The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode 482 · 6 months ago

Andrew & Doug MacIver: Selling Cars With Humor, Creativity, and Authenticity


Andrew and Doug MacIver are the stars of hit reality show, Bargain Brothers, which provides a irreverent but honest look at a day in the life of used car dealers. Through creativity, humor, and authenticity, The Brothers of Bargain have been able to carve out a niche in the Canadian car buying market.

What we discuss in this episode:

  • How Andrew and Doug got started as independent auto dealers
  • Why it's important to continually assess the risks your dealership is facing so that you can respond appropriately
  • How authenticity has helped them create commercials and other assets to stand out in a unique car buying market
  • How will consolidation affect the small dealers?
  • How independent dealers can get creative acquiring vehicles from consumers
  • Listen to the full episode for more!   

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Thanks, Andrew and Doug!

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...the car business is rapidly changing and modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo and together we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealership and life in the retail automotive industry join me each week for inspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed to help you grow. This is the dealer playbook. Mhm. Mhm, mm hmm, mm hmm. Yeah. Doug and Andrew McIver are the stars of bargain brothers, a reality tv series that provides an irreverent but honest. Look at their used car operation, ride time and how they're on a mission to change the public's opinion of used car salespeople through transparent, honest and generally awesome customer service. There are third generation dealers who grew up in the business and who have been, who have a deep understanding of how important customer care is to achieving success. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me here on the dealer playbook podcast. Thanks for having us. Thank you. So, uh, I've always kind of kept an eye on the two of you from a man. You know, if they're onto something here because because you have a situation that is relatable and that you're a family business, but then you've broken the mold completely as what I would submit the standouts, especially in the Canadian market of dealers who aren't well who have proven that it's okay to kind of like poke fun at yourself and, and, and that you, you don't always have to be this white collar, you know, hoity toity like whatever. Oh, I'm so professional and we take pride in blah, blah blah. So I wanna, I wanna ask you right, because I think our human nature, maybe it's preservation mode. Maybe maybe we just have this in a desire to be more professional than we are and not make fools of ourselves and not, you know, we're maybe overthink everything. Maybe we want to do something funny, but we overthink it, how, how have you guys found the balance? Like, have you always just been kind of crazy people and zany like this and just said like screw it, we're gonna go for it. Or was there an aha moment where you're like, hey, we got to let people in in a, in a greater way to, to build a presence in the market. Yeah, so I'll jump in there. My, my brother and my dad had started this business in 2007. My dad was a franchise dealer for a long time and at one time was the largest Chrysler store in Canada by volume. Um, when the stores are all closed and my brother and him had started this business, it was the two of them. Um, I'd come back from playing pro hockey uh, in 2000 and 10, 2011 and our dad within a year had passed away. So through uh, the great help and I love giving him a shot at paul portraits at the time was our, our ad agency and he said, you know, you guys now are the face of the business, we have to come up with a way of branding, branding youtube. Um to your point about being more professional than you probably are. Uh you know Andrew has a really good story that I'll let him tell about. He wore a suit, he dealt with the customer one day dressed in normal attire and the next day he wore a suit and the difference between the customer's reaction of him in a suit versus normal attire was immense. But before he tells that we, you know, we always talked about, we're selling cars to people and people buy, you know, $100,000 Tesla's which were sold to you know, $4000 trade ins um and people are just normal people, right? And they want to deal with normal people and I'll let him tell the story, but I really think that if you dress past your customer right, there's a problem, right? And uh you can dress to be comfortable and make everyone feel welcome in your establishment and it comes down to what we sell, right? You know, we do sell bread and butter...

...vehicles for the most part, so, you know, we sell, you know everyday vehicles to everyday people. The truth of it is going to the story that doug kind of told and then told me to retell uh there was a customer that came in and I was wearing, you know everyday clothes, we hadn't gone to our uniform, which are uniform is actually a polo shirt and jeans and uh, I was wearing street clothes the next day, I woke up that morning and I said, you know what, I'm going to dress like I used to dress when I was at the dealership and that was you know, the really nice suit, the tie, the shirt, the whole nine yards show up and the guy that I got along with like amazing yesterday, he was like my newest best friend. I came in the next day and he literally would not talk to me and I had to try and figure out why that was and you know, we got to the bottom of it and he goes, listen, you dress like my boss, I hate my boss, right? And and he had an example, he goes, I had a friend, he was a really good friend and all of a sudden next thing you know, he becomes the foreman and every day is just showing up in a suit, He completely changed. I hate him. I never wanted to deal with somebody that dresses in a suit and it was an Aha moment for us that you know, again, we want to meet the customer where they are and we want to seem approachable because I remember going to the dealership every once in a while and if I dress really, really nice, I'd have some people come up to me and say you look like a banker, right? And if you think of it this way, a decent percentage of your populate our customer base hate bankers. Why? Because bankers tell them no. Right? So depending on what your customer bases and and and you know truthfully when we started this company back, You know, in 2007 and you know, I tracked that all the way back to 2010, we were 90% non prime, right? That was the core of our business at that time. And going back to it, you don't want to dress like a banker when 90% of your customer is in the non prime space because going back what I just said, bankers tell them no, right? And they have bad connotations with that. And You know, you always talk about what would you do if you're able to start a dealership from scratch? Well, truthfully, when we started this company back in 2007, we were finally able to get rid of all the rules that the franchise dealers had right now, truthfully, you as an independent, you give up one set of problems for another. You don't have a factory telling you what to do, but you have issues getting lenders, right? You always trade one set of problems for another, but we were able to create something from scratch and said if I could would I and how would I do it? And you know, we've we've made some decisions that I think have benefited us. And one of those going back to what you said is, you know, are relaxed atmosphere overall and yeah, not taking ourselves too seriously. I'm intrigued by it because, and I love it because the what both of you have just described is a thought process that like it really just shows how much thought has gone into this, how strategic it actually is. Most people I think of, you know, my early days in the industry where I was like, suit up because that was all the do you know, Jim, Alpha Dog Ziggler here and you know, and they were all wearing suits and you know, all these sorts of things and you think, well that's the way it has to be and you go to some sort of whatever leadership seminar and they're like, the first thing they look at is your shoes and how shiny are you, you know, and all that kind of stuff, like kind of this old school, you know, you must be clean shaven and I remember doing all of that and it probably impressed maybe the old dogs in the industry that kind of grew up with that. But then you realize like to your point how important it is to know your audience and who am I actually trying to build a relationship with and I love what you're saying about a boss because...

...the minute the minute somebody feels like they're your boss, even if they like you as a quote unquote boss, they're still going to treat you different because you're the boss. And so I think that's, that's really, really interesting that you framed it out that way. Um, what do you say to dealers? Like, what advice would you give them? Who are maybe thinking who have had these similar thoughts but have not yet pulled the trigger because there may be too afraid to try it out. What would you say to them to, to maybe ease their, their minds? Yeah. One thing we talked about all the time is consolidation in our industry, right? As, um, uh, and it's across all verticals, but as everyone keeps getting bigger, right? The small guys disappear. And once all the small guys are gone, the medium guys will be the small guys, right? It's something we always talk about that if we're not growing, were actually dying at some point, right? You're gonna have to make a decision to differentiate yourself and allow yourself to grab the consumer's attention in the market or you will be gone, right? And it doesn't necessarily mean you have to wear a dress. You know, because we do talk about, you know, we've done some really wacky commercials and, and we totally understand if we had a, you know, a brand behind us. You know, a ford logo on a building or, you know, still Lantus or whatever, right? They would tell us that, you know, that's just not appropriate, Right? You can't be going out and doing address, but you have to get your personality out there because people do buy from people and people, Um, you know, we're lucky to be in a group with you with Glenn Lundy and the 800% club. Um, you, you have to be willing to, to be that place that people want to go and deal with, right? And uh, your personality is the easiest way to connect with those people and just being a modern, relevant store, right? Which is, people want to follow those stories. That's where I was going with Glenn Lundy. You know, he built a business on every week, um, sharing those wins and losses, right? People want to support people, but they can't support you really if they don't know you. Right? So I guess that's my advice to the dealers that are thinking this is an appropriate time. We, we have to look at this. I'm gonna share my screen. We have to watch for those that are listening audio only. We're about to watch one of the Bargain Brothers commercials. You're going to hear it and I think we need to frame this up. You guys actually shared this with me earlier today and I've watched it probably seven times. I'm not going to lie because I think it's hilarious, but it is a testament of, you know what you're talking about and, and so I guess I want to watch this or you guys can listen to it and then I want to maybe just dissect your process a little bit like what does this actually look like? Because it looks like there's a, you know, there's there's obviously some measure of story boarding or like you're you're you're up to something. So I wanna I think this would be really cool to dissect this. So uh for those that are listening, this is a commercial produced by uh Doug and Andrew. It's satirical. It's current events because we just had an election. Mhm. Kind of useless election right now in Canada at time of recording this. Um and this is taking advantage of current events and getting in front of the market. Um I'm seeing on Facebook and I don't know where else has been published, but I'm I'm seeing just shy of 2000 views, which organically I think is tremendous, especially since facebook hates everybody these days. So I'm gonna hit play on this. Uh and let's let's just watch this real quick in Manitoba. We believe in conservative prices and at right time our approvals could not be more liberal are ndP approach will not only get you the...

...vehicle you want, but the payments you deserve. So save the green throw a party and find your next vehicle at ride time located 80 seven oh point highway in Winnipeg Manitoba now please don't block us on facebook. give us a like instead for bad funds and political humor. That's all you needed, right? Yeah. All right. Let's get out of here. You think anyone knows? We're not wearing pants? I hope not. Okay. I love everything about this. I'm sitting here cracking up while we're while we're watching this. So what we just for the listener only, What we just watched is there's different political parties in Canada. They all have names. The brothers of bargains took advantage of the names to implement into their script and really share their why by value proposition with, with the market and it's so brilliantly done. But then the last piece is kind of the behind the scenes, you can hear the bell ring like the alright cut, you know, kind of bell. And then they're like sweet as you get everything you need. And you see the green screen behind them and then they walk off and as they're walking off, you see that they're just in their boxer shorts. You know, wear a nice suit jackets and boxer shorts. How long does it take to put something like that together? Well, I mean, I'll let Andrew that was actually Andrew's idea. Um, we do have, uh, and this kind of wraps into everything we're talking. But we, we finally, uh, after years and years of discussing it, we hired a full time in house videographer. He's very, very talented script writing. Um, but this is an idea that Andrew had that basically went to him he wrote out the script and you know came up with the idea for some of the visuals and and what we did. But Yeah I will give this 100% credit to my dad. You know the truth is way back when my dad was you know he was very cutting edge on the marketing that he would do and he always had the idea of of doing something like this. And the lad I can remember being in the dealership him talking about the political ad that he wanted to do and it was you know liberal. And this was before we had the Green Party but he talked about liberal uh liberal approvals conservative prices and no down payment N. D. P. Which is another political party in Canada. So that was his idea. But we had an election coming up and we wanted to everything the we've done tv ads and the interesting part about tv ads, everything has to go through telecaster for those aren't familiar in Canada if you said today that I wanted to do an ad for something that was gonna happen tomorrow. Well you would have to figure it out 14 days minimum in the past to then have it because there's this approval process that has to go through in Canada. So the power of digital marketing is I could get an idea today as long as it takes me to film it, that's how long it would take me to get it up. So we knew we had the federal election coming up. We wanted to do something topical. And part of our success that we've figured out is visually appealing ads perform better. So we had to figure out something that was visually appealing or something that would catch people off guard. And as we were story boarding it out, what could we do? Well what if we're not wearing pants? So you know, there are elements that we have been able to take from our previous tv commercials or videos that we've made and we we have a formula that we know in the past it's worked, we just have to, you know, find a way to dig it around to make it work for us. I just, the one thing I just thought that was interesting about this is I tried running it as an ad on facebook denied you can't run political ads and then, okay well it's not a political ad right? Because we we had it done like almost 56 days before the election. We wanted to run it as an add uh we're gonna review it. So uh they review it, you...

...know, 48 hours later, nope you can't run political ads. You have to register. I had to go anyways, I go through this entire process to be able to buy political ads. So I had to give you know my license, my like I had to think a video selfie that took like four or five days I got approved to run political ads and there's like a disclaimer, you know when I said this adds been bought by the whatever party, right? So I got approved the morning after the election finally to start buying political ads and there would be like this disclaimer that this adds been approved and purchased by ride time and it is so stupid. But uh yeah, there's just an interesting aside to us. I love the the agility. Right? So so you were talking about your dad, are you saying kind of the agility to move like that stemmed from him, was that part of even when you guys were in the franchise business, he was always coming up with wild and crazy ideas right? For different stuff that he was allowed to or that he wanted to do. And the interesting part, you know, he had a Chrysler store and he was out able to advertise a certain way of this Chrysler store when he acquired his Volkswagen store in Toronto, he tried to advertise the same way while Volkswagen came down on him, like really, really hard because they said that's not how we do business and those are the constraints that he always, and I'll back everything up one story that always stands out in my mind, he was the number one dealer in Canada at the time, right by volume biggest store in Canada. Uh, and I remember there was a buy here pay here lot out of a trailer in the front of where we used to go to the movies at a strip mall, at a strip mall and he, we're going to this, this place to go to a movie and he looks at me and he looks at this dirt lot basically and said, that's the dream. And I was so caught off guard at the moment because here's his beautiful dealership. He has, he went through a remodel, he had a restaurant inside the dealership. He was one of the first people to do that. And I, as you know, a younger, I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't figure out why he would give it all up. Right. If you think of it that way to then own this buy here pay here lot. And the truth was, he always felt very, very constrained by the fact factory, right. They always made up all these rules that, that dictated how he had to run his own business and he hated it. And uh, so some of the ideas that he came up with, right? And I told the story of his funeral, Um, Winnipeg, there was a time and I think it was 84 or 85, the pope came to visit, uh, Winnipeg and Portage Avenue, those who have been Winnipeg haven't been in Winnipeg. It's, you know, one of our main streets and the Pope and Midway Chrysler, which was the store that we had in, in Winnipeg was on portage and the Pope literally came right by the dealership. And as a baby, I was on the top of the roof and uh, as the Pope drove by, my dad wanted to have a sale and he was thinking that he was gonna hire Father Guido Sarducci, which was an SNL character and he was gonna have a sale where everything in the front of the line got a full blessing. Everything in the second row. That was a half a blessing. Everything in the back row, that was no blessing at all. Those are sold as is right, That was his idea. And he was always coming up with those crazy, crazy ideas and he thought it was brilliant. He took it to his dad and his dad lost it. And what, what are you doing? We can never advertise like that. But those were, you know, that that's what made him and, you know, a lot of that rubbed off on us that it's okay to take risks, right?...

It's okay. It's way better to be memorable than to have an ad that appeals to everybody because the more vanilla your ad is, it appeals to nobody, right? So, you know, we, we've had it, that we've upset some people with our ads, uh, people and, and they've fallen on both sides of it. But if you're getting some reaction that's way better than getting no reaction at all. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No I have young kids, right? And that one of the things that I'm I'm focusing on instilling is the sooner they realize it doesn't matter. You don't have to be liked by everybody, right? You have to be yourself, right? And that's the truth. Like you said, we've run. You know, we ran a donald trump ad which we thought was gonna be hilarious right? Where we were we were to donald trump's we hired a professional donald trump voice and uh voiceover voiceover guy. You know, we were building walls around high prices, right? You were uh and what was the other thing we did in there anyways? We were making a car buying great again. Making car buying great again. Right, kissing babies, shaking hands. It was total, it was a total spoof. I had friends, you know, because I've got family and stuff in the U. S. I had friends that said hey you're being too tough on trump hey, you're not being tough enough. But it had nothing to do with politics, right? We ran it during the summer olympics leading up to the election and like it was my idea and I said listen if trump ends up winning, right? If trump ends up winning the election and we've run this all the way up and we keep running it think of the play will get right. Well it's going along. Some people are laughing, whatever, right? Election comes trump wins everything turned into like the craziest hate mail. You guys are racist. People were sending us like swastikas on, you know, like twitter, like it got really, really nuts and that's, you know, we eventually did bow down or like listen, oh, some maniac. Uh, reporter for one of our big newspapers wrote this long thing on twitter about how disgusting we are for this ad, right? Like it got like pretty crazy hate mail and we, we said, you know, hey, we got to take this off off the air. It's gone a little sideways. But uh, people remember, right and the strategy behind our video ads and our commercials wasn't to sell cars today. The best analogy was said at some point, there's gonna be a group of guys sitting in a garage drinking beer and one of them is going to say my car broke down and one of his buddies are gonna remember those commercials that we always laughed at right time. Why don't you go see those guys? Right? And um, you know, in this 800% club that we're in together, you know the infinite game. Talking about decisions down the road. Mm hmm. We always try to think of what we're doing today is going to affect us In six months, 12 months, 24 months, right? Because we really always have been playing a longer game. And my dad, the one thing that he would have had from the franchise world is everything was a month end game, right? We we we we've talked that if my dad would have stayed alive and we made a decision to do tv it would have been canceled probably after months to write your spending what the commercials are, how much right? We sold two cars because of it, then it's over, right? But it was, you know, then you touched on it earlier, like we're Goofy guys, we run our business almost scientifically right? Data has a play and role in almost everything we do, right? There is a lot of thought that goes in behind what we're trying to accomplish. But yes, to the guy off the street where the maniac brothers of our addresses and you know, do weird stuff, right addresses donald trump. This is I love this. It's amazing and and to touch on what you were just saying about this 30 day cycle, You know, in our in our business as an agency. That is the thing we are trying to frame people around. Like you've got to break free from this 30 day cycle because you don't know you...

...don't know how many interactions it's actually going to take. You don't know what lifecycle customer a is in versus customer b. You don't know the impact of of uh proximity of frequency. Like how many times will it take them to see Andrew in a red ball gown to translate to something because you, you just don't know where they're at. It reminds me of back in the day our family business, we used to publish phone books, like telephone directories and stuff like that. And I remember one of the jingles my dad wrote that they put on the radio was this and it's so annoying and, and now that I've put it back in my head, it's gonna be months before it leaves. But it was just like this, I don't know, like almost cabaret sounding like Ding, Ding, Ding, we've got your number thing and it did this thing. And I remember it was the bane of my existence as a teenager until I realized that home hardware, Canada changed their slogan to, we've got your lumber and I was like, oh and at some point I remember somebody reached out and they're like, yeah, no, they, they, they've heard this, we had franchises across Canada of this phone directory. So that radio commercials getting play. And I'm like, somebody heard this And it took, it took a few years, but we started noticing all of the signs on home and, and to, to this day, home hardware still has, we've got your lumber written on the side. And I thought isn't that interesting? You don't really know, you know, even to a degree with whether you're running facebook ads or anything like that you don't really know what the impact is going to be in the immediate or how long it's actually gonna take. So to your point playing the infinite game really is where the focus ought to be. But I get it's tough right? Because we, you know, we reported financials monthly right? I know the uh to a lesser degree or as strict I guess deadlines as the franchise world does, but we still do it. You still have to be profitable. You still have monthly expenses, right? But there are, there are lots of decisions that you make that. Yeah, you're not gonna see, you know, the reward for, you know, much, much further down the road down the road down the line. Yeah, I love it. Uh man, I can talk to you guys forever. I did have 72 other questions to ask but I'm not gonna do it, I'm not gonna do it, I want to talk to you about family business, how you navigate all of that. I think I'm just gonna have to have you guys back on if you're willing to come back on and we'll, we'll talk about that aspect of the business. This has been tremendous. How can those listening get in touch with you guys or connect with you easiest would be their facebook or we're both active on twitter. I know we have twitter, how about that? I've been active on twitter a long time. Yeah, facebook, I mean Doug facebook backslash. Doug McKeever, that's probably the easiest way to get a hold of me. I'm I'm on there quite frequently. I mean you can look us up on the at our store. The interesting thing about our family dynamic in our business. I actually don't deal with any customers. I'm the guy kind of behind the scenes and he's the front facing guy. So um yeah we decided because yeah I was the better looking one. So that's why I get to deal with the customers. More average looking is what he was actually because they went to Youtube before they visit your store and they're like McKeever. And then they see Doug and then they just see mm a style hockey brawls and they're like yeah we'll talk to the one with hair. Yeah pretty much. Yeah. I did try sales when I retired from hockey for about five minutes and uh uh yeah I ended up having to threaten the guy on the phone because he basically stole tires from us. And I'm screaming in the showroom right? Because he yeah he said he goes I said where can you get free tires from? Because he took off without paying them And he goes obviously from U. B. And I was like what the I was screaming in the showroom of this guy and my dad comes running out of his office and he's like hey can't be...

...screaming at customers like that and I'm just like picturing you with like in line skates on. So you're like doing the whole like backwards skate thing prepping like to fight somebody that's, that's hilarious. Hey, well at least you knew what lane you were in real quick. Yeah, I was too aggressive. I could do it now. I'm used to dealing with people. But yeah, coming out of hockey and being aggressive and getting into sales and you know, not bowing down, but obviously you're trying to take care of the customers needs and some of them are a little crazy and yeah, it just wasn't good for me. Well, I'm glad we connected. I'm glad to be in the 800% club group with you and look forward to stand in touch and would definitely love to have you back on the dealer play with podcast anytime. Thanks so much. Mm hmm, mm hmm. Good. Yeah, I'm Michel Cirillo and you've been listening to the dealer Playbook podcast if you haven't yet, please click the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now. Leave a rating or review and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening. Yeah. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah,.

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