CarBravo or CarBrav-Not?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know GM has just introduced their new used car platform called CarBravo.

I so want to say, “Bravo, way to go GM,” but inside my head I keep thinking about history.
Like most subjects I took in school, history wasn’t one of my stronger ones. Even so, one of the things I did learn is history often repeats itself.

When was the last time the factory was successful when they tried to do something on the retail side of the automobile business? Go ahead think on it and get back to me.

I do want to cheer GM for taking on the likes of Carvana and Carmax. As much as dealers have tried, they haven’t put much of a dent in what these “big boys” have been able to accomplish.

These two groups do a lot of things well and by and large dealers have been chasing them for years.

I suspect that was part of GMs thinking. You Dealers haven’t been able to figure it out, so we are here to save you. Sorta like the Federal Government. Shame on us.

We all know that anytime the Feds or the Factory take over something the success rate goes way down.

I’m confident that GMs mission is to help their dealers make more money. (Said with a big dose of sarcasm.)

Don’t kid yourself. GMs gonna make money out of this.

Your first question should be, will you?

Your second question should be, what’s GMs long-term game plan? Do they ultimately want to be in the retail new car business? Imagine that.

I can’t help but remember a quote from a former factory executive who said, When the factory says “if you play ball with us, we’ll play ball with you.” What they are really saying is “play ball with us and we will shove the bat right up your ass.”

Play ball. Game on. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Maybe You Ain’t That Smart?

A number of years ago I came up with a saying, “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. Right now, you may be maximizing things in spite of yourself or maybe you’ve been 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.

Even with all that said, 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.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Dress For Success

Many years ago I read a book titled “Dress For Success,” written by John T. Molloy. To this very day, it’s one of the most influential books I’ve ever read.

My dress for success mentality was further influenced by others in business whom I looked up to. They all fit a common mold when it came to “the look.” They looked professional and therefore they were.

A dark suit, long-sleeved white shirt, and a conservative or very bright tie wins hands down in the dress the part contest. Whatever argument you have against this fundamental concept is totally flawed.

When I was 15 I was a batboy for the New York Yankees Triple “A” farm team in Richmond, VA. The manager at the time was Sheriff Robinson. I remember to this day him saying to the players “If you can’t play like a pro at least look like a pro.”

“Fake it till you make it. Then fake it some more.”

If you are scratching your way to the top, or if you are already there, then the way to stand out is to dress up, not dress down. I can tell you from personal experience, that when you dress up you are far more productive. When you look like an executive you start to think and inspire as an executive.

Many businesses have gone with the “Casual Look,” or some call it business casual. It’s either casual or it’s business. Business casual turns into “business sloppy.” Just because your company allows business casual doesn’t mean you have to go along with the program. I doubt upper management is going to bust your chops for dressing “up.”

The argument and justification that the customer feels more comfortable and relaxed is a bunch of malarkey. The only person being more relaxed is you.

Look, Einstein, the customer is making the second-largest purchase in their life next to a home. Do you think they want to do business with a slob? The answer is a big fat no.

Oh, I know if you are dressed in a suit then it’s too intimidating for the customer and they won’t buy the car.

Really? You’ve got to be kidding me. Look if your people skills are no better than that and you can’t overcome wearing a suit, then it’s a miracle you’ve lasted this long.

Most of you are in some sort of authority position. Trust me on this one. When you dress casually there has to be an element of loss of respect by those around you. If you want more respect and want to be more productive then dress the part.

There are many elements that make up great leadership skills and looking the part is an important one. Never forget you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

P.S. shine your shoes…

How’s The Planning Coming Along?

If your dealership is like most others, then the odds are you’ve just about finished up your planning for 2022. Here are a few tips to help push you over the finish line.

Tip # 1-Dissect each department. Break them all down. Pretend you are starting from scratch. Don’t assume anything. Nothing is sacred. Be ready to change and perfect any and all processes.

Tip #2-Analyze, analyze, analyze. Make the numbers work.
Here’s a number you need to make work. 120%. Once you have figured out how many units you should be selling, think of how many salespeople you will need to get the job done. If you think your volume number is 100 and you think your team will average 10 units each then the number of salespeople you need is 10. Right? Wrong!

What you really need to get the job done is another 2 salespeople. It takes 120% of what you think you might need. There are always a few salespeople having a bad month. You fire some. Some quit. Someone is sick, broke a leg, or whatever. You cannot hit your number doing straight-up math. Think 120%.

That’s how you will get your number. Don’t worry about overloading your sales force. You need to worry about overloading your bottom line.

Tip#3-Relocate; as in send some folks packing. Loyalty is a wonderful thing. Too wonderful. Yes, it’s a people business, but darn it, it’s a business. You’re not running a charity. There are some people that just need to go. If you love them so much you can’t part with them, then send them to the farm and mail them a check each month. Get someone on board who can get the job done.

Tip #4-Now that you’ve analyzed and figured out your team, layout the new plan. Bring your key players into the new plan. Let them have some input. It’s ok to let them think it’s their idea. The more they think it’s their idea, the better.

Tip#5-Present it to the entire management team. Your key managers have to help sell the plan and create “buy-in.” Buy-in is critical to the success of the organization.

Tip#6-Educate the team. It doesn’t matter how long you are in this business you need to continue to look for opportunities to ramp up your performance. Educating the team is never an expense. It’s an investment in them and your future.

Tip#7-Turn your used car department upside down. Look at it from every angle possible and start making changes.

Tip#8-Put the plan in play now. Now is the time to get the kinks out. Pretend the next 10 days are like spring training. You want to be able to rock and roll on January 1,

None of us have any idea what 2022 is going to look like. Now is the time to light the fire.

You will win in 2022 by preparing to win right now.

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

My Wish List 2021

1. I wish we could do away with packs.
2. I wish every salesperson worked his or her entire deal on a tablet.
3. I wish we had salaried salespeople with monthly and annual bonuses.
4. I wish we had salaried management with monthly and annual bonuses.
5. I wish we didn’t have to rely on processing fees to make a nice bottom line.
6. I wish we had two-tiered pricing from the service department to the used car department.
7. I wish every service writer presented the menu on a tablet.
8. I wish more dealers would move to one-price.
9. I wish we didn’t have “towers of power.”
10. I wish more dealers would set up a VBC (Vehicle Buying Center.)
11. I wish sales management & salespeople had a 40-hour workweek.
12. I wish we could get units through recon in 3 days.
13. I wish we never would have any units over 60 days.
14. I wish the manufacturers don’t overload dealers with inventories.
15. I wish auction fees could be reduced.
16. I wish we focused more on “leading” rather than “managing.”
17. I wish every dealer was in a 20 group.
18. I wish your showroom didn’t look like a showroom.
19. I wish I’d see you at the NADA convention.
20. I wish a larger percentage of a sales transaction could take place online.
21. I wish you’d get 12 turns per year and better.
22. I wish we could rid ourselves of “Legacy Thinking.”
23. I wish people would listen to each other more.
24. I wish you would finally hire me.
25. I wish you a great holiday season.

That’s all I’m gonna wish for, Tommy Gibbs

Bonus Wish: I wish I didn’t send you so many newsletters, but I can’t resist myself.

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

Who’s In Charge of Your Store?

Have you ever noticed that with some businesses that it feels like nobody’s in charge?

Sort of like the business has been turned over to the inmates to figure it out and do the best that they can? Sure, we’ve all had that experience.

Often, when I’m in a dealership I’m not sure who’s really in charge. In some cases, it’s the blind leading the blind. Even more to the point, I wonder if anyone is really “running the show.”

The sales department of the typical dealership needs to be set up in one of two ways:

1. General Sales Manager-this person runs the sales department. All the managers in the sales department answer directly to the GSM. The GSM needs to have great leadership skills and it’s always preferred that they have been an F&I and Used Car Manager. They must have the ability to communicate with the other department heads and understand their area of responsibility.

They should never let their egos get in the way of keeping the Dealer/GM informed as to what’s going on in the sales department. Their motto should be the Dealer/GM is never surprised. GSMs usually run into trouble when they start to think they are the dealer and begin making decisions on things that are above their pay grade.

2. General Manager/Dealer Operator-not only performs GM duties, but GSM duties as well. This situation is more prevalent in smaller stores or during those economic times when cutbacks are necessary and the GM takes on multiple responsibilities.

Notice the line that says “Needs to be set up in one of two ways.” My experience is that often it’s just not being done, or if it is it’s a halfhearted effort at best. You cannot put a group of managers together and hope they “get it” and work together as a team. You can’t “kind of sort of” say that so and so is in charge.

The best-run businesses are those in which everyone clearly knows, understands, and supports the chain of command.

People support the chain of command because they have respect for the person at the top not just based on their prior performance, but because of their daily actions. Respect has to be earned every day and is not a result of “carry over” action from some previous accomplishments, such as he/she was a great salesman…now let’s anoint them with “Sales Manager in Charge” status.

Far too often the GSM or GM does not have the skills that are actually needed to run the sales department. Then there are times when they just don’t have the desire. It’s not their cup of tea. They may have other useful skills for the organization but managing a sales force just isn’t one of them.

It could be they don’t have the training and background or their personality just isn’t a sales personality. They may have been given the position because they were a great closer, or were the next person in line to be promoted.

It’s not all that unusual for a GM to be a former Parts and Service Director, Comptroller, or even a relative of the owner. They may or may not have the skills and/or training to do the job the way it needs to be done.

That doesn’t mean they are not a great GM by normal standards, but they may not be the type of GM who can also perform the duties of a GSM. Sometimes the person I’m talking about here is actually the owner who has taken on additional responsibilities for whatever reason. Just because someone is the owner doesn’t qualify them to run the sales operation, but they have to be smart enough to recognize the skills they have and don’t have.

So, here’s the deal. You have to put someone in charge who can do the job. I mean really do the job. It’s one of the most critical positions in the dealership.

If you have the wrong person or you are relying on the managers to work it out among themselves you will be led down a road of constant frustration, confusion, lack of direction, and poor production. In the end, everyone suffers, especially your bottom line.

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

It’s Thanksgiving Already:

It’s Thanksgiving and time to give thanks.


If you’re like me for sure you have a lot to be thankful for. Among many things I’m thankful for are your friendship and support.


Thanksgiving also starts the closeout of the year. It centers around Black Friday and rolls through the last week of the year. Like it or not, 2022 is already here.


I’ve listed some very basic ideas you need to take into consideration that will help you finish strong and get ready for your best year ever.


A. Re-commit yourself- and your thinking towards being the very best you can be. Take stock of all those great ideas running around in your head.
Write them down and make a commitment to get them done by certain dates. Post it on the wall in several places that you will see frequently. If you have a private restroom, put it on the mirror.


The dealers and GMs with the most successful used car operations are those who have taken ownership of the used car department.


The more involved you get, the more success your dealership will have. If you’re not committed to the used car business, it’s a safe bet your team isn’t either.


B. Re-evaluate the appearance of your inventory. Let’s do a little checklist:
1. Look at your inventory online. Are they all there? Actual photos & prices posted?

2. Take a lot walk. Are the vehicles in straight lines?

3? When was the last time the entire lot was rotated?

4. Are you using angles to display your inventory?

5. Do you have hang tags? If so, do they all have hang tags?

6. Are they nasty, dirty on the outside?C. Refocus Your Disciplines-To be successful in the used car business you have to have daily/weekly/monthly disciplines that you live and breathe by.


One of those disciplines might be to do a weekly lot walk. Every car in your inventory must be touched. If it’s in service, touch it. If it’s in prep, touch it.

If it’s in the budget center, touch it.


Everybody touches it. Even if you think you have your disciplines well defined inside your head, you’d be well served to make a written list and check them off from time to time.


D. Re-Recon-Take every unit over 30 days old back through a recon process. (You’ve already missed your best window of opportunity to make gross; that would be the first 20 days.)


E. Re-Invest in yourself and your management team. Do something to gain some knowledge. Hire me, visit CarMax, or visit a dealer friend in another state that does a good job in used. Attend a workshop. Join a Twenty Group. Join a Used Car Twenty Group. Do something besides sitting there and waiting for something to happen.


F. Re-think- your management team. Do you have the right person running your used car operation?


Yes, that person may have been with you for years. Loyalty sometimes equals mediocrity. Maybe they have some great skills, but the fact is that you may not be making the best use of their talents.


I’m thankful for lots of things this holiday season and I’m especially thankful that you’ve taken the time to read my little Zingers.


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

EXPECTATIONS:

EXPECTATIONS: Frequently in my training sessions, I’ll ask the question, “How many of you agree that you do a lousy job of holding people accountable in your 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 are 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 a 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 to 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.

What About Expectations?

Frequently 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 your 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 are 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 a 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 to 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.

The Problem With Power

“The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success.” Anonymous


Have you ever noticed that when some people get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or SUV that they lose their minds? It’s not unusual to see someone driving really nutty, doing something really stupid and you pull up beside them and they look like normal people.


They don’t have two heads, fangs, or horns sticking out of their heads. 


What is it with people when they get behind the wheel of a car? They sorta lose their minds. Good people, nice people seem to go a bit postal. 


As I’ve mentioned in the past at one time I drove race cars. I always found it interesting that some of the nicest guys outside of a race car were nuts once they got in the car.


It was as if their helmets squeezed their brains until stupid flowed out. I’m not excluding myself from that equation, as I was no different from the rest when I strapped mine on. I believe it’s the power of the engine that makes them go off the deep end.


I see the same thing in business every day. Someone gets promoted and whamo, they get the “king of the hill” mentality. “I’m ‘da king, you ‘da peasants, and you will do as I say.” That type of mentality will soon be their downfall.
They have been anointed this position of power, but don’t have a clue on how to lead. Should we blame them or the person who promoted them?


One of my father’s favorite sayings is, “Be nice to people on the way to the top because you never know who you will meet on your way down.”.That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs.