ASOTU CON Sessions Episode 7: Liza Borches

October 7, 2022
Liza Borches and Glenn Lundy sit down to chat at ASOTU CON 2022.
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Liza Borches is the President and CEO at Carter Myers Automotive.

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ASOTU CON Sessions Episode 7: Liza Borches

OCTOBER 07, 2022

ASOTU

EPISODE: 7

DescriptionTranscript

Paul Daly: 0:02You're listening to the ASOTU CON Sessions by Effectv recorded live in Philly.Glenn Lundy: 0:05

So this is going to end with the ASOTU Con Sessions. I believe this is one that's called Yes. Something like that. And I am here with Liza Myers Borches from Carter Myers Automotive Group, as far as I'm concerned, the number one Automotive Group in no world. And it must be true. Liza, how

Liza Borches: 0:23

I'm doing fantastic. We've had such a are you? great morning so far. Here it is. So too, and I'm just so impressed with Kyle and Paul put together a really unique conference. And there's just too many things I'm gonna do all the same time.

Glenn Lundy: 0:28

I know, they got a lot of things going on, right? Like there's panels going on. There's speaker sessions going on. We're doing the interviews over here. But that's kind of how they roll. Right? Like when you become a part of ASOTU. You see, they've got lots of hot guys. They've got lots of emails going out. They've got lots of events and all these different types of energy and a lot of energy, that's for sure. And you actually invested you're an investor in ASOTU, right?

Liza Borches: 0:46

I am. I am from the very beginning. What was your thought process? I love the idea. I love the whole concept of what Paul and Kyle talked about, about the people in automotive, I just went picked up my T shirt that says, love people more than you love cars, right. And I think I had been speaking this language for a while and all of a sudden one day I heard I can't work with Paul or Kyle because at that moment they would look like to me and I'm listening to one of them talk about how people matter and and that it's the strength and backbone of our industry. Like we heard these guys. So I started listening to them and clubhouse connecting with them a little bit further, finally had the opportunity meet them at Digital dealer in Tampa. And they started talking about this concept of asoto. And a new media company from for automotive that would speak a different language than I love the other ones need to name them. That's right there was there was there was a new voice that was ready to be in our industry, right? And so before they even came up with the concept of investing, I said, I'm in let me know when you're ready. That's

Glenn Lundy: 1:27

awesome. I absolutely love that this idea of people telling people more than we love cars. How do you do that? When you have 1100? associates? 20? How many stores now? 23 23 stores you've grown 100% In the last 10 years, which is amazing. How do you still stay connected to that people first mentality when you when you when you're so wide and so broad? Now

Liza Borches: 1:45

what is interesting, too, we have more people than we have new cars. So it's interesting, isn't it? You know, I think that it's more important than it ever has been to figure out how to stay connected. But thankfully, we have tools like social media and clubhouse and digital ways of us connecting even when we geographically can't be together. But one of the great ways that we do it is we have a team of I think maybe 10 or so people here in ASOTU, from all seven of our markets, you know, bringing people together. So we do take that opportunity where it can't just be digital relationships, how do we get together in person spend time together? In fact, on the panel that we just did, I think it Paul was asking us he said, you know, how do you mentor? How do you grow future leaders? And what's the magic? So well, there's no one path. You can't just write on a piece of paper. Here's how you develop and grow future leaders for our industry. But the number one thing that it takes is it takes time, it takes intentionality, and it takes being present with people. And that's not always easy with all the things that we have flying at us. But I know that my number one job is as the leader of CMA is to make sure I'm putting the right people in the right seats that I'm developing and investing in the people who are going to be the future leaders, not just of CMA, but of our industry. Brian Benstock reminded me this morning that we have a responsibility beyond just our company that our companies here, all of us retailers here and vendors, we don't exist if our industry doesn't continue to be strong, and be the place that customers want to do business for their future transportation needs.

Glenn Lundy: 2:48

Yeah, that's very true. And that that really ties into a conversation you and I had, like a month or so ago, where we were talking about raising leaders pouring into leaders and then going outside of our organization somewhere else and how that can be a frustrating aspect, but at the same time, satisfying and rewarding to know that we've been able to make that ripple in the industry right

Liza Borches: 3:05

now. You know, I talked during my short presentation this morning, we were talking about how we want to honor innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. That's what our industry was formed upon. It was that entrepreneurial spirit. And you know, as we're having more and more consolidation and as technology is more important in our business processes, we cannot forget that spirit that makes our industry so awesome. And you I think some leaders are nervous or scared to hire people that might have aspirations bigger than being a part of their dealership group. And I shared a couple stories I think are important. No one was of a leader who wanted to own in their own car dealership who's now a partner with us at CMA. I think in today's world, that's a better ownership model than a single point dealer. But I also shared a story of a guy we have in our payroll department who has a dream with his fiancee of owning a pet grooming and daycare business, right? And at first I was like, Okay, well, why is why is he a CMA, right? You know, when he came in, he's the leader of our payroll department. He has streamlined our processes. He's made us a better company. He's moving to the sales floor this week, because he wants to learn the sales side of the business is fiance works in our accounting department. She's learning how to run books and do payables, receivables. Amazing. And one day, they might go start their own pet grooming business right now, I'll probably be their first customer with my two dogs. But you know what they have heart, they have energy, they have ideas, they really care, right? And I'd rather have someone like that in our business than someone who's just kind of wait until their next job comes around.

Glenn Lundy: 4:10

It's almost like a new look at this idea of turnover, right? Like we were ever we'd say we don't want to we want to keep our turnover numbers as low as possible. But maybe with technology and innovation and creative mindsets, we can create a path where turnover is actually a good thing for everybody. There's good turnover, there's good turnover, that's interesting. It's great way to look at it, your model lies, you go wide, you're buying lots of dealerships I'm gonna be bought in the last 10 years.

Liza Borches: 4:31

Oh, 10 years would have been 2012. So we were at seven stores then. And we're 23 now so 15 and last 10 years. Yeah,

Glenn Lundy: 4:36

you've got quite a few stores. And there is rumors and talk of this consolidation piece that you mentioned. Right? And so some people are saying three to five to seven years from now we can have as many franchise deals in some of the domestics on some of the domestic sides that we have right now. So as you're continuing to scale, why do those thoughts go through your head? Is there any fear or trepidation? Or what are you hearing maybe from the manufacturers as you're making these deals that keeps you optimistic to continue to grow and scale out?

Liza Borches: 4:57

It's such a good question. I think it's all of us leaders in this industry are thinking of that right now. And two points that I would say first, we're being very intentional the brands that we're looking to represent, I think some of our manufacturers and OEMs value, the dealer partners more than others. Tom Dahl was here this morning talking about retailers and the incredible respect and value that he has that we're actually the ones selling cars, not the manufacturer. So they're a great example. So when we're intentional about that, which manufacturers we partner with. Second thing is looking at the size of the market, we made some mistakes, we went to a really small market, one time that I don't think is a viable market long term, we ended up selling the store did real nicely with it, it just I didn't see the long term picture for that particular market. We like medium sized markets where they're big enough to support a good size business, a good employment base, a large enough consumer base that we feel that we can put down some roots. We liked that size market also because community and people matter. And we do understand that for us to be in business, we've been a business for 98 years, if we're gonna be a business for another 98 years, consumers have to want to do business with us. And I think in these medium sized markets, it's big enough for us to have a footprint to put down roots to employ a lot of people and to make a difference in the community. And then the last thing in those size communities, there's really not a lot of public transportation, the ownership model of a car. I don't see going away. I think it's no different. No question. But I think that some of the metro areas, they may need fewer dealerships, but in the size markets we're in I think we have a pretty good niche. Yeah, that's

Glenn Lundy: 6:02

pretty smart. I hadn't thought about public transportation versus having to own your own vehicle. It's really smart. You're very smart lady, Miss Liza, very strategic in a lot of a lot. Yeah. Right. And you put it into action. So speaking along those lines, you've obviously faced a lot of challenges growing from seven stores actually even less than that originally right to where you're at. And you've solved a lot of problems. There are many dealers out there that face struggles and issues. Sometimes they have against what you've learned lots of things. What is one thing that you could say like you could hang your hat on? I struggled with this at one point, I figured it out. And I think we got it. And it's really been a an integral part of you being successful.

Liza Borches: 6:35

So when we went from seven stores to 10, that leap right in there from 2010 to 2013. There was some fluctuation in our business model about how much do we do consistently across the whole company? What do we mandate as CMA? And what do we leave to the individual dealership? I loved the fact that our company had built been built on general managers and partners in our stores that as I mentioned, had that entrepreneurial spirit. Each of our dealerships was named something different heritage Chevrolet gateway, Hyundai Volvo, Charles Valley, Honda, that people had no idea that we were one company. So I think what we've really figured out and we're not done sure is understanding what are the areas to scale? And what are the areas that need to be unique to that market into that dealership. And so we did a rebrand, we put everybody under the CMA umbrella, that was a big win huge recruiting standpoint, from just the awareness of our customers and our OEMs. But we have a line, all of all of those things were so important. But we've also learned that the processes, some of the marketing, even some of the paid plans, and the way the cost of living is different, each of our markets has to be more market driven. Sure, sure. And so I think we figured out what to scale, and where we need to leave it up to the market to that lead, because what I don't want to do is become a large, let's say, public type company, where we hire a general manager, we hand them a playbook and we expect them to follow it. Yeah, I have no desire to be part of a company like that. That does not sound fun to me. Well, it doesn't sound people focus. So I think we figured out that piece. I think the other piece that we have figured out over the years is what size markets, what type of brands what I was just saying as far as where I think the future is going to dabbled in that we've gone back and forth. And I think we've come up with a really good strategic plan where we can sit down with them and say, This is the area that we're trying to grow with.

Glenn Lundy: 7:58

That's really the first time I've ever heard that. And I talked to a lot of dealers have never really heard someone specifically with the type of market based on those factors that you just shared right there. I think that's a little golden, Golden Nugget right there. But that's awesome. The thought process of one versus still allowing people to be individuals, I think that that ties into more than just a brand is what we need to do in our dealerships, right. Like we have the whole team, but yet we have to leave enough space for people to be individuals. And it's different talking with maybe you versus a beanstalk. How he does that or even a brand wise, like brand wise is really all about, he's got everybody on different people it when people register, they don't right, but it's bringing out the individuals and allowing them to really excel and grow. How important has that been getting people in the right seat? I know you've done a lot of moves, you've promoted a lot of people from within the organization you've hired from outside when you needed to, to bring into that. So how does that play into this the overall success formula, making sure the individuals are in the right seat for them.

Liza Borches: 8:46

First off, I think there's an important combination of internal promotions and bringing people in from the outside, you know, there was a moment where I felt we should always be promoting internally. Well, sometimes when you do that you don't get to a perspective and different lenses and different ideas that might come from outside the industry or other dealer groups, there's got to be a balance there. But at the same time, we do measure it. And I want to make sure that if we start seeing that 70% of our openings are being filled on the outside, then I start questioning what's happening inside, where have we not invested Where have we not identified skill sets that we need to help them grow. So they're ready for these new opportunities, a best case scenario and we go into a new market or new dealership, hopefully we got great people that we're bringing in from the acquisition. And then if we can kind of infiltrate it with just a couple people that really understand the CMA culture, understand the way we want to do business. That's kind of a perfect scenario for a new store. But the way that we do that is we do a lot of non traditional leadership training. You're a big part of that, you know, years ago, you know me well enough to know this is true. I thought if we didn't get your training, we need to sit in a conference room for 10 hours and I want written action plans at the end of it and want to know what's happening, right?

Glenn Lundy: 9:36

That didn't surprise me what was wrong.

Liza Borches: 9:39

And I now have learned that getting people outside of their dealerships, even sometimes on a lake falling off paddleboards swimming around punching jackets, you really got to understand their drive. And you know that day on the lake is the day that we got every general manager to agree and to agree financially that their dealerships would pay for a full time recruiter to only focus on hiring technicians, right. And it's some we've been talking about for years and didn't have a solution for Sit on the back of that boat, getting everybody together, we all agreed, and that recruiter brought in 100 Students credit to shadow our technicians in the first quarter this year in healthcare nights in each of our markets. So, you know, I'm reformed.

Glenn Lundy: 10:10

I understand. That's amazing. And that's one of things about you guys is you have a very, you're willing to change. There's no ego that ever gets in the way. It's all about what's best for the associates. What's best, I'll even say I won't say what's best for the company all about what's best for the associates. It's always best for the company, your 100 Yeah, you're 100% accurate about that. But I love that you're one of the best laser thanks for spending some time with me today here on a solo con sessions or 15 minutes is up. It goes by just like that. So what's next? We're gonna go Yeah,

Liza Borches: 10:32

I can't wait for the rest of the conference. I think that there's a people session coming up next, imagine that that actually attracted me. And I think also went a little bit individually.

Glenn Lundy: 10:39

Beautiful. Thank you.

Unknown: 10:44

Thank you for listening to this ASOTU Con Session by Effectv if you want more content like this, you can check out our other podcasts we have a daily show called The automotive troublemaker Monday through Friday, the pure podcast also live streamed on YouTube and LinkedIn and Facebook. We also have a long form podcast called Auto Collabs Auto Colalbs And if you just like go a little deeper into this community, you should sign up for our regular email. We put our heart soul into it. You can get it for free by going to ASOTU.com We'll see you next time.