Tony Thomas, Owner, Tony T Automotive Group

November 29, 2022
ASOTU was on the ground with Tony Thomas during the 2022 NAMAD Annual Conference.
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Tony Thomas is the Owner of Tony T Automotive Group.


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Kyle Mountsier: 0:00This is In the Dirt with ASOTU.Paul Daly: 0:04

All right here, Tony Thomas, new to the ASOTU community. So we want to introduce him dealer. Tell us a little bit about your group and a little bit about yourself.

Tony Thomas: 0:13

My group is a Tony T Automotive Group. Based back in 2018, we own a Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram store in Orangeburg, South Carolina. I also own a Nissan and a Ford dealership, and beloved Volvo, Arkansas.

Paul Daly: 0:26

So this last 24 months for a lot of dealers, overall dealers has been different than any 24 month period in the history of the business. What What have you done to navigate to success? And what are you looking to do over the next 12 months?

Unknown: 0:40

Well, you know, I think me coming into the business, been in business for about 20 years, was appointed in a deal and back in 14, sold those shares and started my own Automotive Group. I think one of the biggest things was coming into this turn has been for us, was just coming in and getting the baseline, creating positive culture and South organization, the store I took was a store that was very broken. And it just took a culture shift, you know, coming in and putting out processes in place and changing the culture of how we treat the customers, but also how we treat our employees. So for me, the employees came first because if we treat the employees good, they would definitely turn to the customers. Well,

Paul Daly: 1:11

I can't tell you how many times we've heard that exact narrative this week, when you know, there's always a lot of conversation around New Tech and new tools that you can implement in your business. And the conversation seems to be staring right back to the people the processes, tell me about what elements you look for in a good culture and what you try to instill. Repeat that to me, what type of elements of a good culture that you try to instill,

Tony Thomas: 1:35

you know, positive, upbeat, making sure that you know, when the customers come in, and salespeople, your your employees come in, that, you know, you have good benefits for that setup form. And also, you've got proper training processes, because sometimes people don't know what bad habits are. So you know, first automatic, automatic, you know, I hired a group to come in, and we go through processes, which is onboarding, because a lot of times when you come into a dealership, when I came into the business, there was no onboarding process. I mean,

Paul Daly: 2:00

here's your desk, there is a phone, yeah, get to work, right? Yeah,

Tony Thomas: 2:03

here's the desk, phone, go to work, go get it and compare it. That's what we do now is the onboarding process. So when the, when the employee comes aboard, you know, they get their employee packet, but they also it takes to train it sensitivity training, we go through culture training, they get a handbook, and we there's a strong set of rules, you know, you got to go through that process, depending on what department you're in, how long it may take, but I think is important, they know that the coach and the lay of the land, and what are their where they could go if they have issues, because we don't even know

Paul Daly: 2:28

if so because they they're not told yet. So that means you're not raising your hand, when there's a problem, you don't even know what to do with it. That's right. So you sit on it. And that's probably information you need, or a manager needs to hear 100%. So give me give me an example. Like we'll pick a salesperson, right? What does the salespersons onboarding process look like, at your stores? About how long like what did they go through? You know, what does that like, look like?

Tony Thomas: 2:48

So the onboarding process after you get through the initial phase, and maybe don't yet employ application, which we do online, so we can not have so much try to dispose so much paperwork, right? You know, we don't want it online, we send out for you know, your background checks, you know, which typically takes about, you know, sometimes 72 hours for us in the state in South Carolina does. And then at that point right there, you know, once we get the process back, and drug screening and all this done, then they were set up, then they set up a date and a time for that employee to come in. And they go through that one day onboarding, which is put all your paperwork together, going through the handbook, setting up your HUD, your payroll, if you want payroll deduction, which we typically do payroll deductions go over here, we go over to employee and benefits package at that point in time. And then we have we do a start date of what it is. And typically, if it's a salesperson, now they gotta go through training. So that training for them starts. That's a one week training of, hey, this is what it is getting to the systems, your CRMs your DMS is, this is how I put my process go, our internet process goes. So we kind of go through that whole base. Yeah, sure.

Paul Daly: 3:49

What are the things that you do on the company culture side, you know, you just went through a lot of things that are kind of

Tony Thomas: 3:57

so how many Emily's? So you asked me a question about, you know, some of things we do for culture change. So we hold a town hall meeting once a month is what we do the net town hall meeting what it's meant to do, we get together at the end of the month, we go to state a union and what happened last month, where we're looking at trend for the next month. And we also give out the awards for each department, it gets a an employee of the month and from his department goes off and we serve food. And it's a time for everybody to kind of get together he at that point in time go through any issues that we may have, and let them know you appreciate them. That's one of the things that we do. And we also have a once a year employee Employee Benefit deal where we get together and do like a picnic during the summertime, or do a create a team bowling. So we have we have activities that we try to do every quarter and try to get keep things going into South organizations.

Paul Daly: 4:46

So you basically have once a month you get everybody together. And once a quarter, you have a bigger thing. Yes. What do you think? Where do you think your organization would be if you didn't do those things specifically?

Tony Thomas: 4:59

You know, I think There can be a lot of wondering going on a lot of what else is going on, if you don't put these things in place, I've worked in an environment where he did. And we were always in the unknown. And I could go ask three different people things and get three different answers. And so what we try to do is try to slam down on that. That's why the processes have to be in place, if you got, you got a complaint, you have a number to call, you know, if you got it, if you haven't, you can turn it in through email, or you can get on the phone and call, David that way it comes up and we address it. You know, I think that not having something like a town hall meeting in place. It can be a little bit insensitive of people not thinking you care about is just a number. They got to come to work, show up, perform and get out the way. And I want them know that I appreciate it. And I think sometimes it's good to get together and break bread, have lunch and go from now.

Paul Daly: 5:42

Tony, thanks for spending a few minutes with us today. I think what you're doing from a cultural standpoint, is to be celebrated in the industry. And I hope that this encourages people to do more of that.

Tony Thomas: 5:50

Definitely my man, thank you guys for everything you've done. Appreciate it.

Kyle Mountsier: 5:54

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 asotu.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 ASOTU

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