How To Get Noticed

I’m often asked by managers and others what it takes to be successful in business and how to move to the next level.

They will often imply that they do a good job, but feel frustrated by the lack of forward progress.

Doing a good job doesn’t ensure you of anything except you get to keep doing a good job…until someone else comes along who can do it better and then you may be looking for another job that you can do a good job at. It takes more than doing a good job to get you noticed and to the next level.

21 Tips For Getting Noticed

1. Come early.
2. Stay late.
3. Come to work to work.
4. Stay busy.
5. Seek information and education.
6. Understand you are owed nothing.
7. Do more than you are asked.
8. Be tenacious.
9. Steal someone’s ball and run with it.
10. Force the passion. You may not be in the perfect job or perfect place. It’s up to you to make it the perfect job at the perfect place.
11. If you do these things, someone will notice.
12. If you get noticed, you have a ladder to the top.
13. If you don’t get noticed or this isn’t the place for you, then you are developing some skills that will eventually get you noticed.
14. Do it at the next place and the next place until you get noticed.
15. Be so good that you can’t be denied.
16. Pull others up and up you go with them.
17. Set an example for others.
18. Get up, walk around, be nice.
19. Be enthusiastic, even on your worst day.
20. Dress up to the next level. Don’t dress like the rest.
21. Your answer to the question, “How are you doing?” should be “I’m living an amazing life.”

Thanks for noticing. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

It’s Over

The summer is over. It has been a pretty good year for most of you. It’s easy to become complacent when times are good.

Dealers make the most money when they are coming off tough times. When things are tough, dealers get back to the basics and grinding it out. As business gets better they are in a great position to make a lot of money because they have cut out all the fat.

But as business gets better, dealers tend to add this and that to the expense line and get further away from the basics. From where I sit, I’m seeing dealers making good money, but many have started to get lax with spending, processes and their daily disciplines.

The standard in the business has been that we should make at least 2% net profit to sales dollars generated. If you are only making 2% right now while business is good you may be in trouble when business goes south.

Right now you should be making 4 to 6% net to sales. It stands to reason that if you can get the percentage up during the good times then in the worst of times you can still maintain the 2% plus number.

If you’re in the 2% bracket or less, then you are missing something somewhere and need to re-evaluate your operation and do what you have to do to get it fixed.

For example, if you are keeping used vehicles past 60 days, the odds are pretty good that you have a lot of water sitting out there. If you were to liquidate today, your bottom line wouldn’t look so hot. It would be a safe bet to say your net profit to sales percentage is misleading.

Here are some things to think about as we go into the fall and winter:

1. Refine and stick to your basics
2. Don’t get stupid with your expenses
3. Keep the inventory turning
4. Evaluate the inventory on hand vs. anticipated selling rate
5. Get your profits into the 4 to 6% net to sales range
6. Don’t think you have it figured out because you don’t

“We never get it right. There’s always more to do and something to fix.” That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Doing The Right Thing

One of the issues management often struggles with is doing the right thing vs. doing the right thing based on the rules of what’s fair to the bottom line.

Most dealerships have written or unwritten rules primarily to protect the company and at the same time keep peace with the troops.

Though well intended it doesn’t always work out so well.

One issue that often comes up is a split deal. A split deal can create as much hate and discontent as almost anything that goes on in a dealership. Its short-term and long-term effect will often cost you money and additional sales, and can destroy morale.

Every split deal has to be determined on its own merits, but I’ve often paid the full commission to both sales people. I’m not suggesting you do it on every deal. You’d go broke doing that, but on those deals where it’s obvious that we would not have sold the car if not for the efforts of both sales people then it might just be the right thing to do. Especially if you know it’s going to create a burr in both saddles.

The alternative is to pay half deals and now you have two sales people sideways. When sales people get sideways they can’t perform. When sales people get sideways they stir the rest of the team up. When the team gets stirred up by a negative issue we all lose.

Doing the right thing can even be fun. I went to Office Depot the other day to return an item and to pay for an item that they forgot to charge me for on Monday.

When I got to the counter I said, “I have two issues to discuss with you. I’d like a refund on this item I purchased sometime back.”

The cashier said you can’t get a refund because too much time has passed. I said, “There’s a time limit?” He said, “It’s an electronic item and you have to bring it back in 3 weeks.” (It was a USB port extension, $10)

I said, “OK, I don’t think it’s a good rule, it’s still in the box, but no problem.”

He had a bit of an attitude and said, “Let me check on it” or something like that…very grumpy about the deal…he then agreed to give me my money back. I was very gracious and thanked him.

Then I said, “My second issue is I was in yesterday, purchased several items, you waited on me and you didn’t charge me for the printer cartridge I purchased. I want to pay you for it.”(It was a $70 item) His expression. PRICELESS!

It’s also PRICELESS when you do the right thing that in the end helps you sell another unit. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Knowing What You Deserve

Every week several people contact me about volume and gross. No one will disagree that we need to be focused on inventory turn, and no one will disagree that we still have to generate X dollars in total gross to pay the bills.

There is often a disconnect between the desired goals and the skill level of those who have been put in charge of obtaining the volume and the gross.

I could go on and on about this skill level, but let me give you just one key point that goes into play when trying to determine what’s what. Are you ready? Are you really ready?

It’s “knowing what you deserve” for any given car or truck on your lot. It’s part understanding the data and part common sense. It’s really that simple.

Knowing what you deserve means having a true understanding of the market and the unit you’re staring at. It’s having the “cojones” to ask what you deserve for a given unit. And, it’s also knowing what not to ask and when to fish or cut bait.

Here are 5 more thoughts to help you:

1. Redundant Training- It ain’t redundant until you’re perfect. You ain’t perfect. If your sales staff isn’t polished enough to be able to justify the price then you are not going to get the desired gross. It’s just that simple. Get busy training and you’ll get more gross. (If you have a bunch of knuckleheads working with you then all the training in the world isn’t going to make a difference.) At the very least, you should have a lot walk once a week with all managers and all sales people. The more your people know about your inventory, the more your gross goes up.

2. Ask For More On The Right Units– There are some that you need to start way high. Some very low. Once in a while you gotta “ask for it all.” Since the beginning of this business, high average gross profit has been achieved by hitting a home run once in a while. You can’t hit it if you don’t take a full swing. If it’s a low mileage, really nice car you deserve more money for it. You don’t deserve more money for an edgy one and you have to be smart enough to know which is which. And without a doubt you have every right to ask more money for a certified car. But that doesn’t mean you sit on the “more money” pricing forever. Change the pricing daily.

3. Not selling in Today’s Market-Your most profitable car is a 20-day car. If you are retailing a lot of cars at the 30, 45, 60 plus day mark, you don’t have a chance. Speed wins; the lack of speed kills. Why don’t you try charting those units that you sell at 45 days and beyond to see what they are doing to your average gross profit? In the movie “A Few Good Men,” Jack Nicholson might have been talking about you. You can’t handle the truth.

4. Lack of quantity and quality of photos -stop reading this. Go look at the used cars on your website. Now go look at If yours don’t look as good as theirs then you don’t have a chance. Don’t have a photo booth? Want your cars to look really cool. Check this out.

5. No Early Warning Radar-You’re asleep at the wheel. You have to be able to spot a problem child on day one, not day 44 or day 59. Every one of your aged units has a story to go with it. That story started back on day one. You have to be smart enough to have an “Early Warning Radar” system in your arsenal. Fix your Radar system and your grosses will improve. I invented “Early Warning Radar.” You should steal it and use it.

You get what you deserve, when you do the work to deserve what you get. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Review Time

Below are 40 fundamental traits of a good leader. These are traits that everyone should seek to emulate regardless of their position on the totem pole.

There are 3 ways you can use them:

1. Evaluate yourself. How’d you do?

2. Evaluate the person above you. Your supervisor, department head, team leader, dealer, GM, person in charge, etc. (You don’t have to tell them, just tell me.)

3. Have someone you work closely with or someone you supervise evaluate you.

If you do all three you’ll become a better leader.

My Top 40 Leadership Traits:

1. Leaders have pep in their step
2. Leaders are disciplined
3. Leaders arrive early, stay late
4. Leaders have a sense of humor
5. Leaders are consistent
6. Leaders follow the golden rule
7. Leaders don’t put themselves above others
8. Leaders don’t show favoritism by hanging out with subordinates
9. Leaders can be counted on
10. Leaders answer their own phone
11. Leaders return phone and email messages promptly
12. Leaders dress the part
13. Leaders show respect for others regardless of position or social status
14. Leaders say thank you…a lot
15. Leaders cut to the chase and get to the point
16. Leaders listen because they know others have great ideas too
17. Leaders use the word “We” vs. the word “I”
18. Leaders pull others up not put them down
19. Leaders don’t work in fear of their job; they coach people “up” to take their job
20. Leaders do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it
21. Leaders pick up after themselves…and others
22. Leaders know what they know and they know what they don’t know
23. Leaders take the blame when something fails and they give others credit when it works
24. Leaders communicate then communicate some more
25. Leaders help establish vision and direction
26. Leaders remove obstacles to production, not create them
27. Leaders attack a problem now, rather than letting grow it into a cancer
28. Leaders seek ways to simplify not complicate
29. Leaders seek knowledge; they learn, then they coach others
30. Leaders make the tough decisions now, not later
31. Leaders don’t tolerate a fearful workplace
32. Leaders are enthusiastic
33. Leaders set the accountability standard
34. Leaders have controllable passion
35. Leader detest the statement “We’ve always done it that way”
36. Leaders accept mistakes as a part of progress
37. Leaders see a problem as an opportunity to “fix it”
38. Leaders guard the processes but recognize when they are not working
39. Leaders are optimistic realists
40. Leaders lead from the front and they push from the rear

The review is over, that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Charleston, SC?

I’m going to be in the Charleston, SC area the week of October 20. If you have a dealership or dealerships in that area it would be a great opportunity for you and your staff to benefit from my very powerful used car processes and concepts. I can offer you a discount on the workshop fee and travel expenses. Contact me as soon as possible to work out the details. Thanks for the consideration.

Are You Constipated?

As most of us know, constipation can be a terrible thing. When you are constipated it’s virtually impossible to be as productive as you might otherwise be.

Exercise, drinking lots of water and in some really bad cases taking a strong laxative can often relieve the problem and get you back on your “A Game.”

Having 60-day-old plus units in stock is a lot like being constipated. You can never perform your best when you’re all stopped up.

60-day-old units will make you sluggish and hold back your potential to be as productive as you might be. Your “A game” will never show up when you have used car constipation. Think of it as Poop in the chute.

Dealers will often give their used car inventory a laxative, flush the system and start over. It’s a costly approach that’s never the best way to go.

The problem is that even when they “blow it all out” it doesn’t do that much good in the big picture because they don’t change their diet or exercise, so the inventory continues to be constipated and therefore hold them back from achieving their maximum potential.

A good diet for the used car department would be to have good solid processes. A good exercise program for the used car department would be to understand the role that speed plays toward good health. Good diet and exercise can help you avoid used car constipation.

Constipation makes you stinky. You don’t want to be stinky. Having aged units makes you stinky. You don’t want to be stinky.

It’s not a matter of fixing a one-time constipation issue.

It’s a matter of the right diet and exercise to live a happier and fuller life. If you give a hoot you’ll clean up your poop. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs


There’s a big difference between complaints and whining. I can’t stand whining. But, I love complaints. Complaints are an opportunity to fix something. I love fixing stuff.

When dealing with customer complaints I like to ask the customers, “What is it you want us to do to make you happy?” I try not to tell them what I’m going to do unless I already know exactly what they want.

Regardless of what they say they want, a good leadership technique is either to give them all of what they want or nothing at all.

Let’s say you have a dispute about a service bill. If they say they don’t think they should be charged anything and you offer up 50/50 you have just wasted your 50%.

They may very well take it but they are still mad, they hate you and they are going to say ugly things about you and your dealership to their friends and relatives.

I have another leadership tip I want to share with you along these same lines and it goes like this: If you get a complaint, you own the complaint. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?

What I mean by that is, you will often get a complaint but it’s not necessarily your responsibility to handle it, so you hand it off to the person or department whose responsibility it might be.

A good leadership technique for you, and for you to teach your staff, is that whoever first got the complaint “owns it.” Meaning they should take the responsibility to follow up on it to ensure that the person you or they handed it off to has handled it.

These are two very simple leadership disciplines:

1. When it’s your responsibility to fix it, give the
customer everything they want or nothing at all.

2. You own the complaint. Follow up and make sure it is taken care of.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Maybe I Shouldn’t Say This

And what might that be? Well, it would simply be an opinion on the subprime business.

Is it fair to say that in many cases a subprime customer actually pays more for the vehicle than a non-subprime or cash buyer?

I’m not talking about the additional high risk interest rate. I’m talking about the fees that get added back to the retail price of the car that go back to the lender’s bottom line.

Isn’t it illegal to charge more for the car when you finance it than when you don’t?

Dealers who do a decent amount of subprime constantly struggle with the pricing of their vehicles in order to cover the subprime fees. It’s not the dealer’s fault. The lenders are the ones that have set the rules for this game.

I’m not at all saying you shouldn’t be in the subprime business. But, it’s a really bad bet to hang your hat on the subprime business continuing as business as usual.

The Feds are coming. The Feds are coming. The Feds are coming. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs