Michiana Chronicles: Used Cars

Oct 14, 2021

Credit Heather Curlee-Novak

The worst job I ever had was also the most useful job I ever had.  I’ve always enjoyed talking to people. My ability to engage and connect makes me a natural for any customer focused sales position.  My acting chops and outgoing, upbeat personality led me many different places to train and be trained for sales and customer service over the decades. For two months, that one time, it was on a Used Car Lot.  I learned some things on the car lot which are helpful to remember when buying a car. I have used my car lot life lessons to sharpen many sales teams in a variety of industries!

My work at the dealership was short lived.  You see, I preferred the customer to The Deal, so instead of trying to get them to pay as much as possible, I tried to shave and wheedle prices down so far that my bosses had to have The Talk with me.  I was encouraged to upsell, upcharge, etc. to earn a higher margin for my own paycheck.    I learned that the F&I Guy would be able to insert other fees…especially for those of you who lease a car.  Dave Ramsey calls ‘leasing’ ‘fleecing’ and I do not think he is wrong. I felt uncomfortable and awkward and I did have trouble memorizing boring car details and numbers for the required ‘6 point walk around’.  I tried to quit the first month.

They insisted I stay. I guess they saw the diamond in the rough I could be as a used car salesperson. I wasn’t intimidated by the Boys Club. I was fun to work with. I even had a pink and blue plaid sportscoat I wore ironically. I loved people but hated the pounce…. I’ve chuckled with my daughters and demonstrated the feral way salespeople will stalk and pounce on you when driving onto a car lot.  They erupted with giggles when we drove on and then back off a lot, pursued hotly by eager sales folks.  I don’t mean to mock every salesperson…remember, I am one too! But good guys in the used car arena are a rare find. 

I met a Stellar Salesman the last time I bought a car.  After two weeks of exhaustive car shopping and fitfully sleepless nights, I met Joe Orosz Jr.  He was only the second of seven car salesmen I talked to and liked.  The poor thing and his wife had six-year-old triplet girls and their 8yo big sister to manage.  I am pretty sure his wife is a saint.  Anyway, he and I had witty banter and I was very direct with him about what we wanted, what we could afford and that we were paying cash, Dave Ramsey style.  

Credit Heather Curlee-Novak


I was floored when Joe offered to drive the Honda Pilot to my house for the test drive! This man understood having small children. Later, when Joe stuck out his finger for my baby daughter to grab for a big stair step I quipped,   

  "Look at all those cars being sold!  Right now, as we stand here, cars are flying right off this lot!"  As funny as it was and as cheesy as it could have been, I believed him.  Maybe he only plays video games at home and belches beer when he asks his sainted wife to bring him a sammich, but I saw Joe as a charming family man.  Well played or real, I hope I never know. 

When buying cars, I want to feel like I got a great deal. My deal was so good I am not sharing the details! I might have even gotten Joe to dance on a desk to close the deal.  If you find him now at Paul Huering Ford, let him know that you know he dances on the desk! You won't even have to say Heather sent you. 

Credit Heather Curlee-Novak

  Joe said always get the car checked out through your own mechanic before you buy. We do this and it costs only time and about $25 for peace of mind.  Research online for YOUR car and the car you are looking at before you go see it. Aim for middle prices but expect to pay a bit more or receive a bit less. Your salesperson does intend to make a living, and they should. But. Never, Never, Never pay sticker (AKA ‘Asking’) price.  NEVER.  Even if it is a 'no haggle' lot like Carmax, ask them to sweeten the deal with services, extra keys, increasing your trade value or warranties.  And Buy the car, no leasing. Don't ever lease a car.  Leasing means you are paying extra to look wealthier than you are. (It hurts but It is true.)

Dealerships invest in the cars as a business and want to make a profit, but, if do your research, you can avoid accidentally paying for someone else’s new yacht.  Take along your most assertive, sales savvy friend and never be afraid to walk away from a car you feel iffy about.  Now if you’ll excuse me, l need to go see a man about a car.

Music: "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice