The year was 1980. I had finished college by then and left my first real job. The main catalyst for my move home was my boyfriend. Jack and I broke up after he moved back to Florida, and I was floundering like a fish out of water.
I went to the home of my childhood, back with my mom and dad. At age twenty one and after being on my own for almost four years, this was bittersweet. Though I was glad to be back home, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with myself.
After applying for several jobs and not getting anywhere, a month passed and I was even more restless. During that month, my dad asked me three times to come and work for him. He didn’t yell or pressure me. He just asked. Finally, on the third time, when I had no other options, I said yes.
My dad owned a Nissan dealership back then. And he didn’t take his oldest daughter to work in the office. No. He took me to sell cars. Now this was 1980 remember and seriously, there were no women car salespersons.
I remember that I had to learn to qualify people. If they had a big family, I’d recommend a station wagon, not a sportier two door coupe. I also learned to take my time with people, showing them the benefits of each car and taking them for a test drive. I treated people as I would have wanted to be treated, with kindness and respect. I took their concerns seriously and they responded.
There were weeks that I outsold the sales manager, a guy who had been with my father for years.
I was selling cars when I met my husband Jim. The first time Jim walked me to my car (at the disco where we first met) my dad had loaned me a 280Z for the night. I imagine my husband thought I was one lucky girl!
I sold cars for a little over a year then I got engaged. When I got married I didn’t think the car business was conducive to a new marriage. Too many nights and steady Saturdays. So I left the car business but never forgot the lessons I learned.
On this Father’s Day 2014, I salute the fact that my father believed I could succeed in a male dominated field. He encouraged me, taught me good salesmanship and loved the fact that I was there with him. We had many good conversations about life and the future. I cherish those memories and the skills he taught me. Thanks Dad!