Anarchy in Automotive Marketing

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Listen In on the HOW TO SELL MORE CARS podcast as Kathi Kruse and Mike TheCarGuy Correra talk about how in today's automotive marketing world, the only constant is change itself.

Automotive Marketing Anarchy & Guilty Pleasures

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Full podcast transcript:

Terry Lancaster 0:11
Hey everybody Welcome to the How To Sell More Cars Podcast. I'm your host Terry Lancaster I got a couple of really special guests today I'm pretty excited about because they both been guests before mark the car guy was one of our very first guest five or six years ago when I first began that the what was then the Get Ya Some Radio Show. Cathy crews been a guest on there Mike has been around the car business forever one of the original social media guys Kathy wrote a book on using social media in a dealership and creating a culture around that. So we're gonna talk about that. We're gonna talk about social media. Mike's done a lot of work in the service department now last Mike about about building, building better relationships with service customers and maintaining that relationship to help grow the entire business. And I want to talk about their podcast, the first pencil podcast and are talking about building culture if didn't ship it, first and foremost, we're going to start with with the trick question Kathy. Guilty pleasure. I know y'all y'all are music people you're always having my music Give me your guilty pleasure that song that you that always get your head bobbing to get you turn it up the radio that you just don't want people to know about

Kathi Kruse 1:27
Josh i There's nothing I don't care if we people know. If they do, I wouldn't like it.

Terry Lancaster 1:38
For that you wouldn't think most people

Kathi Kruse 1:48
I mean, it's gotta be punk, right?

Terry Lancaster 1:50
I don't know. That's, that seems on brand.

Kathi Kruse 1:53
But most people don't think that about me. Oh yeah. Let's say I say Sex Pistols probably. Yeah, Anarchy in the UK made Anarchy in the

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I Mustache You A Serious Automotive Marketing Question

Terry Lancaster 2:20
Mike about you gives you pleasure.

Mike Correra 2:22
All right. I'll give you one that people that know me will never pin on me. But when I hear the opening intro to this son, if I'm driving in my car, I'm standing here at my desk and my home office. I will start to dance uncontrollably, regardless of who's looking at me, or who's around and that's the song my Mustache from the Sparks.

Terry Lancaster 2:45
No, no, that's on my mustache. It says is that the one thing that you see in the commercial? The the iPhone commercial with the girl with the mustache?

Mike Correra 2:59
mustache from the sparks you'll you'll recognize it.

Terry Lancaster 3:07
and I'll throw a link to that version of it posted in the show notes. There's some some teenage girl she's listening as you notice she's got some some hair growing above her lips. And instead of going on nuts, she leans into it styles it and just dances and it's been completely it's a very colorful

Mike Correra 3:28
video. But I've been a fan for 30 plus years of a spark so I discovered it for why the I was just telling

Terry Lancaster 3:37
you, you change. You've been doing some new things. Tell us what you're doing now. Career wise in the dealership, what are you doing everyday and dealerships

Mike Correra 3:45
am still what's deal about the DMS company. I stepped out of the auto industry and from the showroom to the vendor world and that's the team. I initially started with being built as an account manager. So I was traveling all over the country going into stores that use our software and trying to, you know, help them increase their efficiency with the product get better with it. Now I've transitioned kind of into sales and marketing. So moving forward, when you're on LinkedIn and you see a post from either the inner belt or our marketing division, which is this tabash That's probably me that crafted it so having some fun with that. So you're

Terry Lancaster 4:20
you're behind the scenes, you're the you're the Wizard of Oz behind their branding.

Mike Correra 4:24
We'll see what wizard but yeah, I'm the little man with a hidden room.

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The obstacles to a better car buying experience

Terry Lancaster 4:30
Kathi, Can you tell us what you're up to these days?

Kathi Kruse 4:34

I am not so much in the digital space as much as I moved out to more doing operational and financial related consulting. It's where most of my expertise lies. I just needed if I needed to change and wanted to go back to to what I know the most about and enjoy that more than I was

Terry Lancaster 5:00
just telling you about that little before we get we get right up here and so tell us about about the obstacles that you see in the path on the digital the digital retailing side and the social media side and some of the stuff that you you you say you know what? I'm tired of fighting that fight now. I want to find a slightly different Bible what what is what is said Not happening? That you that you think should happen?

Kathi Kruse 5:26
Well, I think it comes back to no training, which I can say the root cause of it. There's just not a cohesive training around anything with digital retail. Like there might be a training here and a training there. Like maybe a sales training but nothing but encompasses the experience that customers expect and that the world is doing now.

Terry Lancaster 5:51

Yeah. The world everyone's doing is recording there's

Kathi Kruse 5:56
no I don't think it's that black and white, but it is. I mean, I have always been someone that wanted to make the most profit at a store and if you're running things well and if your team is trained and they are supportive of each other and they have a good culture then you're going to make more money. So yeah, I think that's the biggest, you know, there's a handful of people that are doing social and digital Well, but, you know, digital is changing as well. You know, social is changing, and Google is changing and there's I mean, everything is changing. So they've completely missed some have completely missed the train on all of it. But it's not too late. So jump in. Well, I

Terry Lancaster 6:47
think I think I think it's not too late because there's gonna be something new it might be tomorrow it might be next week. It might be six months now. Mike and I talked about this. He sold cars on LinkedIn X accidentally. And then he you know, he was all on Google Plus. And now there's no such thing as Google Plus. And then Google Google business is super powerful. And Facebook as a connection tool has been super powerful but everything's in flux. Where do you think the power sitting right now?

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Preaching to the choir and other new fangled automotive marketing ideas

Kathi Kruse 7:16
I see what the big ones but I think that this idea of everyone can be everything to everyone and we're social media is just this big open forum. I think it's now going back to, you could say an echo chamber, but I really think it's communities that are like minded and getting people around your particular like, if you you know, when you're on social, there's so much infighting and outrage going on that it's exhausting being in it. And so that's the open forum idea, which works great when it started, but nothing more. So now it's more rolling back to a community of people that that just have, you know, the same that align with the things that you like with whatever that may be. Yeah, I think more email.

Terry Lancaster 8:06
Yeah. You focusing more on email that find that email? Well, and I think that's part of where we want to talk to Mike about is building building this recurring immunity. I think it goes back to what marketing has always been most effective it and that's in preaching to require that zero yeah, getting getting that group of people and and, you know, finding out who your customers are and hugging them, hugging them closely. How are dealers doing that in service department?

Mike Correra 8:36
I think for me, you know, I spent 35 years in dealerships. My my first job at a store was as a tuneup tech, you know, grab ability text, so service is kind of where I started. And for so long, you know, the truth is, dealerships really praised the sales department everybody lived and breathed, worshiping those sales guys up front and the back end of the store fix UPS kind of not ignored. But now in the last couple of years, we've really seen kind of a turnaround. People are starting to keep their cars longer and longer and longer than ever. dealerships are realizing that it's really the fixed departments that that support the store that drive the store. Sales is flashy, it's romantic, it's it's shiny, but it's the guys that are really in the back turning wrenches, keeping those customers cars on the road that really keep the store moving. So now we're starting to see a shift on attention from the dealership standpoint. And we've seen a lot of technologies emerge, and companies helping not only market service departments, but increase the customer experience in the service drive. There's a handful of companies that are doing some great things with Photo and Video naval MPI and multiple inspections to get that communication to the customer in the format that they're accustomed to using, you know, texting. Nobody answers a phone call anymore. Nobody so when a service advisors calling a customer and say hey, you know, we saw that your car could use brakes while you're here, we can still get it done and your estimated time of completion. If you let me know in the next five minutes, that message never gets hurt. But if you text that customer and show them a picture, no matter what that customer is doing, they're gonna stop answer that text. Hey, let's go ahead and get those done. Let's get the vehicle finished up, send them a mobile bill payment option they can scan their credit card, get it all done. You know, these are the things that people are used to capital saying earlier. The world exists like that. You know, we used to say that the second biggest purchase you make is a car right? Well, what's the first thing is a house you can go online and with a number of apps get approved for a home loan for $500,000 in 15 seconds. Why can't you do that with a car?

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Preaching to the choir and other new fangled automotive marketing ideas

Terry Lancaster 10:37
Yeah. And you're gonna get approved for a loan and they will come to your house and give you half a million dollars at your kitchen table. And you can do it all there you know in your house or you can do a million dollar deal, but I got to go to the dealership to buy a $25,000 car. So

Mike Correra 10:57
spend time online looking at the car finding the car I want when they go to the dealership now I got to start all over again. I got to start with basic Meet and Greet process. I can go out and look at three or four other cars before No this is just the car one can you catch up in the I'm already at the starting line already the finish line meet anymore and that made me start

Terry Lancaster 11:18
well and it goes back to the service and breach into the work those people who are coming into the service work and and our competition isn't the dealership down the street. Our competition is every other person our customers are getting money to every other person that's competing for our customers money and attention. And so we're competing with them but those service customers, they're the ones that are coming back because service customers are the new car buyers. They've got new cars, you got to take out their service and their new cars their warranty they're the most likely to be to be buying the new cars. What we can do is be doing to to really grab onto those high potential buyers and bring them back again with with referrals

Mike Correra 11:58
make their visit is quick and efficient as possible like it's a competition. dealership service departments aren't competing with the dealership across counselors or they're competing with a Jiffy Lube and an Aldi and quick service stores and stores that are around the corner across the street from that dealership. You know customers can pull right in. To use the battling hate to use the name rabbit use it as an example. You can pull right in and drive over it. You don't even have to get out of your car. There's complete touch list experience. They'll scan and then it's almost like going through a pitstop in a NASCAR race because you got people down beneath you know calling up, left front tire checking the air pressure, you know, oil five quarts. They call it out as they go along. You're in and out in 10 minutes. 15 minutes, right? I keep telling service managers. The best thing you can do to see and evaluate your customer experience for your drive is take the next trade in that you get take some petty cash or cash out of your pocket and go have a service down the street at Jiffy Lube. See what that experience is like from the customer standpoint. When you come back. You'll approach your service drive and a completely different perspective. They're gonna

Terry Lancaster 13:11
be like from their level, the heavy what's one of the big impediments that I that I hear when I'm talking to dudes about instilling a culture that is more customer centric that is more focused on the customer's needs and in the process that maybe the dealership has set up whether it's on service or on the sales side. There's always this mismatch between what the others say they want and what is actually in existence, even how they're have it. They don't always connect what's what's the biggest impediment keeping them from connecting

Kathi Kruse 13:50
lack of training, lack of openness, transparency, culture, it's not one particular thing but it's it's also just a willingness to change a little bit because there isn't any change. happening. And I guess training and I don't mean to say that there isn't such a thing out there but I feel I believe there should be training. It's more holistic around where a person's like what we used to do at the dealership I manage. So we were part of a larger owner group but we had managers meetings pretty regularly and we would go over things like like a financial statement, like maybe the balance sheet, a financial statement, and then the next week we'd go through maybe the report that comes from a service or parts or so that everyone can understand what everyone else's job, how it works all together. And it brings a more cohesive approach to things and people you know, it builds camaraderie too, but also just a way to support each other and I don't see any of that happen.

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Terry Lancaster 14:58
Yeah, well part of it is part of it is to is the term world it's It's in everything with turnover with with maintaining employees, with recruiting employees, everybody has Trump tax or like the goose that laid the golden egg and you find a decent tech that you can hang on to but every everyone and then there seems to me there's not much longevity anywhere. And where there's no longevity, there's no accumulation of cultural knowledge and where there's no accumulation of cultural knowledge. There's no buildup of culture. So it's like

Speaker 2 15:30
so I can tell you one thing about longevity ways, make them happy. Yeah. Why wouldn't you want to make them happy? Because they really want to make your customers happy. But if you make them miserable, the opposite happens. So the yes, the turnover is terrible. Yes, it's hard to find good people especially checks. But when you have a good people person you find a good group of people, treat them well. Even well, and they'll stay and I'm living proof of that. If we had it in every level from management down to Porter salespeople. You name it, we had it and it's because we just had those simple. They're simple, but they're difficult to achieve, I think but there's simple tenets of just treating people right and paying them well and make them feel comfortable work. I know I'm laughing I'm not It's not funny. It's just absurd that we're still talking about this in 2023.

Terry Lancaster 16:29
Well I read it it seems strange that PT treating people like people is an unusual and you know, revolutionary idea. But and then everyone's so caught up in all kinds of numbers when the numbers start cascading down and everything starts becoming a code by members outfit and forgets to treat people like people and Mike Mike and I, the it goes back to he was on the very first episode or the very first episodes of the podcast. And he said this thing that I had still restrict my head today that secret of social media is actually being social and they're the name. Yeah, it's right. It's right there in the name. And then the Secret to Building a community is actually retrieved to treating people like people. These are all all truisms. But things keep changing so much. What's social media though? Let's let's step it up. Past the building the internal community how do we how do we go and strengthen that external community? How do we keep that that strong? What can the bosses do to keep it strong and help their people keep it strong? And start

Unknown Speaker 17:37
a community meeting people that aren't on social?

Terry Lancaster 17:39
Well, I external people who don't work at the dealership, the customers the community at large, how did you get that community feeling with the people who are who are your peoples people?

Speaker 2 17:51
Ah, I don't know how to get the masses to like you but I know how to get the customer so I can the masses maybe have to go to advertising but we know what car dealership advertising looks like. So never an attempt to do that. It's more just all about the car. sell the product. Here's the product. Here's the options. Here's the price. Here's the this it's always about the focus on the product or not. Whether you buy right and again there's a few outliers out there that do focus on where you buy and it's important. But by and large, that's not the case. It's more like they just want to just give you all about the car and nothing about where you're buying it from.

Terry Lancaster 18:30
Well, they want to give you about the car and they want to be able to do about the deal. I've been producing regular TV commercial since the dawn of the radio and television era. So it's like it's always like that because they're all They're all there are things you can do to stick it up. There are other benefits that the customer looking for. Dan just tries to speed the speed and that's that's one of my biggest thing we're gonna get you in and out fast the speed of the process the in boosting the likability factor is something that the advertising to do and the and the people can do, but I think it starts with the watch how you treat your people.

Mike Correra 19:07
Yeah, people don't like new cars. That's that's the thing that drives us even to this day. You know, I just, I'm one year into a new vehicle purchase. And when I go out and I look at that truck sitting in my driveway, I actually just love it. And that's the part we need to insert into every aspect of what we're doing. People like new cars, they like to drive them they like to shut them off. They like to share them with friends. No one likes the process of getting that new car. So that's the bridge we need to build is getting the customer from wanting that new car to driving that new car easier, faster and more efficient. Like you said in and out. The process needs to be streamlined. That's what we need to be authentic and sharing with customers out there that we're here to help you get into the car that you already want. We're not here to sell you the car you already want it. We're going to make this process quick and simple so you can start and join

Speaker 2 20:03
and then help them understand how service what what value there isn't coming back for service. You know, kind of just being connected to the store more it there's a huge disconnect there and there's so much opportunity but no one ever I don't see a I don't see a lot of people trying to work it like that's not to say about holistic I take a holistic approach to it.

Terry Lancaster 20:24
I think people love the garbage so much that it actually it becomes a in the culture at large. It's one of the flashpoints now EVs are a cultural Flashpoint. They're, you know, the Honorable business automobile business is having a moment in the cultural zeitgeist. Where it may not look the same five or 10 years down the road, and political parties are lining up behind it and people are lining up behind it. Where does the where does that fit into the dealership? Management although that has to be a huge concern for everyone and at the process level EVs are changing the process.

Speaker 2 20:59
Well, I just I just finished writing for articles for Ernst and Young they did a mobility study and they found the digital retailing and the tenants around it and the training and the language around it language between salespeople and customers. It's being driven by electric vehicle customers. So another you know, kind of nudge to introduce training or just concepts and and kind of improve the experience but we'll see if that happens. I

Terry Lancaster 21:34
hope it does. Well at that level. I mean, at that level of digital retailing is being driven by the Eevee transition. And the Eevee transition is a part of being driven by the manufacturers and there's this disconnect between the dealership versus the manufacturers because Evie is an end around around 100 years of franchise laws. What are what are the bosses in the big chairs? They can about that?

Speaker 2 21:58
Right? Right. Like it says that, you know, it's the old one, it got a SWOT analysis, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. That's the biggest threat there is and I hope that it is I just hope that it can take people to take action around it. I think also I could say that there's a lot of vendors bring a lot of noise. So it makes it more confusing. And you don't know what to do. And so you don't do anything. The website providers that are the preferred vendors are just not great. And I mean, yeah, so there's obstacles right? You have to be very diligent about about what your what your your plan is, what your strategy is to be able to make money that it's going to take money to stay profitable and stay away from the threat of the factory to your business.

Terry Lancaster 22:56
Well, I always say the robots are coming in and so whether it's the the robots or the AI now, I mean it's somewhere someone right somewhere right now is sitting at a computer trying to train an AI and new computer trends are dropped into a digital retail transition form. And whichever dealership group kind of gets that workout first they got they got a pretty big advantage.

Mike Correra 23:19
And there are plenty that are real close their vendors that are close, you know, every day we get closer and closer to fully intelligent two way communications that are completely AI driven. We're close now. I mean, there's a number of vendors that are offering chats and even calculating email responses on the fly based on the customer's inquiries and it's getting pretty crazy out there.

Terry Lancaster 23:45
It is nuts and it keeps moving faster. But the thing that never change, it changes and when I tell him what is is your superpower and you're using superpower and the thing that drives them together is your humanity your ability to connect with with human people, with with with other people in the community. Now on a one to one level and on a larger level you guys have dipped your toes into into the the broadcasting arena. Tell us about the the first pencil podcast. The first pencil kind

Mike Correra 24:15
of came up just on on a conversation kami and I have during COVID We started having kind of a regular conversation just as a way to stay connected and you know, talk to another human you know, we're all stuck behind computers on Zoom meetings and conference calls and such and we just really just didn't want to lose that personal touch. So we started having regular conversations on a time to share a joke or events illustration about our business because we both have such a passion for this industry or just talking about something musically. And one day Kathy had actually said you know we talked about a lot of kind of big ideas and a lot of things that other people can probably get some use out of because we end up talking about tricks of the trade and things that can help increase efficiency. Just you know, if I was at a dealership I would share with her something that I came up with or she would say no with one of the controller things that she's doing something that going on in accounting. So we made an employee share things that other folks can benefit from. She said we just think about doing a podcast. I'm not a podcast person. I didn't listen to very many Cathy's like the podcast when she's always recommending the podcast, but I'm just not into it. But I said let's do it. And now we've got over 60 episodes well over 1000 downloads, you know and we got some really interesting Yes, some that are in automotive. We try to keep it on motive base. And then we finish up with a little palate cleansing and we're talking about something musical because we both have an incredible shared passion for music as well.

Terry Lancaster 25:54
Kathy, what are what's what's you you've done some other things but what's great about the podcast for you.

Speaker 2 26:03
It gives me a way to present my thoughts in a different way because you know, I blocked for a long time and just running out of steam in that world and Google doesn't pay much attention to smaller companies that have popular blogs, even mine that's been around for a long time. So I can kind of see the writing on the wall. Not that I don't want to write anymore. I mean, I still will it's just I just saw it as a different a different way to express myself that maybe you know, and I and I honestly thought Yes, like Mike said it's just we have our conversations and I'm sure people have the same frustrations that we do about certain things and and also that they might want to like we've been through it we you know we we both him and I are both car business veterans and we've seen a lot so we thought maybe we can have some impact that way.

Terry Lancaster 27:03
Well, I'm not really a podcast. Firstly, if I can, I'll be honest with you have produced a lot more podcasts than I've ever listened to. So I listened to a couple by the way, but when I'm in my car, I do listen. But there's so much content out there. And then as a content creator, I write content and I produce content. So there's always content overload. The great thing about this now sell more cars podcasts for me is that then same thing I've always I've been doing for the last five years it started out as kind of this content plan who I'm going to build this thing. And then I decided well, I don't really much care about building a thing. I'm more interested in having these conversations and I get to have great conversations with interesting people. And I evidently learned inevitably learned 10 times more than I knew going in about things that I hadn't planned to learn about and I think that's that's the benefit of something like this and it beat a dead horse but it boiled down down to people because you know, as many times as I as chat GPT we're never going to get to the same point. We're going to talk about sex versus documentary. So guys, any last words before we head out our people? We give it to him.

Unknown Speaker 28:14
Thank you so much, man. It's been a pleasure catching up with you.

Terry Lancaster 28:19
Always a pleasure, brother. Kathy. You thank you so much.

Unknown Speaker 28:22
Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Terry Lancaster 28:24
It's been awesome. All right. I love I love you. I appreciate you coming on. I appreciate you everything you do. Push the business toward the further away maybe maybe we could be better take everyone all right, easy peasy lemon squeezy. Love it. I appreciate y'all. I will I'm probably not probably going to download this tonight and stick it up on YouTube and have it all out tomorrow. So to do that, I'll probably start posting here and tagging down tomorrow. So I appreciate you sharing the words. Thank you so much. Take care

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Terry Lancaster Automotive News

Who the %@#! is Terry Lancaster?

I help car dealers and salespeople sell more cars, make more money, get more reviews, more referrals, and more repeat business by building deeper, stronger, more authentic relationships. I’ve worked with thousands of dealer principals, managers, and salespeople providing proven strategies for making the cash register ring.

Over the years, I've helped thousands of dealers sell millions of cars by putting the right words in the right order to tell the right story. How can I help you tell yours?

My books BETTER! How To Sell More Cars have received glowing reviews from around the world thanking me for the actionable, life-changing ideas they present.

I’ve been featured in Automotive News & Forbes, spoken at the NADA national convention and from the TedX stage, and came in second place at my Eighth Grade debate championship.

Winner Winner. Chicken Dinner!

In my personal life, I've survived Cancer... twice. I've had a gun held to my head and a knife held to my throat. I've been inside a building that was hit by a tornado, onboard one boat that sank and two planes that I was sure were about to crash. 

I lived through three teenage daughters and I've been married over 35 years... in a row!

When I'm not battling for truth, justice and the American Way, I spend most of my free time, like every other middle-aged, overweight, native southerner, at the ice rink playing hockey.

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