Where Can I Buy Cars?

If I get asked this question once a week, I get asked this question 100 times a week. It’s generally phrased as, “We can’t find inventory, do you have any suggestions?”

These are smart, intelligent dealers and managers asking the question. These are people who are true “car guys and gals.” They are not new to the game and they know what end is up, yet they still ask the question.

They know the answer. But they hold out for a miracle that I have a secret tunnel that I can connect them to that has some gold at the end.

To quote my good friend and mentor Dale Pollak:

“The reality is that there are plenty of cars available in the wholesale market, but the margin opportunity for most is very, very small.”

So there you have it.

Dale has spoken and I shall interpret. There’s inventory out there, but you can’t or won’t pay the price.

You won’t pay the price because:

You haven’t accepted the fact that units you purchase aren’t going to have much of a profit margin.

You haven’t accepted the fact that you will need to turn and burn those units.

You haven’t accepted the fact that total gross is more important than average gross.

You haven’t accept the fact that packs and high recon costs are adding to your woes of paying the price.

You haven’t accepted the fact that paying on gross profit further complicates the retail selling process.

You haven’t accepted the fact that you need to create a greater awareness on look-to-book.

You haven’t accepted the fact that mining your customer base for potential sellers is worth more than a 60-day trial run.

You haven’t accepted the fact that the number one issue of low grosses is you sell too many units late in the life-cycle.

You haven’t accepted the fact that many good things come to the table when you find a retail buyer at some number.

These are just a few of the things you haven’t accepted, that are causing you not to be able to find the inventory you need.

It’s important to know where to buy cars. It’s even more important to know why you aren’t buying them. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Smooch, Smooch

The first of anything is always the best. Coffee is a great example. I highly anticipate each morning the first taste of my cup of coffee.

It’s amazingly the best. Most things are like that.

The first time you kissed your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend is far better than the smooches you’ve most recently got.

The first lick of your ice cream cone is better than the last and so on. It’s called the law of stuff tastes better at first. (Yes, I made that up.)

Used cars are that way too. Selling one in the first 10 days tastes a lot better than selling it on day 70. The biggest difference between selling a used car and getting a kiss is that selling a used car is based on math.

Kissing is based on kissing. Imagine that?

Here’s the problem:

Dealers often failed to recognize those units that need to be first, as in sold really fast.

Those will be your most problematic units such as ones you’ve buried yourself in, bad color, auction purchases, high dollar unit, etc. These are units that you do not have a favorable cost to market or days supply.

You have to accept the fact that you’re not going to make a as much gross on those as you might make on others. Never forget they serve a worthwhile purpose in your business model. There are benefits galore at turning and burning these units.

Because the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the law of supply and demand, some of your older kisses were pretty darn good a few years ago. But, hello…

Unfortunately some dealers have been hypnotized into thinking an old kiss is always going to be just is good as a fresh one. Maybe you’re a great kisser or maybe you just slobber a lot.

Do yourself a favor and take a look at a handful of your oldest units in stock. Ask yourself, “why are these units still here?”

The odds are good that whatever you come up with was there on day one and you ignored it.

This article isn’t mean to be a commercial for my software product, but if you had been using my life-cycle management and recon tool, the odds of you still staring at those units would be about slim and non.

If you want to improve gross profit and volume, you have to know which ones to hold and which ones to fold and never forget all kisses are not equal.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

You’re Running Out of Time

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.

Some of you are wishing the Pandemic era were still here so you could get out of all that aged crap you’ve let set around.

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, Tommy Gibbs

Will You Outwork Them?

The great Tennessee women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt, passed away a few years ago. She will go down in history as one of the greatest coaches of any sport at any level.

In Pat Summitt’s book, “Reach for the Summitt,” she states, “Here’s how I’m going to beat you: I’m going to outwork you.”

I put myself and some of my business teammates into the category of we will outwork you.

I don’t think there’s any greater attribute that one can have than the will to outwork their fellow man/woman.

For those of us who have that mindset, we can point to person after person who had more talent, but we ate their lunch in the game of life, business and leadership. We’ve passed them on the stairway to success time and time again.

I’m seeing fewer and fewer people willing to carry the mantle of “I’ll outwork you.”

It’s getting easier and easier to outwork some of the workers of today.

Maybe we should just hand them a “participation trophy” and send them home. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Luck vs. Preparation?

Without question, some people are luckier than others. It’s not always true, but some of the time it’s just a fact.

More often than not, luck is a by-product of being prepared.

The more you prepared you are, the luckier you get.

Being prepared means studying your craft.

Being prepared means making some mistakes and moving on.

Being prepared means a willingness to change.

Being prepared means listening to other points of view.

Being prepared means getting outside of your comfort zone.

Being prepared is a constant thirst for knowledge.

Being prepared means having lots of residue on your hands.

Many have the will to win. Very few have the will to prepare to win. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Bad Mental Muscle Memory?

Most of us understand the concept of muscle memory. An example of muscle memory is when you throw a ball, you don’t think about all the mechanics of doing so. Your body, mind and arm just make it happen.

“Mental muscle memory” works much the same way. Whenever we need to make any decision in our personal or business life, our brain will go into what we have stored in its “hard drive” to decide what to do.

The brain is going to go where we have the most experience and where we are the most comfortable. This dated information becomes what we rely on because it’s what we know.

I like to refer to this as actually “Bad Mental Muscle Memory.” Relying on “Bad Mental Muscle Memory” is like a drug. The more you rely on it the more you want to do it.

“Bad Mental Muscle Memory” is the future on hold. Opening up your thinking is the future on steroids. It grows and grows.

Invest more time, energy and resources in the training and development of you and your staff.

