How To Build A Cohesive, Bought-In Team with Kayla Kody

June 21, 2024
Glenn Lundy interviews Kayla Kody, Vice President at Richmond Ford Auto Group, delving into the future of the automotive industry.
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In this engaging ASOTU CON session, Glenn Lundy interviews Kayla Kody, Vice President at Richmond Ford Auto Group, delving into the future of the automotive industry. Kayla shares insights on the importance of training and development, innovative changes in sales processes, and the impact of technology on service departments. They discuss the critical role of change management and the significance of breaking down silos within dealerships to foster a cohesive and efficient work environment.

Kayla emphasizes the necessity of recognition and appreciation within the team, sharing how their dealership has implemented systems to highlight and celebrate employee achievements. Glenn and Kayla explore the intersection of technology and human touch in the automotive industry, envisioning a future where these elements harmoniously coexist to enhance customer experience and operational efficiency. The conversation offers valuable perspectives on leadership, adaptation, and the evolving landscape of automotive retail.

0:00 Intro

1:21 Kayla emphasizes the importance of investing in training

2:47 Discussion on the future of EVs and compliance issues

3:53 Breaking down silos within dealerships to improve efficiency

5:37 Integrating new hires with comprehensive onboarding processes

7:11 Balancing technology and human interaction in sales and service

8:14 Enhancing customer experience through innovative parts and service techniques

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

Glenn Lundy: 0:09

Hey, this is Glenn Lundy, and I'm here on the asotu con podcast stage in collaboration with Effectv. Sitting across from me is Kayla Cody, the Vice President at Richmond Ford Auto Group, Kayla, what up?

Kayla Kody: 0:24

We're standing. Glenn,

Glenn Lundy: 0:25

we're standing. They should all be on there. Say that again,

Kayla Kody: 0:30

we're standing. Glenn,

Glenn Lundy: 0:33

so standing right in front of me is Kayla Cody, Vice President of Richmond Ford Auto Group. What's up?

Kayla Kody: 0:42

How are you just hanging out? Just hanging out, yeah. How's the event been for you? It's been great. It's been awesome. It's been great to hear from a lot of industry leaders and people who are doing a lot of different things. So I can take that stuff back to our stores and see how I can implement it.

Glenn Lundy: 0:56

Well, you're one of those industry leaders who's doing some different things, so talk to me real quick. We're going to be talking about the building, the next generation of automotive, that's they told me we're supposed to talk about.

Kayla Kody: 1:06

It's a very broad subject. I don't know how we cover all that, yeah.

Glenn Lundy: 1:09

How do we cover it all, especially in just a few minutes, right? So what are you doing? Or let me ask you a bigger question, what is one thing, the biggest thing you think you've done right so far this year, 2024 in your dealership

Kayla Kody: 1:21

training. So we started to invest a lot more in training. You heard some of the stuff I talked about yesterday, so I don't want to be repetitive, but training and development, when you look at our budgets and automotive for that versus what we have in turnover and all these other things, it's not where it needs to be. In many cases, ours certainly was not. So we have a bunch of students going to nada dealer Academy right now. We have them going to NCM as well. So getting outside training. And then we also bring in a trainer, and this is probably one of my favorite events that we do. I bring in a sales trainer, service trainer. We go off site to a research facility so we're not in the dealership. They cannot be bothered. I phase them in groups, and all the stores are together, because I might have people in one store who are absolute rock stars. They've been there forever, and they know what they're doing. I might have young people who are using new and innovative tactics. And then I might have somebody in between, and we don't conglomerate as a group in order to leverage our people across multiple stores, sure, and that's the goal of that, is getting that to happen more often. So I think that's what we've done right so far this year. Yeah,

Glenn Lundy: 2:29

I love it. Really, investing in the training, making sure those opportunities are there, bringing the team together. Okay, cool. So real small question here, yep, what is going to happen in the auto industry in the next five years, more

Kayla Kody: 2:46

than we can imagine.

Glenn Lundy: 2:47

Like, what? What do you think? Where are we going? Is this EB thing, a thing? Is it a real thing? Is it a weird thing? How do we capitalize on the thing? How do politics play into this? Like, let's go.

Kayla Kody: 2:57

I think politics derive a large part of it right for compliance. You know we're gonna, especially Ford dealerships, we're commercial, heavy commercial dealers. So if you know, it's a one to one ratio, EV to commercial unit, like you're just gonna have to do what you're gonna have to do in some cases. Yeah. So I think EV will depend a lot on what gets passed down, to be completely honest. Sure. I think we will see a lot of change. Is going to be more in the sales process itself, some of that FTC driven, some of that consumer driven, and some of that just having more innovative people within dealerships who are willing to make changes in that sales process. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. I love that. And hopefully more pictures and videos and service, yeah, that would be great. Yeah, transparency, I think, yeah. Transparency is the big word, I think. Yeah.

