Sunday, May 10, 2009

You Have to get up Pretty Early in the Morning, to Trick Me!

A successful businessman once told me, "All of the quibbling and arbitrating and chiseling, and negotiating on price, at the end of a lifetime, only comes to $10,000." That man was Maaco Mike, who is wanted now by the FBI for embezzlement of Federal funds. I believed him and stopped trying to negotiate with him on paint jobs. I was doing a pretty good volume of business and couldn't help but notice that I was quickly approaching that $10,000 mark after only 2 or 3 years. That's when I realized that creating slogans like that was not only effective, but better than using false statistics. Like 53 3/4% of all marriages, including interracial marriages, end in divorce. It causes the recipient to think you know what you're talking about, when in fact that number came off the top of my head.

My latest "fact" is this: "Ahem, the only day that you'll remember how much you paid for that car is today." After that, you'll only be concerned about how well the vehicle is treating you and if you're doing your best to maintain your new car"? So, along comes Michael, a short skinny guy with his mother, I think it was on Wednesday last week. He had written me a note on the Internet and asked questions about that awful Echo. I told him to call me, I love the Internet, but not for selling cars. About 2 hours later, Michael called and asked if he could come by the following day for a test drive. Certainly, I replied, I was looking forward to it. At precisely 10 AM, as prearranged, Michael pulled up driving a Toyota Corolla, just like the one that I drive. He was short and funny looking with his eyes a little too close together, wearing thick glasses and that geek look that we've all seen. He walked around and opened the door for his mother, an elderly woman in her late 70's. Michael was approximately 38. No wedding band, no girlfriend, just Mom. If they hadn't been so conservative looking, I'd have called the police to report the car stolen, because they were gone for almost an hour. In all of the years that I've been doing this, I've only had one vehicle gone longer and that was a truck that was returned the following day, with remnants of a move in the bed. Some blankets, an odd shoe and a belt that wouldn't fasten. It was left in front of my car lot with the keys in the ash tray. I had already called the police, but they said I couldn't report it stolen for 24 hours, since I had voluntarily given the test driver the keys.

When Michael and Mom returned, I made a comment about it being the longest test drive in history and he just giggled. Then he asked, what's the best price he could buy it for? I told him I'd have to be a fool or an idiot to negotiate price with someone that not ready to buy and was he ready to commit? His reply was, at the end of the day, when he's ready to commit, what's the best price I'd accept. I said, best for you or me? Frustrating he said, him. Again I reiterated, until you're ready to buy, I'm not ready to negotiate. If I did, I'd be in a bidding war with myself. I had already set the price at $7000, it was his turn to counter. He left. I've been doing this for a long time and it's never behooved me to talk price with a non-buyer. That evening I thought, gee it's the end of the day and no response from little Michael. Friday came around and Michael called and offered me $6750 for my Echo, contingent upon his mechanic inspecting it. I had no problem with that, as I started telling him that his offer was a little short and the only day that he'll even remember how much he paid for this car is today. After that........ He replied that today is the only day he's trying to buy this car and that's all he's willing to pay. I told him I'd have to let him know on Monday when he takes it to his mechanic. Hell, I'll sell it for that, I just refuse to give in too easily...

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