The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode 524 · 3 months ago

Michael Cirillo: Big Takeaways from the 800% Auto Club Retreat


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This episode of The Dealer Playbook Podcast is unique as Michael Cirillo is on location with Glenn Lundy and dozens of automotive industry professionals at the 800% Elite Automotive Club retreat in Atlanta. With loads of fascinating conversations happening surrounding technology, culture, sales, and so much more, Michael was there to capture the action and bring it to DPB listeners.

In this episode, Michael questions several owner-operators in attendance to help inspire and motivate listeners with ideas about how we can successfully make it through this next phase of growth.

Michael interviews some of the top names in the automotive industry. In a conversation with Damon Lester, soon to be the former president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD), who also recently acquired a dealership despite the doom and gloom that's being shared throughout the industry, Damon says, "There's a massive opportunity if people pay attention to people. People still need transportation to get to and from work. People still need a vehicle to take to go on vacations with. And cars do matter, but people matter more. And so long as we bring back the value of why dealers exist, then we're fine."

Damon also shares that there are crucial points about how employees in his dealership work differently from the rest. For example, they make the decisions right then and there - the sales team votes and fights for the price using their own experience, knowledge, and brain power. Each employee is empowered. They know what they need to do and have the authority to get it done in the dealership.

In a chat with Aaron Lange from Lange & Fetter Motors in Ontario, Canada, Michael and Aaron talk about the need for action within a dealership: "We need to just start. Sometimes you can explain a vision to people, and then what I find works well is we'll do it together until we get good at it. And then everybody can play to their strengths and do their thing. Trust them to get it done."

Michael also had an opportunity to tour Beaver Toyota in Atlanta, Georgia, which was an eye-opening experience. Beaver Toyota operates like no other dealership you've likely ever seen. It's an experience: a place where you go to enjoy the cool amenities as much as a place to buy a car. We know that new shoppers are aligning themselves in this way: with experiences, connections, and memories more than just "things." And here we have dealerships that are taking that notion and really running with it.

There is so much more to digest in this episode - you don't want to miss it!

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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. All right, gang, welcome to this episode of The Dealer Playbook podcast. So excited that you're here. Hey, if you're listening, hop over to our YouTube channel. We're actually on location here at Beaver Toyota in Atlanta, Georgia. This is uh Patrick, a bad store. We're excited to be here for the Elite Automotive Club Retreat. We're doing all of the training at the store today, but I thought this would be a cool opera tunity to not only show you around his facility, but...

...also ask a very specific question to all of the owner operators that are here in attendance to help inspire and motivate and and and give you ideas about how we can make it through this next phase of growth and the automotive retail automotive industry. So I hope you enjoyed this episode. Again, if you're listening only, that's amazing. You're gonna be able to hear all of the content there. But if you want to put faces to the voices, go and check us out on our YouTube channel and of course on Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Let's dig in alright, So the first question is going to Damon Lester, the president, soon to be former presidents, soon to be former president of NAMAD. National autom will be Automan, Minority Autom will be the dealer Associations. But yeah, that's why they say named the name that. So the question is because also you're you recently bought a dealership within the last year. With all of the doom and...

...gloom that's being shared through the industry, you're seeing some brightness. What is it that you're seeing. I'm curious. There's there's a huge amount of opportunity if people pay attention to people. People still need transportation to get to and from work, People still need transportation to take to go vacations with. And cars do matter as well, right, but people matter more and so long as we bring back the value of why dealers exist. Then we're We're fine, there's there's a huge opportunity. I'll actually, vehicles is not a problem because we're going to have to year. We're going to have to sell them. We want to sell them, and we have to educate the people who who want to buy them why it's important to have them. And so deal is That's what I'm excited for. As I listen to your I listen to your talk, and you know you brought in the matrix. You brought in you know, there was no pickles suits. But I started thinking about the term supercomputer and how often times I think about how we all forget about the supercomputer between our ears. And I was thinking about, like hundreds of years...

...ago, like astronomers who couldn't didn't have telescopes or anything, they theorized based on mathematics and based on the supercomputer, forginaires, that there's got to be another planet beyond Neptune that we can't see based on and sure enough, all these years later, when we finally developed the technology, they can see that there is in fact another planet there. And I loved your point. It made me think of that because I'm like, look at what our capacity as people is when we don't put all of the reliance into a device. What are your thoughts on how do we maximize this in a world that's so focused on digital technology is good as long as we use this to working. Typically we will rely more on technology than than in lieu of our brain. But if our brain uses technology to help us expand it or increase our capacity, then we're using it in the right frame. We typically get comfortable because technology does exist. Oh there's a prime let's see what this cost is on its trade. I don't need to go look at it any or because that's what...

...the computer says, right, So we don't. We we were trained our thoughts of convenient equipment versus touching, feeling and using our senses, which is our brain, so actually determine what that is. And so I think we have to go back to the basics and be able to realize that technology is only as good as we make it, and and that's the important part of it. Love it man, thanks so much, Really appreciate your remarks. All right, So I'm sitting down now with Aaron lang langon Feder Motors in Ontario. The fellow Canadians to Canadians sitting on a couch. That's a new podcast. Um, Aaron, I mean we've got to know each other. Um, I've been to your store. You have a really awesome operation, great culture. But as you're sitting now in this dare we call it the iconic, it's like a yeah, it's like a Vegas hotel version of a dealership. What thoughts and impressions are going through your mind? More importantly,..., as you take this experience back to your store, this really is a whole another level nothing that I've ever seen before. They are they give professional kind of a new meaning. This the processes, um, the level of accountability, and the culture. You can just feel the team, the team news here, the the absolute dedication to this operation from everybody that we've spoken to has been phenomenal. Now apply that to the context of your circumstances. It's obviously not possible to go back and be like, hey, you know what, We're gonna tear down the whole store and start over. Because you have such a tight team You've got I mean like you're you're doing things that I haven't seen in most Canadian dealerships by having a dedicated, you know, lead response team and a b DC and you know you're on Shaka's finance training and those sorts of things. What's what's maybe one thing that you're feeling...

...inspired to take back to your store and say, hey, I want to I want to try and implement that piece. What would that one piece be. We watched Hugh do a trade walk this morning with the entire team, and we've just implemented that, but nothing like this. So we're going to take back a whole bunch of that and implemented immediately. What What's what's the thing that stood out? Like what's different about it already? That? Like? What was that thing? You were like, oh that, Oh we need to do that. They make the decisions right then and there. The sales team decides and kind of votes and fights for the price. Um, they know what they've got in the vehicle, full transparency. They decide right then and there what kind of recon they want to do, make the decision, boom, move on. It was really phenomenal. No no room for overthinking, zero overthinking. What would you have to do? They don't have time Like what would you have to do though? To get to that place? Like I mean, we had a speaker this morning that was like, I want you to remove all limitations. What is your business look like in...

...three years without without those limitations? What do you have to do to get to a place that you're maybe encouraging your team not to overthink. I guess really it's just a mindset because we While I was watching that, I was envisioning our team doing it, and I really think we can. It's just what you If you don't see it, you don't know it exists. Now I've seen it, and I really want to mimic that. I want to take the best practices back. We're obviously in the United States, the things are a little bit bigger, a little bit faster paced. Um, how do you how do you translate some of this back to the Canadian market? Well, there's no reason we can't replicate it, just on a smaller scale. Really, UM, I think if you just shrink it down but still take the best practices back, there's no reason why we can't do this. So I gotta tell you. I don't know if you know this about yourself, but your positivity, your optimism is infectious. It's contagious. Um,...

And I think you know that's that's something that I've always admired about you is being able to say, Okay, well here's where we're at, no sense of being discouraged about it. We're going to do something about it. Um, what's so so beyond the lot walk and implementing more immediate changes, what do you think is going to have to fall in place? I mean for the dealer listening to this, who might be in a similar situation, who's like, oh wait, they're making decisions right on the lot walk, And what are some of the small shifts that you think you'll have to make when you go back to your store. Um, every employee here seems really empowered. They know what they need to do, and they have the authority to get it done here. I really noticed that. Uh, and that's something that I think we can improve on for sure. Authority is an interesting does it make does that? Does that word frighten you as much as it frightens me? Sometimes? Sometimes? Yeah, But sometimes you just got to plug your nose and dive in because it clearly works here. So yeah, what what what is the saying? It was the delegation. Yeah, there's a...

...piece of you that your identity that leaves with that delegation. Um, but we know it has to be done. So what kind of thoughts are going through your mind? You've got a long drive back, what are what are you going to be contemplating about how to convey? Because I feel like, you know, you can say, hey, you've got the authority as an employee, not I'm giving you the authority, but for them to believe it might be a different thing. So how do you think the best way to convey that might be? Well, I think we've got to just just start. Sometimes you can you can explain a vision to people, and then what I find works well is we'll just do it together until we get good at it, and then everybody can everybody can play to their strengths and do the thing. That's Uh, that's in my experience, the best way to do it. Okay, one last question has nothing to do with any of this kind of but not really. Um. And the one thing that I think is tremendous is and and that maybe not a lot of people know is usually...

...when you're a dealer, you're you're like in it. You are that's your thing. You have multiple things. You are a farmer, you actively farm, you have livestock, you have soil that is tilled and and plant crop that is yeah. Um. And you so you've got grand view past years, um, which delivers grass fed grain naturally all this kind of stuff meat and you deliver it. Um. What similarities as you're out there in the tractor, which you've been on the tractor sometimes when I've when I've messaged you, what similarities do you find between farming and running a dealership business? If any? Well, Um, they're very similar in the fact that you need a mission and you need to kind of decide how you're going to go about each one, and you have to feel good about it. Uh. We have a small all team on the farm, but they're bought into the mission.

They understand what they need to do and there's really no room for interpretation there. And I believe if we can get there with a car dealership it'll work just the same, if not better. Who's easier to manage the farm team or the dealership team. I'm just kidding. I'm not gonna make you answer that, but man, thank thanks so much, really appreciate you. Alright. Alright, so here we are at the Elite Automotive Club retreat with the founder himself, Glenn Lundy. Of course I just had him on the podcast not too long ago talking about what's going on right now. And of course now that we're here on location at Beaver Toyota, a facility that I've never seen before, the likes of before in my life. I want to get your thoughts, like what goes through your mind when you walk through an experienced destination like this, So you know, this place is so unique, It's footprint is so unique, it's fingerprint, whatever would you want to use?...

Use? Uh? And the uniqueness of it is for me is an opportunity. When I see unique, I see opportunity to inspire, right, opportunity to inspire others. When you have cookie cutter stores, whether no matter what industry it is, when you have cookie cutter stores, it starts to blend. People just go by. But when you have something incredibly unique, it brings a new heightened the level of awareness. And for me, curiosity is born through awareness. Once we're aware of something, we can become curious of it. The more curious of it, more questions we can ask, more questions we can ask, the more adapt or I'm sorry, the more apt we can become and the more we can adapt and evolve. So place like this screams inspiration. That's why we decided to have our event here to raise awareness so that our dealers can evolve and become the best versions of themselves that they can be. I've been to a few of these now, Uh, Florida, Phoenix, Atlanta. There is something happening, something special happening.

We've got a room full of dealer owners, operators, general managers, senior leaders. As you're looking at their faces throughout the topics today which is technology matters and how can we leverage technology? And we're seeing the themes still weaving back to people matters, which was the last theme. What kind of thoughts are going through your mind? And what's like the thing that as you look at their faces, you're going, uh, this is the one thing I want you to get, Like, what's that desperate, that desperate anxious thing you want them to know? Sorry, I really need My hope is that through our process, our process of introducing them to different techniques and strategies that are not reinventing the wheel, but are just one or two tweaks away my my hope and desires that they always they can get to a belief spot where they believe they can do it. Right, That's what I'm looking for, because in the most part in this industry, it's a lot of well...

...that's them, or well they're in a different location, Well they have a different this, Right, it's a lot of excuses, And so I'm looking out at the faces and I'm looking for the ones that you can see are going, oh, oh wait a minute, wait, wait wait, I can do that. It's not complete rocket science. I don't have to throw out the playbook. I just gotta make a couple of tweaks that takes longer for some than others. And regretfully, we're in a very urgent time in the auto industry, and so I'm looking out almost with desperation myself, going, please get it sooner than later, right, because it's not something I can do. I can just all like create the awareness and something's got to click into them where they believe that they can. Once they believe that they can, that's when we see massive results. Alright. So we're just finishing up this episode. I hope you've got a ton of value out of it and applied what you heard to the context of your circumstances, different dealers, different operators from different parts of North America, all sharing the things that are...

...danding up to them what they want as their next step. I'm gonna go have some fun. We're here at a raceway somewhere north of Atlanta. That's how when money does things that his retreats. But until next time, keep the playbook open and dominated. I'm Michael 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.

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