The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode 516 · 4 months ago

Darren Doane: Opportunity Knocks


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Darren Doane is an American filmmaker, actor, and music video director who has worked with artists like Christian Bale, Ken Daurio, and Blink 182. He also has a keen eye on the automotive industry and sees an endless supply of opportunities.

What we discuss in this episode:

Darren shares his perspective on the current customer experience at a dealership. His thoughts about the emergence of EVs are particularly interesting. In speaking about his daughter's perception, "Going to a gas station just seems stupid. She charges her phone and her laptop; it just makes sense that she should plug in her car."

There is a segment of automotive customers that we haven't yet figured out how to appeal to. Where dealers historically keep trying to follow the model they are familiar with, that provides an opening for someone to consider how to flip things on their head.

Darren riffs on some opportunities he sees for car dealers about how they could lift the customer experience and drive people into the store.

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Thanks, Darren Doane!

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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. Hey, welcome to this episode of the dealer playbook podcast. You know, one of the things I think about is my earlier days coming up in the automotive industry. There was always a ton of conversations about, you know, the opportunity in this space. We would laugh, almost mentioned tongue in cheek, about how this was a business for anybody, like if you just got out of jail, we would welcome you with open arms, sort of a thing. But I'm continually a man as, especially now at this point in my career and my experience in the auto industry, just how much opportunity they're actually is. And I wanted to preface my conversation today with Um, somebody that Paul daily and Comm mounts here introduced me to. The guy's name is Darren Doan such a deep thinker. I thought I thought deeply about things. This guy thinks layers deeper than that and he challenged my thinking a lot in this interview. He doesn't work in automotive. He's a creative. He's a director. Fun Side Note, was in the movie news ease and worked on a film with Christian Bale. I think is super incredible, just super interesting. But as a creative he's taken a particularly interesting look inside of the automotive industry and it's and it's been really inspiring seeing the opportunities, uh, that he sees. And so, of course that is kind of the premise of our conversation today. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Tore Played Bo podcast with my new friend Darren down. I feel... we're in this phase of, you know, like I try and get a sense of maybe what things were like when steam powered vehicles started coming out, when the model t started coming out, and there was this transition phase of like horse and carriage to automobile or maybe, Um, you know, seeing the popularity rise of the automobile. Like there were a lot of unknowns for people and I imagine how carriage dealers must have felt like horse and buggy dealers must have felt in that transitionary phase. I wish I could be a fly on the wall at the conversations happening, because my me thinks that we're having similar types of conversations now and we're in a phase where there's some going to doom and gloom, like this is the end of card dealers as we know it. There's some that are like, I just bought my first dealership and I see thirty years in the future and this is, you know whatever. Your commentary, I think, is incredibly legit like, uh hey, how about this? How this is your these dealerships are the bedrock of the community Um, and I'm liking that narrative because maybe I'm simple minded, but it just makes so much sense to me. Wait a minute, to remove dealership from the equation is to remove a deeply woven fabric from a community, from a region, from a state or province, from the federal level, like it just doesn't make any sense in my mind that there's no conceivable way. But I mean, who knows? I feel like we're in this phase where we're trying to figure things out and in our pursuit to figure things out. Everyone's just chirping ideas, and some of those in our human nature, we take a lot of those ideas as absolutes. That's the way gonna Happen,..., come on, like the EVs, for example. I don't think EVS IS gonna end up the way we all think it's gonna end up, in the same way that web three is not going to end up the way we all think, like look at how we thought web two was going to be, and it didn't end up anywhere close to where we thought it was when it started. I mean, what's your take on that? Are we chirping in the pursuit of trying to figure out where the industry is going, or do you think we have a good idea? Well, I mean, unfortunately, I think. I think the regulation part really messes it all up. I wish we were kind of just talking about People's preferences and market because then it's a really fun conversation. You know, I look at a small town people, but then again, probably most people do. Yeah, I say I look at a small town, but most people probably do as well. You know, Um, and my daughter's driving now, she's seventeen, and it's like for her her like going to a gas station, just seems stupid in life. Right. She charges her phone. I know people talk about that, like so we're just again. She's not driving more than a six mile radius all day long. Right, right. And so in one sense ev makes so much sense for the kind of communal town living. You plug in your charge, you just, you just, you move, you came home, you charge it, you go to me. I think there's gonna be that, that aspect of EVs. I think it's gonna be. It's gonna be Great. You know what I mean? Um, I love everything about I mean I love everything about ev like if you were just if we were just playing the game, like I love everything about it, you know, like I like I like the whole concept, like it's actually appealing to me. I'm not talking about carbon, I'm not talking about whatever we're trying to do for great I'm not even any of that. Forgetting that, which is why I think we have to be careful when you're earlier you were saying that we're carbon, because as soon as you start categorize this carbon,...

...believe me, you're on that list. Canceled exactly carbon right now. But I like everything. I mean to me it just seems cool. You know, Um, having been in, having been in e vs, I think they're I just think they're cool. You. It's like what makes you know? My wife, we just got a what did cheap get the cheap wagon here, because jeep, jeep wagon here. Want to get us a bourbon. Couldn't find any. A year ago he saw the wagon. Are got on a waiting list. Um, got it out the door at eight. I think they offered us one twenty to leave it there at the dealership. I was like, am I really gonna flip a car like? I just seemed weird and although that's all you do with a dealership, though, but anyways, right, you know, she loves it. I don't. It's a really nice car. Right, it gets a really the cheap wagon ere is a nice car. Like, I get it, I respect it, I get in it, but I'm a little uncomfortable in that nice of a car. Right, I drive Chevy Silverado. It's just comfy. It's just it's just comfy. Now that's the only reason. Like, I'm not a Chevy Guy, although I probably am, but like I'm not a Chevy forward guy. Like I don't I don't really care. It's comfortable, like I just I like it. Your brand agnostic, right, but now, when it comes to an electric vehicle, like I just like the idea. I think that's cool. It's funny how that's not a good enough answer, as if we've never had more as if we've ever had a more Um, robust, intellectual answer for the other vehicles that we drive. You know I mean. You know, I mean. I'm still confused on what's even a nice car. Like I'm confused between a Land Rover and a land in a in a ranger, like I still like I'm a fifty year old man that...

...can't tell you the difference between whatever those two are. Are they the same company? I don't know. I think one's really expensive. But what is the ranger in the rover? What is it? You're a car that is I mean there's a Range Rover, age rover, and then a Land Cruiser. Land Cruiser, yeah, and there's a Ford Ranger. Well, yeah, I'm not there. But which was the most expensive? Uh, I mean they're both. They yeah, they both can be pretty pricey. Okay, but the Range Rover is expensive. Right. Okay, I don't know why, but I know people that own them and they tell me they're always in the shop with it, like it's weird that there are really nice, expensive cars that people joke about, that they're always broken, that they're always breaking down, like I have. So I have no idea like what even what people would argue is why you'd want a car or what's a good reason for a car. I just like certain cars. You're asked the EVS. I like the idea of an e V. I have the idea of that. My daughter what have an E v? It just feels like that's one less you know, stop at the gas station. Not because we have a small town. I don't there's a lot of crime. My talk about that. I'm just talking about but you have a higher chance of running into idiots. From my seventeen year old daughter by herself at a gas station like that's it's a higher probability, right like. But EVS also start to reveal to us that that just seems like a waste of time. I should get in my car and I should go where I want to go. I should never have to stop for Gas. So I just think the mindset and the next generation coming up, we will not beat that. I think the the EV nature of that, which has nothing with the environment. I'm talking pure friction. I think the EV if it delivers, it's just there's less friction in life. So I mean, I think that's I I think. I think...

...that's coming, and I think car people, I think dealers are agnostic at once and look, they'll sell whatever they can sell. People are buying it, they're they're happy to sell it. You know what I mean? I just think that the dealership. I know I've I've told Paul and Kyle this. I if I had a if I had a car dealer like a drug dealer, like if I had a dealer bro a car dealer could sell me, I'd buy three more cars right now, like I'd like some different I like a few more cars. One reason I'm not buying three more cars is because it's gonna be a hassle, like if somebody made it easy for me and someone's like, Darren, look, I got access to all your still, I got power, I got your signature, I got that. What do you want? And all they're gonna do is pull the money out of my account. I'd buy two more cars today. I'd buy I'd buy two more cars right now. If someone said just tell me what you want and I'll get it delivered. Recording has stopped get emails for days. What I mean? I think that's the opportunity I mean. I'm saying I think that's the opportunity. I mean. I think again, I'm only making the point that I'm capable of buying three more cars in my life. I'm a family of six. So, by the way, I'M gonna probably buy other car at some point. My daughter's got her first car, my second three girls and a boy. My second oldest daughter just under license. I gotta buy her a car's right around the corner. What's with all these Idaho my my ct o Dan, he's Uh south the Salt Lake City and he's got six kids. Is it? This is like the six kid region of the United States? I think we know, Utah, I think you know that. You Tak, you know I only got four kids. I'm a family of six. Got You. Okay, okay, uh, but I mean so...

I look at that and I look at myself as a metric meaning, because look, a new car financing is gonna be how much a month. Well, what's what's what's the medium price for financing a car the days. I mean it's going up, but I mean you know, a new car, you're depending, but I'm thinking you're between five and eight hundred, maybe even a thousand, twelve hundred some cases. Bro I could blow that all day, right, I could. So that's what I mean by I know there's more cars to sell. Is Banging as the industry is as explosive as it is and successful as it is. I'm just making the case that nobody has found me and if nobody's found and I'm not even a baller, and if nobody's found me and has found a way to get my money, to say hey, eight, another eight hundred bucks a month. You know, do you want this car? Hey, Darren, you're you're not a sports car guy at all, but you know what you should what do you try this? Maybe I get in it. I got in someone's kind of Nice car that was lower. The girl was like, Hees, Oh, my daughter got a I don't know what she drives. It's a it's a I gotta figure out car it is. It's like a car Um. It's fun, it's Zippy. I get in it zippy. I drive around like I forgot that it feels different drive a different car. So sometimes I'm like, I gotta run to the store again. You know, if I jumped in my daughter's car, it just seems more fun. Well, Hey, five hundred bucks a month, I mean get your a little fun zippy car. I mean like I bought three more subscriptions to sound bed libraries. Hundred for the company. Right. So I'm spending four hundred dollars more a month on a...

...sound library, on sound libraries. I can I can spend it. I mean so if we can break this stigma that it's cool to have a bunch of cars and you're not a Douche bag, because it's actually cheap. Cars are cheap and the scheme of things, cars are cheap. And so I just think that someone's gonna show up and someone's gonna be my dealer and then they're gonna find another family and that guy is gonna start a business and he's gonna be a private dealer and it will be the breaking bad of like dealerships, you know, like selling cars, and but he's gonna work with people. I'M gonna be a legacy. My family will end up being a legacy. So when you think in terms of the amount of money that's that people make selling life insurance policies from a legacy standpoint. Why that? There's just as much money it selling cars. I mean, I think this is one of the things I love about this industry. Is kind of the point of what it supports. It's like the stingray that that all the other little fish, I don't know, whatever they are, minnows or whatever, because, like, you could legitimately do that and make a great living and lifestyle for yourself. You could like, you know, you don't have to be a Juggernaut, multibillion dollar well funded, you know, several rounds of investment, although you could be, or you could be a solo preneur. That's like I need five clients to make, you know, fifteen grand a month and that's more money than I've ever made and I'm happy and I can manage it, like I love how. So, how much this supports back to that concept of the bedrock of the community, and that's not even factoring in the dealership model that we have today. And how many people it supports, Um from, you know, anywhere from ten, two, hundreds or thousands of...

...employees, the training that happens, the leadership training, the giving back to the community, that happens Um like. There's just so much woven into I don't think people realize that their life is the way their life is in some way, shape or form because car dealer exists and that's the thing and it's it's the term card dealer, you know, it's just the term car dealer, car salesman, it's just the term salesman. And once and once that somehow gets rebranded and re understood. You know, look, why is this? That? Look what? And I'm sure there are I'm saying as I'm about to say it. I'm sure there is, but I mean, why is this not another option for people to be thinking about for a career? Right? What? Why is that? You know, I guess the only thing that that it's fascinating to me are the top few things that are fascinating to me about this is obviously there's massive turnover in the industry. I'm just guessing, but I'm a serious because I've never seen the same person when I go back to my car Um, but Um, and by the way, even when I want the same person, I call and they're like no, we got so and so now he's here, he's doing that. So that's that's kind of weird. But Um, for as big as an industry as it is, let's go to post falls. Ten million dollars a month being financed and you and you and I think to myself, and they need humans to come here and talk to other humans, or else this commodity doesn't get...

...moved every other commodity. And make no mistake, the auto industry is in the commodities business, but it doesn't require that. I have to get Jimmy down here to talk to people. So it's it's one of the few commodities that requires human interaction and kind of massaging back to me is still what's like. That's weird. Meaning I could take let's just pick Yamaha guitars. Yamaha could probably say we're not going to spend a dime on advertising for the next year. Probably will have zero effect. Now at some point it might, but I guarantee the first year nothing. I wonder what would happen at a dealership if no sales people showed up, like do cars only sell or is the is the majority of my car cell because human beings are and they're interacting no. In fact, earlier when we were chatting, I was talking about like the average, the average number of cars sold per month per car salesperson is like between six and eight, which like really isn't enough. I mean maybe if you're a bachelor, maybe newly married, maybe, depending on your pay plan, maybe you can, you can live on that. But you know, we have this tendency in the industry to pass the buck where it's like, I'm not selling any cars, it must be the marketing company's problem. No, no, no, there is actually a segment of people. See, we're in making a statement like that, you are completely disregarding the most important piece of this puzzle, that the customer has a brain in their head and they decided now was the time to buy a car. So oftentimes...

I'm visiting a store, I'm like Hey, yeah, I hear you. You see that chair over there? And they go yeah, I'm like, that chair is going to sell six cars this month because someone who is a complete lay down, like apparently you are, I'm gonna buy too at yeah, Yo, I'm gonna you know, like I'm a laydown too. By the way, I walk in, I'm like the black one, the that one's a coolp you know, um, but somebody like us is gonna walk into that store and see that chair and sit in it and ask for where the pen is. And there's more people, I think, in that bucket like you and I who just we know what we want. Um, we can see what we want. We do research, like we were just chatting with Alex vetter, the CEO of cars, and he's like we can see the the average time that people spend online researching specifically is like seven hours or something, and I'm like that's it. It doesn't sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but that's a tremendous amount of town's a full work day equivalent of someone just sitting behind a computer screen. Scale. So people know what they want. Like that chair is going to sell six cars for you this month. So instead of passing the buck, what could you be doing to go from six to ten cars to give yourself a competitive advantage over a chair? MHMM. I think in terms of I mean, and I get you know, it's funny we make Um generalizations of an industry, but I'm sure completely life changing dealerships out there and the reason why they're crushing it is most of them are, dude like, most of them actually are. But I mean, I walk into a dealership. Well, let's let'slet's like that financing number. What what do you think is the average number of financing moving through a dealership per month? Healthy dealership? Mm Hmm, I mean, did, did? Did that? Ten Million? Surprise, you're..., that's how this industry works. No, that seemed reasonable. So my question is, now, if me and you start a business, right and we know that we're gonna have about ten million a month moving through, me and you, okay, entrepreneur dudes with black shirts, right, and and I say to you, we should hire a couple of people. Let's let's hire two people in here, let's let's hire two full time Baristas to make sure anyone that walks in gets a coffee how how they want it. We don't care if they talk to anyone while they're here. We don't care if they scam us for the next year and they come in and get a free coffee every morning and leave, we don't care. I mean, if me and you know we've got ten million moving through, does that even worry you from a financial standpoint? No, this is what I mean. By the the auto industry could be owning everybody's life, could be owning everybody's space, could be owning everyone's brand loyalty, could be owning. And, by the way, what do people spend to get people to just walk into a dealership? I'm talking about two people making coffees all day long at a dealership and you know, come on by. I got a less Schwab. I don't if you guys have left Schwab anywhere near you, but like less Schwab has made it known to me in this community come by whenever you want. We'll check your tires and fill them up for you, no hassle, no issue. I pull in there, someone runs out, Hey, can go my tires. They pulled that thing out. I'm not run anyone's Day. My wife had a flat tire. I call Le Schwab because they have a free service. Anybody in town will get you, will get you home, we'll get your car. You don't have to buy your tire from us.

