Too Smart?

Could it be that you’re too smart for the car business? No really, I’m convinced that some people are just too smart for this business.

I’m not going to deny that to be in the business today requires a much higher degree of thinking and intellect than it did 30 years ago.

But, there are some people who over-analyze, over-think, over-chart, over-spreadsheet to the point where they forget we’re in the car selling business.

One of the best dealer operators I ever met would take a chance, throw it against the wall and bam, lots of cars got sold.

He didn’t overthink it. He just went for it. Oddly enough he was right more often than not and he didn’t need a spreadsheet to tell him to “let ‘er fly.”

I love being around smart people. I always learn something from them. Sometimes I learn what not to do as much as I learn what to do.

Don’t overthink it. Just sell cars. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Opportunities Of Leadership

1. Being up when you are down.
2. Picking others up when they are down.
3. Doing the right thing when it’s easy to do the wrong thing.
4. Being respectful when your instinct is to do the opposite.
5. Getting after it when you feel drained.
6. Making changes when staying the course is comfortable.
7. Doing what you have asked others to do.
8. Speaking softly when you’d rather make a lot of noise.
9. Making a lot of noise when you’d rather speak softly.
10. Showing up early when you know you can come in late.
11. Making tough decisions that others can’t and won’t make.
12. Delegating authority so others may learn and grow.

What great opportunities you have as a leader. That’s all I’m gonna say,
Tommy Gibbs

Not Going To Make You Happy

For some of you this isn’t going to be pleasant. Or at least it may not be if you do what I’m going to suggest.

Regardless of your position in the dealership, owner, new car manager, BDC manager, used car manager or even if you’re not a manager, go click on your website… right now, yes right now go look at your website.

Even if you think your website looks great, I dare you to go look at it. (Don’t be chicken.)

I’m only going to pick on used cars, but if you take the time to click on all your buttons I’m betting you’re going to find some things that will drive you nuts. We all need to pretend to be our own customer and see what works and what doesn’t.

Click on the used car section and tell me what you see. Take it a step further and scroll through a few used cars…keep scrolling…

1. How many photos per car do you see?
2. How many lousy pictures do you see?
3. How many are taken outside?
4. How many have shadows?
5. How many have a factory photo?
6. How many have no photo?
7. How many don’t have a price?

Depending on what you just looked at there’s a good chance you are saying, “What the heck are we doing? No wonder we’re not selling enough used cars. No wonder we’re not making much gross per car.”

Can we all agree that somewhere between 80 and 90% of all customers who shop for used cars look on the Internet? If that’s even close, how do you think you’re gonna drive traffic with photos that look like what you’ve just viewed? (Did you see any with snow on them?)

The concept of a photo booth has been around for years now. Progressive organizations that understand the real world have a photo booth.

You won’t come close to maximizing your sales until you maximize your exposure. You will never maximize your exposure by taking photos outside.

I’m exposing you by daring you to look at your website. Don’t like what you see? Don’t be sad. It’s going to be ok. Just fix it. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Great Leaders

There are lots of people in leadership positions, but very few are great leaders. Great leaders are extremely rare. Great leaders are hard to find.

People who want to become better leaders study the great ones and emulate them.

Great leaders make believers of non-believers.

Great leaders make you want to please them.

Great leaders make you want to push yourself to the next level and beyond.

Great leaders make you believe in the team.

Great leaders talk the talk, then they show you how to walk the walk.

Great leaders have your back.

Great leaders make a difference. Even more important, they help others to make a difference.

Great leaders are special.

Great leaders are small in numbers. And that’s sad because it’s not all that hard to be a great leader.

You can be a better leader. You can be a great leader. I believe in you. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Might Not Be A Fit

The most misunderstood topic I discuss in my workshops are SETS & SUBSETS. For some dealers it’s not a good fit. For others it’s a great way to drive traffic.

I will be the first to agree SETS and SUBSETS are not for everybody. They are especially not for you if you haven’t solved a lot of your other used car issues.

I’m not going to try to sell you on SETS & SUBSETS, but I do want to show you that first, it’s not all that complicated and second, it’s something you’ve done with success in the past in one way or another.

SETS & SUBSETS are all about setting up a price leader to drive traffic to the store.

What’s so bad about that? Don’t you do that right now? I have to believe that in one way or another you do it with your new car business, so why not do it with used?

The lead or number 1 car is the most important car in the SET. You can do SETS in 2, 3, 4, or 5 car SETS. Experience has taught me that going deeper than 5 just confuses the issue and makes it much more difficult to manage.

If you had 5 similar cars and you wanted to advertise them as a group (you did this back in the program car days), wouldn’t it make sense to advertise the least desirable of the 5 as a price leader in hopes of driving traffic to the other 4, or better yet, to your store?

The lead car is simply the least nice of the group. Make it safe, but don’t make it too pretty. This is not about bait and switch. It’s about the customers transferring themselves to another car in the SET or to one out on the perimeter.

The key to SETS is picking the right lead car. It needs to be desirable in the “public’s mind,” and most important is that it should be the latest model you can find for that SET.

Two of the biggest mistakes that dealers make are trying to make a profit on the lead car and picking too nice of a car to be the lead.

The lead car is a “loss leader.” More often than not the car that dealers pick to be a lead is really a number 2 car. A 2 car is a profit maker and one that you’ve fully reconditioned, so you would want to make sure you haven’t made it the lead.

If you want SETS to work, you have to advertise your lead car at what you have in it or less. If you try to make a profit on the lead car the traffic probably isn’t going to show up. The sole purpose of the lead car is to drive traffic to the dealership.

When done correctly one of three things will happen:

1. The customer shows up and buys the lead car.

2. The customers transfer themselves to the 2, 3, 4 or 5 car.

3. The customers buy something out on the perimeter.

The key is that the customers showed up on your lot today and you have a chance to sell them something.

So, there it is. SETS described in its simplest form. It’s not all that complicated or any great trickery with the consumer. You’re just advertising a price leader and giving the customers some other choices when they show up.

Might be a good fit for you. Might not. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Leaders Hate Surprises

Many, many years ago I was the Vice President and Sales manager for an F&I training company called ADR. We had 850 dealers in 7 southeastern states with a field force of about 40
composed of District and Regional Managers.

One of the things I always emphasized to them was “no surprises.” If we were going to lose an account they needed to know about it before it happened. If they didn’t know then they should have.

When I was a new car dealer we had the occasion to sell a customer a car that had been in a wreck. We didn’t know it and didn’t represent it as such. At some point the customer took their car to another dealer for service and they were advised it had been wrecked.

They returned to our dealership and the managers they had contact with more or less blew them off. At some point the lawyers got involved. Once that happened I got involved. I don’t have to tell you, but once the lawyers got involved it’s out of control and there’s not much one can do.

Expensive and painful is an understatement.

Back to the point about “no surprises.” Had the managers made me aware of the problem I would have no doubt done whatever it would have taken to make the customer happy.

But, they chose to do what they thought was right, which in this case was to do nothing. What they did was cause the company a lot of heartburn and a whole lot of expense.

I hate surprises and you should too. Let me suggest you remind your staff that the best surprise is no surprise. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Pay Them

Can I get an amen that it’s hard to find good technicians? Heck, can I get an amen that’s it hard to find technicians period?

I’m going to be more specific. How about used car technicians? Tough gig isn’t it?

Regardless of how you slice it and dice it there are only about 3 models to pick from when you think about how to get used vehicles through the mechanical shop.

1. Goes thru your regular shop, assign vehicles to technicians in the same rotation as a retail customer. Everybody in the shop works on your used vehicles. Works well for the shop, not so well for the used car department.

2. A separate used vehicle shop. Works much better for the used car department, but there can be issues with keeping the technicians busy when there is any kind of slow down with incoming used vehicle inventory. And, very difficult to do due to space restraints.

3. Within your regular shop you have separate used vehicle technicians that only work on used and a used vehicle service writer who coordinates their activity. Of the three choices, given the issue of facilities and staffing this is the one that has the most potential to create efficiency and harmony.

The major problem when service managers think about having someone dedicated to working on used is they don’t want to pay them what they are worth.

There are many reasons for this and one of them of course is the service manager doesn’t want to upset the top “franchise” technicians in the shop by paying the used vehicle technicians at the top level.

And even more to the point, they have been taught very well that they must keep their cost of sale in line in order to make a profit and for their numbers to look good to upper management.

The reality is a good used vehicle technician needs to be one of the highest paid technicians in your shop. A good used vehicle technician’s skill level has to be equal or greater than whoever your top dog might be. And, you need to pay them as such.

So, if you’re mentally fighting with the cost of sale thing, let me suggest that you can keep your cost of sale in line for service and let the used vehicle department participate in some of the additional compensation required to get and maintain top level used vehicle technicians.

It might be an incentive that’s paid based on some formula that in the end compensates the used vehicle technician for what they are really worth, not for what the shop thinks it can afford.

Paying more is not always the answer. But, paying people what they are worth is far better and a lot more productive than paying them what the shop thinks it can afford.

If you can improve your speed and efficiency it’s money well spent. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Giving And Getting

I’m often asked, do I write the newsletters or does someone do it for me? Really? Of course I write it. If you know my personality, you know I write just like I talk.

It’s important to keep in mind that if I’m not doing a workshop, coaching a client, or speaking at a 20 group meeting or convention, my mind is very much focused on two things:

1. How to help you sell more new & used vehicles.
2. How to develop better leadership skills for the industry I so love.

Most of my ideas and things I write about come from observations in dealerships, coaching conversations I have with many of you and from things I see and read. Something will happen in my travels and my brain goes, “Ahh, good idea for a Zinger.”

The second question that frequently comes up is, why do I give out so much free information? In part, it’s because I’m trying to remain relevant in this fast paced ever-changing auto world. If not for keeping score and the love of money, I would do it all for free.

But, what it really gets down to for me is it’s about giving more. I know that in the big picture of life the more you give the more you get. Great leaders know that this is an undeniable truth of the laws of great leadership.

You get what you give. Give more and you might just get more.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

It’s Over

Can you believe it? The year is half over. Time really does fly doesn’t it?

How was your June? How have your first six months been? It’s July. Half the year is gone. Kinda scary isn’t it?

Some of you have had a great first half. Some of you, not so much.

Some of you have been running full speed ahead. Some of you have been dragging through the sand.

Something has been holding you back. There may be some legitimate excuses, but maybe you just had the wrong plan in place. Just because you had the wrong plan does not mean it’s too late to fix it. You’ve still got 6 more months to go.

Those of you who have had a good first 6 months need to be cautious of becoming complacent. Even though things have been going well, you would be very smart to review how you can make things better as you tackle the second half.

Everything we do is about choices. You can choose to let things be as they are or you can choose to dial it up a notch or two.

To do so means to review your plan and the strategies you have in place. And, make the changes that are necessary to get you where you know you need to go.

Your other choice is to do nothing. Go sit in your office and stare at the wall. Enjoy your seat and pretty soon it will be over.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs