ASOTU CON Sessions Episode 8: Jeff Gonzales and Andrew Eamer

October 8, 2022
Jeff Gonzales, Andrew Eamer and Michael Cirillo sit down to chat at ASOTU CON 2022.
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Jeff Gonzales, Andrew Eamer and Michael Cirillo sit down to chat at ASOTU CON 2022.

Jeff Gonzales is the Founder & CEO of AET Automotive.
Andrew Eamer is the Chief Marketing Officer of AET Automotive.

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Paul Daly: 0:03You're listening to the ASOTU CON Sessions by Effectv recorded live in Philly.Michael Cirillo: 0:11

All right, we're sitting here at the ASOTU Con Sessions with my man Andrew and Jeff from AET automotive. Of course, this is powered by Effectv. We're here at ASOTU CON 2022. The inaugural inaugural One is that how you say? And obviously, there's been a lot of conversations, something that I love that they're doing is they're really encouraging conversations to happen in automotive. We've got sales and leadership, you know, rooms here, we've got tech and marketing rooms, which, to my observation have been pretty full.

Jeff Gonzales: 0:44

Yep, definitely the martech room for sure.

Andrew Eamer: 0:48

Yeah, sales and culture too, we kind of divided and conquered to see what other people were doing. This conference seemed to be a little more unique on paper, when we first signed up than actually being feet here on the ground, hearing the collaboration from, you know, the dealer side to the vendor side and real conversations that were happening.

Jeff Gonzales: 1:08

It's funny, you know, we we had a marketing budget that we blew through six months ago. And so, you know, we're looking at going to driving sales. And you know, we're going to scrounge together some marketing dollars, and we're like, you know, what, let's, let's just not do those like, right, we need a breath of fresh air. So like, this has really been that breath of fresh air that I think this industry needed, and then us as vendors needed, because I got a different since at this event, like, you know that the conversations that were happening, were a lot different. They weren't scripted, they were right off the cuff, like I just got out of a panel with Bob Lanham, and Ryan over at tick tock, and last night, we were joking, like what, you know, what are we going to talk about, but we figured it out. And it was a great conversation, but I think it was real and authentic. And I think that's what Kyle and Paul, were going for, in creating this event. And, you know, bringing life back into conferences.

Michael Cirillo: 2:02

So as you've participated in some of the panels, as you've, you know, obviously, you've got your marketing technology company, what are some of the, I guess, standout conversations that you've participated in, or just some of the sentiments that you're hearing as it pertains to the world that you're playing? And

Andrew Eamer: 2:19

I think what's happening is everyone's looking for what that balance is between tech and sales and branding, and how to measure that how to measure the effects of that. And what is defined success in that. So what's been interesting for us is we play in the tech kind of creative enablement for the dealerships role, but hearing from the sales guys, what they're hearing at the stores, what the trends are, how they're branding themselves, how their stores are branding, how they're reorganizing the stores. Patrick Abad down at Beaver, Toyota just got a wine and beer license for opening up a at his dealership. I was wow, that's what the insurance really meant on that. But I wonder

Jeff Gonzales: 3:02

how many more cars are going to sell because they're selling wine and beer there too.

Michael Cirillo: 3:06

Yeah, hopefully with full warranty just in case somebody drives was a fender bender.

Andrew Eamer: 3:12

Exactly. But this conference has been good because the audience has been truly collaborative, and bridging that gap between the guys and girls selling the cars on the lot. And the people getting the intention attention to bring those people into the store.

