Best Practices

The 4-Hour Work Week – At The Dealership

dealership 4 hour work week
time efficiency at the dealership

Can You Sell Cars Working 4 Hours A Week?

Can you imagine? Instead of working 60 plus hours per week, you show up at 9 AM on Monday and weekend is just four hours away! What would you do with all the free time? I would probably play enough golf to be on the PGA tour, lift weights and work out everyday, and then on Saturday, maybe go to Home Depot, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond, I don’t know.

For those of you who haven’t read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, you’ll be really disappointed to know that I am not starting a revolt to reduce dealership hours from 9AM-9PM Monday through Saturday to 1 4-hour workday. However, I am confident that I will save you a ton of time and be able to help you make more money.

Let’s get started..

Stop checking your email every five minutes!

Prior to reading the 4-hour workweek I was super guilty of this. By checking your email every minute you can’t get anything done. What happens is you start to work on something important like an email blast, website analytics, advertising, etc. Then you get an email from your factory rep with daily sales update, while checking this email you get a SPAM email that you have to unsubscribe from, and then you get a bill emailed to you that you print out to authorize payment for and before you know it it’s been a half an hour and you completely forgot about your email blast.

Instead of checking your email every 5 minutes, set 2 times per day that you check email say 12 PM and 5 PM. I’m sure it’s your habit to check their email the first thing you get into work each day, but you must break this habit! Henry Evans in the book The Hour a Day Entrepreneur uses a sports analogy, rather than start the day on the defensive responding to emails you want to start the day on the offensive. Making stuff happen, making profit happen.

It is a difficult habit to break, but you must keep Outlook closed and even turn off the email notifications on your iPhone. Some of you might have managers or the owners above you whose emails you feel obligated to quickly respond to, however if you explain to these individuals that you are only checking your emails at 12 PM and 5 PM each day in an effort to increase efficiency and for them to call you with anything urgent. You will find that responses to most of their emails can wait and that they will call you if they truly have something urgent.

Single tasking is the new multi-tasking!

Poker is a passionate hobby of mine and I play in the WSOP main event most summers, but the majority of my play used to be online before it got shut down in the US. When playing online poker I had 3 22” monitors set up playing 12 tables

simultaneously (there are people who play many more tables than this!). While it was fun and exciting to play so many tables, I found that my win rate was much lower than if I played only 3 or 4 tables. The reason… playing less tables I was able to focus more on maximizing as much profit from the hands I was ahead in and minimize loss in the hands I was behind in.

The same principles can be applied in the dealership. At one point, I would have my email, Facebook, Twitter, CRM, website editor, vAuto and instant messenger all open at the same time. Why? Because it was awesome and made me feel really important to have so many windows open. Naturally all of this leads to little focus and a lot of distraction. Now, I’ll try to keep only the things open I need, for the most part this is just one program. However, there are times where I’ll need multiple things open like if I’m desking deals for instance that I may need multiple things open.

In terms of getting things done. I set 12 month, 6 month, and 1 month goals and funnel each of these goals to specific daily to dos. I use Evernote the night before to prioritize the entire next day to do list. As I mentioned you want to head into work on the offensive making stuff happen. On a given day the priority might be a customer we are real close with closing, sometimes it’s working on the CRM action plan, writing a press release, sales training, etc. However, they are prioritized and align with my goals, instead of someone’s email.

Eliminate work other people can do

Prior to reading the 4-Hour Workweek there were countless things that I would do on a weekly basis and the entire time while doing them I would be thinking someone else really could be doing this for me. The reason I didn’t, I was too lazy to teach someone else how to do it. I am sure there are countless things that you could have someone else do as well. A few things that come to mind are reporting sales, sales logs, and dealer trades but I am sure there are countless other things that you can have someone else do for you as well.

Below is a great chart that is included in the 4-Hour Work Week on finding stuff to outsource to a personal assistant. I have found that there are enough people in the dealership to keep busy that a personal assistant isn’t necessary. Finance Managers are great people to utilize because they are detail oriented and while they aren’t selling products you might utilize their skills rather than have them checking Facebook while they are waiting for another deal. Other people that come to mind are secretaries or warranty administrators. I would recommend not having sales people doing stuff like this because there are a lot of sales people who will make these things a higher priority than selling cars.


Another thing that is mentioned in the 4-Hour Workweek that is a big time saver is empowering your employees. Now, truthfully I’ve yet to implement the majority of the stuff I am suggesting so these are merely ideas. However, Tim Ferriss shares about how he would get 200+ emails per day from the customer service side of his business about different customer complaints and how each should be handled. He would spend 9-5 replying to each email about how to handle the situation. Ultimately he empowered his customer service to fix any customer problem under $100 without contacting him and this instantly reduced his emails from 200 per day into fewer than 20 per week.

In the New Gold Standard is explained how the Ritz-Carlton empowers each employee up to $2,000 per day to take care of any customer issues and also to exceed their expectations. Naturally this empowerment must been managed, but both Tim’s company and the Ritz-Carlton note that such empowerment has had little to no effect on the bottom-line. Yet, the quick resolution of problems has undoubtedly increased customer happiness. Even if such empowerment does minimally affect the bottom-line, the freedom from constant interruption this provides you and your managers makes it well worth it.

Dealership specific example of how this could be effectively implemented would be to provide a structure for internet pricing for BDC or Internet Sales Reps so they don’t have to check with a Sales Manager for every price. Also for Service Advisors to take care of any problems and unhappiness on the service drive.

Time Vampires

In Dan Kennedy’s book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs Dan talks about one of the of the biggest threats to your time and energy, time vampires. Time vampires can come in the form of coworkers, vendors, and even customers who have no regard for your productivity and are constantly interrupting you with meaningless questions, stories, or gossip. Some time vampires he talks about in the book are Mr. Have-You-Got-A-Minute, Mr. Trivia, and Mr. Soap Opera. These people need no description, you know who I’m talking about.

A couple of things to drive a stake into the time vampires is to end the open door policy! If you are working on something and can’t be interrupted put your phone on do not disturb and put a big sign outside your office to not come in for a set period of time. I tend to bounce around from dealership to dealership and therefore don’t have an office so when I sit down to get work done I put on headphones. When people see me banging on my keyboard and working diligently with my headphones on they know it better be good to interrupt me.

The last time vampire is Mr. Meeting.


I have gone full circle on meetings. I used to be a Mr. Meeting. I thought that the old school car guys were crazy because they never seem to ever have meetings. However, after reading the 4-Hour Workweek and some of the other books I’ve mentioned I have realized that there can’t be anything less productive than a meeting. I used to take every meeting asked for by AutoTrader,, CARFAX, and if you are vendor reading this and I forgot your company I apologize but the good news is I probably had a meeting with your company too.

So don’t let the vendors talk you into going over your account performance because this is simply an opportunity for them to upsell you on a higher version of their product or waste your time. Meetings should only be used to solve a pre- defined problem and must have a set agenda. So if you are having a problem or want to know about a higher version of the product, you set up the meeting with them.

Side note: one meeting I do recommend having is a morning meeting, most call it a save a deal meeting. I think it is so important that i will go over it in another blog post.


Have you read the 4-Hour Workweek and if so what did you get from it?

Are you applying any 4 Hour Workweek rules at your dealership or to your personal process?

In other words, the best advice is, TURN OFF your computer while you are working ;P
  • R
  • August 8, 2012
Bobby - Thanks for the great article! I really enjoyed the book and your post really gave the 4 Hour Work Week a dealership spin.
The email strategy was a real breakthrough for me after I read the book. Now most people know I won't be the guy you get a rapid fire response from, and guess what they don't care!
Does this mean I can ignore your emails now :)
  • A
    Adam R
  • August 9, 2012
That was a great post to read. I've had that book on my wish list, might be time to buy it. I especially liked the part on empowerment. I think dealership management, actually management in general, fail at empowering their employees. This would not only make management more productive but improve customer service too. 
  • J
  • August 9, 2012
What I see here is a lesson in discipline and organization.  Is Mr. Alex listed as a Time Vampire? ;)
Great article and fascinating topic.  Here at our office, we've discussed the notion pretty openly and how we can improve our work flow.  Some changes worked, some didn't, but at a minimum, we've become more aware of how we can better maximize our time.  
A bigger picture point that you make is "work expands to fill time."  For example: Tell someone they have 8 hours to finish a project, they will stretch it out over 8 hours.  Tell someone they have 4 hours to finish the same project, it will take them 4 hours... (I'm sure this rings a bell for some folks from their college days when you were finishing an English paper at 4:00 AM).
The trick?  Actually executing your plans and sticking to them over the long haul. Hint: It's not always easy.
- Mike
 @Alex Snyder You can ignore them till it's your set time to check email each day!
LOL, I'd like to give Alex a hard time, but he is actually pretty efficient.
Great point Mike, Tim calls this the 9-5 illusions and shares a story similar to where a couple of interviews he needed for a 30 page paper fell through the day before the paper was due and he "found, interviewed, and dissected with an intense all-night" and received an A on the paper. On my Evernote to do list, not only do I prioritize my day, but I also try to set aside a block of time for each task for this very reason. My to do list used to drag out the entire day, now they're often times done by 12 or 1 PM.
 @ryan_carchat24 Ya it sounds crazy to most to not check their email frequently throughout the day, but like you said after you try it it's a huge time saver. Even leaving your open throughout the day, not necessarily responding to emails is a bad habit because you will be thinking about the emails instead of staying focused on the task you're working on.
  • D
  • August 11, 2012
Bobby, love the article and I love the book. You have encouraged me to go back and read it again. While I find it hard to believe one could achieve only working 4 hours a week - the ideas Tim offers in the book are priceless. Priorities and Efficiencies. 
I've tried many times to follow the twice a day email rule but that's one I can get to stick. Too many time sensitive emails corresponding to  projects and deadlines to get away with only checking my email 2 times a day. However - I do very much agree that email can be a real time such and I have tried and continue to try and cut back on how much I open up my inbox. 
  • D
  • August 11, 2012
Continuing on...
Meetings - when I was at a single point it was rare we had weekly review meeting that wasn't a real yawn. Then I moved into a "corporate" postion with MileOne where we tended to have several meetings a week. As I transitioned back to a smaller dealer group, where the "I" was the corporate structure, I tried to establish more consistant meetings. This became a real drag. The reason being - most people don't know HOW to have effective meetings. Lets face it, dealers LOVE to talk about everything but the tasks at hand. A meeting that shouldn't take any longer than 15 meetings turns into 30-40-60 minutes long and you have yet to really achieve anything. 
I believe meetings are crucial but they need to be short and to the point while ending with a plan of execution with dates to get it done. 
A few rules I try to follow when holding a meetings
1. Have an agenda for the meeting. This seems obvious but many times the "weekly" meeting agenda becomes "loose" and after a few weeks. Keep the agenda in front of you at all times. 
2. Have a start and end time. View your meeting times as a promise that you need to keep.
3. Stick to the topic for each meeting. At times this can be difficult, but it's necessary to stay focused on the topic the meeting is about. 
4. Execution - most meetings are based around getting something done or they at least turn into that. Be sure everyone knows exactly what is expected out of them after the meeting is done while having a time frame or deadline for getting it done. 
5. Pre-schedule for the next meeting. This day should correspond to the deadline date set in the previous meeting. I find of you do NOT schedule a date for the next meeting where all will come together with their completed tasks at hand, nothing gets done and the meetings around the subject of execution keeps getting pushed back. Ultimately resulting in what should only take a few days to a week to get done turing into a month to get done. 
Meetings are good but keep the short and structured.
  • B
  • August 17, 2012
Bobby yes I remember reading 4hr around the time it came out. I still apply some of what I picked from that book and it has been helpful in my career. I enjoyed getting a refresher of it through your post. Your section about "single tasking" is so timely. I think there is trend towards this going on right now.