What About You?

This business is never easy. One of the most interesting things about it is you don’t get to enjoy the wins for very long. It’s important to put the losses behind you as soon as possible. Not much different than any sports you might have played.

If you’re like me, you love 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.”

The number one thing I miss about being a car dealer is connecting with the team members and the energy I get from them each day.

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.

Some key elements to “staying after yourself” include reading, writing, listening and forcing yourself to attend Twenty Group meetings, conventions and workshops. Those 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. 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.

The month and the year may almost be over, but “staying after yourself” is continuous and always rewarding. Happy New Year, that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Don’t Do Easy

It’s easy to do easy.

It’s easy to ignore.

It’s easy to look the other way.

Easy to let slide.

We all like easy.

Anybody can do easy.

Being easy causes you to say yes, when you should say no.

Being easy causes you to take your eye off the big picture.

When you take your eye off the big picture, everything around you becomes a little fuzzier.

The fuzzier things get, the more confused you and your staff get.

The more confused you and the staff get, the more little things begin to slide.

Easy now becomes habit.

Habit becomes the norm.

The norm becomes easy.

That’s when rinse and repeat occurs. The problem is that the water you’re rinsing with is murky and dirty.

Expectations begin to drop. Lower expectations become the norm.

The little things can be hard to measure, so they are ignored.

When you focus on the little things, the performance of the team improves.

Why would you want to do easy?

Don’t do easy. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Float Like A Butterfly Sting Like A Bee

In just three more days you’re going to be very, very busy. Next week has the potential to be one of the best selling weeks of the year. It will only be a really great week if you make it a great week. It’s not going to be a great week if you stay in your seat acting like a computer geek.

You can make it a great week by getting up and moving around. You should be like a bumblebee on a pollination mission. You’re here. You’re there. You’re everywhere.

You can’t just flap your little wings in place and think someone’s gonna sell a car.

You have to create the buzz. You have to go from being weak and meek in order to make it a great week.

I don’t like things to be all about you, but this is all about you. This week is all about you. It’s about you making things happen.

It’s about you contributing as much in a week as you sometimes do in a month. It’s not about you giving 100 or 110%. It’s about you giving 200%.

It’s not about asking others to do it. It’s about you doing it. You sometimes think you’re important. Well, you are important. You’re even more important than you think. At least this week you are.

You may have to sting a few people this week. That’s ok. Some of your team could probably use a sting or two. A little stinging pain for a whole lot of car selling gain.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, that’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

For Your Sales Staff

Most of my messages are geared toward management, but today I want to talk to your sales staff. You should forward this to every sales person on your team.

As a sales person I want to help you re-frame what you do every day and what a great opportunity you might be missing.

Have you ever wanted to be in business for yourself?

Have you ever thought about going into business, to get someone else to invest the money and you reap the rewards?

Welcome to the amazing world of the automobile business:

You have free office space.
You get rewarded based on how hard you work.
You have opportunities for advancement.
You have healthcare, vacation and retirement opportunities and Christmas bonus programs.
You have a management team working to help you be productive.
You have a free computer system.
You have a DMS and other software provided free of charge.
You have staff and technicians available to handle customer problems.
You have free marketing, advertising and a website developer.
You have an administrative staff to help process your deals, DMV work, etc.
You have millions of dollars of inventory to sell with zero personal investment.
You get special spiffs/incentives from the factory.
You get all the free training/coaching that you can stand.
You have a detail/clean up department that gets your vehicles ready for delivery.
You don’t have to pay a penny for phone, electricity and other utilities.
You can demand an assistant when you become productive enough.
You have an Internet/BDC department begging you to take leads.
You have free janitorial service.
You have free coffee.
You have your own personal financial officer (F&I) working to put your deals together.
You work out of a multi-million dollar facility located on prime real estate.
You have an opportunity of a lifetime with no personal financial investment.

You need to “own” your own business. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

My Santa Claus Wish List

1. I wish we could do away with packs.

2. I wish every sales person worked his or her entire deal on a tablet.

3. I wish we could eliminate cashiers.

4. I wish we had salaried sales people with annual bonuses.

5. I wish we had salaried management with annual bonuses.

6. I wish we didn’t have to rely on processing fees to make a nice bottom line.

7. I wish we had two-tiered pricing from the service department to the used car department.

8. I wish every service writer presented the menu on a tablet.

9. I wish we didn’t have to negotiate prices.

10. I wish we didn’t have “towers of power.”

11. I wish sales people didn’t sit behind a desk to work with a customer.

12. I wish sales management & sales people had a 40-hour workweek.

13. I wish we could get units through service in 3 days.

14. I wish we never would have any units over 60 days old.

15. I wish we didn’t have new car rebates.

16. I wish auction fees could be reduced.

17. I wish we focused more on “leading” rather than “managing.”

18. I wish every dealer was in a 20 group.

19. I wish your showroom didn’t look like a showroom.

20. I wish I’d see you at the NADA convention.

21. I wish 75% of a sales transaction could take place online.

22. I wish you’d get 12 turns per year.

23. I wish we could rid ourselves of “Legacy Thinking.”

24. I wish you would finally hire me.

25. I wish you a great holiday season.

That’s all I’m gonna wish for, Tommy Gibbs

The View From The Top

You may have heard or read that after 16 months of not selling vehicles with an open recall that Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, has now decided to change the policy.

