The Huggable Entrepreneur: Professionalism in the Used Car Industry

Posted by Kristin Arnold on November 1, 2016

This past week at our Reinvent Atlantic Canada Leadership Conference in Fredericton, NB, Kristin and I had the pleasure of getting to know an interesting entrepreneur.  He was the first attendee to arrive, sat up front, and was totally engaged throughout the event.

His name is Jim Gilbert and he owns a used car dealership called “Wheels and Deals.”  He is renowned as the “Huggable Dealer.”  Jim owns one of the most successful and largest independently owned used car dealerships in Atlantic Canada. He is friendly, treats everyone with fairness, and maintains a high standard of ethics.

Because of this reputation, more than 80% of his buyers are repeat clients.  So, why is he known as the “huggable dealer?”  Well, every customer receives a teddy bear and a big hug, and  each customer also receives a birthday card every year.

However, his life and business were not always this way.  He struggled in high school and after barely graduating, took a big risk and opened a business with a partner pumping gas and selling used cars.

After 15 years he was still struggling.  The business was experiencing problems with cash flow, bank loans, and maintaining inventory.  He was working 14-hours days, seven days a week ─ and still not getting ahead.

At this point he decided to enroll in every education program possible to help improve his business.  These programs included customer service, accounting, budgeting, inventory management, negotiation, communications, etc..

His life really changed after attending an Amway recruiting session where he was introduced to Zig Ziglar. He got hooked on Zig’s inspirational messages and came to realize his lack of success was his own fault.

He got addicted to personal improvement programs and went on to learn from some of the greatest in the business: Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Tom Hopkins, and others. I was pleased to discover he even had a couple of my books.

While driving, he would listen to motivational tapes. He discovered how to take control of his life and become a true self-motivated professional. He stopped blaming others for his lack of success and became a life-long learner.

In fact, he now lives by the motto, “Always Be Learning”.  Another of his favorite quotes is:

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

And Jim Gilbert cares – about family, people, and his community.

He attended the Zig Ziglar Automobile University.  As a side note, Zig has inspired 1000’s of people.  In fact, one of my own life transformations came many years ago after reading his book “See You at The Top.”

Jim then decided to reinvent himself and his business.  He implemented a process where all customers would have a positive experience with the dealership. He realized he could improve his business by becoming a better person and improving the buying experience for each customer.

He started working with an amazing sales trainer and consultant, Gair Maxwell.  Gair introduced him to leading edge sales techniques, management and leadership concepts, and the science of goal setting.  Gair also reminded him that what people think about the most becomes their reality.

So Jim stepped outside of his conditioned thinking, and reinvented himself.  He and his wife Dawn are now living their dream of happiness and success and spend significant time giving back to the people and the community.

For all entrepreneurs, this is a great lesson.  Do not despair if success seems initially elusive.  Don’t blame the economy, the government, or the competition.  Take control, become a life-long learner and start doing some of the things Jim Gilbert does.


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