William Sweatt, GM, Crossroads Buick Chevrolet GMC

December 13, 2022
ASOTU was on the ground with William Sweatt during the 2022 Modern Retailing Conference.
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William Sweatt is the General Manager of Crossroads Buick Chevrolet GMC.

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Kyle Mountsier: 0:00This is In The Dirt with ASOTU Alright, we're here at MRC hanging out with a brand new friend that we did not know up until about, what, 30 minutes ago, I've

Paul Daly: 0:11

never even introduced myself to you.

Will Sweatt: 0:13

I don't even know. Lisa, nice to meet you.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:17

Will Will, is that a store just north of Memphis, right? We're actually east of Memphis in East of Memphis. Okay, cool. So and so will tell us like start just a little bit about where the store is your role and kind of, you know, volume so people can get a perspective of of what you're doing in the in the market.

Will Sweatt: 0:38

Okay, so we're located in Corinth, Mississippi, which is about 70 miles east of Memphis, three and a half hours south of Nashville where you're at. And about 45 miles north of the birthplace of Elvis in Tupelo, Mississippi. It's nice little traffic area. Well,

Paul Daly: 0:56

I mean, what's the name of the store? Oh,

Will Sweatt: 0:58

Crossroads. There you go. crosswords a nice little spot. That's right, in 72 is considered that's what Corinth is. They're called the crossroads of that area. So we sit right there. Small little community, Chevrolet, Buick GMC. And I've been there for about two and a half years. I've known the owner for about 15 years, but I've been there about two and a half years as the General Manager. And, you know, it's been great. I mean, the business has been awesome.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:23

Yeah. It's a good time to get into a new store, like I bet well, two and a half years that would have been right around when the kind of pandemic and all that started, right. Yeah, I

Will Sweatt: 1:31

was I came in right as the pandemic was.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:35

Here you go. Here's some fun. Take the mess. Alright, so what are you doing before that?

Will Sweatt: 1:42

So I worked for a large f&i agency. I've been in the business for about 27 years, started selling cars, when I got out of the military, worked my way through and then went to work for an f&i agency, a large one, and then had my own agency. And then COVID, hit and travel couldn't, and I was up north. So I decided to come back. So back on the floor,

Kyle Mountsier: 2:02

like back in South I love good. So the reason why we wanted to bring you is because you said a couple of years ago, you saw the Mohawk Honda automotive news article, and it kind of spurred something in you to recreate and reimagine the way that you all did content and did business.

Will Sweatt: 2:22

Yeah, we, it was kind of a new concept, you see Mohawk out there. And you start seeing them talking about their social media, and everything they were doing on Facebook, and we said, you know, this is we have to be able to track not only the younger buyers, but we have to be able to go out and be part of the community and get our name out there. And quite frankly, what's, what's the least expensive way to do that. I mean, yeah, just start creating your brand on Facebook. So we changed our whole advertising scheme up went away from a lot of the things that we were doing, which it's hard to, you know, tie, you know, on, you know, cut those apron strings, but we did it, we hired an in house person that would handle what we call our brand awareness or brand development, and put them in charge of going out to the community meeting businesses, we called our Community Connect, and started doing everything on Facebook and went away, we don't do, like when we do our videos and everything, none of them talk about the product, they're always about community, or something fun or something. So you just said

Paul Daly: 3:23

something that we could really easily gloss over. You said you hired somebody to like, you know, think about social media, but you also said this other thing. Like go out into the community and talk to people. Yeah, it's easy to disconnect those things. Because we see a lot of people on social media, you think I got my phone up, I'm making videos, I'm pushing content out. But it sounds like you went out to get it and build actual relationship.

Will Sweatt: 3:50

Yeah, we wanted to build a relationship with the community, through three prospects through not only just the individual, but businesses, and then the charitable giving side of the community. So we've, we've done a lot of stuff with that we do blood drives, we go out to local businesses, we do our you know, Facebook Lives from local businesses, we give away, you know, some of their gift cards we timed to what we're doing is bring him as part because what we saw was if I can get them to, you know, put me on their Facebook, my reach becomes more and so we're in a community so happy right now. 30,000 people and our, our reach monthly is about 80,000

Paul Daly: 4:30

I'm so happy right now because this is

Kyle Mountsier: 4:32

the kind of stuff that we taught, we say like this and you're doing it we say become the mayor of your community, right, like just be everywhere be the most respected. The one that everyone sees is like the community, you know, hero, right? And I think that that's where I love that you broke it down and you're like, we're going to we're going to work with the individual. We're going to work with the local businesses and we're going to work with the nonprofits because I think a lot of times some people will go like, Oh, we're gonna go do nonprofit work, but That cuts out the coffee shops and the and the and the and the restaurant terrors and it cuts out the the single player, the one person that's doing a really cool thing in the in the community and, and so I love how you've taken that three pronged approach. Yeah, we,

Will Sweatt: 5:12

we like to be a part of the community. And it's important, you know, not only for just the business side of it, but it's, you know, as we say, it's just the right thing to do. Yeah, this year, we were able to give away five high school scholarships for college. And so five, yeah, we gave away five scholarship, because we have five high schools. One every high school, we don't want anybody to feel left out. And that's kind of become, you know, just just what we're doing. All right.