They own they have my loyalty forever and they are part of of my life now. I don't call it triple a, call Le Shwall right. That's insane. The real estate that this industry owns the amount of cash flow that it has. MM HMM, to spend money in the dumbest possible place. That would make you own a community. I mean, I just and and again. I'm sure someone's doing that. I know someone's probably doing that, but I'm just saying that should be entry level, like the like the hardware stores that have the free popcorn when you walk in. Yeah, I should walk in between twenty to a hundred thousand dollar purchase. Is the is the mentality. I think you can make me a Cappuccino. Yeah, these are the kind of things. But now I get I get it. You gotta have someone to manage it. Someone's now managing the Baristas. So I get it. And we overthink everything, of course, right, don't overthink that. Someone should get that to me. That's what I mean by when the Nirvana shows up. When, then Nirvana, you know, and Alison chains and the James Addictions and the Red Hot Chili pepper shows up to the eighties hair metal? When corn shows up to all the eight metal bands that are dying? I was friends with those dudes back in the day. They took every single last dying heavy metal tour to go open up for them because they took all those fans as they were all dying. They opened up and took all those metal fans and brought them into what they were doing. But when you're as big as these dealerships are, if someone could start making those decisions, and I and I know they are, I've met some of the people... through the industry. I mean I've in a different category. I've met some of the people, I think in Mohawk Conda, I think, on the blown away by some of the stuff they were doing. I was like, oh my goodness, I know people are doing it, but money. We forget is, ironically, because it's all about money. But it is so cheap to do some things that I think would turn some of these dealerships into staples in their community. And once you build that once, once you build that relationship, Oh man, and and and the fact that culture is now our culture is now built around a cup of coffee, not a cup of coffee. Um, I know we've been going along, but and and we may d with this, but when I bought my my first car up in post balls, my wife was organizing it and she was really like hey, we we got to be there at like eleven and it's an hour and a half drive and as the weeks are coming up, I'm like a lot of pressure on this eleven. Am like are we so pressured? Because, well, they're getting US two coffees. There's a Dutch brothers there. We have a place called Dutch brothers here and they've got my coffee. Order me and you what we drink, and they said they want to make sure that it's warm when we get there. So if we know what time you're gonna get there, we're gonna go get it. When you get there, we're gonna have too warm coffee. Is the way you want it from Dutch brothers waiting for you? I was like, so we get there, think of my coffee, my wife leaves to go do something, look at the guy and go hey, what's the deal with the coffee? Just give me the give me the insight. Here he said, when we do the coffee thing, we have a people show up, we don't do the coffee thing. Thirty four. Yeah, isn't that interesting? Like you've found a sixty percent ack. That's insane, like that's like. But it really made me think...

...about that and about the psychology of going somewhere. It's kind of uncomfortable. You're making big decisions, but actually not a big decision. It's like five hundred Bucks, eight hundred bucks, the value proposition for what you're spending, for what you're getting. I don't think. I don't think humans have any problem with that part of it. It's the process that freaks us out. Of buying a carr the money is so low. The money is not the issue, but my credit being checked and am I gonna get it? And they're talking to some more people. And don't worry, I have another bank Steve's working on and, oh no, like you know, hold on, oh no, no, no, Steve's gonna make it work for you. Make what work for me. Don't don't worry. I'm supposed to be you turned into Seinfeld. I don't even know why I'm worried. I don't know what it really is, you know. So I think if we can find ways to just well, I even find ways, someone's gonna do it. Someone's gonna crush it and someone's gonna own culture, and those are the things that I get excited about. Those are the things that that I'm always watching for, because I know I have more money to spend and and and they haven't gotten it. For me, man, you've got me thinking. Man, I've had so much fun chatting with you. You've challenged some of my thought processes and I love it. And you got me thinking about just how I think. You know, like we get into the weeds and we don't, it becomes, what's that saying? Like you can't see the forest from the trees or something like that. It's like when, when all of us are so in the weeds. This is why it's cool to be able to chat with someone like you who's I mean like music videos and directing, and I mean I made a newsies reference the other day and you're like, Oh, fun fact, that's in the newsies. I'm like, what the you...

...know, like to have this other trajectory that you've been on running parallel to what we're identifying is is like, I feel, like natural libre. It's like the nucleus, the nucleus of the world. Um, I find so fascinating. I want to thank you for for hanging out with me. Obviously, how can those listening, Um, follow you, get in touch with you? Um, pretty simple, Um, Darren, done on Instagram, done creative official, Um Darren don't on Linkedin and my podcast with demon hiatus right now, but three and a half years worth of my podcast called the Don cast, where I documented pretty much every day when I pivoted my company from Production Company to creative agency. About a hundred podcast last couple of years of just straight raw I'm pivoting my company, the money I'm spending, money I'm losing, the money I'm making, the investments, how I'm hiring, how I'm firing. All that is there, but it's but it's mainly got a goal of Um, trying to document just going out and making things happen, which I know a lot of people do talk about that, but Um, I was trying to hit on those three and a half years of trying to articulate that there is a really fun kind of freedom in just trying things and making things Um. You know, my favorite quotes I found later in life was by getting G K Chesterton. He said, you know, anything worth doing is worth doing badly, and he wasn't trying to be funny. He was saying look, if it's worth doing, it's gonna take some time and and it's gonna Start Bad and I'm still really encouraged by that. So the podcast is really about trying to really just embrace that. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly, and just being consistent at uh doing it. So that's how they can reach me. Love me, man, thanks for joining me on the dealer playbook podcast. I love him. Hey,...

...thanks so much, brother. We'll talk real soon. 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. m.

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