My Car Quest

August 21, 2019

Interview Of A Corvette Super Salesman

Interview by Wallace Wyss –

There is such a thing as being in the right place at the right time. Well, I’m here to tell ya that Mike Furman of Criswell Chevrolet in Gaithersberg, MD appears to be in that situation. A Corvette salesman for over 30 years, he just happens to be in that job as the 2020 Corvette has hit the showrooms. And his phone is ringing off the hook. As a guy who had to stand in line to even see the new Corvette at a Petersen Museum preview, I wanted to ask a salesman how’s it going to be ridin’ the biggest wave in Corvette history?

2020 Chevrolet Corvette - photo by Wallace Wyss

2020 Chevrolet Corvette – photo by Wallace Wyss

WYSS: Is this the most excitement you have ever seen for a new Corvette?

FURMAN: This is my 5th generation change for the Corvette that I’ve sold thru…the internet certainly plays a huge part in the magnitude of change. In 1984 there was a huge lull with plant changes (St Louis to Bowling Green) mid 1981/1982 time frame and no 1983 model year for sale so the Corvette brethren were thirsty for the new Corvette…especially since the 3rd gen lasted from 1968-1982! Longest time of any generation. I started selling July 26th 1978 so I’ve seen most all but have I really seen it all? The best is yet to come because the Plant is going to two shifts come this Winter and I hope that means production will reach 50,000 units again. 1979 production was 53,000+!!

WYSS: Did you go and see the car in person at some big preview for dealer? How many people were there?

FURMAN: I was in attendance at the C8 reveal in Tustin, California – 1,500 people attended by invite only.

WYSS: Are you noticing a younger age group coming and asking about the car?

FURMAN: The C7 has been a major change, first in age of customer and 2nd by the amount of Ferrari, MB, BMW, Porsche buyers not only in the market but buying the C7 and raving about it…just wait until they get a hold of the C8!

WYSS: What premium is your dealership putting on the car’s base price? For instance, my associate at a radio station is buying one in Los Angeles and he is putting down an extra $10,000…

FURMAN: MSRP is the selling price and I won’t mark them up.

WYSS: Do you have any thoughts on whether this will change the customer base? The profile of the Corvette buyer I mean. In other words will you have guys that bought Corvettes before or newbies?

FURMAN: See answer above, the landscape has changed. Many new folks jumping in full force because of the legitimate world class car the new 2020 Corvette mid engine really is and will be.

WYSS: Did any of the prospective customers complain that there was no manual shift or was the percentage of manuals getting smaller every year anyway?

FURMAN: Minor rumblings but they will get over it. I’ve owned 19 Corvettes and 15 of them were manual transmissions. My first Corvette was a 1959 and my current is a 2019…and yes I’m first on the 2020 mid engine list here at Criswell because I started the deal folder deposit list June of 2014!!! I always say “Chance favors the prepared mind”.

WYSS: Did you, as a person in the know about car technology, ever feel before this that the mid engined technology of Ferrari and Lamborghini were beyond the capability of an American mass auto maker? Do you feel this car proves something?

FURMAN: YES and YES…absolutely. The sports cars winning the races over in Europe are mainly mid engine vehicles so that has to have influence. I spent every Summer with Zora Arkus Duntov from 1978-1990 and that was his main thinking about competing within the World Races. In fact his final words in 1975 to the man that was taking over his position (Dave McLellan) as Zora retired were “Build the Mid Engine Corvette!”

2020 Corvette

Wallace Wyss’ art envisions a 2020 Corvette prowling for Ferraris in Paris.

2020 Corvette

Both Wyss prints available in 11″x 17″ , signed. Write to mendoart7@gmail.com

WYSS: What kind of cars are being brought in to your employer’s dealership as trade-ins? Older Corvettes? Even very recent Corvettes? Do you take more than one car as a trade in from one customer, or are trade ins more or less just to swing the deal, you lose money on some of them but if they will buy the new car, they are condoned?

FURMAN: I have almost 7,000 Corvette customers in my book of business so many people turn over year after year super low milage mint 1 to 2 year old Corvettes. A sprinkling of C3, C4’s and C5’s every year. I will accept as many trade in’s as the customer would like, I even watched my dealer in the 80’s take a rare painting in trade once! I always kid with folks when they see a window sticker of say a 2019 ZR1 of $140,000 that “I take town homes in trade!”

WYSS: I have found pictures of the convertible to be few and far between. As far as I can gather it is a hardtop convertible. No engine will be visible when the top is folded down, does it fold inside? So is it hard to sell the convertible or do you have better pictures than we can find on the net?

FURMAN: GM will announce the C8 Convertible within a month or two so stay tuned. No engine view on the hard top convertible.

WYSS: I heard some rumor early on that for some reason, this engine will not be able to be modified or “tricked up” by consumers. A sealed engine in essence. I haven’t heard about this since the car came out but is this engine less likely to be hot rodded than previous Corvette engines? Will it void the warranty?

FURMAN: Zora Duntov always told me that rumors sell magazines not cars. I have nothing to do with what voids a warranty, that’s all GM.

WYSS: Have you ever driven or had a ride in a mid-engined Ferrari or Lamborghini? Does the new Corvette feel the same way or haven’t you had a ride yet?

FURMAN: I can’t answer the 2nd part of that question, yet.

WYSS: I notice there are twelve colors, five wheel styles and apparently lots of upholstery choices. Do you give customers advice on carefully selecting color? Because in the case of the ’06 Ford GT those that paid the extra $13,000 for the “Gulf livery” made out today as they are worth $100,000 more than the other Ford GTs of the same year. Do you think this could happen gain, one color will be more popular than the others at some later date?

FURMAN: One of the best things about ordering or buying a Corvette from me is using my 42 years of Corvette experience. I guide you thru the whole process and that especially means on formulating the correct factory order for a basically unseen product.

WYSS: In our initial contact you said you have something like 300 Corvettes that you could sell. Does that mean that this is your dealership’s quota? How many are they actually going to order for model year 2020? Or is it normal to just order 3 or 4 that have not been ordered by customers, display those on the showroom floor and take orders?

FURMAN: I have 600+ allocations from GM for the 2020 model year…they will be all sold units just like in the 2014 model year.

WYSS: Recently Porsche built a “driving experience” racetrack near the West Side of LA for customers to experience driving cars fast. And sometimes when you buy an exotic car they scheduled you to go to a racetrack and take driving lessons. Is Chevrolet planning anything like that?

FURMAN: Since 2009 GM has given away a great deal at Ron Fellows Spring Mtn Race Track in Pahrump, Nevada. On ZR1’s its a free 2 day class and on all other Corvettes GM pays 65% of the bill which includes Condo on sight and food. I’ve brought 100+ of my customers there every year, this year I will be there 4 times as I believe this is a great way to connect with customers that I have never met due to 80% of my deals are out of state.

WYSS: What do you think the percentages will break out as for coupe vs. convertible? 50/50?

FURMAN: 90-10 is more like it.

WYSS: I read an interview with “Tadge,”the chief engineer, who said they initially thought they could retail it for $160,000 but then got the confidence with the product that they could offer it for $53,000 base price. Do you think the base price is a hurdle still or are you dealing with a lot of younger people with peak earning power to whom a 20% down payment is not a problem? How much is the down payment, by the way? My colleague’s down payment as just the $10,000 premium, which is refundable.

FURMAN: $1,000 deposit will start the deal folder which gets time stamped and date coded. The deposit is 100% refundable should you decide not to go forward with your order. If financing, the banks will suggest what the total down payment needed for loan/term purposes.

WYSS: Do you feel that Chevrolet took a chance in changing over to the mid engined Corvette when it could reduce the demand for the Corvette because many Corvette fans always had front engined cars? Or did Chevrolet feel the higher price offsets what could have been a lower yearly sales figure? (Though now it doesn’t look low at all…).

FURMAN: I can only assume GM has had this in the works for a long time. It really is the correct next step.

WYSS: Have a lot of owners of recent model Corvettes, say C7s, come in and sold their car as the down payment? Is there a drop in values of the C7 cars?

FURMAN: I have seen this for 42 years with Corvette sales, people always moving up for the next great Corvette produced. My dealer asked me 8 years ago to help with selling Nissan 300’s because they just can’t seem to sell them the way I sell Corvettes…I told him they will never sell like Corvettes. People by a Nissan 300 and never buy a 2nd one! With Corvettes many folks just keep moving up either year after year or generation after generation.

WYSS: Do you feel if this car is a rousing success that GM will be empowered to “step outside the box” and make more adventurous cars (say 12 cylinder luxury cars, etc?)

FURMAN: The C8 price point was the biggest surprise to me, the car is definitely the star and I expected mid 60’s as the starting point…but was shocked at $59,995!

WYSS: Thank you. I’ll check in with you a year from now and see how it all turned out….

FURMAN: Trust me, the C8 will be a rousing success for a long time!

Mike Furman

 
Mike Furman
Corvette National Sales
Criswell Chevrolet
off Friday and Sunday
301-212-4420 Direct
503 Quince Orchard Rd.
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
mfurman@criswellauto.com
www.CorvetteFurman.com

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss one time wrote Corvette ads for Chevy’s ad agency. His paintings of exotic cars (including, at last, the 2020 Corvette will be at Concorso Italiano in Monterey).

 
 

 

 

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Summary
Interview Of A Corvette Super Salesman
Article Name
Interview Of A Corvette Super Salesman
Description
Wallace Wyss interviews Mike Furman, a Chevrolet Corvette super sales man.
Author

Comments

  1. SKIP HINOJOS says

    WHAT IS THE MINIMUM OCTANE GAS, THESE VETS WILL RUN ON? WHY DID THEY NOT USE MORE CARBON FIBER BODY PARTS ON IT?

  2. Richard A Bartholomew says

    Will the base model have the under three second to 60 mph performance? Is it a Ford GT killer or not?

    • The 0-60 times for the base Stingray have not been announced yet but I expect them to be 1/10th or more slower because the base Stingray comes standard with all season tires. Starting price is $59,995 and production will be in the 40,000+ per year…so I’d say that’s in a different league than the Ford GT.

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