Category Archives: Jim’s Thoughts

The New Stooges

If you don’t know who Larry, Curly and Moe were, you might be a millennial. Early in the morning or late at night when I’m scanning through the upper tier of cable channels, I still sometimes come across an old “Three Stooges” short. And I can’t turn away. These guys were masters of slapstick, an art form left over from the vaudeville era.

Hard to say which one was the biggest idiot, but I think most fans will agree it was Curly, whose famous “n’yuk n’yuk n’yuk” laugh became a Stooges trademark. This comic trio was so absurd that you felt ashamed to admit you watched them. Of course you did, though. You couldn’t help yourself.

The Three Stooges are long gone, but their legacy lives on in the so-called “disrupters” who are trying to wring the profitability out of your operation.

The latest acceleration of stupidity into reality is the race to completely automate the sales and F&I process and transact and contract the sale online. Now that these modern-day Stooges have the technology figured out, they are in a race to see who can come to market first.

Read the whole article here on F&I and Showroom.

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.

Is Your Quick Lube Driving Away Business?

After 41 years in this business, I must admit I was naïve about dealership service when I visited my local Ford dealership for an oil change. After all, the sign on the building said “Quick Lane.” I was gobsmacked when they told me it would be a four-hour wait for a simple oil change.

They spent a fortune building a manufacturer-approved, state-of-the-art quick lube, but there’s nothing “quick” about it. It is embarrassing to me that Valvoline Express can take a walk-in just about anywhere in the country and have them in and out in less than a half hour — and that’s if they’re busy.

I knew this topic would require more research, so I called around and tried to schedule a simple oil change with every Ford dealer on my side of town. Just to be fair, I called a couple Chevrolet dealers as well. The answers varied from “We’ll see you in two hours” to “How’s next Thursday?” The one constant was that I needed an appointment, and that is the mentality that is allowing everyone from the national chains to the car wash mechanics to kick your behind.

Even more embarrassing is the fact they clobber us on Google. Service is such big business, and most franchised dealers are stuck in the Stone Age. You put all the emphasis on sales and just assume you’re making money in service. You could be doing a lot better, and it starts with oil changes.

Read the whole article here on F&I and Showroom.

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.

Hire the Alpha Dawg!

HireTheAlphaDawg

Who Shot the Dealer?

Historians have put the story to bed and closed the book. I say, however, that only the most ignorant and naïve among us could actually believe that a lone gunman — particularly a bitter, delusional nutcase like Lee Harvey Oswald — could have pulled off the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I just read some interesting memoirs on the topic. Some suggest Kennedy’s widow, Jackie Onassis, actually believed Vice President-turned-President Lyndon Johnson was behind the plot until the day she died. Others say the fact that Oswald himself was killed by Jack Ruby, a low-level Mafia associate, means Kennedy must have had some run-ins with mob bosses.

Read the whole article here on F&I and Showroom.

Stop Flushing Those Ad Dollars

To be frank and borderline crude here, most of you dealers are pissing your money away. You are totally ineffective and inept with your advertising dollars.

I’m told that automotive advertisers spent more than $4 billion on paid search in 2016. Most of that went to Google. From everything I’ve been able to glean, I am going to estimate that another $3 billion was spent on so-called lead providers. That’s $7 billion in pursuit of the Holy Grail, aka the first page of Google search results.

Well, I can tell you from experience that most of you flushed that money down the toilet.

In the early 1920s, John Wanamaker created and operated one of the first department stores in the United States. He invented the price tag, among other accomplishments, and coined the saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Read the whole article here on F&I and Showroom.

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.