Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Poorly Principled Principal

 Dealerships are probably the only place that you leave without a two week notice. I know this from experience. You either walk out, or you don’t show up. I remember leaving one dealership in particular where I just left without notice. But I had my reasons. 

Dealerships are a tough environment if you don’t understand the old-school car sales vibe. But even if you do have this understanding, even if you have tough skin, everywhere you go in this industry there is a trying time that arises that may make you want to leave. And boy did I leave. 

When Best Coast Motorsports finally wasn’t worth me wasting my energy on anymore, I left the keys in Gerald’s hands. He had a scheme to save everything which really was just putting liquidity in his family’s hands and not me. He thought I was invested enough in Best Coast still to let this fly. Sadly I didn’t care and I let him sink on his own. The business wasn’t worth anything and thanks to vice making up all my proclivities at the time I was too broke and disheveled to care about suing. I told Gerald I was done and walked out. 

Eventually I ended up cutting my tie at a franchise dealership. I’m not going to say the name of the dealership because it was owned by a pretty large dealer group. Our managing partner was insane. Now most people who’ve been in this business would say dealership principals are all some variation of insane. I know guys that worked for the likes of Louis F. Harrellson, a literal Wild West character stereotype who would curse out dealership employees over the intercom. 

But my principal was well known for not being screwed tight at all. I’ve had managers of his tell me he’d instantly break down sobbing during meals. He also had a penchant for terrifying his employees. Now I’m 6’6” and 450 lbs at this point. This man weighed the same but was a foot shorter than me. Think about an extra overweight Wayne Knight with an extremely sour disposition and a Philly accent. Before I started working there a salesman had a heart attack in the sales tower and he just stepped over him and said:

“Somebody get him off the floor. We have cars to sell.”

He actually took a liking to me when I got there. I think it was because of how unafraid I was of him. He’d insult sales people all day whenever he’d appear out of his office and then retreat home by 4. But the people he put in place to manage underneath him were just as bad. He hired a guy to be his GM who was the GSM of a Volkswagen store, a guy who already had more money than he knew how to deal with. He would park next to me at work in his brand-new Orange Audi R8, or his brand new 911 Turbo S, or his GTI he bought because he needed the extra unit one month. He was a diminutive, abrasive, tyrant with very little patience for mediocrity. 

Well he wasn’t there long before I was pushed over the edge. It was the last day of January and well we sucked. We had ten cars out which was a dismal last day for us. I knew for a fact that we were behind our monthly manufacturer-set number by a large amount of units. We all felt the pressure but by the time 9 PM rolled up on the clock we knew there wasn’t much any of us could do. We all dragged our feet leaving the store talking trash until the last deals left the finance office. Our camaraderie was disrupted when the new car manager strolled through the door and told us the GM wanted all of us in the sales tower. 

We knew what was going down, some level of beration, and a “see you assholes tomorrow.” Instead we got berated and we were told to go back in the office and make phone calls until we got a customer in the door. At this point it was almost 10 PM. A few salesmen stormed out the door and said they weren’t coming back. I didn’t say a word. I just sat at my desk for a few minutes to figure out why I was even there in the first place. 

The next morning I woke up at dawn like normal. I took a look out the window at my demo in the driveway and decided I wasn’t going to work. I didn’t answer my phone for anybody from the dealership for a month wondering where I was. Desperate text messages came but I answered none. It was when they showed up at my house asking about the whereabouts of my demo that I finally came back. And for the last time.

The principal of the store was obviously very offended by all of this. But I didn’t care, a couple of months later I took a higher position at a smaller store and never looked back. I finally moved to the plane most guys older than me in the industry already understood. This industry needs solid people and there is always another opportunity around the corner. 

I eventually walked away from the industry in its entirety, but it all started with me taking the opportunity to walk out. 

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