The winner of the 2022 Automotive News All Star for Fixed Ops Vendor.
The winner of the 2022 Automotive News All Star for Fixed Ops Vendor.
Like eating your own cooking or living in the house you built.
This might be the most we’ve laughed on a podcast.
It’s an Auto Collabs first! We have 2 guests joining us today. Michael Lucki and Matthew Vollmers are NADA Academy Instructors, helping to mold and develop the next generation of dealers. They talk about their experiences in the program, how they’ve seen it change and shift, and what it takes to stay relevant in an ever changing landscape.
There’s a through line here somewhere. Mike Colacchio has gone from minor-league baseball to selling snowboards to Dealer.com to DealerInspire to AutoLeadStar, where’s an advocate for connected data and Customer Data Platforms. He joins us on Auto Collabs and shares his story, plus his vision for the future of data.
A tech person for tech people. Ben Hadley has led an influential journey through automotive. He’s worked with Clarivoy and CreditIQ and helped found Auto Genius. He knows the definitions to all the big words and has a way of communicating almost in parables to bring that heady knowledge down to earth for the layman. And he believes we’re only about 5 years away from a major breakthrough in the way automotive technology works.
He might be the handsomest man in automotive. Durran Cage is someone you want to be around. He oozes kindness and has a genuine passion for people. He pours himself into his work, mentally and emotionally. As a consultant, he sees a lot of what is working and what isn’t working, and is able to speak to dealers out of his own personal experience.
Tom Ryan likes change. And Tom Ryan knows he can navigate through change. He’ll figure it out. He’s been doing it his whole career, and figuring it out over and over again has given him a directness and an optimism that’s infectious. To him, automotive is a simple place: Let the customer buy the way that they want. We talk about that plus a lot more.
From the outside looking in, auto is a curious industry. Whether it's the dealership dialect of tech and service or that dealers bring home a variety of makes and models, retail auto is unique. And once you’re in and you’ve caught the bug, it stays with you. That’s the story of Jason Stein. He traces his journey from newspaperman to Automotive New Retail Forum to where he is today at Flat Six Media. And along the way, he shares insights about the reputation of the industry and the speed of change that it’s experiencing.
When we asked Charlie Chesbrough about the key economic indicators he’s watching… We expected a completely different answer. Charlie, Senior Economist with Cox Automotive, pointed us to consumer-facing indicators. It was a real reality check moment, and a reminder of what this podcast is all about. It’s about getting everyone, from OEMs, dealers, industry partners, to press in and work together for the consumer’s sake. Charlie also tells us about his journey to the automotive industry and what he has coined “the iPhone-ification of automotive.”
You might not understand where Matt Jones starts in a conversation.But you’ll definitely know when he lands his punchline. He is a thoughtful and deep communicator, with analogies and illustrations to help drive his points home. He’s all about looking elsewhere to learn and always expanding what is possible. He’s studied consumer behavior and what’s important to them, and the answers might surprise you.
How do you respond to a bad customer experience? Some of us would write a review, or vent about it to our friends and family. But not Slawek Potasz. He’d design a robot to fix the problem. And that’s exactly what he did when he created CarScanner, a photographic robot that replaces a photo booth. From Poland to Canada to Syracuse, NY, Slawek shares his outside perspective on America and the automotive industry.
A natural storyteller. When your family has been in the automotive industry for decades, you’ve seen some things and have some story. Rick Ricart joins the guys to talk about his family’s legacy, how cars and driving are cool again, and NIL deals with Ohio State football. Plus he tells some great stories from his time in the automotive industry.
Mergers and acquisitions. You’re seeing it more and more in the automotive industry. In 2021, there were over 750 of them. Alan Haig represents some of these dealers during their recent sales, and so has insights into the state of the industry. He sees the way that the public groups are building for the future and has thoughts on how the local dealers can respond and compete.
Here’s some numbers for you: 16 rooftops. 25,000 cars. $1 billion in sales. 15 photographers. 3 full-time web developers. 3 graphic designers. And another handful of people handling CRM, data analytics, social media, paid search and more. This is the team that Nathan Hollenbeck leads at Del Grande Dealer Group. He joins us on Auto Collabs to share his story and the things that are working at DGDG.
Everything in the automotive industry is about providing a great customer experience. And someone who really understands customer experience is John Clavadetscher of Outsell. He’s spent years studying consumer shopping trends and how retail is categorizing and marketing to the individual customer. There’s a lot packed into this interview, from helping to grow Cars.com to the “automotive itch.”
