Monday 11 January 2021

An Ass for Every Seat

 I sold cars for a living for a couple years.  Selling cars is just like selling anything else, in that you're identifying the needs and wants of a potential buyer and overcoming any potential obstacles.  The big difference with car sales, though, is that buyers are full of shit pretty well all the time.  I'm sure that has a lot to do with the reputation that car salesmen have. It's a reputation that they've definitely earned through the years, but still, if you're selling food or clothing or some kind of service, you don't really seem to need to manage potential buyers lying to you about their intentions or their potential hangups that they have with your product/service nearly as often, it seems.

I was reminded today of a hypothetical that my sales manager explained to me one day about leverage.  Imagine you're running a used car dealership that's on a stretch of road that's 100 miles from any other civilization.  I don't know why you'd build a car dealership there, so this situation is messed at jump street, but that's fine. 

Imagine it's 5:30pm, and you close at 6.  A guy comes on to your lot pushing his vehicle.  It's an old piece of shit that, for the purposes of our story, is totally fucked and is headed to the junkyard.  He decides to ask the salesman for some help.

"What are the most important features for you on your new vehicle?" the salesman asks.  

"Well, reliability is important, and I'd like to keep the vehicle for a few years, so low mileage is important too.  Ideally I'd also have a sunroof and blindspot monitors, but those aren't deal-breakers" the customer answers.  "Oh, and it's got to be red."

The salesman has a 2018 Rav 4 XLE with 60,000KMs on the lot that checks all the boxes.  The salesman shows him a final price of $20,000.  The customer answers back "I'll give you $18,000 for it."

"Let me get this right," the salesman says. "You just pushed your old beater on to the lot, and you're an awfully long walk away from wherever it is that you were heading.  I found you the exact car that you're looking for and you're still asking for 10% off? It's gonna be $20,000."

Now, in most situations, where the customer wasn't a million miles away from civilization, he could look around online and find other similar vehicles, see what they're selling for, or maybe leverage a couple of dealerships against each other.  If we change the scenario from a single dealership to a small town with 3 or 4 dealerships, how does the situation change?

Well I've had people look at vehicles on other lots on their cell phones from my office before.  If you're looking specifically for a used 2018 Rav 4 XLE in red with 50,000km-70,000km and find one on a lot, that's probably the only one you're going to find in that particular town, even in my town where there are 25 different lots to search through.  You might find a blue one on another lot, or a different options package, or one with 150,000KM, or one a year or two newer or older, but used cars are kind of unicorns and every one has it's own story.  Hell, even if you do find another one that matches up, condition is another really important factor.

So where am I going with all this?  Well apparently DJ Lemahieu is going to re-engage other teams, since the Yankees are unwilling to meet his asking price.  In the above scenario, Lemahieu is the customer, and the Yankees are the dealership.

The more Lemahieu is willing to change the variables, the more likely he is to find the best value.  The problem, it would seem, is that Lemahieu appears to really only want that red Rav 4 that is the New York Yankees.  The Yankees are the only red Rav 4 with the desired mileage and the sun roof in town, whereas the Blue Jays are a nice one at a similar (maybe even better!) price, but it's Blue and doesn't have the sunroof.  The Dodgers have one that was an accident repair, the Cardinals have a Honda and the Red Sox have one that was smoked in so it's all stinky and has nicotine stains on all the interior surfaces.

So the customer calls around and gets some pricing at the other dealerships.  The Blue one in Toronto is offering the $2,000 discount that the customer wants, but the customer doesn't want that one because it's not New York, and New York knows it because the customer is still sitting in their office.

Lemahieu needs to fire his agent yesterday.  It's fucking January.  We're like 43 days away from P's and C's and Lemahieu's agent is ready to engage teams now?!  Lemahieu is free to ask for whatever he wants for a contract (apparently 5 years, $110MM), but the Yankees don't have any need to negotiate and up their offer when no other alternatives were even being accepted by Lemahieu's camp.  Just my speculation, but I don't think anyone is going to give Lemahieu that $110MM deal, but the best way to get the Yankees up from the $80MM area would have been to involve another dealership.  

As for the Jays... well, there's no real need to get excited about this one.  They might give Lemahieu a bit of leverage and force the Yankees in to spending a bit more, but as much as they may be interested in signing DJLM, I have a hard time believing that it's going to happen at this point in time.

(The Jays are going to sign George Springer anyway.)

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