Yokozuna wrestle last, drawing the biggest crowds and guaranteeing the evening ends on a high note. - Photo by ElHeineken via Wikimedia Commons

Yokozuna wrestle last, drawing the biggest crowds and guaranteeing the evening ends on a high note.

Photo by ElHeineken via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve become a fan of Japanese sumo. I put the year’s six tournaments on my calendar so I can watch the bouts.

Sumo wrestlers are known as rikishi. They can push, shove, slap, trip, or grapple with their opponents to force the other person out of the dohyo (ring) or touch the ground with any part of their body. Tournaments last 15 days, and the Emperor’s Cup is awarded to the yusho (winner) who has the best record in the makuuchi (top division).

So how in the world does this apply to the car business? In at least three ways:

1. Oshi-Zumo and Yotsu-Zumo

There are two wrestling styles: oshi-zumo and yotsu-zumo. Oshi-zumo (pushers/thrusters) extend their arms to push. Yotsu-zumo grab the opponent’s 30-foot silk mawashi (belt). Both require using immense weight and power. But there are no weight divisions in sumo. Davids wrestle Goliaths and have to adjust styles to fight the most effectively.

Menu selling has become the standard practice in our industry. It’s a good compliance tool and it’s a good way to sell more products. How you use it is your wrestling style.

We might be pushers and thrusters when it comes to explaining products and providing facts. Or we might be mawashi people who grapple with handling objection after objection.

There aren’t weight divisions for our customers either. Sometimes we get laydowns and sometimes we get someone we can’t move at all. We need to be ready to change our wrestling style depending on the customer who’s in front of us.

2. Kachikoshi or Makekoshi

Rikishi rise and fall in the ranks based on their performance during tournaments. They try to obtain a kachikoshi (winning record) and avoid a makekoshi (losing record).

In our industry, we’re ranked based on our performance and have to earn our pay. Poor performers are often demoted back into sales or terminated. Good performers should always try to improve.

Practice in your off time, not on customers. Learn as much as you can from everywhere you can. Want to make more? Earn it.

3. Yokozuna

The top rikishi level is the yokozuna (grand champion) who has proven himself to be a consistent performer. A yokozuna is given the highest level of respect and privileges because of the years required to become a master.

In our industry, we should strive to become the best in our position. A title doesn’t confer respect. Respect is earned and a title comes as a result. Don’t order salesmen around like you’re the boss. Be a leader; earn their respect by working with them and teaching them.

Yokozuna wrestle last in the tournament. Their bouts are highly anticipated and are usually exciting. We should view the last deal of the night the same way.

That deal can be the best one, but too often we’re more interested in meeting our buddies for a beer or getting home to our families. We fly through the paperwork, don’t give the customer our full attention, and often have the lowest PVR as a result. Be a yokozuna and make the last deal your best of the day.

Sumo wrestling dates back hundreds of years and has many formal, ritualistic ceremonies. Those ceremonies keep the sport highly respected in Japan. We need to keep in mind that the average customer buys a car every few years whereas we do this multiple times a day.

Keep it special for the customer. Utilize various sales techniques as needed, maintain a kachikoshi by averaging at least 1.5 products, and become a yokozuna by practicing and perfecting.

About the author
Lori Church

Lori Church


Lori Church is an experienced F&I manager, a graduate of the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, and director of compliance for Holman Automotive.

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