You’ve Given Thanks, What’s Next?

A. Re-commit yourself– and your thinking towards being the very best you can be. Take stock of all those great ideas running around in your head. Write them down and make a commitment to get them done by certain dates. Post it on the wall in several places that you will see frequently. If you have a private restroom, put it on the mirror.

B. Re-evaluate-the appearance of your inventory. Let’s do a little checklist:
       1.    Look at your inventory online. Are they all there? Do you have 40 + pictures & prices posted?
       2.    Take a lot walk. Are the vehicles in straight lines?
       3.    When was the last time the entire lot was rotated?
       4.    Are you using angles to display your inventory?
       5.    If you are using license plates do they all have one or do some have them on the front, some on the rear and some not at all? Some cars do not have a bracket on the front. Why would you even bother if you can’t put a license plate on all units?
       6.    Do they all have your decal on the rear of the vehicles?
       7.    Are all old decals removed?
       8.    Do you have fresh FTC stickers on each vehicle?
       9.    Do you have fresh window stickers on each vehicle?
     10.    Do you have the year of each vehicle on the front and rear windshield? Yes, front and rear.
     11.    If you have other decals or markings on the windshields, do they all have same or similar markings?
     12.    Do you have hang tags? If so, do they all have hang tags? Are some lying on the floor?
     13.    Do they all have at least a quarter of a tank of gas in them?
     14.    Are they nasty, dirty on the outside?
     15.    Are you making use of your entire front row for used vehicles?
     16.    When the public rides by or pulls onto your lot can they easily identify where the used cars are?

C. Refocus-To be successful in the used car business (or any business) you have to be focused and be totally committed. Your entire management team has to understand your commitment to the business. This doesn’t happen through osmosis and a meeting every six months. From now until the end of the year meet with these key staff members twice a week to discuss where you are and where you’re going.
Make sure a weekly lot walk is part of your routine.  Every car in your inventory must be touched. If it’s in service, touch it. If it’s in prep, touch it. If it’s in the budget center, touch it. Everybody touches it.

D. Re-Recon-Take every unit over 30 days old back through a recon process. (You’ve already missed your best window of opportunity to make gross; that would be the first 20 days.) Most of them should not need mechanical work done, but if they do, get it handled. Most importantly, put a full clean up back on them. I can’t imagine you having to spend more than $75 or so a car, but whatever the amount, it’s going to be worth it.

E. Re-Invest-in yourself and your management team. Do something to gain some knowledge. Hire me, visit CarMax, or visit a dealer friend in another state that does a good job in used. Attend a workshop. Join a Twenty Group. Join a Used Car Twenty Group. Do something besides sitting there and waiting for something to happen. You may think you already know all there is to know about the used car business and you will just be wasting your money. The fact is you may actually know a lot, but you need something to jar your brain and get it going again. You have become real good at talking the talk, but you may not be walking the walk.

F. Re-think- your management team. Do you have the right person running your used car operation?  Yes, that person may have been with you for years. Loyalty sometimes equals mediocrity. Maybe they have some great skills, but the fact is that you may not be making the best use of their talents. Used car managers today have to be “Asset Managers.” 
It is not a matter of just being a “Car Guy.”  They have to have a good blend of common sense and ability to make use of technology. In my travels, about 75% of the dealers have the wrong person managing their used car operation and they wonder why they are not maximizing their full potential? (Even if you have the right person, they have to have the right tools, processes and your full support to be successful.)
The dealers with the most successful used car operations are those who have taken ownership of the used car department. The more involved you get, the more success your dealership will have.
I’m thankful for lots of things this holiday season and I’m especially thankful that you’ve taken the time to read my little Zingers…That’s all I’m gonna say.