:
- "I can get you approved if you have a co-signer."
- "Do you have $2000 for a down payment?"
- "You're approved for $3000, but we don't have any cars that cheap."
In those years, I've created an equilibrium between morality and salesmanship. I'm still good at what I do, yet I'm honest enough to sleep well at night. I've rationalized charging 21% interest on a car loan, I'm not surprised to see an '03 Ford Taurus with 120,000 miles, and when a customer objects to their vehicle choices, I kindly remind them of their credit situation.
I've never sold a Hummer,a Cadillac Escalade, or one of those fully loaded Dodge Chargers you see at Tobwin Dodge. My cream puffs are Pontiac Grand Am's, Oldsmobile Alero's, and the occasional Ford Explorer. A few years ago, we were elated to have a '99 Dodge Durango hit the lot. I took a deposit on it before it was even ready to sell.
I've never had a customer with a 700+ credit rating. As a result, I've never sold a vehicle at or near Blue Book value. I've never given "$1000 for your trade, no matter what you owe!!" And only once in my life have I ever done a deal with zero money down. I stand at the edge of a cliff each day; one wrong step and I could lose all my scruples.I swim with the sharks, compete to sell the most cars. For years, I fooled the others into thinking I was one of them, ready to strike any helpless prey. But after years of pretending, my disguise is wearing thin. Co-workers see how I struggle to "bend truths" or "overcome objections." I wince at training rhetoric such as: "Do what you have to do to put those people in a car," or "Buyers are liars. Put your selling shoes on!"
My drive, other than being debt-free before entering a seminary, is knowing that even in this polluted shark-tank, God exists. God exists because I try to be truthful to my customers, and I tell them how expensive it will cost to finance a car. God exists because people at my desk don't see me as another salesperson, they see me as someone who is trying to help. God exists because I've had customers hug me and cry on my shoulder, overwhelmed to be given a chance when normal banks tell them they aren't good enough. God exists because each time I sell a customer, I'm reminded of my own second chance.
So for those who feel a prospective priest has no business selling cars, please take your guilt elsewhere. We're all full up here.