Up close of a man in a suit handing a car key to another man in a suit

Modern Dealerships are More than the Stereotypes of the Past

For years car salesmen and car dealerships have caught a bad rap in the media. Always portrayed as slimy or pushy in movies for the sake of plot, the American car salesman has been a demographic scorned by Hollywood for far too long. With their current misrepresentation, it’s far too easy for these people to be misunderstood by the general public, while every single one of them is someone just like us: a regular person trying to provide for themselves and their family. The stigmas surrounding car dealerships affect not only the dealers themselves but car shoppers too, with a huge portion of novice car buyers being intimidated by the entire process. An old friend and coworker of mine now works at our local GMC dealer, and through him, I’ve realized the truth of the situation: car dealerships are nothing to be intimidated by, and most of their employees would consider themselves car enthusiasts before salespeople.



Anyone who has worked in retail will be able to empathize, seeing as salespeople are widely disliked in many fields. Telemarketers are of course less popular than retail workers, but it’s still easy to be annoyed when you’re only trying to buy a soda and you end up feeling pressured to get some kind of rewards card. While I would never fault someone for being bothered by practices like this, it’s still important to remember that there’s always a person behind that rehearsed pitch. If you can accept these sorts of things as a part of the job and disconnect them from your view of the people, you might find yourself feeling a lot more comfortable when dealing with salespeople across the board.

You would be hard-pressed to find a good car salesman who wasn’t passionate about cars, in the same way, that you would have a hard time finding a decent GameStop employee that didn’t play video games. Recognizing this and having a conversation with it in mind is the best way to take full advantage of the person helping you. At the end of the day, their job is to help you find what you’re looking for, and it would be a waste not to utilize their knowledge as the resource that it has the potential to be.


Setting Your Limits

You might be thinking that knowledge and a passion for cars aren’t enough to convince you that dealerships aren’t trying to screw you over somehow, after all, salespeople make their money off of commissions, so why wouldn’t they want to upsell you into oblivion? While you would be right about commissions, only a truly terrible salesperson would ignore your personal budget and shoot for things far beyond your predetermined affordability. Like I said before, their job is to help you find a car that works for you, and if you leave in any of their vehicles at all then it’s a win for them, regardless of its price. That’s why it’s important to look over your finances beforehand and come up with a solid price range to bring to the table. It’s a great starting point for the dealer to work from, and as long as you’re firm about it you shouldn’t have to deal with any issues being pressured to go over your budget.


Had a Bad Experience? Don’t Give Up!

Now, by no means am I trying to say that every dealership is perfect or that no matter where you go you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. That would be the same as saying everyone in the world performs perfectly at their jobs, which is just untrue. Of course, that would be ideal, but the fact that pizza doesn’t have the same nutritional value as a salad is proof enough that we don’t live in an ideal world. Humans are weird, unpredictable creatures and no matter what type of business you’re looking at there will always be some unmotivated outliers, but that’s something that can’t be avoided until humans are replaced by some kind of perfect robot super people. iPeople, if you will. The point is, don’t let one bad experience tarnish your opinion of all dealerships. Even if the first location you visit gives you a negative experience, the odds are that if you shop around for another dealer or two you’ll find that there are more people who put effort into their jobs than those that don’t.


Similar Business, Different Representation

It’s strange to me that certain similar jobs get more flak than others. It makes sense that the people who make commission selling shoes aren’t as stigmatized as the people making their money selling more expensive products like cars, but what perplexes me is how real estate agents avoid it. I don’t mean to say that we should grab our pitchforks and march down to Coldwell Banker, I’m just saying my house is worth a lot more than my current car is, and it had a good deal more hidden problems when I moved in than my first car had when I bought it (and that first car was a mess, trust me). I’ve been trying to crack the code for a while now, but I just can’t find a difference between real estate and car sales large enough to warrant such drastically different representations. In “I Love You, Man” Paul Rudd plays a loveable everyman who also happens to be a real estate agent. The undeniable best character on ABC’s most popular comedy, Phil Dunphy of “Modern Family,” is also a real estate agent. Granted, Drew Barrymore plays a real estate agent in “Santa Clarita Diet,” and she eats people in that, but still two out of three is pretty good compared to the way Hollywood treats car dealers. I genuinely don’t understand why these two incredibly similar jobs are depicted as near perfect opposites in pop culture, but if I were to factor a guess it would be due to some sort of intricate plot perpetrated carefully over the course of decades by a secret order of real estate agents dating back to the founding fathers. There is a small chance I’m wrong on that, so take that with a grain of salt, but either way, it’s a strange contrast.


What Does My Friend Who Works at a GMC Dealer Have To Do With This?

Characters dressed in cheap plaid suits and trilby hats have been used to unwittingly build a negative stereotype for decades that continues to be perpetuated by storytellers to this day. Daniel LaRusso, once the protagonist of the Karate Kid franchise, is now the antagonist of the recent show “Cobra Kai,” which continues the rivalry from the original film between Daniel and Johnny Lawrence, only decades later. Of course, the way the writers felt was quickest and most effective to turn this once beloved character into the show’s villain? By showing an advertisement for “LaRusso Auto.” Now, I may seem more empathetic towards this issue than the average person, likely due in part to having a friend working for a GMC dealer, but I just can’t help it. Seeing these characters being negatively depicted so consistently on TV and in movies can only feel crappy for real car salesmen, who are being shown that these portrayals are the way the public perceives them. I’m not suggesting that any kind of drastic reform in the way people tell stories is a realistic or ethical goal to pursue, I only hope that whoever who reads this will start to recognize how often these representations pop up. From there it’s up to them, but just a slight shift in perspective could help make trips to the dealership more comfortable and take some of the pressure off both the customer and the salespeople, if you ask me, it’s hard to find fault in that.