The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 5 months ago

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

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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. 

Fortellis 

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

Hey gang, there are fewer things Iregret more than not investing in zoom when I had the chance. How was Isupposed 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 feelingsitting on the sidelines knowing I could have jumped on another bandwagonsooner. luckily we know what the next big boom and retail automotive is andthat's why companies like four telus have provided the tools to createunique apps that will help your dealership meet the demands of themarket. You see no to dealers operate. The same way the beauty about four tellus, is that you can pick and choose the apps and workflows that help you meetthe demands of the market while catering to your operations, not onlyis foretell has created an amazing technology platform that's designed tomake life easier for dealers. They are pouring back into the community withevents like their dealer DVD. It's a three day event that empowers attendeesto network with each other to create smarter, faster and better apps for thedealer community. So my beloved DPB gang, the best thing that you can doright now is visit the four telus marketplace and browse through theirgrowing library of apps and integrations that will allow you to runyour 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 ofthe dealer Playbook, a podcast that explores what it takes to create athriving 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 cangrow your business more than marketing or chatting with David specific. Ifyou've listened to the show for a while or maybe you're new here, you probablyalready know how much I love talking about culture. Not because it's a buzztopic in the industry right now, but more so because it is, what I'veexperienced is the differentiator between thriving organizations andthose that are continually in panic mode. Having a healthy nurturing andinclusive culture, One that promotes growth is by and large the mosteffective way to build a business and to build relationships of trust thatspan multiple generations. Our guest today is the perfect person to speakabout this topic. David Spy Zach has 27 years of retail automotive experiencewhere he ran single point stores and large groups. He was the operator ofSmyth european a Mercedes Benz dealership that generated you're readyfor this, That generated 23.7 million in net net net net profit in a singleyear. 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 fand I simply put David knows a thing or two about how to operate and grow adealership. And as you'll hear his passion for people, culture, leadershipand community not only rings through loud and clear, but as you'll discoveris what he attributes the success to pay attention and take notes class isin session with David spade zack. You weren't meant to be burst in mind foranything, 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 manythings physically. You will not achieve anything from a deep spiritual ormeaningful 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'schallenges in an ours. It was just a very, it was just a very, very toughchildhood to come up in. My father was a very violent person and uh, and hewas a master manipulator, He was the king of all narcissists and and youknow, you he, you know, this guy would never go, me go to go to a customer'sbaseball game, he wouldn't go to our baseball games for God's sakes. And youwent to one sporting event my whole life and one literally gave my wholelife and no other events of any kind. Never heard the word I love you. Notone 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 sawhim Impact My two of my siblings for a lifetime with mental health and youknow, I was fortunate enough by the grace of God to be given a couple ofblessings that I had no right to, but...

...it just God gave them to me. One is forsome reason I didn't sanction words that came out of somebody's mouth. Ididn't just, I didn't just at baseline sanctions. So you know, a piece that Iwas not worth crap. All right. All right. Well, I guess that's youropinion. 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, collegeisn't for you. You should just get a basic, you know, be a janitor via copyrepair person. I didn't sanction, you know, and the other thing was a senseof humor that allowed me to kind of, it allowed me to just be able to sustainor get through things and get to the other side so that I can take thatexperience and manifested in a positive way. You know, I don't know, youprobably have a sense of this Michael, but comedians, most comedians come froma place of darkness or places of sadness. That's where we get comedyfrom. And I was a professional comedian, you know, in my youth. And even as anadult, I think the last time I performed on broadway was uh, Less than 10 years ago, maybe 10 yearsago, I would perform at clubs in New York and, or uh, shows and west coastand you know, I never wanted to sit in a green room with comedians. I learnedvery early on That, that was, that was awarded 5150s man. I mean that was likea sliding board and if you're somebody who understands that you scratch belowthe 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 avery hard thing to do, where I'd wander outside. It was almost like as acomedian, you had nowhere to go. You either sat in the green room and justwent crazy listening to crazy or you sat at the bar, you know, that's aboutand when you're sitting at the bar, you're actually hearing other comediansdo their thing. And as a