Has Anything Changed?

Let me share with you some personal history. When I first started selling cars in the early ’70s, I worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week, as did many of my coworkers. We didn’t work Sundays because dealerships weren’t open on Sundays.

In 1980 I became a partner in my first dealership with my good friend, mentor and long time business partner Ashton Lewis from Chesapeake, VA. Even back in 1980 we were trying to solve the recruiting and hiring problem and to this day it’s not changed very much.

The dilemma has always been that if a new sales person is going to earn a decent living they need to work bell to bell.

But, if they do so they lose their family and social life because they don’t have the time and energy. If they work only their shift they eventually quit or lose their job because they aren’t earning any money.

From the 70s, 80s, 90s and up to today, it’s the same problem. Hours and money. With the Internet and the amount of online selling that continues to grow we have to think differently about the type of people we hire, the skill sets, the type of selling processes we utilize, the hours we require them to work and the way we compensate them.

Many dealers are still trying to hire people with skills that do not fit today’s buyer. Today’s buyer and today’s seller are the same people. Think on that one for a minute. Dealers are still having some success doing it the old fashioned way.

But you have to ask yourself, as fast as the world is changing how much longer can you keep doing it the same old way?

Ask yourself these simple questions:

1. Is it time we stopped paying on gross profit?
2. Is it time we structured the duties of the sale person differently?
3. Is it time we stopped or reduced the negotiating process?
4. Is it time we allowed managers to manage people and processes instead of “working deals?”
5. Is it time to consider hiring more part time sales people? Then couldn’t you reduce the hours of the full time sales people?
6. Is it time to reduce the amount of time it takes to sell a car? 7. Is it time to have the sales person handle the F&I part of the transaction?
8. Is it time to spend more time training and less time talking about it?
9. Is it time to stop trying to steal or hire people from other dealerships?
10. Is it time to take stock of what we do, how we do it and how can we do it better?

Change is coming. Would you rather be the force of change or be forced to change? That’s all I’m gonna ask, Tommy Gibbs