Hello, my name is Carlton Wolf and I'm the President and author of AutoCheatSheet.com. I've had a wonderful career in the retail car sales industry and have held several positions within several 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 did a few years in one price, no-haggle dealerships such as CarChoice and AutoNation USA.
Positions I've held in my career:
- New Car Salesman
- Used Car Salesman
- Internet Salesperson
- Finance Manager
- Internet Manager
- Floor Manager
- New Car Sales Manager
- Used Car Sales Manager
- General Manager
- Automotive Consultant
You think because you buy a new car every 3 years you don't need any advice? Think again...I'd sell an average of 10-30 cars a day in my dealerships, I'm a very well trained professional and I take my profession as serious as a surgeon does surgery, "I am very good at what I do."
I'm highly skilled in the art of sales, negotiation, and manipulation. I will talk circles around you as well as most every other professional car salesman 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 salesmen. The majority of these people end up like turtles on their back, trying to figure out how to get out of the situation they've gotten themselves into.
A good deal is a state of mind. So how do you really 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 make sure you receive a good deal on the next new or used car you buy.
My Experience in the Retail Car Business
As I was nearing the end of my 8 year term in the United States Coast Guard, I was coming to a crossroads in my life and needed to decide quickly 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, "there is no way I could never sell cars."
I ended up listening to my friends and decided to give it a shot and found a part time job at night selling cars. Being young, and a serious lack of training, I struggled for a short period of time until an old timer took me under his wing and taught me the true art of professional car sales.
Before I knew it I was making more money part time a few nights a week than I was making in my full time job in the military. After about a year and being honorably discharged from the military, I decided to move back to the Dallas area to be closer to family.
Want to read more about car salesman? Read my section - All About Car Salesman.
Pushing Metal Full Time
I ended up landing a sales job at a much bigger Ford dealership than my previous dealer. This is where I learned how cut throat and ruthless the car sales profession really was. It was a night and day difference from the last dealership I worked at. It was every man for themselves, they would rather step on you than help you up...I felt like I was a lamb sent to slaughter.
This dealership and its staff was all about making as much money as they can off each car buyer that walked through the door. I quickly understood that if you stood still at this dealership you will starve. The other car salesman are not going to help you. It was kill or be killed.
During my time at this dealer. I was put through countless hours of training and specialized classes on how to read body language, psychology, high pressure sales techniques, and how to mirror and manipulate people. All this training was paid for by the dealership and it was invaluable as I watched my paycheck increase tenfold month after month.
I can't say I really liked the position of car salesman at that dealership. All I did, day in and day out, was talk people into buying cars they didn't want...not to mention the thousands of dollars of additional profit I made for the dealership on those vehicles. However, I was very good at it and made a pile of money along the way.
After a short time I was promoted to closer. A closer is someone who comes in and helps close a deal when another car salesman is having difficulty getting a customer to buy a vehicle. It was nice being a closer because I just had to come in at the end of a car deal, spend a couple minutes with the customer, get them to say yes and take half the commission. Not a bad gig when you have upwards to twenty plus salespeople on the floor.
One Price Car Dealerships, the Way of the Future?
At this point 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 they were looking to change the way people buy cars. One price dealerships, I had to be part of it.
When these companies first opened, they would not hire anyone that had prior car sales experience. 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 car salesman and I spent another year as one of the top car salesman month after month. Shortly after I was then promoted to a Finance and Insurance Manager.
I really enjoy the finance aspect of a car dealership. You get a lot of excellent specialized training on how to talk people into products they don't really want or need to buy. F&I Managers are the best of the best at manipulating and presenting numbers. It's not uncommon for an F&I Manager to easily tack on a couple thousand dollars onto your loan without you even realizing it...Think it can't happen, I did it all the time. 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 was promoted to 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. I overlooked all aspects of their daily activities and helped them sell cars, work with customers, appraise their trades and close their car deals. The outstanding dedication and hard work of the members on my team consistently kept me the #1 Team Leader month after month at my dealership...I couldn't have done it without ya'll!
Selling Cars Over the Internet, It'll Never Work
Around this time in my career is when the manufacturer's and dealers started exploring how to sell cars on the Internet. To this day I remember being in a sales meeting and my General Manager pulling a fax off the machine. He said, "Oh great, how the hell are we suppose to sell cars over the Internet? 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 General Manager at the time was old school car business and believed that nobody would ever buy cars using the Internet. Although I had no idea what I was doing, I knew this was going to be the way of the future.
Over the next few months of many trial and errors, scratching and clawing, I built the #1 internet department in the company. As only a few smart car shoppers were learning how to research and buy cars using the internet, my team and I were learning how to maximize profits by selling cars on the web.
If it's one thing I learned about selling cars over the Internet...it's you can't play games with people when it comes to price and telling the truth.
Believe me, I've tried just about everything you can imagine and the only thing that works is deep discounts and the honest to goodness truth to get an Internet car buyer through the door. After thousands of Internet car deals...Dealerships across the nation have realized that vehicles sold over the web will be low profit/high volume car sales. The only way to make money is to sell as many over the web as possible...volume, Volume, VOLUME!
Back to a Traditional Car Dealership
So in the middle of just another work day, AutoNation USA decides to shut down all of its used car superstores. Two days later I am a Used Car Manager at a well known high volume franchise dealership in the Dallas, TX area.
I'm now responsible for the entire used car department. I really enjoyed managing a used car department of a dealership. There's a lot more involved with used cars than new cars, but you were always busy doing something and you also get to drive all the different vehicles.
About a year or so later a good friend from of mine from AutoNation found me and told me about a new car dealership that was just bought by some guys and they were looking for some experienced people to help get it off the ground. I thought it would be a good 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. Also located in Dallas, TX. This dealership was still in the stone ages still hand writing car deals and had just got their computer system right before I was hired.
They were only selling 25-50 cars a month and we brought them up to well over 400/month to date. With this dealer, again it was tell whatever a customer wants to hear to sell a car.
That's just 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 years the dealer I worked for started to expand and bought another underperforming dealership. This one was a dual brand franchise dealership. I was offered to become a partner and the General Sales Manager of the new dealership. I gladly accepted and took the position.
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 then someone came along and wanted it more than we did so we decided to sell it to them.
After moving to the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma area I decided to look into the Buy Here Pay Here business. I found a partner and started a little BHPH. After getting it off the ground and working it for a few years, I realized that my kids were growing a little to quickly and I was blessed enough to semi-retire for a few years to spend some time with them and my wife...so I did.
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 Just Can't Stay Away!
After 3 years of semi-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 and I am currently the Director of Operations of a very profitable Lease Here Pay Here car dealership in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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