Connection matters. And ActivEngage is all about making a connection, through their chat platform to their TikTok accounts. Carol Marshall, their COO, found her first dealership job as a GSM, coming right from retail. She joins us to talk about acronyms, conversation and what today’s customers are looking for when they shop.
Without Ryan Osten, there might not be an Automotive State of the Union. That’s right. Paul and Kyle were introduced in a marketing room hosted by Gubagoo’s former marketing director, hired by none other than Ryan Osten. Ryan shares the unique ways that Gubagoo is solving problems, and reflects on how chance encounters really can change the trajectory.
Dan Moore helps us come back down to earth. It’s easy to get caught up in the world of reports, gut feelings and keeping up with the Joneses. But Dan Moore of Vistadash has a way of seeing through the buzzwords and talking about what actually matters. Be prepared for metaphors, laughs and great insights into the world of business intelligence.
Some people have seen it from both sides. Anthony Jingoli of Effectv is one of them. When he started working for Comcast over 20 years ago, cable television was the disrupter. But then as digital and streaming exploded, cable TV was the one being disrupted. Now, through changing the perspective and evolving, television advertising is moving back to the disrupter spot. Today’s interview covers targeting specific segments, audiences and geography, the power of a story based brand, and continuing to learn from those around you.
If there was an Oscar for dealership commercials… Brian Ortega would probably have one. He’s the Creative Director at Valley-Hi Toyota, home to some of the most creative commercials in the industry. The team creates a new story-based 30 second commercial every month, with Brian as one of the star actors. It’s been successful in building Valley-Hi’s brand and ingraining them deep into their community.
There are a lot of excuses for why a company doesn’t invest in social media. Nathanael Greklek has a counter for every single one of them. As the Chief Digital Branding Leader for Mohawk Auto Group, Nathanael has built an organic social media presence that gets millions of impressions a month. They’re able to track sales back to those impressions, and are a machine of content creation, averaging 500 pieces of content per month.
7 hours online before they visit a showroom. CARS.com has a lot of consumer data, and is seeing many trends and disconnects in the automotive industry. CEO Alex Vetter joined us on Auto Collabs to talk about the digital customer experience, trust reservoirs and giving power back to the small business owner.
A digital retail perspective. Doug Miller has helped some significant brands make big digital transitions. Ever heard of Ticketmaster? Doug was there when they sold their first ticket online. What about Expedia? They started by faxing orders to hotels. So when it comes to the automotive industry, an industry that Doug started in, he’s confident about the digital/physical hybrid future. He’s the President and Chief Commercial Officer of CARS.com, and we are grateful to be able to spend time with him on Auto Collabs.
The computer on the Starship Enterprise that crew members could talk to. R2-D2. Jarvis. Science fiction has been showing us AI and digital assistants for years. And Josselyn Boudett and the team at Stella Automotive AI are bringing them to life. Stella is a phone answering AI that books service appointments while helping customers get loaners or talk to specific employees. It’s unlike anything on the market today. Josselyn explains how Stella came to be and how digital voice assistants will become more prevalent in the future.
Transportation is freedom. Mike Darrow, President and CEO of TrueCar, recognizes that automotive can often live in the space between supply and demand, where a dealership is looking to purchase cars in order to meet the needs of customers. And TrueCar has a lot of experience in that position. This conversation jumps around a bit, from the chip shortage to serving dealers to serving consumers to tracking the shopping journey to building community. The threads that tie it together are that transportation is freedom, and the car business cares about people.
Do you have someone in your organization that touches every department? For DeNooyer Automotive Family, that person is Erin Sparks. As the marketing director, she has a lot on her plate and a lot of tabs open on her computer. But she makes it her responsibility to read reviews, walk the service lane, check in on the BDC team and more. She does all of this to break down barriers and bring the teams together, all as she tells the story of the dealership.
Building a product strategy based on target audience. AutoLeadStar is playing the long game. They are developing products to address the entire industry, not just the needs of one or two dealers. And that means they are focused and innovative. Ilana Shabtay is the Director of Marketing for this Israel-based tech company and she joins the Auto Collabs crew for a thoughtful conversation.
A marketer turned developer now marketing a marketing tool. After working in the industry for several years, Jeff Gonzales saw a need for dealers to quickly be able to do their own marketing and ad campaigns. The tool that he developed, AET Automotive, incorporates all of the compliances that dealers face with their marketing. A punk rock vibe, some crazy stories and some insight into the future of marketing made for a fun interview.
