Welcome everybody to Service Drive Revolution. I’m Chris Collins and this is Christian Lafferty. We have a great show coming up for you today. I’m going to talk about something very emotional, it’s about something that made me really want to cry recently and I will tell everybody that I’m not the kind of person that cries easily. Then I’ll be talking about my crazy dealership stories.
In fact, the last time I cried was when my dog Rocky died.
This story that I want to share made me want to cry sort of well up a little and we’re gonna talk about that. We’re going to talk a little bit about some housekeeping stuff and things going on, but with our coaching clients, if you are looking to make 2022, a better year and have your Fixed Ops team humming along and be a part of a network and a family, that’s doing some pretty progressive things on the Service side of the dealership.
We’re starting to turn people away from our Coaching Program, in the sense that we do not have the capacity to take everybody on as clients for the coaching side.
The On Demand and the online stuff is wide open because that’s more scalable and doesn’t require the attention that coaching does.
The idea that I give somebody a script, they’re gonna read that, and that’s gonna help them is crazy. A script might inspire you and give you a little bit of a roadmap, but it’s not gonna make you a better Service Advisor. We gotta fix the mental aspect of it first before we run into more crazy dealership stories.
If you haven’t seen our video on YouTube about our Top Dog Event, The Fixed Ops and Service Department State of the Union, it’s one of our fastest videos on YouTube.
The views are unbelievable and it was the peak of our Top Dog event, which still to this day, people tell me that this was the best event they’ve ever been to because of just how real, emotional, and honest, it was to everybody involved. But on top of that, I was writing it and thinking about what I wanted to say, I had to make it inspirational because this is the State Of The Union in reference to us in Fixed Ops. This is where we’re at in the automotive industry and so if you haven’t seen it, make sure to check it out because it also shows the winner of the Jeep at Top Dog!
We will end with the premise of the conversation with: What do we think is gonna change next year? How do we get rid of crazy dealership stories?
However, let’s talk about what made me really want to cry.
I was talking to Missy about this the other night because she has people from the outside of our industry interact with our industry directly, but didn’t quite grow up in it or understand it. We as industry leaders have had many crazy dealership stories… They’re only interacting because they’re our spouses or that sort of thing. It’s interesting to her how simple it would be to fix certain problems inside the Automotive Industry, but for the people within our industry, it’s not as easy to fix.
Whoever was in our OnDemand or our Coaching Program that had the largest increase in Profitability, Effective Labor Rate, Customer Satisfaction, and an essay. When people come into our coaching program, there’s always a leap of faith and these essays for us become great inspiration to new people coming in, to understand that it’s not unique to feel different or unique to be scared of change. There are other managers that are just like you, that thought just like that, ending up achieving incredible results and improving their quality of life.
These people have the freedom to run their business and not be victims of their business do not have crazy dealership stories.
These essays became inspiration to everybody and so what happened when we were doing that was COVID started popping up and then all of a sudden we didn’t know what to do because our Top Dog event wasn’t going to go down and then we were talking to our lawyers that kind of oversee that contest and they were saying, that we had to pull it back because different parts of the world were shut down and it’s not really fair because people in Canada were competing for it too.
I ended up driving this Jeep that I fell in love with. By the way, I never had one problem with that Jeep. The only thing that ever happened was we changed the oil on it. I didn’t put a ton of miles on it or never had one issue with it. It was incredible and fun to drive a car like that in California. For me, I just know that the thing looked like a monster truck out cause we jacked it up.
I’m usually never looking to be the average person.
So I like shocking people. Top Dog finally did come around and we got tons of people that applied to win, they wrote their essays, and turned in their numbers. At Top Dog, there was a clear winner and we gave it away. Since Top Dog months ago, I haven’t had a vehicle and I was in Europe for a couple weeks and I’ve been Ubering and borrowing my fiance’s car, but I haven’t really had a car and I needed to get a car. When I got back from my last trip, I started looking around and I think why I took so long to actually decide to buy something was that I didn’t know what I wanted and I was afraid to experience another crazy dealership horror story.
