Perception is Reality

Being a leader is often a challenge because of the workplace environment we find ourselves in.

Being a leader is like being a parent. For example, if one parent stays at home, it can be more difficult to discipline the children due to being around them all the time.

Most of my readers are in the automobile business and are often around the same people for 12 plus hours a day.
Most dealerships have systems and processes in place designed to create focus and discipline. Even under the best of circumstances processes are constantly breaking down which contributes to poor performance and a poor bottom line.

The reality is that it’s much easier to run a large dealership than a small one.

As a leader in a large dealership, you can delegate much more and separate yourself from some of the personalities that can cause the breakdown of discipline.

Do not take that to mean that you don’t need to be involved, friendly or whatever. It just means you have to separate yourself from the emotional side of the equation.

If you are in a smaller dealership the task of separating yourself from the staff is even more daunting.I’m often amazed that leaders feel that they can socialize with staff members and still be able to properly manage and lead them.

How can you

1. Have lunch with the same people all the time?
2. Have dinner with spouses and members of your team on a regular basis?
3. Have after work drinks with staff members?
4. Party with staff members?
5. Attend sporting events with staff members?
6. Play golf on weekends with staff members?

Any of these in and of themselves is not a bad thing.

But, to do any of this with the same person on a consistent basis does nothing but create problems for you and them.

Aside from the fact it makes it difficult for you to manage them (let alone fire them) it creates a perception of favoritism that will destroy morale and team spirit.

Never forget, perception is reality. If you perceive that I’m a jerk, then I’m a jerk. The only way for that to change is for me to work toward changing your perception of me.

The burden is on me, not you. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

What Should You Do Now?

How was your June?

How have your first six months been?

It’s been a crazy year and I know that most of you have set some all-time records.

I can understand why you might be beating your chest a little bit.

Your record-breaking pace may mean you’ve gotten lucky or it may mean you’ve got your act together.

Either way, you 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.

But let’s suppose you’ve not been setting records or maybe you recognize you’ve done well despite some flaws in your plan of attack.

Since we still have 6 more months to go, I have a couple of questions:

1. If you’re a record-breaker, what are you going to do to get better?

2.If you’ve not been breaking records or have broken some despite yourself, what are you going to do to get better?

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.

Your other choice is to do nothing. Go sit in your office, stare at the wall and count your money.

If you do nothing, your pile of money will likely go down and the year will soon be over.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

What You Don’t Know

There are two sides to “Not Knowing.”

1. Upper management, owners, owner/operators or dealers have a plan in place to keep the staff in the dark. They only want them to know what they consider are those things that they think they need to know. They don’t teach, they don’t coach, they don’t lead; they just say do your little job, pat them on their head, send them on their way and frequently pay them very well.

In addition, upper management doesn’t seek out B players to help turn them into A players. And thus the B players don’t seek out the C players to help them get to the B level. The theory is by keeping people in the dark they will perform their assigned jobs better.

2. Managers don’t bother to learn. They don’t seek out information. They come to work, do their job and go home.

I’m often appalled, surprised and shocked when I ask questions at all levels and people don’t have the answers. It occurs at the top and down the chain of command. I’m not talking complicated questions.

I will sometimes ask the most basic question and people don’t know the answer. I’m left to assume:

1. They don’t care enough to know.
2. They just don’t have the knowledge to know.
3. People don’t know what they don’t know.

In all cases, these are the same people who complain about things that never get done around here. No one is held accountable. There are no consequences when people don’t perform.

What else can you expect when you don’t know?

That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Can’t Poop?

As most of us know, constipation can be a terrible thing. When you are constipated it’s virtually impossible to be as productive as you might otherwise be.

Exercise, drinking lots of water and in some really bad cases taking a strong laxative can often relieve the problem and get you back on your “A Game.”

Most of you have had a good run with inventory turn, but some of you have gotten slack and you have stuff aging on you.

Having 60-day-old plus units in stock is a lot like being constipated. You can never perform your best when you’re all stopped up.

60-day-old units will make you sluggish and hold back your potential to be as productive as you might be. Your “A game” will never show up when you have used car constipation. Think of it as poop in the chute.

Dealers will often give their used car inventory a laxative, flush the system and start over. It can be a risky and costly approach.

The problem is that even when they “blow it all out” it doesn’t do that much good in the big picture.

Since they don’t change their diet or exercise, so the inventory continues to be constipated and therefore hold them back from achieving their maximum potential.

A good diet for the used car department would be to have good solid processes. A good exercise program for the used car department would be to understand the role that speed plays toward good health. Good diet and exercise can help you avoid used car constipation.

Constipation makes you stinky. You don’t want to be stinky. Having aged units makes you stinky. You don’t want to be stinky.

It’s not a matter of fixing a one-time constipation issue.

It’s a matter of the right diet and exercise to live a happier and fuller life. If you give a hoot you’ll clean up your poop. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

The Fear of Stretch

One of the things I’ve noticed about people in general is the fear of “stretch.”

The majority of people would rather sit on the sidelines, complain, moan and groan rather than to “stretch” themselves. “Stretching” means taking risks. Taking risk can be scary.

That’s one of the reasons why there are more poor people than rich people. By and large rich people take risks. It’s far easier to “not do” than “to do.”

Stretching means throwing yourself into the arena and being subject to criticism and yes, failure..

Only when you fail will you figure out how to succeed. The fear of failure is what holds people back from success. Continuing to sit on the sidelines is comfortable.

Stretching your mind, body and soul ain’t. Let the stretching begin.

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

Are All Kisses The Same?

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 our older kisses have been really sweet.

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.

When Are You Going To Stand Up?

When you’re in business you have a ton of issues to deal with. None are more important than communicating with staff and management team to help them improve performance and profitability.

When you’re in a dealership day-to-day it’s like living with family members and therein lies the problem. It can be difficult to hold family accountable.

There’s tons of data for you to sort through each day to help you create a roadmap of accountability.

You often ignore it and look the other way because you don’t want to lose your family members.

Actually, sometimes it is family and that can create all sorts of issues for you and the team.

The problem is a lot of people see the word “accountable” as a negative word. Holding people accountable is actually a tool to coach them to the next level.

Coaching is about pointing out those things they may be missing. The reason you see what they don’t is because of your experience and the data you have at hand.

People don’t do things because either:

A. They don’t know what to do.
B. They know what to do and refuse to do it.

As a leader, you’re responsible for making sure they know.

Once they know you’re responsible for making sure they do it whatever it might be.

When are you going to stand up? That’s all I’m gonna ask, Tommy Gibbs.

Staying After Yourself

If you’re like me you love life and the challenges it brings to the table each and every day. I always look forward to getting up in the morning and “getting after it.”

As a dealer for 20 plus years, I loved coming into the store every day and being around all the people and the energy that came with that.

I always got there really early and stayed late.

To me one of the best parts was seeing the people and the place coming to life in the morning was like a special sunrise.

Since I’ve been in the speaking, training and coaching business I primarily work alone. It can be challenging at times since I only have myself to rely on. But actually I like the idea of “staying after myself.”

It doesn’t matter if you work alone or work with 500 people you still have to “stay after yourself.” It’s a fun challenge and something you can actually get better at.

“Staying after yourself” requires planning and discipline. If my father said it once to me he’s said it a thousand times, “Plan your work and work your plan.”

Some key elements to “staying after yourself” include reading, writing, listening and forcing yourself to attend Twenty Group meetings, conventions and workshops. And, let’s add to that list Clubhouse, podcasts and mastermind groups.

These things open the mind and help you see what the possibilities might be.

I’ve become a firm believer that writing is a bigger component to success than one might think. I don’t mean that you have to be an award winning author; writing your thoughts down each day helps to open your brain up to where you’ve been and where you can go.

Writing helps you “stay after yourself.” It will help you self-evaluate your actions, your behavior and how well you are accomplishing those “continuous goals” you should be writing down.

Goal setting is critical to “staying after yourself.” Goal setting is important, but it’s even more important to understand that a goal is simply a temporary target and not the end. You have to constantly evaluate, tweak and adjust your goals so you are always moving forward.

A big part of staying after yourself is to “stay after others.” I don’t mean that in a micro-managing sense, but as a way of encouraging others.

The more you encourage others the more you are encouraging yourself. There is nothing you can do that is more important than helping others along the way.

It’s sometimes hard to understand the impact we can have on others with a kind word of encouragement and a pat on the back. It’s so very powerful!

My encouragement for you today is for you to remember to take some time to “stay after yourself.” That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs.


If you’re in a leadership position or hope to be so one day and you don’t have a sense of humor, then I’d say you are out of luck.

I realize there are people in top leadership positions who don’t have a sense of humor, but I have to believe by and large they are totally miserable people and not nearly as successful as they and their organizations could be.

I believe part of a leader’s responsibility is to create a workplace that’s well-disciplined, functional, effective and a fun place to work. Just because you display a sense of humor doesn’t mean you’re not serious about your work or have lost your discipline.

It means at any given moment you know how to inject humor to lighten up the joint.
Working in a place of business without a sense of humor is like working in a room with the lights off. Humor turns the lights on and adds an un-measurable element to the organization.

Back when I was running my dealerships, I personally conducted cultural training to make sure every team player knew the mission and what was expected of them.

I was quick to point out to our new hires, as well as existing staff, that if they didn’t have a sense of humor then it was the wrong place for them to be working.

“If you can’t laugh at yourself, then you’re going be miserable here. So, it might be best if you make some plans to meet some new people at your next workplace.”

So go ahead, laugh at yourself. It’s ok, it really is and those around you will be better off for it and so will you.
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. Don’t be talked out of training.

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.