The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 10 months ago

Chris Martinez: Scale To 1,000 Car Sales

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Is selling 1,000 cars per month even possible? Yes... yes, it is.

Chris Martinez is the Executive Director of Sales and Marketing at Jackie Cooper Imports of Tulsa and automotive best-selling author. 

His vast experience in growing profitability for dealerships is second to none, and that's apparent as he shares how he helped a single point Toyota store increase their sales to 1,000 cars per month and $400 million in revenue.

Listen carefully as Chris explains the key points of his process that you can apply to your automotive dealership starting today. 

Noteworthy topics from this episode:

1:52 - How does a dealership go from selling 100 cars to 1000 cars a month?

5:56 - How did growth look like for you?

9:40 - What kind of a process do you have around outsourcing tasks or work that doesn’t have to be done in-house?

13:40 - What is the biggest shift that needs to happen to “unclog the drain”?

18:22 - Shifting your mindset.

21:53 - What do you see the next 3-5-10 years going to look like in the auto industry? 

Enjoying the show? Leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast app!

Connect with Chris Martinez:

Website: http://chrisjosephmartinez.com 

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisjmartinezatx 

Connect with Michael Cirillo:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelcirillo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcirillo 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelcirillo 

Website: https://www.thedealerplaybook.com 

...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 My guest today is Chris Martinez. He's the executive director of sales and marketing at Jackie Cooper, imports of Tulsa, which includes Mercedes, Benz, infinity Porsche and Nissan. He is an automotive bestselling author and has assisted with the openings of five dealerships across the US And helped turn a failing single point store into one of the top 10 dealerships in the nation, Moving them from 150 cars a month to over 1000 cars a month. Did you hear that Charles Mound? Toyota is a single point car dealership, selling 11,000 vehicles annually And generates over 400 million in revenue. You know, we've got to dig into that and learn about the processes and mindset and implementation and execution of Chris Martinez. Alright man, I'm, I'm looking forward to this specifically, I have to get this out of the way, right out of the gates. What in the world does one do to take a group or take a dealership a single point from 150 cars a month to over 1000 cars? Like what does that even look like? Break this down for me? This is because I'm already doing the math in my brain, I'm opening my calculator and I'm going wait 1000. Holy crap, you're selling a butt load of vehicles. I imagine that probably...

...wasn't an overnight transition. So can you bring me into what that process actually looked like? Well, it's uh, it starts off relatively simple, right? It's the blocking and tackling. It's the basics, right? So you, basically, when we work, walk into that store, you know, we assess the situation, you know, where was the traffic coming in? Whether people look like, do we need more people? Where is the where are they spending the money? Were they not spending the money? Um, And once we identified a lot of those things, it was pretty easy to just start building that foundation. You know, he started looking at the people, the process that they have. And then how much traffic are they actually bring in? And then, you know, what's your market? What's your bio, how many units in operation do you have? And what are you leaving on the table? Right. So once we identified all those things, we kind of just put the plan together and, you know, We started hitting like the first month we went to like to 20, the second month we were like at 3:30 AM. And then we just kept growing from there within the first year We ended up doing 660 cars, but then you know just like anything as it scales really fast, things start kind of breaking and you start thinking about what's going on here, where we just sit here and you've got to start putting in some foundation, other foundational things to help sustain the model. Um So you know what's cool about living in that environment, you've got you have an opportunity to see what it looks like at every level, right? So once you get to 600 there's certain things you have to make sure you put in place so that they can make it to 7 to...

...8 and you can keep going up right and knowing, you know, you know once the once the thing starts moving pretty quick it's really easy to just pick up speed, right? And it's it's a matter of how strategic can you be in your marketing where you can put the dollars to make, just continue to keep throwing more to that that fire right? To keep it burning burning hotter. So it's uh there's a lot of fun man we had I think once we finally broke 1000 it was inside four years. I mean because you know you get to 806 108 100 900, you know it's constantly trying to improve your speed right, right that turn and then you're doing it on 10 acres lamp where most stores it's a lot more more footprint, right? Our footprint was really small. Um To break that next barrier, you have to go find more land to house more inventory. Um It was just a constant like growth mode. Where are we going to grow? Where is the next step every month? It's always identifying where deficiencies and then where can we shore up these deficiencies so that we don't make the same mistakes next month. So I practiced that today. Yeah. When we got here this this group was Doing like 370 400 cars a month. Um now our best month was 6 90. We haven't broke 700 yet. We're still working on it. But you know, we've had a lot of challenges, inventory and right but we're still maintaining that level. So it's been pretty good well and to do to do those kinds of numbers at a time when there's inventory like you know, there's there's not an excuse in the book that that also your group is not dealing with right? Same as everything else. But I think it is interesting your growth mindset and I like the way you kind of position that you talked about...

...growing your footprint and getting more land and things of that nature. Um, can you give us a sense of, because I can only imagine there needs to be growth in personnel, like the actual human resource footprint probably has to grow in order to support that. And the reason I'm asking you about this and maybe, I guess more specifically what kind of numbers in inhuman really like how many people do you actually need to pull off 1000 units a month because I think there's rural dealers out there listening and seeing this not understand or I should say not understanding that. That's not the right word, but perhaps not anticipating how many people they actually need to support an enterprise of that size. What's with all things, you know, your business office, you want to make sure that you've got enough people in there to begin with. But for the most part as it scales, you'll be able to see you better, see how your people are responding and knowing when to actually put that extra personnel in the beauty about the office. I mean they can really, I mean we've got one office for four franchises and I mean it's an economies of scale, right when you're getting into a volume store because you know, you're not adding more and more stores to having more and more personnel, you're just scaling yourself your your one single point. Um that economies of scale place in really, really big because now you don't have that or people they're the places you will have that will be your as you grow your U. I. O. Because the more cars you sell, the more units in operation you put so that the service well you're going to have to increase your tax. You're going to have to grow that because a lot of people are so interested in trying to...

...go out and hire new text when they put in a foundation for your your staff in the back, you can grow your own text. Um and then you've got you know, service advisors you can hire and then you have your sales people you have to hire. Uh but there's a lot of some strategic things that we do to help mitigate the need to have so many salespeople, right? Because ideally what you want to have is some certain processes in place that kind of help amplify your current sales salespeople. Uh that's where software comes into play. And um and even outsource species that come into play, the help, you know, uh amplify your current sales efforts. Okay, let's bring me into this because I know a lot of there's a lot of challenges out there, as far as outsourcing particular work. And I think this is this is very interesting, right? Because any book you read about scaling an enterprise or any subject matter expert, you know, you're now adding your voice to this, this group of people who have pulled this off. Talk about the importance of outsourcing particular tasks that may not necessarily have to happen or be controlled in house. And so you're saying an outsource BBC, I know a lot of people that have tried this obviously you do as well, where they they think this is a good idea, um but then there's not perhaps the mechanisms that need to be in place in order to have accountability or or things of that nature and then they just go, oh well all vendors are the same, all vendors are just here to grab my money all that. So what what do you do, what kind of a process do you have around outsourcing um tasks or work that is not necessarily essential to handle in the house? So for example we have a so...

...um we have a company that we use that helps us amplify automation for our sales people and following right um They actually help us out with have a built in automated follow up system where does email um some voice mail, marketing, sms marketing and it's all turnkey and it helps amplify our current follow up process for the sales people that although we know that we hold them accountable, we tell them to make their phone calls a lot of the times you'll find that, you know, you'll have sales people that will complete tasks that didn't really complete on there's ways to make it look like you've done the work, but you don't really do it. And so in knowing that I just know that I need to have some some ways to help minimize their inefficiencies. And so we have these tools that we used to do that. In addition to that, I also have outsourced BDC and the BBC actually comes into play. Um yeah, you know when you're working in volume stores, if you don't have the, all the stuff you'd like to have, you know when we have sales managers and there's some sales managers, you know, everyone has to take a day off. So um you know, a day, like today you've got some people off, you have one manager at one store running the store, another manager might come in later on the afternoon. Well at some point there should have been some type of management follow up on all the opportunities that came into the day before, stuff like that. Well in knowing that you're going to have some inefficiencies there because you can't overstep stores because some stores, you know, you want to keep your constant line. Um But more importantly, you wanna make sure that you're being productive, we use some outsource pvcs that will do the next day follow up. And what I like about that next day...

...follow up is they call those customers for up to six times until they actually answer the call where a manager might make the call the next day. But then he doesn't call that customer ever again. You might call him the one time and never call them again, you know, because now we're looking at the next day and he's looking at the previous day stuff so he might just call that one customer one time. So we make sure that those customers, no matter at what point when they came in, someone's following up with them either if it was an internet customer phone customer walking in referral, anybody that it's our crm, we have a non source BDC that's gonna make that follow up call. That's amazing. Um Let's talk a little bit about the the process I can only imagine earlier. Um something that you said that stood out to me as you said when when we come into a store, when we move into a store to me, I'm thinking, okay, so you've got a process dialed in now by which when you move into a new location, maybe it's an underperforming organization or something. I can only imagine with all my love DPB gang, we know generally speaking this isn't under, there are very highly underperforming stores. So when you move into an organization, maybe it's not the entire store, maybe it's a specific department. Yeah. What would you say is the biggest shift that needs to happen to basically unclog the drain, so to speak. Yeah, well it's ideally it's a mindset, right? Because You know, I've worked at Carmax for many years and I had an opportunity, to when I started there, they had 30 locations And when I left there they had over a 100 and I had an opportunity to go and help open up quite a few of their...

...stores. I was able to go and see what that looks like when they went into a new market. Um and we talked a lot of underperforming stores, five year manager things that, um, you run into has you as the story gets older and, and one of the things that, you know, when you go into an underperforming store in my mind, it's usually pretty easy because these people are just so set in their ways that they just, they just forgot a lot of things that they were supposed to be doing or they just didn't know what they didn't know. You know, they just, no one's really tight on a lot of times these managers in the industry or just the best salesperson and they got promoted and then the owners just never taught them how to actually do their job properly. They just knew, hey, sell cars. Um, they didn't know what, you know how to drive traffic kind of maintain and how to look for areas of opportunity, uh, different pockets to drive more more business, how to help your sales people uh have a good process where you can actually help them some more cars. A lot of times, sales managers are are holding up their their abilities back because they're not giving them all the tools. I think a lot of times sales managers are just in the they're just looking at these sales people like you're weak, you're not they're not really doing whatever they can to really help these sales people be successful. Yeah, I think that's really interesting. I was just visiting uh some clients in Ontario Canada. And one of the things that I thought was interesting is that they were, I've kind of caught them in this transition where they didn't have a process,...

They've installed a process and they were very open, as you say about uh the mindset, like they were very closed in the meeting. All this is uncomfortable. It's awkward. Um What are the customers? How are they going to respond? I'm not bought into this. And then seeing the flip, like I'm right on the fresh side of the flip where they're going wait. And this was specific in f. And I. Um where they're going, you know, we were doing an average of 606 50 per copy. Now, we're well over 20 200. And they're seeing this immediate shift, but it's not just about the money. They're also noticing a shift in how much happier the customers actually are having exactly what they need for this thing that they have just invested this depreciating asset that they've just invested a crap ton of money in. And so you're right. Like. But what I thought was so impressive was how they embraced um The mindset of, you know what, This is gonna be uncomfortable, like it's like trying on a new pair of jeans, you know, they're never comfortable at first, right? Um, and so I love that you say that about, about just kind of implementing this, but with the right mindset and it really is tremendous, you know? Um It makes me laugh too, because I've got a small little Facebook group were, you know, 170 strong, the DPB pro community, right? And, and that's where we're trying to shift mindset. This isn't your typical car guy group where we just talk about um, what's the pay and comp model and no, like I want people sharing what they're grateful for and why and what goal they want to achieve by friday, you know, like that's sort of a thing and we did have an individual at one point that was like, this is such foolishness like this stuff, this is so lame, this isn't gonna do anything and it just goes to show this this broad spread negative mindset...

...and and what you're talking about really draws to attention. The fact that mindset shifts actually means something. They are not just fluff, they are not clouds, they are shifting your mindset and wrapping your head around it and doing whatever it takes is what differentiates A Chris Martinez helping an organization go to 400 million in revenue and somebody who's stuck with every excuse in the book saying well, but you know what, it would be easier if I was a ford store. It be easier if I was selling super looks because I'd only have to sell like three year month and then whatever, you know, it's like all mindset, right? I love that man, it's crazy because you know there's a lot of dealers that they get romantic about the way they used to do things and they're just not open to either change or they just don't see the possibilities, you know? And I go in and I usually just, you know, I write on even to this day though, it's kind of funny, right? There's still certain individuals that we'll still look at you like, yeah, you're not really doing anything special, you know, because their mindset still stuck in there always. You know, even though you'll show them, look, we've done this, we've done this. It's not the first time, you know, I had a guy challenged me when I first got here and he goes, what's making, what's making you so special? How are you going to do what everyone we've been doing this forever. I've been here 20 years. What's it gonna change? What are you going to actually do? Well, I'm gonna tell you one wherever I go, I'm not going to fail. Um, when I was at Carmax, we've sold 700 use cards. When I was at Universal Toyota sold 660 months cars a month. When I went into the Charles Manson Toyota sold for 1000 cars a month and here there's no reason why...

...we're not going to break 700 cards come up. I mean it's just, it's just what we're gonna do and, And fast forward. We didn't quite hit the 700 yet, but we're the 690 was so far a record. Um, we're gonna, it's just gonna happen. I love that. And, and this is the second time you've referenced that and said the key word yet, right yet. We haven't done it yet. It is going to happen. You've already manifested it. What's amazing about that individuals now? He reminds me like chris, you know, I'm sorry. You know, I said all this stuff stuff, but you've changed my mind and now that guy is making more money. He's ever made ever. Uh, and he's done an amazing job. He's doing really good. He's grown a lot and he's doing a great job. Wow, this is incredible. Man. I love this and I love that. I pay attention to language. It's kind of a weird or anything. So when somebody asks, well, what makes you so special, like talk about the biggest insult on planet, what do you mean? Like I exist? I'm like, what are you saying? What makes me so special? There's air in my lungs, You know, I'm special. Sorry. You don't see the worth of me being here. You know, I, you know, I've written a couple books at that point, I've proven track for or more than any, like, you know, there's no reason why someone would have doubted me, right? But this guy is still down. I'm just looking, I'm like, man, look, I promise you it's going to be good at it. I promise you hopefully he stuck around and he's really happy. He did. I think this is amazing. I have a couple more questions as we wind down. So the first one being you mentioned this individuals now making more money than he's ever made and talk about quite a miraculous turnaround from what was a...

...bowel clenching year of like what's going to happen. Everything shuts down, lockdowns. The whole world deals with the pandemic. Now none of us can watch a good pandemic movie because we realize that no, we don't turn into zombies. We actually just have to stay at home and watch netflix. We have to stay at home and talk about the inception of a pandemic, is sitting at home during a pandemic watching netflix movies about pandemics. Uh, but the point being is people are breaking records, like shattering records were coming fresh out of a pandemic where nobody knew what was gonna happen and you're saying we sold 6 90 essentially we are going to 700 then 800 then whatever, there's the flip side of the industry and I know you've heard it on clubhouse. I've, I've heard it on clubhouse. There's a lot of pontificating going on around the impending doom of the car business the way we know it, there's those saying we're getting nice and fat right now, but wait because there's a storm coming and I have to admit, I do tend to say, hey, be prepared. I don't know if it's the Boy scout in me, but all of us. But, but what, what are your thoughts like, what do you see from your vantage point? The next 35? I don't know, 10 years. What, what, what is the industry gonna look like during that time frame? You know, I had this conversation, I went to N. C. F. Training just recently. Um, and I have my last class, um, for executive training, uh, next week or the following week. Um, and I basically just told them, look, the next five years you're going to continue to see a lot of consolidation. You see lithia buying up dealers and ships left and right. You see autonation, you see all of these stores that are buying consolidated, They're buying a lot of...

...stores. Um, and so you'll see these groups, you'll continue to see them get bigger because they were just buying out all the smaller stores. Um, but I think of any good operator, you know, whether it's a down market or not market the best always do good and, and you know, they say success is a lousy teacher and that's why I don't care how many cars I sell or whatever, however successful we get, it's never good enough to me because I always look at all of the inefficiencies where I can, that I could have done a little bit better and I never let anybody forget where we could be as much as great as it is. You know, we still celebrate the wind, something around, but I still make sure that I keep everybody grounded in knowing that there's still opportunity as great as we are. There's, there's always a way, and as long as we don't get romantic about winning every day, we'll continue to, yeah, you've got the Chicago bulls, you've got that Chicago bulls, just one, our fifth championship. We don't know we're gonna win the sixth one yet, but we are, but you celebrate for like five minutes and then you're back, you're back to work. Exactly. Um, Now here's the controversial question of the day. That single point store, who's wondering about the future? What would you say the indicator for them ought to be to whether they should sell to the Lithia or really make a go of this and see what can be done well for those ones here, either in a position or you think big and you want to get big like plan monday, right? That little rural store that he went up...

...to the 1000. Um, if you're in that my instead then just keep going. Right. But if you're not, this is probably the most money you've ever made as a dealer because margins have been the biggest they've ever been, then you're going to get the biggest smallest school you've ever had. And then this is probably an opportunity for you to just kind of hang up your had. Now if you want to grow and do more then there's that opportunity, I mean there's there's dealers that I know that are in those smaller markets that are pulling doing a great job pulling from those bigger markets and they're super successful. The challenge of those ones. You know, you might pull a lot of people in but you're not retaining those U. I. O. For your search department. Um And that's really where most dealers are, don't really focus as much as they should have is in the service department and or growing the service department. There are a lot of maintainers in the industry, people that just want to maintain what they're doing and don't, don't have the foresight to grow that service department even more. When I look at how many Jiffy lives in the world, there are in the United States, there are all of those other shops on the side that, you know, are just taking the dealer's business because they're so you know comfortable in their current environment that they don't grow their service department and uh that's my opportunity, man, I love it in order to, you know, I often say this to, well not anymore, but I used to, as we were really in start up mode with my business. Um the conditioning of mindset is really about what you've been talking about here. It's like opportunities don't announce themselves, they're not flying through the door like Kramer on Seinfeld saying, I'm an opportunity. You're either prepared or in a constant state of preparation and you recognize it and do something or you don't. And if anybody's wondering if Cirillo owned a single point store...

...for the one of you that's wondering my mom probably, you know, uh, I would be in, go acquire sleepy store mode right now. Right now, I wouldn't be waiting, I would be doing it right now. Like what chris just talked about margins are higher than they've ever been. Things are good. My belly is full. I want to go find that 80 year old, that 60 year old 70 year old owner who maybe doesn't have a succession plan whose sleepy, who's like whatever, go give him a multiple and say muzzle, top man, you rung the bell now you're out, go enjoy the rest. But I'm gonna try like I'm not waiting for lithia to come and sniff out my market or auto Canada or whoever the big groups. Uh, I am talking to my bank today. I'm talking with you today. That's just my own philosophy because I think, I think there is an opportunity. So I guess the last question to that is, Do dealerships still exist in 10 years? Absolutely, for sure. I think that, you know, you'll see that what you know ford is doing and like a lot of dealers right now our manufacturers are doing the whole, um, it's order from home type thing that they're really trying to, because in the past they've tried to really come in and be self direct consumer. I mean, there's a lot of laws in place that protects the dealer franchise. Um, so it's gonna be, it would be a long road ahead, but they have the money to do it. If the manufacturer wanted to go in and say I'm gonna go and sell direct to consumer, but it would just be be too tough. I think that the dealer serves its purpose. They do a great job. The consolidation is going to happen. I just think that you'll see some...

...automation that will come into play that is going to maybe reimagine the salesperson a little bit and and or any redundancies in the industry and in the business that are just kind of repetition like redundancies Right taken away. Yeah man, this is amazing. Thank you so much for joining me today. How can those listening, get in touch with you to learn more about you? Uh you can go to my website chris joseph Martinez dot com um or you can catch me on facebook link them anywhere. I'm they're amazing man. Thanks for joining me on the dealer Playbook podcast. 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. Mm. Yeah. Mhm.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (504)