Teaching Through Personal Pain with Durran Cage

October 4, 2022
He might be the handsomest man in automotive. Durran Cage is someone you want to be around. He oozes kindness and has a genuine passion for people. He pours himself into his work, mentally and emotionally. As a consultant, he sees a lot of what is working and what isn’t working, and is able to speak to dealers out of his own personal experience.
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What we talk about in this episode:
Intro with Michael Cirillo, Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier.

4:30 Durran shares about the 3 phases of his journey through retail automotive, from selling cars, to the digital transformation and then putting that all together.

6:56 During Cash For Clunkers in 2008, Durran and his team had the innovative idea of purchasing a domain with the words “cash for clunkers” in it. The site provided information and then directed customers back to the dealership.

14:46 Clear communication of the process is an area where Durran sees dealerships drop the ball. The process should be simple and explainable. Durran says that his 3rd grade son should be able to understand it.

18:59 Durran teaches out of his personal pain because there’s been times when he hasn’t had his priorities right. But they’ve been learning experiences that he is now able to share with others.

“Now I do chase positivity, family, friendship, and things of that nature. Because that's really what's important at the end of the day, man. Automotive is great and stuff, but at the end of the day, it's all about us just connecting with one another and helping each other out. That's what helps us enjoy life.”

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Michael Cirillo: 0:00I was shocked the first time I had ever met Durran Cage shocked for a couple of reasons.Paul Daly: 0:06

I already know what one of them's gonna be

Unknown: 0:15

this is Auto Collabs

Michael Cirillo: 0:17

the first one because

Kyle Mountsier: 0:18

it says because he was taller than you that doesn't work in your situation. I know. But like, Aren't you shocked by everybody? You're like,

Michael Cirillo: 0:27

Wow, no, because it was that I needed binoculars to see his face. Like tall was one thing to be insanely stratospherical

Paul Daly: 0:37

is a total different. Like if he

Kyle Mountsier: 0:40

was he's like he's trying to high five him jumping.

Michael Cirillo: 0:44

I was like, reaching his belt buckle at one time. I think I got like, stuck on his belt buckle and he just like dreads

Paul Daly: 0:50

special kinda height. It's a special.

Michael Cirillo: 0:53

Like if they cast Durran cage to play Hercules which he has the physique to do. He would not have to climb Mount Olympus. He would just have to go on his tippy toes. And his he would see the mount top of Mount Olympus. He's so tall. Yeah,

Kyle Mountsier: 1:07

wiggle is a little Yes.

Michael Cirillo: 1:10

He's got and the second thing that was shocking to me was how, even like, you know, usually you see people online and you're like, what a strapling good looking brute? Yeah. And then you meet that person in real life. And you're like, cool. So you took your profile photo 18 years ago, your high school glamour shot those your high school, but he is strikingly beautiful in real life. And that's a shock to me and makes me annoyed all in the same bundle.

Paul Daly: 1:36

I do. Every time I see him. I call him the Denzel of the automotive industry. He did you know that when they tested this is a random comment that does tie back when they tested faces in front of babies to see which ones made them smile. Denzel Washington was number one. Not really. So absolutely. And it has to

Michael Cirillo: 1:58

do with symmetry. All right, okay.

Paul Daly: 1:59

They say it has to do this. Okay. Oh, no, but I bet Durran Cage has the same effect, honestly. And then you pair him with his rockstar wife, Paige Cage. And when they walk into a room you feel like Hollywood just showed up seriously.

Kyle Mountsier: 2:15

And they walk in like that. It's like a little bit of swagger, right? A little bit

Michael Cirillo: 2:19

late, a little bit late, a

Paul Daly: 2:21

little late, a lot of kindness and a lot of kindness, lot of smiles a

Kyle Mountsier: 2:25

lot of kindness. And he carries that, you know, I've had to I've had the pleasure of getting to know him like in the way that he works with dealers a little bit. And he carries that right in his passion for people the way he cares about stores. The way he gets like, emotionally and mentally invested. He's like, No, I want to see them succeed. So bad, right, bad. And so he carries that in. Well, we hope that you enjoy our conversation with Durran Cage. There are few people in automotive that can be as dynamic as this man Durran Cage. Thank you so much. You

Paul Daly: 3:07

forgot handsome George forgot handsome,

Kyle Mountsier: 3:09

dynamic, handsome like the man that can look sly with that with glasses without glasses. He's got his no crisis can win shirt on today. He's pulling the brand. It's unbelievable. This guy, I'm telling you, you are everywhere. And I'm so glad that you've joined us on Auto Collabs today, man.

