Today was strange. I woke up early, ran an errand before work, and arrived just in time to punch in at 9:00. My boss wasn't in when I got there, and that bummed me out a bit. I generally feel as if things are better when he's around, and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's like having a parent close by or something. A customer I had been working with sent me a text about his wife's vehicle. He wanted to set up a test drive for my day off, at first I asked if he could come in on Thursday, I had forgotten we would be closed on the Fourth of July, so I agreed to meet him at work in the evening even though I could have passed on the deal. I do not want anyone else talking to him or taking him or her on a test drive. I know how that place is and how people are when money might be involved.
This morning I met a super fun woman whose vehicle needs a bunch of work. I thought she was knitting, but it turns out that she was crocheting a baby hat. She learned watching YouTube videos, and I was amazed at that since I typically fare better when I have someone teaching me in person. We chatted for a while, she said she had always wanted to do car reviews, but real reviews based on the lives that many women lead; packing up children, putting tons of groceries in the car, stuffing soccer and other sports related gear into the back, cleaning up blood, vomit, or other bodily excretions. I laughed so hard listening to her, invited her on a test drive, and got to know her a bit better in the process. We decided to team up to do these reviews. I never had a chance to talk to my boss about the idea, but I can't imagine he would be opposed, and if he is, I'm going to do it anyways.
My second customer interaction of the day was from a call the receptionist placed. I had been on the other side, walked back over, and met a couple that is moving back to Wisconsin from North Carolina. They were also really nice, very down to earth, practical in a way that many aren't, and even though she was on the phone and unable to accompany us on the test drive, I felt like I made significant progress with him. At one point he held my hand which was really weird, but I felt like he is just a person who touches people and it didn't necessarily mean anything other than he felt a connection and wanted to make a point. I had said; 'bless his heart' during the conversation, it has another connotation down South, and he laughed and squeezed my hand when I was fumbling over the unintended double message.
I was on my way to lunch when I saw my boss in the parking lot. He said when I got back we could go through some things together. I had eaten lunch at the picnic table outside, but wanted to run an errand. I stopped at the thrift store to try and find a backpack, but ended up getting a cute striped swim bag as well as one that had a picnic setting for two inside. I'm not sure if I should have gone ahead with that, but at the time it seemed like it might be a fun way to tote around food. I was in the break room with another employee when I got a call about a customer. I went out to talk to an older gentleman with deeply tanned skin, and before long I realized that I was not going to be able to answer the questions he was asking about torque and towing capacity.
After swallowing my pride I went up front to see if one of the other guys was around. There's one guy who is decent to me, but he was nowhere to be found and they said that they had called him without success either. Two men remained. I didn't like the first and had very few interactions with the second. The women up front suggested the second guy so I knocked on his door, asked if he would mind answering some questions, and to be fair to him, he went into my office, gave both me and the customer an extremely thorough lecture (in a conversational manner), and I tried hard to shut up and listen to the informational session. I didn't care if he got the sale, he had clearly earned it, so I was surprised when he told me to get the keys to the vehicle in question.
I had assumed he would want the test drive opportunity, and was honestly not sure I was really up for the task, but he was reassuring and this was very perplexing to me, both from previously observed behavior, and what others had said about him. Anyways, I went out with much trepidation, but thankfully the customer was one of these people who seems as if they have trouble comprehending basic English, but can drive just about anything that has four wheels and is very comfortable discussing what an engine might be able to produce in terms of power and torque as it relates to his specific needs or wants. I have a feeling we're going to get a sale out of him, he was impressed with everything the other sales person had to say about the vehicle, I was ready to buy one myself although coming up with that kind of cash for something I absolutely do not need showed me what a great sales person can do to the mind of another.
The customer couldn't believe it was a four cylinder engine, he had been test driving a Toyota earlier, but he already has a truck, and I think we have something that fits his criteria in terms of fuel economy a bit better. He was hard of hearing, I was nervous so I was probably talking too much and too fast, it seemed like a promising deal was going to go south, but thanks to my next door sales neighbor, we were able to salvage the remainder of his visit. We had just gotten to the point where it made sense to discuss some numbers when the sky opened up on us. Minutes earlier we had been driving under blue skies on the freeway. We had so much water coming down that the drain by the front door was having trouble keeping up. Hail bounced around, the lights flickered, and then everything went dark.
I was tired, I was on edge, I was mentally worn out from the information overload. My boss snapped at a guy I don't like when he stood in front of the automatic doors, there's nothing quite like having your front door stuck in the open position when rain is sheeting down in front of you. It looked and felt almost apocalyptic at one point in time. Things gradually settled down, but the power came back in sections and my lights still weren't working by the time I left although my computer was functioning again. My boss ran the numbers for me on two vehicles for this guy, there was someone else in his office when I first approached him, I don't really know that guy and he makes me uneasy for some reason so I was standing in the hallway waiting my turn. They both told me that I could come in, my boss told me I could sit down, and that's what the chairs were for, but I didn't really want to be there, I even made a comment about them needing to be nicer to me.
The other guy said that my boss didn't bite, he's never really talked to me before so I didn't know why he was being more friendly than he had been previously. Part of his comment to my boss remains a mystery, but I heard him say that a woman who works on the other side is running a bet on when he's going to go bald. I personally didn't notice that his hair was thinning in the first place, and I felt bad for him for an unknown reason, perhaps it was his tone of voice, that wounded male vanity making an unexpected appearance. Without thinking I told him that bald men were better in bed and he should rock it, then my boss reminded me that there were customers sitting on the couch behind me and I felt rather foolish then, but he also said that was funny so I felt forgiven for the oversight. The other guy said that my boss wished that my comment was actually true, I asked if he was questioning my authority, and then he left with a parting shot that I missed.
Later on I think I saw him driving, I waved, and got a return wave. That place is so strange. I'm still not sure what to make of it. A guy at work asked if I had gum, then ignored me when this other woman I work with was sitting in the service drive. There's a disproportionate ratio of men to women there, and she gets a lot of attention. I do too, but I try to keep to myself more. I don't know what it is about her, I guess part of it is her figure and personality, but there's a cynicism and a lack of empathy for others that maybe men like, but I find very chilly and distasteful. She can see what is in it for her and is not eager to help others. I guess if other people want to flirt with her that is their business, I get it, but I don't believe that she is who they think she is, or maybe she is and they don't really care that she is somewhat shallow and selfish. I think she can be deeper, but it's easier to be one of the guys and hang with them.
Work is going really well this week, I needed to get out of my office and start interacting with people. The computer system is not very intuitive, and sometimes doesn't work at all, that's pretty frustrating, entire menus won't drop down when you need them and there is no way to enter things manually. I'm still learning what information I need to collect and when I have enough to get some numbers. One thing I like about my boss is that he tells me what I need to do in the future, but also acknowledges that I am learning and that it is a process. When I was talking to another sales person about him we agreed that he has a way of prioritizing what is really important and letting some of the smaller things slide. One of the other members of management makes you feel lower than an insect even when you have everything you need, so I am more appreciative of the types that are forgiving and understanding, especially when I know that he is not having the best day.
I'm going to take back these mattress toppers I bought. I don't want to, it's going to be annoying, but I'm picturing it going well because I need to do this. They are not working, I'm generally a cold person, but they make the bed almost unbearably hot when I am sleeping. The one has pieces of foam that were extruded and never properly trimmed. This is the kind of thing that I hate doing by myself, but am determined to lug them in and get my money back. Working a lot of hours means I have less free time to shop, I have a lot less time than I did, but I feel as if I have turned a corner of some significance at work. I am learning more of what goes on there, who does what, who doesn't do what, who is an ally, who is a foe, who is neutral, who is great at what, I have more product and process knowledge, and I believe that if I can hang in there, that this might be a long term career for me.
While one may not see an immediate correlation between footwear and the automotive market, there are similarities and what made me good at selling shoes translates well enough to this industry. I still have a lot to learn, fortunately the side I'm on has made things pretty easy for me. People are much more familiar with cars and how they work than they are about phones and electronics. There's a tech component to my job, but most manufacturers have infotainment systems that I find relatively easy to navigate. One of the guys I work with thinks that the future is vehicle screens that more and more mimic or depend on phones, and I agree. It's totally pointless to have a separate Spotify app for your vehicle that has less functionality than the one on your other device, but maybe I don't design these things and never will so hopefully my appreciation for their efforts is also noted.
I'm making a mental list of things you need to succeed in automotive sales; perhaps at some point in time I will put together my thoughts on the subject, but it might be a very individual thing as well. It can be simultaneously very boring and super stressful. There can be department rivalry and poor communication between sales, parts, service, the shop, management, administration, the title clerk, the front desk; you get the idea. There are personality conflicts and the type of issues you'd expect in a company of this size, there seems to be a curious disinclination to help others even when people are standing around, I get frustrated by that since I enjoy learning and sharing what I can with others, but not everyone is me either, and they undoubtedly know things that I don't. I've been better with money, but still have questions about what to do with my check, need to make a decision on that soon, but for now, it's back to bed for me...
P.S. While I have had my ups and downs, I can't remember the last time I was this satisfied at work. It's a great combination of having an office when I need it, being able to walk around, talk to people, and being exposed to new information, and ideas in a beautiful building. Kind of funny to look out of my window and see a car parked in front of it, but it's also lovely to have that kind of light pouring through the northern glass.