The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 1 year ago

The Best Way to Create Life-Long Customers w/ Nicole Atanosoaie


It should come as no surprise that the best way to create life-long customers is to go over and above for them. In this segment, Nicole Atanosoaie shares how she does that through her sub-prime and special finance company, Right Turn Auto Credit. 

As you listen to this episode, consider what you can apply to the context of your circumstances. Whether you're interested in starting a subprime department, or otherwise. How can you go above and beyond to create life-long customers for your dealership?


This episodee 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 for telus dot io to learn more. That's four tell us dot I o mhm I love that. You just said we're not, we're not celebrating the metal that moved were celebrating the change that we were able to help facilitate for somebody, the freedom that we were able to help facilitate for them and that's a bit tougher of a process I would imagine, right? Like they're not just people like you, you, I wrote down the word counselor because it's, I would anticipate that you're probably in a position day in and day out where you are a counselor to people where they're kind of unburdening themselves on your desk saying like, here's my story, here's what my issue is. I still need a vehicle. Well, it's funny you say that because I took this business one step further. I am also a certified debt counselor too. Right? So you know, if you're going to be good at it, if you want to be good at it, if you want to excel with it, just do everything. Give, give your kind, all the tools they need to succeed in life. Yeah. Let me ask you this, just, just as a quick sidebar is a certified debt specialist. How many Canadians are living beyond their means? What would you say? Most of us most. Yeah, for sure. Like overextending on the credit card. Well, you know what the bankruptcy right right now is ridiculous. You know, the amount of files I'm getting on my desk just for you know, people not, they they're they're drowning completely drowning.

So when I, when I when they hear me talking about their credit and and their situation and me giving them advice on how to actually get to a better step. It's like refreshing for them. You know, so I do the counseling for them. I make sure that you know, if there's a possibility for us to amalgamate all the debts and also get them a car, it's affordable. We will do that as well. We don't see, yeah, we don't we don't push the client right? The approach that we use is a very soft approach. The point where we're giving them enough information so that they can move on with their life and be um, and and actually feel the trust where we, to the point where we say, look, you know, you don't even have to go through us if you don't want to, but just make sure that when you're out there and you're getting the information, you're very, very educated, right? So, um, I mean our mission for the office, I'll read it over to you and everybody should have a mission if they're trying to do this is to educate and empower consumers in finding a vehicle. We combat the lack of trust in a car dealership by implementing our core values and experiencing and experience, ultimately leading to a better vehicle purchase experience. Well, hold on a minute, you mean to tell me you actually have a mission statement? Yeah, of course you have to. Why else is everybody coming over? Well, I say it, these weighs almost as markers because I really hope that the DPB gang that is tuning in and listening right now are paying attention to these small things that make a huge impact. Do you know where your mission statement is? Is there a mission statement? Do you have core values? Do you know where they are? Do you believe them? Are you compatible with them? This is you know, this is one of the reasons why I was excited to have you on the show because I, I every time I see one of your posts on social um, and some of the things that I've heard people say about you, you can tell that you're driven by this mission. You flip the model on its head like that, Forget about subprime and special finance and all that for a second. You have a mission and you're aligning that mission with monetization. Like there's almost this like philanthropic part and that's the fire. I would say that I'm picking up on, that's the fire that, that's the engine that keeps you moving. I see on the wall behind you never, never, never give up, yep. That's what my employees see every single time they come into my office, which, which is something that only someone driven by a mission would, would care about. Like that's a reminder that somebody that's driven by emission. So you're not just here moving metal people that are listening in wondering how do I add a special finance department into my dealership? These are the small things, I hope you're picking up what, what, what Nicole is saying? She's driven by...

...a mission to change people's lives So much so that she becomes a certified debt counselor, essentially a debt specialist and the, the car to me based on what I'm seeing here. The car is the cookie as the reward. Hey, we're going to get your life back in order here. Here's all the things you can do. And by the way, here's a cookie like you solve the immediate issue, but you also expand beyond that. It's like I think of, you know what you, you remind me of, Can I say this? That you remind me of Apple? Because we would be naive to think that Apple put this device in our hand because they cared how we make phone calls. No, no, no, no, no. They created a piece of hardware that collected data. The big thing was data for them. It wasn't about this piece of hardware so they gave us the hardware and it pleases us and we always upgrade them every couple of years to three years. But they were, there was a bigger mission to what they were trying to accomplish. Now there's a little bit, you know, let's talk about capitalism and that kind of stuff sidebar. But they had a there was a bigger purpose driving them. And now we find out they're developing a car. So For however many years, 10 years, they've put devices in our hands that we love, that we that that are track our every movement that give them data and then they make it so we can interface them with the vehicle, which gets all the tele metrics about our driving behavior and all of that kind of stuff. And then they use all of that data to build what they ultimately think is going to be the thing, which is the car. You now, that's a very commercial example. But you remind me of that because you're going, I'm not just showing up every day to move metal. Move metal is the byproduct of helping these people change their lives or improve their circumstances for the better. Is that this is going to be kind of a leading question. But do you think that's why so many dealers struggle to implement a special finance department because there has to be more to it than just leads in cars out? I think there's many reasons. But you know, one of the reasons that I've heard is we don't want to deal with you know the flake or you know, it's just the perception is wrong, right? So I think a lot of people, you know a lot of dealers don't want to take um They don't want to have the responsibility of charging a customer a higher rate. But you know, and I understand 39 sort of 29 is a very high rate. I generally do not work with customers that fall under that category. Very rarely. I do the debt counselling first and didn't try to see where I'm going to go with them. Um But or sometimes I'll just say, hey it's not a good time to buy. I know you're desperate but let's wait a month...

...and let's get you a better rate. I've done that before, right? Um So they don't want to deal with somebody that is paying a higher interest rate because a lot of dealers are scared that they're gonna come back and complain about the car, complain about this, complain about all kinds of stuff. But I mean if you do everything right from the beginning Then there's no reason why they should be coming back. Like certify your car. Then you do a good job with the actual maintenance of the vehicle. Like any client would come back just because nine doesn't mean that they're any different. Is your credit counseling. So say where you're playing the long game with someone, you're not charging for that or are you? Is that part? No. So that's just freaky credit council credit advice. Um I think that's tremendous. That that's goes right back to what we started with, which is mindset, like you need to shift your mindset if you're going to work this type of a business model. Oh, but there's, you know, there's so much more like, you know, for example, you know, what are you gonna do? What's your, what's, what's your plan? Do you want to buy leads? Do you want to generate? You know, that's another thing. You know, if you're, if you're planning on buying leads, you know, understand your closing ratios, right? What, what is that lead provider providing you what kind of clothes rate? And, you know, it boils down again to the sales person a lot of times, sales people don't call the customer enough, don't um don't follow up enough. So you need a system that kind of works so that you're able to track everything that's happening right? Um so there's a lot of factors to kind of figuring figuring out what you want to do in subprime. Um Also, you know, I've built a system which it's an excel system, so You got to get really good at lenders. So you have to understand every single lenders programs, what they offer a lot of people. It's really funny. I've walked into a key a story before and I've told them, I said, Okay, I have a subprime client. They had a subprime client that was approved at 15.9%. I'd walk in and I'm like, You realize you have a seven to program for this kind of client at 4%,, wow. And they're like, what? What do you mean? I'm like, look at this program, start looking at other lenders. Don't be so naive to just say, hey, prime lenders are the thing, you know where to go. But again, it's, you know, as business managers, that's why they're not good for these businesses because they are just used to okay, approved. Yeah, paperwork done. You know, and then when you're selling where you can do many selling in this business as well to it just takes a little more effort. And now you have more gross in the front and the back everywhere. Right? So I'm also thinking about lifetime value because if you are the reason that, well, I shouldn't say reason, but if you helped facilitate change in somebody's life, you have a relationship that runs deeper with that individual than...

...anything you could buy Michael. My business runs on referrals right now. Yeah, exactly. The amount of referrals and repeat customers. I mean, it's kind of like a multilevel marketing, right? You put in the work put in the work, put in the work and you reap the rewards a year or 23 years later because everybody always comes back. You know, it's a business that's forever evolving. And if a dealership is not willing to kind of go with the times as well too and be innovative, That's the whole point, innovative. I do not, customers don't come see me, 90 of my cars are being delivered. Right, Right. We do everything through zoom, we do everything through, um, you know, doc, you sign, we have that flexibility to do that. We deliver the car right to their house. So if a dealership is not willing to go that extra months, especially right now with Covid and everything that's happening. I mean that is kind of, that's where the world is going and there's no more customers coming in anymore. They're scared. I was going to say it probably sounds rude to the wrong audience, but the DPB gang knows I got nothing but love. Um, but I mean, I anticipate this might also be a business model that thrives in economic downturns to a degree, right? Like, I mean more people just entered the pool. Mhm. Um, and I always think about, you had mentioned earlier bankruptcy, divorce, um, you know, unforeseen circumstances, job loss, like all of these shifts that happen in people's lives does not eliminate their need for a vehicle. And it also ties into my philosophy, which is a vehicle is much more than a vehicle is actually freedom, or we're actually providing freedom for people. And I've said that a few times at 20 groups and things of that nature, and I kind of get that blank stare of like, what do you mean a vehicle is freedom? It's a it's a computer on wheels surrounded by metal. And I'm like, yeah, well tell that to the parents who need to Carpool 12 kids to soccer, you know, you know, there was years ago, I had one of my managers at the time because I was like, I can't do this anymore, I can't I can't I can't charge these people 29% I can't do it, it's not in my enemy anymore, Like I feel bad for them, you know, I think it's a very high interest rate. And she looks at me, she goes, well, if you're not gonna do it, somebody else will. Mhm. And they're not going to have the same experience that they're going to have with you, that actually cares. It's a service to service. Right again, mindset. Yeah. And I think, you know, the trick here that I really kind of want to underscore is if you don't care about people, then don't even entertain this. You if you if you just don't care. And I mean, that's that's a thread that runs deep through the DPB over the last seven years. The trick to being a good... This is why by the way, Nicole, the first 150 episodes of the podcast, we're all about tactics. Like here's how you drive a better marketing campaign, and here's how you get more leads and here, and we slowly organically evolved into more of a lifestyle show for the, the industry because the premises, all the tactics in the world are not going to compensate for you being a jerk, like the root of growing businesses to be a good person, to care about others, to have a servants mindset to give value. And I just see that running deep, that's why I really want to just keep underscoring, you know, the things that I'm picking up here because I think this is so valuable for anybody. But by the way, this is stuff that could translate even if you weren't wanting to do a subprime department, like just the premise of caring about people and being driven by a mission. That's what's going to help your dealership grow, That's what's going to help you actually grow as an individual. I bet you could speak for days about just the impact, like you've already brought up testimonials, you could probably speak for days just about the impact of of knowing that day in and day out. You are making a positive impact on somebody else's life, who will then be able to go out into the community or in their family and do the exact same thing and have a positive impact on someone else. It's true. But I do weird things, Michael, like, you know, I do I do strange stuff like if a customer, if I see a customer has been Down on their luck and they came back to me with some sort of issue with their car for five months later, I'll actually take care of the bill. Like it doesn't happen very often, but it's maybe it cost me $300, but I have a rating fan now and now that person is going to be sending me, you know uh so much business if they wanted because they remember me right? So they always remember, you know the fact that I helped them out just recently? One of my customers is like I'm really having trouble right now. I lost my job. Um I don't even know what to do. And there's the lenders not offering any help. I actually paid for one of her payments. But I know that customer is going to come back to me and she's gonna remember me and you know a lot of dealers think okay, you know what with the service I'm going to give $100 gas card for every car. Or I had one of my competitors say oh I'm going to give a free T. V. To anybody who gives a testimony. I was like why just give them proper service? Why do you need to give them a T. V. What are you buying? Like I don't even understand even these odds that I see running or receive $500 cash back. Why why are you doing that? Or six months for free? We'll pay for your six months for free. Why are you doing that makes no sense. You know if you give them the service they will actually work with you. They don't, a lot of people don't go after those gimmicks. Let me ask you this um earning, earning the referral versus paying for it right? Because we do see it. We see that all the time. Hey enter to win and here's how you win. You you leave us a positive review or you fill...

...out this survey or whatever but you're talking about providing an exceptional experience that encourages them of their own free will and testament to give you a review. What markers like just for yourself, what kind of what kind of markers do you have for yourself to just make sure that you are providing that experience. Do you know what I mean? Like you're in the process, you're working a customer, How do you know like what, what are you gauging to know? Yes, this is they are receiving. In fact the experience that I hope they're receiving. Um okay, so that's a good question. But think of it this way, a lot of, okay, so when I see somebody's credibly or I see that they've been looking everywhere and nobody's getting back to them, everybody's goes to them. But although I see all these inquiries on their credit, right? It's the experience of getting a vehicle. So let's say for example the first call, you know, you have your, you have your script which I'm happy to share with the listeners just to kind of customize something for them as well too. Then you have the salesperson or you know myself, I would get involved, but the salesperson would be going through the script. You know, they put everything into the Crm that we work with and then they start communicating. So obviously texting as a huge, um, is a huge factor and phone calls, you know, even if you don't have, um, if you don't have any good news or any news whatsoever, just call them and just be like, I'm going to have some news tomorrow, just give me a little bit of time. You know, we're working on this, we got an interest rate of this right now, but we're trying to move it down a little bit further. So it's the experience of getting a car. So what I do with them is I take them through the process. I let them understand exactly where we're going and most people need to hear things seven times anyway before they actually know what's going on. So constantly repeating the process is very, very important. And then, um, you know, even to the point where the car is getting detailed, take a video and send it to them to make it real, Why are they different than any other client? Make the experience real for them? You know, show them, hey, you know, this is, this is what's happening or I'll send a picture and be like, it's on the truck right now. You know, it's on its way to you. You know, so there's, they're just crazy excited. They have this excitement in them. You should see some of my text messages you, it makes you like, it makes me so happy, right? Um, you might be the Disneyland of automotive maybe because I'm writing down, you know, you said, well, it's the experience of buying a car. So the first thing I wrote down was communication, the next thing I wrote down as people need to hear things seven times. So you're constantly repeating the process. You are reiterating the process to make sure like they know what's coming next. But then you said things that anybody in any business should be doing, which is like bringing them into the excitement,... putting yourself in their shoes. Exactly. This is what I tell my my employees all the time. How would you, how do you, how would you feel put it this way? How would you feel? I just applied online, I'm talking to you through Messenger. You know, how, what are you gonna do to make me feel all warm and fuzzy? You everybody else has said no to me. Everybody else is treated me like shit now I'm here with you. Tell me why are you different? You know and then that that it's an extra touch that you give them and even giving them something and pulling it back like, hey, I'm here for you. I want to help you. But you know, you can go anywhere, you don't have to stick with you. Yeah, let's stick with you. Yeah. You're removing the pressure. You're having excitement, removing pressure. That's right yeah, 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.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (514)