Michael Cirillo: 3:29

So you just mentioned your, your kind of focused on tech enablement. Tell me what it was. I mean, so

Jeff Gonzales: 3:35

when we started this company, you know, we really wanted to empower the dealers. Right? You know, I remember at the last agency that we were at with traditional agency, I think it was the crown Automotive Group, and Joe Lamphere was, you know, just telling us how to do our job, right. And we were basically, you know, just going back and barking out orders, we wanted to create a company that, you know, really put the power in the hands of the dealer, and it had to start around creative. It's, you know, there's a lot of great companies in this in this space, there's data company CRMs, like, I mean, everybody, right? But nobody had ever solved for creative. And everybody. There's a lot of folks that are scared of creative because you know, the dealers give all this to the screen or the OEMs get these great assets, but nobody knows what to do with them to make them their own. And so we wanted to create a tool that you could take any kind of creative and build upon it and you know, throw some branding on there, throw some text layers and just make it come to life and put it in the hands of the folks at the dealers because they're smart, capable people there that can do it and you don't have to, you know, buy an expensive agency to do all the work. So

Michael Cirillo: 4:39

Right. Democratizing,

Jeff Gonzales: 4:41

creative. Exactly, yeah. And then and then once we built the creative it's like then we build on the API's, deploy that creative and make those the folks at the dealerships social media, marketing magicians, you know, bring in a lot of this the top ad strategies built directly into our platform and it's It's proven, you know, when we started this company, I would have said 10% of the dealership market would use our tool, then COVID happened and accelerated the use of use case of our product. And now I'd say there's probably like, what a 20% addressable market these days. Yeah, over the course of two and a half years, three years,

Michael Cirillo: 5:17

so it's, it's crazy. Let's talk about so we're solving for the creative piece. What are some trends that you're seeing work? Well, as far as creative for dealerships, like and how are they using your tool, perhaps in a creative way to to market their dealership,

Jeff Gonzales: 5:36

so I'm gonna I'm gonna pick one up on the inventory side and the you take the next one on branding, because I know you like that side, you know, we've we have a, we have a tool called inventory studio. And it's basically an easy button for dealers to push their inventory ads. But in the past, it's always just been meta, the meta environment that you can push it in, but we're seeing dealers now since we built on Tik Tok's platform and Snapchat's platform, they're doing a mixed media model of like pushing inventory, and different types of inventory to different segments. So like, you know, think of tick tock, what's your demographic, right? 24 to 30, you know, are the younger generations, how

Michael Cirillo: 6:15

dare you.

Jeff Gonzales: 6:17

But they're, you know, you're, you're pushing entry level vehicles on there, right. And then on, you know, on Facebook, you know, you're doing a lot of, you know, just a little bit of all the vehicles, all your used vehicles, it's been fun to watch how dealers are pushing ads and utilizing our tool creatively, and in the right way, because they know that, you know, there's a younger buying demographic on Tik Tok, and you got to kind of a wide range of folks on the meta platform. And same with Snapchat, you know, that's a very younger buyer. So it's, it's been fun to watch how dealers are actually taking our tools, layering in their creative layering in their vehicles, and then launching them, you know, by themselves. And they know they know how to do it. So

Andrew Eamer: 6:58

I love that. Yeah, we've also noticed have a big drop off and offer incentives or

Jeff Gonzales: 7:05

nobody's got any inventory. So

Andrew Eamer: 7:07

how they're using our tool, which I found, it's interesting is going for trade ins or buyback offers going to their community, because there's new competition, there's Carvana of room. And then there's other bigger players who are in your backyard who are not actually physically there competing against competing against you for that inventory. So direct from consumer buyback offers, also recruiting for sales as a huge shortage and quality technicians in the industry. So people that are giving out bonuses, and also branding to bring people in for a recruiting like this is what it's like to have to work at our dealership, here's a little behind the scenes, in our tool gives them the flexibility to upload backgrounds photos, add some animation to it, and really show how differentiate themselves within the market.

Michael Cirillo: 8:01

mean it's 2002 or 2022, at time of recording this. Where do you see things going in the next three to five?

Jeff Gonzales: 8:09

Man? You asked me that two years ago, I would have had a totally different right for you, right? I want to see the inventory turnaround first before I can, you know really assess that right. But, you know, what I'm hoping to see on our side especially is that like, there should be coming the dealer principals are younger and younger every year, they're, you know, families passing it down to, you know, the sons or daughters that are now running it

Andrew Eamer: 8:37

isn't your grandfather's dealership.

Jeff Gonzales: 8:39

Everybody's like, in there, they're owning a lot more of their their media buys. And they're getting more involved with, you know, the brand of the company, instead of letting somebody else do it. So I want to see that continue to happen. Like I said earlier, you know, when we started our company, we said, you know, 10% of that market is self serve dealer. Now, it's 20. I'm hoping and you know, two, three years now, that's looking more like 30 to 40%. And then I feel like, you know, that's where when dealers are going to start, you know, changing a little bit. So

Andrew Eamer: 9:11

I also think the customer customer expectations, if you look at other verticals in retail, the transparency and the influencers on social media with the effect of transparency and how that creates a trusted brand. dealerships are gonna are starting to get that message and being more transparent, organic content behind the scenes, what's the service guy doing? And people want to do business with who they like and trust, right? So if they can relate they can like you there's your edge over the competition whose son the same cars, the same preorder program if they don't have yours What Why am I gonna do business with Toyota dealership over here versus across town? It's not based on price anymore. What's your differentiation and she ate her? And I think the transparency powered by social medias In, really social media is going to be able to show that to carry brands forward in this new generation of marketing.

Michael Cirillo: 10:07

I want to really emphasize the fact that, you know, over the course of this event, we've had several conversations, especially on the marketing side, and they keep coming back to this pivot point, which is not price. Not even product. You the dealership, you the business owner, you the people working in the dealership, as the differentiator. And I want to emphasize that because it's like, Please, dear Lord, can we just wrap our heads around this as an industry? That it's you that are the difference? Yep. Right. When you're selling like, Best Buy sells Macbooks, Apple sells MacBooks. Staples sells MacBooks? What's the difference? In all of those experiences, the experience? You know, like, I know, the several times that I've tried to purchase a MacBook from Staples, that they keep screwing up the order. I have no idea how but they do. So where do I go back to the Apple store back to the Apple Store? Because the experience? Is there, the environment? Is there. All of the things that I want and expect to help me trust that purchase? All right, there are all right there. And so I wanted to really underscore that because you're here we are again, you know, adding your voice now to, to, you know, several of the conversations that we have where it's like, brand matters, you matter. Figure your message out and stop talking so dang much about the thing that my nine year old knows that you do. Right? Like ruins my nine year old and said, Hey, are you what? What a car dealership should be like, Dad? I thought we agreed never to ask dumb questions. I think we agreed you're never gonna ask me dumb questions. They sell cars obviously. What what don't we know? What makes you unique? What what makes you? What makes you stand out? Who's your audience that you're trying to reach out to and draw in?

Jeff Gonzales: 11:56

Well, and I love the motto on one of the shirts are the saying it's love, love people more than cars. Right? And I think that message has come through at this conference. And the dealerships that are going to win in the long run are going to have have to adopt that motto, not just a numbers game. How much metal can we move? How great Can I brand myself? How great can I treat my salespeople? How what is that experience that I'm going to create my dealership that's going to make me the Apple Store? versus you know, the staples? Where they screw everything up?

Andrew Eamer: 12:27

Yeah. And reputation within the community. I mean, that's your your public brands that used to be called reputation. So if you look at the history of auto I mean, there's how many dealerships in every small town every corner for generations. This is a cornerstone of America and communities but how are you giving back to your community right as an auto dealership I've seen awesome stuff as I forgot who was doing it but the hunger cup to donate here that devote down in Naples has sponsors the football field down there. Yeah, yeah, little things like that to give back and you know,

Jeff Gonzales: 13:07

part of your community.

Michael Cirillo: 13:08

Yeah, that's very cool. Well, I tell you what, boys, I love this conversation. What you guys doing is really cool. Again, Andrew, Jeff, thanks so much for joining us on ASOTU CON Sessions powered by Effectv here at ASOTU CON 2022 x slot

Paul Daly: 13:26

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. Here on podcasts also live streamed on YouTube, and LinkedIn and Facebook. We also have a long form podcast called Auto Collabs Auto Collabs. And if you just want to go a little deeper into this community, you should sign up for our regular email we put our heart and soul into it. You can get it for free by going to asotu.com We'll see you next time.