At the Car Lot

The sales team at Town and Country Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram in Levittown, NY, is hustling to sell their quota: 129 new cars by the end of the month.

Photographs by Jeff Minton

Jason Mascia

sales consultant

Cars Sold* in 2013:
228

Monthly Average:
23

“You know what I think about when I fall asleep? I cuddle up in my bed and I say to myself, ‘nobody knows where I am and nobody can reach me.’ Meanwhile I got my cell phone right next to me and that shit is on. Who am I kiddin’? I'm waitin' for a phone call to come through. I get text messages at 10 o'clock at night, ‘I'm ready to buy!’ Do I answer it? Yes! Yes!”

Bob Tantillo

sales consultant

Cars Sold in 2013:
119

Monthly Average:
12

He transferred to new cars from used a few months ago. At a staff meeting, everyone's sales for the month were read aloud. He'd sold three cars -- the least of anybody.

“You think I need someone to tell me how I gotta feed my family? I know what I gotta do. I got bills on my counter that pile up, and I gotta pay 'em! You think I don't want to pay those bills? I'm working as hard as I can work. You know it's just the way it is. Doing what I can.”

Lori Zaza

sales consultant

Cars Sold in 2013:
127

Monthly Average:
13

“Other dealerships are cutthroat. I was off the other day and one of my customers called up and got a coworker and he said, ‘Oh, Lori's off today. I can call her and give her your phone number and she can call you back.’ He didn't have to do that.”
And at other dealerships?
“They'll steal it from you without blinking and swear they never asked for you. I'm the easiest person to get along with until you piss me off, and you do not want to be on my bad side. I'm vicious.”

The sales board in the general manager's office. Guys come in and hover around it to see who's accumulating little magnetic “chips” (those colored rectangles) under their names. Each one represents a car sale; different models are different colors. The numbers above the columns (1450, 850, 250) are bonus figures for each salesperson.

Freddie Hoyt

General Manager

“If you can't get 7 cars in 12 days, you gotta look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Holy shit, what are you kidding me?’ This is no joke, I gotta be at that number or I'm tellin' ya, you ain't gonna like me the following month. Not gonna be a nice guy.”

Peter Possas

sales consultant

Cars Sold in 2013:
50

Monthly Average:
10

Peter started working in sales at Town and Country in May. He used to be a manager at a car dealership in Florida until he got divorced, moved to New York and climbed back down the ladder.

“I didn't wanna manage anymore, just wanted to sell cars. Too much stress, it caused the divorce. I was never home. I missed all functions and stuff. And I had to stay where I was at and make money 'cause of my overhead. We were on the beach in Clearwater. I was livin' in a house there and the only way to do it was to make sure I married my job. I'm not gonna do that again.”

Keys for the inventory.

Mike Lester

sales consultant

Cars Sold in 2013:
128

Monthly Average:
13

After one of his car deals collapsed on the last day of the month: “I just lost my 15th car. So I just lost my 30 percent bonus for next month. Could add up to big money.”
Sorry, that sucks.
“It happens. I need a beer. Need a beer. Swear to God I do.”

Sal Lanzilotta

sales manager

“A customer says they're not ready to buy a car. Let's go over it again. They're at a car dealership. They got in their car, drove through hell to get here, looked for a parking spot for ten minutes, parked, got out of the car and walked into a car dealer. Not because the coffee's good, we went over this, because the coffee here's not good. They came here because we sell cars and they want to buy one.”

Freddie Hoyt, the general manager, at a Saturday morning team meeting: “Everybody, I want balloons in all the departments. I want the radios on, put the convertible tops down. Make it seem like we're having a monster sale and it's a party. I just don't want one balloon to a car. Balloon the whole freaking place so it looks like a circus.”

Scott Froehlich

sales consultant

Cars Sold in 2013:
126

Monthly Average:
13

He looks very businesslike here, but he started a tradition at the lot called “The Eleven O'Clock Scotties.” His manager, Freddie, describes it: “He takes all the managers and he puts them all together on one email and he blasts us all filthy, disgusting things. Eleven o'clock at night on a Saturday. He'll email six managers a bunch of smut about us. He's the only one who can get away with that. Everyone else would've been fired months ago.”

Ed Hyne

used car sales consultant

Cars Sold in 2013:
140

Monthly Average:
14

They call Ed “Young Trump” because of his comb-over.

“This guy called me once and said, ‘Do you have any Dodge Neons?’ I actually had one on the lot that had ‘$12,995’ written on the windshield in bright marker. So I scraped off that ‘2’ and replaced it with a ‘3’ before he got down here, and I sold it to him for $13,995. My boss laughed at me for that. ‘Good move,‘ he said. But about three months later, that guy was washing his windshield and the silhouette of that ‘2’ came up. He called me out on it, and so every time he washed his car for about a year after that he'd leave me a message saying, ‘Hey Eddie, it's me. The $12,995 guy.’”

What you need to sell a car: window stickers, credit applications, a purchase order.

Manny Rosales

sales consultant

Cars Sold in 2013:
104

Monthly Average:
10

“The thing you need to be paying attention to is the negotiation. The salesman is the tiger, and the customer is the deer. The tiger has to eat, and you can't eat if you don't kill that deer. You have to go for the neck. Don't allow him to leave. But if you try to kill him too early, the deer will wake up and run away.”

Joe Monti

used car sales manager

Because business has been bad, Joe's been spending a lot of extra time at the car lot. One Sunday, he stopped in just to see how things were going, and ended up staying so late that he missed his son's football game.

“We're a little short handed, so I gotta be here, which is not a problem. Listen, if I'm making money, I'm making money. Just it's a catch-22, missing a game. But that's the car business. That's the car business. I'll make it up to him later.”

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

*Sales figures for 2013 represent data collected from January through October.