Growing Market Share Through Certified Pre-Owned and Community Initiatives with Tony Lucas

June 18, 2024
Tony Lucas, General Manager of Casa Autoplex, shares his inspiring journey in the automotive industry.
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In this ASOTU CON 2024 podcast hosted by Joe Overby, Tony Lucas, General Manager of Casa Autoplex, shares his inspiring journey in the automotive industry. Starting as a porter at a buy-here-pay-here lot, Tony's career has progressed significantly, showcasing his dedication and adaptability. He discusses his transition from Brazil to the United States, learning English, and navigating various roles in the automotive sector, ultimately leading him to his current position at Casa Autoplex.

Tony provides insights into the used car market, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and adaptation. He reflects on his experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the dealership successfully navigated the challenges. Tony also highlights the role of certified pre-owned (CPO) programs and the importance of community-focused initiatives like in-house financing. The session concludes with a personal touch as Tony shares the role of books and movies in his language learning journey, offering a glimpse into the persistence and passion that have driven his success.

0:00 Intro

0:39 Tony's journey from Brazil to the U.S. and starting in automotive.

1:50 Transitioning from porter to sales and beyond.

3:43 Lessons learned as a used car director.

4:45 Impact of COVID-19 on the used car market.

5:31 Role and benefits of certified pre-owned (CPO) programs.

6:48 Overcoming inventory challenges in CPO.

7:53 Value of standalone used car programs.

9:06 Community-focused in-house financing initiatives.

9:22 Personal language learning journey through books and movies.

Thanks to Effectv for making this episode of ASOTU CON Sessions possible! Learn more about Effect here:

Unknown: 0:02

you're listening to the asotu con sessions by Effectv live from asotu con 2024

Joe Overby: 0:09

I'm Joe Overby, and I'm here on the asotu con podcast stage in collaboration with Effectv. And sitting across from me is Tony Lucas, who is the GM of Casa Autoplex. Tony, good to see you, man. Thanks for being on the show. Thanks

Tony Lucas: 0:22

for having me

Joe Overby: 0:22

absolutely well, want to get get a sense of your automotive journey. Here you started at in automotive in 2011 so what's been your the steps you've taken along the way to get where you are at Casa Autoplex, 2010

Tony Lucas: 0:39

Yeah, born and raised in Brazil, I moved to United States in 2010 had opportunity to started working in a car a lot by here, pay here as a porter. Man, it was kind of a dream come true, from a kid coming from Brazil to like, you know, work around cars like, Man, this is really, really cool. Was a porter clean out the lot from Brazil, starting in December. It was cold, and the dealer said he's a pressure washer. Didn't know what the pressure washer was, but look cool, he's the cars go pressure the cars pull this thing out and put some gas in him once in a while. And pressure washer money did that for a little while. Then learn how to detail. Cars went in detail. Cars started working at a body shop and sending body man try to learn how to how to paint. Sucked at it. Cost a lot of money painting and trying to clear coat and things like this. But I always had my eyes on the salespeople, and at a time I said, Man, know what the dream was? Man, if I can just learn enough English to sell a car and leave like this folks. Looks like they don't do anything all day. Like, so cool,

Joe Overby: 1:50

where you write in your assumption. I mean,

Tony Lucas: 1:53

like the golf carts and that it's super cool. Want to do that. And that's what I did, working my English, pick up some books, you know, movies and things, learn, not English, and start answer the phones for them whenever we went to lunch and things like that. Sold my first car, got into F and I and a lot and contract deals sucked at that. Didn't do really good at it. You know, it took me, like, three hours to sign a deal and talk to people and like, you know, and all this stuff, and moved on to the desk. I became a sales manager. Did better at that. That deal went through some some, some things into his life, and he had to close the car a lot, and at the time, was also his wholesaler that, you know, acquire cars from franchises around town. The GSM, at a GMC store in San Angelo, Texas, said, I mean, you should come work for me. It's like, I'm kind of rough around the edges. I don't know this dealership looks kind of fancy. I don't know if I can do that, like, I'll train you. I'll spend some time with you and and you do well selling cars. When sell cars for him, you know, he gave me some ties and and a button up shirt. Yes, not always earned the right to wear cut off sold cars for seven years when suiting tie and, you know, for me was the greatest opportunity in my life. Man, I'm here now franchise. I can't screw this up. You know, my mom growing up in Brazil, and folks like us, we don't get a lot of opportunities in life. Whenever you get one, make sure you take care of it, you know. And that's what I did, took all these scripts, learned all the things, and, you know, worked my off. Not supposed to say things like that here, huh?

Joe Overby: 3:43

Now it sounds like you maximize the opportunity. I understand you were used car director for four years. What did you learn about the used car market in that time? And what are some things you've carried from that into your current role?

Tony Lucas: 3:58

Yeah, it took, I guess what I learned on used cars is man in that's my my frustration and like podcasts like this, and confidence that we know it's never enough time to cover everything right. Like is there so many moving pieces, and we start talking about one problem and it connects to all kinds of other things. And that's what, that's what I learned. Man, continue learning every day, and things are changing all the time. That's probably the biggest thing I took from from running used cooperation, yeah, well,

Joe Overby: 4:27

if my timeline is right, you know, March 2019 to october 2023, that also was the all of covid. So how did, how did covid impact used car market, and how did you as a dealer, overcome those challenges and used cars during that period,

Tony Lucas: 4:45

it was awesome, and in the beginning it kind of was frustrating, and as soon as it hit, we had a bunch of old dangers and all this stuff, but we did really, really well. We learned how to, you know, how to leverage that, and you know, full plan used car. Dollars and keep the cash in a dealer's hand. If you have a creative dealer, use the cash should always be on their hands so we can acquire more stores. We turn inventory 17 times a year. Raise market share of used cars in El Paso Auto Group from 3% to 7.5% in El Paso went from 300 used cars to 650 used cars per month. We did really well. So

Joe Overby: 5:25

what role has the certified pre owned market played for the group,

Tony Lucas: 5:31

certified pre owned school? I think it does depend on the franchise. Have dealt with 15 different ones now, based on benefits from some that you don't have on others, like how this transition from rentals into CPO and things like this, but I do, because we do run a pretty strong reassurance business too. So there is some benefits and oranges that we give to the customer that's part of your reassurance strategy. I do believe that CPO, the biggest benefit is the marketing part of it. It's showing up on searches, right? If you go on autos, if this clicking on certified, I want to show up on those searches. So I believe, I believe in on CPO, but it depending on which manufacturer. There's different games there different place, yeah,

Joe Overby: 6:21

and I imagine too. I mean, having so many OEMs that you guys work with within the dealer group, yeah, you know, some of them have expanded the eligibility requirements. So it's, you know, it's kind of different rules and different strategies based on whether it's a lot harder to find a three year old than a 10 year old car. How have you guys overcome some of the inventory challenges, specifically in CPO,

Tony Lucas: 6:48

like, how we acquire car students, right? Right? Man, the way I'm doing right now is Casa roblex days, a couple, a couple good programs there with, you know, Hyundai, Honda's good program, forge, it's a good program too. I don't buy cars from auction, right? Like I don't do that. You know, did that for a long time. I believe I did that. Well, know how to do it, but it just sucks, even whenever you do at a high level. But as CPO wise, I do leverage the rental programs that OEMs have, like Hyundai, from from a rental to a CPO. The CPO is free, right? Like so we're able to leverage the program a little bit and earn some dealer cash on some of this, the Ford program and all that. So that's how we do it.

Joe Overby: 7:34

And you know, a lot of a lot of large dealer groups, and even even some of the smaller groups have started used car standalone programs, you know, the echo parks of the world. Is that something that that you've tried at Casa? Or is it, is it something that you know, you see value in that as a value proposition for consumers?

Tony Lucas: 7:53

Stand Alone used cars? Yeah, yes, I do. So that's kind of how I started with Casa. I helped him build the Casa finance, which is an in house finance that we have. We grew that from zero to $12 million Portfolio. Now, very conservative program, but there's a couple benefits that come from this. Right? We realized that Carmax, 60% of Carmax transactions are financed by Carmax. So there's something there. But also it's, there's some benefit to the community we know, Paso and the border town. There's a, you know, so prime opportunities there that we can leverage and, kind of, like, farm these customers in inside of a company, right? Like you give them opportunity House Finance and Amen, if you do all these things, right? You can go to one of the 60 stores or franchise and buy your dream car. So we're trying to leverage the program which is a beneficial for the community, but also very profitable deal to do by here per year. So we have two locations, which is standalone buy here per year, locations that we leverage, causal finance and the Autoplex now, where I'm the general manager, I use Casa finance as one of the lenders.

Joe Overby: 9:06

Well, just got a couple few minutes left, but I wanted to close on this. You know, you mentioned that when you moved here and were learning English, you one of the things that helped was books and movies. So what were some of the books and movies that sort of helped you in learning a new language, the

Tony Lucas: 9:22

Titanic. Oh, yeah. So my favorite movie, the Titanic. I watched the Titanic just about 100 times. I love it. Yeah, no, but I did a lot of movies and books. I still read a lot. I know these audibles and things like this now they cool. I like to read because it helps with my grammar and all that. You know, like, I believe communication is a big, big deal. And if we did this podcast in Portuguese, I would have lost, yeah, I would have been again, nowhere. So I'll continue working on my second language. I do speak English as my second language. Portuguese is my first language in Spanish, my third Well,

Joe Overby: 9:58

Tony, you're the You're the king of the. World here like just like Leo. So thank you so much for for being on the show, and that'll do it for this edition. Everybody give Tony a round of

Unknown: 10:09

thank you for listening to this. Asotu concession by Effectv. If you want more content like this, you can check out our other podcast. We have a daily show called The automotive troublemaker, Monday through Friday here on podcast, 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 you.

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