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Dealer Defender October 2011

Did you ever wonder why some people suddenly grow old and fade out quickly?

I've always thought that when a person stops growing they begin dying. So many of my friends wasted their entire lives never taking a risk, playing it safe, working toward retirement. Looking forward to that day when they could stop being productive and "Stop and smell the roses".

Excuse me! Most people telling me to smell the roses can't afford any damn roses. "Retirement" is something for people who hate their lives and don't enjoy what they do.

In my hardcover book, "The Prosperity Equation, New Millennium" ...

... I address these questions why some people are successful and prosperous, while others languish and fail. We've sold thousands of copies since I first wrote the original in 2000 and now I like to give all of the readers of this column a FREE copy of the book in PDF version. Click here for your copy. 

Granted, some of the technology references are outdated, but; the content of the book has helped thousands achieve a greater clarity of vision. Some people have told me it changed their lives. It's an easy read and my gift to you... enjoy it and, please, comment here if you appreciated it and tell me what you got from it.

Got Work Ethic? 

As I sit here putting these thoughts into the keyboard at nine o'clock in the evening on a Sunday, it occurs to me that I've been sitting in this chair for five hours researching what I am about to put into words. That's the spirit that separates the achievers from the entitlement mentality people who want to be rewarded just because they showed up. If I am going to write something and publish it, then; it needs to be something worthy of demanding your time and attention.

From early July through the end of the year my schedule has me speaking and consulting in no less than 20 cities... some of these engagements are three days or more. I'm writing for two national publications as well as two Social Communities, and; I'm scheduled to speak at NADA Convention again. Debbie and I just returned from Internet Battle Plan VII in New Jersey. Despite all of the dirty tricks by the competition we prevailed.  And now... we fly right back to Las Vegas where I am moderating a panel for the J.D. Power Internet Roundtable... back home Friday and out again Sunday for two more cities the next week two dealerships, in-dealership work. That's my life and work into infinity... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Retire? I have always said I plan to die onstage in front of a cheering audience after the best performance of my life during a standing ovation... just grab my chest and go "arghhhhh". (thud)


Toyota dealers have flooded my email as well as many calls in the last few weeks following up on the optimistic article I wrote last month predicting Toyota would come out swinging in October. it was a huge shock when they announced the most flaccid incentives and introduced the most vanilla Camry in recent memory. It's almost as if they're losing on purpose. In the fight to regain market share this corporation, former juggernaut, acts like they're still on the ropes just trying to last until the bell.

I was a featured speaker at The Industry Summit two weeks ago sponsored by F&I Showroom Magazine.  One of the other speakers, my friend of many years, Ron Reahard, , was doing a presentation on how to sell F&I. I cracked up when Reahard said... "The reason customers don't buy service contracts on Hondas is because they believe they are built by God... God used to build Toyotas but He subcontracted that."

You have got to believe that, perhaps... just maybe... Toyota is doing a Muhammad Ali "Roper Doper" here just tricking the competition before they lower the boom and drop their opponents to the canvas. Damn, I sure hope so.

One corporate idiot told one of my dealers about the new Camry... "You just got to get the customer to sit in it". Sorry...but I have to say it... The new Camry is an obvious step backward and everyone knows it. No matter how many times you say it's beautiful and ain't, everyone knows the Emperor Has No Clothes.

Makes my blood boil... that's the same inane bull crap every manufacturer has said about every ugly-ass uninspiring car they've ever built from the beginning.  "They just have to drive it."  I think that's what Honda said about that ugly-ass square box they built called the Honda Elephant. At the time I wrote that ugly SOB ain't gonna sell...and it didn't.

Speaking Out of Both Sides of Their Mouth

They say they're going to come out firing...and then they come out fizzling. 

Akio Toyoda - we want to believe - BUT you gotta show us the beef. You guys are shuffling but we see it as it is... get real. All evidence seems to point at Toyota's strategy is cost-cutting as opposed to aggressive marketing. Regardless of what you're saying your actions seem to be accounting, de-contenting product, and squeezing your suppliers rather than incentivizing and aggressively attacking the market.

Toyota Dealers have stayed the course through the worst of factory missteps, calamities, disasters, and screw-ups... YOU owe them better than this. SO...lose the attitude and get nice. 

NOW, Akio Toyoda has appointed Dezi Nagaya to be in charge of design and Dezi Nagaya (who I prefer to call... 'Steve'...) is making wild promises of exciting, edgy, modern, passionate and emotional product in the pipeline. (and a dozen other buzzwords) 

Excuse me Steve, this is the Alpha Dawg talking to you... "You better get your butt in gear because these dealers need better designed and better quality product and they need it now... no more polite bowing, tap-dancing, and smiling...get it done or go down in flames."

Toyota, with sales off 15% and market rivals taking conquest customers away from them heavily for six months... and they were already eroding six months prior... you'd think they come out blazing now that production is back up to 100%. My friends who are Toyota dealers are fuming mad. I can only assume that Toyota is going to do what they said they would and do whatever it takes to regain the market... or did God really subcontract their production?

Which Brings Me To This...

Now that most of the Japanese carmakers have returned to full production before the earthquakes and tsunami... Toyota is beyond the recall and safety crisis... sales are rebounding and market share is climbing. September sales were as if there were no recession.


Ford and General Motors held the number one and two positions in the U.S. Market dropping Toyota to a weak third place position. Can't blame the recalls or the natural disasters...or even the suppliers... it must be the management, the product, and the marketing vision.

Speaking of Ford

I'm flying to Detroit in two weeks to meet with Jim Farley, global vice president third in charge at Ford... to talk about article I wrote two months ago about Lincoln.  I consider this an honor and will be sure to keep confidences. 

Is It Just Me?

...or Do the Kia Hamsters make you smile?

I never quite got the 'Sock Monkey' and the other bizarre advertizing icons in the Kia Commercials but, 'The Hamsters' really resonated with me as something that would connect with the age demographic Kia was aiming for with the Soul.

YES, Ziegler on target again....

Remember when Toyota announced the Scion was a "Youth Market" Car and I said ... No way... cheap-ass car for senior citizens... Guess who was right on that one?

Same thing with the Honda Elephant (Element) I said NFW and...Statistics bared me out...Old people, senior citizens, bought it cause it was wouldn't be caught dead in that ugly-assed square Honda SOB.

Element... Stoopid idea  (Pontiac Aztek) ... RIP


Kia appears to have gotten the correct formula... and I think this goofy-assed little SOB has eyeballs and market appeal to the correct demographic.

Still Ain't Happening

The government, the factories, even Barack Obama himself... everybody wants the world to go green and buy Electric Cars... except the American public didn't get the memo. They're not selling with exception of the niche market... uh-oh... dare I say it?

"Wimps, Geeks, Tree-Huggers...and Propeller-Heads"

Why not? The issues are price - range of travel - recharging time - recharging availability - and battery replacement expense.

Advanced hybrid technology like The Chevy Volt makes a lot more sense...AND...the public doesn't really seem to be extremely excited about that.

Regardless of the emotion attached to the issue... including Toyota Prius, market share for hybrid cars peaked in 2009 at 2.8 percent of all new vehicles sold.

It's a lot less than that now...with a "Down Arrow". In other words, as I've written previously.... "Ain't Happening"

Fix It Again Tony

Fiat... Fix It Again Tony

Pleasantly surprised. Fiat has introduced these cute little cars that may actually sell...despite Penske's dismal failure marketing the Smart Cars. You know, I think Smart Cars was a great opportunity and Penske blew it.

Uh-Oh...Now we're hearing Alfa Romeo is... once again... put on hold in the U.S. Market.

Remember back in the 80's before we ran their sorry ass out of the country, Alfa Romeo was the worst mechanic's nightmare... lived in the shop... piece of junk to ever land on our shores.

To Be Fair

I have heard nothing but the greatest praise for the Alfa Romeo product and their dramatically improved quality and styling. STILL... why are the invested Fiat dealers once again being delayed product in the U.S. Market?

Sergio, are you still playing games with people? You screwed that dumb-ass Wagoner over, do you think you have a license? (my opinion)

We've got 130 U.S. Dealers specifically promised product on the ground...and you... are playing hide the weenie with the goods ...again.

Sergio, I love your intellect and strategy... BUT ...This isn't right. You need to honor your commitments...or...we need to make other plans?

Watch Out

Reckoning has arrived.

As I have warned for months, there is a day of reckoning on the horizon.

In September, for the first time, Edmunds and Manheim have shown a slight tremor in the sale prices of used cars and trucks. As I have predicted, the bubble is about to burst. Used inventory has been at an extreme premium. That is about to end as Japanese OEMs begin to ramp up production at 100%.

I predict used car values will drop at a free-fall rate soon as new car production and incentives flood the market.

Get rid of everything you're too high in... and sit it out for the year. Get lean in pre-owned and watch what your trade. ~Just saying. ~

Debbie and Jim ...

(and Sadie )

I'm speaking at The J.D. Power Internet Roundtable next week and at the NADA National Convention in Las Vegas... Please catch up with me. My website is


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Comment by Paul Smith on October 14, 2011 at 9:16am
Gotta love Ziegler.  I share his stories and the defender with all my Ford dealers in the Memphis Region. Good stuff!
Comment by James A. Ziegler on October 14, 2011 at 12:18am

Jason, making me smile. I was a panel moderator  at the J.D. Power Internet Round Table yesterday in Las Vegas. The reception was awesome...they never saw anything like me and these OEM and Internet High-level vendors were cracking up with the humor and tongue in cheek Ziegler delivery.


Comment by Jason Manning on October 13, 2011 at 2:13pm
Love it! Thanks for setting the record straight on Retirement too. There's no such thing in my book. Die in motion, with passion, doing what you've always loved doing. Keep making mistakes and formulating better results. Hand your passion down to someone looking up at you. Live.

Jason Manning
Comment by Tom Gorham on October 11, 2011 at 2:05pm
Jim, I'm always mesmerized by your articles.  Thanks so much for the opportunity to download your book.  The first few chapters have already had me taking written notes.  You struck many chords...  You already know I'm one of your biggest fans!
Comment by James A. Ziegler on October 11, 2011 at 9:36am
Thanks Cliff...I am right now in the air 35,000 ft., headed to the JD Power Internet Roundtable where I am speaking...
Comment by Cliff Banks on October 11, 2011 at 9:31am
As always, Jim -- awesome job.
Comment by James A. Ziegler on October 11, 2011 at 9:24am
Thanks to all.... I love to hear from you.... Please download and enjoy the book too. I put a lot of Love into it.

AND Timothy Martell, you misread the paragraphs about EV... I was only observing that the public has (s0 far) wholesale rejected EV and Hybrids. That does NOT mean I am against them or negative...just stating the facts.

A Few years back I was similarly misunderstood about the future of Internet car sales. Many statements attributed to me were not true.

AND YES, I do have Passion in the words. :) Smile...Thanks for commenting JIM
Comment by Timothy Martell on October 11, 2011 at 8:02am

Jim, I'm with you. Love the passion as always. Makes me realize I'll still be a hard headed loud SOB in 30 more years! Love it! 


I think you're a short sighted when it comes to electric vehicles though. Tesla just announced a 300 mile range with a 1 hr charge for under $50k for something that looks like a Jag XF. Sure, we're a few years away from main stream, but the rate at which technology advances now is too great to think this isn't going to become mainstream within a decade. What happens when you get 1,000 mile range on a charge that takes an hr? What happens when cars come with 100,000 mile range built in with no charging ever needed? Science fiction? I also remember when a pocket calculator was the size of a NY city block and they said some day computers might weigh as little as a ton. 


EV is coming. But that aside, I've been saying for years that revolution is coming. Unfortunately I think a majority of dealers are asleep. We've taken what the OEM is shoved down our throats for so long we've forgotten a simple truth: without us, the OEM's are all bankrupt...

Comment by Pete Obuchon on October 11, 2011 at 5:21am
Jim- I couldn't stop laughing when I read this! "The reason customers don't buy service contracts on Hondas is because they believe they are built by God... God used to build Toyotas but He subcontracted that."
Comment by Tom Kain on October 10, 2011 at 8:00pm
Another great article Jim.  I first heard the saying "Most people telling me to smell the roses can't afford any damn roses." back in 2005 when I got your book and audio edition "The Prosperity Equation" (listened no less than 50 times).  I use this very same statement every time someone tells me I'm working too much.  I, like you, love what I do and if I want to smell roses I will just buy some damn roses for my wife! Thanks for all you do.  Give my best to Debbie and Sadie.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 10, 2011 at 6:34pm
Once again, Jim Ziegler delivers a healthy dose of realism and practical guidance... Honoring commitments is what makes us able to leverage a good reputation.

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