Auto is BIG. You never know where a conversation with Darren Doane will go, but it will keep you thinking long afterwards. Darren is a director, first of music videos and now of documentaries. He’s been around many types of business and sees things from outside of the automotive industry. And he is impressed with how big auto is. That makes it able to try things in a way that other industries can’t. Today’s conversation talks about scrap metal, Newsies and yes, how Michael Cirillo is Seth Rogen’s doppelganger.
Sometimes you meet someone for the first time on a Zoom call. This was the experience interviewing Sarah Carter of Upstart Auto Retail. Sarah has 20 years of experience in the industry, and she has a good perspective on the intersection of digital and physical, from the way leads are handled to how other countries are ahead of the US digitally. Plus, Cirillo considers skiing, and Paul learns what push/pull integration is.
Steven Apicella is a man on a mission. He’s out to influence the automotive industry and specifically the way that F&I has worked in the past. You can hear the passion in his voice, how much he cares for both the dealer and the customer. His company, Strategic DX - Your Dealer Experience, consolidates and tracks your third-party offerings in a way that keeps the customer connected to the dealership. Steven talks about his experience coming up in the automotive world and what sparks him to create
Unboxing, ride alongs and cars in the community. There’s a sort of punk rock aura around Jeff Revilla. His first business was a skate shop where he was buying ad words on Overture. Then he joined Smail Auto Group, where he monetized their Youtube channels and got their videos seen all over the internet. All of this while not looking like every other car dealer out there.
Chad Graves knows marketing. He began in the marketing department of a dealership group before leaving with members of that team to start Reunion Marketing. Now, Reunion works with dealers to lift the gates of transparency, break down the silos, and formulate an entire dealership strategy. Paul J Daly, Kyle Mountsier and Michael Cirillo find out that Chad knows that to look for from the moment he steps foot into a dealership, and also has a good handle of what SEO is and how it works.
We can’t tell you what’s going to happen in the future. But Michael Johnson has a sneak peek. Part of this is because he lives in Australia, several hours ahead of us in the US. The other part is that dealers in Australia have been experiencing things that are relatively new or not even on the horizon for those of us in North America. Inventory issues and the agency model are normal in Australia, and Michael shares his insight from the industry partner side.
A 50 year veteran. Tommy Gibbs has been selling cars longer than Paul, Kyle or Michael have been alive. What made him such an effective operator and what makes him a great consultant now is his emphasis on the basics. You might not get the latest flashy trick play from Tommy, but it will be effective if you work at it and get good at it. Plus, there are plenty of football analogies along the way.
Your background informs your now. That’s what Colby Joyner has experienced, going from the auto industry to the Air Force, to being an air traffic controller, to a massage therapist and then back into the auto industry both on the dealer and partner sides. It’s allowed him to see things in a different light and helped him as he organizes and automates processes.
Everything’s bigger in Texas. Including Classic Chevrolet’s buy center in an 80x30ft tent. Eric Hall is the Internet Director for Classic Chevrolet, and he talks about staying on top as one of the largest volume dealers in the nation, the challenges and success of looking at a buy center in a different way, and what he sees for retail automotive in the next 6 months.
Some people always bring the sermon. Tim Cox is one of them. He is the co-founder of CarNow, and has so many thoughts for the automotive industry. But what’s special about Tim is that he is genuine all the time and you can hear his heart when he is speaking. Kyle Mountsier and Paul J Daly spend time talking about the history of CarNow, how someone on the team has to be right, integrity, and some things that are coming in 2023 that dealers need to be ready for.
Ron Duan. What does a kid from Kyle Mountsier’s freshman tennis team have to do with the Social Dilemma documentary? Apparently a lot, if you ask Dr. Nicole Lipkin. She spends time with Paul, Kyle and Michael talking them through the mental health issues facing our world, or if we’re being honest, the issues we all are facing. Nothing’s off the table, from mental agility, to social comparison, to the emotional contagions.
Parts guy. Service Advisor. Parts and Service Director. Fixed Ops Director. General Manager. These are all parts of Brian Singh’s retail automotive experience. He’s used all that knowledge to bridge the gap between different departments and help them overcome their pain points. Now, he leads evrdrive, a customer experience that he hopes will change the way people buy cars.
On the go. Where Matt Lasher goes, the insights follow. So when you have the chance to interview him, you take it, even if it means recording in a car on the way to NYC. Paul J Daly and Matt talk about the trends they’re seeing for the industry plus how marketing has changed for West Herr.