Paul Daly: 5:36

So you came from a major f&i background had an agency, a GM, where did the marketing savvy come from? If you're maybe it's just common sense for

Will Sweatt: 5:48

you? No, no, it's taken a lot of I have to do a lot of hands off type stuff, I have to kind of give them direction because we have a, we have a young lady who's in charge of that now. And she comes to me with ideas, and quite frankly, I tell her all the time, your ideas make no sense to me. So I'm just saying I'm just gonna I'm just gonna trust that you do it when the first thing she did

Paul Daly: 6:11

say that one more time. You got it. Your ideas make no sense to me, but

Will Sweatt: 6:15

I'm gonna trust you. Because she did one last year, we did a decorate your door contest. Yep. In each department had a door for Christmas. And then she put the vote out, yeah, to the community. And it was one of the first things that she did. And I'm like, this is nobody's gonna, like, this is terrible. And we had like, you know, we've had like, in two days, it had like 8000 engagements, a reach of like, 40,000 people. So now she comes to me, I'm like,

Paul Daly: 6:42

I don't understand. But I trust you go. Yeah, all this comes down to one thing. Everyone always says, Will it sell more cars? The flip side of that is, will it change my ad budget? Will it you know, what are the results? So tell us about the results, because that's what Kyle and I we've heard both of our heads like snap sideways, said this in the in the workshop we were in so for

Will Sweatt: 7:04

the last two years, including this year, where we hear car sales are down this year, but for the last two years we've been here this year is better for us than last year was. Yeah. And I don't think there's a lot of people saying that right now. But we're up 40% From when we got there, and our ad spend has gone to, you know, from $450 a car when you're doing all of the, you know, the other things that you could do? down to about $60 in car

Kyle Mountsier: 7:30

now does the $60 a car? Does that include all of your community involvement efforts and the giving away cars? Yeah.

Paul Daly: 7:37

It's all wrapped up, because he's not talking about adspend. He's talking about marketing spent?

Will Sweatt: 7:42

That's right. Yeah. Yeah, everything we do when we come on, when we buy $100 worth of candy for our trunk or tree goes in there. It goes into that budget.

Paul Daly: 7:51

How do you account for your staff, your marketing staff where this young lady? Is she the only one that's like assigned? So she quickly

Will Sweatt: 7:57

we have a digital marketing department now? Yep. And so we have one person that oversees it. And then we have her, and we had one other person in it. But like any video, we wanted three people. Yeah, one store, one store. And so right now we're down to two, gotcha. We're looking to put somebody else in that role. But we're doing it with two right now. And, you know, we don't have to pay for any outside commercials, if I want to do a 32nd commercial, give it to her. And it's done within three days, and I don't have to go out and pay a production company to do it. So, you know, we didn't necessarily change what we were spending. We adjusted, where it was going. And it's better to have it invested in your people.

Kyle Mountsier: 8:37

Did you did you gain efficiency? And just you said you're out? 40%. So it's probably a couple of things where you gained efficiency by reducing overall ad spend, but also gained efficiency by growing volume. That's right. So both happening in the same day. 40% creates this nuts kind of, you know, the change in the way that that business looks.

Paul Daly: 8:59

So what's your what's your heading for 2023?

Will Sweatt: 9:02

So for 2023 We're trying to figure out do we do tick tock? Do we not do tick tock? Not on tick tock at all right now? No, we're, we're mainly YouTube and Facebook right now. We're looking at the tic toc. And then we're looking at, we were opening a community page on our website to show people the more charitable activities, and we're looking to try and start a 5013 C, you know, start to give away to charities and be, you know, really, you know, invested,

Paul Daly: 9:29

you know, well, we'll it is absolutely been a pleasure to have this conversation. We're going to be friends for a long time. I can tell right now. Thank you for doing the work that you're doing because it can't be idealistic. If it's actually being done and you're actually doing it. So thanks for spending a few times minutes with us today.

Will Sweatt: 9:44

Man, we love you guys. So we appreciate it. Thanks.

Kyle Mountsier: 9:48

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 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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