Single Point of Contact and 4-Day Work Weeks with Erikka Tiffani Wells

June 25, 2024
Danny Zaslavsky hosts Erikka Tiffani Wells, General Manager at Walser Automotive Group
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In this inspiring ASOTU CON session, Danny Zaslavsky hosts Erikka Tiffani Wells, General Manager at Walser Automotive Group, on the ASOTU CON podcast stage. Erikka shares her journey of rising through the automotive industry, discussing the challenges and triumphs of transitioning to a single point of contact and negotiation-free sales model at Walser. She passionately explains how this approach has transformed customer experiences by prioritizing transparency and convenience.

Erikka delves into the innovative practices at Walser, including their new four-day workweek, which has boosted employee satisfaction and reduced split deals. She emphasizes the importance of fostering a positive work culture and empowering employees to take ownership of their roles. With a focus on the future, Erikka highlights how investing in people and creating an inclusive environment where every voice is heard can drive both employee and customer satisfaction, ultimately leading to increased profitability.

0:00 Intro

1:04 Erikka’s transition from traditional sales to Walser’s single point of contact model

1:32 The benefits of negotiation-free sales and empowering salespeople

3:18 How Walzer’s four-day workweek has improved employee satisfaction

4:40 The impact of less split deals and increased sales efficiency

5:36 Implementing the four-day workweek across sales and service departments

6:04 Erikka’s journey as the only female GM at Walser and her unique perspective

7:24 Importance of people as the new currency in dealership operations

9:03 Encouraging a culture of proactive problem-solving and employee empowerment

9:48 Erikka’s future goals and commitment to continuous learning and innovation

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

Unknown: 0:00

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

Danny Zaslavsky: 0:09

boom. Hello. Hello. My name is Danny zazlovsky. I'm here with on the asotu con podcast stage in collaboration with Effectv. Sitting across from me is Erica Tiffany wells, gm of Walzer. Thank you for being here. Absolutely

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 0:22

excited to be here.

Danny Zaslavsky: 0:23

Okay, I got to be on a in the audience, on a panel that you are on. And I absolutely love your perspective. So we're going to get, like, right into it. So how many years have you been with Walzer, two. What were you doing before that?

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 0:37

I was in the car business. I started in the car business in 2004 so I've done everything from sales, sales manager, BDC, manager, internet director, finance, and then recently, GM, for the last nine months, okay,

Danny Zaslavsky: 0:48

congratulations. Thank you in the stores that you were in before. Would you consider them like traditional in their behavior, the way that they operated? And do you? Because I know enough about Walzer that their single point of contact was it single point of contact where you came from,

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 1:04

it was not. I've done traditional for the last 18 years prior to so going to single point of contact and negotiation free was completely foreign to me. And negotiation free, yes, I had no idea what it was going to look like. I was super scared about it, but I was also super excited, because I was like, Listen, I want to be a progressive dealer. I want to be at the forefront of what's changing. I know what 18 years of doing it the traditional way looked like, you know, and at the time, I didn't know if single point of contact was the way, but I knew it was a different way. And from that point, I said, I'm all in I want to know what you guys are doing.

Danny Zaslavsky: 1:32

So let's dig into that for a minute, because we're talking about the way people really want to buy cars. And the panel that you were on the other day had opposing views. There were some people that said, Nope, this is not the way, and you need experts in every piece of the process. Do you feel like you need experts? I do, but

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 1:48

I don't think you need one expert. The biggest problem is that dealers want to have control over everything, right? And there's this idea that only one person can be the master and one person could be the control. So we don't trust ourselves people, so we don't give them information. They don't know the programs, they don't know the specials, they don't know how to get, but my profits gonna go down if I do that. No, your profit is gonna go up, because you're gonna empower people who feel like they don't have to be in control, because everybody's in control. What we really want is the customer to be in control. The customer wants to dictate their experience. And to the point that was made in the earlier shows, is that the transparency and ease of use and the information that they have available to them, they already know. So when you come in and offer them an experience that matches what they want, and the thing is that not everybody wants the same experience. It's not one size fits all right. You know, it has to be one size fits one right? That's what Gadara says, right? Because at the end of the day, you think about a restaurant, I can go in and sit down, I can sit down at the bar, I can order Uber Eats, I can do takeout, I can have an experience at the same restaurant six different ways. So you have to cater to all the customers in all the ways that they want. And it's not necessarily going to be the same, but what dealers want to do is they want to silo people in one direction and out the front door and in the back door. Instead of thinking of it as a crossroad with four directions, think of it kind of like a loop. And so anybody can come in at any time and they can come out at any time. If you do that, you're going to have a better have a better experience for

Danny Zaslavsky: 3:03

everyone. It's too bad you don't have any passion about this. Just a little bit negotiation free, yep, single point of contact. Are you guys the pilot store for this? Or does every store do this? No,

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 3:18

I actually Walter's been negotiation free for like, 20 years. Yup. So I love it. I mean, I used to fight every day at my job with customers. That was my job is to go in and arm wrestle right as a salesperson, as a sales manager, we arm wrestle all day when you take that part out, right? And it doesn't mean that we don't change the price, we just don't change the price. Right then for the customer, we price our cars. We don't price the customers. So we're looking at the market data on new and used cars, just like everybody else, based on age, based on color, based on trend, based on market day, supply, what sells the fastest? So we're constantly looking at the pricing, but we're looking at going into a volume more so we can sell volume, sell more cars at the right price, and just take price off the table. Now we can talk about your trade and getting you in and out as fast as possible, versus negotiating over two or $300 right? And 95% of the time, we never lose a customer over price, because the customer enjoys the experience,

Danny Zaslavsky: 4:11

okay? And you're cutting out a day of the week,

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 4:17

yeah? Walls are just went to a four day work week. I love it.

Danny Zaslavsky: 4:21

What does that mean? You're open four days a week. Yeah, right,

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 4:25

yeah. No, we're open six days a week. We're closed on Sunday, but sales people only work four days out the week. So they work four bells, but then they're off 52 extra days a year. So how

Danny Zaslavsky: 4:36

long have you guys been doing that? Three months. How's it going?

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 4:40

It's going amazing. You got less split deals. We have those split shifts where you have an early day and you get off early. And so what inevitably happens is that salespeople restrict the process of when they're going to sell a car based on when they're going to be there. You have less split deals? Well, yeah, because think about it like this. So the salesperson that used to leave at four o'clock because it's their early day, doesn't want to do anything after four o'clock now they're there for. The moment they take the lead to when the lead comes in for the appointment. And so now, on their days off, those extra day that they get, they actually don't mind coming in, because they have two days off back to back. So like, yeah, you know what? I don't mind. I'm gonna come in for a couple hours, sell that customer and then get out of here, versus before you had a bunch of splits, because I'm leaving this is my day off, or I get off early on that day, all that goes away.

Danny Zaslavsky: 5:21

Do you think that is so are other stores doing that in falling all

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 5:25

28 of the Walzer stores are on four day work weeks. We even have some of our service departments on four day work I was just gonna ask, how does that flow? Technicians, yep. Technicians, four day work week. Wild.

Danny Zaslavsky: 5:36

So you have been currently, my understanding is you're the only female General Manager in Walzer right now. Okay, so I bring that up mainly for anybody that's listening who's inspired by that. But what's that journey been like? And do you find yourself sitting at tables and having a different opinion for the sake of different or do you find yourself having a different opinion because you're convicted to see change? No

