Article

Lessons From Bumpa

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Ryan Linnehan - Also by this author

“What is ‘Bumpa’?” you might ask. Well, you know how the oldest grandchild, in many families, is coaxed into repeating the name “Grandpa,” but it usually gets distorted into some remote semblance of the word? Yep, in our family, the best I could do was “Bumpa,” and of course it stuck. Don’t laugh—I’ve heard much stranger names!
It was Bumpa and his father (I never got to meet him so he has no strange moniker) that got our family involved in the auto business over 55 years ago, and now that our family business has reached the fourth generation, we are able to look back at a lot of the things we were able to learn from him over the years. Though we miss having him with us since he passed away in 2004, we are thankful for all the wisdom he was able to pass down to us. Like many grandfathers, he had a knack for sharing these nuggets of wisdom in memorable expressions that stick with me to this day. Following are some of his most memorable sayings and how they can be applied to our business today.

“Red sky at night, sailors’ delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.”

Bumpa loved to be on a boat, especially a sailboat, and several times he even sailed up the entire east coast from Florida all the way home to Maine. Like all good sailors, he always kept his eyes on the sky. How does that apply to our business? Let’s just say that if you get caught out on a sailboat during a storm, it’s too late at that point to make any adjustments—you’d better just hunker down and try to survive without getting sunk! Whereas, by keeping abreast of any climate changes in our industry and being sensitive to fluctuations in the environment, you will be able to proactively make the necessary course corrections in order to ensure your business is safe in the harbor to ride out the inevitable storms we all face.

“Let’s go key up the lot!”

Bumpa was infamous for wanting to rearrange the lot, and you could normally count on him rounding up the sales staff two to three times every week to go out and rearrange the entire inventory. I used to think he did it just to keep the staff busy, but I have since learned the importance of making our lots look alive and how crucial it is for potential customers driving by to always see activity at our dealerships. It’s the same principle behind putting out balloons and antenna flags, popping the hoods and trunks or turning on all the flashers. We need to create an atmosphere of excitement at our dealerships, so we can grab the attention of our customers and arouse their interest about what is going on. They don’t know it is just our staff rearranging the inventory; all they see is activity, and they will want to be a part of it!

“Many hands make light the task.”

I’m a slow learner, but after awhile I came to realize that he usually quoted this one whenever he wanted us to help him move something heavy. That doesn’t change the truth of the statement. A good team can always accomplish more than one individual, usually in a lot less time, and certainly with less stress on the individual. Don’t overlook the resources embodied in those you work with every day, and don’t be unwilling or too proud to ask for them to help “lighten your task.” Conversely, look for ways you can lend your hands to help lighten others’ tasks.

“A car bought right is half sold already.”

Now Bumpa was semi-retired before special finance really came into its own, and this statement really applies to all segments of the used vehicle market. However, it certainly seems to be especially applicable in the realm of special finance, where buying the right inventory at a price that will allow you to maximize the callbacks is really one of the major keys to the success of that department.

“If I agreed with you all the time, why would I need to keep you around?”

In other words, don’t surround yourself with “Yes”-men. There is nothing wrong with people having differing opinions as long as they are expressed in a civil manner. Many successful businesses set up an advisory team to serve as a sounding board for the dealer principal, where key decisions can be openly discussed and opinions and ideas can be presented without any fear of repercussions. This is not a complaint session, but rather an opportunity to discuss different ways in which the company can become more successful.

I’m thankful for these nuggets of wisdom that Bumpa has left for us, and I hope by keeping them fresh in my mind, and trying to constantly apply the principles contained in them, I’ll one day be passing them on to my own grandkids. I’ll also have to see what I can do about getting them to pronounce “Grandpa” correctly!

Vol 3, Issue 3

Comment

  1. 1. Sophie [ May 05, 2013 @ 07:01AM ]

    Haha I thought I was the only person with a Bumpa, but my Bumpa wanted us to call him that, he named his grandfather Bumpa the same way you did!
    My Bumpa was amazing, I miss him every day!

 

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