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Scaling a $4.5B+ Dealership Empire | Car Dealership Guy Podcast

发布时间 2024-04-18 17:00:34    来源


Welcome to the Car Dealership Guy Podcast. In this episode, I'm speaking with David Hult, CEO of Asbury Automotive Group ...



When you're buying a dealership, you really don't get to talk to anyone or see anything until after you close. I have a simplistic rule equal to or greater than. If we can't maintain things or make them better, even if the deal makes financial sense to us, we will not do it. Coons, Larry H. Miller and Park Place. If you have yet to hear these names, you better get Googling because this CEO is making some of the biggest acquisitions in the dealership business and changing the landscape of the industry as we know it.

Today on the Car dealership Guy podcast, I'm speaking with David Holt, CEO of Asbury Automotive Group, a dealership group with over 157 locations. Don't forget to click subscribe so you never miss an episode. But before we get into the show, this episode is brought to you by Autofy. Autofy helps dealers like you sell smarter, not harder on your dealership website and now in your showroom too. Autofy solves the everyday problems dealers actually face like bottlenecks at a sales desk, customer distrust and decision overload.
在今天的汽车经销商节目上,我将与大卫·霍尔特(David Holt)进行对话,他是Asbury Automotive Group的CEO,该集团在157个地点拥有经销商。不要忘记点击订阅,这样您就不会错过任何一集。但在我们进入节目之前,本集的赞助商是Autofy。Autofy帮助像你这样的经销商在经销商网站上和展厅里更加轻松地销售。Autofy解决了经销商们真正面临的日常问题,比如销售台的瓶颈、客户的不信任和决策过载。

Their all new showroom solution includes deal estimation, desking, lender routing, and an F&I menu all in one powerful platform. Deal ships with Autofy saw cars faster with higher satisfaction and more profit. In fact, dealers make an average of $641 higher back-end PVR on Autofy deals versus their non-autofy deals. To learn more and start selling smarter today, go to autofy.com slash CDG or click the link in the show notes below.

This episode is also brought to you by Experian Automotive. Experian Automotive is one of the most trusted sources of data and insights in the automobile industry and are a one-stop shop. That's because Experian maintains massive databases from credit profiles to vehicle history data and millions of consumer data points. Imagine the potential of Experian data insights to drive your marketing strategies.
本集节目还由 Experian Automotive 赞助。Experian Automotive 是汽车行业中最值得信赖的数据和见解来源之一,是一站式购物平台。这是因为 Experian 拥有庞大的数据库,从信用档案到车辆历史数据再到数以百万计的消费者数据点。想象一下,借助 Experian 的数据洞察力来推动您的营销策略的潜力。

Dealers can use automotive lifestyle and predictive data to find in-market car shoppers faster and at lower costs. By leveraging targeted audiences, dealers can communicate with car shoppers based on make, model, off-least, off-loan, inequity, fuel type or vehicle servicing needs. All this allows dealers to communicate with the right car shopper with the right message at the right time. They can increase their success rates and consumers are happy because they receive timely relevant communication.

You can learn more about the Experian marketing engine by clicking the link in the show notes below. David Holt on the CDG podcast, David, welcome. Excited to be here, Josie. Excited to have you all and you're a hard man to reach and get on this podcast, but we made it happen. Let's make the most of it. I want to start with a very important question. Like this is just ridiculous and I'm nervous to ask you, but someone wanted me to ask you, who is the loudest person in the Asbury Auto Group Office? You know, there's a lot of people that have that award, but I would say Moron Maric is probably one of them. Well, that's the person that asks, so he gets the award. I love to hear it.
您可以通过点击下方节目音符中的链接了解更多关于经验营销引擎的信息。David Holt在CDG播客中,David,欢迎。很高兴能在这里,Josie。很高兴能和大家在一起,您很难联系,让您参加这个播客不容易,但我们成功了。让我们充分利用这次机会。我想先问一个非常重要的问题。虽然这有点荒谬,而且我有些紧张要问您,但有人让我问您,阿斯伯利汽车集团办公室中最吵闹的人是谁?您知道,有很多人有这个奖项,但我想说莫龙·马里奇可能是其中之一。那么就是提问的那个人,那么他就得到了这个奖项。我很高兴听到。

David, man, a lot to cover today and you've been doing a lot of great things as people familiar with the group. No, before we even get started into that, how did you get here? Give us the background of David Holt in the car business. Yeah, it's probably a story like most. I think a lot of people end up in automotive by mistake. I got out of the military and I was waiting to become a state police officer in the state that I was in. And there was an ad in the paper that said a free demo and ability to make money. And I didn't have a car and a demo sounded like a good deal. And it was at a Ford dealership. So I went there and interviewed and got hired and started selling Ford trucks. And I kind of fell in love with the business. It was a little bit tough to enter into it from coming from the military, but I love the people aspect side of it. So that's how I entered in.

