Do you really know your business? Do you must know all the operating metrics as well the core of your business model? Business is partially made up of art and partially made up of science. Once you know your science, the art will become more clear.


Many dealers are still operating under an outdated business model that can’t be supported in any economy, especially the current economic conditions. To change the outdated model:


Ask more questions

Ask better questions

Measure everything

Measure as often as possible

Take action to improve every day


Every question you ask about your business causes you to reevaluate your business.


Most dealerships are good at working in the business. However, the great dealerships are great at working on the business. Most dealers are under the assumption that if everyone just does more, then the business will grow. The reality can be the opposite. You can be like a hamster on a wheel running harder and harder but getting the same or less results. In baseball there is a phrase used when coaching pitching mechanics called “slow to go.” In business the same analogy is true. You have to slow down to ask the right questions, evaluate the right things, think in different directions and take different actions to speed the success of your business.


The following are important questions that, when asked daily, can lead to success:


Why should someone buy from your dealership? Be very specific. Ask yourself “Who cares?” to each answer to see if it is defining and specific enough

What are the strengths of your business?

What are the weaknesses of your business?

What are the opportunities for your business and marketplace?

What are the threats to your business and marketplace and how can you not only deal with them but utilize them to your advantage?

What is the business within your current business that could be created?

What are the segments of your marketplace that are underserved?

Is there a way to add to or plus anything within your business?

Is there a way to subtract or minus anything within your business?

Is there a way to speed up or slow down the experience for your customers?

Is there an entertainment value to your business or experience?

How many walk-in opportunities are there?

How many phone opportunities do you have?

How many presentation/demonstrations?

How many opportunities closed?

How many opportunities delivered?

What are the totals and averages of all lead sources?

What percentage of your sales converts to ongoing service customers?

What percentage of your customers are inactive customers?

What percentage of your sales are repeats?

What percentage of your sales are repeat customers?

Do you have an ongoing and at least partially automated system for follow up of your customers?

Do you have a system to convert sales from service?

How many forms of lead generation and marketing can you list?

What are the production levels of each employee for every department? Everyone needs a metric to measure performance no matter the job.

What three improvements in your service sales process would increase dollars per repair order?

Do you have a quantified, complete and ongoing process to recruit employees?

What is your education and improvement program for your employees?

Have you quantified clear ongoing communications for the expectations of your employees?

 Do you have formal feedback channels for your employees?

Do you know the breakdown of performance for your used inventory by model, price range, conquest models, trade-in vs. acquisition, and return on investment for days in stock?

There once was a day where an auto dealer possessed a strong entrepreneurial spirit and skills necessary to start a successful auto dealership. Now, a dealer can no longer run his dealership by the seat of his pants. Today, he has to also have strong skills at running the business day-to-day. These skills will involves utilizing data derived from good operational metrics and questions.


There are a couple of old sayings in the car business. “The car business is a very forgiving business” and “Car dealers can make money in spite of themselves.” Both sayings are outdated and no longer true. If a dealer does not work harder on the business every day than he does in the business, he will quickly become a dinosaur.