Are You Going?

Are you going to the NADA Convention in a few days? I hope so and I hope I get to see you.

If you’re not going I’m wondering why? Why would you not go?

Short on staff? I guess that’s a maybe.
You went last year? Ugh, I guess that might be a maybe also.
Can’t afford the expense? Another maybe goes up on the board.

Those excuses and most others are not great reasons for not going.

Some of you live in a little box and wonder why things never change for you. Most of you are coming off a pretty good year. Maybe you think you have it figured out or maybe you know things are starting to slip a bit.

There’s no better time than right now to open your mind and shoot some WD 40 into your brain to loosen things up a bit. Spring is here, but if you’re not careful your brain may still be frozen over from the cold winter.

If your mindset is “the Convention is always the same” then you are dead wrong. The only reason the Convention is the same is because you’re the same. If you’ve gone to the Convention in the past to rub shoulders with the factory guys and attend the parties then I guess it would be the same for you. You get out of something what you put into it.

It’s hard for your vision to change when you sit there and stare at those same walls and same people day after day. That’s why you need to go. You need inspiration. You need to see the possibilities. You need to go and learn something.

If you show up and find me I’ll even give you a copy of my book titled “The Little Used Car Book, Volume 7.” My book is not a cure-all for your used car business but it’s guaranteed to give you some ideas and wisdom to help your bottom line.

By helping your bottom line, it will more than pay for your little trip. When I’m not speaking I’ll be hanging out at the vAuto booth (booth #1522C) so look me up.

I’ll be very excited to see you. That’s all I’m gonna say.Tommy Gibbs

Are You In A Full Court Press?

March Madness is upon us. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that March Madness is the NCAA basketball tournament.

More often than not these games are won on defense and a full court press is often a major part of a defensive strategy.

A full-court press is a basketball term that refers to a defensive style in which the defense applies man-to-man or zone defense to pressure the offensive team the entire length of the court before and after the inbound pass.

A full-court press takes a great deal of effort, but can be an effective tactic. Often when teams are behind late in a game, they will apply full-court pressure as a means of attempting to produce turnovers as well as tire opponents.

A team with less talent can beat a talented team by utilizing a full court press for the entire game. It doesn’t take talent, but it takes a lot of heart and desire to play an “in your face” defense for the entire length of the court for a full forty minutes.

If you’re in the car business today you need to be in a full court press. You may very well be behind in the game. Be it good or bad, in the car business every day is a full court press day. Every minute of every day it needs to be an “in your face” approach.

I know you think you’re doing all you can, but you aren’t, there is always more. If you’ve played sports you know that is true.

How can you do more? Start by writing it down. Make a list of all the basic things you know about this business. Things you now do, things you used to do and things you’ve heard that others do. Once you make the list, make a commitment to go into a full court press for a minimum of the next 21 days.

Why 21 days? Research has proven it takes 21 days to create a new habit. If you will focus on this list for the next 21 days good things will happen. I’m trying to press you to take action. I’m pressing you to get after it. I’m pressing you to take stock of what you do and how you do it.

I think of every minute of my life as a full court press. Press on. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

What’s Your Excuse?

It’s often said that there are only two reasons for not getting the job done. It’s either “not knowing” or “not doing.” Both are pretty much self-explanatory.

If people “don’t know,” that’s the fault of upper management. Upper management hasn’t invested the time, resources and assets to coach them to their full potential.

If people “don’t do,” that too is on upper management. If upper management doesn’t set the expectations and have consequences for failing to achieve those expectations you can’t blame it on people for not doing.

People will often only do what they have to do. Human nature is such that they are going to take the route of the least resistance.

I see both the “not knowing” and the “not doing” in my travels. I will sometimes ask the most basic question and people don’t know the answer. How can that be?

I’m left to assume:

  1. They don’t care enough to know.
  2. They just don’t have the knowledge to know. (They haven’t been coached.)
  3. People don’t know what they don’t know. That’s the scariest of all.

What’s your excuse? Not knowing or not doing?

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs 

You May Not Like This

Every now and then we all poke our heads above the fence, and sure enough, someone will throw a rotten tomato at us. I’m poking my head above the fence. Don’t throw too hard.

My subject today is those units that come back into your used car department that have previously been in loaner or rental car service.

Most of the time they are just a few months old, nice cars, with low miles. They quickly become aged units in the dealer’s used car inventory that don’t make the used car department any money and worse than that, they are a source of great frustration for all.

There are solid and legitimate business reasons for having loaner/rental units as part of your business model. I get that.

The problem is they aren’t curtailed/written down enough while they are being utilized in your fleet and when they come out of service the dealer expects the used car department to save the day by retailing out of them.

Dealers sell them to the used car department based on what they have in them not based on what they are worth.

You sometimes try to justify to yourself that they are worth what you have in them because they are brand new units. They are not brand new units. By and large they don’t have new car incentives attached to them and in most states they have to be sold as a used car.

Ask yourself, if you went to the auction what would you pay for them. Hey, there’s a thought…why haven’t you taken them to the auction? Because you know they aren’t worth what you have in them. This ain’t rocket science.

Another piece of this equation is that these units have to compete with your new car business. It’s an impossible task that you are bestowing upon your used car department to retail you out of units you are super high in.

These units are probably worth $2,000 to $4,000 less than what you are selling them to your used car department for. Do you think your sales staff wants to sell units that you are so buried in? And you wonder why they are aging on you.

These units are costing you business left and right. Why would a used car manager want to step up on a similar trade at the front door when they know they have 15 units sitting out there right now, and probably another 10 on the way? (Read THIS from a week ago.)

These are dead units taking up space and dollars in your inventory.

If you want to get real, you should sell them to the used car department for the right money and share the write down expense with all departments. All departments, especially the parts and service departments, benefit from having loaner cars at their disposal.

This situation isn’t going to improve in the long term unless you take the advice I’ve just given you.

In the short term, you need to re-appraise all those units. Eat the loss, give them a new birthdate and put my life cycle management process in play.

I said you weren’t going to like this. We often don’t like the truth. I’m telling you the truth. Let the tomato throwing begin. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Who’s Your Joe Bullard?

As you can well imagine I get to meet and work with some really great people in my travels.

There are a lot of things I miss about being a automobile dealer, and one of the things I miss the most is the people. I’ve always found my teammates to be inspiring and a source of energy that propelled me through my day.

I loved connecting with the individuals that come to work every day that do their best to help us succeed. Great leaders realize the importance of every individual on the team. They know everyone plays a role in the company’s success.

Joe Bullard Automotive is located in Mobile, AL and now being operated by third generation dealer Ty Bullard.

Meet Lee Dell Scarborough. He’s the real Joe Bullard. I hope you will steal this idea and acknowledge your real Joe Bullard. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Should You Steal Trades?

Quotes I often hear when I’m in dealerships:

1. “We never miss a trade.”
2. “We don’t try to steal trades.”
3. “We put top dollar in every unit we appraise.”
4. “We’re not going to miss a deal at the front door.”

Fundamentally none of these are true. Everyone misses trades.

What’s funny is when you go to the auctions to buy cars you always pay more for them than you would if that car was sitting at your front door.

Stealing trades is one of those things that falls into the “We’ve always done it that way” category.

I believe there are four fundamental causes for trying to steal trades:

1. The fear of the bump. Used Car Managers fear the bump from upper management so they low-ball the trade thinking the bump request is just around the corner. The used car manager is protecting their “territory” by low-balling the trade.

2. Pay plans also tie into stealing the trade. The manager is protecting their own personal pocketbook especially in those cases where the used car manager is only paid on used car gross. Even if they are paid on total gross it still creates “trade stealing.” Gotta make some gross someplace.

3. Aged inventory. We need to steal the trades to make up for the sins we have on the lot right now. As long as you allowed aged inventory to exist you’re going to have people trying to steal trades.

4. The old adage that you “make the money,” when you buy or trade the unit. That’s only partially true. You “make the money” when you sell the unit and you make the most when money when you sell it fast.

Here’s the fix:

1. Put solid disciplines in to eliminate aged inventory. (My Life Cycle Management Process.)

2. Put top dollar on every trade. I said top dollar on every trade. No bumps. Pretend you are at the auction. Step up from jump-street.

3. Change the pay plans. Paying on gross profit becomes more archaic every day.

4. Stay focused on improving your look to book. Review every vehicle that was appraised from the previous day that you didn’t get.

When you stop stealing trades you improve the quality of your used car inventory.

When you improve the quality of your used car inventory you sell more used cars.

When you sell more used cars you become more confident that you can put top dollar on trades.

When you put top dollar on trades you sell more new and used cars.

Stop stealing trades. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs


The older I get, the more I see parallels between sports and business. Business, without a doubt, is the most competitive sport.

The most successful businesses and successful business people are always trying to score. There are some businesses and some individuals that have more money than they will ever spend, but they still try to score.

Be it good or bad, besides developing people, money is one of the main ways of keeping score. Why bother to play if you’re not trying to score?

And since you’re going to play the game, you may as well run up the score.

In all sports, you have coaches. You have a head coach, you have assistant coaches, you have position coaches, and specialty coaches.

Even Tiger Woods has a coach. The best of the best have coaches.

Here are some questions for you:

1. Who’s coaching your sales staff?
2. Who’s coaching your management staff?
3. Who’s coaching the general manager?
4. Who’s coaching the dealer/operator?
5. Who’s coaching the Owner/CEO/President?

Coaching for you and your team may come from a number of sources:

1. You go to 20 group meetings
2. You go the NADA Convention
3. You go to your State Convention
4. You go to seminars and workshops
5. You hire consultants

When you have good coaching you can run up the score.

When you run up the score you develop a winning culture.

Winning develops good coaches.

Good coaches develop good players.

The process repeats itself. That’s all I’m gonna say,Tommy Gibbs

Impact of Off-Lease Units

There’s a lot of conversation these days about a surge of off-lease cars flooding the market and hurting wholesale values.

Oh stop it! Don’t listen to all that silliness. Of course values are going down. It’s not very often that used car values go up.

Of course you have to pay attention to the market. It’s not any different today, tomorrow, this year or next year. It’s always like that.

What you should be thinking is stick to your core principles. Do those fundamental things each and every day that you know you need to do.

Do What You Know!

1. Make good decisions
2. Price them right
3. Price the problematic cars to sell faster
4. Speed your processes up
5. Be smart with high dollar used cars
6. When you miss a car, deal with it quickly
7. Don’t operate in fear
8. Do a Trade Walk every day
9. Turn units faster
10. Press your cost down

You won’t get hurt if you pay attention and do the things you know you need to do. And, do them every day. Do what you know.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs