Select Reputable Contractor
A couple of months ago Gallup conducted a poll asking the following: “I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one — a great deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?” The results, summarized in The Huffington Post, were: “Americans are about as likely to trust members of Congress as they are car salespeople…” (Click here to see the poll.) (Click here to see the entire article.)
Car salesmen have held the dubious distinction of being members of the least trusted profession for many years, though Congress seems intent on taking the bottom spot. Apparently our elected representatives need another session or two, but that’s a topic for another time. As for “Business Cards”, we’ll get to the tie in shortly after we take a look at a fun book.
This quick and quirky read written by Art “Moe” Sheakley, is described on Amazon as follows:
“If you have ever bought or leased a new or used vehicle, or plan to do so anytime in the future, you NEED this book! This is the book that car dealers will not want you to read! Written by a retired car salesman, it covers the automobile business from A to Z. It’s 100% hardball and no “Sacred Cows” are left untouched by the brutal truth!” Though not in the market for a car I did read this book as part of my research into business practices, digging for nuggets that might be of value to others.
What’s the tie in with basement waterproofing? At least a couple of things, starting with the following quote from the arbitration sworn testimony of AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation’s General Manager. Questions (Q) by my side. Answers (A) by their General Manager.
Q. Well, did you mean to indicate that all of yours salesman go out and lie to get jobs?
A. I was talking about salesman in general. I have been in the car business, a lot of businesses. They will say anything to get a sale, that’s what I’m saying.
This exchange came several weeks after the General Manager made the following outrageous statement when giving his sworn deposition. Again, questions (Q) by my side. Answers (A) by their General Manager.
Q. Okay. And do you ever seek to ascertain whether or not the statements your salespeople are making to the customers are accurate or not?
A. Every week, we go over that, and every week, they go out and lie.
Q. They go out and what?
I’ll let you, the reader, decide just what the message here is. What is of interest for this posting is the car business reference.
I’ve had bad, and likely not unique, experiences with car salesmen and dealerships. Would reading a book by a former employee shed some light on sales tactics? Indeed it did and we could spend a lot of time going over it all, but then Moe might lose some book sales! So, to whet your appetite, I will focus on his discussion of titles. I don’t mean those pieces of paper that deal with who owns the car, rather the creative names businesses give to their employees. Mr Sheakley has a funny take on this in Chapter 2 “Not The Greatest Job In The World”, where he relates the following:
“I remember late in my career, at one of our sales meetings, the boss informed us that all of our business cards would be changed to something other than car salesmen. Some of us got a good laugh out of that, and we though he was kidding us. He was as serious as a heart attack and got a little ticked off when a couple of us loudly protested.”
Moe traces this back to occupation surveys that list car salesmen as dead last in terms of credibility and trust, i.e., even lower than the other two occupations on such surveys. Can you guess what the other two are? According to Moe, those others are attorneys and politicians, statements borne out by the poll cited above. He also notes:
“Now when you call a dealership or go visit their lots all you can find are automobile specialists, transportation advisers, or sales consultants! I have been told numerous times by managers and owners that our credibility and trust is lower than whale dung on the bottom of the deepest ocean! Just accept the fact, and work around it.”
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2), William Shakespeare
I cannot begin to know why AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation chose to give the salesman who visited my home the title of Senior Inspector. You may recall from a previous posting the following exchange from his sworn testimony at the arbitration hearing, where the questions (Q) are from my side and the answers (A) are from AquaGuard’s General Manager:
Q. And is Dave Collins one of those service inspectors, or is he a salesman?
A. He has a fancy name for a salesman. He’s a salesman.
Q. And senior inspector is his tile?
A. Yes, he’s a senior salesman.
Certainly there is value in recognizing employees by providing titles that may reflect on their seniority, experience, value, etc. Let us assume a company like AquaGuard uses such titles as motivation or rewards. Who can argue with trying to improve employee morale?
However, there is a downside for the consumer if these titles mislead the consumer as to the qualifications of the company’s representative and hide or distract from what is motivating the person you are dealing with. In a future posting we will look at these issues and something that I think is connected, namely internal conflicts of interest especially when we may be blind to our own motives.