I had forgotten about him for the last couple years and was just looking up some more info about him (he's in his 80's now).
He sold an average of SIX new chevy's every day of his entire selling career, all at retail. That's insane. From this article:
The bankruptcy of Girard's business in 1962 led to his automotive career. He got a foreclosure notice for his house, and he had no car, no groceries and no money. With a wife and two children to support, Girard got on a bus looking for work one day in January 1963. When the bus doors opened, he stepped off in front of a big Chevrolet dealership.
Girard begged the manager for a job. He spent that first day calling everyone he knew. At 8:30 that night, after most of the other salesmen had slipped out, a customer walked through the door. The only other salesman still working was busy. So Girard spent 90 minutes with the customer, did some more begging -- and sold his first car.
"I said, 'Look out world. I'm coming back,'" he said.
He borrowed $10 from his manager to buy groceries and sold 18 cars during his second month on the job. But the owner fired him after complaints from other salesmen. Girard went to Merollis Chevrolet in suburban Detroit and set sales records year after year.
But Girard never let go of being fired. Every year he mailed a copy of his W-2 to his old boss, with a note at the bottom telling him, "You fired the wrong guy." After his old boss died, Girard says he even took a W-2 to the cemetery and buried it atop the man's casket.
At Merollis, Girard set up his own retail empire within the dealership. He eventually took customers only by appointment and hired two people to manage the flood of customers. Girard paid those employees out of his own pocket. They found out what buyers wanted, whether they had a trade-in or would qualify for a loan. Then Girard did the selling.
One of his biggest secrets? Girard told his customers to come back to him directly if they ever had a problem with their cars. Then Girard treated the dealership's mechanics to a big dinner at an Italian restaurant on the third Wednesday of every month.
The mechanics loved him so much they'd drop other jobs and assign three people to one of his customers, recalled Girard, who often speaks of himself in the third person. He'd also pay for low-priced parts himself if the car was out of warranty.
"What made Joe Girard was service, service, service -- and I created the greatest advertising in the world, which was word of mouth," he said.
Girard, who often sold 160 cars a month and once sold 18 in a single day, employed other tricks:
He paid a lot in so-called bird-dog fees to people who would refer customers to him. Girard wined and dined supervisors at big companies who knew hundreds of people to send his way.
Other than "Good morning," he refused to talk to co-workers. He ate lunch at his desk so he could dedicate every minute to selling.
Instead of the flashy suits some salesmen wore, Girard wore casual clothes. He wanted to dress like his customers, who were largely blue-collar people.
But after Christmas of 1977, Girard called it quits. He had topped 13,000 in sales -- 13 is his lucky number -- and he no longer could take the stress of the job. He had been sweating and shaking at work; he went to a doctor, who told him to quit or die.
He started writing business-advice books and speaking at business events. IBM and the Harvard Business School are former clients.
Even in his 80s, he continues on, charging $18,000 a speech. He travels to China every year for several speaking gigs.
In 2001, Girard was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Chevy's bow tie badge was on his product, but he chalks his success up to selling himself.
"I never sold a car in my life," Girard said. "I sold a Girard."
From another article:
How successful did Joe become?
The Guinness Book of World Records listed Joe Girard as the "World's Greatest Retail Salesman" for 12 consecutive years.
People actually used to lineup to meet Joe, so that he could sell them cars. There would always be a queue in front of Joe Girard’s dealership every morning. Joe Girard sold more cars individually than most dealers sell in total. He sold an average of 6 cars everyday, throughout his selling career. He sold 13,001 cars during his selling career… all at retail.
What's his secret?
He built and maintained relationships. Joe used to send 13 cards to all his prospects and clients every year. One every month and one for Christmas. He created a place for himself in the brains of his prospects and clients by keeping in touch with them.
He made sure that he was in peoples' minds when they had to buy a car. And that is how he sold 6 cars a day, everyday.
Keep in touch with people regularly.
Send them “Thank you” notes.
Send them season’s greetings.
Send them news and information that will be beneficial to them.
Send them free goodies.
I am not one bit surprised about how he sent 13 cards per year to his customers. One of the biggest things I preach and help implement for my own clients is to send a postcard once a month to each person on their list.
Guess how much that costs? Less than $5 per year per person per YEAR. For less than $5 per person per year you can send them postcards once every month, keeping them engaged and giving them coupons (a reason!) to keep coming back.
It's amazing what you can do to your business when you keep engaging your existing customers and always being at the front of their mind when they need what you have.