28 October, 2020

7 tips for buying a car

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels


I hate car shopping. I mean, I really struggle with it. I need to spend about a week motivating myself to even set foot on a car yard. And that's coming from a car salesman. If I feel that way about it, what hope is there for everyone else? 

Buying a car is a big decision. A car is a big part of our lives. It's how we get around, and is a part of how we see ourselves. And depending on where we live, work or study, then public transport might be out of the question. A car might be the only viable choice of transport. Yes, buying a car is an important decision, which often gets emotional and expensive before you know it. So let me share a little experience with you to make it easier. Here's seven tips for buying a car.

1 - Just admit it

Just admit it - you're there to buy a car. Not being able to admit this to yourself is one of the biggest obstacles to buying a car. Once you've walked the lot, asked your questions, narrowed your options and taken a test drive, then you need to decide if it's the right car for you. But once you have made that decision, then you need to be ready to do the deal. You might find the right car at the right price, but unless you admit to yourself that you're going to buy, then you're dragging things out and making it more painful for yourself.

2 - Know your budget

How much are you willing to spend? If you don't know the answer, take another look at your savings and your household budget. You do have a budget, don't you? If you don't know what you can afford, then it's going to be difficult to decide which cars you should be looking at. Whether it's a changeover, or a weekly repayment, this is crucial information for you to know. Afterall, there's no sense getting attached to a car that you can't afford. 

3 - Know what you need

Your salesman doesn't expect you to know their range inside and out. That's their job. They can help you to match a car to your needs. But you need to know why you're buying the car. Do you need a small runaround car? Do you need seven seats? How much boot space do you need? Is luxury important to you? Is it a ute that you're after? Decide on what's important to you, and decide on what you can live without. 

4 - Communicate

Use your words. Say what's on your mind. There are some pretty amazing salesmen out there, but not many of them can read minds. They ask questions so that they can help you. How you answer can have a big impact on your car shopping experience. Some of the most satisfied customers are the ones that communicate openly and honestly with their salesman. They're the ones that get what they need with minimal fuss.

5 - Don't play games

Do you hate mind games? Then don't start playing them. Forget being cagey, or keeping your cards close to your chest. That slows everything down, and it can stop you from getting what you want. When I started out in the industry, it surprised me how many customers would try to be crafty about negotiating by playing guessing games. Sadly, doing this often leads to frustration for all involved. Remember that a salesman can't force you to pay a deposit or sign a contract. So there's no reason to keep what you want a secret. You'll be doing yourself a favour by leaving the games behind.

6 - Take a fresh look at value

Some people assume that there is still large profit margins in new cars. Those days are long gone. On some new models, you will be lucky to score a discount of a few hundred of dollars. So if you feel insulted when a car salesman suggests a discount of $500 to get you onboard, maybe look at it another way before you get riled up. What if someone walked up to you now and simply handed you $500 cash? Most people would think they've hit the jackpot. So now that margins are tighter than ever, keep your price expectations in check to avoid disappointment.

7 - Make an appointment

Buying a car isn't like heading down to your local supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread. There's a fair bit more involved. Meeting the salesman, finding the right car, taking a test drive, getting a trade appraisal, and crunching the numbers, you could be there for a few hours. Car salesmen spend their days talking to lots of people, and may be already in the middle of helping someone when you turn up. So if you don't want to be left standing around, make an appointment and stick to it. This will make sure that there is someone ready to help you when you get there.

So there you have it. Seven helpful tips for buying a car, that this salesman wants you to know. No one was born into this job, so we all know what it's like to be on the other side of the table. Most salesmen are sympathetic to what you're trying to do, and we want to help. I hope that this post was helpful. This is not an exhaustive list, but these tips will go a long way to making your car buying experience easier. If you have any other tips for buying a new car, then feel free to post them in the comments below.

24 October, 2020

Cognitive dissonance

 I recently watched a thought provoking video by Stephen B.R.E. Brown from his YouTube channel. It's titled, "Why Are We attracted to Expensive Pens?"