Here’s 7 ideas to help you defeat “Bad Mental Muscle Memory.”

1. Look for greatness and ideas in others. Instead of showing up to let everyone know how great you are, show up to find out how great everyone else is. You don’t have all the answers and even if you’ve had some good ones in the past, maybe it’s time to let others help you tweak them up a notch or two.

2. Set up an Executive Committee. A few years ago a good friend of mine came back into the automobile business to do some re-organizing of his group of stores. The first thing he did was to set up an Executive Committee to help guide the team toward the future. He knew that the team knew that he had a lot to get his arms around. What a brilliant move to get the team involved in the decision-making process.

3. Add some fear to your diet. Fear is a great motivator. You should be fearful of falling behind. You should be fearful of the competition getting ahead. You should be fearful of what’s around the corner. Fear will force you to get out of your box and get on with it.

4. Read and study the best. Do you know who the best are and do you understand what they do? Do you understand how they do it? Have you spent any time studying these top performers? Being a leader is like being a great football coach. To be a great football coach you have to have a great scouting report. If you’ve not studied these top players then you should.

5. Inspire those around you. You may think this is overplayed but it’s not. The more you inspire others the more it creates enthusiasm for change and growth.

6. Avoid the easy. Go after the impossible. My good friend, great author and speaker, Dave Anderson, often speaks of stretching yourself and stretching your organization. You can’t stretch if you don’t reach for the impossible. You will soon find out that what you thought was impossible is very doable. And then you will say “next.”

7. Eliminate what you think are obstacles. Sometimes it’s people, sometimes it’s stinky thinking. The only thing in life you have total control over is your thinking. If you think you can you are right. If you think you can’t you are right.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” I’m going to add to his quote. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm for change”

Do You Show Up?

“Showing up” is a term that is sometimes used in sports when a player performs well, has an exceptional game, or makes ESPN’s top ten plays.

It doesn’t actually mean what it says.

Anybody can “show up.” People show up every day. Sometimes you wonder why they even bothered to show up.

Showing up and performing, excelling, kicking butt and taking names is a whole different kettle of fish.

Great players and great leaders “show up” every day for every play. The great ones don’t pick and choose which day or which game they intend to excel in. It’s ingrained in their DNA to “show up.”

They don’t say to themselves, “Hey, I like this day, I think I’ll show up.” They say, “I’m here, let’s get on with it.”

Of course, they have days when they don’t feel like giving 110%, but they dig in, they grind it out, they push through the mess and they make it happen.

The automobile business is a tough game. If you’re going to have sustained success you have got to show up every day and “get after it.”

Getting after it means guarding the processes.

Getting after it means creating high energy.

Getting after it means holding yourself and others accountable.

Getting after it means making those tough personnel decisions that you know you need to make.

Getting after it means amping up your training to be the best you can be.

Getting after it means paying attention to what’s going on around you.

Getting after it means not ignoring “the elephant” in the


Here’s The Biggie:

Getting after it means removing those obstacles that keep your team from reaching their goals.

If you’ve not been showing up, maybe it’s time you did. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs.

Absolutes vs. Exceptions

The downside of absolutes is it chokes off the potential to have an acceptable exception.

Exceptions break the rule of discipline.

Exceptions soon become the norm.

When exceptions become the norm chaos breaks out. The type of chaos I’m referencing isn’t actually like a bomb going off. This chaos is slow and gradual, often not recognized, and then – whamo – there it is, its ugly face screaming at you, “What the heck happened?”

Now here’s the real deal for those of you looking to become better leaders. You can have absolutes and exceptions in the same house. They can actually hang out with each other once in a blue moon.

True leaders can use them both and chaos will never show its ugly face. Granting an exception and going back to absolutes is very doable.

The problem with leadership is that very few leaders have the skill to make effective use of them both.

Most people in leadership positions are stuck with one or the other.

At any given moment one is just as bad as the other. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Are You Looking? Can You See?

I often wonder what dealers, managers, and leaders are looking at. At times it seems they are looking, but they don’t see.

Yogi Berra once said: “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

And sometimes even when they see, they don’t hold people accountable and take corrective actions.

Believe it or not, people want to be held accountable. It’s hard to hold people accountable when we haven’t set or determined what the expectations are.

Once expectations are set then we must have a way of measuring the progress. Measuring progress is probably one of the easiest things to do in the automobile business.

When the measurements are not satisfactory, we have to communicate the results and seek corrective action.

Once the corrective action plan is in place it all starts over again and at some point, there has to be, there just has to be, a consequence for failing to measure up.

And that’s where the biggest problem occurs. Not wanting to hand out the consequences is when leaders look, but don’t see.

I see it all the time. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs.


Most dealers and managers have come to understand that speed is critical when it comes to making money on used cars.

If you are committed to 60 days or less (which you should be), then any days in the assigned life-cycle of a unit when it’s not available for sale is a killer.

The question often comes up, “When does the clock start ticking?” Does it start with the actual day you own it, or does it start when the car goes on the lot/online?

The issues that often come up are the delay in getting vehicles from auction sites and those units we can’t sell for legal reasons such as we don’t have the title as required by law in some states. There are certainly times when a needed part is delayed and/or a vehicle spends weeks in the body shop.

Let me make this as clear as I possibly can. It starts the moment you own it. Period. No exceptions, no ifs, ands, or buts.

If you want to trick yourself by assigning a different date once the car’s online then go ahead; it’s your store you can do what you want. But, what you can’t do is change the math.

It is what it is. It’s a depreciating asset. The clock starts ticking the minute you own it. Do the math. The ROI is going south.

It’s a ticking time bomb. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs