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May 15, 2012 7:35 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor Resident Advances in Chevrolet "Walkaround" Competition

May 16, 2012 9:00 AM

When doing a walkaround, Joe Tedesco is doing anything but giving customers the runaround.

In fact, Mr. Tedesco, a sales associate at Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac in Southampton, recently won a districtwide contest for his outstanding “walkaround,” an automobile industry term for the sales pitch made when car dealers walk around a car, explaining all its bumper-to-bumper features and benefits.

Because of his initial successes in the Sonic Show What You Know Walkaround Contest, a competition of the best walkarounds for the new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, Mr. Tedesco, 33, a Sag Harbor resident, is now in the running for bigger honors.

Just last Friday, Mr. Tedesco had his walkaround performance on the Sonic filmed for submission to Chevrolet judges, who will then select a regional winner to advance to the national-level finals, to be held in Detroit from June 12 to 14.

“It’s quite an honor,” commented Les Corwin, a sales manager at Buzz Chew, noting the extensive product knowledge that his colleague had to display.

Mr. Tedesco’s nearly 10-minute clip starts out with him behind the wheel of a Sonic outside his County Road 39A dealership, reeling off a long-enough list of impressive features to rival a car manual’s index. “This car screams fun to drive,” he says as he emerges from the car. Before his 10 minutes is up, the tie-wearing father of two has circled the car and pointed out what is best from its every crevice, including his favorite feature, the turbo engine.

“It’s got the fuel economy of a four-cylinder and the power performance of a six-cylinder,” he said in a recent interview.

The video came out on the third try, following two bloopers, he said. The first time around, his cameraman broke into laughter because a bug was crawling on his leg, Mr. Tedesco said. On the second take, Mr. Tedesco said he started calling different cars by different names, “for some reason.” But the third time was the charm.

For Mr. Tedesco, who joined the Buzz Chew team in 2005, performing so publicly was not a given. “I hate going into the public spotlight,” he revealed. “I’m actually surprised I went through with this.” It was with the encouragement of others based on his product knowledge that he ultimately decided to put himself out there.

As for his prospects in the rest of the competition, he said he thinks they’re “pretty good,” but that he had glimpsed some other videos. “They are phenomenal,” he said. “It’s very stiff competition.”

Presentation is key. “You just want to make sure everything is fluid,” he said. “And everything you say, you want to make sure that you point out the benefit to the customer.” Therefore, the best walkaround will not just point out that a car has a Bluetooth feature, for example, it will highlight Bluetooth’s safety benefits, as a hands-free phone device.

Two overall winners will be crowned at the finals in Detroit in June, the car capital of the nation. The grand prize winner will receive a brand-new, “loaded” Sonic featuring all the bells and whistles: leather, heated seats, a sunroof, 17-inch rims and tires. The second-place winner will get a mid-level Sonic.

Having already won his in dealership and district levels, Mr. Tedesco has a few hundred extra bucks in his pocket. He said he plans to put his winnings toward his children’s college fund and renovations on the Ridge Road home he shares with his wife, Lauren, 32; daughter Emily, who just turned 4; and son Ryan, who just turned 2.

With his video now done, Mr. Tedesco can sit back and enjoy the ride of the competition. He, his colleagues and his family will see where the road leads.

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