I wasn’t a very good history student. I couldn’t rationalize why I needed to know what had happened a hundred years ago. I could not have cared less. Actually, I hated history.
As an adult I have come to appreciate history and wish I had paid more attention in my history classes as I now find it amazingly interesting.
George Santayana, a Spanish-born philosopher wrote in his book, The Life of Reason, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Why are those 11 words so hard for us to get our heads around in the car business? Many in the car business keep repeating the same mistakes and don’t understand why they are always fighting with the same issues. If you are not willing to change, what else can you expect?
The two things I hear dealers complain about the most are the mistakes in their used car inventory and how difficult it is to hire people.
The reason you can’t hire people is because of the type of people you keep going after. You’re trying to hire the same type of people that you did back in the 70s and 80s. If you keep going after people who are motivated by being paid on gross profit, how can you expect anything but who you are getting? Paying on gross profit has very little appeal to generation X and Y.
Your selling system and pay plan is fundamentally the same as it has always been. Get an offer, work the customer, make as much gross as you can and repeat the process. Sales people and managers are programmed that the more gross they hold the more they get paid. Yes, we need lots of gross profit, but the historical approach to achieving it is not working.
By and large the way many dealers manage their used car inventory is the same as it was 20 years ago. Dealers buy cars based on a combination of gut instinct and a little pretending that they are using some software to guide them. Their emotions still control what they buy and what they keep.
I often hear comments like "Why should I get rid of that car when I can’t replace it?" I love it when dealers make that statement to me. Really, really…you want some more of that? If it hasn’t sold in 45 days why would you want to go out and buy some more cars that you haven’t been able to sell?
Many dealers want to stay with the "old way of doing things." They price cars at a certain amount of gross and then want to hold the line on those prices as long as possible. History tells us that you are working with a depreciating asset. If the value is going south on a daily basis how can you think that your pricing shouldn’t follow the same formula? But, because you don’t adjust the pricing fast enough (and you’re not using my Life Cycle Management Program) you wake up one day, take those aged units to the auction and lose your shirt. History keeps on repeating itself and you wonder why?
So back to our little history lesson. If through your history you keep finding yourself struggling with these same problems over and over again what’s it going to take for you to change? Yes, change is hard; it’s never easy to go down a different path. To do so you have to clear out a lot of old debris. It takes time, patience and commitment. The alternative is for you to keep repeating history.
You cannot control the past, but you can control your future and you can make your own history by having the guts and courage to change those things you know you need to do. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs