Re-Birth of an Industry.

Honestly, my friends, I did not think that I would live to see the rebirth/reinvention of the used car industry. 

My grandfather was around for its birth, my father for its heyday, and I for the rapid evolution of vehicles. The here and now, we are seeing changes we never could have anticipated, and they won’t stop there.   

In my father’s day, the salesman did it all; Desk the deal, underwrite the paper, go back and get the car made ready, then deliver it. 

Well, it kind of looks like it is 1965 again as our salespeople are granted more independence   from the desk. Our salespeople are taking more initiative to generate their own book of business as they learn to become professionals in all that they do. 

That fact in mind, what are you, the owner, doing to educate/train/inform/practice with your crew? Have you sat down with each one and done a little dream building

Do YOU know what your salespeople’s individual strengths are? Do YOU know what motivates them (besides $$$$)? Have you asked them for their ideas on how to improve any or all areas of the business? The way things (business) were run 6 months ago is just that…the past. A way of business we WILL NOT going back to doing. 

Getting that fact into your business model and adjusting actions accordingly is the key to PROSPERING instead of surviving the exponential changes we are all experiencing. Customers LIKE the personal service this crisis has forced dealers into. Customers like the fact of no F&I Dept process to suffer through. Customers like the test drive coming to them and the virtual test drive videos dealers are doing for every unit in stock. Customers like having the perception of having the upperhand throughout the entire sales/delivery process. 

Customers LOVE the fact that salespeople are having conversations with them and ***MAGIC WORD*** LISTENING to them! Customers are getting what they always have wanted and feared the most…control. 


How are you fostering/nurturing those relationships to ease control into the customers hand? How are you making your customer feel more a part of the process and not feel as if they are BEING processed? These are some very serious things to think upon my friends. 

Being in communication with friends/clients in the industry in all corners of this great country has painted a very clear picture of what the smart dealer is doing. They are buckling down and getting it done. In this unprecedented season of reinvention and rebirth, LET your customers, salespeople, bankers, friends, associates, and all others help you, reshape your future

If you do not know what your customer wants (expects) then how can you meet those wants/needs/desires? My advice, grab a notebook and pen, have a Zoom meeting with your team, and brainstorm your tails off!  

Now, more than ever, the game of “what if” can be your best tool to grow with the curve of change and not get crushed under it. 

Create A Great Day, 

Tom Hampton  


Weeks of continuous communication across the nation and across the industry has allowed me to put a few tick-marks under some points on my TALLY sheet! 

These conversations are all the same: 

  • HOW are you (the owner) Re-Inventing in all areas (personal/business)?  
  • WHO are you collaborating with (friend & foe)? 
  • WHICH areas would you recommend an immediate change in? 
  • WHAT communities are you a RESOURCE for and which communities are a resource for YOU? 
  • WHERE would you concentrate MORE effort into and why? 

The conversations have lasted from 10 minutes up to 4 hours! The answers have been insightful, inventive, original and most of all … full of HOPE! 

The point on my tally sheet that got the most tick-marks? 


Using Texts, Calls, Emails, and/or Video Chats. All have been fruitful. Integrating your referral program into your Social Media is PARAMOUNT to prospering. 

That being said, 

HOW is your referral program? Old School Simple to the rescue! It is very simple, very effective, and no complications necessary! It also provides a very powerful income stream to your previous customer (scared & financially insecure)! 

A Simple Referral Program example: 

You (previous customer) notify me (the owner) that someone (referred friend/family) is coming to do business with me. I (the owner) roll out the covid-19 sanitized Red Carpet for the client (referred friend/family). When the referred potential customer (referred friend/family) does business with me then You (the previous customer) that referred the new customer will receive a pre-determined MONITARY amount!  


I sell used cars, you bought one from me 2 years ago. You got my Rewards Program email and are in need of extra bucks during this crisis. So, you tell every Tom, Dick & Henrietta to see me if they need a car! 

Bingo! Now I (the dealer/business owner) have an ARMY of salespeople giving the BEST kind of recommendation on the planet – Free positive advertising via word of mouth! 

****Note: Be sure the reward paid out is fair and intriguing enough.  

In the previous example that dealer would have started his referral fee at about $250 and climbed up to a preset limit. Think about it; Previous customer sends a buddy that buys a $25,000 truck – caution if paying out a $100, that customer will never send YOU (Mr. Dealer or Mr. Business owner) another referral.  

On the other hand, if you own a carpet cleaning business and you do the whole JOB for $250, then that referral may look like a nice Thank You card and a $20 gift card (about 10% of the job). 

It is all relative, however, the KEY is the referral program. There you have a little nugget, that if worked properly, may well be you/your companies’ lifeline for a while. At the very least, it will be fun adventure! 

Remember. If you don’t CREATE your future, then your future WILL create you! 



Time to Change

Funny thing, time… it has so many different meanings and associations.  

We here in Houston measure distance by time- “My Office is only 30 minutes from the Galleria.” We as Dealers buy according to the seasons (another different measurement of time) – for example, during the holiday seasons, we buy less and for Tax Seasons and Back to School Seasons, we buy more

Time regulates us. Here in Texas, you can only operate certain hours and for certain days (no consecutive Sat & Sun). Time is a man-made concept used to regulate and equalize life across the planet. 

We all have 24 hours in a day, no matter where you are on the planet. It is whether we spend or invest those hours that determine our financial future, our emotional future, and what guides us on our charted path. 

We as business owners often find ourselves in the “there are not enough hours in a day” mode. We hurriedly put out fires in various directions as we attempt to accomplish at least ONE thing on our growing TO-DO list – before the phone rings yet again? 

Sound a little too familiar? 

It happens to all of us at one point or another, after all, we are Entrepreneurs’ and we can handle ANYTHING! Well um, maybe some can, however the rest of us devoid of super-human abilities, we muddle through each day. 

Muddle time is over, (oops, there’s that time thing again) my friends! Earlier I quoted that you can either SPEND or INVEST your time. Most Dealers “spend” time looking for inventory, getting cars in and out of the shop, attempting to collect information for financing, and a whole host of other things! 

Some Dealers “invest” time sourcing inventory, recon is done in-house for most vehicles, and they have people or services prescreen their leads to expedite financing! 

What? You say that is investing MONEY and not time? Money we can always get MORE of; time, on the other hand, you cannot get back. 

So, the answer is YES. By investing capital, you gain TIME. 

Most business owners think you only have x-amount of hours in a business day. Well, I am here to tell you that you can easily “buy more hours” in a day! Some of you by now might be a bit confused, so I will clarify. 

Investing capital to “buy” more hours: Hire someone or some company to do some of the tasks you are doing right now! 

Think long and hard before you answer these:  

  • Would you pay $200hr to run to the courthouse for 3 hours to get 4 cars titled? 
  • Would you pay $200hr to run get parts or drop a car off to the shop? 
  • Would you pay $200hr to make calls for missing information and verify information already given? 

In fact – most Dealers do this every day and wonder why their business is so stressful and their profits are so low. As a business owner, your time is worth approximately $200hr! 

So, the smart operators pay out $25-$50hr to get something off their list so that they can INVEST the time into growing their business, not SPENDING their time running their business. (In some cases, the business runs the Dealer!) 

Yes. A business must be “run” in order to make money, however, that does not mean you have to run it all. 

Competition continues to come into the Independent Used Car market every day. That means your slice of the pie gets smaller with each new Dealer in town. However, the more time you can invest in yourself and your dealership, the quicker you gain market share. 

When was the last time you took a sales course or even had a sales meeting? When was the last time you paid a service to evaluate your webpage and then implement the changes When was the last time you went to a networking opportunity in your community? When was the last time you overhauled your Social Media strategy – or came up with one? 

You see my friends, there are numerous opportunities to “invest” in your future – some take capital, most simply take time. 

March 8, 2020 Time will change yet again (Daylight savings) and we will barely notice. Ask any 14 yr old the horrors of losing an hour’s sleep and March 8, 2020, has a very different meaning! 

Perspective is the key to success. 

