The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 1 year ago

David Spisak: How Culture Can Grow Your Dealership More Than Marketing


David Spisak has 27 years of retail automotive experience during which he owned and operated single point stores and large groups. He was the operator of Smythe European, a Mercedes-Benz dealership that generated a whopping $23.7 million in NET profit.

In this episode, David shares his vast wisdom about how his dealership was able to grow their business to other-worldly levels without spending a single dime on advertising. 

More importantly, you'll hear how David grew a team culture that created loyal employees, friends, and community alliances.

Noteworthy topics from this episode:

8:01 - David’s story and the imposter syndrome.

20:23 - If you want to grow, focus on the things that matter.

24:18 - How do you balance the culture and sales?

46:18 - Take a hard look this year at a culture in your dealership. 


This episode is proudly sponsored by our friends at Fortellis. No two dealers operate the same way which is why Fortellis provides the tools to create unique apps that help your dealership meet the needs of the market while catering to your operations. 

Not only has Fortellis created an amazing technology platform that’s designed to make life easier for dealers, but they are also pouring back into the community with events like their dealer dev day. It’s a 3-day event that empowers attendees to network with each other to create smarter, faster, and better apps for the dealer community. 

Visit to browse their marketplace of apps and integrations that will allow you to run your business, your way.

Hey gang, there are fewer things I regret more than not investing in zoom when I had the chance. How was I supposed to know there's gonna be a pandemic and zoom stocks would explode. Looking back 20 years from now, I don't want to have the same sinking feeling sitting on the sidelines knowing I could have jumped on another bandwagon sooner. luckily we know what the next big boom and retail automotive is and that's why companies like four telus have provided the tools to create unique apps that will help your dealership meet the demands of the market. You see no to dealers operate. The same way the beauty about four tell us, is that you can pick and choose the apps and workflows that help you meet the demands of the market while catering to your operations, not only is foretell has created an amazing technology platform that's designed to make life easier for dealers. They are pouring back into the community with events like their dealer DVD. It's a three day event that empowers attendees to network with each other to create smarter, faster and better apps for the dealer community. So my beloved DPB gang, the best thing that you can do right now is visit the four telus marketplace and browse through their growing library of apps and integrations that will allow you to run your business your way, visit four telus dot io to learn more. That's four. Tell us dot I O Mhm Welcome Welcome to this episode of the dealer Playbook, a podcast that explores what it takes to create a thriving career in the retail auto industry. I'm your host, Michael, Cirillo. So excited that you are here to learn from a master how culture can grow your business more than marketing or chatting with David specific. If you've listened to the show for a while or maybe you're new here, you probably already know how much I love talking about culture. Not because it's a buzz topic in the industry right now, but more so because it is, what I've experienced is the differentiator between thriving organizations and those that are continually in panic mode. Having a healthy nurturing and inclusive culture, One that promotes growth is by and large the most effective way to build a business and to build relationships of trust that span multiple generations. Our guest today is the perfect person to speak about this topic. David Spy Zach has 27 years of retail automotive experience where he ran single point stores and large groups. He was the operator of Smyth european a Mercedes Benz dealership that generated you're ready for this, That generated 23.7 million in net net net net profit in a single year. More impressive, Smite achieved an industry low 3% employee turnover, number one rank in fixed ops, gross profit and top 10 in used cars. And f and I simply put David knows a thing or two about how to operate and grow a dealership. And as you'll hear his passion for people, culture, leadership and community not only rings through loud and clear, but as you'll discover is what he attributes the success to pay attention and take notes class is in session with David spade zack. You weren't meant to be burst in mind for anything, right? You're supposed to bring other people along with, you know. Um, and that if it's all all about you, you you can achieve potentially many things physically. You will not achieve anything from a deep spiritual or meaningful substantive level when it comes to satisfaction in life. And so, you know, I grew up in a household like many households, um where there's challenges in an ours. It was just a very, it was just a very, very tough childhood to come up in. My father was a very violent person and uh, and he was a master manipulator, He was the king of all narcissists and and you know, you he, you know, this guy would never go, me go to go to a customer's baseball game, he wouldn't go to our baseball games for God's sakes. And you went to one sporting event my whole life and one literally gave my whole life and no other events of any kind. Never heard the word I love you. Not one time did I hear that? Not one time. Um, I got hit a lot, got blamed a lot, got screamed at a lot, got psychological warfare a lot. So I saw him Impact My two of my siblings for a lifetime with mental health and you know, I was fortunate enough by the grace of God to be given a couple of blessings that I had no right to, but... just God gave them to me. One is for some reason I didn't sanction words that came out of somebody's mouth. I didn't just, I didn't just at baseline sanctions. So you know, a piece that I was not worth crap. All right. All right. Well, I guess that's your opinion. That was my thought as a six year old or eight year old, 10 year old. That was my thought when my high school counselor said, yeah, you know, college isn't for you. You should just get a basic, you know, be a janitor via copy repair person. I didn't sanction, you know, and the other thing was a sense of humor that allowed me to kind of, it allowed me to just be able to sustain or get through things and get to the other side so that I can take that experience and manifested in a positive way. You know, I don't know, you probably have a sense of this Michael, but comedians, most comedians come from a place of darkness or places of sadness. That's where we get comedy from. And I was a professional comedian, you know, in my youth. And even as an adult, I think the last time I performed on broadway was uh, Less than 10 years ago, maybe 10 years ago, I would perform at clubs in New York and, or uh, shows and west coast and you know, I never wanted to sit in a green room with comedians. I learned very early on That, that was, that was awarded 5150s man. I mean that was like a sliding board and if you're somebody who understands that you scratch below the surface, that we all have some kind of pain, why would you want to know, why would you want yourself there? So, I always sit at the bar, which is a very hard thing to do, where I'd wander outside. It was almost like as a comedian, you had nowhere to go. You either sat in the green room and just went crazy listening to crazy or you sat at the bar, you know, that's about and when you're sitting at the bar, you're actually hearing other comedians do their thing. And as a comedian, it's very hard to not assimilate what somebody else is talking about and then want to comment on it, which completely hijacks your own show, your own approach. So it's just with the whole weird deal that I learned a lot. But it served me very well in my life that served me very well in sales and as a, as a manager coming up in the car business. But I grew up from this weird, you know, conditions, I didn't have a chance to go to college. I went into the service, Naval U. S. Navy, I got out of there was given a month to find a job. I fell into a job in the car business. It was just purely by just happenstance, by the grace of God. And I ended up almost, um, you know, I ended up the, I think the original imposter syndrome, you know, your imposter syndrome. You hear that a lot of clubhouse? No, no, no. Let me explain to you how about living in your car, like the movie, Pursuit of Happiness with will smith, 30 years, 40 years before that, whatever it was, right. And I would drive to a hotel that I knew had a back door open to a convention center and I knew there was a bathroom, you know, I'd go to the area, the convention center where there was nothing book, I'd go to the bathroom, I get dressed, I'd have my stoop with me that was in my car and you put a student on and you go to work and be a pretender. Right? And, and so I understand that very well and I came through that. I ended up, uh, really, I wasn't the smartest counting room, but I hustled out, grinding, outworked everybody. And um, and through that I was able to do well in the car business. So I was able to elevate, is able to become a GM. Was able to become a dealer. Was able to surround myself, learned the lesson of when you get interviewed for a job, make sure you're not, you're not the only one being interviewed. You better interview them too because you, this is a conscious decision of who you choose to align yourself with ideological right. And so I was very, I learned at an early age that part of surrounding yourself with good people need your employer to right. And so I was able to do that. I was able to end up learning to surround myself with people that are smarter than me, hire people that were smarter than me and then listen to those people, listen to them, listen to the customers and again, through the grace of God, I just managed to kind of find my way. I did really, really well in the car business. I ended up with the most profitable dealership in the country. I didn't just end up with it. It started out being a rather, you know, less than average store that we grew from a million 2,000,003 a year to 25 year, net profit. It wasn't just the best in the industry at 21,000 doors, it was the best by $9 million. So we...

...demolished everybody and you know, that's great. Whatever everybody wanted to talk about that. Um, the only thing I wanted to talk about is the fact that in an industry with 89 employee turnover, ours is less than three have a nice day. You want to get 25 million do that, right? So that's, that's the things that people don't talk about to this day. And it's amazing to think about this, but It was the year 2000 when we hit, I believe when we hit $24.7 million dollars in net, Right? And now we're 20 years past that and we haven't really done a whole lot when it comes to culture, to your point, when it comes to improving the culture, improving the humanity within the dealership, creating a work environment where a woman actually said, yeah, I'm very popular work here. I don't know what we've done enough to make it to a enough sales. People say I'm proud to work here, Right? We haven't, we haven't acknowledged balance in life, the importance of family. You know, I don't have to work six days a week and work till 10:00 at night selling cars for $75 mini To make four grand even a month. Give up my social life, my family life, my Children's connecting connection with my kids and I mean, come on man. So you know, diversity. We've gone, we just haven't done much when it comes to those things. So I'm such a huge advocate while people know me as being a huge data guy. Why? Because I am, I'm, I'm absolutely the biggest data guy in the car biz, geek out on data. I've studied data for over 30 years and I've learned that data can be leveraged to improve anything, anybody, anything. It's used in olympics, in the olympics with coaching athletes. It's used in businesses and yes, it works in the car business. So, but the reality is until, or unless you get your culture down, you get your recruiting process down, you get your hiring process down, you get your retention process down. You are forever and always limited. So while you might have had a really sort of your last year and I could not be happier for dealers who works so hard and are still resilient and struggle so much at times that so many of them had a phenomenal year. But it's a blip man, It's an aberration and it's a come on because the reality is some of that happened because of what we did to life and some of that happened because what life afforded to us and that was a, that was a once in a lifetime convergence of P. P. P vendors for giving our, our payments for two or three months, not having to pay Payroll for at least two months mortgage, other loans. Right. And then all of a sudden we went from being a heavy and your in used car inventory as an industry to all of a sudden being so light that I had dealers calling me and almost Just proudly say, Hey, you know, this town and country minivans, I couldn't give him away, I'm getting 10 grand over right And I'm sitting there thinking is that really what you want to do? Do you really want to blast your customers for 10 grand over one time rather than looking at the long term picture? Is that really the message you want to send your customers and your employees? And so we had all that. We had a shortage of used cars which massively expanded margin. We have a shortage of new cars, massively expanding the margin. We had a reduction in costs and all that conspired. And yes dealers made some really good decisions to take a hard look at their business, take a look at their stopping because this industry is overstaffed by at least 20% 25 in my humble opinion. Um my God, I don't know if you know this, but At least in the US. market we had roughly 930,000 employees. In the year. 2008, 10 years later we had a 131,000 employees. We actually put on 200 employees at the same time we saw unprecedented technology which was supposed to make us more productive, more efficient. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And you know we keep saying dealers add more and more people to the showroom floor, that's their answer. But all that does is diminish the value of a self person and diminish their ability to make money. And so my whole thing is about focusing on front line people number one, focusing on front line people who frankly when you set a new record for sales, gross or volume, it has. The only impact it has in their... is you increase their workload, that's all you did. You didn't increase their pay. There is no bonus. There is no condition. So the guy out there is a support person in the woman or a guy that's in the office. All you did. Hey, we just did a record. We sold twice as many cars. Yeah, I get twice as much work. Yeah. The only bonus are that they get is acknowledgement in respect. Right? So I'm big on that. I'm big on changing the paradigm when it comes to recruiting, recruiting, on boarding and retention. I am big when it comes to not just reducing turnover, but massively reducing turnover and trying to teach dealers how to do that. I'm big on leveraging data. I'm big on having a connection with humanity and making a, an impact in your local community any way you can, I was trained with somebody in the club house last week that I learned when I was homeless, that you still have currency. Right? What do I mean by that? Well, if you walk down the streets of san Francisco and Market Street was littered with homeless people, um, but if I simply looked at you in the eye as you're sitting on the side wall where I walked by you and I simply locked on your eyes, Michael, and I said, good morning, how are you? That's currency, man. And you literally saw somebody instantly talk stand a little taller, maybe they weren't acknowledged like that is like human for weeks, maybe not for months. And I think it's so easy for people to forget that regardless of where you are in life, your stature in life, that whether you're grant Cardone or whether you're a Mark Zuckerberg or whether you're a person struggling to make it Working two or 3 jobs, you have currency, right? You are social digital currency. Um, you know, out there, that, that uh, was turned by one of the really great people I met on a clubhouse. Social digital currency that everybody is equally wealthy. When it comes to social digital currency, you can spend as much as you want. You're never going to go broke, right? So, but you also have the ability to uplift people without spending a dollar. If you're a dealer, you have the ability just simply by acknowledging and respecting frontline workers. It doesn't cost you anything. You have the ability by never bringing somebody into your organization who's going to depress or diminish your culture of uplifting your people without spending a dollar. Right? And there's the things that clients care about most, You know, this, Michael, you've been doing this a long time. It doesn't cost a dolphin. They don't want your free donuts, man. They don't want your coffee. Your coffee sucks. Let's be honest. Okay. Your wife is not that great. The program you have on the T. V. Not what they want to watch, right? You want your furniture, your magazines? Yeah. I don't want to touch your magazines right now. Yeah. I don't even want to be in your store for service, Right? So I think there's so much that we can do as an industry to be able to lift ourselves up uh as an industry and to be a better pr representative for ourselves. This is um and by the way, I'm a ferocious note taker. That's what I've been doing here. Yeah. Hey, this I'm gonna ask you, I'm gonna ask you to convert brother. What? What is that? This is something that's going to make what you're writing on feel like it's 100 years old. Really? Oh my God, this will change. Oh my gosh, you have the remarkable so for those that can't see what we are seeing. He just held up his remarkable tablet as I sit here and write on my and Equity of an ipad. Yeah. And every time you lay your hand on that, it looks like you're being fingerprinted. That's right, wow. So you advocate for the remarkable, it's like nothing else I've ever, honestly, you're literally, you're literally writing on paper, You can replicate a pen, a marker, a pencil, a mechanical pencil, there's nothing like it. And then it can convert it all to text. You can send it out as a pdf that can do whatever. Okay, now we're talking now we're talking, I'm gonna have to look at that today. But by the...

...way, this is the technology corner. Yeah. Welcome to Tech. Talk with David. So, so this, this, uh, everything you're saying. I cannot, I could not add to this in any way, even if I wanted to. And there's a reason for it. And it's because here we have David Spy Zack who has risen to the top of the top of the game. And are you listening to what he is saying? The message that you have. David is one that I just wish and hope and take action upon shouting from the rooftops because the more it almost Makes me nauseous at this point in the game 2021 that any time we assemble as an industry, we're talking about software, We're talking about how to improve gross. We're talking people get it into your head. If you want to grow, screw the rooms, screw the car Vontaze and everybody you want to keep talking about that. You're, you're giving free advertising too. By the way, let's double triple quadruple down on the stuff that matters. And so here we, here we sit listening to David, who, you know, if we were, if we were in the NBA, you would have, he wouldn't have enough fingers for the championship rings. Okay. Not many get to go to that level. But I hope you're paying attention. We've talked about being kind, We've talked about being a good person. We've talked about the importance of culture, how leadership can set the weather can create the forecast, how you can go deeper than just caring about how much money you're going to make and how many, how much metal you're going to move this month and short term gains when you should be thinking about the infinite Game, the long term game, Who cares if you can get 10 grand over copy today, That might sound good today, you might think you're solving an issue today. But when are you gonna start playing the long game? When are you gonna start playing lifetime value, generational value? When are you going to start contributing to these people in a meaningful way so that you are top of mind when you can help them and their kids and their kids and so on and so forth. Um we've talked about the importance of Culture on the bottom line, like you don't get to a $25 million dollar net. Net. Net net, you're hearing the word net, he's not saying gross $25 million dollar net profit. You don't get there by just focusing solely on the money we've just heard of a full tiered approach. Pay attention to the data. Pay attention to your customers. Pay attention to what's going on in people's lives more than you think. Pay attention to your people. Pay attention to culture. Like there are all of these things that create an impact and we just sat here and listened to you, David share these things and this is why I take ferocious notes. I approach every show as a student, I am here to go, okay, I need to dissect this and you just gave a master class. Um I want to just pick your brain a little bit going deeper on this. The social currency aspect. This has really got me thinking about this. I love how you've positioned this. That there is, when it comes to social currency, there is an equal distribution of wealth. The playing field is level. Oh, what do you say to the dealer who's been so caught up in? But I got to make ends meet by doing the things I've always done. How do I balance that? Because there is an immediate need with the concept of seeing incremental gains through social currency and building out culture and and all of those things like how do you because because we tend to be one or the other, right? It's like, well I can't go all in on culture because if I'm all in on culture, then how do I increase my bottom line? And I've got O. E. M. S breathing down my neck saying I gotta how did you navigate that? What's your experience there? I was very fortunate. I mentioned earlier, Michael that somebody put deep into my head at some point in my youth that when you go interview for a job, make sure that it's not a one way interview. And so I interviewed the interviewer and I understood that expect in the car business, which is notorious for turnover, that it was incumbent on me. There was the...

...accountability, really lied with me to really ultimately put myself in a position where I didn't end up becoming a nutrition statistic, right? So let me talk about that for a second. So if you don't have ideology sinking up between you and your employer, you and your boss, in fact, Marcus Buckingham, who wrote a great series of books, now discover your strengths and a couple of others that were all three were best sellers. You know, they did exhaustive. Nielsen did exhaustive studies on the employer employee relationship and what they learned after years of research was that people go to work for companies, but they always quit their manager, right? And think about that for a second. Why is that? Well, typically there's some ideological divide that exist or there's a cultural divide that exists. So you have to make sure that you take the time to understand and really see what is the culture of the place that you're about to go to work for perspectively and and where is that culture coming from? And then that's coming from the ideology, you know, of the person who runs that organization, runs that department or founded that company. And we've all heard of companies that are just absolutely famous for their culture and what it did for that organization. And yes, they turned out to be wildly profitable. Who I wondered what, how did that happen? Well, so, so if you think about that, if you say, okay, how did this happen? Well, in our organization, we were very blessed. You know, the original patriarch of that Bill Smite was just a one of a kind gentlemen's gentlemen. He was the guy, the guy that, that you could not find a human being in the United States to find anything that would say anything less than magnificent things that he is a nice that magnificent. Like this guy impacted my life and I was fortunate enough to have him as a mentor. His son, Michael, you know, got a lot of those attributes and, and really absorbed those attributes. I had a chance to work with Michael and care deeply about culture. Um, we were accompanied as a result that that revalued culture above anything else, including yes profit. Please understand anybody listening to this. I don't often times say things that are profound. So I'm going to warn you, if I say something that's not true, that's not true. I've been listening, I've been listening, but, but here's the thing is that your profit, your results that you're looking at on your composite on your financial statement. They are not a byproduct of performance. They are a byproduct of culture. So please pay attention to that. They are a byproduct of culture. To show me anybody who is singularly focused on money. And I will show you a high, high, high percentage of those people that will never, ever achieve a high level of success, certainly not sustainable success. So what we did is we valued culture above all, Bill Smite would never pass by a piece of garbage on the ground without picking it up. He would never ask anybody else doing himself. He would never walk by an associate, not say hello. He would never walk by a customer in the lounge and not offer them coffee. Right? And he had more money than anybody would ever need in the world. But he had a humanity to on the level of humanity and humility that really is what made him truly wealthy and remarkable. And and it's people like that. You know how you're, you know, you're around something like that. If you go to a funeral and then the church is packed, there's people outside, uh, that they're listening to this, it on speakers, they can't get in. It's the ultimate measure of a man or a woman of how you impacted people in your life. And he did that in real time. He did that before C. S. I was ever CSC. And so we had that as a foundation. We then took it. Now, here's the thing, even though that existed, the story didn't perform very well at the end of the day. So what was missing was a connection between that and performance. You know, my role was to be able to assist in connecting those two dots. So one thing I hired people that are smarter than me, I never ever let anybody in the store. Not I we, you know why I say we, because we never hired anybody unless three managers, minimum, minimum three managers interviewed people. And all three managers had to say absolutely yes, this person should come in. And if none of us, if one out of the three or four said no, we didn't bring that person in.

You know, why am I bowl because of the lobby accumulation that says everything counts, Everything brings you closer to or further away. You bring somebody in that's gonna every time you hire somebody, they're either going to lift your culture or diminish your culture. Stop focusing just on the numbers. There was a great jim Rohn said one time, a really great thing. He was uh, I was that one of his session, he happened to say to me, he said, uh, he was driving through reno of all places. He sees a billboard for a hotel on the billboard says, we don't train our people to be nice. We just hire nice people. You know what? You can't train people to be nice people. You've got to hire nice people. You've got to hire people that you respect and that you admire. You gotta surround your people with people that they're going to respect and admire. Right? So, so we were deeply embedded with that. So what we did as we change the paradigm from, uh, in terms of compensation number two is we, we changed from just focusing on old school metrics like KPI is like ours borough and you are. And how many units did you sell? What's the PBR, what's your product penetration, Michael, do you realize we're the only industry that still using the same metrics today that we were using 30 40 50 years ago. You realize That through all of this technology and innovation that you still have most stores, the United States where the average salesperson sells how many cars a month? Michael eight 68 9, 10 8 to 10, right. What were they selling in 19 seventies and 19 eighties? 8 to 10 1998 to 10-K at any point for all the conversation about disruption technology? Why don't we disrupt that? Right. What at what point guys are we going to connect this technology and and that we think that every time we go to an N A. D. A. Convention, walk up and down the halls, I find it fascinating as a social experiment that dealers will walk up and down, the managers walk up and down the convention hall looking for something to this day. That could be a silver bullet. Not all dealers that many dealers do. And then they bring it in and they tell me we're just not getting the are a lie. Why? Because the R. O. Y. doesn't live there, man. R. O. I lives in your people, invest in your people. What percentage, Michael would you say? What percentage of all dealers would you say have a formalized training program in the year 2021? Honestly? Beyond, Oh, gosh. Every single day. Their training and all the sounds. I don't know. The number seven comes to my. It's tiny, isn't It doesn't matter if it's five or seven or 12. It's terrible, terrible or terrible. And that's an indictment. We're not investing in our people. Right, well, when's the last time you saw a dealer do culture training, Michael? We spent Over $250,000 every year with a company called the Pacific Institute, which was culture training. And you know, what's really amazing about that? Not just that it elevated our culture even beyond where it was. Not just that it taught us that. Oftentimes the leaders in an organization are not managers there. Oftentimes, frontline people that are your movers shakers. Not just that it taught us that every employee should be a co architect of your culture. No, it was the fact that investing that money actually could cause some of our great people to leave our organization. Why? Because it allowed them to see themselves in a different light to realize they had more potential. So I had a technician after all that training said, you know, David, I need to go start my own repair shop. And you know what we said, congratulations. And we meant we meant so you know, you do it with that authenticity with that level of honesty and with that level of true caring, which came from the top down. It started with that patriarch and it worked its way down. I was fortunate to be become the dealer and the president of that organization. We ended up selling it to Autonation. And by the way, I love autonation. Autonation's taught me a lot in eight years. Um, but just like my father who taught me everything not to do as a father, he taught me everything not to do as a husband. He taught me everything not to do as a human autonation many times taught me things to do that. To this day. I leverage and I value greatly. It also taught me what not to do because you see when our store was acquired for that $25 million, I was fully expecting that the whole leadership team was going to come in...

...and say all right before we do anything else, You guys have got to tell me, how did you achieve three unemployment? I mean three turnover. How did you do 25 million in that? How did you achieve 2.3 million in fixed growth a month. Number one in the country higher than long go higher than anybody in the country. How did you do all these things? Do you know how that meeting went, Michael? It never went, it never happened. And the reality is, is while Autonation is a phenomenal company in so many ways, Five years later that same dealership went from making $25 million dollars a year to single digits again. Okay. And the reality is I was told at that time we are not going to have any hall passes for any storm. You guys are great, but everybody is going to fall in love. Okay. And one of the things we learned so many things in our life that are of value, but some of the most valuable things that we, we learn need to have our participation. Let me explain brian Bienstock, my great friend and I think absolutely the thought later in the industry. Um, you know, we were talking a couple months ago about a presentation he was doing for google and one of the things he brought up was the rule of the river for anybody who's gotten whitewater rafting during your instructions, They may have told you the rule of the river, here's the role of the river. If you ever get thrown from the boat, you must participate in your rescue. We're not just going to track you down. You have, you have to swim like you've never swam before. You better participate. So a lot of times when it comes to growth and learning, I hope that everybody realizes when it comes to culture, You know, you better participate in your learning. Oftentimes we were taught that, hey, you go to school and the teacher is going to provide us education. That's what we got our learning. Okay, well that's partially true. But you also have to participate in the learning process. Let me explain because sometimes you're taught things that are not completely true or taken out of context. So you know, which simply means that when you receive something, you have to choose the sanctions or not as fat and to you have to determine if if that's your truth right for you. Is it congruent with you and what you stand for? Um and based on that, it might take the learning just a little bit. So you know, we hear often times that you need to focus on K. P. S. You need to focus on profitability we need to focus on. In fact, I'll never forget it. Autonation, One of the hardest things for me is a dollar per share, dollar per share share. We need to get another dollar per share. And I would say back to them, you know, I've got support people who I've been on a two year freeze pay increase freeze and all they want is a dollar per hour because they have four kids at home and they need to buy food or diapers. They don't care about a dollar per share. There's people that a dollar per share is going to make them $10 million dollars in one day. This cat just wants a dollar, can they just have a dollar? Right. And that was the most difficult thing because I'm a culture guy. I'm a data guy, I'm a performance guy. But I was taught years ago that without the foundation of people and culture, it's always been about people, it's always going to be about people show me a top performing store in the country and I'll show you an impressive group. Show me a top performing store that stays on top. My saying is always, it's easier to climb out Everest than to live up there. Show me a story that learned to live up there, Michael and I will show you culture, right? So, so some things it's important to learn, other things. It's important to unlearn and Alvin Toffler and culture shot are yeah was it future shock decades ago wrote the sign of literacy in the future is not going to be somebody who learns how to read but it's going to be somebody who learns to learn unlearn and relearn and I have never seen a period of time in my life where it's more important to unlearn things. My great friend humble the poet who is a Canadian, he's in Toronto, I want you to interview humble a poet, his real name is Kanwar Singh but he's fascinating, he's an amazing human being. He's probably got 400,000 followers on Instagram and two best selling books, remarkable human with a remarkable story. His family came from India and his dad was a very highly...

...regarded professional who couldn't get a job as anything but a taxi driver in Canada right? And uh and and Kanwar became an elementary school teacher. And now he does a performance and he is an author and does other things. But the point is, you know, he's got a book called Unlearn and it's and it's just about that. So we need to understand how to value learning and unlearning. We need to value that. Oftentimes we learn from the people that work for us, not just the people we work for and we need to value above all people, right. We need to value our culture and protect it with our life because we owe it to every person in our business. And if we do that, if we do that, those people will reward you. They'll make you look like a genius. They'll make your culture go up every year. And through that. Yes, your performance now gets unlocked. I'm not saying that you can improve. Your used cars are fixed off. so your hours parole, even if your culture is not great, you can. But by elevating your culture, you've unlocked two things that didn't exist before. Number one was sustainable growth and success And number two was levels of success that you never thought was possible. You see Michael, The one thing I haven't told you about this dealership to on top of the fact that it was 21 remarkable managers that made that happen. Not me. My only job was to enable them with better data, better insights. My only job was to hire them to do a job and let them do their job. Too many dealers today. Still hire somebody to do something and then spend all our life telling them what to do. So, but we also did other things that was fully remember we eliminated advertising. I went to a J. Abraham course three decades ago, 2.5 decades ago, came back with a light bulb over my head and said, let's not spend any money on advertising. Why would a car dealer do that? It's insane. Right. But what I figured out at that time, thanks to jay is all I was doing often times at that time with advertising. He was teaching my people to sell from twice and not from value. I was teaching them not to value the relationship with the customer, right? And we were teaching our customers not to value our brand, our brand being our manufacturer, brand being our own dealership. And you know what happened? We ended up outperforming the top 25 Mercedes store and profitability by 8X. I didn't say the bottom and then average the top 25%. We outperformed them in that profit by eight X. We outgrew any story that Mercedes Benz had and we did it without spending a dollar in new car advertising, not $1 you know, we did with the money. Michael, here's culture. We established something called the smart european Empowerment drive. Okay. And seed for sure. We had nine zip codes that we served in our er And we located a grassroots nonprofit. Each of those nine and our goal was to take the money we previously spent on advertising, figure it out on a card basis, right? Take a certain dollar amount for sale and give it to that organization. To qualify as an organization. You had to validate for us. You have to file a grant application just like anybody else. You had to go through an interview process by the way, guess who ran the grant board? Our employees guests who interviewed the nonprofits are employees, not managers, are employees guests who selected the non profit from each zip code. Our employees. Right. And what happened then is we ended up giving back to our community instead of spending the money on cable, on tv and radio state ari cable tv and radio station people out there. But it's the truth. And what happened was not that also elevated our culture. That sent a message of what mattered to us. Right. But the other thing it did is it triggered the law of reciprocity. Um because every one of those organizations in every communication they did guess what you guys ought to go to Smite. You gotta back parts my view. It's my um see Mercedes bobble. You got to go see these guys. We we became a small in the small company category. We get an award every year for for making more donations. Having the greatest level of philanthropy of any company in silicon. About, wow, Okay. So and those are stories that I've never shared that before. Nobody nobody knows that stuff. But but those...

...are the things that enable great managers phenomenal leaders who are dedicated to a culture cultural ideal, a great patriarch that set the foundational elements of culture that passed that along to me. And I passed it along to the managers I was fortunate to work with right who passed it along to the associates that created this authentic carrying community, not for to the employees before the customers. And then what we did is we did things our way and we created relationships with customers with the community that frankly didn't exist before. And in return the community loved us back. That's really what happened now. Once those transactional opportunities make no mistake. We also performed at incredibly high level closed at incredibly high level. But but what really triggered all of that was that was the culture side of things. So 20, I mean, I started there over 30 years ago And 30 years later. I'm still saying it for any dealer, any manager out there is listening to this. As Michael said, I would implore you not just recommend take a hard look last year. Many dealers had to take a hard look at their dealership, their cost structure, their staffing structure, take a hard look this year and your culture. Because what happened in 2020, hopefully for the sake of humanity, for the sake of the health of our family and friends will never be replicated for this. For our businesses. That convergence that conspired for help create great success in the industry may never happen again. But it's okay because if you do a reset this year and take a hard look at your culture and focus first and foremost on culture, you know, Liz abortion is uh, it just has such a phenomenal approach. You know, when it comes to culture as an example, Kristen Diller down in north Carolina is a phenomenal approach. When it comes to culture brian Ben stock, you know, is deeply committed to culture. It doesn't mean people, they do everything right everyday. It doesn't mean you don't make mistakes. Just means that you're relentlessly pursuing the best culture. You can, wow David specific with a master class. Um, I can't thank you enough. I this uh huh. Can my family move in with you? Is that's really, can they cook? Yeah, As a matter of fact, we are pretty phenomenal cooks. I must say my wife and I have become serious. I mean I've been cooking since I was a young kid because of our circumstances at home. I learned to cook and I and I love cooking. But yeah, and I love cooking for big groups. So if you ever want, you get lost, if you come over the border. Uh, and you end up wandering down to the Great Northwest, which I highly recommend, I would always welcome anybody to stop by our household and we would be happy to host you and feed you some good food and and take any recommendations you have for some of the greatest recipes you have up there. And I'm sure phenomenal conversation, Michael, I have to stay before you wrap up. You know, I've met some really wonderful people on clubhouse and um, and it's really opened my eyes and it's really allowed me to have a new platform to be able to hopefully outreach people and do some good in this world I hope. But I have to stay with complete sincerity, honesty. Um, you know, from your voice, your delivery to the words that you choose to your authenticity in terms of your desire to leave somebody with something of value. You know, I, I don't go to church every week, but I'm a pretty spiritual dude and I pray every single day of my life multiple times. And one of the prayers I always say is uh, that I pray to God that I will leave people better than I found them. That's if I could do that today and every day we're going to do some good out there where you're, that guy that leaves people better than you found them. You are. I went into Glen Bundy's room first because brian told me about clubhouse and said, you've got to get on, you gotta get on. So I did. And I went into breakfast of champions and it was remarkable and it was impactful and one of the very first person you're the first person I heard other than Glenn was Michael Cirillo and I, and I it wasn't the dealer...

