A Time To Lead

I’ve spent most of my life observing and studying leadership skills. It started with my first little league coach, my college coaches, my experience as an athlete and as an NCAA college basketball referee.

Then into the business world, observing some of the best and some of the worst. Reading, studying, and attending workshops have all been a part of my journey on why leadership is stinky and the reverse, why it excels.

1. They aren’t flexible. You can tie this thought to any sport you want. The best teams are lead by people who make the right adjustments at the right time. Leaders are like boxers. They are bobbing and weaving. Far too often leaders get locked into whatever and their whatever drives the team nuts.

2. They don’t pay attention. What a simple concept. Real leaders have their eyes and ears open 24/7. They don’t lock themselves in their office and issue orders. They walk around. They talk. They listen.

3. They think they know it all. Nobody knows it all. You don’t, I don’t. Even CNN & Fox don’t. Leaders know what they don’t know.

4. They want you to rely on them to tell you everything
to do. That’s not what real leaders do. Leaders say, “I trust your good judgment, you decide.” When you stumble, they coach you up, not put you down.

5. They walk like a turtle. Show me a slow walker and I’ll show you, someone, nobody wants to follow. Get some pep in your step and get your butt in gear.

6. They are a stick in the mud. What a miserable life if you can’t laugh at yourself. If you don’t have a sense of humor you need to get a sense of humor.

7. They are arrogant and egotistical. There’s a big difference in being confident and being a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.

8. They aren’t likable. Ties into being a jerk. If you’re not likable the odds of being a great leader are about slim and none.

9. They hide the details. Leaders want to give you more than you need to know. They know that the more you know, the faster you learn. The faster you learn, the faster you buy-in. The faster you buy in, the faster the team grows.

10. They put the wrong people in the wrong seats on the bus. Leaders know that just because you have skill A doesn’t mean it’s a fit for seat B. Getting the right people in the right seats is critical for success.

11. They have lapses in integrity. You either have integrity or you don’t. It’s not a part-time thing to be used when you see fit. Leaders have integrity 24/7/365.

12. They say stupid things. Leaders use common sense before they open their mouths. The problem in today’s world is common sense isn’t so common.

13. They run around like a nut. Leaders know when to be calm and when to get excited. Too much of either makes people suspicious of you.

14. They have boss tattooed on their chest. Leaders aren’t the least bit concerned about tattoos or titles.

15. They say, “Look at me, look what I did.” Leaders say you guys did an awesome job. Way to go. I’m proud of you.

16. They blame others. Leaders say, “I let you down.” I need your help so I can do a better job. Let’s all work harder and smarter to do better.

17. They say do this, do that. Leaders say, “I need your help.”

18. They got promoted over their head. They know it. Everyone knows it. Not their fault. Somebody screwed up. Leaders don’t have to live with it. When all else fails, leaders hit the eject button, reset and move on.

19. They never read the bible. Leaders follow the golden rule. It simple. It’s easy. Preach it. Talk it. Walk it.

20. They don’t do what they say they are going to do. Leaders are true to their word.

21. They lack discipline. Leaders understand the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

22. They confuse friendship and loyalty. Leaders are loyal, but they are smart enough to know when their loyalty to certain individuals is hurting the team. Leaders make hard decisions. You can be loyal without being stupid. Don’t be stupid.

23. They don’t own a mirror. Leaders find most of the solutions to their problems in the bathroom mirror.

24. They live in the past. Leaders say, just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean we’re going to keep doing it that way.

25. They stop learning and growing. Leaders invest time and money on self and team development.

26. They resist change. Leaders knock down the walls of resistance. They know resistance is enemy #1.

27. They let people be mean to others. Leaders have a motto, “If you aren’t nice to your teammates and our customers you can’t work here.” Another simple concept for you.

28. They micro-manage. Leaders are good checkers, but they give people a job and let them do their job. They coach when necessary and stay out of the way the rest of the time. Leaders don’t “number” people to death.

29. They don’t look like a leader. I understand you want to dress casually. I do too, but I don’t. Ok, I’ll give you one day a week and that’s painful for me to say. The rest of the time you need to set the example and look the part.

30. This one’s for you. You pick. I’m sure you’ve got one that I left out.

I’ve said enough so that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Should You Write Your Inventory Down?

(Written week of April 20, 2020, in the middle of coronavirus pandemic.)

I get several calls and/or emails a day asking, “What should I do about my aging inventory now that sales have slowed so badly.”

My first piece of advice is this may not be the time to be thinking about writing your inventory down.

It is certainly a time to think about retailing everything you can at some number.

That said, there may come a point at which you need to write down a selected few units or possibly your entire inventory.

If you’ve been allowing units to exceed 60 days then you may be in big poop and have to bite the big bullet.

The first thing to understand is don’t bother writing your inventory down unless of course, you’re going to commit to some serious changes.

Often when dealers write their used car inventory down, they take a big hit, a deep breath, and say, “OK, done, let’s move forward.”

Many dealers lack the discipline to steer away from what got them there in the first place. Therefore, in six months or so, the owners are staring at the same hot mess they tried to fix and thinking here we go again.

It hurts me to say this, and I know it’s going to cause a few of you to unsubscribe from my newsletters but taking units to the auction and dumping them is just plain dumb.

If you thought enough of that 60-day old unit to bring it into your inventory as a retail piece, you should have been able to find a retail buyer for it at some number. There’s a number that every unit can be retailed at.

Therein lies the problem. You won’t retail it for what it’s actually worth, yet you’re willing to wholesale it for what it’s actually worth.

Of course, your attitude is different right now as a lot of you are being forced to retail units at less than desirable numbers. You would have been better served to have had that sort of mindset before we got to this hot mess of today.

Hey Einstein, which way do you think you have the greatest opportunity to recover from a unit that was probably a bad decision from jump-street? Insanity.

The instances where you have to dump a previously assigned retail piece in the wholesale market should be very few. If you’re in the retail automobile business, then retail your units.

Yes, the grosses on all that aged stuff are going to hurt you for a while. Dumping in the wholesale market will hurt you more. If you have a lick of discipline and stay with it, you will be fine and never, ever have another unit over 60.

My Life-Cycle management process gives you the disciplines and strategies that will keep you from saying, “More write-downs, here we go again.”

If you’re interested I have an easy to use spreadsheet that I’d be happy to send you. It helps you make the adjustments and encourages you to set a new life-cycle on each unit you write-down. Hit the reply button and it will be on its way.

One more thing to keep in mind; 30 days is now the new 60. Be mindful of your 30-day rolling sales numbers vs your current inventory numbers.

This may or may not be the time for write-downs.

If you are going to write down your inventory let me coach you through it. It costs you nothing for me to help you.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Let’s Do A webinar For Just Your Store or Stores

Of course, you’re trying to streamline things and become as efficient as you can be. I’m no different. So, since traveling is out of the question right now I want to offer your store a private webinar.

If you have more than one store you can include them. One of the great benefits of my training over the years is that I’ve been able to come to you. Why has my training been so effective?

When we get all the members of your management team in one room, I lay it all out on the table for them. Therefore, there’s no confusion about the direction you’re trying to go.

The sticking power is amazing when the team gets on the same page. That program takes about 4 hours, lots of travel on my part and a good size investment on yours.

Since I can’t come to you right now, I’ll do an hour and a half webinar for your store or stores.

I’m going to give you 6 key bullet points to focus on that are simple and easy to implement. They will make you instantly better.

The investment is $1500.

Now think about it; If you bring me to your dealership, you will spend that and then some on flights, hotel and meals plus what I charge for my brilliance.

By doing it virtually you can have all the members of your management team join in. The benefit of getting your entire team on the same page is worth its weight in gold.

Do the math. What’s it costing per store, per manager? It’s a no-brainer.

How is this different from a typical webinar I might promote?

When I do a regular webinar we have from 50 to 100 people on the line. It’s impossible to ask questions and address individual store’s issues.

We can set up a conference call the day before to make sure I’m on target with what your needs are.

The slots will fill up quickly. If you have the slightest bit of interest, please reach out.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

A Perfect Time For Change?

(Written in April 2020 in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.)

There’s never a perfect time to make changes.

That said, we should certainly do our research, do some strategic planning and pick a time and place that gives us the best chance to succeed.

Many dealers are likely going to be making tough decisions about staff and business strategies in the near term.

One of those most likely to go to the top of the list are pay plans.

Part of that evaluation is to determine if you’re incentivizing the right behaviors that are going motivate the mindset of current and potential team members moving forward.

Dealers have known for years that paying on gross has its issues but evaluating options and making changes often gets put off because of the concern of upsetting the staff and the “timing” is always wrong.

There may never be a better time than right now to make that change.

In the end, a smart Dealer/GM would be wise to seek input from the sales staff and sales management.

Buy-in of the “new plan” has a much better chance of succeeding when the team believes it’s their plan.

Maybe this is also a good time to review:

1. The selling process.

2. Used car aging policy.

3. Recon time to the front line.

4. Website (I dare you. Go look at it. Click around a little.)

5. Ability to sell a vehicle remotely. Do you have a real process in place? (Electronic Signature and delivery procedure.)

6. Staffing. The right people? The wrong people? People doing the wrong things for their skill level? “The right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats, doing the right stuff.”

7. Advertising & Marketing. Are you spending the money in the right places? Better yet, are you holding those places accountable for the numbers they are generating or not?

8. F&I process from the turn-over to F&I to contracts in transit. Is F&I a part of your online selling process?

9. Factory receivables. Are your factory receivables in shape and being followed up on? Are you getting every dime they owe you?

10. Never has there been a better time to evaluate your leadership and communication skills than right now.

Right now, more than ever before in your store’s history, your team needs to see and hear you. It can be a one-on-one session or an all-hands-on-deck meeting. It just needs to be.

There’s no perfect way for you to deliver the message. Just make sure you keep delivering.

People often feel they are left in the dark about what’s going on.

You are the light. Shine your light. You are their light and hope that we will get through this hot mess.

Go shine your light. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs


When I was a kid growing up in Richmond VA my father had a “dirt lot” used car lot.

My father and some of his fellow used car dealer friends loved to gamble. Back in those days they would rent a hotel room in downtown Richmond and play cards all night long.

Some nights he came home with money. Some nights he came home broke.

My father’s nickname with his peers was “Nervous.” Yep, they called him nervous. He was always worried that the cops were going to raid the joint and take ’em all to jail.

We all inherit traits from our parents. I inherited the “nervous” trait from my father.

Used cars make me nervous. Some used cars make me more nervous than others. This is a time to be more nervous about some than others.

You should be identifying the ones that make you the most nervous and come up with a plan to make them go away.

A few of the ones that make me the most nervous are:

1. High dollar
2. High miles
3. Bad colors
4. Bad equipment
5. Cars we have too much money in from jump street
6. Anything 45 days old and older
7. Auction purchases
8. High cost to market
9. High day’s supply

Gambling made my dad nervous.

Used cars make me nervous.

Gambling on the wrong used cars makes me even more nervous.

What makes you nervous? That’s all I’m gonna ask, Tommy Gibbs

Should You Hold Your Inventory Past 60

(Note;this article was written on March 3, 2020, in the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic)

I’m getting a lot of phone calls and emails right now asking my advice on inventory levels vs. a shrinking market.

More or less the question is: “Our sales are drastically down; my inventory is up so should I dump my inventory in the wholesale market or hold onto it for when the market comes back?”

We all have an opinion. Mine is based on life experiences, common sense, market data and trends I see within our software product.

Number one on that list is common sense. This might be one of those places where using Ben Franklin mythology is the smart thing to do.

I believe the worse option is to hold them for a longer length of time in hopes the market will come back. If you were to do that, you’re betting values will remain the same or go up. Bad bet.

Basic ROI math tells you that’s not going to work out in your favor.

Another super bad option is dumping units in the wholesale market. That’s not to say that you should never do that. It may be wise to dump a few selected units that you know you need to cash out on, but never should it be a large part of your inventory. I’m just being real.

Keep the following in mind; at some point, the factory and/or government is going to do something to spur new car sales.

When that happens, more trades will show up at the front door and values will decline.

You can also bet the rental car companies are going to start to unload inventories which will help create an additional drag on used car values. The law of supply and demand is always in play.

Let’s assume that sales in your market are off by 50%.

Somebody will sell the 50% that’s out buying. Price will become that much more of a factor for those folks that are willing and able to buy right now.

Managing prices on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis has never been more critical than right now. Your goal should be to retail a car at some number and therefore get more than your fair share of the pie/market.

Your focus has to be on today’s “buying market.” You may even have to retail some units at a loss. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by listing all the reasons a retail sale, even a loser, is in your best interest.

You know it is, but it’s a hard pill to swallow when you are looking at negative gross.

Yes, it’s going to be painful, but not half as painful if you play the “let’s hold them and deal with it later strategy.”

If you want to play a paper shell game, then adjust any losing unit once it’s sold. Eat the loss a little each month until the end of the year.

If your salespeople and managers are being paid on gross, you’re going to need to be creative and protect them to some degree until this mess passes.

In the normal course of doing business, your inventory levels should not be any greater than what you have sold over the last 30 days. That’s quickly getting out of line, but if you’ve been focusing on it, you’re not in as bad a shape as some dealers.

A good tip of the day for you right now would be to make sure everyone is keeping an eye on the rolling 30 days sales numbers.

The Scoreboard page in my UpYourGross software is a tremendous tool to help keep you on track and out of trouble.

You need every tool you can muster up to get out in front of this hot mess we’re all in.

If you’re interested, you can have it for April for $100. Spend $100 to make you and your team better during the most difficult time ever in the car business.

It seems like a no-brainer. It’s also a no-brainer to stay disciplined with inventory turn.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs