Should You 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?
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 means 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 sales people 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

Making Mistakes?

A wise man was once said the key to his success was “I’ve made lots of mistakes.”

And therein lies one of the keys to you becoming an even better leader. Allow yourself, and especially those around you, the latitude to make some mistakes.

The key is to learn from the mistakes. As a dealer for over 20 years I know I made a lot of mistakes and I’m sure I made some of the same ones twice. But, I’d like to think I learned something from each mistake.

Far too often when dealing with team members, leaders don’t use mistakes as a teaching moment, but as a criticism moment. It’s absolutely imperative that we learn from our mistakes and that we don’t continue to make the same ones over and over again.

As it relates to used car management why would you allow the same buyer to continue to go to the same auction sites, buy cars and 60 days later you take them back and lose money on them?

To be real, it may or may not be 100% the buyer’s fault. It may be that there’s no strategy to deal with vehicles that have a high market day’s supply and a high cost to market. In either case, there’s a consistent mistake being made that you as a leader are allowing to happen. Shame on you.

The key is to give your team enough rope to make some mistakes, but not so much that they choke themselves and your business in the process.

When people are allowed to make some mistakes, your organization becomes more innovative. Without innovation, your organization becomes stymied. (Get innovated, join a 20 Group.)

It’s very difficult to be a great mentor when you micro-manage every decision that’s made.

When you micro-manage you end up with micro-growth. Team members like working in an environment where they feel like they are allowed to grow. When they grow, you grow.

You’re making a big mistake if you don’t manage your mistakes. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Is Now The Time?

You may be running out of time. The year is closing out fast.

You’ve been contemplating hiring me to improve your used car operation, but keep procrastinating thinking your used car department will fix itself.

Part of that contemplation is you’re concerned about the investment and my material making waves with your team.

You will earn the investment back overnight and I’m not going to screw up what you and your team are already doing well.

I come to you. Your team stays in place. You save money and you make more money when you hire me.

I am going to enhance what you do well and give you some powerful concepts to take you to the next level.

Here’s the biggie; I’m going to get your team on the same page.

It’s a pretty safe bet that you have a management staff that all have their own way of thinking about your new and used car business. Some of their thinking is spot on. Some of it not so much.

I’ll destroy the myths and line the moon, stars and earth up.

See if any of this applies to you:

1. You’ve had evaporation. Regardless of how good you are or how well disciplined you are, there’s going to be an evaporation of processes over a period of time. Bam! I can fix that!

2. You’ve had some turnover. Most people do. Turnover isn’t a sin. What’s a sin is not ensuring that the new guys and gals get it. If you don’t give them the right tools, they don’t have a chance. Bam! I can fix that!

3. The business is changing. Your team needs to understand the changes taking place and how to attack them. Bam! I can fix that!

4. Your team has gotten a little complacent, either because business has been pretty darn good or they have accepted the status quo. They need to be re-energized and see the possibilities. Bam! I can fix that!

5. Your average grosses continue to decline. Mostly they decline because someone’s not paying attention to the little things. Bam! I can fix that!

6. You have aged inventory and wholesale losses. Aged inventory helps create #5. Aged inventory causes wholesale losses. Bam! I can fix that!

7. You have a team that struggles to get on the same page. You have old school thinking. You have new school thinking. You have no thinking. Bam! I can fix that!

8. The number of days it takes to get a car online and on the line is killing you. Bam! I can fix that!

9. You’re sick and tired of listening to the bickering, excuses, and lack of forward movement. Bam! I can fix that!

10. You need a coach. You need someone to lean on. You need another set of eyes on the subject. Bam! I can fix that!

A quote worth remembering: “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.” Morihei Ueshiba

You’ll become smarter when you hire me. Becoming smarter is always a bargain, something you can buy for a lot less than it’s worth.

Is now the time? That’s all I’m gonna ask, 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

All Stopped Up?

You might be constipated. When you’re 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.”

Having 60-day-old plus units in stock is a lot like being constipated. 60-day-old units will make you sluggish and hold back your potential to be as productive as you might be.

You can never perform your best when you’re all stopped up. Your “A game” will never show up when you have used car constipation. Think of it as Poop in the chute.

Until you get the water out of your used car inventory, you will never be but so good. You will have a few good months, but unless you commit to a good diet of solid processes you will always struggle.

One of the best ways to fix the problem is to reappraise the entire inventory, extract the water, give each unit a new birthday and put in my “Life Cycle Management Process.”

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

Having aged units makes you stinky. Don’t be stinky. Constipation is fixable. Aged inventory is fixable. When you fix it, you feel better. When you feel better, you make more money.

If you give a hoot you’ll clean up your poop. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy GibbsTommy Gibbs

How Hurricane Harvey Has Affected Used Car Prices

Auctions prices all over the country are on the rise. Without a doubt, the culprit in the rise of high prices is Hurricane Harvey. Dealers from the storm-ravaged areas are traveling far and wide acquiring inventory at record-breaking prices.

