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. And now your hosts, Robert Weissman and Michael Cirillo. Hey there, and thank you for listening to the dealer playbook podcast, episode thirty four. My name is Michael Cirillo. I'm joined up by Y'all know, I'm Robert Wiseman. How's it going, buddy? Hey, what's going on, Michael? Welcome back. Thanks. Man. Got A couple of weeks away family vacate to soacal. I'll tell you what, it's a heck of a lot warmer down there than it is up here in cold Canada, but you know what, it was good, much needed. Thanks, guys, for listening in to the show while we were away. Had some good feedback, so we appreciate you stopped them by. Every single week we're talking to the WHO's who in and 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 him talk about a little bit near the end of the episode, so stick around for 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 around the business for some time. It's been around the business, I think you know. He said he took his first up in eighty four, so I was a whopping two years old. He's like the grandfather I've never had this guy. There you go, the grandfather he's never had, but just has some very valuable information for those of you listening in. So, without further ado, let's just jump into our sit down with Chris Walsh. We go and we are here with Mr Chris Walsh. He's the founder and managing partner at vet cars, you know, a company in a program that I really like. It's all about market segmentation and offering programs to our veterans who serve our country and provide the freedoms that we enjoy. Chris, so glad to have you on the show. Thanks for being here today. Hey, Michael, thank you for having me. It's an honor and a privilege. Absolutely and and you know what, we've had the opportunity to meet each other in person a few times, you know, a conferences and such, and I've had the privilege of listening to you speak. Actually, I think the first time that I heard you speak was at an Internet sales twenty group in Atlantic City, 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, of course, 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't know what you're doing or whatever. And then you were like bomb, Blah Boam. I was like power bombs all over the place, and I was 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 lower your audiences expa there you go, there you go. Now for those in your audience who who have ever spoken publicly, you know, up until about an hour before you get up in front of the room, you know you've got your program knocked, you've got it outline, you've got a bullet pointed 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 we were talking about pre show was creating a culture of customer care and you know you had mentioned that. You know that could be pretty vague and broad of a topic to discuss, but you know it's, I think, a hot topic. We've had a couple of past episodes talking about creating a culture inside the deal ship that is conducive to, you know, selling more vehicles selling more fani product services, whatever it might be. But I want to get your take on this. When you see a say, creating a culture of customer care, what's the starting point for you? How are you how are 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 of us, I'm an old timer, I was doing F and I and a Chrysler Plymouth dealership back then. That's how far back this was and many of us in the business were like this, this is going to change the entire paradigm. It's going to change the industry. There's going to be no need for brick and mortar dealerships. There certainly is not going to be any need for 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 are we even doing this at heck, it was even, you know, a lead story and automotive news a couple of times. Well, I think now 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 really done is fortified the need for a good solid handshake, to handshake human being to human being interaction. Because with almost sixteenzero franchise rooftops from see the Shining Sea, consumers can go just about anywhere they want. They know what a car costs, they know what other consumers have paid for vehicles, what payments should be based on their credit. They come into your show room fully armed with 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 decision based on your Internet presence, your presence in your community, some of your marketing and awareness efforts. They've they've come into your show room because they pretty much have said, I think this is one of the dealers I want to attempt to give my business to. They've already made up their mind. So at that point when someone is about to spend thirty twozero seven hundred and fifty dollars, which, by the way, was the average selling price of a car in the United States in two thousand and thirteen, it is yours to lose. So the whole idea of culture of customer care starts with the Internet and BDC departments making those those first attempts, when people first get a hold of us, making them feel special. I detest the robot responses. You know, in some of some of my presentations I make the joke that you can email ABC motors and say there is a bomb in your parts department set to 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 sales associates will be contacting you soon and it is our goal to exceed your expectations and unfortunately we've taken the path of least resistance with those first contacts, be they telephonic or via the Internet. So I always felt that creating a culture of customer care, and let me throw in another see, control starts with the very first interaction you have with a...

...customer. Now I'm going to take a 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 about here because you know, for me this is my own opinion, and I 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 what actually leads them to your dealership. Correction, that's not an opinion, that is an absolute fact. There, it is. Okay, there, that was trying to be honest. I'm trying to be suggested. Yes, so you speak the facts. Speak the facts. They're there, they are. I just 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 Chris is 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 the customer comes through the door. We somehow like think that this is the first place they've come. They haven't done any research online, they're just looking at prices and all those sorts of things, but it's scratch. Yeah, they're starting from scratch, but the reality of it is, like you said, Chris, they've already qualified themselves. They know the prices of vehicles. They know how vehicle sales work. You know, there's very rare that somebody hasn't purchased a vehicle or purchase products and services from a dealership at some point or another, or at least been involved to some degree. And so, if I may, Michael Colerk, sorry, and in with the way that the the web services today, though, that okay. So we're always trained that when somebody comes into the show room, like listen, you test. I don't care if they test over the car before they don't want it, you're going to test O, we're going to take them through our steps of the sale. Do you think that the steps of the sale still need to go and seequence to like that? Because let's say that, you know that the web allows us to experience a lot of this and accomplish a lot of things that we couldn't we had to add a dealership which created the steps of the sale. Right now we can advance ourselves, you know, the end user can advance 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 into the you know numbers. You know, we've all heard the statistics. Customers are on between five to eight websites. They're shopping, shopping, shopping, you shopping your your competition. There their cross brand shopping. But those same customers that are on five to twelve websites are only physically visiting one point seven, seven dealers. Okay, exactly, so that's less than two. So they're accomplishing that same research, they're doing the same intel but to this numbers even less from millennials. So I think. And again our business is changing not only daily but in some cases hourly. Do you sit your customer down and say how would you like this process to go? At what point in your research, in your cycle, are you because I don't want to be redundant, I want to respect your time. I certainly want to respect your intelligence and whatever level of research you've already accomplished to get to an understanding of the two thousand and fifteen rogue. Really good, Black Michael, let me ask 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 feel that you know that when somebody cut like coming into do that, that that would work, you know, like just coming in? Hey, where do you wear? You at in this process? So we've gotten to this. This is what we're looking to do right now. Yeah, I mean, you know what, I don't know about you guys, but I think from a 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 and in whatever to the is it insulted thetelligence to like be like, listen, we already did this, okay, well, you're gonna do it again. You know, is that almost like insulting to what? Here's here? You know, guys, I think we are on a generational cusp in our business. You know, we are sitting right now at a point where we have a lot of managers and hey, I'm fifty six years old. It's not like I'm talking like a millennial here. I mean I took my very first up in one thousand nine hundred and eighty four. So you know, I've seen the way, the old way, was done. And and you know what, 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 salesperson if you don't demo them, you can follow them home. Well, I I don't know. That type of rigidity in the sales process when you have so much more of an enlightened and engaged consumer can probably cost you, if not some deals, certainly some trust points with your customer. If you tell a 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 ask you, Chris. Where does the dealership start? We've talked about up to this point, you know, back to one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven, we thought the Internet was going to change the way things happen, with the first car sale online, all those sorts of things. We're finding that customers still base a lot of their purchase decision off of that human interaction. Trust, credibility, all of those sorts of things. What can dealerships listening today start doing right now too, I guess Mary the experience that's being delivered online to to the brick and mortar store so that they can increase opportunities to sell products and services. Great Question. I'm going to take you back again about a decade. I really know the store for it I have like I'm enjoying I'm enjoying these locks down emory lane. They're becoming my memories. I ran a Chevy store for an Absenteel on who was my mentor and he has since passed. His name was Bob Newman. He was a fantastic guy and he would spend about two months a year in this store and the rest of the time he would be in Longboat key, Florida or Martha's Vineyard, and I would get two phone calls a week where we would fight like cats and dogs 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 in to the lot and I'll never forget this. He pointed to the sign, the big gold boat tie with Newman Chevrolet, and he said my best employees are the ones that, when they drive in in the morning they see their name up. They're not mine. How do you get there. How do you take a team and give them mental ownership of the dealership? It's not easy. But every time you read studies about what motivates employees, whether or not there in the you know our business, or any business, monetary compensation is never the first of the secondary, sometimes even the third consideration. When employees 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 our business has such a high incidence of divorce, alcoholism. You know, we've beaten people like rented mules in this business and I think that that model has changed, especially with, you know, some of the larger chains that have said number one, we want family people. We want people who will give us their all for forty, forty five hours a week. That makes a difference. The number two reason that you see in a lot of these employment studies that make people happy and make them want to stay at their job is buying that their performance and their opinion matters, that they feel that they are part of 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 have to take a group of people and say whether you are the porter, the guy in the wash wreck, the cetech salesman, F and I, manager, salesmanager, GM or owner, were all on the same team and and everybody's opinion matters. Everybody's input, as well as output, matters, and you have to live by that. I I've seen dealerships turned on their ear when a salesman makes a suggestion that nobody ever thought of before. It's like that old anecdote about the the truck that gets caught under the trestle in the state police and this the state road gang is there and they can't figure out how to get this dump truck out from underneath this this overpass and a little kid comes by and says, why don't you let the air out of the tires? It's classic. We've all heard that. So when everybody feels like their name is on that sign and the success or failure of that mission of that dealership is directly based on their attitude and their output, you, you are 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 monetarily compensated, you know, to be able to let somebody work if you want to work forty hours a week, if you feel that that's what you can give 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 accomplish those 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't know. I mean, I was starting to ramble. It brings up a good point because, I mean, this is something that I think you know, even in my own company, is something that I hopefully try to achieve where the team, you know, input matters, where we try and listen everybody's opinion and and reward them or express appreciation for the the dealer principle or manager listening in what would you I mean you kind of prefaced this this by saying you know, it's not easy to do. What would some of the hesitations 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 people have this mental ownership. But I could see a hesitation being like, oh well, now they're not going to have any respect for authority or they're going to 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. Do you know what I mean? Absolutely no. You really commit chain in command and Thea sically right. Listen, I'm a military guy. There's always got to be a chain of command, but look at the Google business model, the whole idea of authority. Everybody has authority at Google. You go out to Walnut Creek and everybody's voice matters. Yes, there is a chain of command. What causes the hesitancy to change?...

Yeah, number one, the the verbal 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 always stuck with me was you cannot have customer satisfaction without employee satisfaction. They go hand in hand and they feed off of each other and they grow off of each other. So to create a culture of customer care and dealership. You know, I'll go back to what I said before. You know, customers can walk into a store and and sense unrest or low morale. Ours is one of the few businesses where, whether your salesperson or manager, you are expected to act like an executive and you are compensated as such. But at the same time you were out in the public eye. Everybody's office is right there on the show room, you know, so anybody can hear you on the phone with the bank. I just got a real quick anecdote. I was in a pharmacy this morning. I was going to see vs picking up a prescription and, as you all know, when you when you go to a drug store to get a prescription, it takes twenty, thirty minutes for him 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 in a bag and get get me out here, will I will have you on 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 and I'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. And and they knew that they were literally five six feet away from the public that was in this this pharmacy, and it apparently didn't matter to them. And I thought to myself, have I ever done that? Do People in Dealerships Complain About Their Commission statement or about that customer with the bad credit or the one 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 in the lunch room. For any manager to allow unrest to foment. Anytime you sense anything going on in your showroom floor, you got to get it out. You got to have a meeting. You know, I know all of us 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 many meetings do you have a week? And there's there's always a reason for a meeting. Either it's a killer or Currett deal meeting, deal review or if you 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 and tell a receptis. You hold our phone calls for fifteen minutes because we are brothers and sisters and we got to iron this stuff out before the next up is greeted on the lot. You can't let unrest and bad morale foment and ferment and grow. You will never get to it, you will never get to a place where you can create a culture of customer care until you have a culture of employee care and everybody on the team feels that they're empowered to help with the growth and success of that dealership. Very good, very good. This has been so helpful. Chris, thank you so much for being on the 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 said about 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 can start doing today to improve the atmosphere of your dealership, to start seeing more productivity out of your team. Chris is brought up some really good points. Give the mental ownership. Of course, that goes you know, like like we talked about that. That goes with, you know, making sure that there's a chain of command in place, right, Chris, and and also, you know, having a process and place fires out. Yeah, putting the Fars out. And I love what you said about, you know, I think a lot of dealerships just say, okay, you know, next Wednesday's are meeting for this. But I love what you said about just, you know, having meetings as they are there. That obviously involves the management being more in tune and kind of hiding in their offices and just kind of keeping 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 next you know, up comes into the show room or is greeted. Those are some things that you can start doing today. If you want more information, please don't hesitate. visit us. Triple W dot, the dealer playbookcom forward thirty four. And, Chris, how can those listening and get in touch with you? Well, my website is www dot's vets carscom and my direct email is see walsh at that's Carscom and I would love to hear from you and this. Remember, this is a just remember this is the greatest business in 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 and telling how they think. Everybody here's in it. Yeah, there you go, Chris. Yeah, Hey, Chris, thanks for the trips down memory lane today, 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 doing over there. That's cars is an association of dealerships nationwide who we invite to be part of the association, who pledged to a code of conduct that we teach how to prospect, attract, capture and, most importantly, serve consumers who are members of the forty five million member military and veteran family. The military and consumer demographic is the largest demographic other than male versus female. About one out of every four or five people at walk into your show room has a director family relationship to the military and it's very, very important to these folks to to us we are better known and operated. I am an air force 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've got about two hundred dealers and thirty one states right now and we feel that we make a real nice addition to a dealer's awareness efforts and we can show you how to see some real incremental sales gains by becoming known as the go to dealership for of that friendly experience in your market area. Love it. Thank you so much, Chris, and again, if you guys want to learn more about what Chris is doing over at vet cars, as well as learn more about what we've talked about today, don't hesitate. Triple W dot the dealer playbookcom for thirty four. Chris, thanks for being on the show. Thank you, Michael. God blessed. Gentlemen. Have a great day youtube take care of later, Chris.

Bye, bye. And there you have it. That was our friend Chris Walsh again at vet's cars. All the information, everything that he talked about plus has social links, which he didn't mention. Will put those into show notes if you want to connect with them. Michael, what do you think? Yeah, I you know, that's a good point. I would I would absolutely recommend you get connected to Chris. You could tell just listening in that the guy just has so much information and knowledge, you know, rolling around in his head. Thirty, you know, thirty years in the business, you know, pushing, moving metal and all that kind of stuff, gives them just a ton of experience, ton of insights. I could tell there was so much more that he could talk about. We kind of had to put the brakes on him a little bit. But really, you know what, those make the easiest interviews because 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 the right culture within the dealership. And and, like I said, I love what he said about, you know, you can't have customer satisfaction without employee satisfaction. That was a big takeaway from me. Yeah, and and something else is just that this simple fact of, you know, the number two reason that makes people happy as that having a say, having a voice, which just like asking for feedback something that smaller. Asking their opinion is so easy, cost you nothing to do, but could increase morale, which would increase, you know, productivity, totally. Yeah, absolutely so. I think that'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 play tripled w the dealer playbookcom, all the links, everything will be in the show notes there for everything discussed in this session. Check out Michael at where you at? At Michael Sir, what's yours? At Michael a Sorrillo, and at Michael A CIRILLOCOM me at Robert wisemancom and you twitter? Anything to add ell? Yeah, my like twitter at your Hunday Guycom. Still. I think that's it, man, thanks so much for listening in. We'll talk to you next time later.

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