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. 

IF IT SELLS CARS – THE CUSTOMERS MAY HAVE AS MUCH CONTROL AS THEY FEEL THEY NEED. So, WHAT are you doing about that? 

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  

A KEY TO PROSPERING DURING COVID-19

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? 

REFERRAL PROGRAM!    

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!  

Example:  

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! 

Create-A-Great-Day, 

Tom 

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!  

www.CarGuysAgency.com 

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 www.carguysagency.com. 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.   

Create-A-Great-Day, 

Tom Hampton 

TRICKLE TO TREND

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?   

Create-a-great-day!
Tom Hampton

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

STARS & SWIPES!

NEWS FLASH – THE WORLD IS NO LONGER FLAT!

Most of you, if not all of you know this fact! or do you?

First, let us relive a bit of the past – Math Class. We learned how to graph on “Y” and “X” axis, given a set of “points” we could use these axes to pinpoint the location – on a FLAT piece of paper!

Those of us with a propensity for math also understood the “Z” axis – 3D.
With all the “points” we could pinpoint the EXACT location in space – not just a flat piece of paper.

Well, my friends welcome to the wild frontier of the Internet. Unfortunately, most of you still are based and run your business on a FLAT model that is over 100 years old! The car business is the most dynamically changing industry on the planet, and yet many do business like it’s 1985! You still cling to the past ways of doing business because they work. Do they really?
Most of you I talk to are moaning about the poor selection and high price of inventory, not to mention the lack of “buying” customers. I have said this to almost ALL of you at one point or another – INSANITY (and poor business management) is defined very simply:


DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER
EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS!

We no longer live in a FLAT world! Our success is determined by stars (literally) and swipes. Our stars determine our position on that crucial “Z” axis – are we ABOVE or BELOW standard? Swipes determine if we’re going to pay our bills that month or not. What REASONS do your “potential” have from buying from you – if you say PRICE, then you have already lost!
Let’s look at it from this perspective – would you rather be a port or a ship? A ship can bring prosperity to new and gloriously new markets. A port, on the other hand, IS prosperity attracting numerous “ships” laden with treasures for her inhabitants and their future. Most of you out there are “ships” looking for ports to “unload” your merchandise.

Those of you out there that are “ports” have labored hard with your inhabitants to make it “the destination” of prosperity.
In simple terms, PORTS build relationships with their ships and merchants!
Far too often in this business it’s “sell it and move on” to the next customer (that would be the price model) with never enough time to build any sort of “relationship”. Hell; only a handful of you even understand the POWER of a simple yet sincere, handwritten Thank You note mailed out!
“Port Dealers” find ways to constantly keep in touch with not only potential customer, however, they also go “above-and-beyond” to keep past customers in their community “loop”.

Newsletters, videos, emails and most importantly a “stunning” web presence. They have become a vital part of their “ELECTRONIC COMMUNITY” They build VALUE into themselves, their product and their web presence.

OK, so that is the long-and-short of my message here people. I think I’ve broken my own record for metaphors and analogies in one paper. Over 50+ years of communicating with folks I have learned a way-or-two to “pitch” an Idea and I am sincere; that’s one of the reasons people see value in me when we do business together. What do people see in you and your business?
Where are your STARS and how many SWIPES sent you and your website to electronic oblivion? Time to up your game folks – if not now, then when. There are numerous tools and services out there at your disposal – some of it even free! You have to make it a PRIORITY in your day and your business.
If you spent ½ as much time in a month growing your business electronically as you do hunting down inventory and going to auctions, well my friend you would definitely be on the BETTER path to success (lasting and financial).
So there you have it April’s nugget of wisdom to ponder upon ( & hopefully act upon).

CHANGE IN THE WIND

After a long and prosperous relationship with Frazer Computing, we here at Car Guys Agency (formerly Tom Hampton Agency) announce our parting!

Frazer is a wonderful DMS and I personally think has the best Help Desk in the USA (the reason I represented them for over 12 years).

Michael Jordan is no longer with our agency; we thank him for the numerous doors and opportunities he brought us in his time with us/ We wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors!

We here at CGA are growing in new directions as we speak.

We are expanding our GPS business and will continue to bring quality product at great pricing!

We are in the process of negotiating a sponsor for my DEALER 101 class that will be held 2x monthly in Houston (yes, my friends after all these years I am listening to you and teaching full time).

This will be a FREE 90 minute class that can easily fill in the gaps for both the seasoned vet and the green-pea alike!

13 years traveling this state from one corner to the other and the privilege of consulting with over 1600 dealers had allowed me to glean a ton of information to help grow your business.

Watch our website and updated in email for future dates!

I will be at the TXDMV Dealer Training Seminars in April (IF you haven’t made your reservation for the class – DO IT NOW!).

These classes are free, give you the ground rules AND keep you abreast of the current interpretations of said rules (if there’s one thing I have learned; the rules seldom change – how they are interpreted and enforced DO change often).

We will still be assisting Dealers with License procurement as we have done for the last decade (96% + approval rate too!).

We also still have strong ties with V-12 and their fantastic array of tools that help you “get there” quick.

Well my friends that is where we are TODAY, tomorrow has yet to dawn.

Those of you that know me and have dealt with various members of our team know that we hold ourselves to the highest standard of professionalism and efficiency.

We sincerely thank you for you support in the past and are excited to help you exceed your goals in the months that are to follow.

Now one last word to you my “family of steel” – crunch time is coming; Tax Season is all but done and that “gravy’ will be drying up!

Sooooooo, what’s-your-plan?

Going to continue to “wing & prayer” – OR – are you working on your Action Plan for the next 90 days?

In the coming weeks I will be working on expanding my “open” slots in my calendar so that I may be available for MORE consultations for those of you willing to embrace this changing marketplace we call the Car Business.

Go out there and CREATE-A-GREAT-DAY!!!!

With best wishes,

Tom Hampton and crew (Barbara, Ana, Lety & Cat) at CGA (Car Guys Agency)