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 6:04

Sure. I started out in 2004 I was a service writer in 2004 for a small, independent shop. I worked at a buy here, pay here. After that, that's kind of as I got my role into selling cars. I became a sales manager, got into finance, and then I hit a wall, and I couldn't get anywhere for 15 years. I was sitting in this spot saying, How come I can't get to the next level? I knew I wanted to be a general manager, but I just needed the opportunity. And at the beginning, it's because I conformed to try to think like everybody else. You know, I wanted to look like everybody else. I wore the blue suit with the khaki pants. I said, If I could just look like a GM and do what they do, maybe I could get there until I realized that when the my thoughts differently and what ideas I brought to the table from a different perspective was actually what made me different. And so when I started talking to the general managers with my new creative ideas and said, Hey, why don't we do it a little bit differently, they were open minded to say, hey, wait, there's something different about her. And that's actually when my career kind of catapulted to the next level. I started meeting people like Andrew Walzer and Paul Walzer and having conversations with progressive dealers who said, We like the way you think you do bring something different to the table, and we'd love

Danny Zaslavsky: 7:05

to have you on our team. You put the same people around the table, you get the same ideas. Yep, right. So, and as you've been creating a culture because you're now GM of the Hyundai store, you talk about people are the new currency that can be taken both ways. What do you mean by that?

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 7:24

People are the new currency because they're your most valuable asset. When you take care of your people, you're taking care of the very threat of your company. I don't care what architect of technology use or what idea you bring from conferences like that. If you can't take it and get it to be influenced by the people who have to execute it, you have nothing, right? It's not the idea or the product of the technology. It's the influence of the people behind you who are going to have such equity with you that you've poured into them, that you can write a blank check. And those people are willing to do fight for you. They're willing to walk through walls for you, right? Because they believe in you and your idea. And they say, Eric, I don't know if this is going to work, but I believe in you enough that I'm willing to stand behind it. So whether you're a traditional dealer or single point of contact, whether you're deciding about changing one of your products or services, you have to make sure that what information you have here you take back to your team, and that they believe in you and that they're the currency, and that you take care of your employees first, who then will take care of your customers.

Danny Zaslavsky: 8:17

So we talk about this at vincu. We talk about this at country on motors. The idea of run faster is something I've talked about, and when I say run faster, what I mean is run faster than me, because I love being on the front line, and the biggest compliment you can give me is to get out in front of me by solving a problem before it gets to me, and doing it in a way that something I couldn't even do, which I imagine when you're leading in the way that you're leading, it's creating a culture of people who are out in front of you and saying, I got this Erica, like, I'm good. Absolutely share some stories around that. How do you like, what these changes that you guys have made? How has your culture improved? And maybe even if you have any numbers around how maybe profitability is improved. I'd love to know, yeah,

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 9:03

I mean, the culture improves, because people enjoy coming to work, right? And when you open up the ideas and say, Hey, we're going to do something different. But I want your opinion about that. We have steering committees for everything, and we end up having people from the front desk coordinator to the lot technician. Everybody has a voice, because everybody's affected by any changes that you make. We have surveys that go out about our managers. How well are you managing your team? What does your team think about you? So that we have the CSI that you would normally have, we want to make sure that our employees like being at work and that our dealership group knows what the sentiments of our employees are. Only then can you look at profitability from a point of view where you can say our culture is right. Our employees are right. We're taking care of our customers first, but we're also taking care of our employees who take care of our customers.

Danny Zaslavsky: 9:48

That's amazing. So what's next for you? Like, what as you think about how you want to improve your store, sure, where do you want to take it?

Erikka Tiffani Wells: 9:56

Well, right now, I'm nine months in as a general manager. I am at the very. Getting so this is an education for me, right? Being a sales manager for so long in one position, I felt like I had kind of maxed out, and now I'm learning everything from the very bottom. So I felt like I'm at negative six, right? Like I'm starting at the very bottom. I have a lot to learn. You know, I don't want to reinnovate anything. Walls, a great organization. They have a lot of good things, but all I want to do is bring my passion, my open mindedness, and the culture that I love, which is around people, bring that to the table and take this industry to the next level, and keep bringing people

Danny Zaslavsky: 10:25

with me and obviously showing up to places like this and then sharing it. Rising Tide, absolutely. Yeah, that's awesome. Well, Erica, thank you very much. Can we give her a round of applause?

Unknown: 10:35

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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