Spotting Zebras and Horses

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really great groups and you know who you are. What I find so interesting is all of these great groups have outstanding leadership.

What I find even more enlightening is that when it comes to dynamic leadership it’s very apparent when it’s there and when it’s not.

Leadership is not just the words that are spoken. It’s almost the un-spoken that says the most. It’s a vibe, it’s a feeling. It appears right there in front of you. It’s something people sense and want to be a part of. It’s high energy and a “can-do spirit.”

The lack of leadership is also easy to spot. It’s low energy and “I don’t think I can” is written all over it.

Great leadership is like horses and zebras. When you’ve seen thousands of horses, spotting a zebra is pretty darn easy to do. I’ve seen lots of zebras lately, that’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Digging Deeper

If you follow baseball, you may remember the Kurt Gibson story. Gibson had a bad leg injury and could barely walk, much less run, as the Dodgers took on the Oakland A’s in the 1988 World Series.

In Game 1, with the Dodgers losing 4 to 3 in the 9th inning, manager Tommy Lasorda decides to pinch hit Mike Davis, who eventually walks.

Lasorda then pinched hit the injured Gibson. Gibson battles the count to 3 and 2. Now down to his last strike Gibson hits a 2-run homer to win the game 5-4. Most people remember seeing Gibson hobble around the bases.

I’m just wondering…how deep are you and your team digging when it comes to selling more used cars?

Has the team decided that it is what it is?

Or are they digging deep, getting after it and determined to make it happen?

I hear people crying all the time about three major things:

1. They can’t find inventory
2. They can’t do volume
3. They can’t improve gross profit

Yet I see others who are making it happen. They are digging deeper to find the cars and trucks they need. By finding the cars and trucks they need, they are doing greater volume. By doing greater volume, they are improving their total gross profit.

Maybe it’s time to suck it up like Kurt Gibson and dig just a little deeper. Let the digging begin. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Who Can And Who Can’t?

I’ve come to believe that most leaders know what’s holding the team back. Only the best of the best are willing to do what it takes to remove those pesky obstacles that get in the way of progress.

Most leaders want to fix the obstacles, but very few have the will to do so.

One of my favorite techniques over the years in dealing with obstacles or perceived obstacles is to ask a manager, “What’s holding you back? What’s keeping you and your team from getting the numbers we need?”

What I’m really doing is asking them for the excuses. I like excuses. I like eliminating their excuses.

Your job as a leader is to do whatever is within your power to eliminate the excuses and push the obstacles out of the way. When you remove the obstacles, you will find out who can and who can’t. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

It’s Not About Being Fair

You may have heard these numbers by now, but just in case you didn’t I will share them with you. Last year there were 15.6 million new cars and trucks sold in this country. That’s a number you have probably read a lot about.

A number that you’ve not heard much about is the 41.9 million used that were sold.

Both numbers are up from 2012. Actually over a million more new and a million more used were sold in 2013 than in 2012.

Here’s the breakdown of the 41.9 M Used:
New Car Dealers: 15.7 M
Independent Dealers: 14.2 M
Private Sales: 12.0 M

Did you sell more used in 2013 than you did in 2012? If you didn’t, shame on you. If you didn’t, have you come to the realization that the market was there and you weren’t?

Regardless if you were up or down last year, your goal should always be to get more than your fair share. I can’t define “more than your fair share.” Only you can do that by taking a look at your total used car market.

Here’s a reality check for you. Average gross profit per unit sold continues to come down. With grosses coming down and expenses going up, can’t you see that at some point you’re going to find yourself in a “trick bag?”

You will only stay out of the “trick bag” by doing more volume and getting more than your fair share. Let the unfairness begin. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

What’s Your Message?

Great leaders are great sales people. If you’re leading then you’re selling. Selling the team is a never-ending challenge for leaders. Here are 4 key elements to help you sell your message:

1. Get Buy In-Getting buy-in requires the leader to constantly be removing doubt within the organization. There will always be doubters. Knowing who they are and winning them over is the job of leadership.

2. Share the Vision-Sharing the vision means you must constantly reinforce and repeat the message. There is no single formula for doing so. You can’t state or print it one time and it’s done. The team wants to be sold and it’s your responsibility to do so.

3. Set the Example-You have to walk the walk. Talking the talk is easy. If you’re not a believer in your own message then it will soon show up. Don’t expect others to spread the message and set the example. It’s up to you.

4. The Evaporation Factor-Understand it’s always there. Even the best disciplined teams have break-downs. Your job is to realize there will be break-downs, acknowledge them and fix them right away.

That’s my message for today. That’s all I’m gonna say,
Tommy Gibbs

Did You Notice?

Did you notice that you are getting really comfortable with having aged units around? You’ve justified in your mind that it’s ok because the selling season is finally here. Since you think that’s a brilliant plan, please let me know how the ROI turns out for you.

Did you notice that the selling processes you think your team is using, aren’t the selling processes you’re using? Some members of your management team are doing their “own thing.” If you don’t believe it, sit down individually with your sales people and ask them how each manager starts and works a deal.

Did you notice that you are no longer doing a “save-a-deal meeting” and “trade walk” each day? You’ve accepted it as fact that everybody is so busy that they don’t have time to do it. You’ll be surprised at how many more deals you will make by doing a “save-a-deal meeting.” And, how many more used cars you will end up keeping and retailing when the management team does a “trade walk.”

Did you notice that the management team doesn’t understand Life Cycle Management? Life Cycle Management starts on day one, not day 61. If you are having aged units and/or losing money on units wholesaled at the end of the life cycle it’s because they are not using “Early Warning Radar.” If you don’t think Life Cycle Management is important, go ahead and tell me the story on your oldest unit in stock. Yep, they all have a story. Had you been focused on Life Cycle Management that unit would have been gone long ago with little or no loss and maybe even a profit.

Did you notice that the sales and management team doesn’t do lot walks anymore? Did you ever wonder why your sales people don’t sell more used? It’s because they don’t know the inventory.

Did you notice you get lots of lip service on those processes you know need to be followed in all the departments? Guarding the processes is one of the most important functions of leadership.

Did you notice that the average cost per used car in stock keeps creeping up and up? The reason it’s happening is because you are not paying attention to it every day. Pressing the average cost down is a fundamental discipline. The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

Did you notice you’re selling vehicles for less than what you have them posted online? That’s because the sales team isn’t sold that you have the best product at the best price. Before you can make the customer a believer you have to get the sales staff to believe. Tracking GAP will create a focus that forces you to hold more gross profit.

Did you notice that sometimes you just don’t notice? Your job as a leader is to notice what’s going on. My job is to keep reminding you.That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Dream Stealing

Who stole your dreams? Whose dreams have you stolen? We all have dreams and we’ve all had dreams stolen.

Most of the people I’m around dream of success. Success for their families, success for their organization, and personal success.

Far too often dreams get stolen. They get trampled. They get stepped on and squashed away until one day the dreams are given up on.

As a leader you can do two things. Fight hard to keep your dreams alive and help others do the same. Keep dreaming, that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

We’re Both Worth More…

Believe it or not, no one has ever told me I’m too expensive after spending money with me. Of course, people inquire all the time about my training, pricing, what I do and how I do it. Often they don’t ante up.

I can only assume they think I’m too expensive or maybe they know they aren’t ready to do the things they know they should do. The same thing happens to you too.

I also happen to think your product or service is worth a lot more than you’re getting for it.

If we’re talking about your cars and trucks I’m thinking there’s a lot more value to those vehicles than you and your staff are talking about.

If we’re talking about your organization, I’m thinking there’s a lot more value to your organization than you and your staff are talking about.

If we’re talking about the talent and equipment it takes to service your vehicles, I’m thinking there’s a lot more value in your service department than you and your staff are talking about.

I’ve got over 30 years’ worth of solid leadership skills and automobile experience to share with you. No fluff, no puff…real stuff, even high tech stuff. I’ve been a student of this industry and paid the price to learn the things I want to share with you.

In your case, you’ve got millions of dollars invested and thousands of hours of talent to share with your customers. I’m thinking we both need to ask more money for the value we bring to the table.

You’re worth a lot more and so am I. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs