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Tag Archive: Auto Dealer Training

Steve Hall

Successful Failing: Why Embracing Failure Leads to Greater Achievement

businessman with laptop

Our culture is built on success. Ironically, we can only achieve the highest levels of success by failing along the way.

Failure is the basis of knowledge.  Imagine you’re back in elementary school. Your teacher has just placed two apples on each end of her desk and asked, “If I added these two apples to the other two apples … ”—she physically moves them together— “… how many apples would you have?” She waits, then says, “Okay, class, now count them. One. Two. Three. Four.”

This is how most of us learned in school: repetition and visual learning. Kids will chant along, correcting their answer when they realize it’s wrong. Failure in these very early stages is important; it teaches persistence and focuses on the importance of learning over knowing. And, in time, we all eventually did learn that two plus two equals four!

The Success-Only Cycle vs. the Failure-Achievement Cycle

Sadly, over time, we abandon the elementary school approach and focus more on knowing than learning. Failure changes from a useful tool to punishment. By the time we enter the workplace, most of us have fully accepted that failure represents the result of an action, and we view it as nearly insurmountable.

Honestly, how useful is that philosophy? This Success-Only philosophy allows for only one option: You succeed, or you fail. This approach rewards knowing and only works if you already know how to do something. If you don’t know how to do the task already, well, you’re in trouble:

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The Failure-Achievement Cycle, however, focuses on failing fast—and then learning from your mistakes. No one is expected to perform flawlessly. Instead, failure is viewed as a feedback mechanism that allows you to improve your plan and try again to yield better results. Failure isn’t considered the opposite of success; instead, this approach views failure as a critical component of it:

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Successful Failing

Failing when trying something new or working towards solving a problem is admirable. This type of failure should be rewarded, provided that two key components were included in the effort:

  1. First, did you plan the activity, initiative or process to the best of your ability for the information that you had been provided at the time? Failure due to “just winging it” is not productive failure. Plan for success, work your plan and adjust as needed.
  2. Secondly, did you learn from your failure? Successful failure requires you to analyze what happened and to create a game plan for other possible solutions moving forward.

Failure can’t be a show stopper

Mistakes aren’t the end of the line. They merely delay achievement. When you fail successfully, you must make sure that the delay is as short as possible.

As a progressive manager, who is always trying to grow your department, you should actively demonstrate to your employees that failure is welcomed. Give this a try. Hold a “learning from our failures meeting.” During the session, share some of the errors you’ve made in your career and how it helped you solve a problem. Encourage your staff to do the same, requiring them to explain what they learned from the experience and how it helped them become better in their positions going forward.

Not only will your less experienced employees gain valuable knowledge from the more experienced ones, but it will reinforce to your staff that successful failure is an important part of your process.  Done in the right way, it creates a great learning experience. Keep everyone focused on how the person improved from the experience and how to avoid the same mistake themselves. (It can also be a fun team experience, especially when you discover how entertaining others’ past mistakes can be! Be sure to share some funny examples of your own!)

Failure is painful and, of course, we’d all rather avoid it. But when we apply successful failing, we learn how to bounce back quickly from failure and achieve even more in the long run.

What’s your failure philosophy? Do you embrace a Success-Only approach or have you already discovered the benefits of a Failure-Success cycle? Tell us below. 


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Chris Kahrs

Don’t Let a Volume-First Culture Distract from Maximizing Gross


With the rising pressure to hit volume objectives in the new vehicle operations, have you developed a volume-first culture? If so, it might be leading you astray.

Now, I’m not suggesting you abandon volume. That would be absurd. However, I am suggesting that you look at your processes to maximize every opportunity while simultaneously obtaining volume objectives and inventory turn.

A volume-first culture may cause inconsistency in your deals.

On the first of the month, you have established your new vehicle target number with your management team; yet, if you are like a lot of dealerships, you work the deals differently on Day 1 than on Day 30.

At the beginning of the month, we are more focused on the gross of the deal. We tend to work each deal to the end and try to maximize every dollar that we can and no matter what, make the deal.

As the month progresses, though, we lose that focus and begin to take each deal without maximizing the opportunity. By the time the last day of the month arrives, we have now become order takers rather than deal makers. If you closely watch your monthly trend report, you’ll see that the pacing of volume and gross becomes quite different by the last few days of the month. In most cases, the volume tracks upward while the gross trends downward.

It’s not just volume—gross matters, too!

What’s the difference between Day 1 of the month and Day 30 of the month? Your focus on the bigger picture. Yes, the team is meeting the volume goals set earlier in the month, but they’ve achieved volume at the cost of revenue.

The trick to reaching volume and maximizing income is to stay true to your processes. Here are my suggestions:

  • Recognize that you are going to take the deal.
    • If there is a way to make the deal, you are going to take it.
    • Negotiating the deal is not a bad thing: Remember, you are going to take it anyway!
  • Start each deal like you have already hit the month’s volume objective.
    • No matter what day of the month it is, adopt the mindset that you have hit the number and are going to maximize each opportunity. (Remember, you are going to take the deal. We both know it.)
  • Stabilize the desking process.
    • Your desking process is your process and shouldn’t change, regardless of the day of the month.
    • Make sure everyone that works a deal knows the process inside and out to maintain consistency
  • Don’t change your T.O. process.
    • Your manager intervention/T.O. process should remain the same no matter what.
    • Establish who is best for each situation.
  • Stick to your finance process.
    • You have your submission, introduction process and reset processes set. Use them 100% of the time.
    • Make sure your process is sustainable through slow and extremely busy times. There can’t be a weakness or shortcut to this process.

Volume and gross create strong margins

You already have the mindset to take every deal. And, you do that to meet volume objectives. That’s fine, but that volume-first approach doesn’t mean you have to lose the gross opportunity, too.

How much more money would you have made last month if you would have added $100, $200, $300 or more to each new vehicle you delivered? Now, look at the last ten days of the month and compare to the first ten: How do the grosses look? Are they similar or drastically different? You still took the deal on Day 1 as you did on the last day of the month. How did your processes change between the two? Most likely a lot.

You can’t afford to cultivate just a volume-first culture. Instead, adopt a philosophy that your dealership will maximize every opportunity and follow your processes to drop more money to the bottom line and still obtain your volume objective.

What have been the impacts of a volume-first approach at your dealership? How do you balance gross with volume? Tell us below.

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Tom Hopkins

Characteristics of a Pro


There are many traits or attributes common to those who can be called professionals in the field of automotive sales. A particular quality that separates the average from the great can be expressed by one simple word: discipline.

Years ago, I used to teach that one of the top qualities separating the average from the great was desire. However, I have since met and observed many students who had the overwhelming desire to succeed, but lacked the discipline required to lay out the specifics of their paths to success, stay on track, and ultimately fulfill their potentials. So, now I teach that your desire to achieve must be tempered with your ability to discipline yourself to do what’s necessary at all times.

Most of the great ones in business and in life have an overwhelming desire to prove something to someone. They know they can be the best in their fields and are out to prove it to the world, or maybe just to themselves and their families. This desire burns so strongly within them that it keeps them moving in the right direction. It keeps them positive on days when things don’t go just right. It keeps them cheerful to their clients and fellow salespeople. It makes them more efficient and professional in their day-to-day activities. It’s the fuel that keeps their personal engines running in top condition.

The desire they have to succeed is not wholly selfish. In their quest for success, they sincerely want to find those people looking for dependable new vehicles and fulfill their needs in owning them. Their success is brought about by delivering happiness to those people they come in contact with and serve.

I can’t tell how much desire you have to make it in this field. Only you know that. The answer comes in knowing how much stress, anxiety, and pain you can tolerate before you call it quits. Are two rejections and three No’s enough to send you looking for another profession? If so, you have a low threshold of desire and a high one for rejection. Think about what you’re willing to give or do to achieve what you really want.

Desire without discipline leads to disappointment, disillusionment and despair. Don’t let yourself be disappointed. Develop the discipline you need to succeed.

Professionals pay close attention to details.

They ask questions that help them get a better understanding of exactly what their clients are looking for in a vehicle. They have their paperwork in order — properly filled out, recorded, and filed. They return phone calls promptly — even if it’s just to leave a quick message that they’ll be in touch later. They keep their promises and have answers ready when questions are asked. They never say, “I don’t know.” When they don’t know the answer to a question, they say, “I’ll find out for you.”

They are highly goal-oriented.

They are striving for a certain number of vehicles sold each month, a certain income, a trophy or an award. They know exactly what they’re working for and have a plan detailing when and how they’ll achieve it.

Do you have your goals in writing? If not, you are a wisher, an undisciplined dreamer. You haven’t really committed yourself to achieving anything. You’re like those average people in your office who say, “Sure, I want to make more money, but after the day I had yesterday, I’m not calling anyone today!”

You see, the successful ones, the true professionals begin where the failures stop. They do what the failures are afraid or too lazy to do.

The great ones understand that they must strive daily to improve their skills.

They have jumped in with both feet and are willing to pay the price of learning what they have to know to be successful in this business. They’ve committed to the automotive industry as their career path. They are constantly striving to improve themselves by attending training, listening and reading auto industry material and staying abreast of new technology that will assist them in serving their clients more efficiently.

They live by this motto: “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”

Those twelve simple words literally changed my life and my sales career over 40 years ago. Whenever I felt doubt about what I was doing, I would glance at these words hung by my desk, get re-focused, and do the next most important thing.

I hope you’re not one of those people who is “just giving sales a try.” People with that attitude have a plan of action for when they fail. You’ve heard it, I’m sure. “If I don’t make it in this, I can always …” They have a plan for failure. They’re anticipating it, and will probably get it. Planning to succeed is so much more exciting than planning to fail.

Another characteristic of the top people in sales is that they deliver excellent service.

They know they are paid in direct proportion to the amount of service they give to their clients. They understand that they are in the people business. They don’t sell cars and trucks. They get people happily involved in owning vehicles that satisfy their needs.


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Dustin Kerr

Are you insane, hard-headed or just lazy?


Insane. Hard-headed. Lazy. When it comes to the car business, I’ve probably fit into each of these categories at one time or another. And—just between you and me—I’ve definitely ticked all three boxes on a few occasions!  If you’re honest with yourself, you probably have, too.

And before you get mad: I can explain!

Old habits are hard to break …

How often do you find yourself trying to fix things by doing the same stuff you’ve done since starting in the business?

I know I have. And I do it even though I agree with Albert Einstein’s famous definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s the same problem with being hard-headed. Did you or do you still fight against change in your own dealership? Were you one of the people that kept saying this “internet thing” won’t ever catch on in the car business? Or that the internet will make it impossible for us to make a profit?

What about laziness? Do you want to train your staff, but find yourself procrastinating on seeing the process through?

… but you CAN beat them!

Here’s the thing. It’s not the end of the world if you fall into one—or more—of these categories. But you can’t let them rule you. Take a hard, honest look at yourself and your habits, then make the necessary adjustments.

Why do I bring these things up?

Well, I’ve realized there’s a common theme between poor performers: They want quick fixes.

First, let me just say that there’s no issue with wanting to solve a problem fast! Dealerships need to be swift and flexible when course correcting. But, there’s a big difference between immediate action and slapping a Band-Aid on a problem.

Quick fixes aren’t always best fixes

Unfortunately, many of the struggling dealerships I’ve seen want quick “Band-Aid” fixes.  When things are bad, they focus on seeing results improve. And demand that they improve fast! Excellent performers, though, focus on activities. They know that investment in training and examining and changing processes—while slower—will yield improved results that can be sustained.

Unless you’re strategic, quick fixes are just those bad habits acting to undermine your business. I mean, it’s easy to just fire your staff. (Ahem: laziness.) Or demand that they produce a certain number of car sales per month. (Hard-headedness and a smidge of insanity.)

Without changing what your dealership does—and how your staff handle their work—you shouldn’t expect anything different. Unless you’re crazy. And, we both know you aren’t crazy.

So, what should a successful dealer do? In my opinion, one of the quickest ways for us to increase profitability is by teaching our employees how to properly manage the activities that lead to results.

Make changes to things you and your staff can control. And be sure to clearly communicate goals associated with the change. For instance, it’s fairly easy to manage the number of confirmed appointments each salesperson has each day or the number of customer pay service vehicles that get a full walk around inspection.

There’s nothing crazy about that plan.

Do you agree with Dustin? Have business bad habits affected your ability to get the best results? Tell us what you think below. 


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Tony Alessandra

Using DISC Styles To Build Teams That Work

Businesspeople in Meeting

“Round up the usual suspects,” the gendarme ordered in the famous line from the movie Casablanca. And frequently, that is how executives think when they create teams, committees, or task forces. The boss says or thinks something like, “Let’s appoint anyone who might know something about this issue.” Or, even more likely, “Grab anybody who’s got a stake in this thing.”

Organizations, of course, love such groups because when they work, they can improve coordination, help employees feel more involved, and maybe even spur innovation. However, when they flop—or, more commonly, just lapse into mediocrity—they can drain an organization of its vitality and leave a legacy of posturing, power struggles, and misunderstandings.

Designing a Group

We naively assume any group can automatically be a team. However, one of the biggest reasons that teams misfire is that personality differences are ignored.

If, when you create a team, you employ knowledge of the four behavioral styles, you greatly improve its chances for success. You need to take into account that there are natural allies and antagonists among the styles and also that each style functions best at a different phase in the life cycle of a team.

The Natural Cycle of Groups 

Work groups typically follow a cycle, just like the organizations which spawn them. They face predictable obstacles, rise to the occasion or fail, and as a result, either evolve or deteriorate. At every stage in that cycle, each of the various behavioral styles can be a help or a hindrance.

Phase One: Finding Focus

Any new group, at first, gropes to find its focus. Members think: Is this going to be worth the effort? Is this going to be a useful team that can get things done?

In addition, each member at this point is seeking to define his or her role. They silently ask: Do I fit in here, or am I an outsider?  Am I going to be an important member of this group with real input, or am I just here for appearances? Is this going to waste my time?

Conscientious Styles and Dominance Styles can be especially helpful during this first phase. They are both skilled at getting to the heart of matters, though in different ways.

If the challenges the group faces are intellectually complex, the Conscientious Style will be in his element. Because they are so good at reasoned analysis on tasks, Conscientious Styles can help clarify the mission and give the team focus.

Similarly, if the main hurdle the group faces is more of a conflict—say, a history of discord among members and/or a split over its goals—a Dominance Style likely will shine. In fact, the group may be yearning for just a strong leader who can tell the warring members to quit butting heads and either commit, or leave. That is a situation ready-made for the Dominance Style.

In either case, those with these two behavioral styles may be able to get the group to psychologically buy into the idea of moving forward together, to convince the team that progress will be possible.

Phase Two: Facing the Realities

While a tough-minded Conscientious Style or Dominance Style may get the group going, this stormy second stage often cries out for the buoyant optimism of the Interactive Styles. Their friendly, informal brand of leadership can send out a strong, clear signal that this group can work together and make things better for everybody.

A people-oriented approach is needed at this stage because at this point that reality often intrudes. The group may begin to see how difficult its task really is, how little time and resources are available, and how members may need to settle for a half a loaf rather than a stunning breakthrough.

All these factors can breed frustration, confusion, and disillusionment. This is when it will be decided if the group tackles the real issues in meaningful ways, or is mired in its own internal power struggle. That is why Interactive Styles, who are good at smoothing over rough edges and encouraging all to share their thoughts and feelings, can be a key here.

Many groups, of course, never transcend this them-versus-us mindset. They continue to silently debate: Who is the top dog? Such a team is not likely to accomplish much. Instead, members will continuously collide with one another, limiting themselves as a team and as individuals.

However, if the Interactive Style, with his or her upbeat attitude and people skills, can get the members to quit keeping score, they may yet learn to work together.        

Phase Three: Coming Together

Cooperation and collaboration become increasingly apparent, and it is now that Steadiness Styles can help meld individual differences into group progress because they are especially good at coalescing differing views.

By opening their hearts and heads to one another, the Steadiness Styles can blend the discordant elements into more of a single melody. The team begins to narrow the gap between what it earlier said it wanted to do and what it is actually doing. There has been a shift of identity, and it has become a true team because members who previously thought in terms of “me,” begin thinking “we.”

Phase Four: Reaching for Stardom

The final stage is more the exception than the rule. However, when reached, it means a team really is performing at its best and is functioning as a whole, not just as a collection of individuals.

Its members enjoy being part of the team and express that fact. They have learned how to work together. Morale is high. The group continually produces quality and quantity output and is effectively self-managing.

In the previous three stages, Dominance Style-type behavior might have been called for on key decisions. However, at this stage, a hands-on, controlling style is not needed. In fact, once a group has this momentum, such a strong-handed style can be counterproductive and could even torpedo the group’s progress. Instead, the team’s decisions flow naturally from its deliberations. Differences among its members become a source of strength, not dispute.

Differences, not deficiencies

Love’em or hate’em, work groups are here to stay. (Some estimates are that as much as 50% to 80% of a manager’s time, for example, is spent with groups.) However, while they can be high-performance vehicles, they can also be high-maintenance, especially in the early stages. Only a team that fully understands and savors its members’ styles is likely to be genuinely productive.

If members were chosen carefully and if they practice adaptability, the advantages of stylistic diversity can quickly outweigh the group’s liabilities. Remember: We are talking about personality differences here, not deficiencies.

Therefore, in the final analysis, working with groups all comes down to suspending judgment, empathizing, and trying to play to people’s strengths. The result, despite our differences, can be a wonderful synergy.


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Alan Ram

Education, Simulation, Accountability


For training to be effective three elements need to be present; you need to have:

1. Education

2. Simulation

3. Accountability

Education, simulation, and accountability! Let me just expand on this. If I want to train in golf, I don’t just watch golf on TV. While watching golf on TV I may become educated in golf, but then I need to train through simulation. I would need to go out and hit bucket after bucket after bucket of balls to get good and stay good. The day I stop practicing (simulating) is the day my performance starts to suffer. But then where am I held accountable? On the scorecard!

How many statistical categories are golfers held accountable? Obviously, there’s your score but there’s also putting average, greens in regulation, and driving distance. How many statistical categories are baseball players held accountable? If I’m a position player, obviously batting average, fielding percentage, slugging percentage, and many more. As the dealer I also need to hold my people accountable. While most dealers can tell you how many cars they sold last month, how many new cars, how many used cars, how many certified, it’s surprising how many dealers can’t tell you how many overall opportunities they had. The way we improve is not by looking at how many cars we sold last month; it’s by focusing on what we didn’t sell!

Let’s talk about phone-ups for example.

Do you know exactly how many fresh sales calls your dealership received last month? Of those callers, how many actually visited the dealership at least once? Many of you (and it should be all of you) have call monitoring, that’s great, but make sure that there are no holes or gaps in your recordings with customers calling on your local number. Those calls need to be switched over to a recorded line. Everything needs to be recorded! Recording 80% of your calls is not sufficient! We live in a day and age of incredible accountability and we need to be making sure that we are taking advantage of it.

Let’s talk about the role your switchboard operator plays.

Your switchboard operator is an integral part in your dealership’s accountability when it comes to handling inbound sales calls. No CRM or automated system alone can get it done. What I’m going to go over now are just a few pointers and tips to help you hold your people accountable. First off, logging is mandatory. Some dealers will tell me that they ask their people to log calls for protection. In other words, if the call is logged under a specific salespersons name, that sales person is protected for 72 to 96 hours or whatever time frame is designated by yourself, or the dealership.

Let me run through a quick scenario: Bill takes a sales call. The caller asks about a 2011 Honda Accord that you have listed on Auto Trader. Bill promptly informs the caller that it is sold, and the call ends. Bill could not care less about protection and he knows that the caller he just spoke with won’t be coming in… Actually, he’s insured that. At the end of the day Bill is only going to log the callers that he thinks that he has a chance of showing up. In other words, your sales people are only going to log their successes. That would be the equivalent of having baseball players track their own batting averages, but if they strike out or fly out, they probably won’t count that one.