Glenn Lundy: 3:42

So Wayne Gretzky says you're always supposed to go where the puck is going, not where the puck is now. Yeah. So in your organization, where do you think the puck's going? That is the biggest opportunity for you guys. Specifically,

Kayla Kody: 3:53

I talk a lot in my stores about silos, I think, or not, my stores, on my family's stores, there's a lot of silos that happen. And we're talking about it here with data, you know, right? We're like, oh, we need customer data platforms. But there's more silos than just that. There's silos within the dealership where we're not communicating effectively in a consistent manner, or maybe we don't have that even the same culture within those silos, right? Service culture can be very different from sales, so making sure we're pulling people to people together more often in productive ways to eliminate those silos, right? Yeah, right. So sales oftentimes doesn't even understand how hard of a job service advisor is, no doubt. So we started pulling them into our sales meetings and saying, Hey, guys, put up some of your problems. Sales Team. Help them problem solve. And my managers go after them and say, you know, once they get through, it's like, Okay, here's what I would do and here's what I wouldn't do out of these solutions, or maybe this is how you can make it better. And watching and making them problem solve together has kind of broken down more of those barriers. Same with the training, bringing everybody together. Yeah,

Glenn Lundy: 4:54

that's awesome. Yeah. We had a onboarding process when I ran a dealership, yeah. So our onboard. Process was two weeks long. Everybody that came in had to go through whether you were experienced, not experienced, didn't matter, yeah. And in that two week process, the first Wednesday, they spent the day in detail, washing cars, getting dirty, doing all of that, and then the second Wednesday in the service lane and really getting an understanding of some of the things that these other departments go through. And what we found was fascinating that once those people got on the floor and had an appreciation for the work, right, it changed the entire dynamic of those relationships between those traditionally siloed areas. And

Kayla Kody: 5:37

we even see that in leadership, like leadership, it's his own silo, like, when's the last time you went and sat in your shop and watched a box of incorrect parts get delivered? Or something small was missing out of a warranty item and they had to go back and redo the whole thing. So there's a lot of different moments where I feel like, as leaders, we have to insert ourselves as well and be constantly reminding ourselves of what this job is. BDC is one of my favorite ones to harp on a little bit, because everybody points fingers right? When sales is doing great, it's because sales people are great. When sales is doing bad, it's because marketing is bad, or the BDC is bad, like, it's everybody but us, sure, and that's really common, that's, you know, that's not something that's different, but at the same time, if we're not proactively battling that, then we're missing opportunities to improve. Yeah.

Glenn Lundy: 6:21

So where do you feel as we're obviously, it's a great time to be alive. Yeah, right. It's 2024. Tremendous opportunity. Things are changing ridiculously rapid rate. Yeah, talk to me about how you guys are integrating like technology and at the same time keeping that human touch and interaction. Are there things that you guys are doing in that store? Because obviously, I can tell your passion for people, right? It just comes across big time. And when we start looking at some of these tools, some people are like, well, it's very disconnect. You know, it's it's removing the human element. But I believe there's somewhere in the middle, right where we can leverage these tools and keep that human capacity. So talk to me a little bit about where you guys are thinking about that as we move forward. I

Kayla Kody: 7:11

completely agree with that sentiment. You know, there's this middle ground that we need to have. So in the sales process, it's simplifying, you know, Omni channel is the big word, or whatever, but really it's just simplifying the process. Like, why do we start off over again when they come in? Or, why can't you give out the door numbers like, come on. So simplifying that on the sales side, we still talk about that. We still goes over text message like, and if any, if I ever hear the word like, Oh, your presence is your bargaining or whatever, your presence is your negotiating power, I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. No. Better deal. Cool. I'll FaceTime you, is what I would say, right? But, you know, in service, so basically figuring out where we can aid the process and create efficiencies. So in service, it's texting out approvals with photos and sales. It's, you know, really leaning on those omni channel sales processes and making your salespeople be prepared for the customer like this is the information we know. If they come in and you start off from square one, this is not the place for you. Yeah,

Glenn Lundy: 8:08

yeah, it's definitely gonna be an interesting season, right? Especially

Kayla Kody: 8:14

in parts. That's been really cool. Watching technology get into parts has been very interesting because that's been such a hands on process for so long, with a very simplified phase in, phase out schedule. So seeing what AI and all of these different tools can do for that is gonna be really cool. Yeah, so

Glenn Lundy: 8:29

in you guys' stores, have you done anything in parts or service yet? So those lines,

Kayla Kody: 8:35

yeah, it's gonna be a little bit minimal. One of the things we did is, you know how I was talking about pictures and videos time of service. So we can't always take a photo of what we're trying to explain to a customer. So instead, we take photos of whatever the upsell item is, right? Got it? So if it's better tires or better oil, or whatever it might be that's loaded in there, so the customer can actually see what they're buying. Yeah? So that's been kind of cool, yeah?

