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May 16, 2011

Car Business Language & Lingo-Part I

81980936-113x150 Now the car business is very unique when it comes to having its own language. I remember when I first got in the retail side of the business back in the mid 80′s, and I thought everyone was speaking a different language in the car dealership I was working in. Being that I was a young strapping 28 year old, and very wet behind the ears. I was about as green as they get at that time in my life. 

When I started hearing terms like “Up’s” and “Be Backs” I thought I needed to go back to school and lean this specialized language everyone was speaking at the store. I had no idea I was getting into a new business and that I’d need to learn a whole new vocabulary.

But it wasn’t long when I started to pick up on the specialized language that car salespeople speak at a car dealership. I’m sure some of these terms are used in other businesses, but for the most part the following are unique to the car business.

Below is most (I’m sure I’m forgetting some so if you’re in the business and know of some that I left out, please leave a comment below and let me know) of the jargon and the meaning that is communicated in a car dealership. See how many you’ve heard of…

  • “UP”—An “Up” was the first weird term I heard when I first sold cars in 1986. I’m pretty sure that term wasn’t an original car business term, but who knows…maybe it was. An “Up” is a customer. Why not call them a customer? Well back in the day, some stores worked on a rotation meaning that the salespeople took turns when a customer came on the lot. It was termed an “Up System.” When it was your turn the sales people would say, “Your up” Scott. Meaning the next customer in was mine. Furniture stores sometimes work on an “Up System” so maybe they were the first to use that term. So next time you go to a car dealership, tell the salesperson that you’re honored to be his/her “Up.”
  • “Fresh Up”—If that sounds like “Fresh Meat” to you then you’re pretty much hitting the nail on the head. A “Fresh Up” is a customer that comes onto the lot for the very first time; they’ve never been on your lot before.
  • “Be Back”—A “Be Back” can be classified as a “Fresh Up” that comes back for a second or third visit. They could come back multiple times (if that’s the case the salesperson would be considered a “Candy Ass” another term which I’ll discuss later). Anyone that’s been in the store before and comes back is considered a “Be Back.” However, most customers that come into a store and don’t buy all say they’ll “Be Back,” but only about 1 out of 10 ever do come back to the store. Why is that?
  • “Laid Away”—No, this isn’t what you think…Car dealers don’t have a “Layaway Program.” However, they do like to “Layaway” their customers. “Laid Away” means a customer that represented a BIG gross profit deal for the car dealership. A customer that was asleep at the switch and paid above and beyond what most customers would pay for the same vehicle. If you continue reading my blog, that will never happen to you…(-;
  • “Lay Down”—A “Lay Down” and being “Laid Away” go hand in hand. You can’t really have one without the other. In theory the “Lay Down” comes before getting “Laid Away.”  You must “Lay Down” before you can be “Laid Away.” “Lay Down’s” are a car salespersons dream. They are what salespeople live for. The customer that comes in and offers no resistance. They are your typical “Yes” man. They do whatever you say, and they will pay whatever you ask. They are the ones that pay all the money. They buy all the add-ons and never object to anything. The problem with “Lay Downs” there is a shortage, and they are becoming fewer almost to the point of being extinct. I’d say that out of a 100 “Ups” (“Fresh Ups” that is) that walk into a car dealership, only about 3-5 are “Lay Downs.” Not a big number, but when a salesperson gets one it can be a big commissionable deal.

To Be Continued…

Scotts-headshot-cityBy Scott Klein
"Your Go To Guy For Candid Car Dealership Information" 
Born and raised in Flint Michigan, I've been around cars my whole life. Since 1983 when I started buying and selling cars at the Flint Auto Auction to the present of being a Sales Trainer for a dealer group in Atlanta Ga, my car dealership experiences run long and deep. In 1986 when I started selling cars to managing all departments in a retail dealership environment, I have the know how to help you navigate the treacherous waters of each step in a car dealership. 

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