In the video he goes beyond a simple explanation to the question in its title. He delves deeper. He offers a few answers to the question, whether or not they stack up logically, and how we sometimes rationalize our decisions when they don't make sense. The thoughts he shares apply to all manner of things; not just pens. I recommend watching it.

When Stephen discussed how people rationalize their choices, he used the term "cognitive dissonance". It's a state in which our actions are inconsistent with our thoughts. Being a pen enthusiast, he uses the purchase of expensive pens as an example. It wasn't long until I started to recall other examples that I've seen. I found it interesting to note how common this behaviour is.

People often buy things that they want but don't truly need, then justify the purchase to themselves or others by focusing on how it was on sale. In reinforcing how the purchase was better value than it would have normally been, the mind is associating a more agreeable value to the item purchased, resulting in less buyer's remorse.

Stephen briefly uses cars as another example in his video. Thanks to the time that I've spent working in car sales, I can relate to that example quite well. When we are thinking about buying a car and considering a number of vehicles, we are performing a series of value judgements about each of them. And sometimes the value that we assign to a car doesn't really stack up. If we look at cars as purely functional things, as transportation from one place to another, then sometimes the more luxurious features of a car aren't all that important. Sure, soft touch finishes are nicer than scratchy plastics. And ventilated seats are nice in the warm weather, but it's hard to make a case for them to be truly essential. Yet it's features like these that many people desire, and will do what they can to rationalize away the price tag. So, should we turn our eyes away from the finer things in life, and pursue only that which is functionally imperative?

I can't answer that question for you. We all value things differently. It comes down to affordability, and what drives the desire for the object. Is it comfort? Or status? Maybe an appreciation for craftsmanship? It's hard to put an accurate value on things while keeping our desires out of the equation. But perhaps it's not about the price of something, rather the value in the experience that it allows. The stories we tell each other, and the memories that we create, often involve the money that we spent. Sometimes the financially responsible thing to do is stay home and eat two minute noodles. But those aren't the times we remember; we remember the expensive holidays and overpriced meals that we shared with the people that we love.

If you would like to see more of Stephen's content, his site can be found at: https://www.sbrebrown.com/

21 October, 2020

No Man's Sky. No end in sight.

Everyone loves a good story, don't they? I know I do. There's nothing quite like becoming engrossed in the telling of some grand adventure, riding the rollercoaster of ups and downs experienced by characters that I love and those that I hate. Then, when I get to the ending, the storyteller wraps it all up in a nicely packaged finale. Well, sometimes. Because stories don't always end like that. One example of that is the videogame No Man's Sky. 

Fair warning, the rest of this post contains what might be plot spoilers for anyone that hasn't completed the game.

No Man's Sky is a sci-fi space game that centres around exploration and survival. The first 20 mintues or so of a new game is definitely all about survival. You play a character who typically starts on a planet with hostile environmental conditions, depleting life support, damaged equipment, with no recollection of who they are or how they got there. Then it's a matter of staying alive long enough to figure out what's going on. Once the often frantic start is out of the way, then the game settles into its core gameplay element of exploration. And there is a lot to explore.

The game's universe is a procedurally generated wonderland. There are 255 galaxies to explore. Each one of them is unique, and packed to the brim with various stars, planets, biomes, and lifeforms to check out. To give you an idea of just how massive the universe is in No Man's Sky, imagine needing to give up nearly 585 billion years to see it all. There is a good article about the game over at Mashable, which also breaks down the numbers. See: "No Man’s Sky" provides a soulful antidote to our anxious times

Along with the nearly limitless exploration, there is an interesting story to the game. It's a story that looks at metaphysical themes, including purpose, the nature of reality, and questions of fate versus free will. It was a story that I felt compelled to try and finish. I often played far too late into the evening, just to get that little bit further into it. Followed by a lot of mornings at work, filled with sleep deprived regret; regret that I wasn't at home still playing the game. But like all good stories, it eventually comes to an end. Or does it?

At the end of the game's story, you're faced with a decision that literally puts the fate of the galaxy in your hands. But whichever path you choose, you are still faced with some bittersweet truths - you will never be able to explore it all, and maybe nothing you do matters anyway. I think that's brilliant!

So many stories, through whichever medium they're told, leave us with a nice, neat, happy ending. And that's great. There's nothing wrong with happy endings. But some of my favourite stories have left things hanging; they've left a doorway open to uncertainty and an array of possibilities. Those are the stories that I like the best, and they often feel like they've left a mark on my soul. For me, No Man's Sky is one of those stories.

If you would like to check out the game, head on over to the No Man's Sky website and take a look. It's not a game that appeals to everyone, but those that like it often fall in love with it.

19 October, 2020

First business cards

My first set of business cards is in. Woohoo! Check them out.

I have been daydreaming about handing them out. Imagining the conversations with prospective clients or casual acquaintances, in which they are interested in my work. And after I rattle off an impromptu sales pitch, I hand them a card, planting the seed for future projects. Mutually beneficial projects, that make us both filthy rich. Haha. If only it always played out like that.

I spent some time thinking about the role that business cards play in 2020. The way in which people work is becoming more digital and remote. As a writer, I can quote, plan and complete a job from the comfort of my own home. It's the stuff that dreams are made of. It's not just freelancers, but a lot of jobs are heading that way. So, given that I may never meet some of my clients, do I need some old school physical business card in my pocket?

It depends. Some professions will find that business cards are indispensable. Others, not so much. Regardless of the job, business cards were never the key to getting a sale or closing a deal. The cards are simply a convenient collection of your contact details, along with your name and who you work for. Getting a sale, convincing a client, or securing a payday, is done elsewhere.

While business cards aren't the cornerstone of any business's marketing, they still have their place in how we work. Some of the people you meet, including potential clients, will ask for a card. So be ready to hand them one.

I'd like to say thanks to Officeworks for selling me the cards. My cards are based upon one of their templates. If you need some business cards, they have a wide range of nice templates to choose from, and they can work with custom designs too. And with a few options of cardstock and finishes available, you can be sure to create some nice business cards.

18 October, 2020


Hello everyone. My name is Geoffrey Burrows. Welcome to my new blog!

I have reached a turning point in my life. I have decided that it's time for me to make a move in my career. I will be starting out as a freelance writer. And this blog is a part of the journey.

The first steps of this new direction started with my 40th birthday earlier this year. A lot of things have been going through my mind in recent years. But a large part of it is dissatisfaction with my career. I have had a variety of jobs - gardener, delivery driver, kitchenhand, call center phone monkey, plus a few others. My most recent job has been in car sales. While there has been a lot of good things about each of those jobs, they've all been lacking a little something. Satisfaction.

There's no such thing as a perfect job. Nothing is perfect after all. I'm going into the life of a freelancer with my feet firmly planted on the ground, while I'm aiming for the stars. But I believe that starting out on my own will give me a chance to earn the sense of satisfaction that I have been wanting. 

Through the various jobs I've had, I was able to see what things brought me joy at work. Two big ones are self-direction and skill development. 

I like being in charge of my time. It's liberating to be able decide what I am doing and when. Getting to choose what my priorities are and how to action them. That has been one of the great things about working in car sales. Aside from a few scheduled tasks at each end of the day, a salesman is responsible for managing their own time. If you see a customer, go talk to them. If there's a phone call, answer it. If there's a customer that you haven't spoken to for a while, give them a call. If you need to learn about a product, go look it up. By starting my own business, I will need to exercise that same sense of initiative. I will decide my own path and that's exciting.

Developing a broad range of skills makes me feel capable and confident. One of my early jobs was working for Pizza Hut, and I think that spoiled me for a lot of my subsequent jobs. Working for Pizza Hut was a fantastic chance to learn a lot of skills. I showed them that I was enthusiastic, dependable and willing to learn. In return, they cross-trained the heck out of me. Within months I was able to tackle almost any job in the store. Unfortunately, not many of my other employers since then had a business structure that seemed to encourage that degree of training. But in starting my own venture, I need to learn a lot of things as I go, and that is making me happy.

So here we are, at the start of my journey as a freelance writer. I hope that you find it interesting and follow along. If you like my writing and would like to discuss how I can help your business, organization, club or personal endeavors, please head over to the Contact tab and drop me a line.