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Sucked back into the car business.....
Old 04-27-2011, 09:44 AM   #1
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Sucked back into the car business.....

I haven't posted much lately, so I figured I would give 'yall an update.

For those of you who don't know, I owned a new car dealership for 20 years, and closed it down back in late 2008. We had hit our financial goal, the business was not fun any more, yadayadayada, so I hung it up.

After a couple of years of trying to figure out this ER deal, I've decided that I need to have something to "do", other than housework, yardwork, repairs, drinking beer, etc. I felt like I was losing some of my edge, or intelligence, or something. I don't know how to explain it really-- I guess I was just getting bored.

Sooooooooo, I have decided to open a smallish used lot (30-40 vehicles) in a good location with a couple of guys I've worked with before who are good car guys and trustworthy (or have been in the past anyway). They are going to get paid on net profit like owners, and I plan to be able to let them run it for extended periods of time when we are on vacations. I can watch the accounts remotely, and like I said I do trust them so I'm not overly worried about letting them run it. When I'm in town I expect to be at the lot or at the auction just 2-3 days a week. And while I'm looking forward to having a place to go where I can be productive, I know I don't want a full time "job". I will have to be careful with this because my natural inclination will have me there every day. The reason I got out of the car business back in 2008 was because I hated the new car business (dealing with the arrogant automakers), and I didn't like managing lots of employees anymore. This used car business will be super simple in comparison, with only the three of us, and my two guys will be paid as contract labor so very few HR-type issues should arise.

DW is retiring in May from her public school librarian job to focus on the kids-- one is going to HS next year and one to the big public JH, so she wants to do some "hovering" to make sure they are doing well. Plus, she says she wants to learn the car business, so she will help out with the title work and accounting and helping watch over the whole deal.

I'm a little embarrassed I couldn't figure the ER deal out any better than I did. I think it was just a little too early for me, or maybe I just need to be semi ERed. Anyway, I'll keep 'yall updated on how it goes.
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ER'ed from the new car business Feb 2008. I'm 47, she's 45. Two boys ages 15 and 13. DW is SAHM. I've got a part-time used car lot I w*ork at 3 hours a day that keeps me in beer money.....
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:47 AM   #2
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Hey, it is your life, live it how you want with no apologies. If you find that this new arrangement isn't working for you, you know you have the freedom to change it.

Niow if I were in your shoes, I would make sure I had a very comfy office on site and I would not encourage the wife to intrude, but that is just me.
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:59 AM   #3
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Why did you just close the doors on the new car dealerships? Could you have sold the franchise?
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:16 AM   #4
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I posted my experience(s) on a new car dealer lot where I met the owner who was a multi-millionaire who had retired and opened a lot "for fun"

FIRE isn't for everybody

His story was pretty much like the OP's... retired, got bored, then went back to work.

he was a good guy though. He just needed somewhere to go every day.

On another occasion While also looking at cars I met a salesman who had retired as a 747 captain with one of the major airlines. He had the union pension and lots of savings. He said he drove the wife nuts in retirement before he decided to start selling cars to get him out of the house. He was also nice guy.

I suppose, selling cars could be a "back-up" plan if I can't handle all that time off when I finally do retire.
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:30 AM   #5
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I say good for you. I have a friend that got his Chrysler dealership taken away after being in the family for three generations. He is in a holding pattern, sitting on cash from the real estate, but not really knowing want to do. I think your solution is a good one.
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:30 AM   #6
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I posted my experience(s) on a new car dealer lot where I met the owner who was a multi-millionaire who had retired and opened a lot "for fun"

FIRE isn't for everybody

His story was pretty much like the OP's... retired, got bored, then went back to work.

he was a good guy though. He just needed somewhere to go every day.

On another occasion While also looking at cars I met a salesman who had retired as a 747 captain with one of the major airlines. He had the union pension and lots of savings. He said he drove the wife nuts in retirement before he decided to start selling cars to get him out of the house. He was also nice guy.

I suppose, selling cars could be a "back-up" plan if I can't handle all that time off when I finally do retire.

If you're going into a new car dealer to sell cars, good luck. I doubt you'll make the 1st month. Plan on never being off and having the owner spending his/her day trying to figure out ways to take your money.
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:33 AM   #7
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Cardude, the experience you shared resonates with me. I "retired" -- stopped working -- after a couple things (e.g. car accident, crime victim experience) because I had enough money for my lifestyle.

But I noticed a growing feeling that I was losing my abilities, losing something, so I went back to my work (law) and do the law work I enjoy in a part time way. It is very satisfying. The irony is I am earning way more than I ever did.

Thanks for sharing your experience here.
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:43 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by cardude View Post
Sooooooooo, I have decided to open a smallish used lot (30-40 vehicles) in a good location with a couple of guys I've worked with before who are good car guys and trustworthy (or have been in the past anyway).
Great news! I usually can get a good feel for what a person needs, and a long time ago when you posted about various things you might do to pass the time I suggested that you look into opening a lot.