comedian, it's very hard to not assimilate whatsomebody else is talking about and then want to comment on it, which completelyhijacks your own show, your own approach. So it's just with the wholeweird deal that I learned a lot. But it served me very well in my life thatserved me very well in sales and as a, as a manager coming up in the carbusiness. But I grew up from this weird, you know, conditions, I didn't have achance to go to college. I went into the service, Naval U. S. Navy, I gotout of there was given a month to find a job. I fell into a job in the carbusiness. It was just purely by just happenstance, by the grace of God. AndI ended up almost, um, you know, I ended up the, I think the originalimposter syndrome, you know, your imposter syndrome. You hear that a lotof clubhouse? No, no, no. Let me explain to you how about living in yourcar, 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 backdoor 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 inmy 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 inthe car business. So I was able to elevate, is able to become a GM. Wasable to become a dealer. Was able to surround myself, learned the lesson ofwhen you get interviewed for a job, make sure you're not, you're not theonly one being interviewed. You better interview them too because you, this isa conscious decision of who you choose to align yourself with ideologicalright. And so I was very, I learned at an early age that part of surroundingyourself with good people need your employer to right. And so I was able todo that. I was able to end up learning to surround myself with people that aresmarter than me, hire people that were smarter than me and then listen tothose people, listen to them, listen to the customers and again, through thegrace of God, I just managed to kind of find my way. I did really, really wellin the car business. I ended up with the most profitable dealership in thecountry. 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 25year, 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 thingI wanted to talk about is the fact that in an industry with 89 employeeturnover, ours is less than three have a nice day. You want to get 25 milliondo that, right? So that's, that's the things that people don't talk about tothis day. And it's amazing to think about this, but It was the year 2000 when we hit, Ibelieve when we hit $24.7 million dollars in net, Right? And now we're 20years past that and we haven't really done a whole lot when it comes toculture, to your point, when it comes to improving the culture, improving thehumanity within the dealership, creating a work environment where awoman actually said, yeah, I'm very popular work here. I don't know whatwe've done enough to make it to a enough sales. People say I'm proud towork 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 andwork till 10:00 at night selling cars for $75 mini To make four grand even amonth. Give up my social life, my family life, my Children's connecting connection with my kids andI mean, come on man. So you know, diversity. We've gone, we just haven'tdone much when it comes to those things. So I'm such a huge advocate whilepeople know me as being a huge data guy. Why? Because I am, I'm, I'm absolutelythe biggest data guy in the car biz, geek out on data. I've studied data forover 30 years and I've learned that data can be leveraged to improveanything, anybody, anything. It's used in olympics, in the olympics withcoaching athletes. It's used in businesses and yes, it works in the carbusiness. 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, youget your retention process down. You are forever and always limited. Sowhile you might have had a really sort of your last year and I could not behappier for dealers who works so hard and are still resilient and struggle somuch 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 thathappened because of what we did to life and some of that happened because whatlife afforded to us and that was a, that was a once in a lifetimeconvergence of P. P. P vendors for giving our, our payments for two orthree months, not having to pay Payroll for at least two months mortgage, otherloans. Right. And then all of a sudden we went from being a heavy and your inused car inventory as an industry to all of a sudden being so light that Ihad dealers calling me and almost Just proudly say, Hey, you know, this townand country minivans, I couldn't give him away, I'm getting 10 grand overright And I'm sitting there thinking is that really what you want to do? Do youreally want to blast your customers for 10 grand over one time rather thanlooking at the long term picture? Is that really the message you want tosend your customers and your employees? And so we had all that. We had ashortage of used cars which massively expanded margin. We have a shortage ofnew cars, massively expanding the margin. We had a reduction in costs andall that conspired. And yes dealers made some really good decisions to takea hard look at their business, take a look at their stopping because thisindustry 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 131,000employees. We actually put on 200 employees at the same time we saw unprecedentedtechnology which was supposed to make us more productive, more efficient.Yeah. Right. Yeah. And you know we keep saying dealers add more and more peopleto the showroom floor, that's their answer. But all that does is diminishthe value of a self person and diminish their ability to make money. And so mywhole thing is about focusing on front line people number one, focusing on front linepeople who frankly when you set a new record for sales, gross or volume, ithas. The only impact it has in their...

...life is you increase their workload,that's all you did. You didn't increase their pay. There is no bonus. There isno condition. So the guy out there is a support person in the woman or a guythat's in the office. All you did. Hey, we just did a record. We sold twice asmany cars. Yeah, I get twice as much work. Yeah. The only bonus are thatthey get is acknowledgement in respect. Right? So I'm big on that. I'm big onchanging the paradigm when it comes to recruiting, recruiting, on boarding andretention. I am big when it comes to not just reducing turnover, butmassively reducing turnover and trying to teach dealers how to do that. I'mbig on leveraging data. I'm big on having a connection with humanity andmaking a, an impact in your local community any way you can, I wastrained with somebody in the club house last week that I learned when I washomeless, that you still have currency. Right? What do I mean by that? Well, ifyou walk down the streets of san Francisco and Market Street waslittered with homeless people, um, but if I simply looked at you inthe eye as you're sitting on the side wall where I walked by you and I simplylocked on your eyes, Michael, and I said, good morning, how are you? That'scurrency, man. And you literally saw somebody instantly talk stand a littletaller, 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 thatregardless of where you are in life, your stature in life, that whetheryou're grant Cardone or whether you're a Mark Zuckerberg or whether you're aperson 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, wasturned by one of the really great people I met on a clubhouse. Socialdigital currency that everybody is equally wealthy. When it comes tosocial digital currency, you can spend as much as you want. You're never goingto go broke, right? So, but you also have the ability to uplift peoplewithout spending a dollar. If you're a dealer, you have the ability justsimply by acknowledging and respecting frontline workers. It doesn't cost youanything. You have the ability by never bringing somebody into yourorganization who's going to depress or diminish your culture of uplifting your people withoutspending 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 costa dolphin. They don't want your free donuts, man. They don't want yourcoffee. Your coffee sucks. Let's be honest. Okay. Your wife is not thatgreat. The program you have on the T. V. Not what they want to watch, right? Youwant your furniture, your magazines? Yeah. I don't want to touch yourmagazines 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 tolift ourselves up uh as an industry and to be a better pr representative forourselves. This is um and by the way, I'm a ferocious notetaker. That's what I've been doing here. Yeah. Hey, this I'm gonna ask you, I'mgonna ask you to convert brother. What? What is that? This is somethingthat'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 forthose that can't see what we are seeing. He just held up his remarkable tabletas I sit here and write on my and Equity of an ipad. Yeah. And every timeyou lay your hand on that, it looks like you're being fingerprinted. That'sright, wow. So you advocate for the remarkable, it's like nothing else I'veever, honestly, you're literally, you're literally writing on paper, Youcan replicate a pen, a marker, a pencil, a mechanical pencil, there's nothinglike it. And then it can convert it all to text. You can send it out as a pdfthat can do whatever. Okay, now we're talking now we're talking, I'm gonnahave 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, everythingyou're saying. I cannot, I could not add to this inany way, even if I wanted to. And there's a reason for it. And it'sbecause here we have David Spy Zack who has risen to the topof the top of the game. And are you listening to what he issaying? The message that you have. David is one that I just wish and hopeand take action upon shouting from the rooftops because the more it almostMakes me nauseous at this point in the game 2021 that any time we assemble asan industry, we're talking about software, We're talking about how toimprove 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 talkingabout that. You're, you're giving free advertising too. By the way, let'sdouble 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 werein the NBA, you would have, he wouldn't have enough fingers for thechampionship rings. Okay. Not many get to go to that level. But I hope you'repaying attention. We've talked about being kind, We've talked about being agood person. We've talked about the importance of culture, how leadershipcan set the weather can create the forecast, how you can go deeper than just caringabout how much money you're going to make andhow many, how much metal you're going to move this month and short term gainswhen you should be thinking about the infinite Game, the long term game, Whocares if you can get 10 grand over copy today, That might sound good today, youmight think you're solving an issue today. But when are you gonna startplaying the long game? When are you gonna start playing lifetime value,generational value? When are you going to start contributing to these peoplein a meaningful way so that you are top of mind when you can help them andtheir kids and their kids and so on and so forth. Um we've talked about theimportance of Culture on the bottom line, like youdon't get to a $25 million dollar net. Net. Net net, you're hearing the wordnet, he's not saying gross $25 million dollar net profit. Youdon't get there by just focusing solely on the money we've just heard of a fulltiered approach. Pay attention to the data. Payattention to your customers. Pay attention to what's going on inpeople's lives more than you think. Pay attention to your people. Pay attentionto culture. Like there are all of these things that create an impact and wejust sat here and listened to you, David share these things and this iswhy I take ferocious notes. I approach every show as a student, I am here togo, okay, I need to dissect this and you just gave a master class. Um I wantto just pick your brain a little bit going deeper on this. The socialcurrency aspect. This has really got me thinking about this. I love how you'vepositioned this. That there is, when it comes to social currency, there is an equal distribution ofwealth. The playing field is level. Oh, what do you say to the dealer who'sbeen so caught up in? But I got to make ends meet by doing the things I'vealways done. How do I balance that? Because there is an immediate need withthe concept of seeing incremental gains through social currency and buildingout culture and and all of those things like how do you because because we tendto be one or the other, right? It's like, well I can't go all in on culturebecause if I'm all in on culture, then how do I increase my bottom line? AndI've got O. E. M. S breathing down my neck saying I gotta how did younavigate that? What's your experience there? I was very fortunate. I mentionedearlier, Michael that somebody put deep into my head at some point in my youththat when you go interview for a job, make sure that it's not a one wayinterview. And so I interviewed the interviewer and I understood thatexpect in the car business, which is notorious for turnover, that it wasincumbent on me. There was the...

...accountability, really lied with me toreally ultimately put myself in a position where I didn't end up becominga nutrition statistic, right? So let me talk about that for a second. So if youdon't have ideology sinking up between you and your employer, you and yourboss, in fact, Marcus Buckingham, who wrote a great series of books, nowdiscover your strengths and a couple of others that were all three were bestsellers. You know, they did exhaustive. Nielsen did exhaustive studies on theemployer employee relationship and what they learned after years of researchwas that people go to work for companies, but they always quit theirmanager, right? And think about that for a second. Why is that? Well,typically there's some ideological divide that exist or there's a culturaldivide that exists. So you have to make sure that you take the time tounderstand and really see what is the culture of the place that you're aboutto go to work for perspectively and and where is that culture coming from? Andthen that's coming from the ideology, you know, of the person who runs thatorganization, runs that department or founded that company. And we've allheard of companies that are just absolutely famous for their culture andwhat it did for that organization. And yes, they turned out to be wildlyprofitable. Who I wondered what, how did that happen? Well, so, so if youthink about that, if you say, okay, how did this happen? Well, in ourorganization, we were very blessed. You know, the original patriarch of thatBill 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 tofind anything that would say anything less than magnificent things that he isa nice that magnificent. Like this guy impacted my life and I was fortunateenough to have him as a mentor. His son, Michael, you know, got a lot of thoseattributes and, and really absorbed those attributes. I had a chance towork with Michael and care deeply about culture. Um, we were accompanied as aresult that that revalued culture above anything else, including yes profit.Please understand anybody listening to this. I don't often times say thingsthat 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'sthe thing is that your profit, your results that you're looking at on yourcomposite on your financial statement. They are not a byproduct of performance.They are a byproduct of culture. So please pay attention to that. Theyare a byproduct of culture. To show me anybody who is singularly focused onmoney. And I will show you a high, high, high percentage of those people thatwill never, ever achieve a high level of success, certainly not sustainablesuccess. So what we did is we valued culture above all, Bill Smite wouldnever pass by a piece of garbage on the ground without picking it up. He wouldnever 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 offerthem coffee. Right? And he had more money than anybody would ever need inthe world. But he had a humanity to on the level of humanity and humility thatreally is what made him truly wealthy and remarkable. And and it's peoplelike 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 peopleoutside, 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 inyour 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 ofthe 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. Soone thing I hired people that are smarter than me, I never ever letanybody in the store. Not I we, you know why I say we, because we neverhired anybody unless three managers, minimum, minimum three managersinterviewed 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 foursaid no, we didn't bring that person in.

You know, why am I bowl because of thelobby accumulation that says everything counts, Everything brings you closer toor further away. You bring somebody in that's gonna every time you hiresomebody, 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 onetime, a really great thing. He was uh, I was that one of his session, hehappened 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 ourpeople to be nice. We just hire nice people. You know what? You can't trainpeople to be nice people. You've got to hire nice people. You've got to hirepeople that you respect and that you admire. You gotta surround your peoplewith people that they're going to respect and admire. Right? So, so wewere 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 onold school metrics like KPI is like ours borough and you are. And how manyunits 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 samemetrics today that we were using 30 40 50 years ago. You realize That throughall of this technology and innovation that you still have most stores, theUnited 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 seventiesand 19 eighties? 8 to 10 1998 to 10-K at any point for all the conversationabout disruption technology? Why don't we disrupt that? Right. What at whatpoint guys are we going to connect this technology and and that we think thatevery 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 upand down, the managers walk up and down the convention hall looking forsomething to this day. That could be a silver bullet. Not all dealers thatmany dealers do. And then they bring it in and they tell me we're just notgetting 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 wouldyou say? What percentage of all dealers would you say have a formalizedtraining program in the year 2021? Honestly? Beyond, Oh, gosh. Everysingle day. Their training and all the sounds. I don't know. Thenumber seven comes to my. It's tiny, isn't It doesn't matter if it's five orseven 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 yousaw a dealer do culture training, Michael? We spent Over $250,000 everyyear with a company called the Pacific Institute, which was culture training.And you know, what's really amazing about that? Not just that it elevatedour 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 ittaught us that every employee should be a co architect of your culture. No, itwas the fact that investing that money actually could cause some of our greatpeople to leave our organization. Why? Because it allowed them to seethemselves in a different light to realize they had more potential. So Ihad a technician after all that training said, you know, David, I needto go start my own repair shop. And you know what we said, congratulations. Andwe meant we meant so you know, you do it with that authenticity with thatlevel of honesty and with that level of true caring, which came from the topdown. It started with that patriarch and it worked its way down. I wasfortunate to be become the dealer and the president of that organization. Weended 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 whotaught me everything not to do as a father, he taught me everything not todo as a husband. He taught me everything not to do as a humanautonation many times taught me things to do that. To this day. I leverage andI value greatly. It also taught me what not to do because you see when ourstore was acquired for that $25 million, I was fully expecting that the wholeleadership team was going to come in...

...and say all right before we do anythingelse, You guys have got to tell me, how did you achieve three unemployment? Imean three turnover. How did you do 25 million in that? How did you achieve2.3 million in fixed growth a month. Number one in the country higher thanlong go higher than anybody in the country. How did you do all thesethings? Do you know how that meeting went, Michael? It never went, it neverhappened. And the reality is, is while Autonation is a phenomenal company inso many ways, Five years later that same dealershipwent from making $25 million dollars a year to single digits again. Okay. Andthe reality is I was told at that time we are not going to have any hallpasses for any storm. You guys are great, but everybody is going to fallin love. Okay. And one of the things we learned so many things in our life thatare of value, but some of the most valuable things that we, we learn needto have our participation. Let me explain brian Bienstock, my greatfriend and I think absolutely the thought later in the industry. Um, youknow, we were talking a couple months ago about a presentation he was doingfor google and one of the things he brought up was the rule of the riverfor anybody who's gotten whitewater rafting during your instructions, Theymay have told you the rule of the river, here's the role of the river. If youever get thrown from the boat, you must participate in your rescue. We're notjust going to track you down. You have, you have to swim like you've never swambefore. You better participate. So a lot of times when it comes to growthand learning, I hope that everybody realizes when it comes to culture, Youknow, you better participate in your learning. Oftentimes we were taughtthat, hey, you go to school and the teacher is going to provide useducation. That's what we got our learning. Okay, well that's partiallytrue. But you also have to participate in the learning process. Let me explainbecause sometimes you're taught things that are not completely true or takenout of context. So you know, which simply means that when you receivesomething, you have to choose the sanctions or not as fat and to you have to determine if ifthat's your truth right for you. Is it congruent with you and what you standfor? Um and based on that, it might take the learning just a little bit. Soyou know, we hear often times that you need tofocus on K. P. S. You need to focus on profitability we need to focus on. Infact, I'll never forget it. Autonation, One of the hardest things for me is adollar per share, dollar per share share. We need to get another dollarper 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 wantis a dollar per hour because they have four kids at home and they need to buyfood or diapers. They don't care about a dollar per share. There's people thata 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 wasthe most difficult thing because I'm a culture guy. I'm a data guy, I'm aperformance guy. But I was taught years ago that without the foundation ofpeople and culture, it's always been about people, it's always going to beabout people show me a top performing store in the country and I'll show youan impressive group. Show me a top performing store that stays on top. Mysaying is always, it's easier to climb out Everest than to live up there. Showme a story that learned to live up there, Michael and I will show youculture, right? So, so some things it's important to learn, other things. It'simportant to unlearn and Alvin Toffler and culture shot are yeah was it futureshock decades ago wrote the sign of literacy in the future is not going tobe somebody who learns how to read but it's going to be somebody who learns tolearn unlearn and relearn and I have never seen a period of time in my lifewhere it's more important to unlearn things. My great friend humble the poetwho 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 humanbeing. He's probably got 400,000 followers on Instagram and two bestselling books, remarkable human with a remarkable story. His family came fromIndia and his dad was a very highly...

...regarded professional who couldn't geta job as anything but a taxi driver in Canada right? And uh and and Kanwarbecame an elementary school teacher. And now he does a performance and he isan author and does other things. But the point is, you know, he's got a bookcalled Unlearn and it's and it's just about that. So we need to understandhow to value learning and unlearning. We need to value that. Oftentimes welearn from the people that work for us, not just the people we work for and weneed to value above all people, right. We need to value our culture andprotect it with our life because we owe it to every person in our business. Andif we do that, if we do that, those people will rewardyou. They'll make you look like a genius. They'll make your culture go upevery year. And through that. Yes, your performance now gets unlocked. I'm notsaying that you can improve. Your used cars are fixed off. so your hoursparole, even if your culture is not great, you can. But by elevating your culture, you'veunlocked two things that didn't exist before. Number one was sustainablegrowth and success And number two was levels of success that you neverthought was possible. You see Michael, The one thing I haven't told you aboutthis dealership to on top of the fact that it was 21 remarkable managers thatmade 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 dotheir job. Too many dealers today. Still hire somebody to do something andthen spend all our life telling them what to do. So, but we also did otherthings 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 lightbulb over my head and said, let's not spend any money on advertising. Whywould a car dealer do that? It's insane. Right. But what I figured out at thattime, thanks to jay is all I was doing often times at that time withadvertising. 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 ourmanufacturer, 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 outperformedthem in that profit by eight X. We outgrew any story that Mercedes Benzhad and we did it without spending a dollar in new car advertising, not $1you know, we did with the money. Michael, here's culture. We establishedsomething called the smart european Empowerment drive. Okay. And seed forsure. We had nine zip codes that we served in our er And we located agrassroots nonprofit. Each of those nine and our goal was to take the moneywe 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. Toqualify as an organization. You had to validate for us. You have to file agrant application just like anybody else. You had to go through aninterview process by the way, guess who ran the grant board? Our employeesguests who interviewed the nonprofits are employees, not managers, areemployees guests who selected the non profit from each zip code. Ouremployees. Right. And what happened then is we ended up giving back to ourcommunity instead of spending the money on cable, on tv and radio state aricable tv and radio station people out there. But it's the truth. And whathappened was not that also elevated our culture.That sent a message of what mattered to us. Right. But the other thing it didis it triggered the law of reciprocity. Um because every one of thoseorganizations in every communication they did guess what you guys ought togo 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 companycategory. We get an award every year for for making more donations. Havingthe greatest level of philanthropy of any company in silicon. About, wow,Okay. So and those are stories that I've never shared that before. Nobodynobody knows that stuff. But but those...

...are the things that enable greatmanagers phenomenal leaders who are dedicated to a culture culturalideal, a great patriarch that set the foundational elements of culture thatpassed that along to me. And I passed it along to the managers I wasfortunate to work with right who passed it along to the associates that createdthis authentic carrying community, not for to the employees before thecustomers. And then what we did is we did things our way and we createdrelationships with customers with the community that frankly didn't existbefore. And in return the community loved us back. That's really whathappened now. Once those transactional opportunities make no mistake. We alsoperformed at incredibly high level closed at incredibly high level. Butbut 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 stillsaying it for any dealer, any manager out there is listening to this. AsMichael said, I would implore you not just recommend take a hard look lastyear. Many dealers had to take a hard look at their dealership, their coststructure, their staffing structure, take a hard look this year and yourculture. Because what happened in 2020, hopefully for the sake of humanity, forthe sake of the health of our family and friends will never be replicatedfor this. For our businesses. That convergence that conspired for helpcreate great success in the industry may never happen again. But it's okay because if you do a resetthis year and take a hard look at your culture and focus first and foremost onculture, 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 innorth Carolina is a phenomenal approach. When it comes to culture brian Benstock, you know, is deeply committed to culture. It doesn't mean people, theydo 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? Isthat's really, can they cook? Yeah, As a matter of fact, we are prettyphenomenal cooks. I must say my wife and I have become serious. I mean I'vebeen cooking since I was a young kid because of our circumstances at home. Ilearned to cook and I and I love cooking. But yeah, and I love cookingfor big groups. So if you ever want, you get lost, if you come over theborder. Uh, and you end up wandering down to the Great Northwest, which Ihighly recommend, I would always welcome anybody to stop by ourhousehold and we would be happy to host you and feed you some good food and andtake any recommendations you have for some of the greatest recipes you haveup there. And I'm sure phenomenal conversation, Michael, I have to staybefore you wrap up. You know, I've met some really wonderful people onclubhouse and um, and it's really opened my eyes and it's really allowedme to have a new platform to be able to hopefully outreach people and do somegood 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 youchoose to your authenticity in terms of your desire to leave somebody withsomething of value. You know, I, I don't go to church every week, but I'ma pretty spiritual dude and I pray every single day of my life multipletimes. And one of the prayers I always say is uh, that I pray to God that Iwill leave people better than I found them. That's if I could do that todayand every day we're going to do some good out there where you're, that guythat leaves people better than you found them. You are. I went into GlenBundy's room first because brian told me about clubhouse and said, you've gotto get on, you gotta get on. So I did. And I went into breakfast of championsand it was remarkable and it was impactful and one of the very firstperson you're the first person I heard other than Glenn was Michael Cirilloand I, and I it wasn't the dealer...

