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Angie Wieck, Published July 29 2012

It's My Job: Used-car salesman says repeat business the goal

MOORHEAD – Case Muscatell of Muscatell Subaru in Moorhead has been working in the automobile industry since he was 13 years old.

He started out cleaning used cars at Muscatell Burns Ford in Hawley, and eventually began selling cars during the summers while attending North Dakota State University.

He recently talked about the auto industry and offered some tips for buyers.

Q: Does weather affect car sales?

A: Yes. Extreme conditions one way or the other are usually bad for us. Probably one of the worst parts (of the job) is “snow days” or “lot rodeo days,” where we have to clean the snow off the cars, move them and then put them back.

A beautiful summer day usually works against us, too. People around this area go to the lake. Not to say we hope for rain, but a forecast that doesn’t look so appealing helps us out.

How has the auto sale industry changed over the years?

It seems like nowadays we have more Internet shoppers who know what they’re looking for when they come in. The hard thing that you run into now is you get into more price battling with Minneapolis and outer areas. The biggest thing that the Internet can’t really show a person is condition. The outside may look nice, but there could be something wrong, like a tear in the seat. There is a reason that someone is selling theirs cheaper than everyone else.

How many cars do you sell a month?

It varies in every organization. Our sales staff here, we run with seven guys. Some stores do 20 or 30. Here, to be kind of in the average ballpark, it’s asked that we sell 15 cars a month.

Do you have any advice for buyers?

The guy that’s the hardest to work with usually doesn’t get the best deal. … When you come in, come in with a positive attitude about the situation. At the end of the day, we don’t want to take advantage of anybody. We want people to be happy. Around this area, especially, it’s all about “send your friends in.” That’s how we sell most of our products.

Also, be open to finance. Finance rates right now are crazy low. It’s a very good time to look. I have people say, “Well, your financial department makes money when you finance.” They do, but we get a discounted rate so a lot of times we get a better rate than you could have gotten on your own.

What do you want people to know about your profession?

There is the stereotype out there about used-car salesmen. One thing I always tell people is that when a car comes into the shop, mechanics get paid based on what they fix. So if there is something wrong, they’re going to fix it. At the end of the day, if you drive a car off the lot and it has an issue, I’m probably never going to see you again. Our goal is to get people coming back.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501