This sort of activity has a snowball effect on pricing for all dealers regardless of what part of the country you might be located. So what should you do?

Be cool.
Stay calm.
Don’t panic.
Don’t jump in too deep

No doubt, the law of supply and demand is currently increasing the prices you pay and the value of used cars in the marketplace. Keep the following in mind:

A. Know your market and know your lenders. The market may not be willing to reimburse you for the added values, and for sure the lenders may not be willing to advance the money you need to make it work.

B. This is a short-term blip on the map. If you think this is a “new business model” that you’re going to see for much more than 45 to 90 days, you’re going to wake up with an ugly mess.

C. Avoid jumping too heavily into the game. Now is not the time to go nuts at the auctions. Now is the time to go nuts at the front door. Up your look-to-book north of 50%. If you’re going to bury yourself, then bury yourself in a trade. You made a deal. You sold a car. You have a new customer. Dig it?

D. Amp up your disciplines. I feel the same way about the fake news I hear about off-lease cars coming into the market and affecting used car values. If you know what you’re doing, and have discipline, then most of this stuff will have little or no impact on your used car operations.

F. When you turn your inventory, the law of supply and demand will only impact you but so much.

E. Turn baby turn is what you should always be thinking when you purchase auction units, but ever more so as this “hurricane of high prices” passes. The upper level winds will eventually carry it out to sea.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Who’s Your Joe Bullard?

As you can well imagine I get to meet and work with some really great people in my travels.

There are a lot of things I miss about being a automobile dealer, and one of the things I miss the most is the people. I’ve always found my teammates to be inspiring and a source of energy that propelled me through my day.

I loved connecting with the individuals that come to work every day that do their best to help us succeed. Great leaders realize the importance of every individual on the team. They know everyone plays a role in the company’s success.

Joe Bullard Automotive is located in Mobile, AL and now being operated by third generation dealer Ty Bullard.

Meet Lee Dell Scarborough. He’s the real Joe Bullard. I hope you will steal this idea and acknowledge your real Joe Bullard. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Improving Used Car Operations

1. It starts by selecting the right inventory. Unless you are an exception to the rule, most of those aged units are purchase cars. Therefore, you are obviously buying the wrong stuff. I continue to be fascinated at how many overage cars have been purchased from the likes of Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

2. Tackle my “Life Cycle Management” concept like your life depends on it, because it does. You will never get your inventory under control as long as you allow all units to have the same number of days on the shelf. You have to identify and acknowledge what each car is on day 1 not day 61. Can’t you spot a Zebra in a herd of horses? Acknowledging what you are dealing with is a major step towards improving your used car turn and eliminating problem cars.

3. Making smart and quick decisions on trade-ins you bury yourself in. Happens all the time. You step up for whatever reason, but since you don’t use “Life Cycle Management” you treat these units just like every other unit. Look Einstein, if you buried yourself in it on day one it’s only going to get worse. The best thing you can do is price that unit below market and make it disappear.

4. Don’t get too excited about a successful short term run. It will kick your butt every time. Stop it. All of a sudden you have a strong 30 day period when you sell 10 XYZs. For whatever reason they were hot. So, what do you do? You run out and buy 20 more of those bad boys. And guess what happens? They sit and they sit. And now you have some more huge wholesale losses staring you in the face.

You have much more control when you take them in small doses rather than choking yourself to death.

5. Understand that you are in the retail business. You need to make sure you are pricing your cars to market early enough and attractive enough to find a retail buyer early in the life cycle. In most cases, if you analyze your aged units you will discover that for whatever reason you overpriced them too long. Key words here are “too long.” Sure you might have them priced correctly now, but they are now stale, the sales staff knows they can’t make any money on them so they walk around them.

That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

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 unmeasurable 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.

I stated to them, “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


In a given week I probably answer somewhere between 25 and 50 emails from readers asking questions, seeking advice and searching for solutions.

I’m always thrilled when I get a chance to help someone solve a problem. Unless I just plain miss an email, I’m relentless in responding to any and all requests.

My youngest sister, Melba Gibbs, exemplifies the word relentless. When we were growing up she would drive our parents nuts until she got what she wanted. If she wanted a puppy, she got a puppy.

It might take her a month, but she would stay after them until she “won.” She’s no different today as the Director of Fund Raising for Easter Seals in Richmond, VA. Her relentless style serves her well.

Often when dealers and managers write to me, I end my return email by saying the key to fixing this issue is your middle name has to become “Relentless.” A relentless leader is aware that there will be peaks and valleys.

They know it’s going to be tempting to give up, fall off the wagon or get distracted just enough that the evaporation factor will win out.

When you are relentless you will have moments when you are annoying to others. (Hello Melba)…but, when you are relentless, the good things you put on the wagon of success are less likely to fall off. Let the relentless continue.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy “Relentless” Gibbs