Finally I decided that I wanted an SUV because I’m bigger. It’s definitely something smooth! I didn’t want something that was going to be a Sports car that hits all the potholes and all of that, I decided on a Land Rover because it was the car that I wanted to buy. Additionally, I started looking online and even though we have clients that sell Land Rovers, none of them are here in LA. The bigger ones here in LA are owned by a publicly traded Auto Group that believes they’re a nation for Autos. A nation for their own nation and OS of autos.
I started looking online now…
The funny thing is when you’re in our industry, you become the consumer and you’re not asking any of your clients for a favor. I felt like two things: I felt like the clients we have that sell Land Rovers, I didn’t want to ask them because their inventories are low and hard to find. Also shipping in is extremely difficult and I didn’t wanna bother them. I also feel like they’d feel obligated to then give me a deal and I would feel bad about that in the climate right now.
I go and I look at the reviews of the different Car Dealerships here in Los Angeles and I don’t think there’s one Land Rover dealership here in Los Angeles that has more than a two star on Google.
The bar is low at some of these dealerships and they have given me crazy dealership stories… Additionally, I see the numbers for our clients that have Land Rovers and the hours per Repair Order are pretty high. So we know they break, now I’m gonna buy something that I don’t have a connection to a dealership that probably is gonna need a lot of service and that in and of itself is scary.
Most of the reviews are about service and two dealerships, the one closest to here in LA and the one on the beach. We won’t say the name, however, it’s the dealership near the pier out by the ocean, the third street promenade and I think her name’s Monica.
Those two dealerships clearly in the reviews on Google are charging over stickers and I believe it’s like $25,000 over currently. As a result, people are letting you know through the Google reviews.
I start doing all this research, watching videos, and doing all this stuff that I kind of get excited about buying a new car. So I’m like, okay, I should go drive it. So I went to the one over the hill and I made an appointment, I emailed two dealerships and I made an appointment.
I went to this dealership that was like a postage stamp with cars parked everywhere. I mean, it just looks like chaos but they had tons of new inventory. As much as they can stack on that little postage stamp, it’s there. They have it right, so I go in and I ask for the kid I’d been emailing with so that I could test drive one with my fiance.
Let’s just go back in time a little bit. Four or five months ago, she bought a Tesla and I would say Christian had a lot of influence in that purchase because he loves his Tesla and the experience he’s had with his Tesla.
What makes me want to cry is when she bought her Tesla and the buying process of a Tesla is extraordinary. My fiance goes, “why doesn’t anybody wanna talk about this?”
Whenever I’m on these panels, I get invited to, I’ve said it a couple times on the show, but NADA told me not to talk about Tesla because it’s not a popular subject with the Automotive Industry. I said it’s not the loss of new auto sales every year that’s gonna hurt the auto business.
It’s the market share that the electric car companies like Tesla are gonna take in addition to the loss of new car sales.
The experience that no one wants to talk about is this…
You go on a website, you pick out the model, you have the outside color option, which is like five colors, then you have an interior option of three. After this, you have either S or regular, so you can do the sportier one or the regular one and the other big option is self-driving, which is 10,000 bucks. If you don’t buy the self-driving, you can turn it on later, but you can buy it at the time.
So you’re clicking through to buy a car and it’s six or seven clicks and you got a car, which is amazingly easy. You put in a credit card and there’s a deposit, I forget how much the deposit is. Now at the time that you spec out a Tesla on the website and granted you’ve never talked to anybody, you’ve never met anybody. It says,
“Hey, now we’re gonna make it. We’re getting it. Somebody’s gonna call you about financing.”
She was happy and they said that it’s gonna take 90 days. They send you an email that says your car’s ready, so they tell you it’s gonna be 90, but it’s ready in half the time.
Then the finance person calls us and they basically tell us that the car is ready and that we need to fill out a couple DocuSign on the website in order for us to schedule the delivery to our house.
So they come to our house, which is a Saturday, they come with the car, they park it right in front of our house. It’s incredible and this young, good looking, and charming nice kid gets out of the car and says,
“Here you go, congratulations, can you open up the app?”
He transferred the car to us in the app and asked her if she had any questions…. That was it, she was in her new Tesla and it was the easiest thing you could ever imagine.
Now let’s go back and talk about my experience of these crazy dealership stories
So my email went back and forth. I made an appointment, I showed up at the dealership, walked in the showroom, and then all of a sudden you get that feeling of like, a really attractive girl in the summer, scantily dressed walking by a construction site.
They get that salesperson that comes out and sits down to tell us that they don’t have the models there that they have on the website. They’ve got a whole pile of cars, but not the one you want. It’s just interesting that on the website, they say they have them, but actually don’t carry them at all.
If you wanted a specific color combination and you went there and those aren’t available, those don’t exist. Even though there’s a VIN number, they don’t put actual pictures of the vehicles up in their stock images.
I don’t know if they’re doing it on purpose. I don’t understand how you load up a car with a VIN number, say you have it and you don’t know the color. There’s no pictures of it and it’s a disaster. This is completely false advertising and feeds into everyone’s story about the automotive industry with their crazy dealership stories.
Then I didn’t care about the color at this point, I asked them if I could drive any of the car, regardless of the color. During the test drive, I told the sales guy,
“Hey, you guys got some pretty bad reviews”. The sales person laughed and said,
“Yeah, that’s us. Oh yeah. The Service Department Sucks.”
My crazy dealership story gets even worse because we do the demo route which is interesting. We get back to the dealership and I was trying to pull it back into this postage stamp. It’s crazy because I couldn’t even get in.
This is what it feels like for people pulling into Service Drives and this creates crazy dealership stories. It just looks like chaos, nobody knows what they’re doing, and it’s just nuts. But that feeling is memorable for the customer, at that point this crazy dealer experience makes them want to get out of there.
I came back from the demo and I’m still concerned about the color combination that I wanted.
Now, I’m looking at other color combinations because I’ve realized that this isn’t what I thought it was gonna be. So now I’m gonna have to figure out very quickly what the colors are and what would be okay when I buy this car.
I told the Advisor helping me out,
“Here’s the deal, I am going to write you a check for the vehicle, I understand that you’re gonna have to wait for the check to clear, when it clears, I’ll come pick it up”
I’m thinking I’m gonna be the easiest customer you’ve ever had because I’m gonna write them a check that when it clears, let me know. I’ll send somebody to pick it up. We’re done. So then he says, “Okay, do me a favor, come sit at my desk.”
What do you think happens when he comes back from the tower? Another crazy dealership story…
The crazy dealership story still persists here, it’s still the same sort of thing. He comes out with the Nation of Auto version of a digital four square. It seems to me that nothing has changed since I bought my first new car when I was 20.
I bought a Nissan Pathfinder when I was a Service Advisor because I could put my drums in it and keep out the rain in Seattle. I remember my lease payment was like $299 or something like that.
I’m old and it’s a while ago. It was 30 years ago and till this day, nothing has changed in the Nation of Autos.
Now, the Advisor helping me is just standing up and I’m sitting down, which is an interesting power exchange thing. Like I’m sitting there he says,
“The chip issue and the market and this and that.”
Meanwhile, I see financial statements from different dealerships every week, maybe half a dozen financial statements every week from clients across the US and Canada. We got dealerships that wouldn’t have even made half a million dollars, now making half a million dollars a month right now because of their new car grosses.
I drove by a Honda dealership yesterday and they had no cars. I know that there is an inventory issue, but that was not the issue here. There were more cars that could fit on the lot than they could sell and I’m sure they have their own crazy dealership stories over there.
He talks to me about the market correction, the chip shortage, whatever they were adding, and this is how he words it,
“We’re adding a Parts credit”
To make it sound like I’m gonna pay and that it’s $15,000 on top of the price of the car. That then is a Parts credit. Now I didn’t get too far into understanding what the heck that means, what a Parts credit is, but I’m thinking,
“How could I possibly buy $15,000 worth of parts for this thing?”
Part of this crazy dealership story is wondering how I possibly could spend that much. I don’t think they mean that you’re gonna spend $15,000. Maybe they’re gonna give you 2000 to use as you please.
There’s a market adjustment on the car and trust me, I understand market adjustments. When I ran a dealership on the hot new models, we would have market adjustments. I get it, however, I’m not gonna pay for it. I said,
“Hey, that’s cool how you guys are doing that. I was under the impression that you weren’t because the prices were on the website or I would not have wasted your time.”
That’s what I said because I’m not paying them the market adjustment, but it’s their right to do it. If they want to do it, it’s fine. So, he goes, “well, hold on one second now.”
What do you think he does other than giving me crazy dealership stories?
I got the turn.
My crazy dealership story got worse from here because what the turn means is that now the manager’s coming out. Now the manager comes out and sits down in the sales person’s seat. Which is an interesting dynamic psychologically because the salesperson was standing and he’s sitting down.
He comes out, sits down, and the salesperson isn’t right there. That is kind of a technique, I’m assuming. This isn’t something I would do in a dealership that I would run and right off the bat it gave me a crazy dealership story for the far future. I wouldn’t do it that particular way. The manager is now sitting in the person’s seat at his desk and says,
“How can I help you?”
That’s his, that’s his pet the dog line. That’s how he builds his rapport.
I told the manager helping me that there’s no way I’m paying a market adjustment. And they kept asking me if I wanted to pay $12,000, which was still not an option for me. I get that everyone has the right to inflict a market adjustment on their cars, however, I was not interested in paying that adjustment. My crazy dealership stories get worse because…
I’ve been at this place for a couple hours. I have nothing to show for it, except for frustration. I hate them at that point. They’ve wasted my time and they don’t have what they said they were gonna have in stock. They’re baiting and switching to begin with, they have no technique whatsoever or respect for, like they just don’t care about your time or any of it. I said at one point,
“You guys should look me up because I’m gonna talk about that.”
The crazy part of this dealership ship buying experience is that nothing has changed in 30 years. Now, I’m really depressed at that point and I don’t know what to do, so I go on the website for Tesla and I’ll get the SUV. It’s not what I want, but it’s so much easier than dealing with all this. As I’m going to do that…
Guess what they’re sold out until November of 2022 and so I’m thinking, are they lying and saying it will be done in six months?
I was dying to buy a car and I ended up getting a vehicle. However, let me tell you in that situation, it is just incredible how the dealer ran in. How if people don’t have to have a car, it wouldn’t work. You have to do all the work as a consumer, they don’t want me to write a check, they want me to wire the money. So I’m going to wire the money on Monday when the office opens and the guy tells me about finance.
With the finance department, our games were about cash conversions. We role played cash conversions. We talked about cash conversions and we tracked cash conversions. No crazy dealership stories involved.
So if the desk had somebody that did cash deals, have them go into finance and convert it. We like it. They won something in the game because at the end of the year, especially if you’re running a dealer, the Land Rovers are over 6,000 pounds, you can write them off 100 hundred percent. And instead of giving me this crazy dealership stories, I would be content with my purchase.
It’s better for me to buy the Land Rover and write it off and save on the taxes at the end of the day than to lease it, because it goes against our taxes. So people come in at the end of the year and they’re like, I want this ‘Land Rover’ and they’ll write a check.
Recently, what happened in finance is the guy is trying to sell me a bunch of stuff that I don’t need right now. On a menu of a bunch of stuff that I don’t really care about. When I sat down, he asked me how long I was gonna keep it? I told them two years, like, that’s my plan is to keep it for two years. So I don’t need an extended warranty. I don’t need these things, stop giving me crazy dealership stories that I’ll tell everyone around me.
The only reason I would buy them is for him to make a commission.
CRAZY DEALERSHIP BUYING EXPERIENCE
If you’re in that situation, instead of trying to sell me things I don’t need. The guy even made some comments about it, about how he’s not making any money. It’s interesting that people don’t look me up. People at that dealership knew who I was, but it’s interesting to me that they said the things they said…
It’s nuts, but why wouldn’t they try to do a cash conversion in that situation?
Anyways, I gotta wire the money on Monday, right? So I’ve signed all the paperwork, but but then he goes,
“You can’t take the vehicle until you show me proof of insurance.”
And I told them that I sent them my insurance and he refused my request by telling me that the VIN had to be on the insurance. And I said, “I have 30 days, second of all, because we are buying it under the business. I have more insurance under the business than I do on the car insurance.”
So the insurance guy is waiting for them to send the paperwork and my crazy dealership story keeps getting worse. We wire the money Monday and it cleared Monday. I went to pick it up on Wednesday. So on Tuesday, I asked them
“If I could get the paperwork? Can somebody just email me whatever the insurance people need to know about the car so that they can add it to the insurance. Can I get that?”
Because it’s a cash deal, nobody in finance would even do anything. So I tell the sales team to text the salesperson. I’m like,
“Hey, I gotta come pick this thing up and if they can’t give me the stuff, somebody better not tell me that I can’t take it”.
Then I get there and I have an appointment to pick it up. From here, the salesperson isn’t even there. I call them on their phone and there’s somewhere else.
Someone there aggressively told me to, “Have a seat, somebody will help you.” There’s nobody there to help me. So when I saw someone who I knew was the manager, I asked them to hand me the key and that I’ll figure it out on my own. This kept making my crazy dealership stories get better the longer I was in this location.
I don’t wanna sit here for four hours because I don’t understand, I had an appointment.
It’s so frustrating how we don’t understand why dealerships lose 80% of their customers to independence. We don’t want to talk about it. That’s the problem. We don’t want to talk about it. We only want to create crazy dealership stories.
But right now, as we sit, we can still save the Automotive Industry and nobody wants to save it. The manufacturers don’t wanna save it. The dealer body doesn’t wanna save it. And nobody wants to talk about it.
We’re all naive to the idea and I guess we think that the Nations of Auto and Lithia are going to buy up everything. That there will be the dealers who get their big payday and go away. But doesn’t anybody care about just the image of our industry? Just the fact that our mothers and our sisters and our cousins buy cars and have to go through this frustration with all similar crazy dealership stories to talk about.
Just go on and read some of the reviews and people are at their wits. You can’t treat people like this because it’s depressing to me. I grew up in this industry and nobody cares. Everybody just is complacent to the idea that something will happen. I think the fact that the new car grosses and the used car grosses are so high right now because of COVID.
This is creating a secondary problem and giving me some crazy dealership stories. I don’t know the secondary naivety.
My crazy dealership story gets bad because if people were paying $15,000 over sticker because of supply and demand, wouldn’t we then invest some of that money in making it easy for them when the car breaks or needs service?
Wouldn’t we invest something in the relationship after they leave with their brand new car? We need to think about the automotive industry and how it is not a one time thing.
Why aren’t we making service in the customer experience? Why are we giving people crazy dealership stories?
Instead we get stuck with a crazy dealership experience… Why aren’t we spending a lot of time and a lot of effort as an industry on how to make things easier for consumers? Why are we giving the advantage away?
I do not for the life of me understand… Because Tesla, in a lot of ways, isn’t doing things that we couldn’t do as an Automotive Industry. It’s just because we are stuck in our ways and we’re stubborn and we don’t want to talk about it.
From our family to yours, we hope you have a great holiday season. We hope you eat so much that Santa brings you what you want. We will see you at the beginning of next year on Service Drive Revolution.
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