emma-and-bradEmma is a cool but painfully timid personal assistant. Brad is a highly successful, hungrily aggressive western Sydney car dealer. No two people could be more apart and I was the guy who brought them together. Oh how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

Emma rang me because she wanted a new car and knew exactly which one, and she was looking for a ‘tame’ dealer to buy it from. No such thing exists. But once you know how a dealer operates and if you can keep your cool you’re in with a chance, and I knew exactly how Brad operated. I figured if I threw her in at the deep end Emma might learn to swim. And pull off the best deal in town.

So I told her how it was. Brad, I said, ate people like her for breakfast. He’s the type of salesman who derives a deep, inner glow not by making a lot of money on a deal, but by winning the joust. For him the money is nothing more than a method of keeping score; it’s the game that’s the thing.

Brad advertises the best prices in town and in this he is absolutely genuine; he regularly undercuts his fellow dealers by hundreds and even thousands of dollars. And yet he keeps making more money than they do. Brad is the grand master of the follow-through.

Even when they sell them at full tilt car dealers don’t make a lot of money on new cars. Most look to service and parts for their bread and butter. A very few make money out of accessories, and no one moves them quite as well as Brad.

After he’s signed up a customer with a killer deal he gets them for the paint treatment, the seat treatment, the rust proofing, the extended warranty, the floor mats, the wheels, the body kit, the Bluetooth kit, the navigation, the DVD, the gold badging, you name it. He sells most of this stuff at a minimum 100 per cent mark-up and he’s continuously amazed that customers bargain like they’re in an Indian bazaar over the car and the trade, but never haggle on the accessories.

So I told Emma to sign the paper and then just say no. No matter what.

She rang a few days later and said she was very happy with the deal she’d done and I thought no more about it until nine months later when I ran into Brad at a motor show. We yapped for a bit and as he was walking away he stopped, turned and said: “Mate, didn’t you send me a woman named Emma a while back?”

He had a smile etched across his rocky face. Sure he’d figured out the conspiracy, he’d just figured it out a tad too late.

“I reckon I made about twenty bucks on that deal,” he said. And he laughed out loud. No one appreciated the exquisite irony of a customer stitching him up quite as much as he did.