10 dealership terms you may not know

Larry Printz

Language is not static; it constantly evolves to meet the demands of a changing world. Consider the term smartphone; it would have evoked laughs a decade ago. Today, it no longer does. So it’s not surprising to find that car dealers have their own terms for customers and various parts of the sales process.

Here are 10 commonly used phrases.

Be back: When customers leave a showroom, they always say, “I’ll be back.” When they return, dealers label them as a “be back.”

Buried: A customer who owes way more on their trade-in than the vehicle is worth. Usually a dealership can assist a customer out of their negative trade equity, but not if they’re deeply in hock.

Lay down: A buyer who says yes to everything. Dealers love lay downs.

Lot lizard: A salesperson who hands his or her card to everyone who visits the lot, and then claims them as their customer. While it can be demoralizing to the rest of the sales force, lot lizards move the metal, so sales managers tend to look the other way.

Mini deal: A deal that’s barely profitable and yields a token commission for the salesperson.

Orphan: A customer who has worked with a salesperson who has since left the dealership. Typically, dealers assign orphaned customers to new salespeople who are supposed to reach out and introduce themselves. With high levels of dealer staff turnover, some customers get quite a few introductions.

Pack: An arbitrary fee the dealer places on the internal cost of the vehicles, both new and used. The fee ensures that for each car sold, a few hundred dollars will fund anything from offshore accounts to philanthropic missions.

Skate: Refers to a salesperson who poaches a customer from another salesperson when the customer returns to complete a vehicle purchase.

Third base coach: A person accompanying a buyer for their alleged expertise, but who usually isn’t as savvy as the buyer believes.

Up: Slang for someone who is walking around on the lot. The term grew from sales managers yelling “up front” to get the salespeople to pay attention to the lot.