Bumblebee Time

This should be a really good week. It will only be a really good week if you make it a good week. It’s not going to be a good week if you stay in your seat acting like a computer geek.

You can make it a good week by getting up and moving around. You should be like a bumblebee on a pollination mission. You’re here. You’re there. You’re everywhere.

You can’t just flap your little wings in place and think someone’s gonna sell a car. You have to move around.

You have to create the buzz. You have to go from being weak and meek in order to make it a good week.

I don’t like things to be all about you, but this is all about you. This week is all about you. It’s about you making things happen.

It’s about you contributing as much in a week as you sometimes do in a month. It’s not about you giving 100 or 110%. It’s about you giving 200%.

It’s not about asking others to do it. It’s about you doing it. You sometimes think you’re important. Well, you are important. You’re even more important than you think. At least this week you are.

You may have to sting a few people this week. That’s ok. Some of your team could probably use a sting or two. A little stinging pain for a whole lot of car selling gain.

This is not the week for the meek and certainly not a week for a geek. It’s the week of the bumblebees. Let the stinging begin. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Questions, So Many Questions

1. How’s the plan coming?
2. Have you presented the plan?
3. Has the team talked about the plan?
4. Is the team sold on the plan?
5. Have you even started on the plan?
6. What happens when the plan falls apart?
7. What’s plan B? Plan C?
8. Is it a new plan with the same tired and worn out players from last year’s team?
9. Is it time to change the head coach?
10. What about the assistants?
11. Does the plan include the same selling process from 2002?
12. Are you sold on your own plan?
13. Are you planning for the sake of planning?
14. Is your plan a pie-in-the-sky forecast and not really a plan at all?
15. Did the plan come together for you because you put a bunch of numbers on an Excel spread sheet?
16. Since you think you have a plan, do you have a strategy in place to execute the plan?

Planning is fun. It makes us feel good. Just because you feel good doesn’t mean you’ve got it right. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

What’s Your Intent?

There are a lot of common problems when it comes to the used car operations for new car dealers. But of all the problems and challenges that dealers face, the number one problem is that dealers trade or buy a unit and have a lack of “intent.”

Most would say “Of course I have intent. I intend to sell this unit and make some money.” That makes total sense, but the problem is it’s far too general.

That’s like saying you’re going to drive from NY to LA without a plan on how you intend to get there. How many of you have ever heard the saying, “Every used car has to stand on its own?” If you’ve been around long enough you understand the term and can probably agree with the statement.

That being true, how can you give them all the same shelf life? How can you not have a specific intent for each unit? Most dealers don’t think “What’s my intent” when a unit comes into their inventory. It makes no sense to paint them all with the same broad brush.

Intent starts with the appraisal and is finalized during the trade walk where the “final intent” is determined. If dealership managers would look at each unit and clearly state their intent they would have fewer inventory problems, turn would improve, and average gross, volume and ROI would go up.

I’m not going to go into the details here in this newsletter, but my life cycle management process gives you the disciplines to determine and carry out your “intent.” I will be making my life cycle app available to a limited number of dealers in early 2015.

My intent with this article is not to try to sell you something. My intent is to get you to think harder about what your own intent happens to be when you bring units into your inventory.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Funny, Funny

If you read Automotive News and other related publications then you know the value of used cars has started to head south. 

For some of you it’s no laughing matter. And for some of you, you’re sitting there with a smile on your face. You might even be using the secret code LOL.

Those that are smiling are smiling because they have the disciplines in place to make sure units don’t go over 60 days. Others are frowning because they have a lot of stuff sitting out on the used car lot way over 60 days.

They know they have a ton of water and with values dropping the water is moving up to flood levels. Might be panic time.

It’s very, very simple. If you are turning your inventory then you don’t really care what happens in the market. That’s because you’re always buying and selling in the same market.

Think about it; if you have units in stock that are aged, then you are not in today’s market. There are other dealers bringing those same units in the inventory today, for less money than you have in yours.

And, they can sell them for less and make more money than you can.

Kinda funny ain’t it? That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Who Are You Working With?

Have you ever been around incompetent people? Maybe you’ve actually worked with some or even worse they were your supervisors.  

Here’s the thing about incompetence. It carries the same sort of momentum that working with competent people does.

When you’re surrounded with competent people, you tend to become more competent yourself. And of course the opposite is true.

If you surround yourself with incompetent people you become incompetent and “incompetent momentum” takes over the organization. The “Peter Principle” is when someone gets promoted above their competency or ability level.

Too often in business, people get promoted based on how they have performed in another position or who they are related to. It happens all the time in the car business.

Joe, who can sell 20 cars a month, becomes a sales manager. Then Joe becomes the General Sales Manager and then we wake up one day and Joe is the GM and we ask, “How did that happen?”

Either you need to surround yourself with competent people or go someplace else that actually has competent people.

To do anything less is incompetent. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs 

You, The Fireman

Always putting out fires? Such a shame. So much time wasted. Non-productive time on those darn fires.

Think about a real fire. Most fires are started due to carelessness. The fires you fight are the same way. 

Someone is careless and thus, you get to fight the fire.

Fighting fires takes away from time that could be so much more productive. Productive building your team. Productive building your business. Productive building your bottom line. If you’re to be more productive you have to eliminate the fires.

The fires you fight are more often than not a result of someone either not knowing or not doing.

If someone doesn’t know, that’s your fault. If someone isn’t doing what they know how to do, that’s also your fault.

You’re creating your own fires. I’m thinking that’s called arson. It’s not about putting out the fires. It’s about fire prevention so that the fire alarm never goes off.

That’s not going to happen until you take responsibility for fire prevention training.

Fire prevention is about coaching and teaching your team on the “why and the how” and then setting expectations.

Anything less puts you in the fire. Enjoy the heat. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs 

Wasting Time, Energy and Money

Dealers all over the country have a big push on buying cars from the public.

Many are spending thousands of dollars on advertising, marketing and software in an effort to find more and better cars at their front door. 

Some have even hired an “Equity Specialist” who has a full time presence in the service department and customer lounge in order to solicit customers with an offer of “Would you like us to appraise your car for you?”

Some dealers have even started an “exchange program” offering the customer a new or newer car for the same payment that they currently have. 

But wait, stop the presses! It’s a waste of time. Yes, it’s a waste of time if you haven’t put meaningful processes in place that are customer friendly and effective for you, your team and the customer.

Mistake #1: The tendency when someone says “Yes I’d like my car appraised” is to drop them off at the used car manager’s desk and leave. The person making contact with the customer needs to remain the contact. Though somewhat modified, there needs to be a “full routine” presentation by the contact person to each and every customer that says yes. 

Mistake #2: Most dealerships only want to buy what they know they can retail. If the program is going to be effective you have to be willing to buy anything from a stone piece of junk to a very expensive luxury car. CarMax has built the reputation that they will buy anything. Bring it to us-get a number. That should be your mantra.

Mistake #3: You try to steal it. What are you thinking? Get real. Get the unit. You will pay far more for it at the auction than you will at your own front door. Step up. Don’t be stupid. You need to own that unit.

Mistake #4: Giving verbal or handwritten appraisal quotes. Whatever you hand the customer needs to be computer generated in the most professional manner possible.(Appraisal Form) The quote should be good for a minimum of 7 days.(Voucher) The very brilliant Mike Porro of the Swope Auto Group even gives them a free CarFax report.

Mistake #5:
 Not paying the sales person or contact person based on the acquisition. If you want staff members to give the “full routine,” then you need to pay them just as if they sold a car. The full routine might actually inspire the seller to buy a car from you today or months down the road. Think about how much more efficient and cost effective it is when you can buy a car at the front door. The savings on the auction fees and transportation cost alone make it more than worthwhile for you to pay a reasonable commission.

Mistake #6: Someone hands them the appraisal and says, “Just let us know what you want to do.” The manager and the contact person need to do a complete review/presentation of the appraisal, answer questions and ask for the business.

Mistake #7: No one follows up with the customer. There should be a system in place to follow up within 24 hours, 1 week, etc. even if it means upping the ante $500 or so to acquire the car. There’s an old and very useful saying in the car business, “Follow them till they buy or die.” That saying applies to you buying their car as well.

Eliminate these 7 mistakes and you won’t be wasting your time, energy and money. That’s all I’m gonna say Tommy Gibbs

Skinned Knees

University of Alabama’s head football coach, Nick Saban, is part owner of Mercedes-Benz of Birmingham and Infiniti of Birmingham in Birmingham, AL.

I don’t know what he knows about the car business but he’s a pretty darn good football coach. At this point, he’s won four national titles at two different schools, which is unheard of.

Based on the team’s current status there’s a good chance he’s going to get a shot at a fifth one.

The company’s mantra for his dealerships is, “We will trip, fall and skin our knees trying to delight our customers.”

I’m thinking that’s the kind of mantra a great football coach would have, so there’s no surprise there. What I am surprised at is that more people in business don’t
have that same mindset.

Just think of the possibilities, if you could instill that thinking in your team. Advertising expenses would go way down. CSI scores and profits would go way up.

That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs