"The news came from left field," said Carroll. "Totally unexpected. The owner came up to me and said, 'I've been thinking, why should I pay you when I can do what you do?'"
Carroll, a 51-year-old husband and father to three sons, said he cried his eyes out on the drive home.
Carroll wasn't sure what to do next. But one day an acquaintance called, needing help finding a car. When Carroll told him he didn't work at the dealership anymore, the man said he didn't care.
Suddenly, a light bulb went off in Carroll's head.
Carroll knew the car buying experience was broken. According to Autotrader, fewer than 1 percent of shoppers describe the current car-buying process as "ideal."
"Why not remove the roadblocks for the customer in a way that has been attempted before, but never fully realized?" Carroll asked himself.
So Carroll began what he describes as a "car concierge service." Instead of customers having to take hours or sometimes days out of their schedule to research, drive to a car dealership, meet with salesman, and haggle over price, they could simply inform him what they wanted and he would do all those things, on their behalf. The customer never has to leave home if they don't want. They communicate with Carroll through phone, text, and email.
"People were sitting in the dealership four or five hours," says Carroll. "Sometimes the paperwork wasn't right or the car wasn't ready. Now, I take the car and the paperwork to a customer's house or office, deliver everything, sign it, then either drive the lease turn-in back to the dealership ... or if there's no car to return, I take an Uber."
"We take away the headache and stress of car buying."
Best thing about it: Carroll doesn't charge customers a dime for the concierge service. Instead, he works with a network of dealers to find the best price and offer options. He receives a commission from the dealerships when he completes a sale.
And that's how the Brian Carroll Automotive Group was born.
It's been only a year since he lost his job, but Carroll's business is booming. In his top month. he sold 52 cars, and he's now getting inquiries from across the country. With potential customers in more than 25 states, Carroll is planning to expand his company's footprint.
"It's going to really shake up the traditional vehicle ownership experience," Carroll says. "I am so excited for the customer. It really puts the customer first."
What does emotional intelligence have to do with it?
Carroll's story is a great example of seeing a problem, providing a solution, and turning that into a thriving business. But it's also something more: a real-life case study of emotional intelligence, the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions.
When he was fired, Carroll says he felt "undervalued and disrespected." But rather than feeling sorry for himself, Carroll got his emotions under control and focused on the positive.
"I try to see the good in everyone, in every situation, and with a positive attitude--even when treated poorly by others," Carroll told me.
"Life sometimes throws you a curveball. You're not always going to hit that game-winning home run. It's how you step back up to the plate that defines the true character of a person," he says.
"To persevere is to win."