I read an article about what could happen if automotive terms that the public doesn't understand show up in dealership advertising.
As example cited was using “W.A.C.” in advertisements. What does W.A.C. mean? More on that in a moment, but I've been in this business for years, and didn't know what it stood for.
I remember when I first started in this business the challenges I faced were many. Leading the pack was the vocabulary. I continue to see folks who enter the automotive business struggle with the terminology.
Some organizations have printed books on automotive terms and hand them out to new hires to help them get up to speed. I have wanted to write this article for some time now because I thought it would be fun to share some of these terms, which can be wacky.
I will certainly not be able to share the many terms that exist in our automotive terminology library in one article, so I will cherry pick some and perhaps discuss others in a future article.
For kicks, let's try a few and see how many of these you know. I will start with the ones I was hit with in my first week on the job as an office manager, and then add from there.
- Bird Dog. I thought it was a dog used for hunting. It is the person who refers a customer to the dealership for a sale for a fee or commission.
- Bird-Dog Fees. Payments to a person not employed by the dealership for referring a customer to the dealership for a sale. It is paid by the dealer or salesperson.
- Spiff. A bonus or commission paid to a salesperson for a sale.
- Teaser. A vehicle with few options that is priced attractively to draw customers to the dealership.
- Roach Coach. One of my favorites. Our receptionist used to page the whole dealership when it arrived by saying, “The roach coach is here.” It is probably not a good idea to do that today. It is the outside catering vendor that would pull into the service drive in the morning and afternoon to provide breakfast, lunch and snacks.
- Borrowed Car Agreement or B.C.A. A form used to obtain customer legal obligations when a vehicle is loaned out to a customer.
- 13th month statement. Thirteen months in the year? Actually, this is an additional 12th month statement that is generated usually to record income and expenses that were not recorded at year-end in the normal monthly financial statements during the year. This practice is one that should be discontinued. Each month financial statement should be accurate and stand on its own. There should be no need for a 13th month statement.
- Home Run. Stands for when a salesperson made a lot of money on a customer by taking advantage of most or all of the sales products or services available to a customer when purchasing a vehicle such as trade-in allowances, sales price on the vehicle, finance and insurance products.
- Bumping. Raising the price of a customers offer on a vehicle.
- Be Back. A customer who leaves the dealership promising that they will be back later (and often aren't seen again).
- Lay down. A customer who takes whatever deal/price arrangement that is presented to them.
- Mooch. A customer who wants to buy the vehicle at invoice or with very low profit margin.
- Handshaker. A manual transmission vehicle.
- Up. A customer who walks up to the dealership and is taken by the next available salesperson.
- $500 sandwich. Went to lunch and missed out on a sale opportunity.
- Crop duster. A vehicle that blows smoke out the tailpipe.
- Hammer. Pressure applied to a customer to purchase a vehicle.
- Hung. A customer who has made the purchase decision and is ready to sign the paperwork.
- Chop the clock. Rolling back or reducing the odometer reading on a vehicle to mislead a prospective buyer. (Hopefully, that term isn't commonly used at your dealership.)
For folks entering the car business, the industry can be challenging in its own right.
The additional task of having to learn the terminology is often forgotten or assumed by those of us who are used to it. I think a terminology handbook is an excellent approach to aid someone in getting comfortable with our vocabulary.
(By the way, for those of you who are still wondering what W.A.C. means, it is “with approved credit.”)
Consultant Wayne Fortier has spent many years working as a CPA and a CFO of an automotive dealership group. He is at [email protected] or 877-357-2727.