Fake Data Yields Fake Results

Is it possible that Vendors give Car Dealers Fake Data disguised as proof that their products and services contribute to increased sales and profits?

In recent years we’ve heard many politicians calling out “Fake News” to the point that almost every debate and speech has people working in the background calling themselves “Fact-Checkers.” Just a few decades ago, there was never a need for ‘fact checking’ because most people sort of trusted the people delivering the information to have some level of integrity.

…AND, so it is with the car business. We are deep into the era of data-based sales and marketing, and, without exception, every vendor and manufacturer comes to us armed with volumes of alleged data to validate their every claim. Their data is proof of their value as your partner.

Call me a skeptic. Have you ever had a vendor present their data to your dealership that unequivocally proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that their company is responsible for the majority of your business?

They have ‘Attribution Statistics,’ tracking pixels, and other data beyond the comprehension of most mortals that proves your customers would never have found you without them. The only problem with that is there is another vendor with databased proof that it was their company that generated the majority of your sales.

Personally, statistics and analytics give me a headache. Sitting through a data-based presentation? I’d rather have a root canal with no anesthetic. When someone tells me that they are “analytical,” I always have to stop and remember what the first four letters of the word “analytical” are.

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

The Sky Is Falling

Ziegler talks about how your dealership can survive the coming crash

In the children’s story of Chicken Little, a paranoid hysterical chick runs through the town screaming that, ‘The sky is falling,’ after an acorn fell on his head.

Even though I believe I am the Paul Revere of the auto industry, writing articles and social media posts to warn the dealers of the coming catastrophe, there are many critics saying that I’m actually Chicken Little spreading paranoia and false alarm.

Well, all I can say about that to those people is that I stand on my track record for predicting things that actually came to pass. I’ve been ‘right’ as many times as you’ve been wrong.

It’s about to crash hard, and in this article, I’m going to give you some really strong suggestions on how not to become a casualty.

In the last year, we’ve seen dealers realizing record sales and record profits. Not only are we realizing record sales, up 30% month over month from previous years, breaking the all-time highs, but the transaction prices have soared to a national average of more than $38,000 and still inching up month to month. In comparison that’s an $8,000 increase.

It’s a crazy world and we’re acting like a bunch of drunken sailors on shore leave on payday. “Party-on Garth.” In other words, I’m seeing posts all over social media congratulating ourselves for records broken at our dealership, photos of smiling winners showing off their plaques and awards. Do those people actually believe it was because of something we did that made those numbers happen? Excuse me, you’d have to be a complete bumbling ‘nincompoop’ if your dealership didn’t break records in this market. YES, you did a great job, BUT how much was due to the circumstances, and how much was something you did?

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

What Is … Is

The Dramatic Changes to Make Right Now

The time for dramatic changes is now. You have no choice if you intend to stay in business. Resisting the inevitable is stupid. The winners will not just be the ones who go with it, but the ones that embrace it and get ahead of it.

There was a time way back in the ’70s when a much younger Jim Ziegler was searching for truth and enlightenment. I’m referring back to my renaissance – what I jokingly call my Hippie Days. Long hair and a generous beard; following my divorce, I rode a motorcycle across the country from Florida to California.

Former deejay, bar fighter, and street racer; now here I was sitting cross-legged in a cabin on the Big Sur coastline in the California mountains chanting my Indian Mantra. I was hanging out with the emerging pop psychology gurus and the human potential movement, swamis, and existentialists. It was an exciting time of self-discovery as I went through what we called ‘Awareness Training.’

One of the foundational philosophies I learned centered around what we called the Theory of Reality.

It went like this: “What is, is … and what ain’t, ain’t … and so what?” Repeat that right now several times and memorize it.

If that sounds ridiculous, or if it makes no sense to you, you are exactly where I was the first time I heard it. It took a lot of contemplation and thought before I could realize the deeper meaning. But after, it became a lifelong philosophy for me.

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

Did You Bump Your Head?

Did You Bump Your Head?

We’re all in this game together, and regardless of which team you’re playing on, never lose sight of the fact that it’s just the game, and in the end, we’re all still friends.

In the South where I was raised, there are two veiled insults reserved for someone who has done something you consider to be stupid or someone who says or does something that defies our perception of logic or common sense.

Of course, one of those uniquely Southern put-downs is when a person is commenting on something another person has done and in a righteous, condescending tone of voice says, “Bless Your Heart.” While it sounds harmless, everyone in these parts knows you are insinuating whoever you’re talking about isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. And, of course, the other one is, when a person says something that you consider to be insane or ‘moronic,’ and you look at them and solemnly ask, “Did You Bump Your Head?”

Through the years, my opinions have always been controversial and have always stirred a lot of conversation and debate. I have a habit of saying exactly what is on my mind with little regard to who chooses to take offense or disagree. I expect people to disagree as long as we all keep it civil. Maybe that’s why many of my friends consider me to be a senior statesman in our business.

A Resurgence of the ‘One-Touch Sales’ Philosophy Most recently, there has been a resurgence of the One-Touch Sales philosophy. Now, I don’t know if the words One Touch are somebody’s brand name or just a description of a process. It’s been around a long time regardless.

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

Saying Goodbye to the Godfather

I’ve heard people say he was a legend, the ‘Godfather of Automotive Digital Marketing,’ and a pioneer in modern BDCs. Yes, he was all of that and more, but to me, Ralph Paglia (pictured) was my friend.

It was one of those names, like Cher or Nixon. When someone in the car business said, “Ralph,” nobody ever asked, “Which one?”

I’ve heard people say he was a legend, the ‘Godfather of automotive digital marketing,’ and a pioneer in modern BDCs. Yes, he was all of that and more, but to me, Ralph Paglia was my friend.

We all go through life taking some people for granted as if they’ll always be there; until they aren’t. Ralph was always there, just a phone call away for anyone and everyone, and then, on December 21, the news spread throughout the industry like wildfire. Ralph Paglia had died from complications of COVID-19.

Thousands of people joined in the online tributes, and there were so many testimonials from people, stories about Ralph’s generosity and kindness. He was always there if you needed help or expert advice, and he never charged enough if he even charged you at all. Ralph Paglia was all about giving back to an industry he loved.

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

You Must Adapt to Move Forward

10 Changes Dealers Must Make in 2021

In 1980 John Lennon wrote the song, “Beautiful Boy,” about his broken relationship with his young son. The lyrics he penned resounded and hit so many of us with the raw truth behind the words.

Lennon wrote and sang, “Before you cross the street, take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Although that quote was not entirely original to Lennon, his emphasis on the future uncertainty caused the world to pause and take note.

2020 was a scene right out of our worst nightmare, but also a dawning of a new adventure in automotive. Your perspective depends entirely on how you reacted to what the year threw at you.

As we charge forward into the New Year, dealers that are willing to adapt and change, embracing new processes, technologies, and business practices, will crush competitors who chose to ignore the reality of shifting paradigms. In other words, to quote something my younger self wrote in this magazine years ago: “Whatever you think is going to happen is not the way it’s going to turn out.”

SO, every new vendor with new technology has said they will be “disrupting the market.” How many times have we heard that?

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

The Great Dealer Apocalypse of the 2020s

It’s nighttime here on planet Mars, November 15, 2030.

I am sitting here speaking to my voice word processor as I am sipping on a Piña Colada, and yes, this is the life. Sitting comfortably on the enclosed balcony of my apartment here at the Elon Musk Villages Retirement Colony on Mars, my wife, Debbie, is in the other room cooking another one of her fabulous signature meals – simulated roast beef and greens.

Yes, I am still here. Some say I am immortal. I don’t know if that’s true, I haven’t got there yet.

Watching Mars’ beautiful moons, Deimos, and Phobos, lighting up the Martian nighttime sky, is serene and calming. My thoughts turn back to another time as I reminisce about the way it was – and the way it could have been. The following is my perception and personal opinions of the events that happened back then.

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

Transformation of Your Dealership – Shifting Paradigms

Ziegler cites his ability to change and evolve as the catalyst for who he is today. That is also your ability – to change direction, adapt, and create a new dealership model.

Those of you that have known me through the years, know many of the processes and techniques the entire retail car business uses daily were originally invented and implemented by me. In other words, the stuff we do every day in every dealership, much of it I created. “Old school, I Invented old school…” that’s a fact that can be proven. So, let’s move on to the important stuff.

Over the last 43 years in the car business, I have had to throw on the brakes, stop, reverse, and go in a completely new direction. So, I advanced from “old school” to “newer school,” to the “latest school.” Survival and prosperity in our business has always been the dealers’ ability to evolve and change mindset. What I was teaching and creating, even 10 years ago, is no longer valid nor appropriate.

I’m saying that my ability to change and evolve has made me who I am today and kept me relevant. That is also your ability – to change direction, adapt, and create a new dealership model.

We cannot trust the manufacturers, and we certainly can’t trust most of our vendors to lead the way to change because they all have hidden motives that are not necessarily in the dealers’ best interests.

Read the whole post here on Auto Dealer Today.

Who Killed Cadillac?

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, and GM Executive Vice President Product Development Mark Reuss talk with students and tour the EcoCAR3 Challenge garage Friday, May 19, 2017 at the GM Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)

I am greatly saddened as I sit here pouring my thoughts into my keyboard. I’ve written numerous articles through the years detailing the fall of Cadillac, an American luxury icon. A voice inside my head keeps screaming, “Why?”

I am about to rant an outpouring of my personal opinions, emotions, and perceptions as I have done so many times in years past. It isn’t always negative. I have owned nine Escalades and seven Chevrolet Corvettes. I was a cheerleader for the brand. And I still love General Motors; I am just enraged by their management.

When Mary Barra was appointed chairman and CEO of GM, I was ecstatic that they had selected a woman for that position. Four years later, I am scratching my head and saying, “Yes, but not that one.”

Uh-oh! The angel on my right shoulder just said, “Ziegler, are you nuts? Talking bad about Mary Barra is sort of like slapping Mother Teresa.” And now the devil on my left shoulder is saying, “Go ahead, big boy. You never backed down from the truth before.”

Wonder which angel I’ll listen to before I send this article to the editor? Since it’s only one man’s opinion, and I might be wrong, I’ll just go with my gut.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerToday.

Never Argue With Stupid People

How is Carvana drawing investors with a losing proposition? The Alpha Dawg blames short sellers and the shortsighted.

As Mark Twain once said, “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” In recent years, the retail car business has been invaded, infiltrated, and infested by armies of idiots, fools, and disreputable vendors, as well as a seedy assorted collection of outright criminals. The one thing they all seem to have in common is a cloak of self-righteousness. They market themselves as the defenders of consumers who have long been abused by evil car dealers.

The buzzwords, battle cry, and new-age mantra all promise a better car-buying experience. The plot below the surface has become increasingly transparent.

The master plan is to put you out of business. They are convinced they can do the entire transaction online and eliminate dealers — if only the laws were changed and assuming consumers will cooperate. Luckily, in at least one high-profile case, it ain’t gonna happen.

No Partner of Mine

I always crack up when companies that are working feverishly to steal your customers and resell your data refer to themselves as “dealer partners.” The same technology that some vendors claim proves “attribution” also leaves a trail of what they do with your data, including to whom it is sold.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.