Car salesman Peter Nannery admits that the business of selling cars has a bad rap. But Nannery, 37, of Bernardi Honda in Natick, Mass., insists that he’s an honest guy who doesn’t deploy sleazy dealer tactics to drive a sale. He tries to reassure customers with the lighthearted line, “My wife likes me, and she’s a good person.” Nannery says the days of high-pressure bargaining, 10-15 hours of negotiation “to wear people down” are no more. “No more old-school tricks here; we take a more relaxed approach.”
Nannery first would like to dispel a few myths: it isn’t true, he said, that salesmen are told not to wear sunglasses so they can develop better rapport with their customers. And the practice of “turning” over a difficult sell to another salesperson or manager is also rare. “We don’t have a system or designed approach,” he said.
According to Nannery’s spreadsheet, he sells an average of 315 cars a year, and although he has to work weekends – “that can be tough when the Patriots are playing” – sometimes staying those four extra hours to make a sale can be worth it. And if they walk out the door? “That does happen quite a bit. You just have to pick yourself up and get ready for the next person.”
The playing field for car salesmen like Nannery has changed, with educated customers using Internet research on sites like Edmunds.com to find out the cost of options, available models, and regional selling price. “Customers ask less about the car now, and more about the deals,” said Nannery.
Q: What are the most cars you’ve sold in one day?
A: During Cash for Clunkers last August, I sold seven cars in one day. I was on cloud nine. Even as recently as last Saturday, I sold four cars in one weekend. I had been struggling a bit; I did 11 months in a row of 20-plus cars, and I was hoping to build off that momentum but it seemed as if that streak would end. In the last four days there was a huge turnaround, after making phone calls and asking people for referrals.
Q: Did you expect to become a car salesman?
A: Never in my wildest imagination. I never liked cars growing up as kid, and am not mechanically inclined. I’m even bad at even Legos. But I like sitting down with people and helping them select something useful for their family.
Q: Did the Toyota recall crisis last winter help your business?
A: Yes, it did. I feel horrible for the guys who work at Toyota, but when people are cross-shopping from one brand to another, we definitely try to mention it as a factor that makes Honda a safer buy.
Q: What color typically sells the best?
A: Silver is king, and it stays cleanest the longest and hides dirt the best. And black always looks good when a car is shiny and cleaned up.
Q: Any funny or outrageous incidents that happened to you while selling cars?
A: My first week here, I took out a gentleman to see a car and we had to drive to the storage lot where we keep excess inventory. I don’t know if it was the excitement of making a sale, but we hit another car, and then a third car joined the collision. It was two accidents within six minutes. We made it back to the shop and I was all shaken up, but I still got the deal.
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