The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 9 months 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 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 for telus dot io to learn more. That's four tellus 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 thatwe were able to help facilitate for somebody, the freedom that we were ableto help facilitate for them and that's a bit tougher of a process I wouldimagine, right? Like they're not just people like you, you, I wrote down theword counselor because it's, I would anticipate that you're probably in aposition day in and day out where you are a counselor to people where they'rekind 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 thatbecause I took this business one step further. I am also a certified debtcounselor too. Right? So you know, if you're going to be good at it, if youwant 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 askyou this, just, just as a quick sidebar is a certified debt specialist. How many Canadians are living beyondtheir means? What would you say? Most of us most.Yeah, for sure. Like overextending on the credit card. Well, you know whatthe bankruptcy right right now is ridiculous. You know, the amount offiles I'm getting on my desk just for you know, people not, they they'rethey're drowning completely drowning.

So when I, when I when they hear metalking about their credit and and their situation and me giving themadvice on how to actually get to a better step. It's like refreshing forthem. You know, so I do the counseling for them. I make sure that you know, ifthere's a possibility for us to amalgamate all the debts and also getthem a car, it's affordable. We will do that as well. We don't see, yeah, wedon't we don't push the client right? The approach that we use is a very softapproach. The point where we're giving them enough information so that theycan move on with their life and be um, and and actually feel the trust wherewe, to the point where we say, look, you know, you don't even have to gothrough us if you don't want to, but just make sure that when you're outthere 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 youand everybody should have a mission if they're trying to do this is to educateand empower consumers in finding a vehicle. We combat the lack of trust ina car dealership by implementing our core values and experiencing andexperience, ultimately leading to a better vehicle purchase experience. Well, hold on a minute, you mean totell 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 asmarkers because I really hope that the DPB gang that is tuning in andlistening right now are paying attention to these small things thatmake a huge impact. Do you know where your mission statement is? Is there amission statement? Do you have core values? Do you know where they are? Doyou believe them? Are you compatible with them? This is you know, this isone of the reasons why I was excited to have you on the show because I, I everytime I see one of your posts on social um, and some of the things that I'veheard 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 specialfinance and all that for a second. You have a mission and you're aligning thatmission with monetization. Like there's almost this like philanthropic part andthat'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 theycome into my office, which, which is something that only someone driven by amission would, would care about. Like that's a reminder that somebody that'sdriven by emission. So you're not just here moving metal people that arelistening in wondering how do I add a special finance department into mydealership? 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 Somuch so that she becomes a certified debtcounselor, 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 backin order here. Here's all the things you can do. And by the way, here's acookie 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? Thatyou remind me of Apple? Because we would be naive tothink that Apple put this device in our hand because they cared how we makephone calls. No, no, no, no, no. They created a piece of hardware thatcollected data. The big thing was data for them. It wasn't about this piece ofhardware so they gave us the hardware and it pleases us and we always upgradethem every couple of years to three years. But they were, there was abigger 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. Butthey had a there was a bigger purpose driving them. And now we find outthey're developing a car. So For however many years, 10 years, they'veput devices in our hands that we love, that we that that are track our everymovement that give them data and then they make it so we can interface themwith the vehicle, which gets all the tele metrics about our driving behaviorand all of that kind of stuff. And then they use all of that data to build whatthey 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 upevery day to move metal. Move metal is the byproduct of helpingthese people change their lives or improve their circumstances for thebetter. Is that this is going to be kind of a leadingquestion. But do you think that's why so many dealers struggle to implement a specialfinance department because there has to be more to it than just leads in carsout? I think there's many reasons. But youknow, one of the reasons that I've heard is we don't want to deal with youknow the flake or you know, it's just the perception is wrong, right? So Ithink a lot of people, you know a lot of dealers don't want to take um Theydon'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 generallydo not work with customers that fall under that category. Very rarely. I dothe debt counselling first and didn't try to see where I'm going to go withthem. Um But or sometimes I'll just say, hey it's not a good time to buy. I knowyou're desperate but let's wait a month...

...and let's get you a better rate. I'vedone that before, right? Um So they don't want to deal with somebody thatis paying a higher interest rate because a lot of dealers are scaredthat they're gonna come back and complain about the car, complain aboutthis, complain about all kinds of stuff. But I mean if you do everything rightfrom 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 ofthe vehicle. Like any client would come back just because nine doesn't meanthat they're any different. Is your credit counseling. So say where you'replaying 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'sgoes right back to what we started with, which is mindset, like you need toshift 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, youknow, what are you gonna do? What's your, what's, what's your plan? Do youwant to buy leads? Do you want to generate? You know, that's anotherthing. You know, if you're, if you're planning on buying leads, you know,understand your closing ratios, right? What, what is that lead providerproviding you what kind of clothes rate? And, you know, it boils down again tothe 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 sothat you're able to track everything that's happening right? Um so there's alot of factors to kind of figuring figuring out what you want to do insubprime. Um Also, you know, I've built a system which it's an excel system, soYou got to get really good at lenders. So you have to understand every singlelenders programs, what they offer a lot of people. It's really funny. I'vewalked into a key a story before and I've told them, I said, Okay, I have asubprime client. They had a subprime client that was approved at 15.9%. I'dwalk in and I'm like, You realize you have a seven to program for this kindof client at 4%,, wow. And they're like, what? What doyou 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 knowwhere to go. But again, it's, you know, as business managers, that's whythey're not good for these businesses because they are just used to okay,approved. Yeah, paperwork done. You know, and then when you're sellingwhere you can do many selling in this business as well to it just takes alittle more effort. And now you have more gross in the front and the backeverywhere. Right? So I'm also thinking about lifetime value because if you arethe reason that, well, I shouldn't say reason, but if you helped facilitatechange in somebody's life, you have a relationship that runsdeeper with that individual than...

...anything you could buy Michael. My business runs on referralsright 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 workput in the work, put in the work and you reap the rewards a year or 23 yearslater because everybody always comes back. You know, it's a business that'sforever evolving. And if a dealership is not willing to kind of go with thetimes as well too and be innovative, That's the whole point, innovative. Ido 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 flexibilityto do that. We deliver the car right to their house. So if a dealership is not willing to gothat extra months, especially right now with Covid and everything that'shappening. I mean that is kind of, that's where the world is going andthere's no more customers coming in anymore. They're scared. I was going tosay it probably sounds rude to the wrong audience, but the DPB gang knowsI got nothing but love. Um, but I mean, I anticipate this might also be abusiness model that thrives in economic downturns to a degree, right? Like, Imean more people just entered the pool. Mhm. Um, and I always think about, youhad mentioned earlier bankruptcy, divorce, um, you know, unforeseencircumstances, job loss, like all of these shifts that happen in people'slives 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'reactually providing freedom for people. And I've said that a few times at 20groups 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 wheelssurrounded by metal. And I'm like, yeah, well tell that to the parents who needto Carpool 12 kids to soccer, you know, you know, there was years ago, I hadone of my managers at the time because I was like, I can't do this anymore, Ican't I can't I can't charge these people 29% I can't do it, it's not inmy enemy anymore, Like I feel bad for them, you know, I think it's a veryhigh interest rate. And she looks at me, she goes, well, if you're not gonna doit, somebody else will. Mhm. And they're not going to have the sameexperience that they're going to have with you, that actually cares. It's aservice 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 careabout 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 lastseven 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. Likehere's how you drive a better marketing campaign, and here's how you get moreleads and here, and we slowly organically evolved into more of alifestyle show for the, the industry because the premises, all the tacticsin the world are not going to compensate for you being a jerk, likethe root of growing businesses to be a good person, to care about others, tohave 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 thatI'm picking up here because I think this is so valuable for anybody. But bythe way, this is stuff that could translate even if you weren't wantingto do a subprime department, like just the premise of caring about people andbeing driven by a mission. That's what's going to help your dealershipgrow, That's what's going to help you actually grow as an individual. I betyou could speak for days about just the impact, like you've already brought uptestimonials, you could probably speak for days just about the impact of ofknowing that day in and day out. You are making a positive impact onsomebody else's life, who will then be able to go out into the community or intheir family and do the exact same thing and have a positive impact onsomeone else. It's true. But I do weird things, Michael, like, you know, I do Ido strange stuff like if a customer, if I see a customer has been Down on theirluck and they came back to me with some sort of issue with their car for fivemonths later, I'll actually take care of the bill. Like it doesn't happenvery often, but it's maybe it cost me $300, but I have a rating fan now andnow that person is going to be sending me, you know uh so much business ifthey wanted because they remember me right? So they always remember, youknow the fact that I helped them out just recently? One of my customers islike I'm really having trouble right now. I lost my job. Um I don't evenknow what to do. And there's the lenders not offering any help. Iactually paid for one of her payments. But I know that customer is going tocome back to me and she's gonna remember me and you know a lot ofdealers think okay, you know what with the service I'm going to give $100 gascard for every car. Or I had one of my competitors say oh I'm going to give afree T. V. To anybody who gives a testimony. I was like why just givethem 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 $500cash back. Why why are you doing that? Or six months for free? We'll pay foryour six months for free. Why are you doing that makes no sense. You know ifyou give them the service they will actually work with you. They don't, alot of people don't go after those gimmicks. Let me ask you this umearning, earning the referral versus paying for it right? Because we do seeit. We see that all the time. Hey enter to win and here's how you win. You youleave us a positive review or you fill...

...out this survey or whatever but you'retalking about providing an exceptional experience that encourages them oftheir own free will and testament to give you a review. What markers likejust for yourself, what kind of what kind of markers do you have foryourself to just make sure that you are providing that experience. Do you know what I mean? Like you're inthe process, you're working a customer, How do you know like what, what are yougauging to know? Yes, this is they are receiving. In fact the experience thatI hope they're receiving. Um okay, so that's a good question. Butthink of it this way, a lot of, okay, so when I seesomebody's credibly or I see that they've been looking everywhere andnobody's getting back to them, everybody's goes to them. But althoughI see all these inquiries on their credit, right? It's the experience ofgetting a vehicle. So let's say for example the first call, you know, youhave your, you have your script which I'm happy to share with the listenersjust to kind of customize something for them as well too. Then you have thesalesperson or you know myself, I would get involved, but the salesperson wouldbe going through the script. You know, they put everything into the Crm thatwe work with and then they start communicating. So obviously texting asa 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 andjust be like, I'm going to have some news tomorrow, just give me a littlebit of time. You know, we're working on this, we got an interest rate of thisright now, but we're trying to move it down a little bit further. So it's theexperience of getting a car. So what I do with them is I take them through theprocess. I let them understand exactly where we're going and most people needto hear things seven times anyway before they actually know what's goingon. 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 videoand send it to them to make it real, Why are they different than any otherclient? Make the experience real for them? Youknow, show them, hey, you know, this is, this is what's happening or I'll send apicture and be like, it's on the truck right now. You know, it's on its way toyou. You know, so there's, they're just crazy excited. They have thisexcitement in them. You should see some of my text messages you, it makes youlike, it makes me so happy, right? Um, you might be the Disneyland ofautomotive maybe because I'm writing down, you know, you said, well, it'sthe experience of buying a car. So the first thing I wrote down wascommunication, the next thing I wrote down as people need to hear thingsseven times. So you're constantly repeating the process. You arereiterating the process to make sure like they know what's coming next. Butthen you said things that anybody in any business should be doing, which islike 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 justapplied online, I'm talking to you through Messenger. You know, how, whatare you gonna do to make me feel all warm and fuzzy? You everybody else hassaid no to me. Everybody else is treated me like shit now I'm here withyou. Tell me why are you different? You know and then that that it's an extratouch that you give them and even giving them something and pulling itback like, hey, I'm here for you. I want to help you. But you know, you cango 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, removingpressure. That's right yeah, 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 nurturingautomotive professionals join my exclusive DPB Pro community on facebook.That's where we share information, ideas and content that isn't sharedanywhere else. I can't wait to meet you there. Thanks for listening.

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