Do Simple Better

Joe Maddon who has managed the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs and now with the Las Angeles Angels is a bit of a strange duck.

Some would call him eccentric and for sure an out-of-the-box thinker. He does a lot of weird and interesting things with the way he manages the team, but he’s a winner and gets the job done.

One of his themes is “Do Simple Better.” When you break our business down, more often than not what makes or breaks a dealership is the ability to “Do Simple Better.”

Here are 5 simple things that maybe you can do better.

1. Early Intervention-you can’t manage activity by staring at your computer screen. Get up move around. Look for trouble. Trouble meaning a deal is getting screwed up before it even has a chance. You can do better.

2. Improve Your Selling Processes-odds are the evaporation factor is chasing you like a base runner caught in a rundown. Pay attention. Get on it. Stop the evaporation. You can do better.

3. Don’t Short Cut Your Appraisals-Take your time. Look for a way to make it happen. Do it right. Get it right. You can do better.

4. Speed It Up-It takes too much time to get your used vehicles through service. Find the bottleneck. Fix the bottleneck. You can do better.

5. Listen More-Take someone to lunch. Someone you would never take. Listen to them. Amazing the things you might learn. You can do better.

Make your own list.

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

Your Bench Sucks

Maybe it does or maybe it doesn’t, but if you’re like a lot of dealerships you don’t even have a bench.

Don’t believe me? Answer this question. If you lost a key manager today, who do you have that’s ready to step in and get the job done? There you go…I didn’t think so.

Time and time again a dealer group will seek to expand, or they lose a key manager and here we go again with, “Who do you know that would like to make a change?”

What should you do to improve your bench strength?

First, identify a couple of people that have high energy levels, are good communicators and exhibit some fundamental leadership skills. Some things you can teach. Some things you can’t.

Second, create a well-defined management development program. No, not in your head, write it down. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to be a commitment.

If you’re going to put them in a place to succeed when their number is called, you’re going to have to invest some time and money. If you’re the GM or Dealer, then you need to invest some of your time mentoring these newfound rock stars. The more you commit to them, the greater the odds of success.

If you’re a salesperson by chance reading this, you too, need to be willing to invest in yourself. Stop sitting around crying and complaining and start investing.

Part of a management development training program should be to include these management candidates in your manager’s meetings, strategy sessions, and the monthly recap of “the numbers.”

Whenever I’ve done in dealership management training for dealers, I’ve always encouraged them that if they have someone on the sales team that they think might be a manager candidate to include them in the training. In 20 years, I can only think of a handful of times that a dealer invited a salesperson to attend the training.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right now. The best time to start growing your bench is right now.

You can’t grow if you don’t grow your team.

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

When You Get a Complaint

Would you like to improve your overall business model?

Want to improve customer satisfaction?

Want to reduce ongoing daily issues?

Want to improve your work environment?

One of the guiding principles of the Ritz Carlton hotel chain is, “If you get a complaint, you own the complaint.” That’s what you need to instill in every member of your team. “If you get a complaint, you own the complaint,” should become one of your core principles of leadership.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you might not have to hand it off. But, if you hand a complaint off then it’s your responsibility to follow up and make sure it’s been handled.

We often overthink things in business. Keeping things simple is always the best method. If you develop a culture of wild and crazy team members who own the complaints, life is going to be so much easier, a lot more fun, and a much larger bottom line.

You’ll have happier customers and spend a lot less time in court. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs.

All The Money You’ve Made

If you talk to anyone that’s had a successful run, they will tell you the greatest thrill for them hasn’t been:

All the money they’ve made
All the great trips they’ve taken
All the wonderful houses they’ve owned
All the news stories about adding another business to their portfolio
All about their sales rankings in publications like Automotive News
All about all the wonderful plaques they’ve received for their civics’ activities, contributions to their community, or the awards from the franchises they represent

It’s none of those.

They will tell you the greatest thrill for them is the contributions they’ve made toward developing great leaders in and outside of their organization.

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to invest in their businesses and their staff. The one thing they all know deep down inside is there is no greater investment than investing in their people.

Regardless of your position on the management totem pole, you too can invest in others by teaching, coaching, encouraging, and picking others up. When you set the example, you become the example.

When people feel like they are learning and moving forward, they always want to give you their best. When people are giving their best we all grow.

Sometimes you help people grow so much that they leave for other bigger and greater opportunities. You should smile, high-five them and give yourself a little pat on the back.

Are you investing in your team? That’s all I’m gonna ask. Tommy Gibbs.

Eventually or Immediately?

Back in 2016 the University of Florida’s Athletic Director, Jeremy Foley retired after a forty-year career at the University of Florida.

You can well imagine the number of people Jeremy Foley has had to fire over the years.

Of course, he’s not always made the perfect decision when hiring and firing, but based on the school’s success, he’s been right far more times than he’s been wrong.

One of Foley’s sayings is, “If something needs to be done eventually, it needs to be done immediately.”

You will often find that to be a characteristic and trait of exceptional leaders. They see what needs to be done and they do it immediately.

You as a leader know there are things you eventually need to do, but for whatever reason, you keep putting it off.

You know there are people you need to eventually replace. If you know you need to eventually replace them, then you need to do it immediately.

You know you need to eventually change your pay plans. If you know you need to eventually change pay plans, then you need to do it immediately.

You know you need to set up a used vehicle buying center. If you know you need to eventually set up a used vehicle buying center, then you need to do it immediately.

You know you need to eventually get rid of packs. If you know you need to eventually get rid of them, then you need to do it immediately.

There’s a long list of things you know you need to eventually do.

If you want to be a better leader, you would do them immediately.

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

Are You It?

I don’t care what you know.

I care what you can teach others to do.

That’s what leaders do.

They teach it. They coach it.

It’s a wonderful thing that you have talent and great skills, but if you can’t teach it to others then your organization’s growth is limited. You limit your own growth when others aren’t growing.

I cannot tell you how many times in my career I’ve seen talented managers not be able to teach others.

Consequently, when they are not on the job, nothing much happens. Productivity goes in the tank and the company suffers.

Should the B team be blamed for not getting the job done?

No, the team leader who should be doing the teaching, coaching, and the development of the staff should be blamed.

As much as you may think you’re “IT,” you’re not. If you can’t teach “IT” then you ain’t “IT.”

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

What Are You Guarding?

1. Guard Against The “Peter Principle”-Don’t promote people based strictly on how they have performed in their current role. Promote them to their ability to perform in their new role. People are often promoted to their level of incompetence.

2. Guard The Processes-The team with the best and most consistent processes wins the most often.

3. Guard The Team-It really is about the team. You need team players. If they aren’t on the same team you cannot afford to keep them on the team. They will destroy morale and production.

4. Guard The Customers-When you protect your customers, you build your business and set the bar for the team to do the same. The team is watching and emulating how you deal with customer issues.

5. Guard The Vendors-You must demand the same high quality and standards from your vendors as you demand from your team. Don’t lower your standards because you’re saving a few bucks.

6. Guard The Culture-There’s nothing more important that you can do than guard your culture. You cannot afford to hire people who aren’t of the same mindset. If you make that mistake you will wake up one day and there is no culture.

7. Guard Against Legacy Thinking-Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Stop looking back. Look forward.

8. Guard Against Making The Same Mistakes-Mistakes are a part of growing, but what you cannot allow is the same mistakes happening over and over again.

9. Guard The Training-You cannot train too much. It’s not “redundant training” until the team is perfect. The team isn’t perfect.

10. Guard The Passion-Don’t let anyone steal or drain your passion and don’t be afraid to show your passion for all the above.

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

Is The Market Going to Crash?

Some of the most frequent questions I get these days are:

1. Is there a crash coming with used car values?
2. Where is the market heading?
3. How aggressive should I be when appraising and buying cars?

1. Is there a crash coming with used car values?

Nope, there’s no crash coming in the used car market. The bottom isn’t going to fall out. Things are going to level off, and values aren’t going to keep soaring. Unless of course, the new car manufacturers have additional chip issues, or their workers can’t come to work due to a major covid outbreak.

The number one thing that has impacted the rising prices of used cars is the lack of new car inventories. Therefore, any dealer with half a brain is going to keep a close eye on their new car franchise’s production.

2. Where is the market heading?

The same place it always heads this time of the year. In most markets sale volume starts to trend downward as we roll into the fall and winter months.

If you take a look at your used car sales volume over the past 5 years on a month-by-month basis, you’ll see a consistent trend of sales volume by month. The number one problem for most dealers is they stock the same inventory in December as they did back in May.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t always be looking to improve our business month over month, year over year, but it does say, “Hey, pay attention, look at the numbers and start to make some seasonal adjustments with your inventory levels.”

3. How aggressive should I be when appraising and buying used cars?

If you’re well-disciplined and using life-cycle management, you can keep doing whatever you’ve been doing.

That said, you’d be well served to be somewhat cautious with the high-dollar stuff. Everybody has a different definition of what high-dollar means and it is often tied to your new car brand.

On the cheaper stuff. Go for it! It’s hard for you to screw up much when you put $12,000 or so in a used car.

From time to time, I’ll see a cheaper car in a dealer’s inventory that has aged.
For this example, let’s say the dealer has a car with $8000 in it. Think about it, if a car like that has aged there has to be something wrong with it. How many people in this world do you think are looking for an $8000 car?

Let’s go back to the being aggressive part. If you’re aggressive on a $65,000 car and you keep it too long and the market makes a shift, you’re going to lose a lot more money on it than you ever would by being high in a $12,000 car.

Everything I’ve said here you already know.
Sometimes you want to be stupid.

Don’t be stupid. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs.

There’s a Problem Brewing

One of the things I encourage dealers and managers to do in my workshops is to sort their used vehicle inventory by cost or investment, with the most expensive units at the top.

Then I teach them 4 specific ways to attack their 10 most expensive units. (If you want the 4 specific ways, shoot me an email.)

If you want to be better, start attacking your 10 most expensive units every day. There’s only one definition for the word “every.” Go look it up.

One of the more interesting but not surprising things we’ve observed over the years is that if you lay your aged inventory side by side with your 10 most expensive, the two lists have a lot of the same units.

You would think the more money you have tied up in a unit, the more money you would make. If you think that, you would be wrong.

Adding to that problem is the longer the more expensive units sit, the worse the ROI is going to be. If you want to spot “brewing trouble,” start attacking your 10 most expensive units.

Of course, inside your head ROI doesn’t matter to you today because you have such a “sweet” bottom line.

That said, for the well-disciplined dealers everything matters.

A whole bunch of things will start to matter to you as this market changes.

So, go ahead and lay your two lists side by side and validate what you already know.

We often know things but look the other way.

When you look the other way, you’re just being stupid. Don’t be stupid.

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

For Your Salespeople

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.

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