Tell us a little bit about yourself – how long have you been in the business?
When I started in the business, I was 22, currently I’m 27 years old, but I remember sitting at the barber shop one day and my barber Sal asks me how my day was. I’m telling him, “Man, you don’t really want to know how my day was. I’m a loser right now. I don’t have any money, I don’t have a cell phone, I have no car, no driver’s license, just really nothing.” I also tell him I just found out that I am going to be a dad.
So here I am kind of complaining and venting, and the guy sitting next to me getting his hair cut is listening to our conversation. He reaches over to me and says, “I don’t mean to butt into your conversation, but here’s my card. I am the General Manager of a dealership.” I was polite to him, but I’m like, I don’t think I’d be good at it.
Instead I took a job as an independent contractor selling credit card machines with chip readers. I go straight to my barber – he’s my buddy – and I’m trying to sell him on this. After I pitch him for 30 minutes and am really passionate, trying to get my first sale and make some money, he’s like, “Bill, stop, dude. Whatever happened to that guy who gave you his information at my barber shop?” And I tell him, “I don’t want to sell cars, man. I can’t do that. I wouldn’t be good at it.” Long story short, he just calls him, puts him on speaker phone and says, “Hey, you remember that kid who was at the barber shop? He’s coming down for an interview right now.”
So, from that moment, literally, my life changed. I had a son, so it’s not about me anymore. There’s this saying of Danelle Delgado’s I love: “It’s not about if you win or not. It’s about who loses if you don’t win.” I have somebody who relies on me. There was a fire inside of me like no other. After about two weeks of getting trained, I sold my first car. I made $800 on it, which would’ve taken me two full weeks of roofing or being a really bad mechanic or landscaping to make. From that first car that I ever sold, in December of 2014, my life changed.
You’ve built a reputation for helping people.
I specialize in helping people who are looking to establish or re-establish their credit. When I first started selling cars, all of my friends were like, “Bill, we can’t afford those kinds of cars. The bank will never approve us.” Getting this job – and meeting people who pay cash for cars – it definitely changed the way I view the world.
In order for me to be successful selling cars to my friends and family, I had to be good at getting them approved. I had to have a dynamite process to get everyone through, because it’s a numbers game. If I’m bringing in 60 people a month and I’m selling 25 to 30, then if I want to sell 40, 50 cars, I have to bring in 70 to 90 people. So that was my mindset. Up to now I’ve sold over 1,200 cars.
Jonathan Dawson is my mentor. He took me under his wing and taught me everything. He showed me what’s important, including what has most fueled my success: SWAT. It’s the four things a bank is looking for when they’re considering giving somebody a loan. The minute a customer sits down at my desk, I say, “OK, you’re looking to pay cash, or are you looking to finance?” They say, “Finance.” I ask them if they’re looking to establish, or re-establish, credit, or if they have excellent credit. If they say “establish” or “re-establish,” then I go over SWAT: Stability, Willingness (to contribute toward the loan), Ability (to pay back the loan), and Track Record. I go through a whole breakdown of that with my customer. We work the process Z-to-A rather than A-to-Z. With SWAT, I was able to work smarter, not harder, and really gain some good traction in the automotive business branding myself as the best. I like to think there’s nobody better at sub-prime than I am, because of Dawson and what he’s taught me. And because I’ve gained so much experience.
How did Dashboard Diaries start?
Every time I’d sell a car, I’d set my phone up on the dashboard and coach the customer a little bit on what to say. I have over 1,000 Dashboard Diaries, and over 1,200 testimonials with customers.
It took me about 200 videos to think of the Dashboard Diaries. I was doing it from outside the car. And just talk about awkward, man. [laughs] You know, people don’t want somebody else recording them. You’re standing in front of their car, and you have to yell. I would just say, “How was your experience?” They would say, “Good.” I would say, “Would you refer your friends or family?” and they would say, “Yes.” There was just nothing special about it.
Everybody gets red-light fever as soon as the camera goes on!
Yup, but when we’re in the car and it’s just us, it’s a lot different. I have my phone set up on the dashboard facing us – I have this cool little camera holder. It was awesome because I would turn my camera on, it would be facing us, and they would get comfortable seeing themselves on camera first, and then I would push record.
So, doing that, I was driving to work one day, and I was like “What the hell can I do to become the most known and trusted car salesman ever?” The first thing I did was create the name “Trusted Vehicle Advisor.” Because I hated the term “car salesman.” As I’m driving to work, I say to myself, “OK, I’m now going to be a Trusted Vehicle Advisor, and no longer a car salesman. What’s the first thing that I need to do? Well, I have to give something crazy away.” I didn’t have a lot of money. I don’t know what I’m gonna give away, and then it clicked: Give away a free car! Obviously I don’t have money to buy somebody a car, so what did I do? I decided to give away my own car.
I shot a video and said, “Hey guys, this is Bill Hav. I didn’t come from a very good background. I know what it’s like to struggle and not have a car, so I would like to give one lucky family my car.” The video blew up. It got like 25,000 views and 500 shares, like 1,000 people commenting and telling me their story. I gave away the car to a single mom who was a cancer survivor and had a daughter who was 5 years old at the time.
Since then I’ve given away four free cars to families in need, every year at Christmastime. I figured out every year how to up the ante. Last year, I really wanted to up the ante so I donated $2,500 of my own money to start a GoFundMe account, and we raised $11,750.
I started from the bottom, raised by a single mom, with just me and my sister. Then a guy in the barber shop says, “Dude, you should sell cars.” My life was changed. If Sal didn’t push me, if Sal didn’t give me $20 for the gas tank to get to the interview, I would not be where I’m at. When I got there for the interview, if the GM didn’t give me his credit card to go buy clothes instead of sending me home, saying this just won’t work out if you don’t even have a pair of dress pants and dress shoes … you know, there were so many things that could’ve went the other way so easily and I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I’m grateful to the business.
It sounds like you had preconceptions of what the car business would be like before you were in it. Did you find that some were inaccurate?
Well, I never really had my own perception of car salespeople, just the public’s.
My friends and my family. At that time, in my life, nobody in my family bought cars from a dealership. None of my friends’ parents bought their cars from a dealership. We were the poor people. I really didn’t know much about car salespeople in general. All I thought was How many people actually buy cars from a dealership? I thought we were the majority and that the people who bought cars from dealerships were the minority. The people I knew just bought cars from each other.
That was my perception of the car business: “Wow, I’m not gonna make a lot of money” or “It’s gonna be really hard to sell cars.” When I got into the business, I realized how much people seemed to dislike car salespeople. I didn’t dislike them; I just didn’t think there was a lot of opportunity to sell cars.
Was your experience that the other salespeople were what people think of, fairly or not, as being sort of stereotypical?
The first dealership that I ever worked at, where that guy really helped me out so much, had what was called a “dealer prep fee.” They’d advertise their cars as low as possible – lower than everybody else. The customer gets there, you show them the car, and they love it. You show them the numbers and everything is good. At the very end, when they would sign the buyer’s order, the bottom-line number is more than what was promised, and you had to sell them on this dealer prep fee. Remember, I’m bringing my friends and my family in. It really rubbed me the wrong way. I was super thankful for getting my start in the business, but I wasn’t in it just to make the most money possible.
So, I left, and six months later I sold 31 ½ cars at a store up the road. From putting myself out there on Facebook, they noticed me and reached out. They gave me my own billboard, and that was the start of me going nuts with self-branding. I was taking zero fresh ups and was salesperson of the month.
You were doing remarkable numbers, but coming from a place of trying to help people?
Of course, absolutely. That’s where it all comes from. The more you help, the more you make. My fiancée, Claire, and I make it a point to incorporate this philosophy into our business plan.
She’s now your partner in a credit repair company called HavClairity, correct?
Yes. I now have three children: a 4-year-old boy, a 3-year-old boy, and a 3-month-old girl and engaged to my fiancée and business partner, Claire, so a lot has changed since I first got in the car business.
This business really gave me an opportunity to fully become an entrepreneur, because I specialize in helping people who are looking to establish or re-establish their credit. I’ve sold over 1,200 cars in my community to people who have bad credit. We started HavClairity from my marketing and my relationships, and we’ve built Claire a brand as well.
You know, I love selling cars, I love the opportunities it has given me. People like that I’m doing good things, and they trust me because they see me pouring my heart and soul into my community and truly trying to make an impact. If it weren’t for the opportunity to sell cars, I wouldn’t be able to do that. So, I am forever grateful for the car business, and that will never, ever change.