Do You Own It?

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably heard a reporter say that the player “owned it” when they acknowledged that they made a mistake, blunder and/or just screwed something up that cost their team a win.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost a game to the Red Sox this past weekend at the very end with a boneheaded play by Tommy Pham, one of my favorite players. He’s a favorite of mine because of the intensity upon which he attacks the game.

The Rays are down one run in the bottom of the ninth, two runners on, two outs, a base hit ties the game, a double or more wins it. Pham gets picked off at first base by a throw from the catcher. Yes, from the catcher. Good Golly Miss Molly. What the heck!

In an interview after the game, Pham said he “just messed up.” The media was kind to him saying he “owned it.”

Really? What else could he do? He totally screwed it up. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, his intention moving forward is to not make the same mistake again.

The problem in some dealerships is that nobody, and I mean nobody, owns the used car inventory.

Not the Dealer.
Not the GM.
Not the GSM
Not the Used Car Manager.

How do I know that to be true? Because if anyone owned it, they wouldn’t have aged units that they keep making excuses for.

I’m amazed at all the excuses I hear for having units over 60 days. As an old friend of mine used to say, “You can justify anything you want to justify.”

Hey Einstein, there’s no logic and no money to be made past 60 days. Betting you will make money on a 60-day old unit is a really bad bet. So why do you keep doing it? Beats the heck out of me.

Clearly, understand I’m not in favor of you dumping a 60-day old unit in the wholesale market. But, I’m highly in favor of you
finding a retail buyer before you get to the 60-day mark.

There’s a number that somebody will pay for it at retail. The problem is you keep holding out thinking you can make X. More often than not, the unit that just hit 60 days was a problematic unit from jump street, but you didn’t bother to identify it and take action to make it go away.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, “It starts at the top.” If you’re the Dealer or GM, shame on you, shame, shame on you. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

The Power of Perseverance

Did you see it?

Did you see Tiger win the Masters?
Did you see the last shot?
Did you see Tiger’s fist pump?

Tiger on the green. Tiger walking off. The Crowd. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been Tiger or even be in that crowd.

Did you see the high fives?
Did you see the fist bumps?
Did you see the handshakes?
Did you see the hugs?
Did you see the tears?
Did you see the smiles?

If you didn’t, go google and watch. You don’t have to like golf to love this moment. You don’t have to know a putter from a driver to appreciate what Tiger has done.

Wrap your head around this; he’s gone through a nasty public divorce, an embarrassing mug shot from his DUI arrest when he took a bad mix of painkillers, and four back surgeries, with the most recent to fuse his lower spine. And now 14 years later he wins the Masters for the fourth time!

Tiger exemplifies those of us that have had to grind it out in this tough car business. Tiger gives us all hope that with hard work and perseverance we can push through to victory regardless of the odds and circumstances.

The story isn’t perfect. They never are. We never are. But it’s a heck of a good one. Watch closely kids. Being great is one thing. Being great after falling out of grace takes twice as much work and ten times as much courage. That’s the good stuff in life. That’s why a bunch of old dudes got tears in their eyes. That’s why you can, even when you think you can’t.

High Fives
Fist Bumps

That’s what Champions do. Be a Tiger. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs

What Does a Bear Do in The Woods?

What does a bear do in the woods? Eats corn.

My business partner for most of my adult life has been Ashton Lewis, Sr. an amazing human and Automobile Dealer in the Hampton Roads area of VA.

Ashton grew up in both the automobile and farming business. One of Ashton’s farms was located adjacent to the Great Dismal Swamp in Chesapeake, VA where corn was a primary crop.

As Ashton tells the story, he would observe a bear come out of the woods, pick an armful of corn to take back into the woods to eat or share with his friends and family.

The bear would sometimes drop an ear of corn and rather than continue into the woods, the bear would put down the armful of corn and then re-gather them all up just to save one ear of corn.

That’s what it’s like when you keep hanging onto that aged unit that you’re never going to make any money on. You spend too much time trying to make money on an aged unit and not enough time figuring out how to make money on the fresher pieces.

Your window of opportunity to make money on a used car is about 40 days or less and that’s a stretch.

Had you been smart enough to identify units that have little or no profit potential on day 1 then you wouldn’t be looking at a stone-cold loser on day 61.

The Bear-Drops ear of corn. Throws down all the others. Wastes time and energy re-gathering the ears of corn.

You-Do not identify problematic units on day 1. You waste time and money struggling with aged units on day 61. Grosses go south because you’re selling too many units late in the life-cycle. You never reach your full potential because you’re thinking like a bear.

Had the bear paid closer attention to how many ears of corn he/she could actually carry then the bear would not have wasted time and energy dealing with one stupid ear of corn.

Had you paid closer attention to what you were dealing with on day 1 you wouldn’t been beating your head against the wall trying to figure out what to do with an aged unit on day 61.

My life-cycle management process makes you a much smarter bear. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Was March Great?

A lot of dealers had a record-breaking month in March. Some of them have already spent too much time gawking at their financial statements, poking their chest out and patting themselves on the back.

And guess what? For some of them, April is off to a slow start.

Let me caution you; you cannot be satisfied. You can never be satisfied. Those sounds you hear behind you are the competition coming to gobble you up.

If you take just one little break, one little hiccup, it could be the very thing that puts you into a downward spiral.

People are successful for a variety of reasons, one of them being “fear.”

The fear of failure.
The fear of falling back.
The fear of giving up all they have worked so hard for.

It’s that fear that causes the successful ones to keep pushing and to keep looking for new and better ways of doing things.

Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, once said, “You either eat someone for lunch, or you can be lunch.” No truer statement has ever been made.

Being a hard-charging competitor can be craziness at its best. Competing is fun. Trying to get better is the lifeblood of competing, leading and winning.

Study it. Embrace it. Love it. Use it as success fuel. Use it to take you to the top of your mental game.

Develop an unstoppable competitive mindset, and it will push
you so far ahead of the competition that you won’t have to worry about looking over your shoulder.

What you have to realize is that most people are just lazy and because they are lazy they can become complacent very easily. Ultimately their lazy streak will show its head; that’s when you can “own” them.

There are times when you can have a good month in spite of yourself because the market lets you win.

No easy wins this month. Time to go to work. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Are You Worried Yet?

There are a lot of dealers concerned today about the lack of new car sales in January and February. Some dealers are blowing it off that the weather killed them. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t.

If you understand that this business runs in cycles and if you understand that a new vehicle is pushing $35,000 with payments of $550 or more then logically it’s not just a weather problem.

Many of us remember back in 2008 and 2009 that the world was coming to an end. Actually, for some new car dealers, their world of selling new cars did end.

I’ve often compared those tough years to the Great Depression.

My parents and grandparents went through the Great Depression. How they thought about money, debt and resources were very different than those of us who have come along over the last 50 years or so.

Just like during the Great Depression, I was convinced back in 2008 and 2009 that we had learned some valuable lessons that we would never forget. I’m starting to realize just how wrong my thinking was.

Our reliance on new car sales and what they bring to the table has never been greater. New car sales are a good thing, but when we rely too heavily on them for our bottom line, it can put us in a trick bag when things go south.

There were hundreds of dealers who lost their franchises in 2008-2009. Many of those dealers attempted to turn those nice buildings into used car operations.

A good number of them failed. The reason they failed was
because of their reliance on new car sales they had never taken the time to study and learn the used car business.

If you are the Dealer, General Manager or General Sales Manager, you’d be wise to amp up your thinking on used cars. If you have high dollar aged units you should be really concerned.

Sure, enjoy your new car business as much as you can for as long as you can, but never forget, the stronger you are in used cars the more new cars you will sell and the less likely you are to have your own Great Depression.

If you’re smart you should be asking yourself, “what if this isn’t a little weather blip on the map, but a tough couple years ahead of us?”

You may not always be able to sell new cars, but you can always sell used cars. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Improving Gross Profit Part 3

1. Think in terms of improving gross in small increments. Try paying the managers a bonus for achieving nominal increases each month. Start by improving gross by $50 a unit. Do that over the next year and you will see a slow and effective way to increase your gross. You can only eat the elephant one bite at a time.

2. How could I talk about your grosses without mentioning “Life Cycle Management?” Life Cycle Management is designed to help you create a sense of urgency on those cars that are most likely to kill your grosses. The faster they go away the better your gross will become. My UpYourGross software tool puts you on the path to better grosses and more efficiency.

3. Track GAP and ROI. When you do, grosses go up. How much are you giving up once the customer shows up at your store with a price from the Internet? If you don’t know then you can’t fix it. (GAP-Give-Away-Profit)

4. Improve your look to book. You make the most money on units you trade. You will trade for more if you get serious about improving look to book. Review every appraisal from the previous day in your “save-a-deal” meeting every morning. Someone in management should be responsible for calling every customer that had a trade and up the ante.

5. Shoot the moon on the right stuff. Since the beginning of the car business, higher grosses are driven by some home run cars. You have to understand which ones are home runs, singles, doubles, and triples.

6. Try some old-school. If you’re not a true one-price dealer serve up an under-allowance on every trade. It should be part of your discipline each time you appraise a unit.

7. If you’re still struggling with gross maybe it’s time to let me train your entire management team? My message is powerful and long-lasting.

Fix what you can fix. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Improving Gross Profit Part 2

1. Can you reduce your recon cost? Are you being as efficient as you can possibly be? Does service have carte blanche? Is service still selling the used car department the same old same old?

2. Would you sell more units if you could keep more units? In other words, are you letting some of your less expensive units get wholesaled because they cost too much to recon?

Try using this coupon to encourage your used car manager to keep and retail some of that cheaper stuff. It’s found gross profit.