Durran Cage: 3:28

Man, that's the first time I've been called dynamic. So we're gonna call that dynamic ran or website man updated. That's dynamic. That's a big, that's a big word.

Paul Daly: 3:41

Literally second that I second that this dynamic. I'll take

Durran Cage: 3:45

that. So thank you, Kyle. And thank you, Paul, both for having me on. And for everything that you guys have done in the industry. It's refreshing. It's cool. And I'm just thankful to be a part of it. And I get to learn from two of the greatest.

Kyle Mountsier: 3:58

Awesome, awesome. All right, so I get the first question. I get the first punch. All right. So so Durran you you've been consulting now for some time, and you work with dealerships and the BDC and all that type of stuff. But you've got a long history on the retail side of the business actually walk us back into kind of those early years in automotive and and what like how you saw them preparing you for what you're doing right now?

Durran Cage: 4:27

Yeah, so in the early days of automotive, it's almost three phases. First phase was like 2002 selling cars as a green pea you know a lot of us where you just kind of go out there you make a make a friend and you make a what a sale, right? That's what you learned. Then it gets to like 2008 Six years later, I'm back on the retail and then now it's more the digital aspect. So now it's it's dealing with the internet leads, you know, people are still kind of scared trying to figure out how to work that thing out. But you got 2008 to 2016 where I'm in retail. In And there's so much digital transformation that's happening during that time, you know, we're starting to see CRMs being used more video being used more and even back then I talked about this a lot, even digital retailing is already starting to become a thing back in 2007. It's just now of course, we know what the narrative over the last few years. But the biggest thing that I've seen is just speed, you know, speed of learning how to use the innovations that we're getting. So it's like, we can all sell cars, but there's so much innovation and tech that's there. And I posted about this recently, but just making sure that we're aligning with the tech and the innovations and using it to the best of not just the customer experience, but also for the employee experience. But that's what I've seen over the last several years and several several years in retail.

Kyle Mountsier: 5:46

Okay, so take me back like, 08 09, which is the recession, you know, you got cash for clunkers. And I remember, that's when I came in the business, right? So the store that I was at, and it was nuts, literally the last I came into the business the last week of cash for clunkers. That's not a joke, right? It was like, there were cars literally stacked on stacked in the back of the lot. I feel like it was unbelievable. But take us back to that. Because I remember at my store, and at least the stores that I knew back then in the area that I was at, you would have like one, maybe two people that like understood that even the website existed still at that point, right? I mean, I know that we're already in smartphones, but in automotive, it's like, Yep, there's a website, and we get people that click on things send us information, then we call them type thing. Was that kind of your experience leading in? And were you at a little bit more of a progressive place? Like what did that first interaction from? You know, like, what is what was the learning matrix that you had to go through? Or your dealership had to go through at that point? In this like new internet, you know, ecommerce ecosystem?

Durran Cage: 6:55

Oh, yeah, no, I can remember like yesterday, because the dealership I was at, we have a projector. So literally, I hooked up the laptop. And I was showing them what was that website? Was it like fast? I'm trying to remember what it was something.gov Whatever, that kept up with a fuel efficiency. Oh, my gosh, yeah. But in the competitive models, maybe you could put it in here. And so the best way was, we would just get the whole team in there. And I would just pull it up on the computer. And we would just show him everything. Like, here's where the site is, here's how we're going to mark it. We printed off all the materials as well. So we made sure to make it we pretty much merchandise our store to match what that what that message was. And then the one of the best things we did is we bought it was cash for clunkers.org. Or it was dot something. So this is back when most people wouldn't invest no GS, though. Yeah. And so we put billboards all over West Tennessee. And we did. Yeah, we built a microsite. And then we had everybody just going to cash for clunkers.org It was like cash for clunkers. T n.org. It was something but we put billboards everywhere. It came in to me and my team and we tore it up. Let's go

Kyle Mountsier: 8:04

that's, that's a mate. Like, that sucks. You know what, you know what? Like the, the one of the greatest art, like one of the greatest art, art, art artists, artistic things that happens in automotive, or in business? Is people going like, there's a thing that's happening, I'm gonna buy the URL that people are gonna be like, Oh, that's where I go to find information. So for you to so early on, as a store, go, oh, yeah, we're gonna capitalize on that heck at it, there's gonna be perfect. That's unbelievable. So was it like an education site? Or did you? Did you just like create a microsite of vehicles? What was like the intention around that?

Durran Cage: 8:45

Yeah, no, it was just an education shots site. So it just like broke down? Exactly. Hey, here's what's going on. Here's how this works. This is who we're affiliated with. So we had our, you know, our you can go to get more information at this dealership or fill out this information below, and one of our team members will be in touch with you. So more informational, educational, there wasn't anything really about inventory. So you couldn't search inventory by cars on there was 100% around their car, and the fuel economy and how to get that going. Wow.

Kyle Mountsier: 9:14

Do you see any dealers doing that today? No. You've seen dealers like, create education lanes around time. It's like, it's like, you know, by E ve t at t n.com. Like someone go buy that thing right now, if you're in Tennessee, and I'm like, I'm mad at myself as a marketer for not creating education microsites that drive to our affiliate partner, the dealership over here. Yeah. Are you seeing that at all?

Durran Cage: 9:41

No, not much. And you know, that's how you could you remember a while back, that's how third party lead providers, not the inventory ones but how they used to sell us leads. And I know there's still some companies that do that not saying that it's wrong if you're if you're buying from that, but that's really all those sites are, is their sites that have lots of information Lots of SEO content on em. And then they draw customers there. And then they sell that back to the dealership. And I've always said, dealers, why don't you have your own, like, why not have your own information sites and certain markets that you work with, and filter it that way back into your dealership, that's just really around giving them research, we

Paul Daly: 10:17

literally had this conversation this morning, because of the same frustration we've been, we've been saying this for the better part of a year now. Like, just be the smartest person on EVs in your community, you have the opportunity, the field is wide open, I don't care if you're single point, it doesn't matter how big you are, physically, you can be the biggest authority on EVs in your region, in your neighborhood, even in the country these days, if you do a good enough job, and I just don't see it yet. And we might have to do it.

Kyle Mountsier: 10:45

That's unbelievable. So now I'm like, I'm done with the podcast, because I got like 18 marketing, we gotta go. Gotta go. Some people gotta put some education sites up. All right, so So fast forward just a little bit, because then you you kind of came through the industry partner matrix and went through that. And I want to fast forward, kind of the learning there to what you're doing now, which is, which is supporting and educating dealers on that primarily their business development practices, but also some level of marketing. Talk about maybe like the trends you're seeing in customer engagement, specifically, like how customers and dealerships are communicating and engaging with each other in this like sales process.

Durran Cage: 11:30

Yeah, so the biggest thing that I've seen recently that I'm pushing for, and people that you've seen my content on social media is really just empowering your employees more to be able to create that smooth experience for the customers. Because there's, I feel like there's so many things that we want customers to do online. But we're not equipping our people to be able to do that. And so right now, it's really just teaching dealers and GMs leaders to like, break down these walls, and stop calling BDCs a BDC. Because it's so much more than that. These are, these are professionals that are in these departments now, that need to be empowered to be able when, when Paul says hey man like won't really be the difference between a lease and finance, they all need to be equipped to have that conversation. And if they can't, they need to be equipped to have somebody that's right there, that's a specialist in that area. That's what I feel like both not just the customers, but both customers and employees want is the most frictionless experience that they can get by making sure if there's any walls that are that are holding us in our process, when somebody is trying to do something, whether it be for sales or service, we need to always be evaluating that. And then when there's a hiccup, you know, like, oh, a person wants to get pre approved, they live two hours away. There, it's taken them six hours, there needs to be okay, that's a hiccup. So then we need to empower our people and put the right people in price place to make sure that we create the smoothest experience. So that's what I'm seeing a lot is really just growing those leaders in the internet department to be able to do more or to bring in more leaders outside of that department to work cohesively, like work with them as an online experience team, rather than a separated silo, but make sure we're bringing everybody together.

Paul Daly: 13:15

I don't know if this is going to be a redundant answer. But I'm always fascinated to talk to trainers, because they get to experience a lot of different scenarios and no two dealers do it the same way. Right. Nor nor really, should they because every dynamic is different. Even if you sell the same make you're still in a different market with different people, right and no two leadership teams are the same. So you get to see a lot from a broad spectrum of dealerships. Can you distill down like maybe like the top one to three mistakes that you see commonly across the board? When it comes to you know, when it comes to BDC? Or when it comes? Actually not even limited to that? What are the top one to three things you see, you know, dealers tripping up on in your experience?

Durran Cage: 14:01

Yes, great question number one communication, no hands down communicators

Paul Daly: 14:06

and unpack that a minute, right? Because like, you can you can say what we could fix this whole thing if we just communicated better. Yeah, right. Like, you can always say that, but but like communication breakdown, what specifically like what are the breakdowns that you see are like the most potent?

Durran Cage: 14:20

Yeah, so a communication breakdown could be something as simple is as inventory, right? So something as simple as somebody wants to put a deposit or reserve a certain car custom order. Communication, is making sure that you're being proactive with communication with your teams and communicating to them which vehicles are even eligible to do custom orders or even do that process, or which ones right now we have to handle a separate way. But when a when somebody that gets that interaction has no idea because nobody communicated to them upfront about hey, it's important to know that this is happening. Then they talk to a customer waste the customer is trying to do. And then now they gotta go back to the customer and communicate to him. I'm so sorry. So it's little things, it's going to be different communication points. It could be communication in terms of breaking down what an actual online process should look like. Be, it sounds stupid, but really a lot of deals. Sometimes we don't communicate that clearly in terms of what exactly we're looking for.

Paul Daly: 15:23

Right to your own people, like to your own people, right? saying like, Hey, this is our strategy. This is how we want our online process to look like, right, like, they don't start there. They just like, kind of lump a bunch of things into one like, okay, it's gonna be something like this. Is that what you're saying?

Durran Cage: 15:41

Yes, it's not specific. It's almost it needs to be a playbook. Like, there should be no questions. I say this a lot. And sometimes it can be taken offensive, but everything needs to be broken down to a third grade level, you know, to where everybody my son, my, my, I could bring in Preston James, and he would understand it and be like, Yep, I got it. To me, it is not to offend people. But it needs to be that simple. The next thing I would say, is just accountability, you know, and that's praising too. So when I say accountability, it's on both sides. But going back with communication, there needs to be clarity about what we expect. And then not just about what we expect, but what happens when we're not getting the behaviors that we're looking for. And that's the key separator between the clients, I have that win. And the ones that don't is the leader is either frustrated, Paul and Kyle, I can't get them to do anything. They're lazy. And I'm like, Dude, don't ever say that. Because they're a representation of you. You know? As a leader, you cannot complain to me about your people, every time I'm going to push right back on you punched in the mouth? Because I'm like, What did you communicate that? Have you had a one on one? When's the last time you, coach? You say, so we only have to do three? Those are the two things, being really specific with your communication. But communication to again, is asking people, What is it that I just did a coaching call before this a training. And that's the first thing I do. Give me one thing that's keeping you from having the smoothest process possible with your customers. And I just write them down, boom, boom, boom, and then we get with leadership. Okay, this is what should happen in this situation. This is that's the communication that employees and customers are looking for. And then the accountability in the praising side is just making sure that we take time to recognize those behaviors that we're really looking for to help the teams win. Sounds a

Paul Daly: 17:32

lot like relationship therapy. Yes, you're more you're more of a therapist, I'm sure you figure out right when you get in. I would

Durran Cage: 17:39

say my job is 50% therapy and other 50% is definitely execution.

Paul Daly: 17:44

Man, we got we got three minutes left. I know, I know. You have somewhere to be of clients to serve Kyle, why don't why don't you take the last three minutes?

