My View - Gordon's "The Real World" Archives


When I got my first job in the car business at 18 I knew pretty much nothing; like everyone at that age I suppose I thought I pretty much knew everything but the job showed me pretty quickly how little I knew. Do you know what I had to do? I had to learn how to do what I needed to do and as changes came I had to learn more with those as well. It was the same for my next job in the car business and it remains the same today, I have to keep learning and changing every single day. Contrary to popular belief and how I might act sometimes, I donít know everything. With as quickly as things are changing sometimes it seems like I really am not any smarter than when I was 18. I bet you feel exactly the same way sometimes. You better.

Every single day I get to deal with really smart people that for some reason have decided that they are done learning and know all they need to know. Does that sound like someone you work with or maybe does it sound a lot like you? What new things are you learning to stay ahead of the inevitable changes that will come your way? Every vehicle you deal with has gotten better so you have to get better too, and donít forget how smart your customer has become or in some cases think they have become. You have to be ready.

People are by nature pretty predictable animals and if left to their own devices will do just enough to get by. I am not saying that to upset anyone and if it makes you feel any better I count myself as one of those predictable animals sometimes as well. Unlike other animals though we tend to resist change and adaptation to be better at what we need to accomplish. We have reached a point where somehow we have made it okay to be slow just by looking around town and judging how everyone else is doing. I could not care any less how anyone else is doing when it comes to doing the best I can and holding my own self accountable. I will keep doing the things I need to do to stay busy. Why would any of you be any different than that?

It is very easy to get dragged into a trap when it comes to the business in your shop, when you have lots of vehicles to work on it is easy to mask the fact that you may just be hitting the high spots when it comes to doing the right thing by your customer and your business. Conversely when it slows down and the light of reality is shined upon you it is easy to just say that nobody is buying when in reality you havenít really tried to sell. A sale is simply a transfer of emotion, when you are in a mood because you may be slow your customer will pick up on that and probably help keep you slow, stay excited and they will be excited with you.

I will not sugarcoat anything and try to tell you that your jobs have gotten easier, better vehicles and customers that have purchased way above their pay grade do not help you correctly do your job. Here is the thing though; what is it that is stopping you from at least trying? Here is an idea; Pick one thing to sell and present it to every single customer whether they need it or not at that moment, doing that will accomplish two things; you will get better at presenting a sale and you will plant a seed for when it is actually time to buy that something. In addition, have a set schedule that you work by for every single vehicle that comes in and use that schedule the same way on every vehicle, every time. What is the worst that could happen? You sell more today AND later down the road? How bad would that be?

Whatever you learn to get better at what you do is a change in yourself that is yours to keep. Nobody can take it away from you and better is what you will end up being. Keep the change.

Talk to you next month

letís get down to making a change


Posted on: July 12, 2017


Unicorns might be real to some but are a myth in reality, but how cool would the world be if they were all over the place? In a perfect world they could run alongside all the perfect vehicles being sold; as if those existed either. Another myth is that you can continue to survive and thrive doing things the way you have always done them. With all the changes that have happened and continue to happen in this business you need to create a new version of yourself. My truth this month; people will never buy anything you do not tell them about and there ARE things to sell. I am guessing you do not want to become a mythical creature yourself.

I suppose you could create a unicorn by gluing a horn of some sort on a horse but in the end it would not be a unicorn as much as it would just be a horse with a horn glued to his head. The vehicles we deal with today may as well be described as unicorns since they are marketed as mythical creatures that need nothing but gas and a monthly payment to survive and last forever. Go ahead and follow the mythical service schedule if you want but in the end you will have lost service business and created vehicles that the loyal customer you worked so hard to attract will not be able to afford to fix it, and trust me it will have to be fixed.

There is what I see as a sad fact in our business; lots of veteran employees. Why is that sad? Because long ago many of those veterans reached a point that they figured there is nothing else they need to know or learn. No extra time has been taken to truly understand the products they service and what is happening with them. Add that to the new employees that are coming in that seem to have no drive at all, the outlook is scary. For the most part what used to work well no longer does the job yet we continue to sell (if we try to sell at all) that way because we refuse to learn a different way. Certain new makes that will go unnamed (you know who they are) have shops full of broken perfect cars to work on and since those cars are perfect nobody tries to sell anything extra. Could it be because when real problems arise that car will be long gone and another perfect car will have taken its place? If you did not read the sarcasm I slathered on that please go back and read it again. It is possible to educate the customer and not condemn the brand.

To fix or prevent what is happening with most of the new product is not an expensive proposition and maybe thatís the issue. There is no way a potentially complicated problem could be prevented with a simple solution right? Pay plans and greed for the big ticket keep people from doing the right thing for the customer, as well as the fear that if we tell a customer the truth they may be upset with us. Again, it is possible to inform and not condemn the brand. It amazes me that I will have techs and advisors (you know who you are) that will do a service to their own car and say how great it worked but will not talk about it to a customer. Wouldnít you think that personal experience would help you tell a customer what needs to be done? If you cannot build excitement with your own experience maybe it is time to rethink how you do things.

I love cars and the car business, but we are truly being bogged down and lied to by the people that market the vehicles we work on. How hard will you work to make things better for yourself and your customer? Or will you just continue on treating new technology with old processes? The time to build a plan with the customer on the things that donít need to be done right now is right now. Sell proactively.

Every single issue you may have in your shop or your bank account can be fixed by starting to do one thing; learn to sell something. If a customer comes in and asks for something find something additional to add to it and sell it to them. Start doing it early in your customer relationship. They think they are driving a unicorn and it is your job to show them it is really just a horse with a horn glued to its head.

Talk to you next month

I am not a myth


Posted on: June 15, 2017


It is what it is. Seems to be a very popular thing to say to avoid explaining anything; I suppose it is better than to be told to just deal with it. The thing is people tend to say it but really are not ready to handle the truth of it. It is always exactly what it is but you do not have to be happy about it. There are plenty of things we deal with concerning the vehicles we see that are exactly the way they are but we somehow cannot bring ourselves to explain them properly or do anything about them at all.

New car advisors have a whole different circumstance than the independent advisors insomuch as the new car advisors know the potential issues the vehicles they see have but lean towards not advising the customer on what to do to prevent them because they may somehow upset the customerís delicate balance and that customer will give them a bad CSI. Possibly the advisor sees the potential issue as a home run repair order when the issue becomes a problem. By comparison the independent advisor has less opportunity to talk prevention and has to deal with the customer that is in front of them with a vehicle that needs a very expensive repair because it has not been maintained. A repair by the way that the new car advisor mistakenly thought they would have but because they really never talked to the customer about the things that really needed to be done and then only did what the manufacture said the customer was long gone.

Newsflash!! The people that built the vehicle in front of you could not care any less about the problems that a customer will face when the vehicle they purchased is just a few years old. Honestly they really couldnít care less when it is new either. In as little as 5 years most of the cars we service are worth a fraction of what they cost new. Unfortunately highline cars take a harder hit percentage wise and at the same time the new car AND independent advisors recommend even less to these customers. Here is the real deal; the more expensive the car the more expensive it is to fix and it will never get cheaper unlike the value of the car. An expensive car will never be cheap to fix and unfortunately the less expensive cars are not any better. Why not learn to talk about prevention and help the customer keep the vehicle running like it did when it was new. Maintenance will always be cheaper in the long run than repair.

Thanks to maintenance schedules that are at best kind of a dream world and trust me the customer knows better but in their minds why would the manufacture lie? It may not be a lie as much as a very elaborate fabrication to do one thing; sell more cars. There is no free ride and what is too good to be true is exactly that. This is not an issue that will get better unless you learn to educate and start from the first time you see a customer; unfortunately education needs to start at the first oil change for all you dealer advisors and since some of you only see a vehicle once a year (ridiculous) you better work on your sales skills. The manufacture that cares so much about their dealerís success (sarcasm) does not want you to get better but if you want to keep that customer (I know you do) you need to get busy getting better. This is where the independents have it slightly easier; they get to say the dealer should have told them what was happening and then price out the very expensive repair that will likely go undone. Congratulations, now nobody made any money. But somewhere somehow the customer will eventually pay.

I have not even touched on the fact that a very larger number of cars are leased and there are those of you that assume those are off limits as far as a sales opportunity and maybe some are but what else do you have to do but ask for a sale? There is no perfect time or a comfortable time to ask a customer to spend some money on their investment but you need to do it. That boys and girls is EXACTLY what it is.

Talk to you next month


Posted on: May 5, 2017


We are all creatures of habit. We are loyal to what we like. We all tend to shop, eat; have our hair done (some of you not so much me) at the same places. We all have our favorites and are quick to recommend that favorite place or person to someone if asked. Everybody has ďtheir guyĒ (or girl) that they go to or recommend. We like to go where we are comfortable and feel like we are treated with appreciation, what it costs is usually nowhere near as important as how it makes us feel. Do you make your customers comfortable and feel appreciated?

How many of you feel that if asked for the best place to take a vehicle for service a customer of yours would recommend you? Not just recommend where you work but recommend you. You should be the first person a customer you have taken care of thinks of for ANYTHING they need to have done to their vehicle. How many times have you gotten a call or an inquiry about having something done to a vehicle that you really donít do? When I say you donít do it I mean you donít make any money on it. Ever happen to you? How do you handle those inquiries when you get them?

When a customer comes to you to have a vehicle repaired or serviced they trust you will take care of it like it is yours. If you are asked about a service you may not provide in house like say body work, headliners or even window tint what do you say? What is stopping you from being the go to person for those services? Your customer should be able to know you will get whatever it is handled. You may not make a dime on it but you will cement a relationship that will help you sell something later on and ultimately sell more to that customer than you may have just pointing down the street or writing down a phone number for them.

What I am asking you to become is the one stop shop for every customer you have and I bet that request has you shaking your head and looking for all the ways this will not work. What will not work is to continue doing what you have always done and expecting something different to happen. Now is the time to be someone different; someone that is willing to do whatever it takes to make and keep a customer. There are some of you that seem to have plenty of business right now and that means you are on the right track and are busy doing things just a wee tad differently than the ones who are not busy. There is still work to be done.

Doing things for a customer that you stand to make no money on is a hard pill to swallow but it really should not be. Like I said earlier; that customer is in front of YOU because he trusts you and in addition to that they know you know the best places to get whatever they need done to their vehicle handled. The chance you have a relationship with someone outside your store that will take care of whatever they need is very good. Who knows; maybe if you refer people the shop or service you refer to will give you some token of their appreciation and in turn make you their go to and refer to you. If by some chance you have no place to recommend, help them find a place and help them get it handled. Smart people donít know it all but they know who to ask.

Building relationships is like multi-level marketing in a way, the stronger your relationships become the more people get told about it and those people want in on it. If you have a strong connection with 50 people those 50 have 50 of their own connections and now you are a part of it, that 50 just keeps building. Suddenly you have more customers than ever before. Think about that for a second. How are your connections?

You are not doing your customers a favor just by being open; they do you a favor by shopping with you. They have lots of choices and chose you. Now you need to be the person they want to see for everything they need. Can you, will you be the one they always recommend?

Talk to you next month

I am your go to guy and will try to help you with whatever you need


Posted on: April 12, 2017


Every single day can be and should be a party if you set your mind to make it one, and who doesnít like a party? Letís break the day down and maybe make it easier to get your own party started. Since you spend more time at work than you do anywhere else maybe this idea could change how you live your whole life.

Participate-Making the best of every single day takes cooperation on everybodyís part and that means you too. Join in and be part of the plan rather than part of the problem. Stop complaining about the outcome if you are not willing to be constructive about finding a solution. If you are willing to bitch about it be prepared to offer an answer if asked, who knows your idea might be all it takes to change everything. By the way, participation requires some listening as well so, sometimes your participation requires eyes and ears open, mouth closed to participate effectively.

Acquire-Learn as many new things as you can to help do the job you have better than you do it; those of you that have been at it a long time need as much or more help than the newbies so sitting back and thinking you know it all keeps you and the whole team running behind. Crazy idea; put all those great ideas you have to work for the team rather than just pointing out how the others are doing it wrong.

Retain- Once you learn the new things remember them and apply them to make you better. What good is knowledge if you donít use it? There are lots of books and classes available that will take you very little time in the grand scheme of things to do. Maybe even watch the people who are doing better than you and put your spin on it and do better for yourself. It amazes me how much people know that they do not put into use, they know the answer when reminded but somehow will not think of it on their own. If thatís you and it is a comfort zone thing get UN-comfortable because most times there is no second chance.

Teach- People In the same shop or even the shop down the road are not in competition in my opinion and if there is something that makes your life easier every day or helps you sell or be better you should share it with the people around you. I know how much fun it can be making fun of the people that lag behind but could it be there is a distinct possibility they are holding you back as well? Teach them what you know and maybe you will learn a thing or two in the process. If you are honest somebody taught you something one day to help you get to where you are today.

You-The whole party starts with you; and once you embrace the idea that you are part of a team everything will be better for that team. A job is a commitment you made and you got the job because you gave your employer the idea that having you would make their team better. Your success is not owed to you by anyone and the fault of you not achieving that success rests on your shoulders. Trust me when I say that whoever you work for wants you to be successful if only for the simple reason that it makes them successful and know that as much as they may need you to achieve success they can replace you with someone else and still achieve it if you are not doing what you committed to do.

Participate, Acquire, Retain, Teach and finally all it takes is YOU to get the party started. This is a party that you actually remember the next day and have zero chance of a DUI, plus you have a chance to actually learn from your mistakes and make yourself better every single day. Party on.

So, make every single day a PARTY

Talk to you next month


Posted on: February 7, 2017


Happy New Year! I hope itís off to a great start. I want to start this great year off by asking you to think about what is your why? Why do you do what you do and what drives you to do it every day? Why do you get up every day to go to work? For 2017, it seems to me that other than avoiding becoming a flat squirrel, finding your why should be priority. If you are not sure why you do what you do, being really successful will only happen by accident. The best way to become successful is to be very clear about why you do what you do. Implementation of a plan works better if everyone involved has a clear idea of why they are doing what they do. Letís face it, the jobs that we do are hard and it will be even harder if you really donít know why you do it.

It is tough enough to do your job but when you can look around and there are people that you work with and worse yet work for, that really seem like they are not operating in the best interest of the company. How much harder does that make it? It really doesnít seem to matter where I go, I to run into folks that do not enjoy what they do; sure they come to work and seem to be doing a good job but from the outside their hearts really donít seem to be in it. How can anyone be happy doing something they donít enjoy? What you do and how you do it every single day is not just a job but in many ways how you are identified. People that do not seem to like what they do in my estimation are usually people that really are not happy with anything in their lives. They live a life without purpose. Going through life doing something they have to do, not what they want to do. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what your purpose is and then go out and be happy fulfilling it.

I love what I do; where I am and what I do right now is just part of a journey that started one day when I was a kid, that I decided that I would make a living dealing with cars. I had no idea what that would look like but I was sure it would make me a millionaire but since I depend a lot on all of you to do better and you arenít millionaires yet, I will have to wait a little bit longer. Do you love what you do? Do you even like what you do? It might be an unreasonable expectation to expect someone to love a job but what could you be doing differently to make you even like it? Do me a favor and do not blame your lack of joy on someone else because your happiness or lack thereof starts with you and only you.

If you are a person that doesnít like what you do, what keeps you doing it? Is it the thrill of spending your day unhappy or maybe, you just make so much money that you cannot walk away? My guess is probably neither. It is a New Year and we talk about every New Year as a clean slate and we even make resolutions so we can start over clean and fresh and be happy. The problem is, we donít do what we say we will do and the resolution was just talk. Happiness is a mindset that starts with knowing your why and that your happiness is your responsibility and nobody elseís. You want a clean and fresh start? Make it happen.

How do you feel about resolutions? I have a suggestion for one that could start a wave of great that would be unstoppable. Letís make a resolution to go out every single day and just be better. Not better than everybody else but just be a better you, one that isnít waiting till everyone else gets better. Please donít read that and think that you have absolutely nothing to improve upon because I hate to burst your bubble but you need some help, we all do. Next time we talk ask me what I think you need to change and I will be honest and tell you what I think and in return you can do the same for me and I will listen. You why is waiting for you to find itÖ so go find it.

Talk to you next month

I know exactly why


Posted on: January 17, 2017


It is a pretty safe bet that squirrels are not born flattened in the middle of the road. They became flattened because they were victims of their own poorly executed plan and obviously pretty horrible decision making skills. Is that what you want to be? A flat squirrel?

As a rule it seems that as far as a hard and fast plan for success most shops fall short. Basically the plan is simply ďdo betterĒ without a clear definition of exactly how to do that. Could the place you are working be pretty much like that? So many people spend the day worrying about the best price before actually finding out what the customer in front of them feels comfortable with and running in circles trying to be ďcompetitiveĒ when you are not really sure who exactly you are in competition with; future flat squirrels if you ask me.

It is starting to get busy again for a lot of you and with that the ability to not have to be really good at what you do as much as just be able to keep up. I know that may sound mean but letís face it, most of you really donít have a plan as much as a hope that everything will be busier and you will just make more money. Have you ever given any thought to how much real opportunity you let get away because you did not take control and MAKE sales happen? If you are an advisor why arenít you selling on the drive before the technician looks at the car instead of waiting to see if that tech takes the time to maybe write something down? Maybe a technician could keep writing suggestions to every advisor, even to the advisor who has a reputation for never selling anything? Both of the above are things I hear complaints about daily, how long before we work together and decide to do something about it?

Everybody in every shop I go to is spread pretty thin and unfortunately the assumption ends up being that every person in the shop is doing what is expected of them. News flash; when people are left to their own devices and especially when they know that the result is really not being monitored they will do exactly enough to get by and stay out of trouble. That happens for many reasons but mostly in my estimation it happens because people see others getting away with not pulling their own weight and figure if that person gets away with it so can they and the least that can be done is suddenly done. More flat squirrels.

I have told you many times to you that my job takes you to be successful; if you donít sell my stuff I cannot sell my stuff to you. We have reached a point that every single customer in front of us needs to be treated as a potential great customer and like it or not the difference between them driving away or spending money with you is probably you and the job you do. If you consider yourself a good salesperson what is the last thing you did to become a better salesperson? My guess for most of you the answer is nothing and again I know that sounds cruel but in your heart you know it is true. Have any of you ever asked the advisor next to you for advice or maybe had them call a customer that told you no? Same goes for technicians, there are some of you that excel at looking over a car and some that fall short. Why not learn from the person that is good or if you are the good one teach someone what you know. Helping people on your team only makes the whole team stronger. Keep each other from being flat squirrels.

All it takes is a little planning to avoid being a flat squirrel; maybe just a slight shuffle out of your comfort zone to be exactly where you and the rest of the team need to be. It is everyoneís job to control the destiny of the shop. Once you are flattened there is no turning back.

Talk to you next month

make a plan to succeed and

stick to it


Posted on: November 18, 2016


I think itís because nobody ever told them they couldnít be. I believe that the opposite categorizes us pretty well in this business especially since we seem to be operating in a world that is dictating to us how strong we can be mostly by telling us what we cannot do, and for some reason we listen.

I am really not a fan of being told what to do; I am especially not a fan of being told something will not work when I know in my heart it will work and the only reason it isnít being tried is the fear of being told no. I am driven by this nagging thing in my brain every time I sell something that there is something I missed in the sale and something I could have/ should have done to make it more than it was. Do you ever feel that way or are you just happy that you sold something? Remember that if all that ends up on the repair order is what the customer came in and asked for you have sold exactly nothing; it is only when you have added something extra that the real sale has happened.

Here is a newsflash for you; the only real competition you have is your reflection in the mirror. You and only you hold yourself back and there is no other person or shop that can take a sale from you if you have truly done your job with the customer. In addition we assume the people we depend on and put in charge to sell to our customers or inspect the cars are doing the job we told them to do. Ask yourself; do you really tell people what you expect of them and if so do you ever really hold them accountable or even at minimum check and see if what you depended on them for is done correctly?

We currently have an excuse for every shortfall; Low traffic, lifetime fluids, ownerís manual says nothing is needed, manufacture says donít do it, people arenít buying anything, and the list goes on and on. The customer that is in front of you is not automatically looking for the best price. Price is usually number 4 on the list. That is something you have decided for yourself. Customers want value and value is not price, if you have shown your customer value for what you are asking them to buy they will buy. They came to you for a reason and you need to build on that to make the sale.

We have reached a point that it is imperative we make more from less. It is time to become a proactive seller rather than a reactive seller. Remember that low repair order count should equal a higher average repair order and if it does not my suggestion is extra training in the form of some sort of sales training. There are a TON of things available to you to learn for FREE if you just take the time to do it. Lucky for you that you have the easiest sales job in the world, all you have to do is present a realistic estimate to your customer and let them say yes. The same goes for technicians, if you do not write something down it is certain that the service writer will not sell it. So look at everything and find something to write down, there will be plenty so you wonít have to make anything up. Then make sure it all gets presented, prioritized and then sold.

We tend to all be our own worst enemies as well as gravitate to the easiest path, we hate being told no so we quit asking rather than learn to ask in a way that makes the question answered with a yes. I am pretty sure gorillas donít just sit around and wait for things to come to them; they simply go out and get what they want and need. What is stopping you from being gorilla strong?

Talk to you next month

I will do it even if you tell me I canít


Posted on: November 5, 2015


I consider myself a smart person, maybe you agree. If you are taking the time to read this I know you are a smart person as well or are at least desperately trying to be or just maybe you are reading to see what I will say next. I can say this; If I look back over my life I can safely say there is not one good thing that I have gotten for myself that I didnít have to ask for to get. The art of making a sale is a process and that process begins by asking for the sale. You would not think that was a tough concept.

How do you decide who you are going to sell something to? I guess a better question to ask would be what is there to decide? If you are lucky enough to have a customer standing in front of you that is your perfect candidate. The hardest part of the sale is getting someone to come in and stand in front of you, the easy part should be asking but for the most part there are a whole bunch of you that make that the hard part.

Before you say ďNobody wants to buy anythingĒ let me tell you that I agree with you. There will never be a customer in your store that wants to spend money on their car and mostly because they have fun things they want to do with their hard earned money and as much as I love cars I am not a huge fan of spending money on them. It is your job to persuade your customer to spend money and that my good friends will not happen without you first asking them nicely to do so. It is simply that simple.

We have the easiest sales job in the whole world because all we have to do is tell people what they NEED to do to their cars. Every single thing you have to sell in your store was deemed at some point to be something a customer would need to buy and not something for you to decide to sell. The simple idea that you have things to sell that you would not buy makes no difference because you wanting to buy it means little or nothing as to whether your customer will want to buy it. The simple fact remains that if you do not tell a customer what they need they will go somewhere else at some point and have that very thing sold to them and then they are no longer your customer. You never know until you ask.

We tend to operate on an outdated sales process in most shops; we start to sell when we have a customer in front of us that has a problem. Stress is not an emotion that loosens purse strings. The time to sell is when the customer is happy and we can talk about the next visit. That is called planting a seed and if you are not doing it take a second and hit yourself squarely in the forehead or ask someone to do it for you. Customers are much more receptive to what they can plan for than they are for surprises.

There are lots of shops that put coupons out advertising discounted services; specifically oil changes. In case it is a mystery as to why that is done I am here to tell you that it is done so you have a customer standing in front of you to SELL SOMETHING TO. It is to attract additional traffic. Your quest for the perfect candidate will likely have you skip over the coupon customer and that would be a mistake. Your customer is smart enough to know that the simple fact that they walked in with a coupon makes them someone who will be sold to. They may come right out and tell you up front that all they want is the oil change and know that they do that to shut you down before you even start up. Your sales presentation needs to come from a looking out for the customerís best interest angle and not a sale for the sake of a sale standpoint. Attack and you will lose; be their friend and you will win.

You and I are not smart enough to know what a customer will do until we ask them nicely and quietly; s/o without them even knowing it go out and make them the perfect candidate.

Talk to you next month

you are the perfect candidate


Posted on: October 15, 2015