3. Can you speed up reconditioning? Very few of you really know how long it takes to get a car through service and clean up. Is your sales management team constantly crying about how slow service is? Might be some truth to it. Check it out. “It’s not the big that will eat the small, it’s the fast that will eat the slow.” Our Recon Tool will show where the pitfalls are. It’s easy to use and doesn’t create brain damage.

4. Re-evaluate your packs. Have they outlived their usefulness? Are packs ultimately affecting your average gross in a negative way? Are they giving you a false picture?

Dale Pollak refers to packs as taxing yourself. I think we are all taxed way too much. If you got rid of packs could you buy and trade for more units? If you bought and traded for more units, wouldn’t you sell more units? If you sold more units wouldn’t you have more gross going to the bottom line?

5. Have you made an all-out effort to convince your sales and management staff to sell the value of your company, your product and the fact that you have the best prices in the market? You’re becoming a one-price dealer whether you want to or not. Deal with it.

6. Re-think what you are stocking and the when, how and how often you tweak your pricing. Far too often prices are not massaged soon enough so you end up pricing your cars at the end of the cycle at crappy grosses.

It’s also important to know which units you can shoot the moon on. You don’t have to give everything away, but you have to know the difference between a unit that you can make gross on and a unit that needs to be moved quickly. Know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.

It’s a safe bet that anything you have that’s 45 to 60 days old isn’t going to make you much money. Lord help you if you have units over 60. Retailing out of that hot mess alone will eventually improve your gross.

There are many parts to improving gross profit. Look for Part 3 next week.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

You Can Average $3000 on Front Gross Profit

You can make an average of $3,000 per unit on front gross profit. Yep, you can do it.

Achieving $3,000 on the front is easy enough to do. It really is.

You can do it overnight. Yes, all of you can. I believe in you and I know you can do it.

When dealers are screaming about low grosses, they often point to the fact that their cars are priced too low on the internet and therefore the easiest solution is to increase the prices.

The fact is you can improve your grosses dramatically overnight by increasing your prices. I mean really, if you don’t ask for it how do you ever think you will get it? Remember you can always go down but it’s impossible to go up.

Yep, that works for me. Raise your prices, ask for more and you will get more. Gross has always been a state of mind. Whatever mindset you are in then you can achieve it.

So, right now, right this minute, right this second, all of you need to stop giving your cars away, raise your prices and the grosses will go up.

As good as that all sounds there are a number of little problems with raising your prices:

1. Your used car volume is going immediately in the tank.

2. Your total gross is also going so far south you will lose your butt.

3. Your profits are going to be pooh pooh because you have totally cut off the spigot of cars going through service.

4. Stealing trades will become the norm and new car volume will go into the tank because you are reluctant to step up.

Doing used car volume and achieving high used car average gross goes against the laws of nature.

I’m not saying you can’t improve your grosses, but the days of doing $3,000, $2,500, and in some cases $2,000 are history.

Your best opportunity to improve your overall business is to improve your volume. Improving volume improves business in all your departments.

You can’t spend average gross profit. You can spend total gross profit.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week when I’ll give you some realistic tips for actually improving gross profit.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

How Fast Are You?

I’m not talking about turning your used cars faster. I’m talking about picking up how fast you walk. The tempo of your gait says a lot about you. If you want to energize your team you first have to energize yourself.

If you know me, you know I’m not a very patient person. One of the things that drives me nuts is when people waddle along on a moving sidewalk.

If you’ve ever traveled through the Atlanta airport, I’m sure you’ve seen the moving sidewalks that come to an end, you get off, walk about 25 feet and get onto another one.

I was recently on one with a group walking like a buffalo herd that had just eaten a massive meal. After the exit, I decided to see if I could out-walk them on the side while they walked on the moving sidewalk. Of course, I won.

When you pick up your speed, you energize yourself. When you energize yourself, you energize your team. Speed and energy go together.

Slow walkers tend to think slow and move slow. Not only are they slow, but they are also slowing down everyone around them. By and large, they aren’t going anywhere. It’s obvious that wherever they are going isn’t important or they’d be in more of a hurry to get there.

People who walk fast want to get somewhere fast. But more than that, fast walkers are people that have high energy and are go-getters. Fast walkers are confident, courageous and all about having a no-fuss in life. They expect other people to keep up with them and they have a low tolerance for those not in a hurry to get things done.

They often don’t tolerate a lot of words and if they do, they want you to spit it out fast and get on with it.

Think fast.
Talk fast.
Move fast.

That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Do You Want To Own Your Own Business?

Most of my messages are geared toward management, but today I want to talk to your sales staff. You should forward this to every salesperson on your team and suggest they sign up for my newsletters.

If you’re a salesperson, I want to help you re-frame what you do every day and what a great opportunity you might be missing. If you’re in management, this is a message you need to share with all.

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 CRM/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