...playbook too. It was you right. And itwas humanity. It was honest, it was open, it was vulnerable and I have totell you, you impacted me in a very great way. I probably wouldn't still beon clubhouse. I wouldn't have been so compelled to want to know more if itwasn't for what I heard you share and the story that you shared. So I justhave to thank you for that. I have to thank you. I need to thank you forallowing me to join you today. Thank you that. Oh, thank you. That meansthat means a lot. Uh and I appreciate that and I'm so so glad Likewise, I'mso glad to have met you to get to know you more. There will be a spy'saccessories, low cook cooking expedition, I'm sure. Uh, let me outfrom Kentucky, we'll get Ben stock out from queens, that's it. We have to, wehave to maybe maybe it's an annual thing. Um, but I'm so glad that we wereable to uh witness this wisdom that has clearly come from years of experienceand years of participating in the lessons. So I am deeply grateful forthat. How can those listening get in touch with you and learn more about you? So thank you for asking. So we built awebsite called disruptive growth solutions, disruptive growth solutionsis a boutique um, consulting and advisory firm. We do consulting andadvisory for technology software companies. We do the same fordealerships. We also provide mentoring for companiesthat as I said, don't have the money to pay for mentoring or coaching. We havebuilt 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 aweek and hit about eight or 10 different uh topical subjects and breakthem down for people. Um Power breakfast is, we created the first uhretail automotive think tank that has extraordinary people. Michael, I meanRon friar leading strategists, steve Greenfield is a leading strategist, aqueen Garcia from Auto Tech Ventures, Managing partner. Meeting Bc Perm outthere for transportation and automotive. The paul Feleti ceo of N. C. M. Youknow, we've got brian Bienstock lies, abortion, says Catherine, KanataKristen Dillard, Lori Foster. Um we've got Kyle Keogh, director of industryfor 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, wehave brian Kramer down in south florida mover shaker, We've got our rick rightcard. Um, so you get all these brains together, all this perspective andhere's what we do. We tackle two subjects every month that arechallenges, obstacles, concerns the dealers and we have an authenticconversation 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 getlaunched out of that platform, but we get together. None of us gets paid justlike clubhouse, none of us gets paid. You don't monetize it. Uh, we don'tcharge for subscription. We do it as a give back to the industry because wehave a shared passion for this industry and wanting to give back, wanting it tobe sustainably successful. So I would just ask for people to go there throughthere. You can go to the speaker page, you can reach out to any of the 22members of the think tank, you can contact them, fill out a form if youwant them to engage with you, we don't monetize that, we just pass along yourinformation. You can check out our content, which even includes aclubhouse section. Now, We also do your eight, not just our own shows, but wecurate greek videos, we curate the top 10 podcasts that are auto related andby the way, this is 100% authentic. In the number one slot, go to disruptivegrowth 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 thecase before I knew who you were by the way and don't go to the mobile side, goto the pc side, we're launching the mobile side in a couple weeks, two orthree weeks. Uh, but we also have white papers, we have articles, we curateeverything so people can go to one place and we have a retail ecosystemwhere people could check out most products out there without ever leavingone website to make it easy for them to make the best decision and we provideall 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 contentall the time and, and we've got some really phenomenal things coming andagain it's completely free in every way, Wow, I'm looking at it right now. I amflattered I need to be a part of it more. So if you're new mentees, I willinvite you right now to become a think tank number. Oh my gosh conversationthat we have. We have some of the best conversations. You can imagine a trulyauthentic, sincere, different viewpoints. Our goal, Michael is asimple one. No matter what challenges dealer is facing hiring retention,diversity, women in automotive, uh, used cars, fixed ops, we've got chrisCollins on there as well. But no matter what it is, we want to offer differingviewpoints and perspectives so that it would be like you had all these peoplein your dealership right now so that you can get these differentperspectives to allow you to make the best decision possible for your ownorganization. Well, I'll tell you what I'm gonna, what I'm gonna do because Iam this is so exciting. I'm looking at it right now. I've got it. So you thoselistening disruptive growth solutions dot com. We're going to link to it inthe show notes of this episode. I see the man you're pulling on myheartstrings here, but I would love to be able to contribute our video libraryto this. Yeah, we will, I'll tell you what, ifyou'll do that, we will, we will put it on there. And our new site, whichlaunches in three weeks, somebody will be able to type in either thrill o ordealer 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'mthrilled to know you. I'm so glad that we've crossed paths and that you're inmy 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 thedealer playbook dot com forward slash David dash spy zack where you can getlinks to all of the resources mentioned in this episode. My man, thank you somuch for joining me on the dealer play for what a pleasure. Last best to youand your family. And uh, I look forward to us being across passing personsomeday soon and wishing all of your listeners absolutely the most successimaginable and great health for them and their families, something I'm Michel, Cirillo and you've beenlistening to the dealer playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, pleaseclick the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now, leave arating or review and share it with a colleague. If you're ready to make bigchanges in your life and career and want to connect with positive,nurturing automotive professionals, join my exclusive DPB Pro community onfacebook. That's where we share information, ideas and content thatisn't shared anywhere else. I can't wait to meet you there. Thanks forlistening.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (471)