How Producing Incredible People Produces Incredible Customer Experiences with Austin Beaver

June 24, 2024
Danny Zaslavsky hosts Austin Beaver, a rising star in the automotive industry
Listen On
Apple Podcasts IconSpotify Icon

In this insightful ASOTU CON session, Danny Zaslavsky hosts Austin Beaver, a rising star in the automotive industry, on the ASOTU CON podcast stage. Austin shares his journey of growing up in a car dealership family, his early experiences in the dealership, and his transition from studying accounting to becoming a controller and now preparing to lead a new Mazda store. They delve into the evolution of car buying preferences, emphasizing the importance of providing a frictionless and confidence-inspiring customer experience.

Austin discusses the challenges and opportunities in the current automotive sales landscape, highlighting the need to balance customer convenience with business profitability. He emphasizes the importance of breaking down inefficiencies and empowering sales teams to focus on customer satisfaction. With insights into modern dealership operations and the significance of mentorship, Austin reflects on how his experiences have shaped his approach to leading a dealership that prioritizes both employee development and exceptional customer service.

0:00 Intro

1:13 Growing up in a car dealership family

2:26 Discussing the modern car buying experience

3:41 Austin’s frictionless approach to buying cars

4:40 The importance of transparency in the sales process

6:46 Leading a new Mazda store and improving customer experience

8:11 Eliminating inefficiencies in dealership operations

9:37 The role of mentorship in Austin’s career development

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

Unknown: 0:00

Music. You're listening to the asotu con sessions by Effectv, live from asotu con 202

Danny Zaslavsky: 0:09

My name is Danny Zaslavsky, and I'm here with asotu con podcast stage in collaboration with Effectv. Sitting across from me is Austin Beaver, thanks for being on with me. This is my first time on this stage in doing this. So you do this all the time. No me, too.

Austin Beaver: 0:24

Thanks for both of us.

Danny Zaslavsky: 0:25

So you and I connected earlier, and we have similar journeys in that. We both basically grew up in a car dealership family, right? And so your dad has been in the car business your whole life. Share a little bit about that, just so we know, because you're you look pretty young, yeah,

Austin Beaver: 0:43

I look 23 I'm 2828 right? Yeah. So that was interesting, you know, the long hours and stuff. Never really seeing him that often. One thing that was important to our family, though, was he might have got home late, but my mother always had dinner cooked, and we had a family meal, no phone, no TV, right? And I think that that was really what kept us close through the long hours and the really hard work, was there was always a family dinner every single

Danny Zaslavsky: 1:09

night. Do you spend time in the dealership growing up? Yeah, after school? Yeah. There were

Austin Beaver: 1:13

always Sharpies and highlighters, coloring on whiteboards and stuff like that. You know, playing with Office Supplies. Yeah, a lot of that. Okay,

Danny Zaslavsky: 1:20

yeah. But then at some point, you decided I'm gonna find a path, and you went to college, yeah. So

Austin Beaver: 1:26

that studied. That's interesting too, because one day I came home from school, I was middle school, Mike Beaver, my dad had a whiteboard, not a whiteboard, it was a chalkboard, a green chalkboard in the house, in the living room, he had a chalkboard, and he would give us lectures with chalk, and he he dropped the entire org chart, and he said, One day you're gonna awesome beaver. You're gonna orchard of your family, of the of the kids, of the kids, and where they're going in the family business. He said you're gonna go and do finance, and you're gonna be the GSM, and you're gonna do I Met Your Dad so I can believe this. Yeah, he did it. It fell apart as soon as my older brother fell in love with coding and works for UNF as their data warehouse manager. But, yeah, he did. He tried, he tried, but it's but you ended up. I did Yes. So I ended I still did follow his plan. I went for to school for accounting, became a controller for Beaver, Chevrolet. I did that for for three years before coming up here and working with Patrick Abad as a mentor. That's

Danny Zaslavsky: 2:26

awesome. That's awesome. Well, this lays the perfect stage, because today, what we're talking about is the way people really want to buy cars. And the thing that you and I were talking about earlier at lunch is like, I'm 40. I know if my dad comes into any negotiation, he wants to feel like he has control, and he has some version of a deal, and that all leads to some version of confidence, right? My sister, on the other hand, really feels like negotiating or any type of over the phone conversation is almost like hard, difficult, right? It feels intrusive. So she wants to be able to communicate in a way that isn't always face to face. I kind of need both. And we were you and I were talking about how that's all confidence. How do you want to buy a car? Yeah, you're 28 years old. So

Austin Beaver: 3:16

every time I buy a car, it's it's pretty much. I tell the salesperson, I want to buy a car. And he says, Okay, go pick out a car. I point at one on the lot, and he throws me the keys, right? And I've never been to a finance box. I don't sign anything, right? But I just like a frictionless experience, right? I just, I know the car that I want. I want to just point at it. That's the one I want. And then I drive off of it, drive off the lot with it, right? So, and

Unknown: 3:41

where did you do the research to figure out that you wanted to buy? So really, it was on the lot that day. So

Austin Beaver: 3:47

before that, I had a Tesla, right? And my little brother just texted me, hey, we have a Tesla in stock. Do you want it? I was like, yeah. And that day, I just drove down, and he didn't throw me the keys, he gave me the little FOB card, right? And I just hopped at it and drove off with it, right? And then they didn't tell me, until a week later, they haven't, like, finished all the paperwork and stuff. I never bring it back. But that was all that's just all the finer details that I kind of get away with.

Danny Zaslavsky: 4:09

Yeah, so yeah, that's interesting, because for us, we're always talking about at our store, at my car dealership, how much research happens before the sale, and how much we're just providing confidence in the sale. And there was a shift, a mind shift and respect that we had to give to our customers because we were all prepared with product knowledge and all these things that we wanted to provide. And often we found that our customers were almost educating us on the nuances. So when you when you shop for a car, where do you think that friction exists today in the industry? Where

Austin Beaver: 4:40

do I think that friction exists today, right? So I think right now we're still in this, in this phase where we don't want to give all the information, right? We still want to hold, hold our cards, because we want them to come in right before we show them exactly what what the deal might look like, right, what the transaction is going to look like. But every. Does it. Every dealer does that, right? Because you we don't want the customer to be able to easily see every single transaction away. Profit, exactly right, because they're gonna shop, right? Yep, which, if they want to shop, we should allow them to shop, but we just, we will not let them do that, right. Okay,

Danny Zaslavsky: 5:16

so you're, you're a controller, right? And pay plans dictate that behavior sometimes. Oh,

Austin Beaver: 5:21

okay, so if we can talk about behavior, right? So if you want to, I think that people are like water, right? So they flow in the direction of least resistance, right? That's just if you So, if you want to have someone behave in a certain way, you just make it easier. An example would that of that would be like we talked about you, if you have trash on your lot, yep, you put trash cans strategically around your lot to make it easier. Trash, right? And they might use them, but if you don't have trash cans on the lot, then you're gonna find trash on your lot because there's no place to put it. Okay? So

Danny Zaslavsky: 5:56

how does that I mean as a controller, when you see pay plans that incentivize gross or when you see pay plans that incentivize in person, or when you have coaching that incentivize a rigid style of sales, is that the way you want to buy a car? Or do you find that there is a better way forward?

