Did You Notice?

Did you notice that you are getting really comfortable with having aged units around?

You’ve justified in your mind that it’s ok because you convinced yourself during the pandemic that you could sell anything at any time and make money on it. Since you think that’s a brilliant plan, please let me know how the ROI turns out for you when you let crap age on you.

Did you notice that the selling processes you think your team is using, aren’t the selling processes you’re using?

Some members of your management team are doing their “own thing.” If you don’t believe it, sit down individually with your sales people and ask them how each manager starts and works a deal.

Did you notice that you are no longer doing a “save-a-deal meeting” and “trade walk” each day?

You’ve accepted it as fact that everybody is so busy that they don’t have time to do it. You’ll be surprised at how many more deals you will make by doing a “save-a-deal meeting.” And, how many more used cars you will end up keeping and retailing when the management team does a “trade walk.”

Did you notice that the management team doesn’t understand Life Cycle Management?

Life Cycle Management starts on day one, not day 61. If you are having aged units and/or losing money on units wholesaled at the end of the life cycle it’s because they are not using “Early Warning Radar.” If you don’t think Life Cycle Management is important, go ahead and tell me the story on your oldest unit in stock. Yep, they all have a story. You ignored the story on day one so now you get to the rehash the story on day 61. Had you been focused on Life Cycle Management, that unit would have been gone long ago with little or no loss and maybe even a profit.

Did you notice that the sales and management team doesn’t do lot walks anymore?

Did you ever wonder why your sales people don’t sell more used? It’s because they don’t know the inventory. Know the difference between a lot walk and a trade walk. Now do them both.

Did you notice that you get lots of lip service on those processes you know need to be followed in all the departments?

Guarding the processes is one of the most important functions of leadership.

Did you notice that the average cost per used car in stock keeps creeping up and up?

The reason it’s happening is because you are not paying attention to it every day. Pressing the average cost down is a fundamental discipline. If every manager doesn’t know the number, you’re not doing your job. The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

Did you notice that you’re back to selling vehicles for less than what you have them posted online?

That’s because the sales team isn’t sold that you have the best product at the best price. Before you can make the customer a believer you have to get the sales staff to believe. Tracking GAP will create a focus that forces you to hold more gross profit.

Did you notice that a lot of your problematic used cars in stock are either high dollar or purchased at an auction?

If you would print out a list every day of your 10 most expensive units in stock, and distribute to your management team, you would eliminate most of these problem children.

Did you notice that sometimes you just don’t notice? Your job as a leader is to notice what’s going on. My job is to keep reminding you. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs



You Know Where The Problem Is

“Some people will not change until the pain is so great
that they have to.”

One of the more interesting things I see in my line of work is dealers and managers often know they have a problem, but don’t do what’s necessary to fix it.

These are smart people with years of experience and plenty of data and information to conclude that something isn’t working as well as it should or could.

They know there’s a better way, but stay on a road named “frustration.” When your staff becomes frustrated, the growth of your organization is stymied, and your bottom line impacted.

The two examples I see most often are:

1. The relationship between the parts and service departments and the used car department. Sometimes it’s the cost of parts and repairs and sometimes it’s workflow.

Never forget that you can’t sell them and make the most money if you can’t get them to the front line in a timely manner. Nothing drives sales management crazier than seeing units sitting out back waiting to go through recon.

A large percentage of the dealers don’t know where the bottleneck is or how long it takes to get units through the system and ready for retail. They know they have a problem, they just don’t know how big it is and how much it’s hurting their bottom line.

Each department is a separate business and there’s pressure on each department/business to make a profit. Therefore, it often feels like our business model, by design, is set up for the departments to work against each other. Watch this 3 minute VIDEO on my recon tool.

2. Overaged used cars. Dealers know it’s not profitable to keep used cars past 60 days. Most know the profit starts to take a serious dip on day 30. Profit and ROI are going south, and the dealer looks the other way. How such intelligent people allow this to go on and on is extremely hard to understand.

Ignoring the problem creates a culture that lacks discipline, which over the course of time will vibrate throughout the store. You cannot win on a consistent basis when there’s a breakdown of discipline.

More often than not we know how to fix the problem. And, more often than not we don’t fix it. We don’t address the problem due to fear. Fear can be real or imaginary. We often fear that if we attack the problem that someone will quit because they can’t live with the new approach.

If you fear asking people to change to something that’s going to make you, them, and your organization better, then there may be an even bigger problem that needs fixing.

Maybe you need to fix your thinking.

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

Change Your Title To Coach

The more I’m involved with the automobile business and the more I observe other businesses, the more I realize we in the business world have got it all wrong when it comes to management.

Specifically the word manager.

In business, people are often given the title of “Manager.” Sometimes it’s truly a gift because they were next “up,” and sometimes they worked hard to get it.

Most people who are managers think of themselves as, well, uhh, managers. They’ve been told they are a manager so they go about their business of managing people, systems, and processes.

I looked the word manager up and here’s what I found: “Somebody who is responsible for directing and controlling the work and staff of a business, or of a department within it.”

I can’t argue that is more or less the definition that most people work from. When working with and leading people I believe we would be much better served by replacing the word “manager” with the word “coach.”

Like many of you reading this, my life has been impacted in one way or another by sports. Whether you played sports or if you are simply a sports fan, the odds are you can relate to the field of sports and the influence it has had on you one way or another.

When I first got out of college I was a head football coach at a private military academy, Frederick Military Academy in Portsmouth, VA. The reality is that all throughout my career I’ve always seen myself as a coach not a manager.

If you think about what we do, at least those who do it well, we are always coaching. It’s just like being a head football coach.

As a head coach, your focus is to coach the players and the assistant coaches. It never ends.

If you have a coach’s meeting then you are reviewing the practice, schedule, game plan, etc. When you’re on the field with the players you are coaching technique, disciplines, conditioning, teamwork, attitudes, and the importance of “getting it right.”
Coaching takes place on and off the field just as it does with you in the dealership. Coaching is nothing but “selling.” If you’re a coach of an athletic team you are selling players and assistant coaches on why they need to buy into whatever it is you’re trying to get across.

This is no different than the business you’re in. You’re constantly selling someone on your team as to how and why to do things a certain way.

So, how much better off would we be if we all really took it to heart that we are no longer managers but “coaches” and that every minute that we are in front of our team our number one focus is to coach, coach and coach some more?

Top coaches are always looking for that competitive edge.

Getting a competitive edge means seeking information, testing the waters, trying a new play, attending a coaching workshop, and pushing yourself harder than you’re pushing the team.

Top coaches communicate with other top coaches. (20 Groups, Clubhouse App, Facebook Groups, etc.)

Top coaches hire other coaches who are smarter than they are with specific skills to help the team win. Top coaches know what they don’t know. Top coaches hire me.
It’s really strange that dealers who are unsuccessful don’t hire me and those who hire me are already successful.

They are already making money. Like any good coach they know they can do better. They know there is more to be had.
They know the team needs to hear it from an outside coach once in a while.
Great coaches are givers of information and they seek information to make themselves and their team better.
Hey “Coach,” thanks for reading my material.
That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

GO TAKE A WALK

Most health magazines would tell you that walking 20 minutes a day has huge health benefits. There are also some huge business benefits if you would make yourself take a walk. Try these three walks and your health and business will improve:

1. The Meet Your Team Walk-The first walk occurs each day as soon as you arrive at the dealership. Generally speaking, I’m directing most of my writings at the dealer and/or General Manager of the dealership, but in this specific case, it can apply to anyone and will pay huge dividends regardless of your position.

Start at the back of the dealership and work your way toward the front. Your mission should be to speak to as many team members (call them what you want) as possible. Over time you should get to know them.

Make it a point to stop and talk to every technician, every porter, every service writer, etc.

Work your way into the body and parts departments and do the same. Then visit the office staff and sales department. Of course, the sequence may depend on your actual job and role in the operation, but you get the point. In time you need to at least learn the following:

Their name. (Duh!)
Where are they originally from?
How long have they worked there?
What drew them to the type of work they are doing and to the company?
Married/single?
Spouse’s name?
Children, ages/boy/girl?
Hobbies/what do they like to do in free time?
What are their long-term goals in life?
Find out something from them that others would be surprised about.
As I was writing this I considered explaining the benefits of taking a “team walk” each day, but concluded that if you can’t figure it out yourself it’s hopeless and you might be in the wrong business.

2. The Trade Walk-there should be a staging area where all trades are parked. All members of management must go on the trade walk every day at a specific time, preferably after your “save-a-deal meeting.”

All managers mean GM, GSM, Used Car Manager, F&I Manager, BDC Manager, Internet Manager, New Car Manager, and most importantly the Service Manager. Stop at each car and talk about the car.

You will be amazed at how many more trades you will end up keeping and how many more deals you actually are able to put together by getting insight and suggestions from the various members of your management team. It is very foolish to allow one person to make decisions on which trades to keep and not keep.

The concessions and input you will get from your service manager will pay valuable dividends. It’s a total no-brainer. (My software mobile app will help you.)

3. The Lot Walk-The lot walk takes place once a week preferably after your weekend kick-off sales meeting which should be on Friday. (I’ve never understood the concept of having a kick-off sales meeting on a Saturday.) After the meeting, all salespeople and all the members of the management team including the service manager will take a lot walk. Stop at each vehicle on the lot and talk about the unit.

This is how you get your entire sales team involved in selling more used cars. The more they know about your inventory the more they will sell. You have to force-feed them. You will find out why certain cars have not sold because as you stop to talk about the specific cars the salespeople will tell you why that car is still sitting there getting stale.

Oftentimes there is an issue with a car as to why it has not sold. By having the service manager on the walk he/she will jump all over the issue and get it handled for you. It’s called the “embarrassment factor.”

So, here’s the bottom line. Start walking. Walking is good for your health. Walking is good for your business. 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

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.

Is There a Pulse?

Great leaders have their thumb on the pulse of the organization. Without a pulse, the organization dies. If you are to improve your leadership skills you must know the pulse of your organization.

You can only know the pulse of the organization by absorbing yourself within the daily activities and action of the business. To feel the pulse you must feel the passion.

If you’re not feeling the passion, then your pulse may very well be dead. Maybe your pulse is dead because you’re burned out. How can you be burned out when you’ve never been on fire?

You are responsible for your own fire. I’m just trying to give you a match to get you going. Firing up your own passion will ignite your organization.

Real leaders have a pulse. Real leaders feel the pulse. Real leaders inspire a pulse.

I hope you’re on fire. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs.

Have We Learned Anything Yet? (May 2021-2nd year of pandemic)

That’s a really good question, isn’t it?

The reality is all the stuff we’ve learned over the last year we’ve always known.

We have always known and understood the law of supply and demand. It’s simple. If you’ve got a bunch of stuff to sell it’s a lot harder to make a lot of profit on it than when you only have a few.

We’ve always known it’s important to sell the value of our product. Of course, the value seems to increase when we have fewer of them. But, we should never sell short the importance of selling the value of our product. We have gotten very good at saying to the customer, “Nope, we’ve got the price right, no need to even think about negotiating.”

We’ve always known it’s important to differentiate between our organization and our competitors. That means selling the value of our history and the value our company brings to the table.

We’ve always known the value of selling ourselves. There’s no denying that the better you are at creating a friendship with the customer the greater the odds of you selling your product or service.

So, there you have it. As we have maneuvered through these last 12 months or so, we’ve been forced to do the things we’ve always known we should be doing.

We’ve learned that all those things we knew that were right are right.

The real test will be moving forward. Have we learned anything yet? That’s all I’m gonna ask, Tommy Gibbs.

10 Tips-Others Want to See You Fail

1. EMBRACE ANXIETY– It’s motivation to take action.

2. GET AFTER IT-Focus your energy on making positive change. Crank up the intensity and aggravate the competition!

3. PUT FEAR IN PERSPECTIVE-What’s the worst that can happen?

4. BE READY-Preparation breeds Confidence.

5. DON’T DWELL-Forget minor setbacks; learn and move on. (Don’t let the setback become the standard!)

6. HEALTHY DISCONTENT-for people or things blocking your progress. (Continue to surround yourself with losers and you will continue to lose.)

7. INSPIRATIONALLY DISSATISFIED-with yourself…YOU have to step it up! (YOU must set the example!)

8. DAILY DOSE-of paranoia…fix yourself… (We’re back to you again. You must set the example!)

9. CONTINUE-to look for answers. (Continuous Improvement-You never get it right!)

10. NEVER– ever give up. Other people want to see you fail! Don’t let others control your thinking!

That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs