Saying Goodbye to the Godfather

I’ve heard people say he was a legend, the ‘Godfather of Automotive Digital Marketing,’ and a pioneer in modern BDCs. Yes, he was all of that and more, but to me, Ralph Paglia (pictured) was my friend.

It was one of those names, like Cher or Nixon. When someone in the car business said, “Ralph,” nobody ever asked, “Which one?”

I’ve heard people say he was a legend, the ‘Godfather of automotive digital marketing,’ and a pioneer in modern BDCs. Yes, he was all of that and more, but to me, Ralph Paglia was my friend.

We all go through life taking some people for granted as if they’ll always be there; until they aren’t. Ralph was always there, just a phone call away for anyone and everyone, and then, on December 21, the news spread throughout the industry like wildfire. Ralph Paglia had died from complications of COVID-19.

Thousands of people joined in the online tributes, and there were so many testimonials from people, stories about Ralph’s generosity and kindness. He was always there if you needed help or expert advice, and he never charged enough if he even charged you at all. Ralph Paglia was all about giving back to an industry he loved.

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

You Must Adapt to Move Forward

10 Changes Dealers Must Make in 2021

In 1980 John Lennon wrote the song, “Beautiful Boy,” about his broken relationship with his young son. The lyrics he penned resounded and hit so many of us with the raw truth behind the words.

Lennon wrote and sang, “Before you cross the street, take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Although that quote was not entirely original to Lennon, his emphasis on the future uncertainty caused the world to pause and take note.

2020 was a scene right out of our worst nightmare, but also a dawning of a new adventure in automotive. Your perspective depends entirely on how you reacted to what the year threw at you.

As we charge forward into the New Year, dealers that are willing to adapt and change, embracing new processes, technologies, and business practices, will crush competitors who chose to ignore the reality of shifting paradigms. In other words, to quote something my younger self wrote in this magazine years ago: “Whatever you think is going to happen is not the way it’s going to turn out.”

SO, every new vendor with new technology has said they will be “disrupting the market.” How many times have we heard that?

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

The Great Dealer Apocalypse of the 2020s

It’s nighttime here on planet Mars, November 15, 2030.

I am sitting here speaking to my voice word processor as I am sipping on a Piña Colada, and yes, this is the life. Sitting comfortably on the enclosed balcony of my apartment here at the Elon Musk Villages Retirement Colony on Mars, my wife, Debbie, is in the other room cooking another one of her fabulous signature meals – simulated roast beef and greens.

Yes, I am still here. Some say I am immortal. I don’t know if that’s true, I haven’t got there yet.

Watching Mars’ beautiful moons, Deimos, and Phobos, lighting up the Martian nighttime sky, is serene and calming. My thoughts turn back to another time as I reminisce about the way it was – and the way it could have been. The following is my perception and personal opinions of the events that happened back then.

Read the whole article on Digital Dealer here.

Transformation of Your Dealership – Shifting Paradigms

Ziegler cites his ability to change and evolve as the catalyst for who he is today. That is also your ability – to change direction, adapt, and create a new dealership model.

Those of you that have known me through the years, know many of the processes and techniques the entire retail car business uses daily were originally invented and implemented by me. In other words, the stuff we do every day in every dealership, much of it I created. “Old school, I Invented old school…” that’s a fact that can be proven. So, let’s move on to the important stuff.

Over the last 43 years in the car business, I have had to throw on the brakes, stop, reverse, and go in a completely new direction. So, I advanced from “old school” to “newer school,” to the “latest school.” Survival and prosperity in our business has always been the dealers’ ability to evolve and change mindset. What I was teaching and creating, even 10 years ago, is no longer valid nor appropriate.

I’m saying that my ability to change and evolve has made me who I am today and kept me relevant. That is also your ability – to change direction, adapt, and create a new dealership model.

We cannot trust the manufacturers, and we certainly can’t trust most of our vendors to lead the way to change because they all have hidden motives that are not necessarily in the dealers’ best interests.

Read the whole post here on Auto Dealer Today.

Who Killed Cadillac?

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, and GM Executive Vice President Product Development Mark Reuss talk with students and tour the EcoCAR3 Challenge garage Friday, May 19, 2017 at the GM Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)

I am greatly saddened as I sit here pouring my thoughts into my keyboard. I’ve written numerous articles through the years detailing the fall of Cadillac, an American luxury icon. A voice inside my head keeps screaming, “Why?”

I am about to rant an outpouring of my personal opinions, emotions, and perceptions as I have done so many times in years past. It isn’t always negative. I have owned nine Escalades and seven Chevrolet Corvettes. I was a cheerleader for the brand. And I still love General Motors; I am just enraged by their management.

When Mary Barra was appointed chairman and CEO of GM, I was ecstatic that they had selected a woman for that position. Four years later, I am scratching my head and saying, “Yes, but not that one.”

Uh-oh! The angel on my right shoulder just said, “Ziegler, are you nuts? Talking bad about Mary Barra is sort of like slapping Mother Teresa.” And now the devil on my left shoulder is saying, “Go ahead, big boy. You never backed down from the truth before.”

Wonder which angel I’ll listen to before I send this article to the editor? Since it’s only one man’s opinion, and I might be wrong, I’ll just go with my gut.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerToday.

Never Argue With Stupid People

How is Carvana drawing investors with a losing proposition? The Alpha Dawg blames short sellers and the shortsighted.

As Mark Twain once said, “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” In recent years, the retail car business has been invaded, infiltrated, and infested by armies of idiots, fools, and disreputable vendors, as well as a seedy assorted collection of outright criminals. The one thing they all seem to have in common is a cloak of self-righteousness. They market themselves as the defenders of consumers who have long been abused by evil car dealers.

The buzzwords, battle cry, and new-age mantra all promise a better car-buying experience. The plot below the surface has become increasingly transparent.

The master plan is to put you out of business. They are convinced they can do the entire transaction online and eliminate dealers — if only the laws were changed and assuming consumers will cooperate. Luckily, in at least one high-profile case, it ain’t gonna happen.

No Partner of Mine

I always crack up when companies that are working feverishly to steal your customers and resell your data refer to themselves as “dealer partners.” The same technology that some vendors claim proves “attribution” also leaves a trail of what they do with your data, including to whom it is sold.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

Robbery in Progress. Somebody Call the Police!

Ziegler blames the ongoing theft of your customers’ personal, private information by nefarious marketers in part on factory co-op programs, which limit dealer choice and vendor competition.

Let me begin by pointing out the fact that I was writing and speaking about the corruption in the factory executive ranks long before it came to light. Let me also point out that literally no one else was piping up about it, and I was attacked for doing so. But, as it has many times in the past, history bore me out as new information came to light. I was totally vindicated and the accuracy of what I wrote was verified.

I begin with that because it is most certainly going to happen again. This time, it’s an “Emperor’s New Clothes” type of situation: Everybody can see the dude, and we all know he isn’t wearing a stitch, but nobody’s got the balls to say it.

I am talking about the manufacturers’ co-op marketing programs and their relationships with the companies that administer them.

When Factories Don’t Co-operate

At best, this is a story about weak management, manufacturer executive incompetence at the highest levels, and incredibly stupid decisions. Factories are pounding dealers with an iron fist to control which vendors they use and cover the associated costs. I might be wrong. But I seriously doubt it.

Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

How Can Geeks Be This Bad at Math?

Those of you who have followed my speeches, blogs, social media posts, and articles over the last 25 years know there are two things I really enjoy: The first is crowing about predictions I’ve made when the rest of the industry was going the other way. The second is manufacturers and vendors out for making stupid decisions.

In this issue, I get to do both.

Told You So

Last year, I wrote an article called “Bound to Fail” for the May 2018 issue of F&I and Showroom. To summarize, I said subscription car programs were going to die a miserable death. The main reason? Math.

The manufacturers have all made the same moronic miscalculation to chase those mythological millennials. They even convinced numerous dealerships to push their chips in. Jeff Wyler Dealerships in Cincinnati made a major commitment to make subscriptions work, as did the multistate Germain Automotive Group.


Read the whole article here on AutoDealerMonthly.

Internet Battle Plan, Teach at the Beach Part 4, Clearwater Beach Florida, March 4th and 5th

50771849_10156002768048365_2145402487236984832_nSee 20 top experts on stage, every aspect of Internet and Technology Sales and Marketing, Phone Skills, BDC Skills, Video Response Experts, SEO/SEM/,Website Conversion, Artificial Intelligence Marketing, Social Media/Facebook Marketing, Google Adwords, Phone Skills, Conversion. The Best Event of its kind.

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Internet Battle Plan, Teach at the Beach Part 4, Clearwater Beach, Florida , March 4th and 5th.