Car Buying Articles

Confessions of a Car Salesman

Glossary to "Confessions"


Car salespeople have their own vocabulary. It describes their customers, the deals they make and the day-to-day life on the lot. Here is a sampling of how they talk when the customer's not around.

Be-backs - A customer who leaves the car lot promising to return later, saying, "I'll be back," or some variation of that statement. "The guy was a be-back. But I think he meant it. I'll see him again."

Boss - The typical way that salespeople address the managers or the GM. "Hey boss! Got a deal for you!"

Bumping - Raising the customer's offer for a car. "If Mr. Customer says he only wants to pay $250 a month, just say, 'Up to — ?' He'll probably bump himself up to $300 without you doing anything."

Closer - An experienced salesman who is brought in to "close" the customer by making them agree to a deal. "If I worked with a better closer I'd have more units on the board."

Desk - This is the sales manager, not the place he sits. "Ask the desk if these rebates are still in effect."

Demo - This is the test drive. "This guy comes in, demos the car and I think he's ready to buy, right? Then he tells me the car's for his wife and he can't make a decision without her."

F&I - This stands for the Finance and Insurance office where the documents are signed. The F&I salesperson usually will push products such as extended warranties, fabric protection and alarms. "The wait for F&I is two hours. Better stick with your customer so they don't leave." Full pop lease - This is when a vehicle is leased at 110 percent of the sticker price - the highest amount allowed by most banks. "I got them into a full pop lease. I'll get a nice voucher for that."

GM - The General Manager. The GM is the head honcho at the dealership. He runs the business from day to day. "The guys were standing out on the curb drinking coffee so the GM called them into the tower and read them the riot act."

Green pea - A new salesperson. "The funny thing is, green peas can outsell the veterans. That's because they don't know how hard this job is."

Grinder - A customer who negotiates for hours over a small amount of money. "We were only $500 apart but the guy wouldn't sign. Man, what a grinder."

Lay down - A customer who takes whatever deal the salesperson offers. "I quoted him monthly payments of $575 and he took it! I wish all the customers were lay downs like that."

Mini - The commission on a deal where the car was sold at close to invoice price. "Sure, the deal was only a mini. But I qualified for a weekend bonus and made a grand."

Mooch - A customer who wants to buy a car at invoice. "People are spending too much time on the Internet. It's turning them into a bunch of mooches."

Packing payments - Adding extra profit to the cost of a car. "This place I used to work got busted for packing payments. Next job I get is going to be in a no-haggle store."

The Point - The place on the car lot where the "up" man stands looking for customers. "The GM saw me standing on the point with my hands in my pockets. He went ballistic and sent me home for the day."

Pounder - A deal with $1,000 profit in it. "Doctor comes in and buys the top of the line model, fully loaded - and he pays sticker! That'll be a two pounder for me."

Rip their heads off - This describes taking a customer to the cleaners. "I stole their trade in, I sold them the car at a grand over sticker - I mean, I just ripped their heads off."

Roach - A customer with bad credit. Not to be confused with the "roach coach" (see entry below). "The guy looked good. But we ran his credit and he turned out to be a roach. We're talkin' a 400 credit score here."

Roach coach - The food truck that comes around to the dealership every day. "I should've known better than to eat that chili from the roach coach. My stomach's killin' me."

Spiff - A tip, kickback or payment of any kind, usually cash which is handed between salespeople. "I spiffed the F&I guy $20 bucks and he took my customers first."

Strong - This has a special meaning on the car lot. It means holding firm on your price and being a tough negotiator. "When they ask for your price you have to be strong. Hit 'em with high payments, then scrape them off the ceiling and start negotiating." (See also "weak.")

Tower - The office where the sales managers work. This is usually a raised platform allowing the managers to see over the roofs of the cars so they can watch customers and their salespeople. "Attention: All new car salesmen report to the new car tower!"

Turn over - Also known as "turning," this is the practice of passing a customer from one salesman to another. It is thought that this will prevent customers from leaving the car lot. The theory is that the customer might just have bad chemistry with the first salesman and he might like the next salesman. "I turned this guy to my partner and he wound up buying. I'll get half of the commission on the deal."

Up - A customer that walks on the car lot. The term probably comes from the order in which customers are taken, as in: "I'm up next." Many dealerships also have an up system. "We've got ups all over the lot, and you're in the back drinking coffee?!"

Voucher - Car salespeople receive a voucher to let them know what their commission was for selling a car. They don't know until the deal is finalized exactly how much they will receive. "Check out this voucher. I thought I had a pounder. Instead it's a mini."

Weak - This describes being a weak negotiator or coming down too quickly on price. "The guy was weak so he only lasted a few months. How are you going to make money in this business if you give away cars?"

Read more articles in the Edmunds Confessions Series.

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By jpricejr
on 09/02/12
7:09 PM PST

Outstanding article with terrific insight and advice. Reads like a novel. This guy really went all out to do the digging. He is going places.

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By striker33
on 09/02/12
9:18 PM PST

Excellent article...

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By siyu
on 09/04/12
8:00 PM PST

Awesome article,give me ideas and confidence to deal with dealer tomorrow!

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