Austin Beaver: 6:16

This wasn't in the notes. Repeat the question, yeah, no. So

Danny Zaslavsky: 6:22

for those of you that are listening, one thing we haven't mentioned yet is you guys are building a new Mazda store. Yes, we are, yeah. And you're coming in as a leader of that Mazda store, right? Yeah. And so when you think about leading the people at that Mazda store, how do you think your will help them give a frictionless experience to those customers, to the customers that maybe are like you, maybe are like my sister, or maybe are like my dad. Yeah,

Austin Beaver: 6:46

I love that question. Okay, so I learned as a controller that there's a lot of ways that we can just break down barriers and give your people the tools to be able to help the customer in the best way that is appropriate, right? So, for example, whenever I was a controller, I managed four amazing women, right? But I was trained by Kimberly Ragsdale, and we were on blue screen, which was back when Reynolds became Ignite, right? It was before then. So she was teaching me all the manual old ways to do it. A reconciliation is just you print out this list, you print out this list, you highlight whatever they have in common, whatever's less left. Are your reconciling items? Right? Yeah. So that's how she taught me how to do all of those things, old school, right? So as soon as she taught me how to walk and then let me run, I I was able to get rid of all those inefficiencies, and my team was able to close the the month. You know, they went from a five day close to a two day close, right? So then we could spend a lot more time doing other things, right. And I think that we can do that for the entire dealership and the sales department, right? Is get a get rid of all these inefficiencies, get rid of all these all this busy work, and let them actually focus on what matters, which is the customer, right? Totally. Yeah, totally. I think a perfect example of that would be some solution to the key system, the key situation where we have to either run back to the dealership to grab keys and bring them back, right? If we could just eliminate keys, that would be that would create an amazing customer. I had a

Danny Zaslavsky: 8:11

whole I had a whole process, you know, those customers that would come up to you like, I want to see that car. I want to see that car too. I want to see that car. I would make those customers walk with me. So they were, like, breathing hard by the third car, just so they had equity in the fact that, like, you're working me, I'm gonna work you two. Come on, let's go get the keys. I'll show you where they are. Sure. If it's raining

Austin Beaver: 8:30

outside, it's like, Absolutely, I'll pull that car up. Don't bring an umbrella. Just show up. Just soaking wet. Like, oh, unless

Danny Zaslavsky: 8:35

you have to jump in right then you should wait here. I'm gonna pull it up. Yeah, been there. So, Okay, interesting. So you're going to be running a sales team, right? And I know that push pull of feeling like I want to be able to deliver the customers where they are, maybe they need to be delivered at their house. You guys have resources to do that, but you also don't want to give give up the ability to sell back end product. Have you given some consideration to how you're going to serve the business while simultaneously serving the customer from profitability standpoint,

Austin Beaver: 9:08

right? It's always the customer first, right? That that, even though we might not be able to maximize any transaction, right? Now, you know, a customer is more than just one transaction, right? So if we can, if we can, if we can maximize the experience a

Danny Zaslavsky: 9:22

28 year old, or anything about lifetime value. So

Austin Beaver: 9:25

if you can maximize an experience, then you can maximize the lifetime of the customer, right? So that's, it's just, it's just that simple,

Danny Zaslavsky: 9:33

right? Very cool. Who's your mentor?

Austin Beaver: 9:37

So right now, my mentor is Patrick, a bad, okay, so he's gonna be, he's my shoe. Yeah? Okay, fair, fair. He's been showing me. We have everybody in the crowd saying he's, he's, they're, they're role models. But yeah, he, he's helped me prepare to become the general manager of vibra Mazda, which will open q1 of 2025, how

Danny Zaslavsky: 9:57

exciting. That's got to make you like the youngest GM, little. Really, in the country, maybe, maybe

Austin Beaver: 10:01

I'll be one of the 40 under 41 day. Yeah, I have some time. Yeah, no,

Danny Zaslavsky: 10:05

for sure, for sure. And I mean, you guys, I know your organization, I'm lucky enough to get to work with you guys. My opinion is you certainly sell cars, but you produce incredible people. I mean, that is like, been proven over and over and so knowing that you now will lead and get the ability to produce incredible people, therefore creating incredible customer experiences. I mean, how awesome, especially coming from a controller background, that's awesome. Awesome. Thank you for being up here, and I wish you all the luck. Thank you, Dave.

Unknown: 10:39

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 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.

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.