Hello, my name is Carlton Wolf, and I would like to thank you for dropping by.
I’ve been in the car business since 1994 and am the founder of AutoCheatSheet.com.
I’ve had a remarkable career in retail car sales and have held several positions within many different types of dealerships. I have experience with new car franchises, independent used car dealerships, buy-here-pay-here, lease-here-pay-here, and even a handful of years in one-price dealerships.
Positions I’ve Held in a Car Dealership
I’ve held just about every position at a dealership relative to the retail and wholesale side of the business. I have never held a position on the service side of a dealership.
- New Car Salesman
- Used Car Salesman
- Internet Salesperson
- Finance Manager
- Internet Manager
- Floor Manager
- New Car Sales Manager
- Used Car Sales Manager
- General Manager
- Managing Partner
- Strategic Consultant
Know Who Your Dealing With
Do you believe you don’t need advice because you buy a new car every few years? Think again.
I’d sell an average of 10-30 vehicles daily in my dealerships and hone my skills every day; I’m a well-trained professional, and I take my profession as seriously as a surgeon does surgery, “I am very good at what I do.”
I’m highly skilled in sales, negotiation, and manipulation. I will talk circles around you, and most other professional car salespeople out there can (and will) do the same.
Every day millions of people walk into car dealerships believing they can out-smart car dealers and their salespeople. Most of these people end up like turtles on their backs, trying to figure out how to get out of their situation.
A good deal is a state of mind. So how do you know you got a good deal on the last car you bought? Is it because your car salesman told you that you did? The Auto Cheat Sheet will show you how to ensure you receive a good deal on the next new or used car you buy.
Consider the Source Before Following Advice
Why take advice from someone that has never been in the car sales industry? Research is acceptable, but if you’ve never worked the daily grind in a car dealership, how do you know what is happening daily behind the scenes?
With all the FREE information floating around the Internet, as long as you research and prepare before buying a car, it’s easier to protect yourself from being “ripped-off” or “scammed.” The problem for most car buyers is they don’t know how to find it and, better yet, how to use the information correctly.
There are also several “How to Buy a Car” books, eBooks, and manuals on the Internet. Many of these sources promise to tell you the super-secret formula to make a dealer cringe. I can’t help but laugh at some of the information out there. Most of this information is outdated and is information that is readily available for free on this website.
Why I Created the Auto Cheat Sheet
The Auto Cheat Sheet started as a book I wrote back in 2001. It had a little “cheat sheet” you could take to the dealer after reading so you could refresh your memory. I had a friend make me a website and sold the book online for a few years.
I wrote The Auto Cheat Sheet as a pay-it-forward because I never hesitated to help friends or family members avoid the scams and mental mind games involved in purchasing a new or used car.
The car business is challenging because I became conditioned that the customer saves money, or I make money, let the car dealership down the road sell a car, or sell a car myself.
I ask you, “what would you do?”
I was in the car business because of the wealth it brought to my family and me. Being a part of a dealership family is all about money, and I dare any person in the car business to deny that.
That’s why I cannot stress enough the importance of educating yourself before buying a vehicle!
My Experience in the Car Business
As I was nearing the end of my eight-year term in the United States Coast Guard, I was coming to a crossroads in my life and needed to decide what I wanted to do for a career. Several times I would have people say to me, “Man, you can sell anything to anybody. You ought to sell cars.” At first, I thought I could never sell cars.
I listened to my friends and found a part-time job selling cars at night. Being young and severely lacking training, I struggled for a short period until an old-timer took me under his wing and taught me the true art of professional car sales.
Before I knew it, I made more money part-time a few nights a week than in my full-time military job. After being honorably discharged from the military for about a year, I moved back to the Dallas area to be closer to family.
Pushing Metal Full Time
I landed a sales job at a much bigger Ford dealership than my previous dealer. I quickly learned how cutthroat and ruthless the car sales profession was. It was a night and day difference from the last dealership I worked. I felt like I was a lamb sent to slaughter.
This dealership’s goal was to make as much money as possible from each car buyer who walked in the door. I quickly understood that if you stood still at this dealership, you would starve. The other car salesman will not help you. Either you kill, or you will be killed.
While at this dealership, I did countless hours of training and specialized classes on how to read body language, psychology, high-pressure sales techniques, and mirror and manipulate people. The dealership paid for all this training, increasing my paycheck tenfold.
I can’t say I liked the position of car salesman at that dealership, talking people into buying cars they did not want and out of thousands of dollars all day long, but I was very good at it and made a pile of money while doing it.
After a short time, The sales manager promoted me to closer. A closer is someone who comes in and helps close a deal when another car salesman is having difficulty finishing a deal. Being a closer was excellent because I just had to come in at the end of a car deal, spend a couple of minutes, get the car buyer to say yes, and get half the commission.
Are One Price Dealerships the Way of the Future?
At this time in my career is when CarMax and AutoNation USA came into the car sales industry. These two companies were the new kids on the block and were looking to change how people buy cars. One price dealership, I had to be part of it.
When these companies first opened, they would not hire anyone with prior car sales experience. I found a dealership by the name of CarChoice in Lewisville, Texas. I was bought out by AutoNation a short time later.
After bugging them to death, I got my foot in the door and was hired as a greeter, welcoming people who walked in the front door. I was soon promoted to a car salesman, spent another year as one of the top car salesman months after month, and then was promoted to a Finance and Insurance Manager.
I enjoy the finance aspect of a car dealership. You get a lot of specialized training on talking people into products they don’t want or need to buy. It’s amazing how many car buyers think the car buying process is over after they have agreed on the price of the car.
After spending a while in the finance department, I became a Floor Manager or Team Leader. This position would be considered a Used Car Manager in a traditional car dealership.
I had a team of 8 to 12 salesman that I was responsible for overseeing. I overlooked all aspects of their daily activities and helped them sell cars, work with customers, appraise their trades, and close car deals. The outstanding dedication and hard work of my team members consistently kept me the #1 Team Leader month after month at my dealership.
Selling Cars Over the Internet – It Will Never Work
Around this time in my career, the manufacturers and dealers started exploring how to sell cars on the internet.
Today, I remember being in a sales meeting and my General Manager pulling a fax that had just come over the machine. He said, “Oh great, how the hell are we supposed to sell cars over the internet?” He huffed and said, “this is never going to work; who wants to be in charge of this?” I jumped at the chance, and he thought I was crazy.
My GM at this time was old school car business and believed nobody would ever buy cars using the internet. Although I had no idea what I was doing, I knew this would be the way of the future.
Over the next few months, scratching and clawing, I built the #1 internet department in the company. As savvy car shoppers were learning how to research and buy cars using the internet, my team and I were learning how to sell cars on the internet.
If it was one thing I learned about internet car sales, it’s that you can’t play games with people about price and telling the truth.
I’ve tried just about everything you can imagine, and the only thing that works is deep discounts and the truth to get internet car buyers in your door.
Back to a Traditional Dealership
AutoNation USA decided to shut down all of its used car superstores. Two days later, I am a Used Car Manager at a well-known high-volume franchised Nissan dealership in the Dallas, TX area.
I’m now responsible for the entire used car department. I enjoyed managing a used car department of a dealership. There’s a lot more involved with used cars than new cars, but you are always busy doing something, and you also get to drive all the different vehicles.
About a year or so later, a good friend of mine found me and told me about a new car dealership that some guys had just bought, and they were looking for some experienced people to help get it off the ground. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to get in on the ground floor, so I went and talked to them.
I went to work for the dealer as the New Car Manager. This dealership was still in the stone age and had just gotten their computer system before hiring me.
They were only selling 25-50 cars a month, and we have brought them up to well over 400/month. With this dealer, again, it was telling whatever a customer wants to hear to sell a car. That’s what we did. We took uninformed customers for every dime we could. (Of course, we stayed within the limits of the law.)
Moving On Up in the Car Business
After a couple of years, the car dealer started to expand and bought another underperforming dealership. This one was a dual-brand franchise dealership. I became a partner and the general sales manager of the new dealership. I gladly accepted and took the position.
We were using the same practices as the last dealership we soon made the underperforming dealership one of the most profitable car dealerships in the area.
A friend of mine approached me and asked if I would like to partner with just him on an independent Franchise new car dealership in West Texas. I again jumped at the opportunity, and we went for it.
We owned and operated the car dealership for a few years, and someone came along and wanted it more than we did, so we decided to sell.
After moving to the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma area, I decided to look into the Buy Here Pay Here business. I found it an excellent way to help people find transportation for people who cannot finance with a traditional lending institution. I found a Partner and started a little LHPH and have since retired.
That brings me to now. I’m probably sitting in front of my computer right now, adding to this website or answering questions that car buyers like yourself have sent me.
Once the Car Business is in your Blood You Can’t Stay Away!
After three years of retirement, building and maintaining this website, I couldn’t handle not being around cars. I’ve since returned to the Buy Here Pay Here world of retail car sales. I am currently the Director of Operations of an outstanding Lease Here Pay Here car dealership in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
I also consult and strategically advise car dealerships on specific aspects of the auto industry.
Although I am very busy with my current position, I am still very active with The Auto Cheat Sheet and look forward to helping you receive the lowest new or used car price and avoid car dealership scams.
Your friend in the car business,
The Insider / Carlton Wolf