Early Intervention

The idea behind a Jet Fighter Interceptor is to intercept the enemy before anything bad can go wrong.

In the game of football an interception gives your team an advantage by intercepting a pass intended for a touchdown.

In both of these examples an interception occurred as a result of movement. The fighter jet was moving when it caught up with the enemy. The defensive back was moving when he caught up with the pass.

You need to get moving. I want you to use this mindset to sell more cars. If you are a sales manager, F&I Manager, GSM, GM or Owner/Operator you need to become the “interceptor” and you are going to make a huge difference in the number of cars that get sold.

You will intercept a whole bunch of problems before they become problems.

You are going to do it by moving.

Moving your butt out of the chair and toward the front door to introduce yourself to every customer that comes through the door. And you’re going to keep moving around like a big stealth spy bomber. Your radar, your eyes and ears, are going to be wide open like never before. (People want to connect with a “manager.”)

Deals frequently get screwed up early on in the equation and you’re gonna help prevent that. There are a number of things that will happen by following today’s “Operation Interception.”

If a TO is needed you have already set the stage early by having met the customer.

If your radar is working a full 360 degrees, you will sense something is not right with this sales person and this customer from that first handshake and you might intercept the deal right then and there.

Never forget the customer belongs to the dealership, not the sales person. Don’t be afraid to “do it now.”

By moving around the showroom you will get some early TOs before the deal is all screwed up. Early intervention is a wonderful thing.

Simple huh? Fire up your jet engines for lift off, get out of your office and go to work. It’s show time baby! Tommy Gibbs

March Madness 2023

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 there 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.

Take The Handcuffs Off

I’ve been around a while and have a lot of business experience. Thus, I’ve seen a lot, done a lot and have lots of opinions. Opinions are just that, an opinion. And you know the rest of that saying. 

Doesn’t make me right or wrong, but you have to realize I get to see so many different views that over time I can spot a zebra from a horse pretty easily.

One of the issues that constantly comes up is the PIC (Person in Charge); the dealer, general manager, owner-operator who doesn’t listen to those in the trenches when it comes to what’s working, what’s not, and what can be done to fix something.

Oftentimes it’s not just that they don’t listen, it’s that they don’t bother to ask.

Even when they do ask they won’t act on the information they have been given because they (the PIC) have been there and done that.

Sometimes they have over-analyzed the information to a point where they are convinced that whatever the thought or suggestion that was served up will not work.

In your zest to get it right have you screwed it up by not being willing to listen to others who might just have a good idea?

Experience is a powerful tool and so is the lack of it. Experience can convince you not to do something that might make you a lot of money. Inexperience can cause you to take a chance and make some money.

My father, just like your father, gave me tons of advice as a young man growing up. One of the things he said to me was “Son, you can go through life, not take many risks, and you will probably live an ok life. Or, you can go through life, take some chances and you might be rich.”

I think far too often in business we become convinced that something can’t be done and when we do that we are no doubt right. And, we are just as right when we become convinced that something can be done. Business and life is such a head game. The better heads win.

Often times as we go up the APG (Authority Power Grid) we start to believe that due to our success we have all the answers. We would be well served to value and act on those ideas that come to us from those who are dealing with the problems day-to-day.

Fear is a great motivator or de-motivator. If you’re scared to roll the dice once in a while it’s going to be very hard for you ever to hit the winning numbers.

You need to listen to those under you and you need to let them try some of the things they believe will help your business. Take the handcuffs off and turn them loose once in a while. What you think doesn’t matter as much as you think.

One of my favorite techniques as a new car dealer was to ask the members of the management team what they needed in order to fix whatever problem they felt was getting in their way of performing to their maximum potential.

My message to them was, “Tell me the problem, tell me what you think the fix is, and let’s get on with it.” I loved eliminating excuses. Now the ball is in their court. Game on!

When all the information comes from the top down in the power grid, those on the lower half of the grid become very unhappy. Unhappiness leads to frustration.

Frustration leads to throwing one’s hands up and giving up. When people give up they go through the motions and the organization never reaches its full potential. I want you to reach your full potential.

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

Own Your Own Business

Most of my messages are geared toward management, but today I want to talk to your sales staff. You should forward this to every salesperson on your team and suggest they sign up for my newsletters.

If you’re a salesperson, I want to help you re-frame what you do every day and what a great opportunity you might be missing. If you’re in management, this is a message you need to share with all.
Have you ever wanted to be in business for yourself?

Have you ever thought about going into business, to get someone else to invest the money and you reap the rewards?

Welcome to the amazing world of the automobile business:

You have free office space.
You get rewarded based on how hard you work.
You have opportunities for advancement.
You have healthcare, vacation and retirement opportunities and Christmas bonus programs.
You have a management team working to help you be productive.
You have a free computer system.
You have a CRM/DMS and other software provided free of charge.
You have staff and technicians available to handle customer problems.
You have free marketing, advertising, and a website developer.
You have an administrative staff to help process your deals, DMV work, etc.
You have millions of dollars of inventory to sell with zero personal investment.
You get special spiffs/incentives from the factory.
You get all the free training/coaching that you can stand.
You have a detail/clean up department that gets your vehicles ready for delivery.
You don’t have to pay a penny for phone, electricity and other utilities.
You can demand an assistant when you become productive enough.
You have an Internet/BDC department begging you to take leads.
You have free janitorial service.
You have free coffee.
You have your own personal financial officer (F&I) working to put your deals together.
You work out of a multi-million dollar facility located on prime real estate.
You have an opportunity of a lifetime with no personal financial investment.
You need to “own” your own business.

That’s all I’m gonna say,Tommy Gibbs.

Hello Peter

The Peter Principle is a management theory that states the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role.

Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”

Promoting people to their level of incompetence is one of the biggest issues facing businesses and is extremely prevalent in the automobile business.

Dealerships spend thousands of dollars in time and money developing staff members’ “managing skills.” We’ve all observed such people. They are wizards at managing things, processes and resources.

Someone may have been an awesome new car inventory manager. They were great with details, data and were as organized as a flight director at NASA. They can organize a herd of cats, but have zero leadership skills.

One day the big opening occurs and they are promoted. Bam!

Hello “Peter Principle.”

All is not lost. People can actually learn leadership skills. Of course the best way to learn is to have great mentors.

Far too often the person that got promoted is more than likely replacing someone with similar managing skills and little or no leadership mentoring has taken place.

If CEOs and owners would spend as much time, money and energy on developing people’s leadership skills as they do on developing management skills we’d have a lot less Peters to deal with.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

The Accountability Issue

Often in my training sessions I’ll ask the question, “How many of you agree that we do a lousy job of holding people accountable in the automobile business?” Without exception, they will all raise their hands.

Leaders that have figured out how to hold people accountable are the most successful when it comes to developing a culture of leaders and achieving high results.

Holding people accountable doesn’t have to be a negative experience. When people understand the expectations, they will seek to achieve those expectations, goals, objectives, culture or however you might want to frame it.

People tend to do the right thing when they know it’s in their best interest, not when you have to hit them over the head with a baseball bat.

Your job as a leader is to sell the team the idea that the things the organization deems to be in the best interest of the organization is actually in their best interest too. Achieving expectations means they win, we win and we all have more success.

Easy tips:

1. Make sure everyone is reminded of the expectations. Yes, that seems elementary, but the evaporation factor is always in play. Either as a direct message or subliminally, leaders must constantly remind the troops of what’s expected and what’s important.

2. Get on it right now. Far too often when there’s a lapse in achievement, leaders let things drag on and on. The more things are allowed to slip, the more those things become habit, and the more the expectations are lowered.

3. You don’t have to be mean to enforce expectations. People like to work in a well-run, well-disciplined organization. This isn’t about screaming and hollering at someone about their failures. It is about letting them know quickly we’re not on track; you and your team are not getting it done, whatever “getting it done” might mean to you.

At some point there must be consequences for those who cannot live up to reasonable expectations. The ultimate consequence is they get to go to work someplace else.

4. Be consistent in your actions and statements. The easiest way for expectations to fall apart is that you are all over the place. You let some things slide for some people and not for others. You cannot be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Selective enforcement with just a few people will destroy the morale and productivity of the team.

5. There are times when you need to figure out the real root of why expectations aren’t being met. What’s the real problem? Leadership sometimes will set the wrong expectations. Setting the wrong expectations is just as bad as not having any.

6. In order to hold others accountable we too have to hold ourselves accountable. We should make it a daily practice of looking in the mirror and being honest with ourselves.

A part of holding yourself accountable is never to forget, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The closer you become with people the more difficult you make your responsibility of holding them accountable.

I’m holding you accountable. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Recruiting & Training issue

While I realize you don’t care all that much about my history, I want you to know I’ve tried it all when it comes to recruiting and training. In the early 80s we had an off-campus training facility with two full-time recruiters and trainers for our three-store group.

I wish I had a perfect fix for you. I can get you close but, in the end, you have to deal with the issues surrounding a major cultural shift.

That’s what it is, a major cultural shift when it comes to today’s recruiting and training of salespeople.

If you’re building a new store from the ground up, you have a much better chance of making it happen. You can write the new rules, hire the right people and change the game.

You can lay out an achievable game plan that will carry you through the next 20 years. I didn’t say it’s not going to change over the next 20 years, just that it will put you in a position to build on as you move forward.

Since you’re probably not building a new store it’s going to be a little more difficult, but if you have some discipline you can do it. It’s going to be expensive but if you think about what you might be investing in a new store given the chance, then it’s probably a bargain.

And, if you think about the cost of turnover, you’re going to win big time. Nothing you can do will eliminate turnover, but how you deal with it and how you restock your shelves can make a big difference.

The size of your store certainly can change the equation, but at some level all of this is doable.

When it comes to training, you have to get committed to something more than “Johnny the new car manager/GSM will handle it whenever we hire someone.” Johnny can close deals, but he ain’t no trainer.

As a matter of fact, it’s a burden and pain in Johnny’s butt to have to deal with it. His lesson plan consists of making sure they know the selling process.

Hiring outside companies to come in and do your recruiting and hiring is a short-term fix at best. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, but the end result doesn’t change much of anything.

If you have 10 salespeople or more, you need to give serious consideration to having a full-time trainer and you need to invest in their teaching skills and not just base it on “they know what to do.” You have to continue to educate the trainer.

Here’s the secret sauce:

1. Hire a trainer. Give him/her the tools they need to be successful, as in equipment and training for them. (Why do this? Because the way you’ve been doing it isn’t working.)

2. Pick a specific week each month that you are committed to a new recruiting or training class. (Why do this? Because it shows you are committed to building a different and powerful organization. When you only recruit and hire when you need someone, you end up hiring people you shouldn’t. There’s always a need to upgrade and improve your sales team. Stop protecting non-producers and hang-ons.)

3. Require other managers to sit in on various phases of the training. Be flexible but do it. With the supervision of your trainer, you can assign them parts of the training to lead. (Why do this? Because they need to know what you are teaching and what to expect when the salespeople hit the floor. And, they might learn something.)

4. Every manager in the front part of the store will be required to personally recruit a person for class each month. They cannot run ads. They have to find them in the wild. If the person they recruit makes it 90 days, pay them a $500 bonus. If I was doing it, I’d fine them $500 if they didn’t have a butt in the class each month. (Why do this? Because when someone personally recruits someone else, they will take a personal interest in their success. You’ve seen it happen over the years where a sales manager takes a liking to a salesperson and helps them succeed. Same deal magnified a bunch.)

5. Change your pay plan to salary and volume based. Do not pay on gross. You can hire a lot of quality people who are happy making $50,000 to $70,000 a year. (Why do this? People today don’t want to be paid on gross. And, the sales people today have very little control over gross. The deal is already a mess because of the prices you’re putting on the Internet for both new and used.)

6. Don’t hire anyone that’s ever sold a car before. (Why do this? If I have to explain this, you’re in a lot more trouble than I can help you with.)

7. Hire some part-time salespeople to help out at peak times. (Why do this? To give you the coverage you need and so your full-time people don’t have to work 12 hour days.)

8. Commit to a 40-hour work-week. (Why do this? People think differently than we did in generations gone by. They don’t want to work 12 hours a day regardless of what the income potential might be. They are willing to earn less if they can have more time off. Their value system is far different than what we have seen in the past. Deal with it.)