...playbook too. It was you right. And it was humanity. It was honest, it was open, it was vulnerable and I have to tell you, you impacted me in a very great way. I probably wouldn't still be on clubhouse. I wouldn't have been so compelled to want to know more if it wasn't for what I heard you share and the story that you shared. So I just have to thank you for that. I have to thank you. I need to thank you for allowing me to join you today. Thank you that. Oh, thank you. That means that means a lot. Uh and I appreciate that and I'm so so glad Likewise, I'm so glad to have met you to get to know you more. There will be a spy's accessories, low cook cooking expedition, I'm sure. Uh, let me out from Kentucky, we'll get Ben stock out from queens, that's it. We have to, we have to maybe maybe it's an annual thing. Um, but I'm so glad that we were able to uh witness this wisdom that has clearly come from years of experience and years of participating in the lessons. So I am deeply grateful for that. How can those listening get in touch with you and learn more about you? So thank you for asking. So we built a website called disruptive growth solutions, disruptive growth solutions is a boutique um, consulting and advisory firm. We do consulting and advisory for technology software companies. We do the same for dealerships. We also provide mentoring for companies that as I said, don't have the money to pay for mentoring or coaching. We have built a content platform. We've created two shows. One is the power breakfast, the other is coast to coast, Coast to Coast Brian and I get together once a week and hit about eight or 10 different uh topical subjects and break them down for people. Um Power breakfast is, we created the first uh retail automotive think tank that has extraordinary people. Michael, I mean Ron friar leading strategists, steve Greenfield is a leading strategist, a queen Garcia from Auto Tech Ventures, Managing partner. Meeting Bc Perm out there for transportation and automotive. The paul Feleti ceo of N. C. M. You know, we've got brian Bienstock lies, abortion, says Catherine, Kanata Kristen Dillard, Lori Foster. Um we've got Kyle Keogh, director of industry for google. I mean, we've got some of the brightest, we got Cliff banks, leading journalists, we've got some of the brightest brains with extensive, we have brian Kramer down in south florida mover shaker, We've got our rick right card. Um, so you get all these brains together, all this perspective and here's what we do. We tackle two subjects every month that are challenges, obstacles, concerns the dealers and we have an authentic conversation with no rehearsal. Um, there's no selling, there's no pitching, there's no presenting. We don't allow if we do that where you're going to get launched out of that platform, but we get together. None of us gets paid just like clubhouse, none of us gets paid. You don't monetize it. Uh, we don't charge for subscription. We do it as a give back to the industry because we have a shared passion for this industry and wanting to give back, wanting it to be sustainably successful. So I would just ask for people to go there through there. You can go to the speaker page, you can reach out to any of the 22 members of the think tank, you can contact them, fill out a form if you want them to engage with you, we don't monetize that, we just pass along your information. You can check out our content, which even includes a clubhouse section. Now, We also do your eight, not just our own shows, but we curate greek videos, we curate the top 10 podcasts that are auto related and by the way, this is 100% authentic. In the number one slot, go to disruptive growth solution dot com right now and click on content. Go down the podcast. Number one slot is the dealer playbook. Well what in the world and that was the case before I knew who you were by the way and don't go to the mobile side, go to the pc side, we're launching the mobile side in a couple weeks, two or three weeks. Uh, but we also have white papers, we have articles, we curate everything so people can go to one place and we have a retail ecosystem where people could check out most products out there without ever leaving one website to make it easy for them to make the best decision and we provide all of that for free. So simply go subscribe, putting your first name, last name, email and you're in boom.

It's that easy. We add to the content all the time and, and we've got some really phenomenal things coming and again it's completely free in every way, Wow, I'm looking at it right now. I am flattered I need to be a part of it more. So if you're new mentees, I will invite you right now to become a think tank number. Oh my gosh conversation that we have. We have some of the best conversations. You can imagine a truly authentic, sincere, different viewpoints. Our goal, Michael is a simple one. No matter what challenges dealer is facing hiring retention, diversity, women in automotive, uh, used cars, fixed ops, we've got chris Collins on there as well. But no matter what it is, we want to offer differing viewpoints and perspectives so that it would be like you had all these people in your dealership right now so that you can get these different perspectives to allow you to make the best decision possible for your own organization. Well, I'll tell you what I'm gonna, what I'm gonna do because I am this is so exciting. I'm looking at it right now. I've got it. So you those listening disruptive growth solutions dot com. We're going to link to it in the show notes of this episode. I see the man you're pulling on my heartstrings here, but I would love to be able to contribute our video library to this. Yeah, we will, I'll tell you what, if you'll do that, we will, we will put it on there. And our new site, which launches in three weeks, somebody will be able to type in either thrill o or dealer playbook and everything will curate to that. It's very much uh, netflix like environment, the new version in three weeks. I'm amazed. I'm thrilled to know you. I'm so glad that we've crossed paths and that you're in my life and I'm so glad that I was able to get you on the show today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Um, definitely visit the show notes. Triple W dot the dealer playbook dot com forward slash David dash spy zack where you can get links to all of the resources mentioned in this episode. My man, thank you so much for joining me on the dealer play for what a pleasure. Last best to you and your family. And uh, I look forward to us being across passing person someday soon and wishing all of your listeners absolutely the most success imaginable and great health for them and their families, something 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. If you're ready to make big changes in your life and career and want to connect with positive, nurturing automotive professionals, join my exclusive DPB Pro community on facebook. That's where we share information, ideas and content that isn't shared anywhere else. I can't wait to meet you there. Thanks for listening.

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