Mike Darrow, President and CEO, TrueCar Inc and Beth Mach, Chief Consumer Officer, TrueCar, Inc.

February 7, 2023
ASOTU was on the ground during the 2023 NADA Show and caught up with Mike Darrow and Beth Mach.
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ASOTU was on the ground during the 2023 NADA Show and caught up with Mike Darrow and Beth Mach.

Mike Darrow is the President and CEO of TrueCar Inc.

Beth Mach is the Chief Consumer Officer of TrueCar, Inc.

This episode of In The Dirt w/ ASOTU was brought to you by TrueCar, Inc.

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Kyle Mountsier: 0:00This is in the dirt with ASOTU.

Paul Daly: 0:04

We have a really special treat right now we're at the TrueCar Booth. And we have some firepower in the seats left and right we have Mike Darrow CEO and Beth who's the Chief Commercial Officer. Consumer Officers. Yes, Consumer Officer. Yeah, there's a little difference there. And it's the same letter different things. That's right. I have a couple questions for you. And like the whole, the whole glasses and jacket makes sense when that told me a little bit about your background. Sure. Right. But we want to thanks for joining us today. Firstly, Thanks, Rob. And let's, let's start with your background for a second, okay, who don't come from an automotive background?

Beth Mach: 0:36

Well, actually, the first 10 years of my career, I was in automotive, you came back, I came back after? Well, I'll be dating myself, but after about 12 years away, and you know, great opportunity to come back to a different angle of the auto business. So I born and raised in Detroit. So of course, you're going to be in the automotive world. But it was always on the brand side. Yep. So is on the OEM brand side. And it was always around media planning and buying. And so it was a great way to really understand it from that angle. Going away understanding many different categories. So CPG, FinTech, fashion and beauty, like, you know, you name it, I've probably had Yeah, even into quick service, you know, fast food, right. And then had a great opportunity during COVID. To, to make a little bit of a change in life and come on and work from the dealer side. We're really understanding the dealer side of the business here at TrueCar. So it's been fun.

Paul Daly: 1:44

We're definitely gonna get back to that. Okay, we're gonna put a pin in that, Mike, I don't know much about your background. Can you tell us how you got an automotive to begin with?

Mike Darrow: 1:52

Yeah, it's kind of a crazy story. When I was in college, the girl I was dating was doing some babysitting for the Dean of Admissions.

Paul Daly: 2:01

Every great story starts this husband

Mike Darrow: 2:04

was a car dealer. It's a Chrysler dealer in Meadville, where I went to school. So they invited us one Saturday night out, I was finishing up my last semester. And he said, What are you thinking about doing? I said, Well, I'm interviewing talking to a lot of folks trying to figure it out. And he said, Well, I just hired my Chrysler faculty rep to come work at my store. So I know they have an opening. Do you have a resume? So I gave him my resume, send it in. And that was the beginning. And I started in the Chrysler regional office, I spent three years there. I jumped over to Nissan, I spent 17 years there to jump to Edmunds and spent 15 years there and then hear the TrueCar. Yeah, you're like 100 numbers. Always up to 39.

Paul Daly: 2:51

Given that part, skipped that part. And so you mentioned that you came on board during the during COVID. During the pandemic, did you two know each other prior to this? Or how did this come? How did this position come about, and that you two would be working together in this fashion.

Mike Darrow: 3:05

When I took over the CEO job, we made some transition across the management team, we had some openings. So we started looking and I was I was kind of frustrated with the traditional CMO kind of title thing because it's too nebulous to me, and I wanted someone who could come in and really be responsible for our customers and understand the customers, not only from a marketing point of view, but from a product point of view and how they work through the site. So we said we're going to create this position called Chief Customer Officer, we started interviewing, and Beth popped up and was perfect. We, we are a distributed workforce. So I mean, we're a people all across the country. And we were able to pluck her from Detroit, she didn't have to move to California, although I think she

Paul Daly: 3:49

was like, it's probably not a bad place. Yeah, especially this time of year, slightly different environments.

Beth Mach: 3:56

Do without the smell.

Kyle Mountsier: 3:58

So it's this was a position created that you kind of wanted to create and reorganize it. Have you had you like had this type of position. Prior to this.

Beth Mach: 4:08

I had not had a position titled this, but I had played different roles inside of different organizations. So I'm most proud of the previous position I held as a president of an ad agency. And so you do have to play a lot of different roles inside of that. So it's not just one client doing one thing inside of an advertising space. So you had to know the consumer and you had to know all the constituents, you had to know the competition. You also had to really have a great negotiating skills, and be able to bring all of the players in together to make sure that those clients that were in the agency were running smoothly. So it's kind of the tack that I took when thinking about everything from product to consumer marketing to partner. All of it had to work together because

Kyle Mountsier: 4:55

really you all like when when I'm thinking of that position you have to see like how you're communicating to the consumer base, you have to how your consumer to the to the dealer Oh, you're you know you are work with so many marketplaces that you power, right. So communicating and supporting them and their communications, what what has been this like building this over the last couple of years and knowing what this role really does? What's that felt like and been like to be able to build that?

Beth Mach: 5:23

Well, I think the key thing is to make sure they have a really strong storyline, because then you can actually tell the story, no matter who the audience is you no matter what type of tone or space that you want to play in, because you've got a really solid consistent message. And so I think that has actually been something that we've crafted over the last couple of years, as our product continues to evolve, and our user base continues to is no longer the same consumer, we're actually looking at the, you know, our tagline is car buying shapes your life. So it's not just for one demographic in one location, it's for everybody to be able to have the opportunity for mobility. So if you think about how that kind of plays a role, you have to understand the consumer from every angle. So again, having that story, having that consistent view of the consumer, and understand that it's growing and changing. That's where it's been a lot of fun and bringing all these different groups together. Because it's not it's not foreign, right? Because everybody can kind of get behind it and see it and live it and breathe it.

Kyle Mountsier: 6:26

That's like the heart of a great brand marketer. It's like there's a through line, there's a story and that story, I don't have to change it, if I'm telling it to my employee, or a customer or anything like that. How, like, as you've taken over what, what has it been like to tell that better story, especially internally, right, because that's a, like, if you can master that internally, you can get it out what has been telling that look,

Mike Darrow: 6:48

like for me, I learned as I progressed through my career, sometimes the automotive industry is so closed, we don't innovate as fast as other markets. Because it's, it's it's a select few people in the industry, and it's bringing Beth back in my product guy is from was at Walmart. Before that, I looked outside and say, we want to do something innovative, we want to do something different. We want to really provide value. And when I took the job there was this inherent conflict inside the company of do we service dealers, or do we service customers? And there was so much energy spent on that? And my answer was, yes, yeah, we service dealers and we service customers. And we had somehow created an artificial conflict here that I don't think exists. Right? You

Paul Daly: 7:39

can and that spilled over, spilled over into your customers, your dealers, because we couldn't answer the question internally, because the storyline was broken. And it like you can't hide that. Yeah, right. Right. It created a second level of confusion.

Mike Darrow: 7:53

Yeah. When we started aligning behind some fresh thinking from the outside, and people not having these preconceived conflicts in mind, it freed us up to do a lot of things that I knew we'd be capable of. I mean, we I get a chance to manage some amazing assets, right, we've got 12,000 dealer partners, we've got eight or 9 million monthly uniques that come to our site. Those are great assets are things that many companies would love to have, right. And I get them every month. So now it's just a matter of how do we bring products to the market that bring those two things together in a in a new, interesting and exciting way. So that's been where our focus has been.

Paul Daly: 8:34

We had Alan, Alan and Matt on and Alan talked about having the prot like people shopping and starting to filter out very high level in the sales in the sales funnel by process. Yeah, how do I want to buy this car and making that like a very high level consideration? Filter? Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Darrow: 8:54

We're only believe in reading the data from the National dealer groups and big footprints Asbury, for example, they'll click link, which is a great digital product they launched. They announced out of q3 that 90% of the volume that flowed through that had not done business with Asbury before. So what what these digital products are allowing is to reach a unique consumer set that's not brand affiliated, they're not linked to a certain process. They just want something better and, and they'll consider different cars, they'll consider different dealers. And it's an opportunity to tap into that in a way and it's really incremental business and that

Paul Daly: 9:31

already talked about conquest. Yeah, that's a huge,

Mike Darrow: 9:35

huge opportunity.

Kyle Mountsier: 9:36

Yeah, well, we don't have a ton of time with you guys. I'll maybe ask you this again. Yeah, we're gonna have to this is even exposed for me like more about the TrueCar belief and brand and I love hearing that story. So definitely, Mike. Beth, thank you so much for sitting. Thanks for giving us the space to have these conversations here at the TrueCar booth. It's just been a joy. We've bid felt relaxed. We felt like we've had some of the best conversations and this has been one of the things.

Beth Mach: 10:05

Thank you very much for coming. You're welcome back anytime.

Kyle Mountsier: 10:12

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 a soda.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 a soda

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