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Grant Cardone

Training is KEY to Greatness

Businessman in Cubicle Raising Foam Hand

My whole life I have wanted to do great things. Of course, there have been times when I would have just been satisfied with just getting through some really tough times. But even then, almost every time I witnessed someone doing something really exceptional, I was moved and wanted that to be me. Hundreds of times through my life, I have been moved to tears by hearing of some person doing some heroic act or some amazing business achievement, or watching an athlete on Sunday doing the impossible, or reading some unbelievable comeback story.

I believe that we are all moved by greatness because greatness is in each of us. In most cases where greatness is achieved, there is someone that has been preparing their entire life, showing up day after day and then when finally the right situation occurred, they were there and delivered. What is present when greatness happens? The same ingredients are always present in a person before they achieve greatness: they are present, committed, they take action and are prepared. The real separator is the preparation.

This is what separates the people who are going through the motions and people who amass great wealth and success. Often times, I am asked, “Grant, how did you become a successful sales person?” The single biggest reason I became successful in sales was not because of my personality, the production, the company, or the economy, but because I had the discipline to prepare and train. Anything you want to be great at requires training and preparation on a daily basis. Write a list of any of the great investors, athletes, artists and how often they work on their trade. Warren Buffett spends most of his day reading reports, basketball champion LeBron James trains more than others, and Leonardo DeiCaprio completely commits to studying and preparing for the character he is going to play.

When I first started in sales, I was just showing up, taking my shots at deals and getting pot shot results. One month was good and the next month wold be horrible. It wasn’t until I committed to my career and prepared with training material on a daily basis that I became a great salesperson. That is why I write books and record training programs today because I know that those who want to be great will find the materials and use them. Greatness doesn’t happen repeatedly because of luck, but because of preparation. Most people aren’t great, not because they can’t be, but because they don’t train to be great. Most companies don’t have great people because they don’t demand greatness.

I find, for any training program to be effective, there are certain criteria that must be adhered to. I incorporated all of these factors in my virtual training programs because I found people would actually train if these points were met.

Here are 5 key ways to train for results:

  1. Train daily! Everything worth doing is worth doing every day. Make preparation a daily discipline, not just on game day.
  2. Train with the goal to increase productivity. Think about your goals for the day, the calls you need to make and apply your training to generate results. Keep notes of rejections and points where you may have stumbled. Learn from them.
  3. Train in short segments. Two to five minutes is enough time to dedicate full attention.
  4. Training must be measurable and rewarded.
  5. Train for growth and seek out information to get you to the next level; to get you past where you may be stuck.

Look, greatness does not come without training. Make a list of 10 great people you know in life and show me one of them that didn’t prepare. People who are at the top of their game are always training and are always looking for ways to improve. The same way professional athletes practice and work towards their goals, all of us need to train and drill so we can meet ours. If you played professional baseball, would you go to the batting cage every day? Of course you would. To get to greatness, you must practice. To keep the sales saw sharp, you have to spend time sharpening it.


Grant Cardone is a featured Thought Leader in the NCM OnDemand Training Center. Experience Grant’s virtual training and review dozens of other NCM OnDemand virtual training programs by taking our free 24 Hour Test Drive.

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Steven Banks

What is the Answer to Work/Life Balance?


I was at Barnes & Noble the other day to burn through a gift card that has been sitting in my wallet since Christmas, and on my way to the coffee nook located in the back corner I had to walk past three rows of “self-help” books. I mean literally, three full rows, from top to bottom and side to side. I couldn’t help but wonder if we really live in such a desperate time where we need 3,519 books that claim to hold the solution to life’s problems.

Most of us are guilty of reading at least one of these in our lifetime. I know I am. And while there is a plethora of good advice and friendly reminders found in the pages of these books, the truth of the matter is that there is no single perfect solution to life’s crises. And that includes the infamous work/life balance predicament.

I’m a firm believer in the quote by Lord Kelvin that states:

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”

And time is a key ingredient to some of the most valuable measurement standards. Think about it, MPH is a measurement of speed but could not be done without “hours” being involved. RPM is a measurement of rotations that could not be done without “minutes” being involved. And light-year is a measurement of distance that could not be done without “year” being involved. While I do not hold the answer to the work/life challenge, I certainly feel those measurements are proof that one can at least improve upon how they manage their time.

What does this mean for dealerships?

I’m glad you asked.  Let me first throw a few stats at you.

Stat 1: The average dealership is manually generating, creating, or updating reports nearly 300 times per month.

Stat 2: The average time spent updating a single report is 15 minutes.

Stat 3: A manager in a dealership is averaging $50/hour.

What this means is that, on average, a typical dealership’s managing team is spending 900 hours per year manually generating reports. This is 900 production hours spent behind a computer screen and not on the floor. That is equivalent to $45,000. Here’s the catch: Many of these reports that are being compiled contain information that is essential to operate the store.

So what are we supposed to do about it? Well, here’s a thought: With the ever-advancing technological world, there are invaluable resources and tools designed specifically for dealerships to automate these reports that are being generated manually. I believe these tools have now moved from the nice-to-have category into the essential category. Although people have access to an abundance of information, particularly inside the DMS, it is not always easy for them to find, compile, and make sense of.

Yes, there typically is an investment to obtain this kind of tool, but the return of the productive time that a dealership gets from leveraging it should outweigh the expense tenfold. By automating what many of us are doing manually, we can be more productive and save an abundance of time. Time which we can invest in areas of our lives that don’t consist of data mining or number crunching.


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Jonathan Dawson

Why You Should Stop “Selling” and Become an Order-Taker!


In the next four minutes I am going to prove to you why salespeople should STOP trying to sell more cars and become order-takers instead! Hint: The best salespeople in the country are order-takers!

Okay salespeople, how does collecting over 250 referrals in one month sound?

This is written for salespeople like my friend Michael, who after 14 years of selling cars, was tired and stuck and didn’t know what to do. In this post, I am going to share with you three problems that cause me to believe salespeople should stop trying to “sell” more cars and two solutions to help them become a professional order-taker. Then I will share one simple call to action that can make a huge difference for your business in the coming months.

Let us define our terms:

  • Sell - To persuade or induce someone into buying something.
  • Take an Order - To accept or facilitate someone’s decision to make a purchase.

I don’t know about you, but taking orders sounds a lot easier than selling.

You see it takes time, energy, time, effort, and time to persuade someone to do something… Did I mention it takes time, too? And there’s only so much time and energy a person has. Eventually both your time and energy run out!

But it doesn’t take much time or energy to take someone’s order. It’s really easy to do and can be done multiple times a day without stressing either party out.

Problem #1

Most people want to take the path of least resistance. This is not unique to salespeople. This is a human trait, not a salesperson trait. The path of least resistance is something your customer desires, too. Taking short-cuts is not only common – it’s normal. That means, if you like to do the easiest possible thing in the shortest possible time, you are a normal person.

The goal should be to figure out how to produce the highest possible sales volume, in the quickest possible way, and in the least stressful manner!

The path of least resistance is what this post will teach you.

Problem #2

Most people have an aversion (negative reaction) to being “sold”. I think it was sales trainer Jeffrey Gitomer who famously said,

“Most people don’t like to be sold - but they love to buy”.

I think I can restate the idea this way, “Most salespeople don’t like to sell – but they like people to buy from them.”

In the most stereotypical form, a salesperson is someone with an agenda to get someone to buy what they are selling. While a customer is someone with a want or need, and a healthy degree of skepticism towards said salesperson.

This can lead to a potentially adversarial sales process and that’s why it takes so much time to “sell” someone.

What this means is that we need to create an environment where more customers are choosing to buy from you so you don’t have to “sell” them. Create more customers who want you to take their order.

Problem #3

Selling cars is hard. Selling a lot of cars is really hard. Selling a lot of cars every month is so ridiculously hard that I believe no one can do it consistently without burning out!

All great salespeople who are top producers are no longer “selling” as much as they used to. At some point in their business, most 30+ car salespeople make a shift towards “order taking”. Probably over time and probably (for some of them) without a strategy, they began to work with (take an order from) more repeats and referrals.

As their business shifted, so did their style of “selling.” They started to see more and more customers coming in to buy that didn’t need to be “sold.”

Obviously, there will always be salesmanship, presentation, objection handling and closing, but no one can deny that there is a huge difference between “selling the fresh up” and “helping the repeat buy.”


How often have we seen the salesperson who’s been selling for 10+ years get stuck at 10-15 units? Or what about the new guy that says,“I don’t have a database yet!”? The easiest and fastest way to 30+ a month, and to become an order-taker, is to decide to work by repeat and referrals.

2 Solutions:

1. Passive – Opportunities without your direct effort. Such as a repeat or referral who just shows up and says, “Help me buy, please.

2. Proactive – Opportunities you get through prospecting and then contacting them. Such as a repeat or referral you call and schedule to come in so you can help them buy.

Solution #1

The passive approach to building your business is slower (between 3-7 years) and allows anyone to eventually become a 30+ order-taker. However, YOU MUST combine these three main multipliers:

1. Stay where you are so customers can find you. DON’T dealer hop! My friend Dan (salesperson of the year for over a decade in a row) gave me this wise advice when I was only 3 months into the business: “The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, but the water bill is higher too!” Follow Dan’s advice and stay where you are!

2. Perform better than an average salesperson. Obviously, the more outstanding of a sales professional you are the faster your repeat and referral business grows. So always add to your product knowledge, investigative questioning, presentation skills, negotiating, and closing skills until you are the best in your market.

3. Engage your customers at least 6 times per year. Engage in at least three of these possible ways: face-to-face, phone conversations, texts, emails, letters, social media comments, voicemails, newsletters, birthday/greeting cards, or gifts. The more engagement and the higher the quality, the faster it happens!

Salespeople just don’t do these things and that’s exactly why so many struggle to sell 15 and why most don’t easily produce 30+ every month.

These three multipliers have a compounding effect on how fast your business grows and how fast you can become an order-taker who produces 30+ cars a month. Any one of these can get you there in 7-10 years, but it’s the combination that creates the exponential growth and gets you there in 3-7 years.

Solution #2

The proactive approach to building your business is faster and should be added to the three multipliers: Stay, Perform, and Engage. When you add a proactive business building strategy you will speed up the process considerably and get you to 30+ orders per month in as little as three years or less.

Asking for and getting a massive number of referrals is the fastest and easiest way to become an order-taker to the tune of 30+ sales per month. I said a MASSIVE number, so that means you have to get at least a 5:1 ratio of referrals per sale each month. So, if you sell 10 cars in April, you need to collect 50 referral leads in May as a minimum.

THE SECRET?!? - Names and numbers, names and numbers!

Call to Action: Use a Referral Request Form as part of your delivery process. Your minimum average needs to be collecting five names and numbers per sale. Here’s the math:

If you’re a 10 car person, you’ll get 5 names and numbers per sale, that’s 50 leads. With the proper invitation, 10 of the 50 would be open to hearing how you helped a friend or family member who recently purchased. Ten interested will result in 5 appointments and 3 sales.

You are now a 13 car person who collects 65 referrals (13×5) in May. Sixty-five referrals will result in 15 interested, 8 appointments and 5 sales.

Now you are at 15 per month! This puts you at 75 referrals (15×5) in June. Keep the math going for a year and you can be an order-taker by December!


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Paul Stowe

Accept or Reject: You Need More Salespeople


The rapid growth of both new and used vehicle sales over the past three years is stunning. Because of this, you need more salespeople. Recruiting, training, and retaining new sales talent into our business is difficult and challenging. But you simply have two choices: Accept this fact and take action… or reject it and do nothing.

The Reality Is: 

You cannot steal talented staff from another dealership. If they are good, they are staying put.

What To Do Instead:

Think: Did you hit the numbers you set last month (in both new and used sales) or did you simply accept the numbers produced by your sales staff?

Do your math: The average salesperson sells the following new and used vehicles a month:

  • Domestic: 11
  • Import: 13
  • High Line: 10
  • New Vehicles: 6
  • Used Vehicles: 4

Ponder this: If you want to increase your sales volume by 15% this year, you need 15% more sales staff. Do you have a plan in place to make this happen? Attack the reality as a crisis. It is a crisis. Open up your Employee Development Plan and go to work. If you don’t have one, get one.

Most dealerships simply do not have enough sales staff to grow their business. Are you in this category? I f so, now you know what to do about it.

Paul Stowe is the Director of Retail Operations Consulting for NCM Associates. he and his team of experienced retail coaches are actively engaged in over 100 dealerships each month, helping them to improve their productivity and profitability. To reach Paul, email


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Rebecca Chernek

F&I Best Practices: Menu Selling


Let’s face it. Consumers don’t trust car salesmen. That may be a bitter pill for some to swallow, but it’s the plain and simple truth. Ask the average person on the street why, and they’ll likely rattle off a list of reasons candid enough to shake you to the core: car salesmen are seedy; they perpetrate deceptive practices; they’ll say anything to make a sale. And on and on. When it comes to the F&I Manager, things aren’t much better. Consumers say, “Just wait ‘til you get into the F&I office. That guy in there will rip your head off! Whatever you do, don’t buy anything.”

So what’s the answer to this epic dilemma? Surely, encouraging yours sales or F&I team to pour another thousand into their wardrobes or forcing them to sit through outdated training tapes won’t make a lick of difference. Neither will slapping up banners that scream sentiments like “100 percent trustworthy!” Ironically, the only proven method of getting over the consumer trust hurdle in F&I, that’s most often completely ignored by dealerships, is the practice of menu selling. The bottom line is, people don’t want to be sold or pitched. They simply want to know they are getting the best deal based on value and trust.

If you’re still reading and are nodding your head in vehement agreement, then we’re on the same page. If you caught yourself rolling your eyes or letting out a heavy sigh, it’s obvious we’ve got some more talking to do. So let’s cut straight to the chase and talk facts.

Industry leaders have been extolling the virtues of menu selling for more than a decade. Since its inception, it has been touted as the chosen path for those eager to seek out alternative methods of increasing sales, reducing charge-backs, and keeping customers coming back for more. When implemented, menu selling ensures full financing disclosure and creates a no-hassle buying experience that consumers appreciate. It’s proven to increase sales and limit liability, and is a standard practice implemented by AutoNation, the number-one retail giant. So why is it that only 20 to 25 percent of auto and RV dealerships use it?

If you’re not convinced adoption is that low, you may not be looking close enough. Sure, you’ll find plenty of industry experts to tell you that menu selling is commonplace. But all you really have to do is take a look at any Facebook, LinkedIn or any other F&I group forum chat, where you’ll find clear signs indicating otherwise. The vast majority of conversation participants admit they view menu selling as an annoyance, or they have changed it to suit their needs so much that the menu has morphed beyond all recognition. Those who sing the praises of menu selling are consistently in the minority, individual shouts drowned out by a choir of dissenting voices. Obliviousness of the benefits of menu selling, it seems, is widespread among F&I practitioners – despite the fact that menu software companies like Maxim Track report a 28 to 33 percent boost in PVR among dealerships who embrace methods of menu selling.

So why the resistance? There’s no easy answer to that question. Many industry professionals rationalize their actions by claiming there can be no such thing as truly transparent selling. That failure to comply with state laws against deceptive practices and payment packing is to be expected from time to time – and that occasional litigation is a mere fact of life that comes with the territory. Some claim those who espouse menu selling rely on fear tactics to scare dealerships into buying unnecessary software programs and holding superfluous training. You’ll even find F&I professionals who insist that the front close the customer on the vehicle price and later “box close” in the F&I office without sacrificing the customer relationship or tearing down the concept behind menu selling. It’s obvious there’s no shortage of justifications for neglect.

And so we’re left to ask some hard-hitting questions. Has menu selling come full circle? Is it a fad that’s burned itself out like last year’s fashion? Was it ever really embraced at all, or is it something only the true mavericks of the industry can appreciate? Is it important to you that your customers know in advance what their base payment will be, that all the costs are clear and concise and that they have a full understanding of their loan terms and APR prior to any other products being presented?

You don’t have to be a visionary to comprehend the enormous differences between surviving and thriving. But it does take an enterprising mind to see that there are steps that can be taken to ensure the latter. If your dealership has any chance at all of achieving the levels of success it’s fully capable of, now’s the time to have a real-world conversation about menu selling. The first step toward that is to open an honest, straightforward dialogue with your staff to determine if menu selling falls in line with your dealership’s sales philosophy.

Henry Ford himself once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” This applies to everything in life, car sales included. Menu selling isn’t something that can be pursued in a half-hearted manner. You either do it or you don’t – there are no in-betweens. In the end, the decision lies solely with you.

On May 12 and 13, Becky will be giving a workshop at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center called Closing Tools – Mastering Menu Sales. If ever there was a workshop to add to your top three list of must-attends, this is it. Click here to register today.


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Brent Carmichael

Your Buy Here Pay Here Collection CSI


How would your collection department Customer Service Index/Indicator (CSI) measure up to everyone in the BHPH industry? Most BHPH operators haven’t given it a second thought. As of yet, there hasn’t been a national BHPH CSI developed, but it’s something that must be tracked and monitored to have any hope of future success.

In today’s highly competitive BHPH marketplace, a low CSI will not only cost you money, but could literally cost you your entire business. Obviously, customer service and satisfaction is important in all facets of the business; from sales to service to collections. But in the recent economic and competitive climate, how the customer is treated during the collection process will set you up for either future success of failure.

The BHPH business is widely recognized, and rightly so, as a collection or risk management business. Yet often times the service after the sale, so to speak, is neglected or simply ignored. The most successful operators thrive on repeat and referral business ‒ a direct result of providing good overall customer service. And those same operators usually experience a better performing portfolio, which, again, is what this business is all about.

One of the biggest challenges to providing effective collection customer service comes from the top. Some operators still cling to an old school train of thought: They have already provided service by selling and financing a vehicle for a customer when more than one other dealer said no. Another car in that same train carries the thought that the customer has signed a contract and that’s where the obligation ends. These thought processes are filtered down and can affect the attitude of everyone in the organization towards their greatest asset, the customer. I’m not saying the customer is always right, but they are becoming more right everyday.

Another sizable challenge to providing good collection customer service is setting the right tone. The first collection customer contact usually occurs when a payment is missed or there is a service issue. Neither of which is particularly positive from the customer’s viewpoint. Too often it is assumed that the customer is either lying in regards to their circumstances or simply trying to get something for nothing. Both of which lead to an overly-aggressive posture in trying to exert some form of control over the customer, usually by bullying or giving ultimatums. This rarely works effectively in the long run.

The key to setting the right tone is getting customers to first like you. If they like you, they will trust you. And if they trust you, they will respect you. Once they respect you, they will be much more likely to accept whatever you have to say, good, bad or indifferent. It all begins with listening. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should listen twice as much as we speak. The like-trust-respect dynamic is instrumental in setting the right tone. Set the wrong tone and it will be an arduous collection task for the length of the note. But rest assured: if you set the wrong tone, you will not have to worry about your customers, or anyone they know, once their notes are paid off.

There are many ways to develop and foster customer service and satisfaction. Customer rewards programs have proven successful in other industries and are now picking up steam in BHPH. Most everyone has a repeat and referral program, but collection and service reward programs are becoming more prevalent. I can hear those of you on the old school train; “Reward them for doing what they are supposed to do anyway? Never!” In today’s ultra-competitive BHPH market, that may be just what it will take to thrive ‒ anything to separate you from the competition, provide added value to the customer, and keep them paying you. Whether it is the customer receiving credit for making their payments on time, or incentives for keeping up with the regular maintenance of the vehicle, the key is having something in place.

Deciding to renew or extend your commitment to customer service and satisfaction is a step in the right direction. The next step is how to effectively track and monitor progress, or lack thereof. There are a few ways to do this: Written surveys and call recording systems seem to be the most popular and effective.

Written surveys should be simple and concise. Multiple choice and/or number grading are the easiest to track and quantify. Open response surveys can provide a lot of information, but they are often illegible and consequently, not of much value. Surveys can be done at the time of sale, as the customer pays off, or at the time any service is performed, whether it be warranty, customer pay, or best of all, good will. It’s a good practice to include your employees in the survey process; if the right tone was set, who better to know what the customer’s likes and dislikes are? Regardless of whom it’s from or when, all feedback can be valuable.

Call recording systems are also valuable in tracking and monitoring how well your organization is handling your customers. One bit of advice: Remove all sharp objects and anything that can be thrown or broken prior to listening to the first set of recordings. You will be astonished at what and how things are being said to your potential and existing customers by your employees. Once you get past the initial shock, call recordings will provide a great avenue for training and holding your remaining staff accountable. They can also provide a means of verification in a “we said/they said” scenario, thus preventing a possible legal nightmare.

Competition for the BHPH customer is stiffer than ever, especially with how aggressive sub-prime has been for quite some time. Add to that rising compliance standards, and customer service and satisfaction is more important now than ever. The like-trust-respect dynamic will be the key to not only sales success, but more importantly, collection success. Today’s BHPH customer only wants what we all want: to be treated with courtesy and respect. The truly successful operators already understand this and act accordingly. This simple fact, if ignored, will derail the old school train.

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Brent Carmichael Speaking Sessions at NABD 2014:

  • Compliance Expectations from the Capital Markets- Sunday 4:45-5:45 PM
  • Compliance Best Practices Panel – Monday 4:00-5:00 PM
  • Tax Refunds & Increasing Ups – Tuesday 4:00-4:45 PM
  • Benchmarks, Trends Update – Wednesday 5:00-5:45 PM
  • Operators’ Best Practices – Thursday 11:00 AM-12:15 PM

Additionally, you’ll be able to meet with Brent to discuss 20 Groups, education and consulting opportunities at the Dealer Academy between sessions in the Exhibitor Ballroom in booth 1111.

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Jeff Cowan

You Can’t Build a Reputation Off the Sales You Intend to Close

Optimistic businessman contemplating in office.

So many times when working with sales people I hear them talk about sales they intend to make. They talk about how when this deal or that deal happens how great it is going to be. They just know when the deal comes in everything will be great and their day, week, month or year will be made.

Don’t get me wrong, if you have a prospect that you are working with and everything seems to be adding up to a sale, it is not that you should not give them the appropriate attention –  you should.  Just make sure it is just that, the appropriate amount of attention.

Everyone likes to get the big deals, including me, but I have learned over the years that the bigger the deal, the bigger the effort. And sometimes we get so caught up in getting that big deal that we let many smaller deals slide through our fingers that when added up, many times are more valuable collectively.

I also find that when sales people are working bigger deals, they tend to start relaxing their efforts on the smaller deals because the big deal pays so much more.

In the end, you will find yourself much happier, collecting more commissions, and actually building your reputation as a closer if you work all your deals with the same passion and drive, regardless of their size. All deals count, big or small.

Again, you can’t build a reputation off the sales you intend to close; reputation is built by closing deals.


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Robin Cunningham

How Much Service are You Providing in Your Service Department?


In order to write this blog article I am compelled to admit that on occasion I will visit… a fast food restaurant. The reason I say it that way is that I am generally known as a very healthy eater who takes pretty good care of himself. That being said, if I leave too little time to get somewhere and I need to eat something, it can happen.

Recently I was working off-site, but had to get to an NCM team meeting at 1:30 p.m., but had cut it too close, given that I had not yet eaten anything that day.  As I was driving towards our offices I was mentally deciding my options. it turned out itt was going to have to be faster than I wanted. I knew I was going be near a McDonald’s that was on the way. I vaguely remembered it being closed some time back for a remodel or even a brand new building, but I had not been there for many years so I didn’t really know. As I walked in I was impressed about how fresh, modern and well, un-McDonald’s-like it was.

As I walked in I was greeting by a well-dressed, middle aged woman who smiled and said, “Welcome back!” I had to smile because I had not been there, of course, for years. So, I instantly knew something different was going on. I stepped up to the counter and a very well-dressed, middle-aged man wearing a tie, with a big smile, greeted me and started telling me about the daily specials.

While my order was being put together I walked into the restroom to wash my hands. As I turned around for a paper towel, the dispenser was empty. There was a hand dryer on the wall, but I could not get it to work. I walked out the door with wet hands to tell someone and it seemed like within seconds another well-dressed, middle-aged man came up to me and asked me if he could help. I told him what was going on and he took me back into the restroom and showed me the sensor on the hand dryer that I had missed and proceeded to dry my hands.

I came out, got my food and sat down to eat in view of people walking in and being greeted with “Welcome back!” I really was amazed at the level of service being provided and knew for a fact that this just doesn’t happen by accident. On my way out I approached the woman who was greeting everyone, told her what type of work I did and that I really appreciated and respected what was going on there. She smiled and said it was a new way of doing things and it was decided that the best place for the store manager to be was out in front greeting and being involved with the customers during peak times.

I have to admit, this experience was so different than I would have ever imagined that I knew I was going to write about it.. I know of another McDonald’s not that far away that is completely different. You walk in and there might be one person working the counter that has three registers, with many people standing in line to be waited on. When you look around to see if anyone might be in charge, it would appear to be some industrious, but very young person and lots of other very young people standing around not even really trying to look busy.

So what in the heck does this have to do with how much SERVICE you may or may not be providing in your Service Department…or any department for that matter? Do you have a morning rush on your Service drive that prevents your advisors from having the time to properly greet your customers? This, of course, is required in order to build the relationships we need with our customers if we expect them to stay loyal to us. But just as important, it’s to make sure we are able to identify everything these vehicles need while they are in our care and custody…and sell that work today!

Actually we should already know all or most of that information by the way the reservation process was handled when the customer called us. And ideally that call was not handled by our service advisors. By the way, where are your general manager and service manager during this peak timeframe? At McDonald’s, the store manager was on the “service drive.”  Just sayin’….

Are we actually ANTICIPATING our customer’s arrival as much as is possible? If we have too low of Labor Gross Profit margins, too low Hours Per Repair Order and too low Effective Labor Rates, this is one of the primary causes.

As retail automobile dealers, our competitive advantage is to provide GREAT SERVICE. If we stage it right and anticipate what is really happening on our Service Drives, we can be very profitable. Why would customers not want to come to our new or remodeled facilities when we have: loaner cars or shuttles, and in many cases, beautiful waiting rooms with flat screen televisions, espresso machines, wireless Internet, etc.? We should be as competitive as the Independents with our competitive and maintenance labor categories and we can be profitable doing it.

One definition of SERVICE I found was: an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a SERVICE.

As our good friend Dave Anderson says: “Give it a try!”

Robin Cunningham is an instructor for the NCM Institute Center for Retail Excellence and one of the featured trainers in NCM OnDemand, a new virtual training and communications platform for NCM’s Dealer 20 Group members and other automotive retail dealers who desire 24/7 skills development and better employee communications processes.

Click here to take the 24-Hour Test Drive.


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Bob Urichuck

Can Sales Management Increase Results?

Successful business man standing with his staff in

Organizations often promote the best salespeople into management whether they desire to be there or not — it is seen as a promotion or reward for the results they achieved. However, being a great salesperson does not make someone a great sales manager.

The toughest job of being a sales manager is demonstrating appropriate sales behavior — behavior you would like to see your sales team follow. Because you demonstrated successful behaviors with your buyers to get sales, does not mean the same behaviors will increase your sales team’s results.

So, what would be the appropriate sales discipline (behavior) for sales managers to demonstrate?

 Do you:

  • Always make yourself available to your team members or spend time with management?
  • Assign targets to each, or engage each to come up with their own target and draft sales plan?
  • Monitor their numbers or their behaviors?
  • Tell your salespeople what to do, or are you engaging them?
  • Lead salespeople or empower them to obtain commitment?
  • Demonstrate the behaviors you are training and coaching them on, or you are too busy kissing butt upwards to do that.

These are just a few questions you need to answer for yourself, and there are a lot more.

  • How can you expect results if you follow traditional sales management ways?
  • How do you think telling people what to do makes them feel?
  • Do you like to be told what to do by your boss?
  • How does it make you feel when you are told what to do?
  • How does it make buyers feel when your sales team demonstrates the same telling behavior?

Ownership generates commitment.

Most salespeople don’t like to be told what to do. Neither do customers. And yet that is usually what selling is all about—telling. When you are telling it indicates lack of engagement, trust and empowerment. Is that what you want?

It is no longer about you or top management — it is about the buyer. And the buyer in your case is your sales team. Do they buy into your sales management ways? If not, you will not lead results. If they do, the results will flow easily!

Who knows their market or territory best? Top management, you (the sales manager) or the sales rep?

What if you engaged the sales rep into setting the revenue target for their market or territory? Do you think it would be lower or higher?

The chances are that it will be higher, and in some cases lower. Either way you may have to do some negotiations up or down, but the point is, in the end, who owns the number? Top management, sales management or the sales rep?

When someone has ownership, there is commitment.

Commitment is what sales managers and salespeople have to obtain to lead results.

Next, what would happen if you got each member of your sales team to draft a sales plan and present it back to the team for feedback before finalizing? Once they finalize it and sign it off, who owns it?

Finally, as a sales manager should you manage the numbers or each salesperson’s behavior according to the sales plan? Is it not the behavior that people demonstrate that gets the numbers? Also, would it not be easier to manage their behaviors instead?

Sales professionals, buyers and probably you, too, like to be engaged. To be engaged means to be involved. Being involved is the second biggest motivating factor in the workplace. Everyone wants to contribute to the success of their organization. When you are involved, you feel empowered, trusted and become more motivated and committed because you own the idea.

Are you involving your salespeople, or are you telling them what to do? Are your salespeople asking questions of their buyers or are they telling them about their company and its products and services. The chances are they are doing exactly what you are doing— monkey see, monkey do.

Be aware. What monkey do you see, and what are you doing?

Bob Urichuck’s training (Velocity Selling) is available through NCM OnDemand. 


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Garry House

Are Your Sales Department Pay Plans Properly Balanced?


More frequently than you might expect, one of our 20 group moderators, Retail Operations consultants, or NCM Institute faculty members gets tagged as an “industry expert.” It happened to me in the March 10th, 2014 issue of Automotive News in an article titled “What’s an F&I Pro Worth?” and authored by Jamie LeReau. Jamie’s commentary focused on F&I producer compensation and the fact that these folks now make more than sales managers and most other dealership managers (as reported by NADA for 2012). Since I have a reputation as being outspoken on this issue, Jamie called and asked for my opinion. Fortunately I wasn’t misquoted, and here’s essentially what I said:

“The typical F&I producer today sits in his office and waits for somebody to bring him something. A sales manager has to manage the activities of his sales team and deal with five potential customers before he closes one. There’s a lot more skill involved in becoming a successful sales manager than in becoming a successful F&I manager. F&I managers are overpaid, and sales managers are underpaid.

There needs to be a change in the balance. Pay plans have not changed with the times, especially now that consumers are researching vehicle prices on the Internet. Transparency in pricing is enabling consumers to negotiate cheaper car deals, resulting in thinner profit margins on car sales and lower commissions for salespeople. While pricing transparency is good, it can keep salespeople (and managers) from getting a ‘fair shake.’

We have not adjusted to transparency with our compensation plans. Our formulas are flawed. Dealerships struggle with how to tweak compensation formulas to make them more equitable. Most F&I managers are compensated based on a matrix percentage calculated from two factors: (1) their product penetration, meaning the number of F&I products they sell, excluding financing, against the number of people they see; and (2) the F&I dollars earned per retail vehicle sold at the dealership. Their compensation has typically been based on just the income that F&I produces.

Today, though, some dealerships are looking at blending the revenues of all departments on the variable side of the business ‒ new-car sales, used-car sales, and F&I ‒ and paying the managers of those departments a percentage of that blended number. These stores are trying to put everyone on the same pay line.” 

So why is there a compensation misalignment in so many of our sales departments? We need to look at how we got here in the first place, so let’s go back a few years and compare “then and now.” The following table, Two Months…20 Years Apart, will help explain why we’re where we are today.

Two Months… 20 Years Apart

Units & $PVR Metrics


Metric Category Descriptor 1994 2014
Combined New & Used Retail Unit Sales  150 150
Front Gross (Conventional) $1,275 $850
Net Financial Services Income $525 $1,025
Total Unadjusted Gross $1,800 $1,875
Total Unadjusted Gross $270,000 $281,250
Hard Packs (Reported in Other Income) $375 $175
Doc. Fees (Reported in Other Income) $195 $495
Mftr. Incentrives (Reported in Other Income) $0 $325
Total Gross in Other Income $570 $995
Total Gross in Other Income $85,500 $149,250
Total Adjusted Gross (“Super Gross”) $2,370 $2,870
Total Adjusted Gross (“Super Gross”) $355,500 $430,500


Personnel Metrics


Compensation Category Descriptor 1994 2014
Salesperson Count (Including BDC) 15 18
  Average Compensation $4,000 $4,000
  Total Compensation $60,000 $72,000
  % of Adjusted Gross (“Super Gross”) 16.88% 16.72%
F&I Producer Headcount 2 2
  Average Compensation $6,500 $12,000
  Total Compensation $13,000 $24,000
  % of Adjusted Gross (“Super Gross”) 3.66% 5.57%
Sales Management Headcount 3 3
  Average Compensation $10,000 $10,000
  Total Compensation $30,000 $30,000
  % of Adjusted Gross (“Super Gross”) 8.44% 6.97%
Total Variable Compensation $103,000 $126,000
  % of Adjusted Gross (“Super Gross”) 28.97% 29.27%

I would first like to draw your attention to lines #3 and #15 of the table. Back in 1994, the “$1,000 PVR Club” was only a wish or a dream for most F&I producers, and F&I product vendors and trainers were recommending that dealers pay their F&I producers 15% – 18% of Net Financial Services Income. Today many F&I producers are achieving $1,000+ PVRs, yet many dealers are still paying out 15% – 18% of Net F&I Income in compensation. Do these F&I producers today deserve nearly twice the compensation they earned in 1994? Are they twice as good as they were in 1994? Are they dealing with more customers per month? Do they have to work harder than they did in 1994?

I think you’ve probably answered “no” to these four questions! In fact, you may even be saying to yourself, “Wow, we’ve really even made the F&I producer’s job a lot easier over the last 20 years…improved processes, better technology, more product offerings, shortened deal cycle time, etc.”

From a compensation philosophy standpoint, my current preference is to pay all F&I producers and sales managers on the same pay line (probably line #9), with their individual percentages determined from an individual performance matrix. If you disagree with me, I’d like to know what you think!

If you agree with my overall philosophy and would like some help developing new pay plans for your variable operations team members, you might wish to attend the class on Sales and Management Compensation on April 3rd and 4th at the NCM Institute Center for Automotive Retail Excellence in Kansas City. If you would like additional information please click here, or call Brandiss, Cassie or Elisabeth at 866.756.2620. I’ll be teaching that class together with Mark Shackelford and we hope to see you there.


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