Glenn Lundy: 8:58

That is very, very, very cool. Like, yeah, it'll just like, yeah. Like, scan everything, and then you'll be able to zoom in, and they'll be like, you have a tiny puncture hole, yeah? Like, it's gonna be so cool. I was

Kayla Kody: 9:10

really proud of parts though. You know, they came up with that idea. They're like, hey, we want to upsell this. Can we just preload it? So every time they recommend it, it's easy for them. Like, Absolutely guys, they're creating efficiencies and how long it takes them to get things to the technicians and monitoring mode times. Those aren't things that we were doing before. Instead, we were like, pointing fingers, like they're the reason it's slow. Yeah, no doubt, that's kind of eliminated a lot of that as far as technology is concerned.

Glenn Lundy: 9:34

So talk to me on the other side challenges. What are some of the challenges that you're maybe seeing or experiencing with the industry and with technology moving as fast as it is, what are some of the challenges for you, specifically as a leader, with all the responsibility of all these people, you want them all to win and be successful, right? What are maybe some challenges that you're experiencing in this day and age? I

Kayla Kody: 9:57

think the challenge is always going to remain. The same, and it's change management. Change management is so hard because a lot of fear of change is so based in recency bias and changing marketplaces too. You know, we were talking about this earlier. You change a tool and you have a slow week, and it's the tool's fault, no, not because it's a slow week that we have every single year, it's because we did this other thing, right? So I think really the challenge is always going to be change management, because it's not linear. It's really a roller coaster. And having the patience to work through that, having, you know, the grit to go and get in the field and get your hands dirty and figure out why something isn't working is going to be the challenge. And I think agile dealers are the ones that are going to be able to win and also grow. Yeah,

Glenn Lundy: 10:44

and do you feel you guys qualify as that super agile dealer? No,

Kayla Kody: 10:49

no. You can hear me all excited about technology. I would say that initially, our team was not maybe, like 10 to 15% on board, sure that's growing every single year though, or every single month, that these new tools make them more money or make them more efficient, right? You know, when I rolled out some of this stuff to my technicians, it wasn't like, everybody's, like, awesome, right? You know, no, but a lot of them, my top guys, like, grabbed onto this. It was like, we can make more money this way. And so I'm just looking to build more and more of those people who are going to help lead the way. Yeah,

Glenn Lundy: 11:20

sure. Is there anything specifically within that culture of yours that you're doing to continue to push that forward

Kayla Kody: 11:29

recognition? Yeah, we are so bad at recognition. So we actually, yeah, I mean, it's so easy again, pointing fingers right? Departments do it. Leaders do it. We don't recognize enough. And so I actually posted QR codes throughout our dealership. We have lists and boxes of gift cards, and employees can recognize each other, and they'll scan the QR code and say, Hey, this employee helped me out with this. The really cool thing is, our customers are starting to use them too. Very cool. Yeah. So that's awesome. We do shout outs pretty regularly. So even something as simple as that has helped to, one, connect everybody, and then two, really shout out the people who are helping along the way with these tools. Yep,

Glenn Lundy: 12:09

celebrate the behaviors you want to see more of exactly right? That's something that we have daily. We had daily morning meetings in our store, and I learned that. You know, if we can encourage and celebrate the behaviors we want to see more then others will start to follow suit within those behaviors, versus kicking everybody in the teeth and telling them to just go out there and get it done.

Kayla Kody: 12:31

They're all hard jobs. They're all customer service is difficult. We've got lots of new people, and we give no grace. And what does that feel like for somebody else? You know, we can all relate to managers we've had in the past. The past. We're like, Oh my gosh. And some people, I think, think you're going to go through this, because I went through this, and I don't think, like, I'm like, you'll never have to go through that because I went through that. And I think we need more people like that. Yeah,

Glenn Lundy: 12:55

I think that's strong. I think that's a great way to end you're phenomenal. I love the energy that you bring to auto the people that you serve are blessed and lucky to have you. I know you're gonna do amazing things in the future. It's a pleasure to get to know you better. Thanks for

Kayla Kody: 13:09

standing with me. Glenn, yeah, you bet.

Unknown: 13:14

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 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 you.

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