My uncle spent his life in the car business, never a dealership- but rentals franchises, used cars, service stations etc- and for his later years he returned to running a used car lot, until he got whacked by lightning in his mid 80s.

Always dressed sharp, always drove cool cars though in his later years he became a Town Car guy.

Anyway, haggling on a lot beats sitting in your kitchen worrying about your bowels, or procrastinating over some task you wife wants done.

Ha
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:14 AM   #9
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What Brewer said...
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:15 AM   #10
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@73ss454

GM had been trying to run me off for years with their stupid "channel strategy", where they don't want you to dual with another make. They wanted me to build a seperate showroom for Chrysler, or sell it to my competetor, or sell my GM franchise to my competetor. Crazy thing was, my store make WAY more money than my competetor's did (saw the numbers), but he was WAY up GM's a** and they loved him. I also got GM's lovely "non viable" letter that said my location didn't make sense, and that combined with the channel strategy made it nearly impossible for me to sell my small store. And when the sh*t hit the fan in 2008 nobody was buying anyway. Believe me, it was not an easy decision to just shut her down, but I'm still glad I did. Or that's what I tell myself anyway!

BTY, I owned a 1970 SS454 for awhile. Serious car......


Thanks for the thoughts everyone. When I quit the car business I vowed I would never get back into it. I had a really bad taste in my mouth at the time for the reasons above. However, as I flailed around the last couple of years trying to "find" myself , I stayed in touch with all the used dealers I know and they all seemed to be doing well, having fun, and without all the hassle of a new car store. And the funny thing is, some of them make what I made back in the go-go years of 2001-2007, but with much simplier operations.

One thing I definitely found out about myself in ER is that I'm way better making and saving money than I am spending it.
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ER'ed from the new car business Feb 2008. I'm 47, she's 45. Two boys ages 15 and 13. DW is SAHM. I've got a part-time used car lot I w*ork at 3 hours a day that keeps me in beer money.....
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:33 AM   #11
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Cardude,

Nothing wrong with this and its sounds like you learned never to say never. Are you going to specialize in any particular used cars (Muscle, luxury, sports cars, etc) or whatever will make some $s?

Good Luck!
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:30 PM   #12
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Why be embarrassed. It's your life, you can live it how you choose and if the daily routine of running a car lot is what floats your boat go for it.

If anything you should be proud that you worked it out so quickly.

Good luck with your new business and I hope if fill the void.
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:58 PM   #13
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Why be embarrassed. It's your life, you can live it how you choose and if the daily routine of running a car lot is what floats your boat go for it.
+1 I see nothing to be embarrassed about.

Now if you still refer to yourself as "retired", I might disagree with you. But if you classify yourself as a "part-time automotive entrepreneur", no one can accuse you of false advertising.
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:35 PM   #14
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I've decided that I need to have something to "do", other than housework, yardwork, repairs, drinking beer, etc. I felt like I was losing some of my edge, or intelligence, or something. I don't know how to explain it really-- I guess I was just getting bored.

.

It happens to a lot of us . After failing at retirement once I found my niche ( selling on ebay ). Sometimes you just need that extra stimulation even if you do not need the money . Hope it all works out for you !
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:32 PM   #15
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Gotta have a contingency plan in case the surf comes up.

I have to admit, a used car lot will provide you an endless supply of personal entertainment!
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:38 PM   #16
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Sorry to hear you fell off the wagon. I hope you have a speedy recovery.
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:42 PM   #17
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One of the things I've noticed on these ER boards is distinct lack of small business owners. In someways I find it odd cause they probably are more likely than any other group to be able to afford to retire early, especially if they can find a buyer for the business.

On the other hand it makes perfect sense the small business owner, or self employed professional is under represented on the board.

A big motivation for early retirement is complaints about your boss or more commonly upper management. In your case, in the rare event you are pissed at management. You just have to look in the mirror and let it rip

Have fun.
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:45 PM   #18
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I spent 35 years in the car biz and yesterday one of my salespeople from NY who lives down here in Fla called me and asked if I'd be interested in going into a used car lot with him. NOT!
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Old 04-27-2011, 05:26 PM   #19
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Like the others, I'm happy for you (really). I only have 45 days left to ER, but I fully expect to pursue another career, because I fully expect to get bored eventually/start losing whatever skills I have/just want to slow down spend out. Your solution sounds perfect for you, hope I find something as suitable...
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Old 04-27-2011, 05:44 PM   #20
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Congrats cardude. A dudes gotta do what a dudes gotta do!

I will FIRE soon.

I could consult... but scr3w that! I am readjusting my clock. Time to pursue other interests. I doubt I will ever work again... for a traditional paycheck.

I might do some volunteer work or something that ties into a hobby or interest.

But... who knows? I am sure many other have said the same thing and change their mind later.
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