Some may see themselves investing their time wisely by running the company; After all, they are saving money! That is what I call treading water. In a deep endless ocean, you can only tread so long before you drown. 

This is your business and your 24 hours. My role is to play WHAT-IF. So, what if you started paying a title company to run a few titles a week? What if you tried a couple of wholesalers and saved 10hrs at auction this week? What if your salespeople or heaven forbid – your customers – only be allowed to turn in complete applications for financing? What if you started your own Dealer Group to share resources and ideas? 

What If’s are endless. Your possibilities are too. 

Invest or Spend. What will you do with your TIME? 

Create a Great Day! 

Tom Hampton 

Contact us today MyRep@CarGuysAgency to learn more about our dependable products and services! Invest in growing your dealership today! 

The Power of Connection:

2019 has drawn to its close my friends. It is usual for this time of year to be a time of reflection and planning. Did we measure up to last year’s goals and where are we heading to this coming year? This is very important in EVERY business, so I encourage you to get away from the dealership, turn off the phone (voicemail is wonderful) and invest an hour in this process. 

First and foremost; please come into this meeting with yourself armed with 2 very crucial things – PATIENCE & VISION. 

Patience for yourself and your employees; Business can be start-n-stop as we grow to new levels, each with its own set of challenges to master. After all uncharted waters can be both perilous and prosperous

Vision for your company and its potential.  

At this point, it is good to remember that only 2 things stand between unimaginable success and you. The first is LIMITED knowledge. The second is LIMITING beliefs (yours AND your employees). Who do you let in on the vision you have for your growth? If you only have employees — there is no reason to share your vision with them. If you create a family, a team — then it would be best that all share and contribute to your vision.   

Connection is the key, employees stay disconnected; whereas team members are tightly interconnected. Tight interconnection promotes COMMUNICATION, which as most of you know, is the cornerstone of any successful business (or given situation for that matter). 

Nelson Mandela was once asked what made him such a good leader. His reply was a brief story about his father. When his father sat in council with others, he always made it a point to be the LAST to speak. That way, he had heard the concerns and opinions of the others and could NOW communicate with the input of all. A pretty wise man in my book. This is one I myself am continually working to be better at. 

We tend to listen so that we can respond, not hear. A customer calls and starts to BBQ your backside over a minor issue with the vehicle (OK, minor to you)! Most of us within 2 minutes of the tirade tune out the rant ONCE we’ve heard the problem. We have our reply ready – the moment the customer takes a breath … our turn to talk, even if we cut them short! 

After all – we have the solution, we don’t need to hear all the “drama” we perceive the customer is espousing. What if, just, what if… you really listened with fresh ears? Yes, we get complaints and put out fires what seems like 100 times a day. Most of it without thinking, ‘been there – done that’ kind of thing. 

So, what if those fresh ears spent 5 minutes (that’s usually enough time to hear the whole story) and listened to this person’s fears

That’s the real reason they called, fear. Is there something wrong with the vehicle they just got from you? After all, they are informed customers and have listened to, read, and researched all the material about how crooked car dealers are. Didn’t cha hear?… Car dealers buy that vehicle for $1000 and just “patch it up”… then sell it for $6000 to some poor unsuspecting, hard-working person. Unfortunately, there is a very small grain of truth to that. There are too many dealers out there that skimp on recon. They spend just enough to sell it.  

What is all this rambling about goals, visions, ticked off customers, employees, team members, and connection???? Connecting to your employees, your clients – both groups’ needs/wants/desires will put you ahead of the game. Dealers are always coming up to me asking about sales/advertising/finance/inventory – Why do you suppose that is? I haven’t sold a car in 19 years and still know more about what clients want than most dealers do, by staying connected. I stay connected with the buying public. I stay connected with my clients (dealers) all over the state. I stay connected in my relationship with both the car industry and the government. Not a week goes by that I do not purposely engage someone at a gas station, convenience store, or out in public that has a fresh paper plate on the back of their vehicle (regardless of what state it is from).  

Purposely INVESTING your time into these areas will make growing your business faster and much more profitable. When people know (or feel) that you have listened to them – even when you still disagree, things will be easier between you. They feel as if they have been heard. After all, we all want to be heard – even you!  

I get asked daily for tips and tricks on how to grow. Connection is the best one in my arsenal of tips. It is always sharp and can penetrate even the most difficult of challenges when used. The goal of 2020 my friends, may be rather simple…Create as many “Fans” as you can. Starting now, begin connecting with your team, sharing the dream, and teaching them new skills to better connect with your clients. Most dealers have customers – yep sold them a car. Great dealers have fans – yep sold them a car, their cousin, a person from their work, and their postman came by too. You ONLY get fans by staying CONNECTED. 

Go out to our website at I have recorded a series of podcasts designed to help YOUR growth process. 

Be sure and subscribe as I put the really good podcast out to subscribers only. I figure if you subscribe – you WANT to grow and I’m going to help! 

Go out there in 2020 and CONNECT to your prosperity.   


Tom Hampton 


We all know that our industry is irrevocably linked to the new car industry and will FOREVER be subject to “trickle-down”  

Two and half years ago the consumer, through social media, brought FIRE to the F&I Departments and our industry felt it in our outside finance sources tightening their belts – We sold less cars and are still recovering from it.  

NOW-HEAR-THIS. The next wave of major trickle-down is HERE.  

PRICE is dead!!! TRANSPARENCY & VALUE are coming!  

Your client knows MORE about your car than you do in most instances. Consumers are now spending upwards of 15 hours of research using the same tools we do. They research reliability, dependability, serviceability, trade values, depreciation, current market values, and a bazillion other things.  

Then my friend; they research YOU.   

Most of you still cling DESPERATELY to price when ALL your efforts should be in VALUE! Look up Simon Sinek on YouTube. Man has some great things to learn. His concentric circles are one of the BEST I have ever seen to convey and teach what customers REALLY want.  

It’s simple folks –  

  1.  WHY are you the best person on the planet to buy a used car from?  
  1.  HOW MANY people agree!? 

What incentive are you enticing buyers with? 90-day warranties don’t cut it. A couple of suggestions,  

  • Give 1 year free GPS Security Tracking*  
  • Free oil changes for a year (3k miles= 4 per year) 

Look at what you do from the customer’s point of view. Houston area alone has over 4,000 dealers – How do you stand out?  

The only thing standing between you and wild success is LIMITED Knowledge and LIMITING Beliefs. Both can be modified. Although knowledge is plentiful, it can be tricky to interpret and implement. As far as Limiting beliefs, MOST simply fade away when YOU choose to do things differently.  

Habit and complacency are the top two killers of dealerships that I have ever found over the last 50 years. Now – what are you going to do and what are you going to change? – most importantly WHEN?   

Tom Hampton

*Visit us online to get more information on our selection of GPS Units!

Dancing with the STARS

Remember my friends, that the CUSTOMER, not the car, is the Star of this show!  

 What show may that be …?  

 “This Is Your Business” 

starring ___________ (your name goes in the blank) with today’s guest STAR appearance of ______________ (your client’s name goes in this blank – all in caps!).  

Dance, as most of you well know requires rhythm and steps.  

Are we going to Salsa / Waltz / Cha-Cha / Quick-Step / Ballet / FreeStyle? What if your Guest Star has what appears to have 2 left feet? No sense of rhythm, no idea of the steps, much less the order they go in.  

That is where we as the seasoned professional lead our partners (customers) across the dance floor. 

It’s very simple if you think about it. A Star is in front of us – they really want to do well at this – their “fans” will be watching (family/friends/coworkers). They are willing to take instructions as long as they think it will benefit them and make them look good (remember that point).  

They burst onto our lot ready to do the Cha-Cha (fasted paced dance) – they want to get in and out, as quickly as humanly possible.  

We, on the other hand, KNOW this is a Waltz (slower-paced) and must begin the process of leading our dance partner. The sale of the unit is not the goal – a happy enthusiastic fan is. 

Customers pay the bills – FANS build rapid profit.  

We slow our dance partner down by using questions.  

  • Will you be the primary driver? – who is the vehicle for?  
  • Will you be paying cash? (effects pricing and the next few steps of the Dance).  
  • Will you be trading in your current vehicle? (is the customer upside down on their trade – effects LOAN).  
  • What will you be using your new vehicle for? (pizza delivery guy ain’t driving a Yukon at 9 mpg – zero in on the unit. 
  • What did you NOT like about your last or current vehicle? (hot buttons and closing keys here ladies and gentlemen).  
  • What do you really like about your current vehicle? (why are they looking to buy.)  

Small hint – if they ask for credit or say they don’t know what their credit is like… it is usually a sign they have weak credit at best!  

Weak credit is going to affect the dance in a major way! If your customer struggles to get financing, it’s kind of like dancing with NO music. It can be done … just not as satisfying! Will they need a cosigner? More down? Less vehicle? ALL the above?? This is the part of the dance most dealers hate, and customers dread. They Cha-Cha in looking at that 2017 Land Rover (Champagne) and Quick-Step out in a 2014 Sante Fe (soda pop).  

So how do we get them away from the Champagne and over to the soda pop? Easy – show them the steps.   

The Star wants the perfect car for less than wholesale. Been there conquered that – that’s now a familiar rhythm of the dance.  

So just HOW do you get your shy little STAR through this dance?  

“So, Mr./Mrs. Jones, here lately we have helped a lot of folks find great financing, regardless of credit challenges they THOUGHT would stop them. Since you said you’ll be looking to finance your new _________ (vehicle they’re looking at), I’m going to need your help in this process.  

I can use your help by your filling out all of the basic required information and your guidance as far as your financial boundaries when it comes to payments, duration of the loan, and down payment. While I may be well versed in assisting clients getting loans, I feel it my obligation to make sure you get the best loan possible for you. Bear in mind I simply facilitate this process, so remember I’m here working on your behalf and can always use the assistance.” 

Or something to that effect.   

If you cannot hang the paper – no sale! So WHY wait till almost the END of the sales process to do the most important part? Lead the dance and get to the PAYMENT part sooner rather than later. It will always be a matter of educating your Star of the proper steps, rhythms, and nuisances of the dance. We’re the PROFESSIONAL and have had far more experience buying, selling and financing vehicles. Asking for their help and asking the right questions in the process right up front may seem a little awkward at first. Get used to it as more sales, better sales, and higher gross depend on how well you lead the STAR in this dance. The more you involve the STAR in every part of the process, the more you learn if your dance partner is a novice or is a competitor ready to dance and ready to win. 

Create a great day,  


Straight through the curves

Engineers know the shortest distance through a curve is a straight line. If the old road is a series of “S” curves, then the new one will chop through those curves, straight as an arrow (shortest distance). 

Granted, it may not always be the least expensive option; In the beginning, more planning and construction costs are decidedly more. However, in the long run, when maintenance is done and length of service is factored in, the straight line (road) WILL be the most cost-effective and move MORE traffic in a quicker, safer manner!

The “curves” we experience are the Feast & Famine cycles this industry is notorious for. YOUR straight line through the curves is very simple. Just like the analogy above though, it too will incur a substantially higher initial investment of both capital and TIME

Policies & Procedures is the name of the line to follow! – Through WRITTEN policies and procedures, we “short-cut” our way across both the famine and feast cycles (curves) this business has. 

By now, most of you are rolling your eyes and saying, “Yeah right”. 

Well my friends, after sitting in council with over 1700 dealers across this state in the last 13 years – here are the FACTS

  • Dealers that consecutively sell 25+ units per month ALL have policies and procedure manuals in place. 
  • It is all spelled out step-by-step from the time the unit is purchased at auction to when the final paperwork is signed and vehicle delivered (including follow up emails/call – referral program). 
  • If the owner is not available – major decisions are already made on paper, should the need arise (like – every day) SIMPLY LOOK IN THE BOOK

Many days a dealer is busy putting out “fires” of their own creating, wasting precious time/effort/energy and money on situations that could have easily been avoided. Let’s start with the very basic and FIRST place policies and procedures should be implemented. 


Every unit purchased, either from auction or individual, is to be put through a “standard checklist.”  Most mechanics will charge between $75 – $100, depending on the extent of your checklist. By using a standard checklist on every unit – mistakes go down dramatically.

Let me share an example

I purchase a 110,000-mile Chrysler with a 2.4L 4 cyl engine. This is not my 1st rodeo, so I know they tend to overheat. I send it to the shop telling them to flush the radiator and replace the thermostat.  

1 week later, on a test drive, the customer gets stuck in traffic and the unit overheats –STRANDING a potential client.  

If standard checklist been used –it would have been discovered the water pump was “iffy” when the mechanic removed the cover to check the condition of the timing belt and front main seal.  

Now two fronts have been lost – that potential customer is now telling everyone about what happened on social media and they no longer trust the inventory! LESSON learned – We do not know it all and remember, no two used cars are the same. 

A dealer purchases two white 2015 Silverado’s, both with 100,000 miles.

  • Truck A was owned by a Dr. (good news; maybe) – that drove it 100,000 miles on 3 oil changes and only used it to pull his RV. 
  • Truck B was a company driver for the owner of a plumbing company (bad news; maybe)  

Which truck was better cared for: The one used as a toy with minimal maintenance or the one used as a money-making tool with proper maintenance? That my friends is what makes our business so much fun. 

Policies and Procedures

A checklist for recon is a very wise R.O.I. (return-on-investment) which falls under Procedures. For the sake of ease in defining Policies, these are YOUR safeguards and standards – written down. 

Policy example 1: Test drives will ALWAYS have an employee on board in the rear seat behind the passenger where it easy to observe driver. – NO deviation allowed. Remember YOU are the boss and you decide how these things will happen!

Policy example 2: In the Summer months, all prospective clients must either be “in-the-office & out-of-the-heat” in 15 min OR salesperson WILL  go into the office (appraise the mgr of progress in the process of the sale) & bring water for hydration back out to the prospects! – The rationale is simple. The needs of your customers and employees are met while giving your employee an opportunity to update the sales manager or get assistance on closing the sale. 

Again, I will repeat myself, (rather famous for that) – A POLICY means No Exceptions.  

OK, so you’re a “Mom & Pop” with no salespeople and you’re the mechanic – how does this apply? Like jam on toast. – would be my reply. 

Think about it… most people like toast. Some only want butter, some want butter & jam, and some just eat it dry! Any way you go, toast is being served. The “butter & jam” crowd like a little “treat” on their toast. 

Policies and Procedures (butter & jam) can be a real “treat” for a harried dealer. If I am the one “buying-reconing-detailing-advertising-selling-contracting-delivering and following up” every single unit that crosses my lot, you bet I want a few no brainer steps to help me get this process done QUICKER and EASIER! 

Policies and Procedures – such as standard maintenance checklists and coming in out of the heat to “regroup” – can and WILL nourish profitable growth of any Dealership. The trick is to establish and implement them EARLY in the life of a Dealership! 

The point of all this? I implore you to MAKE the investment in yourself and your business. You are a PROFESSIONAL dealer. Carve out the time and start this TODAY! 

My tag line for the last 14 years has been, CREATE-A-GREAT-DAY. We chart our course through the roadblocks of our business. Make sure you have your destination set and let your Policies & Procedures be your map.  

Get your Free Standard Auto Checklist here!


Tom Hampton 

Storms are Coming.

We live in the sub-tropics here in the Houston area; however, there is just about no corner of Texas that does not experience sudden violent storms in the spring and Summer. Often times, they catch us unaware or off-guard and can do severe damage to not only our local and inventory – they can inflict severe emotional trauma as well.  

How are you and your employees equipped to handle these eventualities?  

More Bad storms are coming. Where do YOU start first?  Move the inventory, shut down, and unplug all electronics in the office. Make sure you, your family, and your employees are safe? Policies and procedures MUST be formed, agreed upon, and most IMPORTANTLY, be written down somewhere easily accessible.  

After the storm, what is next?  What damages have occurred, when is the power to be restored?  Do you or an employee need to “babysit” the lot? Should it be something of a tornado or hurricane – Steps to re-open. Are you a Shelter for the community? Or How you help the community get to the Shelter?

Being Prepared! 

Do you have simple provisions stockpiled – water / toilet paper / soap / first aid supplies / emergency change of clothes / medications / dry goods / cans of Sterno or bottles of propane (and a way to use them) / cooking utensils / canned goods / battery operated lights & fans / BATTERIES (for lights, fans, cell phones ) / gas / portable generator / sheets of plywood (cover windows) / tarps? For less than $2000 you can get most of these items and be ready for the storms we KNOW are going to come.  This kind of thing, when left to chance, will invariably lead to panic on top of disaster – two things that do not go well together!  

I know of one dealer that had a rather handsome “stash” in a container on his lot. A couple of palettes of bottled water, cases of dried goods, canned goods (all rotated and in date – smart man), batteries, flashlights, cases of paper goods (tp).  After a twister came through, he opened his pantry to the community – not to be Mr. Big.  In his words “I had it and they REALLY needed it – just to survive; besides this is MY HOME TOO!” 

That day he became a part of the community by his caring and concern for his neighbors. As serendipity, his business still has not stopped growing.  Not because of what he did – because people saw WHO he really was – one of them! He put his pants on one leg at a time, he suffered loss – however, his community was a priority for him.  

So my friends, are you even THINKING of getting prepared? Your livelihood DEPENDS on it!  

One of the 1st things people need after a disaster is transportation.  If your location is prone to flooding – where do you relocate it in the eventuality of a class 4 hurricane bearing down on your vicinity?  Going to lose all your inventory because you insist on “keeping your head in the sand”?  Or it’s too ”expensive” or it takes too much time to sit down and do all this!  

Scenario – bad storm hits, your cars were moved to high ground and your files, PC’s were off-site.  Your neighbors lost 14 units and all their electronics (not to mention salvaging files).  Would it be safe to say that overnight YOUR units are worth 20% MORE than they were before the storm?! 

PLEASE do not misquote me here – I despise price gouging and that is NOT what I am saying!  Think – you have to raise your price by 20% BECAUSE the replacement unit will be 15-25% more (supply and demand)!  Raising your pricing by 50% or more IS gouging and will cost you in the eyes of your community – for short term profit; it’s not worth it.  

After the storm is not the time to get all this done – NOW in the little “slow days” we get in the summer vacation months IS!  

Having a clear plan is on paper in front of you (or your employee) before the disaster is ripping off your roof will save hours of confusion and lots of money.  Lifeboats serve a purpose on ships – where’s yours and have you done your “Life drills”?  For once in your business – be a boy scout and get prepared!  

Harvey saw a lot of my clients “go under” (pun intended), suffering heavy losses financially, mentally and physically! Being prepared is ALWAYS a good R.O.I. (return-on-investment) whether it’s preparing your dealership, home and family, or it’s preparing yourself for a different type of ”storm” .

Make sure you are “liquid” enough to run your business and pay your employees at ALL time ($10-15k).  Review your insurance and coverages once a year – shop, it’s your hard-earned dollars here.  Take inventory of what you have, then figure out what you will need to “ride out” the next storm that crosses your life and come out OK.  Then put it on paper, be sure that EVERYONE knows where your “DISASTER PLAN” is (business and home)!  



A note from Tom

I have been thinking, in all earnestness, WHAT I could compose that might propel YOU into a great summer.  

  • The idea (more so inspiration) came in 2 words, “EVEN KEEL.”
  • Another way to put it simply is BALANCE.  

My great granny’s garters; I could go on about this one for days.

OK, start at the beginning – For ANY business to grow beyond the owner, certain things must happen.  

First, the owner must have concise written goals (1yr/3yr/5yr) and “study”. (Review and work on them every day!)

Improve the owner – improve the business!  

Second, if you haven’t done it yet, start putting together a procedure manual (how-to instructions) for every position in your dealership. I am talking porter to YOU. Heaven forbid, should something happen, illness, family emergency, etc., to an employee or you. – Open the book and follow instructions!

Seems rather simplistic; however, I have seen too many times F&I or the lot manager out sick, and the ENTIRE dealership is “locked up,” “bottlenecked,” or at a “snail’s pace” (however you choose to call it.)

I call it LOST INCOME.  

Now, before I go, one final thought. Last month we put the word out that as of Jan 1, 2019, the state reversed its position on referral programs. We as Dealers are now allowed to actively promote this program!

Referrals are not only a cost-effective marketing strategy, they also build more loyal customers over time. According to the Nielsens 2013 Global Trust in Advertising Report, 83% of people worldwide trust recommendations from people they know. They also point out that people are 4 times more likely to purchase, when referred by a friend.  

So. What shape is your Referral Program in? Have you thought about how you are going to track your referrals? -How many? Who are they from? What is the reward for referring an ‘x amount’ of customers?  And finally, if you don’t have one, what are you waiting for?

Get all your goals down. Study. And create your balance! 

Cash Is King.

All right people. “Tax Season” is done and gone – soooooooo…

What are your marketing strategies for your Summer Business?

Did you know, that as of January 1, 2019, the DMV reversed their interpretation of Referral Programs? Since 2008, we as Dealers were not allowed to have anywhere in our written materials that we paid a “bird-dog” (referral fee)!

Now that has changed – we can now openly market our “Referral Program”!!

Now for some house keeping; COMPLIANCE.

We can market ONLY to existing customers up to 3 years back!

Next is, if you are going to be sending an email campaign to all the customers you have had for the last 3 years regarding your new Referral Program, make sure that you have an “Opt-Out” button at the end of your email. This is a Federal Law on any advertising or mass mailing. I only know this because I have an Awesome team that works with me.

Now If I may; a few “suggestions” to make this season one of growth!

Firstly, how do you want to drive your Referral program? Think about how you are going to track the referrals. Then, how much are you willing to pay for each referral?

For the sake of your sanity, find a “Mailing Service” where you can send out all your emails with just a few clicks and meet the compliance rules.

Which brings me to our second “suggestion”

100% INVENTORY (allow me to give you MY definition).

100% = 10% “Fashion Vehicles” – Lifted Trucks/Convertibles (Trendy)
25% “Work Vehicles” – Quad cab Trucks/Vans (all sizes)
40% “Family Vehicles” – Sedans/ 3rd row SUV/ Minivans
25% “CASH Vehicles” – Small Sedans/ small to medium SUV/ Higher
mileage Trucks

The last category is usually an “afterthought” for most dealers, however, it can comprise (just like the figures say) up to 25% of your business!

The key to CASH sales – QUICK – mileage!!!!

Small SUV & Sedans =125k and DOWN
Mid size SUV = 135k and DOWN
Full size SUV = 150k and DOWN
Trucks (quad cab only) = 175k and DOWN

If your cash vehicles meet these parameters AND are $12,500 and DOWN – these units can roll in 21 days or LESS!

Cash sales will also lead inevitably to MORE financed sales ( Outside & In-House) – think about it! A client has $8000 – that will get almost ANYBODY financed regardless of credit!

Cash sales also keep “eyeballs” on your web-page (Hello!) and thus even more business!!!!!

Cash sales & Summertime go hand-in-hand!

Last suggestion. Are you ready for GRADUATION !?

How many cars do YOU have in inventory now? Graduation is next month and you might think about an advertising campaign – ummm, like yesterday!

Here is an idea to just start your advertising.

“ Mom & Dad buy your Grad’s vehicle from us – get a free GPS Security package” This program one of my Dealers implemented did amazing. His results were 96 units in 6.5 weeks.

On a side note, we carry the GPS’ (the only company out there) that you can “GIVE” your customers a GPS unit where they can have a separate account. Keeping you in COMPLIANCE and out of the HIPPA loop!

So to sum it all up!

GET IT IN GEAR – before the competition DOES!

After all there is ONLY 19,000 “+” dealers in Texas – what makes YOU different and makes YOUR DEALERSHIP stand out?