Ed Roberts, COO, Bozard Ford Lincoln: In the Dirt W/ASOTU

December 12, 2022
ASOTU was on the ground with Ed Roberts during the 2022 Modern Retailing Conference.
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Ed Roberts
is the COO of Bozard Ford Lincoln.

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Kyle Mountsier: 0:00This is In The Dirt with ASOTU

Paul Daly: 0:04

We're here with Ed Roberts Bozard Ford Lincoln. Where's that?

Ed Roberts: 0:08

St. Augustine, Florida.

Paul Daly: 0:10

Oh, so you had to take a real long drive.

Ed Roberts: 0:14

four hour drive down the coast. Yeah,

Paul Daly: 0:15

that's that's a real overburden. Thanks for bearing that burden for the automotive industry. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us today. Actually, let's start out since you're new to our audience, um, can you tell us a little bit about your store a little bit about the history in a minute or two, and you know, kind of the volume you're doing and what your position is in the company. We'll go with that, too.

Ed Roberts: 0:34

So, like I said, I'm located in St. Augustine, Florida. We're a top 20 Ford dealer in the country, top 10 Lincoln dealer in the country. Number one volume service center for Ford in the country. The we have a restaurant and a daycare on property goes nice. We're very culture driven store. Well, I guess every store is culture driven. Yeah, all gyms already. It just depends on what it is,

Kyle Mountsier: 1:02

or what the culture is. All right. I see that. That's good. That's awesome.

Paul Daly: 1:07

And what's your role in the company? CEO? And how long have you been sitting in that seat?

Ed Roberts: 1:12

I've been there for 10 years. I've been in this role for about a year and a half.

Paul Daly: 1:15

Okay. Wow. Okay. Where were you before?

Ed Roberts: 1:17

fixed operations director? All right. Really?

Paul Daly: 1:19

Okay. True. Love that man of the people

Ed Roberts: 1:22

on the backside of the business as well? Yeah,

Kyle Mountsier: 1:24

that's a big deal. No, I Well, okay. So let's go on that for just a second. But then I got some we got this might be the longest in the dirt podcast, you better watch out. Well, I got questions. Well, you

Paul Daly: 1:34

got questions, we'll go. We'll go up to 10 minutes, max. And then we'll get you to come back on an Auto Collabs episode to really dive in. There you go. Okay, so

Kyle Mountsier: 1:42

coming up through through that fixed ops and now COO and dealing with operations across the dealership? Where are you seeing the efficiencies gained in fixed ops and the things that you've done there, that you're able to start to like parse out and implement throughout the rest of the organization at this point.

Ed Roberts: 2:02

It's collaborative. It's working together, working together as a team, it's empowering for these guys to lean on each other. And the we created a culture and unfixed ops that really said, hey, if we can take this throughout the store, what can we do?

Paul Daly: 2:19

Talk about that culture, you created a culture in fixed ops, what was what was the glue there?

Ed Roberts: 2:25

While a lot of stores have a tough time hiring people, and once it's out there, acquiring stores, they're there. What slows them down for acquiring more as people and we grow our people, we grow our people from entry level position, whether it's a technician, whether it's a salesperson, whatever it may be, it's rare that we hire someone that comes in with the skill to roll with the with the move into town, or whatever else, and they fit our culture will hire him. But most of the time, we're hiring people for an entry level position and grow with them.

Paul Daly: 2:51

Okay, and so you said that you've, you've cultivated that and fixed ops, and then you said, spread throughout the store. Usually, it doesn't go that direction usually doesn't start in fixed ops and spread.

Ed Roberts: 3:04

I'll paint that picture a little bit as well, because I've been there 10 years. 10 years ago, when I started there, we had 41 employees, and we have 317. Now 500, with the other two businesses, they're collecting a paycheck with the restaurant and the daycare. Wow,

Kyle Mountsier: 3:19

that's incredible. So yes, you've really like you've really have built the culture, it's not like you've had to shift the culture change a culture like as you add people, the culture expands and contracts and, and grows with and leadership is able to cultivate and ask of those people to follow a lead and to move into to to a way of being in a way of doing business and way of interacting, right. So yeah, so the other the other like side of questions that I have, we've met in a couple of our sessions. You have a couple of people here with you. One is a marketing director that we've met. And then another one is a senior client advisor, which is your version of salesperson, so and what we've been like as a couple of things that have blown my mind, and I'd love to just get your insight on why is one that you have the role of a salesperson at a marketing conference, right, a primarily marketing conference, and then also, that they're both younger, and they're in like, not your typical managerial type roles that they would come to a conference to learn like this. And they seem, you know that you've kind of freed them up to do some cool things. We saw their social media and what's happening in media and marketing. What what does that mean for an organization like yours to bring those people into an environment like this,

Ed Roberts: 4:41

we talked about empowering earlier and if you're not empowering the, if you talk about and you don't do it, then you just make a noise and I want them to come here. And I brought a crew of people with me, but those are those two specifically. I want them to come here and take something back and try it and bring a manager You're here and show them the same thing. They're gonna try to figure out what can go wrong before we try it. And I won't do that. Let's figure out what goes wrong as we do it. But let's shift gears let's let's do something different. And let's step out there and do something that we've never done before and figure out how to make it better.

Paul Daly: 5:13

It's like, what Darren was saying anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Ed Roberts: 5:17

Yeah, absolutely. And you gotta do it bad. You got to start, whether it's badly or whatever. And so that,

Paul Daly: 5:22

usually it is right, yes, usually you fail, whoever fails first wins, but I can

Ed Roberts: 5:27

assure you, as he was talking about with my senior client advisor, there's a lot of things that we do back at the dealer that she questions, why don't we do it that way? Well, let's find a different way to do it wasn't to justify why we do it that way. Let's find out what to do.

Paul Daly: 5:41

Where did she? Where did she come in? Like, what path did she come to her position? Currently,

Ed Roberts: 5:45

she is actually a third generation employee there, her grandfather works there, her mother works there. And she works there. And she's still asking questions. And she came in as a brand ambassador. So that is a product knowledge specialist, and work your way into senior client advisor. And this is her third full month has been a senior client advisor had a hat trick seven days in as a senior 21 years old and the you don't you don't see that in most stores,

Paul Daly: 6:11

you don't. And that I mean, that just proves the thesis that we talked about so often that you don't need to really know about cars, to serve people, by selling them a car.

Ed Roberts: 6:21

People do business with people, we talk about that, but we don't embrace that. When you embrace that, it just, it goes rampant.

Paul Daly: 6:28

So you sit in the COO seate, you've come from the fixed ops direct side of the business, you obviously have a lot of engagement with the sales side of the business, fixed ops sales, there oftentimes is a lot of friction between those two, you know, in the restaurant industry, same thing front of the house, back of the house, what do you do intentionally to to maintain like a cohesion between the two sides of the business?

Ed Roberts: 6:53

Well, we don't have silos. And yes, there are silos at most stores. And there was silos there 10 years ago. But ultimately, when you bring people in at an entry level, and they grow into these other roles, that they're never exposed to silos. No one No detailer can come in and learn how to sell cars and become a salesperson. That's the same business, the detailers, a support side to the sell on the car. And so you just don't build it in. If you go out and you hire somebody that brings in all the talent, they're also there's a reason why they're looking, there's a reason why they're looking to jump ship or whatever else. And we'd rather start with a clean sheet of paper, because we might find something new along the way. So good.

Paul Daly: 7:31

That's great. Well, and I've like I've one more question. Okay.

Kyle Mountsier: 7:34

Okay, you have another question. 20 minutes? If I start asking, I'll ask the last question. Well, so one of the things that I think is, you were telling me is you guys have gone to the on the variable on the sales side has gone to the single point of contact environment, which is just one person, you know, from front to back and beginning and the sale. And I think that's what a lot of times empower these younger people to be able to be very effective in their roles, because it's very native to the way that they have learned to buy and the way that they now learn to sell. Were what struggles have you seen along the way or, or winds have maybe struggles or wins has the store seen along the way and implementing something like that?

Ed Roberts: 8:14

Well, it depends on who you're doing it with. And that's we're talking about the one that was somewhat earlier, it is easier to do it with her because she comes in as a salesperson, and she knows that the process continues to start talking product and integrate that in along with the conversation along the way. When you take a traditional salesperson and do that their mind is done. Once they get the clothes on, I'll take the vehicle and buy it. I'm good. They're done. And to make them make that shift is a lot tougher. So the biggest thing is the commitment to taking the back step and dropping PVR on the backside. But that's a training opportunity not to say that I accept that. But to find a way to get better.

Paul Daly: 8:54

Being willing to take the back step. Yeah. I mean, that that that is the

Kyle Mountsier: 8:58

failing fast starting take the back step. Those things produce exponential results on the other side

Ed Roberts: 9:05

of it creates customers for life, though. Yeah, the employees for life. Absolutely. That's

Paul Daly: 9:09

the kind of work together, I guess. Yeah. All right. Last question. The the environment is changing rapidly, whether we're talking about inventory, the need to market again, right and start to lean in again. What is your impetus for 2023? As you head as the CEO of a very successful group? What are you focusing on in 2023?

Ed Roberts: 9:27

Is training our people? The let's look at it from a standpoint of somebody that stepped in this business in a sales role in the last two years. I'm bringing them in an entry level, so they haven't had sales experience elsewhere. They've came in and they've come into a world where if you have it, I'll take it, and they haven't had to sell a vehicle. Now we're going to shift back into where they gotta be salespeople again, and we have prepare people to do that. And one of the things that we can do by doing that is measuring what they do with a used car because the new car is a commodity. That's what everybody's chasing the used car. You still have to have some sales tactics. Yeah. So that's our opportunity is intend to try and develop our people throughout next year and will continue to grow?

Paul Daly: 10:04

Well, look, this is the beginning of a great relationship. We got to come visit. We got a daycare

Kyle Mountsier: 10:09

restaurant care, I'll bring my kids and we'll eat. Sounds good. Thanks for spending a few minutes

Paul Daly: 10:14

with us today. We look forward to the next time already. Absolutely.

Kyle Mountsier: 10:19

Thank you for listening to In The Dirt with ASOTU. We love the automotive industry and the people who make it run day in and day out. We would love to connect with you more through our daily dose of fun, a free email that you can sign up for at asotu.com That's a s o t u.com. We put our heart and soul into it every day. Thanks again for listening. Join us next time for more Conversations In The Dirt with ASOTU

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