Category Archives: Auto Dealer Monthly

20 Things a GM Must Do Every Week


M-GettyImages-628110734-1A professional juggler once told me that the only way to learn to juggle six balls at the same time is to try to juggle seven. In today’s retail environment, the position of general manager requires specialized expertise and diversity of knowledge. It is not uncommon for a qualified GM to command an annual income north of $500,000 and into the seven digits; they can virtually write their own pay plan.

I know what you’re thinking right now: “What in the hell is Ziegler smoking?” You know plenty of general managers who make good money, but not that kind of money. The truth is that most GMs are not executives. They are glorified general sales managers. Are you among them?

There is a reason some of the large public companies struggle with acquisitions of new dealerships and expansion of their brands: There is a huge shortage of executive general managers who can successfully run a large-volume dealership or dealership group.

Executive GMs understand how to run a complex organization. Sales ability is a minor qualification. They possess finely tuned organizational and productivity skills. They have advertising and marketing acumen. They have learned how to focus and multitask while dealing with unexpected and disruptive issues. It’s an intense position for an intense person who performs well under stress.

After 42 years in the car business as a top-performing salesman, executive manager, consultant and trainer, I have earned my reputation for helping dealers and GMs graduate to the big numbers. I know what it takes because I’ve seen it and done it. I know there are at least 20 things every GM must do every week to earn their title and perform at a high level.

So, for the next minutes, let’s pretend I’m the new GM at your store. Here’s what I would do.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.


Ziegler Joins Compliance Summit Roster as Keynote Speaker

DALLAS — Organizers of the upcoming Compliance Summit announced that Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler SuperSystems, will deliver the event’s keynote address. Compliance Summit will be held Sept. 11–12, 2017, at Dallas’ Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, as part of Industry Summit.

In his first-ever Compliance Summit appearance, Ziegler will present “The Shape of Things to Come” at 9:05 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 11.

Read the whole announcement here on AutoDealerMonthly.

All Things Must Pass


M-OTP-July-2I once again find myself in a reflective mood. Been doing that a lot lately. People keep telling me the industry is changing, and the disruptors keep taking shots at the dealers and traditional processes.

At heart, I am a car guy. But if the truth be known, I still reminisce about the magical days when I was a celebrity rock jock in the ’60s and ’70s. I wouldn’t have missed those times for anything in the world. In those days, being a disc jockey at a major rock station was the coolest job in the world.

I think this mood crept over me last week when Gregg Allman died. What affected me most was that he was my age, and I knew him and his brother Duane before they were famous. I met the Allmans in 1969. I was a DJ and they were playing at Jacksonville nightclubs, calling themselves “The Second Coming.” As a rock jock, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of the legendary groups of the day. My biggest regret is that I never got to meet the Beatles or even see them perform. I was fortunate enough to have had several lengthy conversations with Elvis.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

Join the Battle of Jericho


M-Jericho-1Little Jimmy Ziegler was only 7 years old, but I still remember it vividly, as if it were only yesterday. It was Grace Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Fla. We were performing a reenactment of the biblical story of Joshua at the Battle of Jericho for the entire adult congregation. We were dressed in robes and head dressings made of towels. Our parents thought we were cute and there were a lot of flashbulbs going off in their Kodak Brownie cameras. I was too young to be embarrassed. I remember thinking, “This is so cool!”

Our performance went off without a hitch. We marched around the “city” made out of a packing crate seven times, singing and blowing our plastic horns. “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho … Jericho … Jericho! Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumblin’ down!” After seven times around, we stopped walking, stopped singing, and started yelling. Someone offstage pulled a string and the cardboard walls of Jericho came tumblin’ down.

Smiling as I write these words, I checked YouTube and found a video of a bunch of modern-day children marching around a cardboard city of Jericho. Sixty-three years later, they are still singing that same old song and blowing their plastic horns.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

Don’t Run, We Are Your Friends!


M-Mars-Attacks2-1Fasten your chin straps and check your seat belts, car people. The ride is about to begin, and there’s no turning back. Every party has to end sooner or later, and we’re overdue. All the signs have been flashing for months, but too many of us ignored them, and now the reckoning has arrived.

It’s sort of like watching the flaming cattle run past in “Mars Attacks!” or hearing the oboe music from “Jaws.” You can tell some scary crap is about to go down.

You can’t say I didn’t warn you. And after 41 years in the retail car business, it seems the industry has finally caught up with me. All the so-called experts, analysts, and other assorted clowns who were wearing party hats and predicting perpetual record sales a year ago have done an abrupt about-face. Now they are marching in the other direction and sounding the alarm.

Have you recently invested in a multigazillion-dollar, state-of-the-ridiculous modern facility? Did you just hear oboe music? News flash: The factory is not going to eat your loss when the shark shows up. You guys and gals have been bullied into investing by your manufacturers, some of whom skipped in and out of bankruptcy with a government handout.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

The Future Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up to Be


M-BTF3-1Excuse the bad English, but sometimes it’s just fun to say the word “ain’t.” It takes me back to my redneck roots, before I became the sophisticated, genteel socialite you know and love today.

In researching this article, I read dozens of blogs and news items talking about the future of our industry. The overwhelming assorted collection of speakers, writers, reporters, and industry hacks are solemnly predicting cataclysmic changes that will soon shake the foundations of our industry as we know it. Your paradigms will come crashing down around your ears, driven by the Millennial Rebellion, and armed with handheld devices.

Well, when it comes to future-casting in the car business, I think you’ll find I have the most impressive track record for accuracy — calling it exactly as it turned out in reality — more than just about any of the other forecasters, futurists, or industry publication editors. In other words, my stuff really happened.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

Welcome to Saturation Nation


It’s a new month and a new attitude in the car business, where sales have noticeably slowed down in recent weeks despite a rising economic tide. I keep trying to tell the industry that the two are not necessarily entwined. The issue here is good, old-fashioned saturation.

You can’t keep on pumping 60 million new and used cars annually into a market that only has about 200 million qualified buyers. About every five years, it catches up with us, and all your customers seem to be driving a new (or newer) car. There are a limited number of new customers coming into the market. It isn’t crashing, not by any means. It’s just adjusting.

Read the rest of my short article here on Auto Dealer Monthly.

Convention and Super Bowl Hangovers


M-OTPMarch2-1-2It’s almost more than my heart can stand. As I sit here late at night in my darkened office, the Super Bowl is over and I am emotionally drained and stressed. A week before the big game, Debbie and I returned home from the NADA Convention in New Orleans, optimistic but concerned. I’m still trying to digest all the things we saw and heard at the convention. There’s a lot on my mind.

I love pro football, but I didn’t watch for the majority of the season — that is, until I found out my Atlanta Falcons were favored in the NFC championship. When they beat Green Bay, I was gobsmacked with awe and amazement. If I had bet on the game, I’d have taken the Pack. But the Dirty Birds were flying high and it was game on!

The Super Bowl was an exhilarating experience for Falcons fans, at least for the first half. How do you blow a 25-point lead? The answer is simple: You get overconfident and lay down in the second half.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

The Leads Are Weak


Flash back to Alec Baldwin’s classic sales speech in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Everyone remembers when Jack Lemmon said, “The leads are weak.” That was one of the most brutally tense scenes in movie history, ending with the famous line, “Coffee is for closers.”

I have recently seen repeated instances where automotive lead provider representatives are beating up on dealers, trying to justify their lack of ROI and the few units delivered from their leads. “The leads are weak,” your managers and BDC employees keep saying. But your lead provider tries to tell you it’s your employees who are weak, not to mention unprofessional and inept.

At the risk of upsetting Alec Baldwin, sometimes the leads really are weak.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

It’s a Nerd Meltdown


M-OTP3-7-2Marketers have extended Black Friday through Sunday, which leads into Cyber Monday. The entire week following Thanksgiving has become the biggest engineered consumer shopping spree imaginable. In fact, some of the car manufacturers decided the entire month should be “Black November,” extending the sale to 30 days. Customers flooded the showrooms.

Then, just when everything was going so well, at around 10 o’clock on Friday morning, the reports started coming in on social media. The car hashtags on Twitter and private car groups on Facebook all lit up at once: VinSolutions had crashed.

The panic was immediate and widespread. If you’re not on VinSolutions yourself, you should know it’s one of the premier CRMs on the market today. I would guess that thousands of dealerships use it as a desking tool and console to run their sales departments and BDCs.

Read the whole article here on Auto Dealer Monthly.