Famed Michigan car salesman, author and inspirational speaker Joe Girard died on Feb. 28, according to the Detroit Free Press, Crain’s and the Automotive Hall of Fame. He reportedly died from injuries suffered during a fall in his home. He was 90 years old.
Girard, who changed his name from Girardi after he lost a sale due to his heritage, grew up poor in Detroit and built himself up through hard work, determination and a knack for sales. He worked several odd jobs, including shoe shining, before landing work at a Chevrolet dealership. According to the biography on JoeGirard.com, he was fired from his first dealership for aggressive sales tactics before landing at Merollis Chevrolet in Eastpointe, Michigan. It’s there he cooked up his magic.
According to the Automotive Hall of Fame, he sold more than 13,000 vehicles throughout his career and is known for his claim of selling 1,425 vehicles in 1973. That wasn’t a fluke either, as he regularly sold more than 1,000 vehicles per year. To accomplish this, he was known for never taking breaks, eating lunch or stopping to shoot the breeze with coworkers.
Girard retired from Merollis Chevrolet in 1977 at age 49, but he was nowhere near finished working. He turned his successful selling approach into books and became a motivational speaker. Some of his most popular books were “How to Sell Anything to Anybody,” “13 Essential Rules to Selling” and “How to Close Every Sale.” In 2001, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
In an unfortunate series of events, a Dearborn Cadillac and Chevy salesman named Ali Reda reportedly broke Girard’s single-year record, selling 1,530 new cars and 52 used cars in 2017. Reda was a fan of Girard’s and credited his books with his success. But when Girard heard about Reda’s accomplishment, he hired an attorney and mounted a challenge. General Motors confirmed Reda’s math, but officials at Guinness decided to retire the record due to insufficient independent confirmation. Guinness instead declared Girard a “historic record holder.”