Kyle Mountsier: 17:53

Yeah, speaking of relationships is and this is what I think is so wonderful about you. Like, everywhere, I everywhere you go, I see your wife with you. And then like you're always taking your kids places and doing that. And then you and your wife actually have a thing going like she's got a thing going on with with supporting health with people everywhere. I everywhere you go, I see you, like being a purveyor of positive relationships like that is the that's the route. What has that enabled you to to be better in like these areas of process, or of, you know, dialing in and execution or communications? Like what about the family relationship, or the ability to create relationships in multiple different mediums, enables you and could potentially enable other people to be better in their everyday businesses?

Durran Cage: 18:48

Kyle would go there, man. Well, thank you for saying that. And I know, that's our time. But what I would say it's the same way that I teach. And training is the same way in my personal life when I'm talking to people, as a lot of stuff that I'm teaching people is through my personal pain. That's why we get mentors, right? You know, we have mentors, because we want to learn how to avoid certain paints, like give me the, tell me what you see. And so I've been that guy that didn't prioritize my wife as much as I wanted her to, or my kids. You know, I've been that guy that never saw basketball game. And I saw the effects of that. And so I don't want other people to go through that because there's always a better way. It's just sometimes we don't have the information to know how to balance things out. And we think the only thing there is is to chase success. And now I do Chase positivity, family, friendship, and things of that nature. Because that's really what's important at the end of the day, man. Automotive is great and stuff, but at the end of the day, it's all about us just connecting with one another and helping each other out. That's that's what helps us enjoy life. Right?

Paul Daly: 19:49

Man. Look, we could easily continue this conversation for a full hour. But people got places to go and people to serve and live to do their thing by We're excited that we get to hang out at ASOTU CON in person. In just I think it's just, I mean, two weeks, two weeks a little more. Durran, thank you so much for giving us some of your time today on behalf of Kyle myself. Thank you for listening to Auto Collabs. Thank you for wearing no crisis can win t shirt. And we'll see you soon.

Durran Cage: 20:18

Thank you guys take care

Kyle Mountsier: 20:25

y'all, he straight shots fired when he said, if you're a leader, and you're complaining about your people, you're doing the wrong complaining, gosh, he was like, no, no, actually, if you're complaining about your people, that's on you. And that the it's tough, right? That's the truth. I mean, if you start talking about your like, there's there's only two routes, get your people good or get good people that was drilled into me from what from some of my managers and the leaders that I met. And and it's true, like, if you are if you're a leader, like you can't just sit there and be like, My people don't do anything, they can't do this, they can't do that they better get better. Alright, he's calling it out. Like you're, it's your responsibility at this point, to either say that's not the right fit, or if it is the right fit, get them better, because that's your role. And that and I think that that's a that's a cold, hard truth that a lot of leaders that no matter what capacity no matter what level, it's hard to swallow, because you just get that pride level. And man I appreciate like that's, that's, that's ownership for me that I've got to take more often.

Michael Cirillo: 21:29

It's one of those like, it makes me think what makes you so special? Like, what makes you so special that you think you even know what to look for in people?

Paul Daly: 21:39

He's like, seven feet tall. I'm good looking. Yeah.

Michael Cirillo: 21:43

No, no, I'm not talking about Durran. I'm talking about the sentiment of like, you know, it's, it's all fun and games and easy to understand when we post the visual of here's what leaders look like, you know, that slave driver versus like walking beside type of a thing. But it's like, that's the question to probably better phrase it not to sound like I'm digging at Durran because I'm not just feeding off of what he's saying is like, as a leader, how do I feel about my people? That's going to be the first indication whether or not I'm a boss manager or an actual leader?

Paul Daly: 22:14

Yeah, I mean, you take that down. And a leader is always someone who looks inwardly first, right? Who always raises the hand to take accountability before they start to point the finger to say who can I blame for this? I mean, it's just a, it's a real simple litmus test on your reaction, right? When somebody in your organization does something wrong, or does something you know, that they shouldn't have done? What's the first thing you do? Right, like, is it what could I have done to not have them in that position? Or is it like, let's let them know just how bad they did? Right? It really is a great litmus test. Well, we hope that you enjoyed that conversation with the handsomeness man, especially if you're on a podcast, Michael Cirillo is the handsomest man if you're on a podcast, but if you're watching it's Durran Cage that true spend some time with us here on Auto Collabs. On behalf of Michael Cirillo, and myself and Kyle Mountsier. I messed up the order there. We'll see you next time.

Unknown: 23:05

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