While most eighteen-year-olds are busy adjusting to college classes or figuring out what they want to do in life, Josh Elswick unexpectedly found his life’s calling. He attended college in Maryland, mostly he admits, to play baseball. When he learned of an unexpected family illness, he immediately began looking for a job to support his family. Although automotive was not his anticipated career trajectory, he instantly knew it was for him. “I realized how competitive the industry is,” he explains, “and it correlated to sports for me.”
I just want to impact people the way I want to be impacted.
In the beginning of his sales career, he admits to having little insight in the industry. A customer, with multiple health issues, came into the dealership, and Josh was able to find him the ideal car. “The look on his face when I sold him the vehicle was just overwhelming,” said Josh. “Everyone talks about the stereotypes. I wanted to prove to everybody that this business is so different than what people think. You can become an agent for change in anything you do, as long as you have passion.” Josh knew he wanted to be in the automotive industry to make a difference in people’s lives.
Josh quickly worked his way up from lot attendant to sales, and finally management. Each one of his entry-level jobs provided some valuable lessons; “When I worked on the lot, I could see the customers’ real emotions and thoughts away from the salesmen. That really helped me relate to and understand my customers when I entered sales,” he explains.
His official title is Sales Manager, but he does not focus on titles. “I am directly related to each salesperson I have,” he explains, “if I need to jump in and interact with customers, I do.” As a manager, he believes it is important to model the sales process for his team. Josh is a strong believer in leading by example, and chooses to do so every day.
To be an effective manager, Josh draws on his own experiences when first starting out in the industry. His previous dealership gave him quotas with very little direction or training, which is something he avoids doing as a manager. Their team has meetings every week to discuss what they can improve upon. Rather than handing out quotas, Josh prefers to let his team set their own goals. He coaches them when they need it, and offers suggestions on how they can improve their performance.
Since millennials makeup most of his team, he admits they come with their own set of unique challenges. “They are harder to motivate,” he says, “they are less interested in money, and more interested in making a difference.” He makes sales exciting by holding competitions, like auctions, where they can win prizes. The criteria change every month; sometimes it is the greatest number of repeat customers, and other times it is the greatest amount of sales. His greatest satisfaction is seeing his employees succeed both professionally and in their personal lives. Josh loves seeing them continuously improve, get married, and buy their own cars. “Knowing I made an impact in their lives,” he explains, “is very rewarding.”
His main motivator is not money; “We do not even take commission here,” he explains. Josh chooses to be in the subprime business to help people that really need it. “A customer came in one day driving a very old truck,” Josh explains, “he had been to multiple places, and was told there was no way he could purchase a vehicle.” Rather than just sending him away like many places had, Josh looked into his credit history. “He was unaware of something effecting his credit, and I was able to help him fix that.” The man came in for a used car, and was able to buy a brand-new truck. “He literally cried in our showroom because he was so happy. No one else was able to help him or take the time to help him.”
While many people in the industry wish to own their own dealership, “I just want to impact people the way I want to be impacted,” Josh explains. Josh plans to stay with his dealership, and become a main pillar for its success. “I always want to grow,” says Josh, “and never want to settle. I want to continuously improve at my job, and sell more than I have before.”