I wonder what it’s like to sell cars?
I say this because I’ve had a whirlwind of a week. My 2001 Honda Civic finally died - well, the transmission died - and I had to grapple with the dilemma of “deplete the rest of my savings like I do every other month to fix this thing?” or “be an adult, realize I’ve had my car for 12 years, and buy a new one…”
This has not been easy for me. I’ve gone through many strange emotions: guilt for thinking of making such a huge purchase and for not driving a clunker or biking everywhere for transportation; fear of making a large purchase and not being able to afford to eat after; and childishness, wanting both my stepfather and father to give me all the answers and fix it for me.
But I’m 33 years old. I’m a grown woman with a husband. We had to step up to the plate together and figure this one out.
Step in Jim Hubert. I’ve known Jim for a year now, having met him last year after my old car cost me $1500. Nick, an awesome guy in the Sam Swope Honda Service Department, made the introduction, and Jim showed and had me test drive a few different cars. We got as far as a credit check and financing information before I freaked out (at home) and texted Jim, “I’m not ready yet…” I’ve been waiting on a big certification/raise at work, and I thought, “if the car can hold out 2 more years, I’ll be golden…”
But, in the words of John Lennon, “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Last week my car broke down on 9th street, and while I waited on AAA to tow it and my husband to drive down to help me, I walked into a Honda motorcycle shop where I met a bunch of sweet older men who taught me how to check my transmission fluid. One guy said, “Why don’t you check out some Honda cars? They’re great cars, they last, and it sounds like your guy at Swope is honest.” So, a year later, I texted Jim Hubert, and he remembered me.
It went something like this. Smith Imports (an amazing place to get work on your car, fyi - these guys are honest, quick, and wonderful) told me it would be anywhere from $1500 - $2500 to fix my car. I took a day to think and thought, “I can share Bern’s car with him” - and on his way to take me to work, HIS car broke down. So we had a couple’s conversation… I think we were just scared of making a big purchase. Even though we’re in our early thirties, we’re just not where we need to be in that financial American dream kind of way… But Bernhardt was resolute. ”We need answers, we need to look at our budget, we need to be adults.” And then he went to the emergency room the day of our appointment with Jim. After making sure Bern had everything he needed (drugs, heating pad, blankets, soda, and cartoons) I drove his scary car in the rain to meet with Jim Hubert face to face.
Jim Hubert is amazing. He has kids, so he’s a total dad. It’s nice, as most car salesmen have that reputation of having voices think like syrrup. Not Jim. He’s kooky. He’s fun. He was in glee club growing up and he appreciates good music and theatre. He listens and doesn’t judge things that make me cringe to say out loud. Things like, “I’m poor. I’m scared. I have student loans. I wasn’t ready for this.” The first thing we did was talk about the best plan for me. What car COULD I afford? We decided the Honda Civic would be a good bet, and I was happy with that because I’m familiar with that make and model. We looked at a bunch of colors, years, and models. We looked at my credit (FYI, you are guaranteed 3 free credit reports from the government once a year - I ran my reports at home and knew I had great credit going in), and I was happy that, in Jim’s words, “Honda liked me.” We joked about how Honda marketing has my demographic pegged - the NPR listening, hipster car liking cliche that I totally buy into… But the 2012 Civic was really nice. Simple. But nicer than anything I’ve ever owned. And they need to get them off the lot, so I knew I was in for a good deal. I test drove, I drank some coffee, we chatted up the pros and cons, different amounts of money down, leasing or buying, etc. And we made a plan. And I went home to talk to my husband and sleep on it.
Saturday: Bern and I, after calling our insurance provider, finding out how much full comprehensive coverage would cost (not as much as you think), and talking about our budget and goals, went in at 9:30 AM to make the deal. Although Honda offered me a competitive rate for my car, I ended up selling it to Smith Imports for more money, my face glowing as I cashed my check at the bank, ready for this next big step. We got to Jim’s desk, and he patiently answered more questions from us… But it was settled. We wanted the car, the deal we figured out was more than ok, and we trusted Jim. So we did it. We got the car.
We were at Swope’s Hondaworld for about 2 1/2 hours finalizing everything. They run a tight ship, and the best part is that they are SO clear about what you’re buying, interest rates, servicing information, warranty… I left feeling like an expert. I mean, it still sucks that we have to spend money on a car. I have what I call “T-Rex” arms - they can’t reach my wallet. I’m cheap. I’m atoning for a lot of mistakes I made when I was a kid who didn’t understand the value of a dollar, and spending money is hard for me. But we wrote a big check and we made a nice plan, and the guys at Honda couldn’t have been nicer. It made spending money a not-so-bad thing.
So, let’s get back to my first question: I wonder what it’s like to sell cars? Jim Hubert got a huge slice of my life in about 2 days time. Selling a car is more like being a therapist… You listen, you offer solution, you’re patient. It sounds odd, but I really like Jim and I’m going to miss him in this very strange, car parent kind of way. He emailed me this morning to tell me he was going to check in every now and then to make sure everything is ok with my car, and even though it’s totally a letter he sends to all of his clients, it made me feel special and happy and taken care of. And better yet, I know he means it. I know he will check in on us. It’s pretty cool.
There’s nothing like making that first purchase to solidify you as an adult. I sold the car I’ve had since I was 20 years old. Letting go of that car was letting go of my youth. In this process, although my parents gave me advice, Bern and I had to work together and make plans. We had to make this happen. I now feel closer to him than ever… This new car means a lot of things to us… We now have a safe vehicle for a baby (don’t get any ideas…that one will be a while). We now know how to have dialogue about major purchases. We are working as a team to pay for this car. And we know we have people to listen and help us out at Honda if we need anything.
I know sometimes blogs can be sketchy because you read them and wonder “who is paying her to say/write those things?” - I can promise you, no one is. I wanted to write about Jim and my experience at Sam Swope’s Honda World because I want you to know that they are amazing. If you need a new or used car, there are people at Swope, like Jim, who will listen to your story and who will help you find the perfect deal for you. Sure, everyone needs a commission, but it doesn’t feel like that kind of push over there. It feels like a family. People are happy to work there. Pictures of family members and inspirational quotes grace their office walls. You feel safe and secure, unlike at some other places I’ve gone to look at cars. If you need a new car, please call Jim Hubert. He’s the bee’s knees. He’ll help you out AND he might sing some Les Mis songs to you while you close.
Oh… And one other thing… I can still afford to eat even though I have a new car. POW!
Click on this website to help you if you’re thinking about buying a car. Learn the vocabulary and acronyms. Do research. Take notes about everything.
And finally, call Jim - he is the best. Seriously. I can’t say enough about Jim Hubert and his team at Sam Swope’s Honda World.