Carter Myers Automotive has been around for 98 years, meaning they lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918. Liza Borches hasn’t seen all of that, but as the 3rd generation President and CEO of CMA, she knows the stories of the company. She knows the joys and the pains. And she has led the organization through growth and culture shift, overcoming her own ideas about retail auto and even some misogyny from those in her organization. Michael Cirillo, Paul J Daly, and Kyle Mountsier ask her about an opportunity at General Mills, Honda’s 3 Joys, and why groups are asking CMA to acquire them.
Glenn Pasch has seen a lot. Now he works directly with dealerships to build structure and processes. He views the world as a puzzle to be solved for the customer’s sake, and believes that as you ask the right questions and design the right roles, everything will click into place. The more guardrails you have, the faster you can run, and the better you can perform.
Brian Kramer is in a whole new ballgame. After spending years on the dealership side, he has joined Cars.com as their EVP and GM of Accu-Trade. Michael Cirillo, Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier talk to Brian about this transition, and the issues that he’s now experienced on both sides. They also touch on haircuts, lead fatigue and pitch slapping.
If you give Scott Simons your phone number, he will text you at least once a year. Everything is about relationships for Scott, and he has a lot of them. His college roommate from Sri Lanka, Grant Cardone and the other 6000 contacts in his phone. Relationship is the way that Scott sells cars, and the way he teaches his team to sell. It’s like having 233 people on your marketing team. Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier spend time learning about this system and hearing how much Scott cares for people.
Not only is David Long a strategic operator, he is proving that it’s possible to both lift and empower others while providing the structure and accountability required to grow. Also, he has the best hugs, according to Michael Cirillo. Michael, Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier listen to David’s insights on building up the culture of an organization, and keeping it laser focused on its goals.
“How’s your family?” This is the essence of Todd Caputo, our guest today on Auto Collabs. Todd is the definition of loyal and caring. And on top of that, he’s a really skilled operator. He sold his 4 dealerships, but before that, his dealerships retailed 6000-6500 vehicles annually of which 5500 were used car sales. Paul J Daly and Todd spend time talking about what Todd is up to now, and some of the trends he’s tracking
Danny Zaslavsky, the DP/GM and Country Hills Motors and Founder at VinCue joins to share his unique vantage point about how efficient inventory management systems can lead to an elevated customer experience.
Have we been looking at CRMs all wrong? Jasen Rice, our guest on Auto Collabs, thinks so. Jasen is a veteran of the industry. He was selling 100% online at a time when AOL was still mailing Internet CD-ROMs to homes. Consequently, he’s helped launch Digital Dealer, vAuto and much more. In his conversation with Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier, he dives deep into CRMs, conversion rates and a new way of thinking about leads.
Energy. That is what Glenn Lundy brings to life, whether it’s consulting with the 800% Elite Automotive Club, hosting Breakfast with Champions or calling Michael Cirillo out of the blue to interview him. Michael, Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier were reminded by Glenn that doing great things requires change, and change means someone is going to quit or be fired. But taking steps today will make your business great down the road, and Glenn believes that’s achievable for everyone.
Every hero has an origin story. Understand the origin story and you understand the hero. Steve Greenfield has spent more than 20 years of his professional career in automotive industry leadership roles and today, he is an authoritative voice when it comes to automotive technology and the innovators that are revolutionizing our space. Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier had so many questions for Steve that they actually ran out of time, but that’s how it goes when you’re talking to a hero.
Today’s guest is an accountant turned executive turned dealer. Damon Lester leads NAMAD’s (National Association of Minority Auto Dealers) mission to increase equitable access and meaningful opportunities for minority entrepreneurs and employees across the automotive industry. Our conversation reminded us to get in the dirt and work, and that automotive encompasses everything.
Today's guest is a NYT Bestselling Author, the Co-Founder of Square, the Chairman of the St Louis Federal Reserve, and a Professional Glass Blower. That’s not all either. Jim McKelvey is one of the most purebred entrepreneurs we’ve ever met, and he’s here to help us tell ourselves the truth about innovation, entrepreneurship, and how to stack your laptop on laundry baskets for a zoom call.
Hosts Michael Cirillo, Kyle Mountsier, and Paul J Daly tell the story of how they came to create this podcast and why they believe it is critical for there to be more collaboration in the Retail Auto community between not only Dealers and Industry Partners, but also OEM’s and Consumers. And there’s also a joke or two...or three or four...