9. Incorporate an up-system into your selling process. (Why do this? So, you don’t have the mob standing at the front door waiting on an expensive up. One of the reasons you lose quality people is they hate standing around doing nothing. Keeping them busy should be part of your daily mission. You need to lead the charge for them to be productive and generate their own customers.)

10. For at least 30 days all new salespeople’s deals will be desked by the trainer. (Why do this? Because they can’t say to the trainer “that wasn’t taught to me in class.” Your trainer and your salespeople will become better and better.)

Understand that people are going to come and go. It’s the nature of any sales business. One of your goals is to give them the tools to be successful with your organization or whatever they end up doing in life. When you help others to be better, you become better.

Be aware of your current staff saying they are all in on the outside and sabotaging your new direction on the inside.

There will be current salespeople and sales management that want to see your new direction fail. They will undermine you and point out all the reasons these are bad ideas. Some of them are simply protecting their own turf and will try to make you believe they are looking out for you.

They aren’t.

You have choices to make. Stick with what you’re doing or make major changes. The longer you wait, the more pain you will have and at some point, the pain will be so great that you have to change. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs


Suppose Every Day Was The Last Day?

In sports, you often hear about how powerful momentum and intensity can be. The last two minutes of a football game will frequently determine the outcome.

You will often see players and coach’s greatness shine through in the most helter-skelter moments. There’s a good chance the last two minutes of the Super Bowl upcoming Super Bowl will determine the outcome.

In the automobile business, the last day of the month is like the two-minute drill of a football game.

I have some what ifs for you:

What if you approached the 15th of the month as if it were the last day of the month?

What if you approached every Friday and Saturday as if they were the last two days of the month?

What if you approached every Wednesday and Thursday as if they were the last two days of the month?

What if you approached every Monday and Tuesday as if they were the last two days of the month?

What if you approached every day as if it were the last day of the month?

What day is it? It’s the last day of the month. It’s always the last day of the month.

The clock is aways ticking. You’re running out of time-outs. The end is near. You can do more. Let’s go. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Are You Team Members Ignorant?

When staff members aren’t doing what you would like them to do it’s not due to ignorance. It’s due to the fact that they don’t care about what you care about.

Getting people to care about what you care about isn’t necessarily about having more meetings and training sessions. Of course that activity is a part of giving people what they need to know.

Knowing something and doing something is what separates the good companies from the great companies.

One of the best things a leader can give to his/her organization is to set the atmosphere for a defining culture.

Everybody has the same product.

Everybody has great prices.

Everybody has technology.

Everybody has trained technicians.

Everybody has good selling processes.

Culture is what will separate your organization from your competition.

Most of the time upper management “gets it.” The breakdown occurs at the next level. Far too often we don’t get enough influence from the core staff to make a real difference.

A few are talking the talk, but most aren’t walking the walk. People have to “see it” in order to start to “believe it.”

Your challenge is to get more of the “next level” involved, engaged, and believing they can make a difference.

Until you do so:

You’ll hold some nice meetings:

Do some nice talking.

Print some nice posters.

Create some nice name badges.

Feel good about yourself.

But, not much will change. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Are You Dumb?

I have a saying and it goes like this, “You’re never as smart as you think you are and you are never as dumb as you appear.” Some of you are feeling pretty smart right now.

It could be that you are really smart, or it could be that you got lucky because of a once-in-a-lifetime market shift in your favor.

And of course, there are times when you feel pretty dumb. Even that may or may not be true. You might be a victim of a bad set of circumstances.

Some of you have had bad franchises in bad locations or it could be that you’re a newer used car manager that inherited a hot mess for a used car inventory.

Or it could be you’re just dumb.

In any given set of circumstances, it’s important to maximize whatever you have. During the last few years, you may have maximizing things in spite of yourself or maybe you were smart enough to make some good moves.

It could have been you didn’t know what to do and by doing nothing you got lucky.

The most important thing right now is recognizing where you are, how you got there, and how to stay on this magical course you’ve discovered.

This business continues to be:

All about the basics.
All about the fundamentals.
All about your disciplines.
All about the processes.
All about understanding the data.
All about common sense.
All about your focus.

Never forget that sometimes when you get to the fork in the road you need to take it. It might be time to make a turn. Or you can just be dumb.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs