The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 7 years ago

Chris Walsh: How to Create a Customer Care Culture


Our Guest 


Welcome back to The Dealer Playbook Podcast session #34! Our guest today is 30 year automotive vet Mr. Chris Walsh, founder of Vets-Cars and a wealth of knowledge and stories of the constant evolving automotive industry. 


Chris deliveries a lot of value that in todays market can help keep your team motivated, loyal and most importantly care about the customers. 


Session Preview

- Tips for employee satisfaction


- Tips on shifting your dealerships culture 


- Tips for employee satisfaction. 


Check out Vets-Cars here.


Connect with Chris on Facebook here.


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You're dialed into the dealer playbook podcast, where it's all about winning auto dealer strategies that deliver proven results. Andnow your hosts, Robert Weissman and Michael Cirillo. Hey there, and thankyou for listening to the dealer playbook podcast, episode thirty four. My name isMichael Cirillo. I'm joined up by Y'all know, I'm Robert Wiseman.How's it going, buddy? Hey, what's going on, Michael? Welcomeback. Thanks. Man. Got A couple of weeks away family vacate tosoacal. I'll tell you what, it's a heck of a lot warmer downthere than it is up here in cold Canada, but you know what,it was good, much needed. Thanks, guys, for listening in to theshow while we were away. Had some good feedback, so we appreciateyou stopped them by. Every single week we're talking to the WHO's who inand out of the automotive industry to give you actionable insights that deliver results.Today you're going to find that same thing. We're sitting down with Chris Walsh.He's the founder and managing partner of vet cars, which you'll hear himtalk about a little bit near the end of the episode, so stick aroundfor that. Chris is a great guy. He's an air force vet and,you know, very passionate about, you know, creating a culture of, you know, customer satisfaction, but also of employee satisfaction. been aroundthe business for some time. It's been around the business, I think youknow. He said he took his first up in eighty four, so Iwas a whopping two years old. He's like the grandfather I've never had thisguy. There you go, the grandfather he's never had, but just hassome very valuable information for those of you listening in. So, without furtherado, let's just jump into our sit down with Chris Walsh. We goand we are here with Mr Chris Walsh. He's the founder and managing partner atvet cars, you know, a company in a program that I reallylike. It's all about market segmentation and offering programs to our veterans who serveour country and provide the freedoms that we enjoy. Chris, so glad tohave you on the show. Thanks for being here today. Hey, Michael, thank you for having me. It's an honor and a privilege. Absolutelyand and you know what, we've had the opportunity to meet each other inperson a few times, you know, a conferences and such, and I'vehad the privilege of listening to you speak. Actually, I think the first timethat I heard you speak was at an Internet sales twenty group in AtlanticCity, and it was funny because you got up and you started saying,Hey, guys, you know, this isn't what I do. You know, you almost took this like humble approach. And then, and then, ofcourse, knocked your presentation out of the park and I was like,what was he talking about? He's a pro. He's an absolute pro.You're too kind. Yeah, I think you might had confused with somebody else, Michael not, you know. I was like, okay, well,you know, seriously and all honesty, I at first I was like,Oh man, here we go. Don't, don't ever tell people that you don'tknow what you're doing or whatever. And then you were like bomb,Blah Boam. I was like power bombs all over the place, and Iwas like here we go that you know this guy, this guy's you know, knows what he's doing. He's like, well, it's always good to loweryour audiences expa there you go, there you go. Now for thosein your audience who who have ever spoken publicly, you know, up untilabout an hour before you get up in front of the room, you knowyou've got your program knocked, you've got it outline, you've got a bulletpointed and you stand up there and all of a sudden you just you know, your your knees turned to jelly and you just winging it, mouth drives. I will never rehearse I will never rehearse another speech again. Yeah,there's fair enough, and sometimes I do better. If we come there.That's that's when Robert's going to duck out next time. anyways. You know, so some of the stuff that you talk about is very, very intriguing. You know a lot about customer care.

The title of the presentation that wewere talking about pre show was creating a culture of customer care and youknow you had mentioned that. You know that could be pretty vague and broadof a topic to discuss, but you know it's, I think, ahot topic. We've had a couple of past episodes talking about creating a cultureinside the deal ship that is conducive to, you know, selling more vehicles sellingmore fani product services, whatever it might be. But I want toget your take on this. When you see a say, creating a cultureof customer care, what's the starting point for you? How are you howare you basing this culture? What's the foundation of this culture? Well,I'm going to take you all back to one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven, when the very first car was sold on the Internet. And many ofus, I'm an old timer, I was doing F and I and aChrysler Plymouth dealership back then. That's how far back this was and many ofus in the business were like this, this is going to change the entireparadigm. It's going to change the industry. There's going to be no need forbrick and mortar dealerships. There certainly is not going to be any needfor salespeople. There really was an attitude for about a year there where,you know, it's like the chicken little, the sky is falling. Why arewe even doing this at heck, it was even, you know,a lead story and automotive news a couple of times. Well, I thinknow we fast forward to two thousand and fourteen, that has not come true. Yes, the Internet has changed the way people research and purchase vehicles.It's given people more information than they've ever had before. But what it's reallydone is fortified the need for a good solid handshake, to handshake human beingto human being interaction. Because with almost sixteenzero franchise rooftops from see the ShiningSea, consumers can go just about anywhere they want. They know what acar costs, they know what other consumers have paid for vehicles, what paymentsshould be based on their credit. They come into your show room fully armedwith all of the dry data that they need to make an intelligent decision.Right now. They've walked into your show room because they have made a decisionbased on your Internet presence, your presence in your community, some of yourmarketing and awareness efforts. They've they've come into your show room because they prettymuch have said, I think this is one of the dealers I want toattempt to give my business to. They've already made up their mind. Soat that point when someone is about to spend thirty twozero seven hundred and fiftydollars, which, by the way, was the average selling price of acar in the United States in two thousand and thirteen, it is yours tolose. So the whole idea of culture of customer care starts with the Internetand BDC departments making those those first attempts, when people first get a hold ofus, making them feel special. I detest the robot responses. Youknow, in some of some of my presentations I make the joke that youcan email ABC motors and say there is a bomb in your parts department setto go off at six tonight. Six minutes later you get an email back, thank you for your interest in Jyota Camry. One of our dedicated salesassociates will be contacting you soon and it is our goal to exceed your expectationsand unfortunately we've taken the path of least resistance with those first contacts, bethey telephonic or via the Internet. So I always felt that creating a cultureof customer care, and let me throw in another see, control starts withthe very first interaction you have with a...

...customer. Now I'm going to takea breath here turn but it's all about the the engagement. where. How? When? The right way. Well, and I like what we're talking abouthere because you know, for me this is my own opinion, andI well, I mean it's yours too, because you just shared it with us, that you know the customer qualifies themselves to varying degrees and that's whatactually leads them to your dealership. Correction, that's not an opinion, that isan absolute fact. There, it is. Okay, there, thatwas trying to be honest. I'm trying to be suggested. Yes, soyou speak the facts. Speak the facts. They're there, they are. Ijust got reprimanded on storring real time and cast just yeah, yeah,yeah, you know what I mean though. So what you're saying here really resonates, and I think those of you listening in will agree with what Chrisis saying. You know your customers. I mean we always we believe it, but for some reason I feel like we forget it. It's when thecustomer comes through the door. We somehow like think that this is the firstplace they've come. They haven't done any research online, they're just looking atprices and all those sorts of things, but it's scratch. Yeah, they'restarting from scratch, but the reality of it is, like you said,Chris, they've already qualified themselves. They know the prices of vehicles. Theyknow how vehicle sales work. You know, there's very rare that somebody hasn't purchaseda vehicle or purchase products and services from a dealership at some point oranother, or at least been involved to some degree. And so, ifI may, Michael Colerk, sorry, and in with the way that thethe web services today, though, that okay. So we're always trained thatwhen somebody comes into the show room, like listen, you test. Idon't care if they test over the car before they don't want it, you'regoing to test O, we're going to take them through our steps of thesale. Do you think that the steps of the sale still need to goand seequence to like that? Because let's say that, you know that theweb allows us to experience a lot of this and accomplish a lot of thingsthat we couldn't we had to add a dealership which created the steps of thesale. Right now we can advance ourselves, you know, the end user canadvance themselves further that they come in. If they're just ready to get down, they should be able to just like get down, go right intothe you know numbers. You know, we've all heard the statistics. Customersare on between five to eight websites. They're shopping, shopping, shopping,you shopping your your competition. There their cross brand shopping. But those samecustomers that are on five to twelve websites are only physically visiting one point seven, seven dealers. Okay, exactly, so that's less than two. Sothey're accomplishing that same research, they're doing the same intel but to this numberseven less from millennials. So I think. And again our business is changing notonly daily but in some cases hourly. Do you sit your customer down andsay how would you like this process to go? At what point inyour research, in your cycle, are you because I don't want to beredundant, I want to respect your time. I certainly want to respect your intelligenceand whatever level of research you've already accomplished to get to an understanding ofthe two thousand and fifteen rogue. Really good, Black Michael, let meask you a question to I want to hear your thought on this. Sure, sorry, Christ because this is where we're at. You do you feelthat you know that when somebody cut like coming into do that, that thatwould work, you know, like just coming in? Hey, where doyou wear? You at in this process? So we've gotten to this. Thisis what we're looking to do right now. Yeah, I mean,you know what, I don't know about you guys, but I think froma sales perspective, there's no harm in qualifying that customer. I mean,you know, I don't know if I'd use those words like Yo, dude, where you at now, like,... know, but like diplomatically,you know, having a Nice paunished, having a nice polished like hey,you know what, just because we want to be able to help you andin whatever to the is it insulted thetelligence to like be like, listen,we already did this, okay, well, you're gonna do it again. Youknow, is that almost like insulting to what? Here's here? Youknow, guys, I think we are on a generational cusp in our business. You know, we are sitting right now at a point where we havea lot of managers and hey, I'm fifty six years old. It's notlike I'm talking like a millennial here. I mean I took my very firstup in one thousand nine hundred and eighty four. So you know, I'veseen the way, the old way, was done. And and you knowwhat, there's some good stuff about how, you know the steps to the sale, road to the stale was a kind of back in the old days. But you have management and some ownership that will still say to a salespersonif you don't demo them, you can follow them home. Well, II don't know. That type of rigidity in the sales process when you haveso much more of an enlightened and engaged consumer can probably cost you, ifnot some deals, certainly some trust points with your customer. If you tella customer I got to do this or my manager is going to fire me. Frustrating is that to go through? That okay. So let me askyou, Chris. Where does the dealership start? We've talked about up tothis point, you know, back to one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven, we thought the Internet was going to change the way things happen, withthe first car sale online, all those sorts of things. We're finding thatcustomers still base a lot of their purchase decision off of that human interaction.Trust, credibility, all of those sorts of things. What can dealerships listeningtoday start doing right now too, I guess Mary the experience that's being deliveredonline to to the brick and mortar store so that they can increase opportunities tosell products and services. Great Question. I'm going to take you back againabout a decade. I really know the store for it I have like I'menjoying I'm enjoying these locks down emory lane. They're becoming my memories. I rana Chevy store for an Absenteel on who was my mentor and he hassince passed. His name was Bob Newman. He was a fantastic guy and hewould spend about two months a year in this store and the rest ofthe time he would be in Longboat key, Florida or Martha's Vineyard, and Iwould get two phone calls a week where we would fight like cats anddogs and then kiss and make up and I'll call you Tuesday. Okay,Mr Newman. We went out to launch one day. We're driving back into the lot and I'll never forget this. He pointed to the sign, thebig gold boat tie with Newman Chevrolet, and he said my best employees arethe ones that, when they drive in in the morning they see theirname up. They're not mine. How do you get there. How doyou take a team and give them mental ownership of the dealership? It's noteasy. But every time you read studies about what motivates employees, whether ornot there in the you know our business, or any business, monetary compensation isnever the first of the secondary, sometimes even the third consideration. Whenemployees are survey the number one consideration is always quality of life. You know, the old way of doing things. If you don't work sixty five,seventy hours a week, you're not on...

...this team. This is why ourbusiness has such a high incidence of divorce, alcoholism. You know, we've beatenpeople like rented mules in this business and I think that that model haschanged, especially with, you know, some of the larger chains that havesaid number one, we want family people. We want people who will give ustheir all for forty, forty five hours a week. That makes adifference. The number two reason that you see in a lot of these employmentstudies that make people happy and make them want to stay at their job isbuying that their performance and their opinion matters, that they feel that they are partof a team. You know, the old way of doing things.It's my way or the highway that that doesn't cut it anymore. You haveto take a group of people and say whether you are the porter, theguy in the wash wreck, the cetech salesman, F and I, manager, salesmanager, GM or owner, were all on the same team and andeverybody's opinion matters. Everybody's input, as well as output, matters, andyou have to live by that. I I've seen dealerships turned on their earwhen a salesman makes a suggestion that nobody ever thought of before. It's likethat old anecdote about the the truck that gets caught under the trestle in thestate police and this the state road gang is there and they can't figure outhow to get this dump truck out from underneath this this overpass and a littlekid comes by and says, why don't you let the air out of thetires? It's classic. We've all heard that. So when everybody feels liketheir name is on that sign and the success or failure of that mission ofthat dealership is directly based on their attitude and their output, you, youare are much more apt to see success. But it's got to be genuine,it's got to be compensated, and it doesn't always have to be monetarilycompensated, you know, to be able to let somebody work if you wantto work forty hours a week, if you feel that that's what you cangive me. And and and here are your goals and here are your expectations. That's great. If you need to accomplish you need sixty hours to accomplishthose expectations and those goals. That's what it's going to take. Okay,so, so speaking, sorry to cut you off there. So I don'tknow. I mean, I was starting to ramble. It brings up agood point because, I mean, this is something that I think you know, even in my own company, is something that I hopefully try to achievewhere the team, you know, input matters, where we try and listeneverybody's opinion and and reward them or express appreciation for the the dealer principle ormanager listening in what would you I mean you kind of prefaced this this bysaying you know, it's not easy to do. What would some of thehesitations be to go down this path and some of the solutions? For example, I'm thinking of, you know, creating this culture where you know peoplehave this mental ownership. But I could see a hesitation being like, ohwell, now they're not going to have any respect for authority or they're goingto just say no, it doesn't matter what you want as the boss anymore, because you told me to have mental ownership over what I'm doing. Doyou know what I mean? Absolutely no. You really commit chain in command andThea sically right. Listen, I'm a military guy. There's always gotto be a chain of command, but look at the Google business model,the whole idea of authority. Everybody has authority at Google. You go outto Walnut Creek and everybody's voice matters. Yes, there is a chain ofcommand. What causes the hesitancy to change?...

Yeah, number one, the theverbal hemlock. We've always done it this way. Yeah, you know, my dad did it this way. We know, it's all we know. You know, another thing that my old mentor used to say that alwaysstuck with me was you cannot have customer satisfaction without employee satisfaction. They gohand in hand and they feed off of each other and they grow off ofeach other. So to create a culture of customer care and dealership. Youknow, I'll go back to what I said before. You know, customerscan walk into a store and and sense unrest or low morale. Ours isone of the few businesses where, whether your salesperson or manager, you areexpected to act like an executive and you are compensated as such. But atthe same time you were out in the public eye. Everybody's office is rightthere on the show room, you know, so anybody can hear you on thephone with the bank. I just got a real quick anecdote. Iwas in a pharmacy this morning. I was going to see vs picking upa prescription and, as you all know, when you when you go to adrug store to get a prescription, it takes twenty, thirty minutes forhim to fill it, which I've never been able to figure out why.You know, they're all labeled. Just, you know, throw twenty pills ina bag and get get me out here, will I will have youon our pharmacy podcast. I'm wandering the aisles and I already, you know, read cosmopolitan from the magazine Rack and I'm over by a back room andI'm listening to two employees argue and talk about, apparently about the manager,and there dropping fbombs and you know this is a terrible place to work.And if he thinks I'm working Friday, he's got another thing coming. Andand they knew that they were literally five six feet away from the public thatwas in this this pharmacy, and it apparently didn't matter to them. AndI thought to myself, have I ever done that? Do People in DealershipsComplain About Their Commission statement or about that customer with the bad credit or theone that gave him the bad dealer Raider Review, or out in public?That stuff's got to go in the back room, that's got to go inthe lunch room. For any manager to allow unrest to foment. Anytime yousense anything going on in your showroom floor, you got to get it out.You got to have a meeting. You know, I know all ofus on this call our members of Jim ziggler's new Alpha Dog tribe on facebook, which is a fantastic group, and somebody posted this morning about how manymeetings do you have a week? And there's there's always a reason for ameeting. Either it's a killer or Currett deal meeting, deal review or ifyou sense that there's an issue going on with a couple of your sales people. You got to get the whole team in and together and sit down andtell a receptis. You hold our phone calls for fifteen minutes because we arebrothers and sisters and we got to iron this stuff out before the next upis greeted on the lot. You can't let unrest and bad morale foment andferment and grow. You will never get to it, you will never getto a place where you can create a culture of customer care until you havea culture of employee care and everybody on the team feels that they're empowered tohelp with the growth and success of that dealership. Very good, very good. This has been so helpful. Chris, thank you so much for being onthe show today. I know it kind of came together really quick,but we're so glad that that you could...

...take the time for us today.This is so such incredible information. I mean, I love what you saidabout you know, you can't have customer satisfaction without employee satisfaction. And so, for those of you listening in, if you're curious about what you canstart doing today to improve the atmosphere of your dealership, to start seeing moreproductivity out of your team. Chris is brought up some really good points.Give the mental ownership. Of course, that goes you know, like likewe talked about that. That goes with, you know, making sure that there'sa chain of command in place, right, Chris, and and also, you know, having a process and place fires out. Yeah, puttingthe Fars out. And I love what you said about, you know,I think a lot of dealerships just say, okay, you know, next Wednesday'sare meeting for this. But I love what you said about just,you know, having meetings as they are there. That obviously involves the managementbeing more in tune and kind of hiding in their offices and just kind ofkeeping an eye out and observing what's going on and just addressing, you know, like you said, the unrester low morale as it's happening before the nextyou know, up comes into the show room or is greeted. Those aresome things that you can start doing today. If you want more information, pleasedon't hesitate. visit us. Triple W dot, the dealer playbookcom forwardthirty four. And, Chris, how can those listening and get in touchwith you? Well, my website is www dot's vets carscom and my directemail is see walsh at that's Carscom and I would love to hear from youand this. Remember, this is a just remember this is the greatest businessin the world and we dedicate a huge portion of our lives to it.There's nothing like the car business and agreed that there's just so much passion andtelling how they think. Everybody here's in it. Yeah, there you go, Chris. Yeah, Hey, Chris, thanks for the trips down memory lanetoday, man, I appreciated now back to the nice the wise it. Just before we say goodbye, tell me a little bit, just,you know, to three minutes about that cars and what you guys are doingover there. That's cars is an association of dealerships nationwide who we invite tobe part of the association, who pledged to a code of conduct that weteach how to prospect, attract, capture and, most importantly, serve consumerswho are members of the forty five million member military and veteran family. Themilitary and consumer demographic is the largest demographic other than male versus female. Aboutone out of every four or five people at walk into your show room hasa director family relationship to the military and it's very, very important to thesefolks to to us we are better known and operated. I am an airforce veteran. That's that our service is acknowledged and that a clear, transparent, respectful experience is going to be offered on the show home floor. We'vegot about two hundred dealers and thirty one states right now and we feel thatwe make a real nice addition to a dealer's awareness efforts and we can showyou how to see some real incremental sales gains by becoming known as the goto dealership for of that friendly experience in your market area. Love it.Thank you so much, Chris, and again, if you guys want tolearn more about what Chris is doing over at vet cars, as well aslearn more about what we've talked about today, don't hesitate. Triple W dot thedealer playbookcom for thirty four. Chris, thanks for being on the show.Thank you, Michael. God blessed. Gentlemen. Have a great day youtubetake care of later, Chris.

Bye, bye. And there youhave it. That was our friend Chris Walsh again at vet's cars. Allthe information, everything that he talked about plus has social links, which hedidn't mention. Will put those into show notes if you want to connect withthem. Michael, what do you think? Yeah, I you know, that'sa good point. I would I would absolutely recommend you get connected toChris. You could tell just listening in that the guy just has so muchinformation and knowledge, you know, rolling around in his head. Thirty,you know, thirty years in the business, you know, pushing, moving metaland all that kind of stuff, gives them just a ton of experience, ton of insights. I could tell there was so much more that hecould talk about. We kind of had to put the brakes on him alittle bit. But really, you know what, those make the easiest interviewsbecause you never have to worry about which direction you're gonna go. You know, it goes without saying you and I are big on culture and creating theright culture within the dealership. And and, like I said, I love whathe said about, you know, you can't have customer satisfaction without employeesatisfaction. That was a big takeaway from me. Yeah, and and somethingelse is just that this simple fact of, you know, the number two reasonthat makes people happy as that having a say, having a voice,which just like asking for feedback something that smaller. Asking their opinion is soeasy, cost you nothing to do, but could increase morale, which wouldincrease, you know, productivity, totally. Yeah, absolutely so. I thinkthat's where we leave it. Let's let's take this out, Robert.How do we get people in touch with us? Dealer, the dealer playtripled w the dealer playbookcom, all the links, everything will be in theshow notes there for everything discussed in this session. Check out Michael at whereyou at? At Michael Sir, what's yours? At Michael a Sorrillo,and at Michael A CIRILLOCOM me at Robert wisemancom and you twitter? Anything toadd ell? Yeah, my like twitter at your Hunday Guycom. Still.I think that's it, man, thanks so much for listening in. We'lltalk to you next time later.

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