No doubt, the recall thing has been a mess and a tough item for those in the retail automobile business to deal with. I for sure, haven’t had any great answers for solving the problem.

Accord to this ARTICLE Mike Jackson was betting on Hillary Clinton getting elected and that she would implement legislation blocking the sale of used vehicles with open recalls. What a bad 16-month bet that was.

I don’t know Mike Jackson. I’m sure he’s a very smart guy or he wouldn’t be where he is today. What I do know is that he started in the trenches and has a lot of success in our industry and I have a great deal of respect for his journey.

Forget about the lost revenues; The stress of having to deal with these unsaleable units over the last 16 months has had to have been a real bear.

It’s a tough view from the 13th floor in Ft. Lauderdale, but a much tougher view from the showroom floors around the country.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Do What You Know

Most of us know a lot more than we’re doing. If we could figure out a way to do half the stuff we know how to do, or know we should do, there’s no telling how much we could accomplish.

There are a multitude of reasons why we don’t do the things we know and most of it involves the word “fear.”

We fear it may set us back.
We fear we may fail.
We fear criticism.
We fear upsetting the apple cart.
We fear we may get it wrong.
We fear we “might” get it right.
We fear we may have to let go of stinky “legacy thinking.”

Sometimes we like “fear.” Fear is the most amazing internal excuse we could ever have. If our associates could see inside our heads and see our fears, we would be shamed into doing the things we know how to do.

You don’t need someone like me to tell you what to do, but you do need someone like me to remind you to do what you know. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

Are You Realistic?

I’m a big proponent of forecasting. It lays out a map as to where we are going. Although there are detours along the way it gives us a chance to get to our final destination.

I’m an even bigger proponent of department head meetings. I believe your job as a leader should be to teach, educate, coach and encourage your team to seek ways to improve your operations. I tend to take a common sense approach to most things in life and I approach forecasting and monthly management meetings no differently.

Dealers, or any business for that matter, tend to forecast based on what they would like to do in the upcoming year. Often it’s based on statements such as “we need to increase our sales by 10%” and/or “we need to reduce expenses by 15%.”

Saying you want to increase your business by 10% sounds good, but if you don’t have a plan to get there what good is it? I’ve always been baffled by annual forecasting.

One of two things usually happens:

1. Someone is overly optimistic and/or they are blowing smoke up someone’s butt.
2. Someone serves up a low ball because they don’t want the pressure of hitting an unrealistic number.

Although dealers want to see an improvement in the next year’s numbers, what they really want is a number they can take to the bank.

In order to do a realistic forecast you have to take into account staffing, inventory, and market conditions. How can anyone do a forecast and predict what those three pieces of the equation are going to look like 3, 6 or 12 months down the road?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do an annual forecast, but doesn’t it make more sense to adjust that forecast monthly or quarterly based on those three fundamental elements?

Because most leaders don’t make those adjustments it frustrates the management team and defeats whatever good intentions there might have been. Everyone eventually loses respect and confidence in any type of forecasting and concludes “Why bother?”

While it makes good sense to do a monthly or quarterly review of the actual numbers, managers become disillusioned with these reviews in that they become a “beat up” session rather than trying to figure out what went wrong and how “we” can fix it.

People know when they didn’t perform. What they want from upper management is leadership that gives well defined ideas and direction on how to “fix it” or make it better.

Using more common sense with your forecasting and monthly management meetings will help you grow a solid organization that generates consistent profits and sustained growth.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Stop Hiding In The Closet

Are you running a business or a democracy?

I’m a big fan of making the team inclusive of what’s going on. I’m a big fan of educating the team. I’m a big fan of getting insight from those who are in the trenches. I’m a big fan of listening to the troops.

But, I’m not a big fan of rule by committee. Ruling by committee is an easy way to avoid accountability.

Ruling by committee allows us to blame no one when it fails. Ruling by committee is a sickness designed to allow those in charge to accept responsibility for nothing.

Ruling by committee is a way to hide in the back room. Rulling by committee is peeking through the closet door.

Step out of the closet, come into the room and be counted. If you’re ruling by committee, stop it!

You’re not running a democracy, you’re running a business. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Do The Math Rock Star

Once in a while I run into dealers and managers that struggle with how long they should keep units. It can create conflict so severe that someone (the manager) ends up losing their job.

Over the years I’ve run into a few people that are adamant that it’s ok to keep units past 60 days. I’m ok with someone having a different business model that really works. But, I question if it’s really working when you do the math.

Take a look at the chart and the bullet points below:

1. The first one is a car that you make $1200 on, hold 25 days and end up in the sweet spot of 117% (Sweet spot 110 to 120%)

2. The second one shows that if you keep that same car for 60 days, in order to achieve the same ROI you would need to make $2900 in order to get to the 118%. Is that doable?

3. The 3rd example shows that if you hold that same car 60 days, make $1200 on it, you end up with an ROI of 49%…not good, but if you held it 60 days you are probably happy to make the $1200.

4. The 4th example shows that if you make a $1200 gross on a car that you hold for 90 days you end up with a horrible 32% ROI…is that a good use of your money?

5. The last example shows that if you hold that same car for 90 days, in order to hit the sweet spot you would need to make $4300 gross. Can you really do that after 90 days?

Holding cars based on the theory that you can’t replace them is “false justification.”

You might be a rock star, but unless you do the math you might be living under a rock. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

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