Common Dealership Terms

We had a caller on the show last week who was curious about how salespeople in a dealership were paid. I explained to him how most dealerships pay and what “pack” was.

I ran across an article in the Detroit News where they defined ten of the terms used inside dealerships and they were spot on!

Language is not static; it constantly evolves to meet the demands of a changing world. Consider the term smartphone; it would have evoked laughs a decade ago. Today, it no longer does. So it’s not surprising to find that car dealers have their own terms for customers and various parts of the sales process.

Here are 10 commonly used phrases:

Be back: When customers leave a showroom, they always say, “I’ll be back.” When they return, dealers label them as a “be back.”

Buried: A customer who owes way more on his or her trade-in than the vehicle is worth. Usually a dealership can assist a customer out of his or her negative trade equity, but not if he or she is deeply in hock.

Lay down: A buyer who says yes to everything. Dealers love lay downs.

Lot lizard: A salesperson who hands his or her card to everyone who visits the lot, and then claims them as his or her customer. While it can be demoralizing to the rest of the sales force, lot lizards move the metal, so sales managers tend to look the other way.

Mini deal: A deal that’s barely profitable and yields a token commission for the salesperson.

Orphan: A customer who has worked with a salesperson who has since left the dealership. Typically, dealers assign orphaned customers to new salespeople who are supposed to reach out and introduce themselves. With high levels of dealer staff turnover, some customers get quite a few introductions.

Pack: An arbitrary fee the dealer places on the internal cost of the vehicles, both new and used. The fee ensures that for each car sold, a few hundred dollars will fund anything from offshore accounts to philanthropic missions.

Skate: Refers to a salesperson who poaches a customer from another salesperson when the customer returns to complete a vehicle purchase.

Third base coach: A person accompanying a buyer for his or her alleged expertise, but who usually isn’t as savvy as the buyer believes.

Up: Slang for someone who is walking around on the lot. The term grew from sales managers yelling “up front” to get the salespeople to pay attention to the lot.

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