Category Archives: Jim’s Thoughts

Sharpen Your Survival Skills

It was only a few months ago that every expert, analyst, automobile industry pundit and alleged researcher was predicting numbers as high as 20 million new-vehicle sales in 2018. What were these fools smoking? They can’t all live in Denver, can they?

The Trump election should have taught the world that you can’t trust polls and researchers to tell the truth — especially when they have a vested interest in the outcome and they trade in deliberately false pseudo-information.

“There simply aren’t enough customers in the pipeline. We buried them in 72- and 84-month loans with no down payments. They have no hope of getting out in this trade cycle or the next. We refinanced negative equity on three generations of trade-ins. Cheap used cars are going to totally kill new-car sales and the auctions.”

Well, enough of that. It’s here. The retail car business is crashing in spite of the soaring stock market. Sorry, Bill Clinton, but it’s not the economy, stupid. It’s saturation.

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

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.

Sales Rock Stars Still Exist

In an era where manufacturers and hostile vendors are telling dealers to reduce salesperson pay plans, I can name 30 to 40 people off the top of my head who are making more than $40,000 a month selling cars. And they’re doing it in all kinds of markets.These individuals come from all backgrounds, are of different ages, have different makeups, and sell both imports and domestics. But they have two things common: They all became a brand within a brand, a dealership within a dealership. See, these individuals reach out to their communities and generate their own business and manage relationships and referrals.

These individuals come from all backgrounds, are of different ages, have different makeups, and sell both imports and domestics. But they have two things common: They all became a brand within a brand, a dealership within a dealership. See, these individuals reach out to their communities and generate their own business and manage relationships and referrals.

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

Grow or Die – “Teach At the Beach Part 2”

Internet Battle Plan 22

 

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.

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.