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Let go by a dealership, salesman finds success disrupting car-buying industry

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Brian Carroll had never been fired or let go from a job. Never.

A year ago, he was dumped, very simply, because his boss needed to trim costs. No warning. No dip in performance. Just a handshake goodbye on that Monday morning in late January because the car dealership that employed him for eight years needed to save money.

"The owner came up to me and said, 'I've been thinking, why should I pay you when I can do what you do?' And he let me go," said Carroll, 51, of Macomb Township. "I was driving home, crying my eyes out, to tell you the truth. I thought, 'What are you going to do? How are you going to make it?'"

He called his wife on his way home.

"It was shocking and overwhelming and upsetting," Angela Carroll said. "He was very good at his job. We thought we were very stable. I didn't want him to know how freaked out I was. It makes you sick to your stomach. He had health insurance, a salary, things set in place for the future. I'd been a stay-at-home mom with three boys. I was so scared."

Carroll loved selling cars. He had worked for several dealerships in Detroit and southeastern Michigan. And now he was out in the cold. Literally.

 

Then a guy called wanting a car. Carroll said he didn't work at the dealership anymore. And the buyer said he didn't care. Carroll decided then he would go solo. Not as the usual car "broker," who tends to charge a direct fee to shoppers, but as a car "concierge" who planned to charge customers $0. He would work on commission.

After all, he figured, fewer people have time to go to dealerships and people like the idea of enhanced personal service. He would ride a trend of changing consumer expectations in the automotive industry, not by choice but by necessity. All by word of mouth.

'NOBODY HAS TIME'

Ferndale Fire Sgt. Miles Bracali had his 2020 Chevy Silverado delivered to the firehouse.

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