Category: The Weekly Spiff!

Posts related to The Weekly Spiff!

By Marilou C. Vroman, CPA, CFE

The fact that you are now reading this article means you already embrace the value of this week’s tip.   We’ve all been there – you start your day with a to do list a mile long and wonder how you will make it through.  Deadlines, making deals, meeting objectives, pressures coming from all directions.  Your day is spent just keeping up.  For many months I was so busy, I would see the latest issue of Automotive News or Journal of Accountancy land on my desk only to see it be covered by the next month’s issue, and the issue after that. You’re shaking your head thinking “well that sounds familiar.”

There came a day during a business lunch where I was among several dealers discussing a hot topic stemming from an OEM playing a strong hand with the franchisee’s and I really had nothing to say.  It was not [...]

By Sam Flores

Are you sure you have the right people in the right seats?

It has been my experience that when people are hired, they are usually brought on board to fill a need, a specific function or set of related functions left vacant or added due to growth. But how close are these functions really related? Are they simply bundled together because these were left to delegate after the main functions were handed out?  Many times, we as managers, focus on the set of tasks that need to be done, and assign them based on complexity to the most experienced employees.  We tend to distribute functions according to skill set until the most basic tasks are left for the newest employees.  This approach is not necessarily the best solution because I have found even the least experienced employees can excel in certain areas where even the most experienced may not.

Instead of focusing [...]

By Phil Villegas

During my career I’ve been part of dozens of dealership buy/sell closings, and they all have a common thread in that each closing is entirely unique yet will undoubtedly have a certain level of stress associated with it.

To put it simply, the largest stressor of any closing is that one or both transacting parties want to screw the other over.  Call it financial discretion or competitive gamesmanship, either way, this approach by many dealers at a closing can often be counter-productive, not to mention very costly if the parties are not properly prepared.

From the calculation of vehicle credits, identification of incentives, validation of fixed assets, valuation of miscellaneous and parts inventories, to the determination of liabilities to existing customers and vehicles that have already been reported as sold, there are several areas for either a buyer or seller to easily be taken advantage of.

Many dealers approach the closing quite [...]

By Marilou C. Vroman, CPA, CFE

As I made the passage from working as a Controller / CFO in dealerships to the exciting world of automotive retail consulting, I was introduced to a concept about the quality of services early on. This concept resonated with me because it applies not only to dealer advisory services but also to every aspect and department of a dealership.

In simplest terms: “We offer three types of services – Good, Fast and Cheap, but you can only choose two. Good and Fast won’t be cheap. Fast and Cheap won’t be good. Good and cheap won’t be fast.” This is so true!

In your service department, if a technician is more concerned with flagging maximum hours without concern for the quality of their work, you will likely see more comebacks. In the accounting department if you want to save on overhead and understaff, or hire under qualified personnel, you probably [...]

By Sam Flores

What do you do when you observe, or are put into a situation that you believe is illegal or, at the very least, unethical?  What if the person responsible for the situation is a superior?

A clearly defined employee handbook outlining expectations and well documented policies helps minimize ambiguity that may result in “personal interpretations” of the company’s rules and regulations.  But who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that rules are followed? Most Controllers I speak to face this same dilemma.  Many times, I’ve heard, “We get blamed for everything.” Although this may be a bit unfair, and at times not totally true, the accounting department is typically held to a higher standard.  Controllers are, in many ways, expected to be the stop gap to rule breaking.  They typically ensure the rules are followed.  We have all experienced at one time or another, the penalties that can come from non-compliance.  But no [...]

By Phil Villegas

We can all agree there is already more than enough paperwork in current vehicle deal files, with the average vehicle retail sale having between 50 and 100 documents with the deal jacket.  While the last thing any of us would want to do is add another document to the deal file, there is a one document that we routinely find missing that can help protect the dealership;  the Third-Party Funds Authorization Form.

It is almost a daily occurrence at many dealerships where the funds being used for a down payment or the purchase of parts and/or service come from an individual other than the person named on the deal, parts ticket or repair order.  While 99% of these payments may be innocent and well-intended in nature, it’s the one’s that are remitted maliciously that can really cost a dealership.    Check and credit card fraud are as pervasive as ever, despite advances in [...]

By Marilou C. Vroman, CPA, CFE

If you are like many dealers, you look at the variable operations section of your manufacturer financial statement and review your PVRs (gross profit per vehicle retailed) and most will contemplate how that number can be increased next month.  Moments later, you will scroll a bit further down and look at your wholesale gross profit.  If you see your wholesale gross profit hovering around zero, which many of us have been conditioned to believe  is “OK”, we accept the number, wish for more, and then refocus on retail.  The reality is, wholesale gross has as much to do with retail, as the act of retailing itself.

Wholesale gross is typically budgeted at zero gross profit, and if you have an engaged used car manager, this will often be the case.  The risk in looking at the monthly total, is not fully knowing the underlying transactions and the opportunity cost [...]

By Sam Flores

The auto industry has typically been known for its high turnover, and not just in sales and F&I; other departments face this issue as well.  It is a constant struggle to hire, train, and then retain employees. Management focus on employee retention is a key to eliminating the constant recruitment cycle.

How do you “keep” employees? Employees value being valued. But how do you measure “value”? A workforce is diverse, and not all needs, or motivations will apply to all employees.   The goal is to build high morale by understanding the diversity in your workforce and meeting their specific needs.   Some important elements to building high employee morale include: establishing training programs for continuous improvement, conducting periodic reviews, and creating a strong succession plans to promote from within.

As the economy gets stronger, it becomes more competitive for hiring companies to recruit from the same talent pool. More importantly, you run the [...]

By Phil Villegas

When was the last time your General Manager wanted to spread a large gain over a few months or to pick it up during the 13th month entries? Chances are you have never heard these words spoken and likely never will. However, most of us have encountered the situation of a General Manager or Departmental Manager wanting to spread or defer a loss over several months.

Whether the loss is a large shortage in a parts inventory, a legal settlement, an uncollectible wholesale receivable, a warranty audit chargeback, there are multiple reasons which are often presented with an attempt to justify spreading or deferring a loss.  Reasons like wanting to avoid showing a large dip in profitability or to “smooth” the financials, and in some cases wanting to label the item as truly extraordinary and run it through as a 13th month item to essentially completely avoid the financial statement.  In the [...]

By Sam Flores

Have you ever wondered how many times you get asked the same question regarding a routine procedure such as how to code an invoice, or how to process a manual check?  These questions, however easy they may be to answer, take time away from the more important tasks going on in the office.  It is important to standardize these routine processes to minimize the constant “training” of employees.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) can be a helpful tool because routine tasks are not left subject to interpretation by the person assigned the task. In many cases, employees will do their job based on the way they were taught to do it, usually the last employee assigned the task, but this may not be the most efficient, or technically proficient method.   By creating SOP’s, you develop a standard method of follow procedures that are in line with company policies.  You will now have a [...]

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