Every call gets counted. Not by the sales people, but by the switchboard operator. I guarantee you, your switchboard operator can and needs to do this. If Disneyland can tell you exactly how many people came to see Mickey on a daily basis, you should be able to tell how many people called you on Explorers today.

It all boils down to training and more than that, proper training!

  1. Education
  2. Simulation
  3. Accountability

Make sure these three elements are present in your training game plan in order to be effective. Training isn’t something you did, it’s something you do!


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Robin Cunningham

Good Failure and Bad Failure, Part II

failure and success

I recently wrote a blog for NCM, Up to Speed, titled: There is Good Failure and Bad Failure. That idea had been floating around in my mind for a while, and since I wrote that, I have noticed other articles in several other places essentially talking about the same concept.

I know from my many years in the retail side of the automobile business, that there is an unintentional focus of quantity of time spent at the dealership vs. quality of time spent. I say unintentional because no one would actually say, “I think we need to just be here for long hours and not worry about what we actually do while we are here!”

But since there is so little in writing in most dealership (organizational charts, written processes, written job descriptions and objectives), it is very difficult to hold people accountable if we have not clearly defined and communicated our expectations.

In Part I of this blog, I used scenarios of good and bad failure. In the bad failure scenario, most everyone in the variable operations was just coming back each day, picking up where they left off, and doing it all over again for ten or twelve hours. There was not a lot of incremental growth to show for it. In the good failure scenario, they were having very specific meetings, processes, and training each day. Everyone was gaining more momentum by becoming more knowledgeable and skilled at their various responsibilities.

In the Fixed Operations, an example of bad failure would be having too many customers coming in first thing in the morning because they were told that was the quickest way to get in and out on a timely basis; or having Service Advisors taking the inbound phone calls from customers who had questions about their car’s needs, which can lead to over or under-diagnosing. This can also lead to the Advisor making time commitments to the customer about shop capacity, and also making commitments about specific Technician availability. This can have a negative effect on gross profit margins if too high a skill level technician is assigned to work on lower skilled work.

Good failure can happen when we begin transforming the service drive and the customer experience by having a Service Appointment Coordinator or Service BDC taking all inbound service calls.  Finding out not just what the customer thinks is going on with their car, but also other things based on time, mileage, or history. This allows us to find out the ideal time for both the customer, and the shop to have the customer come in. This then can give the Advisor time to do a walk-around with the customer, which is critical to forming a long term, trusting relationship with the customer. As the vehicle ages, this relationship is necessary so that the customer will allow us to be the one doing all the routine and mechanical maintenance. At the end of each visit the customer’s next service appointment can be set based on time or mileage and entered into the CRM tool for proper follow up.

I say good failure, because it takes an all-out commitment from the Dealer, GM, Service Manager, Service Advisors, Technicians, Parts Department and the Support Staff. For those who have read and remember the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?”, there is going to be a lot of cheese moved, to successfully transform this critical department to be the dealership’s primary customer retention tool.

Good failure is the trial and error it takes when committing best practice processes into your dealership culture. Good failure is when all managers become committed to daily training and managing activities. Good failure is when you begin identifying your people’s true talents by continuing to increase their knowledge and skills.

I love it when Jared Hamilton says, “We need to be committed to daily training, on a weekly basis.” Meaning….ALL THE TIME!!!


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Jody DeVere

5 Tips On Communicating More Effectively With Women

In automobile center

It’s just a fact of life in the automotive world: listening is essential! One of the key things we stress when training our Certified Female Friendly clients is developing great communication skills. Too often, when a woman visits a car dealer, tire dealer, service center or other automotive retail location, she is interrupted, talked over, or simply not being heard. Well, I’m here to tell everyone in the auto world the same thing I tell every one of our Certified Female Friendly locations: women speak, learn to listen!

1. Verbal Skills

When it comes to speaking to your women customers, the three C’s are clear, concise, and correct. Don’t try to wow her with jargon, and don’t deny her an explanation because you don’t think she’ll understand. Women really appreciate it when you take the time to explain the whole process. Make sure your answers are correct, of course (we don’t want to be giving inaccurate explanations after all), and you want to explain yourself as clearly as possible while still remaining concise. If you can master the art of the three C’s, you’re well on your way to winning with women already.

2. Non-Verbal skills improve Body Language

When talking to women customers, what you don’t say can be just as important as what you say. Women are storytellers. If you’re helping a woman customer, listen to her as she tells you what she needs. She’ll likely tell you about her entire car history, family, her kids, how many trips to school and tae-kwon-do and soccer practice she makes every week, how many snacks have spilled, and how many hours she spends in her car. These are important clues for you! This is a customer who cares about safety, reliability, and easy cleaning. While listening, signify your interest by nodding, smiling, and expressing (without speaking) that you’re following along. Repeat back the key points to her before you offer the solution she needs. This signals that you heard every word, and that goes a long way with women!

3. Marketing and Advertising that resonates with her

Just painting something pink doesn’t make it female friendly. Similarly, covering your marketing and advertising with flowers and hearts isn’t going to go very far either. Women don’t care about the colors you use in your advertising, they care about honesty and reliability. Use the same 3 C’s in your advertising that you use when speaking, and you’ll earn the trust of women – and men, too.

4. Look and feel of your store

When a woman customer arrives, curb appeal is important. Your location should look clean and professional from the outside, or she’ll be nervous about coming in. Similarly, make sure the inside is comfortable and clean, from the waiting areas to the restrooms. Giving her a nice place with a pleasant smell and casual atmosphere to sit and wait, with extras like complimentary coffee, wifi internet, and perhaps a safe play area for the kids will speak volumes about your commitment to women.

5. Dress for success with women…what you wear reflects who you are.

Finally, as long as you’re dressing your shop or dealership up, dress up your staff as well! You don’t have to wear uniforms (but if you do, that’s fine), but make sure all staff are well groomed and dressed well. All of these key points will paint a picture for your women customers that you’re a business who takes everyone seriously – and as long as you follow through and provide great work on top of all these excellent tips, you will earn her trust very quickly!

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Tom Hopkins

Dedicate Yourself to Educate Yourself


One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is that no one else is going to look out for you as well as you will look out for yourself. To become and remain a professional in the automotive industry, you must recognize that you are in charge of your own education and act on that fact. Build on your strengths and correct your weaknesses. If you aren’t sure of what to work on first, there is certainly someone in your life who will gladly assist you like your manager, your loved ones, or a trusted friend.

There are some common, basic skills that apply to the business world. They all impact how well we relate to the needs of others to feel important when they’re around us; to accept the education we provide about our vehicles and the industry; and to help them own a vehicle that’s truly a good choice for them.

Here are five skill areas that I strongly recommend you consider developing or strengthening as they have made all the difference for many of my students:


Having a good memory is critical to anyone, but especially to those of us who meet many new people every week. I have learned to make a game of it in my career. I challenge myself to remember as many people and their stories as I can. There are some great courses and books written on this subject. Even if you learn and use only one small strategy, I guarantee you’ll see the benefit of having done so. One little strategy that I learned and have used for years is to repeat each person’s name to myself four times when I first hear it. Then, to use their names (as they give them) as soon as possible in conversation.

A Second Language

Consider the part of the country in which you live and those people you do business with. As our country continually redefines itself by its people, be aware of the advantages of being able to communicate with others in their native tongues. Today’s projections show that both Hispanic and Asian portions of the population are on the increase. To be able to work with more people, you must learn more about them, their languages, and their cultures.


Since your clients choose to get involved with you based on what you say, doesn’t it make sense that you train your voice to give the highest level of professional presentation? If you’ve never considered voice training before, record yourself giving a portion of your presentation, then listen to it. Most of us hate the sound of our own voices. Just imagine how our clients feel when listening to us. Your goal is to project your message with clarity and power.


Don’t cringe on me here. I know many people hate math. However, in business, you need to know some basic math skills really well. Invariably, you’ll have potential clients who will have champagne tastes and beer budgets. Understand what they can truly afford before trying to find them the car of their dreams.

Know the current interest rates on vehicles and play with the math on a range of vehicle investments. Learn how to quickly determine what a monthly investment might be on a vehicle prior to persuading the client that it’s right for them.

I know the favorite computation of every salesperson who works on a fee basis is to determine their percentage of every sale. Don’t stop there. Play the numbers game often and you’ll get better at winning.


Do you consider yourself a trained negotiator? Trained negotiators can quickly and effectively analyze the details of situations and determine the best route to resolution. If that brief description doesn’t fit you, make an effort to find a book, audio, or seminar on the subject. Then, schedule the time to learn from it.

Choose just one of these five areas and dedicate yourself to improving in it this month. Then, next month, choose another. Once you get started on this journey of self-education, you’ll be amazed at what you learn and how simple things can have a powerful impact on your overall success in life.


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Eric Schmitz

Lowering Workers’ Compensation – How to use Safety and Compliance Software to Protect Your Dealership and Employees while Decreasing Insurance Rates

Insurance on Pocket Watch Face.Workers’ Compensation insurance was designed to ensure adequate employee reimbursement from an on-the-job injury, as well as minimize lawsuits between employers and employees in the workplace. Beneficial to both employers and employees, but paid for by employers, Workers’ Compensation can be costly; research shows that over the past ten years Workers’ Compensation rates in 26 states have risen 3% per year. Continued increases are expected over the next several years. However, dealers don’t have to give in to this increase; despite the rise in costs, dealers can impact their premiums. How? By reducing their Experience Modifier (Ex-Mod).

To understand how to reduce an Ex-Mod, it is important to first understand how Workers’ Compensation is determined. Workers’ Compensation is comprised of two parts:

  1. The size of the dealership’s payroll and the employee job classifications. (Dealers cannot reduce this portion of Workers’ Compensation.)
  2. The dealership’s Experience Modifier (Ex-Mod). Dealers can impact and change the cost of their Workers’ Compensation insurance by reducing their Ex-Mod.

Premiums for Workers’ Compensation insurance are calculated using the following formula:

Payroll  X  Classification Rate  X  Ex-Mod = The Dealership Workers’ Compensation premium.

Every dealership has an Ex-Mod; it is based on the losses the facility has had over the past three years. The modifier factors both severity and frequency of losses and is set in the industry so that the average business has an Ex-Mod of 1.0. To learn more about how an Ex-Mod is calculated, click here.

One way dealers can reduce their Ex-Mod is by implementing a positive safety culture. Research shows that dealers that have frequent safety committee meetings, conduct regular trainings, and increase employee communications have a correlating lower Ex-Mod score. There are a variety of methods that you can use to implement a positive safety culture. Many dealers have found success through the use of a compliance and safety software.

While every software is different, the best safety and compliance software has the following features in common:

Safety Data Sheets specific to your facility’s chemical inventory. Employees must have access to chemical Safety Data Sheets (SDS), which will allow them to safely handle the chemicals used in their daily work, as well as have an informational resource in the event of an emergency. The best software will have a wide-variety of SDS available and will also allow management to upload additional sheets.

On-demand Environmental & Safety training. Employees must be able to train upon hiring, and should also have the functionality to review and retrain annually. Good software includes a multitude of trainings, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Accident Investigation, Emergency Response, and more.

Accident tracking and management. Managers require a consistent way to investigate issues, investigate them, identify their root causes, and track their resolutions. A good safety and compliance software will allow for tracking so that underlying issues are resolved.

Multi-faceted compliance management. Compliance is an every evolving entity that dealers are required to stay on top of. A good software stays up-to-date with changing regulations, prompting users when changes are made.

Self-inspection tools. Running a dealership is a complicated process; things often slip under the rug, losing importance until an inspector arrives. The best safety and compliance software allows users to continually see where they are excelling and where work needs to be done.

Safety and compliance software helps implement a positive safety culture, and therefore lower Workers’ Compensation rates by creating a culture through systematic safety program management. Improved visibility created by utilizing safety software increases employee awareness and overall safer employee actions through the creation of a consistent line of training and communication dealership-wide. In essence, employees who can take part in safety and are able to see management taking a part in safety are more likely to participate themselves, improve loss control, and lower Workers’ Compensation premiums.


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