I’m a passionate guy. Aside from the obvious loves of my life (my children, wife and family), I’ll admit that I’m one of those guys that loves his job — engaging in the game of the used-car sales industry. I also love sports — especially golf and hockey.

I’m not a very good hockey player and I am a Maple Leafs fan, so it’s probably best to not get into a discussion about hockey. Let’s talk about golf, instead.  

In 2006, my love of the art of the golf swing reached its peak — because of a commercial (of all things).  The commercial was called “Swing Portrait” and it was for Nike (you should look it up if you get the chance). It showed Tiger Woods taking a golf swing in super-slow motion, and featured the smooth sound of a cello solo playing in the background. 

In a word, the commercial was breathtaking.  The true art of golf was displayed so poetically in that single minute commercial. From that moment on, I was hooked on creating a swing for myself that looked exactly like the swing of Tiger Woods. 

This was not an easy task as, at the time, my swing looked like a mix of Jim Furyk’s and Charles Barkley’s golf swings.   

Eight years later, I still don’t swing like Tiger Woods, but along the way I realized something — no one swings like Tiger Woods. Tiger doesn’t even swing like he did back in 2006. 

However, if you look at the top 100 golfers in the world, although no two swings are alike, they all involve the mastering of certain fundamental traits (in the case of golf, those traits include things like square impact, good balance and proper follow through). 

If I wanted to improve my golf swing, I had to learn that I wasn’t going to get there by standing in front of a mirror all day, trying to move my body exactly like Tiger did in that commercial. I needed to first study the fundamental traits that are common to the most successful golfers, and then to figure out how to master those traits — in my own way. I needed to be able to create my own unique swing. 

In the world of used-car sales, you are always striving to improve. How do you get to the top?  Do you try to mimic specific things that the top dealers are doing?  Or do you try to study the patterns in the fundamental traits that all of the top dealers have — and then try to master those traits in your dealership — in a customized way?  I’d suggest that you need to do the latter. 

Luckily, there is a lot of information that is shared on what the top 10 percent of dealers are doing, and how they are doing it. And I can assure you, they all do it in their own unique way.  Instead of mimicking their unique way, try to focus on the fundamental traits that all successful used-car dealerships master. 

Those traits include the following:

  • High inventory turn rate
  • Use of metric-based acquisition and retailing  (primarily using data in order to make decisions about buying and selling prices, instead of primarily using gut instinct and self-interested wholesalers)
  • Effective and efficient reconditioning and marketing/advertising
  • Staff that is well-trained on internal processes and procedures

Once you understand the key traits, you will then have the foundation to try and figure out how to master those traits in your particular dealership, and in your own unique way.  Just because a particular top dealership uses fixed pricing to achieve high inventory turn rate, that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you start using fixed pricing, you’ll reach the top as well.

That said, you will start seeing improvements to your bottom line if you figure out the most effective way for your particular dealership to achieve high inventory turn rates (and the other fundamental traits). 

By taking the time to study, implement and master the fundamental traits shared by the top dealerships, instead of trying to jump on what you think is the “quick win” train of mimicking, you’ll ensure that your foundation is strong and resilient. This will allow you to change with the market, adapt to modern selling methods, stay current and always continue moving forward. 

There’s a saying in golf: “You don’t beat the game of golf, you only play it.”  Keep this in mind when you are going through a rough patch or struggling to transform your used-car department. 

Even the best dealer in the world is looking to do better — to accomplish more — and improve from the year before.

Remember, it all starts with you.

Richard Macdonald is the founder of RPM Solutions. Richard provides consulting, training and coaching services to new-car franchise stores to help them maximize their used-car department profits. For more information, contact Richard at 416-894-1475 or, or visit