So what was, take us for your journey in the car business, right? CEO today of a multi-billion dollar, you know, major auto group, to say the least, right? Started from really the ground up. What was that journey like for you? You know, I think everything in life is timing and opportunities and luck. And I was really lucky and blessed along the way to have a lot of great mentors, be in the right place at the right time to get opportunities. I started off selling, I ended up going into finance, did that for a period of time, was a sales manager, general sales manager, went to general manager school, worked for a lot of different, a few different dealers that I just had tremendous respect for. And I learned a lot from, I'm more of an introvert than an extrovert. So I like to listen and learn. And I always feel like I can learn from somebody. And I've been lucky along the way to have a lot of good people that have mentored me along the way and taken me through that path.

I worked for a tremendous dealer in the 90s, named Ira Rosenberg. And his son David was the best man in my wedding. They were great. I mean, I learned so much there, I had so much fun. We aligned so much philosophically about taking care of your employees and being involved in the community. And when they chose to sell to a public company, that's when the public's were forming. And none of us had exposure to that. And Ira chose to sell the group to group one at the time. So we became part of a public company. David stayed on to run the platform. And I just had the opportunity to learn what the public world was about compared to the private world. And then after a few years, I got solicited by Roger Penske and his team to run a store for him in Florida with the potential to do more.

So I did that. I thought it was an opportunity to grow and challenge myself to move to a different part of the country and learn. And it was a great experience. And Roger's just the best. It was great to work with. And I learned so much from him. It was fun running that store. But it was tough on my kids. They were in their teenage years. They didn't appreciate being moved at that age. So I ended up going back to New England after my year contract was up with them. And ended up going back to Group One. And this time I went in there running the market. So I ran the New England market for them. And then a new CEO came to Group One. His name was Earl Hesterberg. And Earl structurally made a lot of changes to the company. So anyhow, I ended up taking on New England, New York, and New Jersey.
所以我就这样做了。我觉得这是一个成长和挑战自己的机会,搬到国家的另一个地方学习。这是一个很棒的经历。罗杰是最棒的。和他一起工作很棒。我从他那里学到了很多。经营那家店很有趣。但对我的孩子们来说有点艰难。他们正值青少年时期。他们不喜欢在那个年纪被搬来搬去。所以在与他们的一年合同结束后,我最终回到了新英格兰。然后我回到了Group One。这次我负责市场。所以我为他们经营了新英格兰市场。然后Group One来了一位新的CEO,他叫厄尔·赫斯特伯格。厄尔对公司做了很多结构性的改变。总之,我最终接管了新英格兰、纽约和新泽西。

And that was a lot of fun because I got exposed to different people, different brands, different markets. So it gave me a lot to really learn and see the world through other folks' eyes. Maple shade, New Jersey, and different parts like that. And it was great. And then within the year I took on the South. So I had from New Hampshire to New Orleans over to South Florida. And I did that through the recession, 0809. And then in 2011, I moved into their corporate office. And I took on fixed operations for the country and created a marketing department. During that time, I had a health issue that I came down with.

And I started to reflect on what I was doing and where I was in my life. And I kind of wanted to go back on the private side. So I left after a year and went to work for a guy named Mac McLarty, who's just in his family, just great people, really interesting folks. And one of his things that he's best known for, he was the chief of staff for Bill Clinton at one point in time. But he had some really neat investors in his company. He had businesses in Brazil, China, a consulting firm in DC, distributorship, Project Land Rover in Mexico, and stores in the US. So I ran that business and had a lot of fun doing it and loved working for him. He was just so interesting to learn from.

And then the opportunity came to come to Asbury as the chief operating officer. And initially, I turned down the interview because I kind of thought that I belonged on the private side and that was best. And my motivation for being in the car business is just long as I'm because I know how to change oil because I don't. I'm fascinated by the people and the stories of the people that are in the industry. That just is meaningful to me. And what drives me, so to speak. But I was convinced to come for the interview I did. I fell in love with the CEO here. He was a prior military guy like myself. Was not an operator. It was a finance guy by trade. But had tremendous respect for the people in the stores and what they did. And I thought that it would be a great journey for me to learn from him.

So anyhow, so I came here as the operations guy. And when he retired, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to take on the CEO. And at the time, the board here is fantastic. They're very supportive. But some of my goals at the time when I asked them about it was I wanted to grow the company. And I wanted a lot more of our employees in the dealership to be able to participate in stock awards.

So we rewrote our stock plan because it was written in a manner that I really couldn't give it out to the frontline people in the stores. We rewrote the stock plan. I visited our large shareholders. They were kind enough to have a vote and approve it. So we went from giving 120 people a year or so stock in the company to about 1,800 people a year stock in the company. And it's technicians, sales advisors, service advisors, collision folks, accounting folks, support staff people. It's a lot of fun giving frontline people equity in the company that they work for. Take me through that frame of mind, right? Initially, you said you were more of a private auto group guy, right? Obviously, it's stock is more limited. Typically, it's e-liquid, right? Here you are a public company, liquid stock. Have you, I mean, clearly you're the CEO of a public, publicly traded auto group today. So I think we know what you likely favor. But take us through your frame of mind as having gone from the transition of being a private guy to a public guy and sort of the positives and negatives to both.

Sure, it's funny. I think there's positives and negatives to both. And I think it's really about an individual making a choice that's best for them. I loved working on the private side. I loved working for the families, the dynamics, the passion, the ties they had, the community. That just hit home for me. Some of us are servers by nature. I'm a server by nature. So that just aligned with me and my philosophy.

With the public organizations, the benefit of a public company, if you're not part of a family and don't own a business, you can reach a ceiling and a dealership with your career path. It's still a meritocracy. So even with a public company, regardless of where you came from, you can get to any position you want if you want to bet on yourself, challenge, learn, and grow. So that's some of the benefits.

The downside to being on a public company and some of the things I don't like on a daily basis, being a public company is challenging at times with everything being out there, everything being exposed. And you're getting in that concept of whether you're hitting the quarters or not hitting the quarters. I'm an operator at heart. So I tend to focus on what's best for the long-term shareholder, what's best for the company in the long-term. Are we involved in our communities? Are we doing the right things? Are we taking care of our people? And my logic is if we build a solid plan for the future, whether we hit or miss some quarters along the way, we're part of a bigger journey and we have a cause. I think some people in life sign up for paychecks and some people sign up for the cause. I don't think there's a good or bad. I've just always been more about the cause than anything else.

So I think with a public company, you can grow. With the private side, you can have a really good life, make a really good income, be part of something really special, but maybe have a ceiling on how far you can go for obvious reasons. This episode is brought to you by my very own car dealership guy, Industry Jobboard. CDGjobs.com, my industry job board connecting the best talent and automotive with the best companies, will remain absolutely free for CDG listeners to post and fill available roles at their companies. This free job board is for anyone in automotive, vendors, dealers, lenders, manufacturers, auto tech, everyone. Already over 100 companies have posted open positions, including lithium motors, recurrent, credit acceptance, Vero's credit, cars commerce, shift digital plug, full path, Westlake trade pending, you get the point.
因此,我认为通过公开公司,你可以实现增长。通过私人公司,你可以过着非常好的生活,赚取丰厚的收入,成为某种特别事物的一部分,但也许会因为明显原因而在发展上受到限制。这一集由我的私人汽车经销商朋友Industry Jobboard赞助。CDGjobs.com是我的行业招聘平台,连接汽车行业最佳人才和最佳公司,对CDG的听众来说完全免费,可以发布和填补公司可用职位。这个免费的招聘平台适用于汽车业的任何人,包括供应商、经销商、放贷人、制造商、汽车技术等。已经有超过100家公司发布了空缺职位,包括锂电动车公司、recurrent、credit acceptance、Vero's credit、cars commerce、shift digital plug、full path、Westlake trade pending,你明白我的意思了。

The best part is that when these companies hire through CDGjobs.com, they are hiring the most informed candidates in the marketplace. So don't hesitate, you can add your open roles today by visiting CDGjobs.com or clicking the link in the show notes below. That's CDGjobs.com. Speaking about Publix, right, you've made some super impressive acquisitions here. And just to list a few, you acquired Larry H. Miller, 54 rooftops, seven use car stores, 11 collision centers. You acquired Coons, 20 dealerships, six collision centers. You acquired Parkplace in Texas. I don't have those numbers in front of me.
最棒的部分是,当这些公司通过CDGjobs.com招聘时,他们正在雇佣市场上最了解情况的候选人。所以不要犹豫,您可以通过访问CDGjobs.com或点击下面节目说明中的链接来添加您的空缺职位。这就是CDGjobs.com。说到Publix,你们在这里进行了一些非常令人印象深刻的收购。仅列举几个,你们收购了Larry H. Miller,54家汽车销售店,7家二手车店,11家碰撞中心。你们收购了Coons,20家经销商,6家碰撞中心。你们在德克萨斯州收购了Parkplace。我手头没有这些数字。

But the bottom line, all three huge acquisitions. How do you blend those cultures, right? And this is not just taking another publicly traded, you know, massive dealer group, but this is taking another private massive dealer group, right? And people that are, again, they're not accustomed to the kind of public company differences or ways. So how do you take these organizations and really blend their cultures and, you know, able to still push your business objectives due to the way where, you know, the team that, you know, the massive team you're acquiring is, you know, everyone's on the same page.

It's an outstanding question. And having worked inside the dealerships, most of my career, when someone invests 10, 15, 20 years in a dealer group, there's a lot of pride that has been in that business. And they've invested their time, which is their most valuable asset. I think sometimes if you're a big company acquiring something, if you go in there that you're acquiring it and you're going to change things to be a certain way, I think that's a huge mistake. I think, you know, part of deciding on what acquisitions make sense for you is really understanding the group that you’re acquiring. And can you be a good steward of that business?

I have so much respect for the dealers that built the businesses that you just mentioned, but they're all very different. And they all have very different cultures. The culture in Park Place is significantly different than Coons and significantly different than Miller or Nally in Atlanta. I think our goal is, and the line that I use all the time, is if we're going to acquire something, we need to go in there and see the world through their eyes, leave the business the same as, you know, the accounting stuff you have to change because of public rules and the gap accounting, but operationally selling and servicing a car, we're there to support it. And part of the reasons we acquire some of these groups is because of the culture that they have. So we look at it as we're stewards and we're there to foster, but we're there to maintain the culture.
我对你刚提到的那些经销商们非常尊敬,他们创立的企业各有不同。他们每个人的文化也是非常不同的。 Park Place的文化与Coons和亚特兰大的Miller或Nally有着明显的不同。我认为我们的目标是,我总是说的一句话,如果我们要收购某样东西,我们需要以他们的眼光去看待这个世界,将业务保持不变,你知道的,由于公共规则和差异会计规定,会计方面必须做出一些改变,但在销售和为汽车提供服务方面,我们在那里支持他们。我们收购这些集团的部分原因是因为他们拥有的文化。因此,我们认为自己是监护人,我们在那里培育文化,但我们也在那里保持这种文化。

And I use this example all the time when I get asked this question. During the Miller acquisition, we also acquired the Stevenson group. And Larry Miller's very first job in the automotive business was working for the Stevenson family. So it was ironic that we had the opportunity to buy two groups at the same time. And in Denver, I literally had side by side two stores of budding, one Stevenson store, one Coons, excuse me, one Larry Miller store. And when I every acquisition, I go in and I meet the employees, I talk to them, we talk about benefits, all that kind of stuff. These stores are side by side.

I go in the Stevenson store first. Their first question was, we don't want to become part of Miller. And when I went to the Miller store, and again, I literally walked across the parking lot to go to the Miller store, the first question they said is, we don't want to become part of Stevenson. And there's neither both are good, but both are different. And our job from above is to respect the environments, respect the cultures that they have, and try and enhance them. When we look at an acquisition, I have a simplistic rule equal to or greater than. If we can't maintain things or make them better, even if the deal makes financial sense to us, we will not do it. Because to me, buying a dealership, it's all about the people.

And if I can't go in there and enhance the benefits or make it a better situation for them, they don't need me coming in and disrupting their world and acquiring that store because then it creates a lot of turnover. And we just don't want that. The tough side, the tough part is, you go to buy a home, you get to walk through the house, you get to see everything before you make an offer and you get inspected. When you're buying a dealership, you really don't get to talk to anyone or see anything until after you close. And that's when you find out really what you purchase. So a lot of your homework that you're doing is socially online and through connections when possible. But we look at an acquisition.

The first thing we do is what state is it in? What are the franchise laws within that state? What brands are they in that market, in that group? What is the market share within those brands within that state? Because you're a franchisee. If a certain brand has a 20% market share in a state, that's valuable and it's worth something. If another brand has a 2% market share, you can't think going in there as a dealer. You're going to all of a sudden change the market and do something different. So we look at the franchise laws, we look at the market share numbers within the brand. We also look at the culture of the stores and how they operate and say, can a public company own this? Could we be a good steward of the business? If we don't think we can, we walk away from it. If we think we could be a good steward, we try to aggressively go after as we can. But integrity is the key. Meeting that dealer, understanding what's important to them, making sure that they feel comfortable that we can take care of their employees in the right way. Most of the time we get it right. We're not perfect. We've made mistakes along the way in doing it. But that's how we look at it. If you and I got in a car and we went to the park place, you would see that culture and then we drove across town to McDavid. You would see a much different culture there within the same market. But what you would see is a lot of great people that have invested a lot of time building that brand equity in those names. And we value those names. At least as long as I'm with the company, we'll continue to use the dealer names within the market places where we do business. And I want to ask you about that.

Because I think that's a testament to keeping things local the way they are. I think on the other side, what I'm curious to know is, you're buying different groups and some operate in a more centralized and others in a more decentralized way. And I see you're smiling. So how practical is it to let people continue? You mentioned you change accounting, you're a public company, sure. But how practical is it really to let people keep operating their ways when different dealer groups and different dealerships operate very differently, specifically from a centralization versus decentralization? You come in, you're in charge of technology suddenly. And I'm saying this hypothetically. So walk us through that. I smile because you learn as you go through this. I would tell you, we've acquired both. We've acquired groups that are more centralized than we are, and they're sold on it, and we leave it alone. Again, the heavy lift is on accounting because you have to go to a standard chart of accounts, and you have to expense things the same because with SEC rules, everything has to be consistent. We have to report in a timely manner. So the heavy lift is really on the accounting side.

The toughest one was the millers because they had 54 stores in seven different states. Every single store operated independently. Every single store did their own payroll. They did their own expenses. They had their own chart of accounts. So that was very painful for them and for us to go through a standard chart of accounts and get on the same page. It took a long time to do it, and we waited a while to do it. Our goal is, as long as we're operating legally and ethically, the first three to six months is just getting to know one another, building trust and seeing the world through their eyes. So then we can come back and say, how do we keep them as much the same as we can, but do what we need to do on the back end to pull the data out? Because of the size of mill, that was complicated and very tough on the employees and tough on the organization. But in smaller acquisitions, it's much easier.

The Coons acquisition was probably the smoothest transaction we've ever done. It was such a well-run group of stores, tenured with the employees, great management team. The dealer was so great, so passionate, so engaged. I'd never personally align with someone as much as I did him and how we operationally think. So that has been a really smooth transition. As Kevin said that, our whole company is on CDK and the Coons stores are on Reynolds. So in that world, we left them on Reynolds, but now we're on the backside of the plumbing. How do we pull out the data that we need so we can report in a timely manner? And so we're going through that process with them now, converting the accounting side through Reynolds so we can pull stuff out quickly.

Something that surprised me that you just said was that earlier, you said that after you buy the dealership, that's only when you really find out what's happening. Are there skeletons in the closet? What's really looking under the hood? And that surprised me because I figured, I know that there's a certain level of confidentiality, especially your public company, but I didn't expect it to that extent. So my question to you is, how do you build that conviction to follow through with an acquisition? Like what is that tipping point for you? Given the fact that there are so many unknowns that you're going into, how do you build that conviction? It's not easy. And it quite honestly, it's not fully possible until you become aware of everything. You make assumptions along the way. You know, in theory, if you're John Smith Motors and you're operating ethically, from when you write up a customer in the service drive in how you sell a car, it doesn't really have to change.

Again, the backside accounting will have to change because of gap accounting and stuff. But if you assume a store is ethical and then you close on the store, and maybe there's business practices that you don't think are ethical and that you need to change them, that's a tough thing because then the comment is, you said you're going to keep things as much as you're going to be. And that's much the same as you could. So we try and at the end of the day, it's human nature. We don't hear every word everyone says, sometimes you hear what you want to hear or you retain a certain percent. But certainly if a business is operating legally and ethically, it's easy for us to adapt to them. If there are practices we have to change, you know, change is tough on people and it changes behavior.

And that always takes time. We try and be respectful in how we do it. We explain the why. We like to think we do a lot of training and educating people and give people a good opportunity for careers. But at the end of the day, every individual is going to make a choice on whether it's for them or not. And you got to hope, look at it, it's a big country. I've been in the automobile space 38 years. There's a bunch of people that know me, trust me and respect me. I'm sure there's a lot of people that don't like me and don't appreciate some of the things I've done. You're never going to please everyone, but you try and go into it understanding that your reputation matters and integrity matters. And as long as we're doing things the right way, you know, you can deal with anything that comes down the road.

I want to shift gears a bit. I want to talk about your role. Like what's a week? What's a week in your life look like? It depends upon what time of year it is, whether it's closing a quarter or a typical month or certain things that we have going on. But I would say in a normal traditional week, I'm an operator by heart. You know, I get up between four and five in the morning, depending upon whether I'm exercising or not. And I start to look at reports. I'm looking at each store and how they're pacing, how they're pacing year over year. What does our traffic look like? That's kind of how the day starts for me. And what are you looking at? Like what specifically, like what's your kind of health report? What does that look like? Yeah, I think that there's a top line stuff where you look at the traffic year over year and how does that look and how are you converting and are we growing our business or not. So I think the high level metrics of, you know, I have a saying within the organization, every store every department stands on its own.

Sometimes when you can be part of a bigger group, they look at averages or the holes all aggregated and rolled up. I don't like to look at things that way. I'll never compare a store in Texas to a store in Florida because they're two different markets. I look at our stores and how they perform within the markets where we do business. So I look at that traffic dictates what the future month is going to look like. Conversion tells me how well we're doing with opportunities. At the end of the day, we're a franchise business. So we don't sell or service anything that you can't get at a lot of different places. The only differentiator we're trying to create that we have is the level of service that we offer. And the way we view it is that has to start internally before externally.

If I'm not giving stock to our employees, if I'm not giving them career opportunities, if I don't give them good benefits, they're not going to treat our guests well. And at the end of the day, the best word amount is the level of service that you offer. So that's kind of how I focus on that high level stuff. Now, we have a lot of different departments within a big organization. So I meet with all of my direct reports at a minimum once a week and some of them I talk to daily.

We have a D and I officer who's also in charge of training. We meet once a week. A gentleman in charge of our IT. We meet once a week. Our operations guy. He has to deal with me every day. Our CFO, you know, naturally we talk daily, but the accounting folks in the field. It's more of a weekly event. But it's also navigating the business. You know, it's not equal across the board.

The needs of our Chevrolet store in Indianapolis is going to be different than the needs of our Chevrolet store in Jacksonville. So we have to be really good listeners and understand what the needs are of our store and how do we serve for them. And then it's the partnership with the manufacturer. I don't have a business without them.

We don't own 160 stores. We own the rights to these franchises and the ability to operate them on behalf of the manufacturer. I never lost sight that we're simply part of the supply chain. And we think an important part of the supply chain. I think software makes us more efficient and makes us more transparent. But I think people create the experience.

And every day we focus on how do we balance those two to make sure we're employing with our people the software that they need to be transparent with our guests, while also being efficient at what we're trying to do at the same time. You are infamous for keeping the names of the stores. You enter a market, you let the store, you don't change it to Joe Smith's auto sales or auto group. I mean, you keep it as the local name.

What are the primary reasons for doing that? Many. Some of them respect for the dealer, knowing that we're steward and what they created. Some of them spent a generation or two building their name and building the market. And it's not just keeping the name the same, but it's understanding we now have the responsibility to uphold that name and continue to bring the level of service that they brought to the market. That is daunting and challenging, but it's one we take real serious.

And we've honored those commitments with the groups that we've purchased and had long conversations with the gentleman on Park Place about that as well, because in my opinion, he had a national brand recognition. Because those stores operated so well and the level of service they offered their clients was just second to none. So this brand equity in the market in the name, the reputation within the communities and their engagement, it doesn't make sense to meet a plug on a different name and wipe away that history.

That history is meaningful and it should be built off of it. You know, I can only speak for myself and when I'm here now, I can't speak to the future, but I would never want to put the Asbury name on dealerships. I just don't think that's appropriate. And we're community driven.

You know, when I go to Indianapolis and I talk to our associates or I talk to our guests, we're not talking about Dallas. We're talking about things that are going on in Indianapolis. We're talking about local events and what we're engaged in the community and events like that. So that's how we kind of look at our business. We're individual stores within these markets. Every store matters to us and in our the reputations of the brands that we represent are certainly a huge part of our stewardship.

What about stores that unaffiliated with brands, you know, independent stores? Do you believe in that? What are your thoughts on that? So, you know, that varies. We have bought single stores where we have incorporated the name. The quickest one that comes to mind right now is in Colorado. We bought a Rapahoe Hyundai and we call it Mike Shaw at this point.
关于没有品牌关联的商店,你知道,独立商店呢?你相信这种商店吗?你对此有什么看法?所以,你知道,情况各不相同。我们曾经购买过一些独立商店,然后将其纳入我们的体系。现在我想到的一个最快的例子就是在科罗拉多州。我们买下了一个名为Rapahoe Hyundai的商店,现在我们称之为Mike Shaw。

And the reason we do that is we had a Subaru store in that market with the Mike Shaw name. We bought another Subaru store. We call that. That was a single point store. We call that Mike Shaw as well. Mike Shaw is a tremendous dealer. He's done a lot in Colorado. He did a lot for that state. He did a lot for his employees. We thought it made sense to put the Mike Shaw name on there. But same example in Colorado, we keep the Stevenson name there and we keep the Miller name there as well within that marketplace.

You know, how are you driving success throughout your organization in ways that maybe are not easy to quantify? Right? We talked culture and we know that permeates with the organization. But, you know, how are you driving success reorganization? And like I said, specifically, if I'm a shareholder, right? And you tell me, hey, I'm not changing the name of this group. Okay, so I may say, okay, I don't think that's a good idea. I think it's a bad idea. It doesn't matter at the end of the day. That's your decision. But anyways, with that said, like, are there any other areas that are maybe a bit more, you know, not, or not as visible to the market or to outsiders where you are driving real success in organization?

So I'll start off by with a disclosure that basically says, I'm that guy that sees new technology and immediately thinks my world's going to change overnight. We're going to become so successful. So keep that in mind when I make this comment. I would say our world is a journey and investing my whole adult life in doing it and knowing how hard the people work in a store. You want to make the business as transparent as possible. Consumers don't like, they just say they don't like to negotiate a car sale. You'd be amazed how many car people don't like to negotiate either. You wish it was just more transactional.

We got passionate back in 1819. That old statement, where do you think the puck is going? We really were pressed with Carvona and their rate of growth and their ability to sell used cars online. No company is perfect, but that was interesting to us. So, you know, we started looking at that and we're a franchisee, right? So, I can't have exclusive software because now I put myself at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace with these franchises that, you know, we're all part of the same organization. So, we really try and share all the software we have.

We built a software we named it Clicklane, but it's a transactional software online. I can't tell you how many private dealer groups have been here over the years that we fully expose the software, how we use it, what we do, and allow them to take all the information from us that they want. Because my goal is to make sure the franchise system stays forever. I think it's the best model, but there's ways to improve upon it. I don't think the future is a three hour transaction in a showroom. I think if you can get the transaction time down to 15 minutes and make it more about the experience, that's better the long term future. And that was the domination behind us building that tool.

Back in 1819, I went to a software company because I saw a commercial for Domino's Pizza and they showed the Pizza Tracker. And you know this from your experience. 70% of the calls that come into a dealership are for service and they're checking status on their cars. And you pay people to move in a dealership in the handset or stationery so they get voicemail. The call doesn't get answered. And it's a horrible experience. So I went to our software partner and said, "Hey, this Domino's Pizza Tracker. I want to put this on our service software. I want to be able to every time that car moves in the shop. It sends a text message to the car. Alerting them where the car is and what's going on and their ability to talk to the technician. Either through video or through photos and that kind of thing. And so there's little things like that. Now that technology is out there for a lot of people to have and I think that's great. But that's what we're working on. We're working on software to say, how do we employ our people to do more of the transactions? And a faster man or more transparent.
1819年,我去了一家软件公司,因为我看到了Domino's Pizza的广告,他们展示了Pizza Tracker。你通过经验知道,70%来电都是关于汽车维修状态的。在经销商里,你花钱让员工在手机或固定电话上移动,结果是他们接不到电话,这是一种糟糕的体验。所以我去找我们的软件合作伙伴说:“嘿,这个Domino's Pizza Tracker。我想把它放在我们的服务软件上。我想每次汽车在维修店内移动时,都会向车主发送短信,告知他们汽车的位置和正在发生的事情,以及他们与技术人员交流的能力。可以通过视频或照片等方式。所以我们正在着手研究这些小的细节。现在很多人都可以使用这项技术,我认为这很棒。但我们正在研发软件,以便让我们的员工能够更有效率、更透明地进行交易。”

And it's just laws of persuasion in the sense of nothing's good or bad to you have something to compare to. So our pricing has to be on spot. The products that we offer have to be on spot. The lenders that we offer for you to do financing. You need to be able to choose the lender that you want, not the lender that we tell you to go with. So I think that's a good thing. So I think as long as we can invert that process, make it transparent for you, our hope is over time, just like EVs. It'll catch on and the consumers will become more comfortable transacting online. You know, right now it's only 15% of our business, but we're hopeful that we'll continue. When you say 15%, that's 15% completely online. So 15% of the cars that we sell are transacting online. We have a showroom application as well.

An example would be you're sitting on your couch. You see an ad for an F-150. You go on our site. You see the F-150. You submit your financing. You go through the F&I process. And you say, you know what? I'm not going to sign the documents until I come in and drive the vehicle. Or you only do a portion of it. And you say, you know what? Until I drive it. I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't want to.

I don't want to. I don't want to do anymore. Then you come in. You drive the vehicle and you have the option to finish it online yourself or go through the dealership and finish the process that way. 70% of the transactions that are done in Clicklane are done on the phone. They're not done on a tablet or a desktop.

It doesn't surprise me. Yeah. You know what surprises me and keep in mind I'm an old man. You know, visually the screen is only so big on a cell phone. It just doesn't to me give the great visual display that an iPad could or a desktop. But it's obviously convenient. Yeah. No, I have this argument with my wife like every day.

There's a huge computer right in front of her jeans on her phone. I'm like, what are you doing? Like this is microscopic. Use the computer. So, you know, I think that's just, you know, we're so conditioned to using the phone that sometimes it's just easier to, you know, use that for, you know, and, you know, just shopping anything really.

Well, I was going to say, which I think is great and, you know, transitioning where we're starting a relationship with Tachyon where we'll be able to do all those transactions, all that software, right, repair orders off a cellular phone. If we choose, if the employee chooses to do that, we think that's exciting. So all transitioning deeper into tech.

AI. I mean, are we, are we, are we, are we, are we, are we, are we, are we, are we, like, are you, how are you looking at this? Right. Is this, is this going to replace people? Right. You mentioned getting the transaction time down to 15 minutes. Is AI going to replace people? Or are we just talking about something that is a tool that our people are going to use to make them more efficient, a combination of both? Where are you at?

Yeah. I said it earlier. I think software makes us more efficient and it makes the process quicker if it's good software, but people make the experience. This isn't, you know, buying something off his shelf in a, in a department store. These are expensive transactions. They're complicated software packages within these cars. People want to learn and educate themselves. So there's a huge need for people.

I think the ability to speed the process up is where is key. I have a saying that I try and use in the company to get people on my side. People love to buy things. They hate to be sold things. And the more we can offer them products or software to allow them to make the decisions, we're all consumers. I know I love to buy things, especially if I want it.

And if I feel like something's being forced on me or if it's being a precious sale, all of a sudden I don't want it. So we really try and use that balance of the software with the people to create a better experience. Your point on the 15 minute transaction, I think is imperative because, again, three hours in a showroom and this day and age, we're an instant gratification society. We want to get a good deal. So show me that it's a good deal in a timely manner. Let's not go back and forth. Don't wait 15 minutes to give me your best price. Give me your best price up front. And let's see if this transaction makes sense or not.

You just set a beautiful statement. People like to buy things and always be sold. So I listened to this podcast recently with the founder and CEO of Grove House Hospitality. It's a restaurant. It's like four or five, six restaurants in New York. This guy was always a good bond trader partnered up with the chef, opened his restaurant group. Now today he's the owner of some of the most hot and just the longest waitlist in New York restaurants, Missy, Lilly, on a bunch of other ones.
你刚说了一句很有道理的话。人们喜欢购买东西,也乐于被卖。所以我最近听了一个关于Grove House Hospitality创始人兼CEO的播客。他们经营的是一家餐厅,在纽约有四五六家餐厅。这个人曾经是一名优秀的债券交易员,他和一位大厨合作,开设了自己的餐厅集团。如今,他拥有了纽约最受追捧的、排队最久的餐厅,比如Missy和Lilly等。

Anyways, long story short, what I found fascinating about this podcast that he was on, his name is Sean Feeney. He was talking about creating a culture where you are demand driven, meaning you always have more people that want to do business with you, right? Then you can take on it. It's not from a bragging perspective. It's building a healthy business. And anyways, I share that because I think the point you're making is I've always had this thesis, the idea is like who will be the auto retailer that will be able to create a culture where the car is not commoditized. However, however that happens, I don't know how it happens. I don't know what they do in the background, but how will that one day happen? Will it happen? Will there be drops, right? What a lot of modern lifestyle brands do where they do a drop or they release products on a certain day, limited supply? I don't know, just something.

And again, it's tough to do with commodities, but always something that went through my mind. Like as a dealer, I always hated that I was always like, you know, quote, quote, quote, chasing the customer. That just didn't sit well with me with my philosophy in business is, you know, I do believe that to build a healthy business, there's something there's something to be said to being sold out and to being scarce, right? You want to be valuable? You want to be scarce. So that's my, that's my monologue on scarcity. But I do agree with that philosophy a lot. And I highly recommend anyone listening to this that they check out this podcast, right? Sean Feeney invests like the best because this was just a fascinating look into building, you know, a business that just pulls in demand. I think that's the, that's again, I'm the guy that buys that software and thinks we solve the problems of the world. That's our journey. And honestly, you know, we can't control how many vehicles get manufactured. So your day supply is going to vary and it's hard to do scarcity. But the one thing you can control is the experience that you give.

And it's difficult. And I say this is an older guy who's been doing this a long time. Behavior is hard to change. And you know, this from experience and working in a dealership, the software in our industry has been antiquated and hasn't allowed us to offer a great experience. That's changing. But now the tough part is the software is going to be ahead of the people. And when you have someone that's been in the industry 15 or 20 years used to doing it a certain way, they're going to want to continue to do it. Change is difficult.

So we're trying to not, you know, in the concept of going back to the EVs, we're not trying to flood the market with EVs. We're trying to take slow bites at the elephant, look for hand raises in our organizations where leaders are more innovative and find ways to really pilot them with software to allow that to change the transactions. You know, we have some stores that don't have finance managers. You know, it's done by the product specialists. It works really well. And it works really well because the employees, the leadership are committed to it. But if you force that on a group that isn't philosophically committed to that, you know, go out of their way to try and make things fail. Sometimes unintentionally, it's just, it's hard to change behavior.

So we think at the end of the day, in order for us to be different within the markets we have, we have to be fully transparent. We have to put as much of the process in the consumers' hands. I call this a journey up a mountain. You know, if you're 20 years old buying your first car, 50 years old buying your 15th car, or 70 years old, you know, maybe buying your last car, everyone wants to do the transaction differently. What we should be able to do is very quickly and efficiently find out what's most important to you and the Mary, you want to go down that road. And if you're into technology and you want to make this a full-tech experience, let's do that. If you want to slow that process down and you don't feel comfortable with that and you want to do it a different way, let's do that.

We do this every day for a living. We should be able to adapt to the consumers' needs and not tell every consumer we have a one-size-fits-all. You have to go through this process. People don't want to hear that and it's not fun. And you know this firsthand, people love to buy a car. It can become a top experience if we take that emotional experience and fun out of it for them. And you do that by creating a long-gated process. So the more you can shrink the transaction time and the more you can talk about the experience side of it, the product itself, that's where you create a different experience. That's where you drive more business. And just like restaurants, you brought that up and I'm not familiar with that chain, but any local market, there's really popular restaurants that have a weight. And it's usually because they always have great food and they have great service.

To me in business, consistency means success. And what I learned from the military when they're training you in those situations, consistency matters. It means the difference between someone living or dying in some cases. So repetition, training, consistency is really important. But as a consumer, it's really important to know before I go somewhere, I know what to expect. I know what the experience is going to be like. I know that they're going to take care of me. I know it's going to be fast and efficient. That's how you grow your business in my mind. The key is how do you get there? How do you convince all your folks that this is the journey we need to go on?

I couldn't agree more. I mean, I'm an immediate business. It's all about repetitions in this business. Because anyone can come up with something novel or some great content, but you do it for one day, one week, that you're no good. Try doing it for a year, two years, three years, a decade. Now you have an audience and people are listening. Correct. Agree.

In the future, any potential new entrants, new new brands coming to the US that you're excited, concerned about, obviously, China's a major talking point here. Where's your head on this? I love open marketplaces and I hate controlled markets. I honestly think with more competition, not everybody makes it, but everybody learns from it. I think that pushes everyone to be better and it brings better products to the market. I have a light familiarity with a company called BYD. What I've been an automotive person looking at their cars, looking at their product, I think they're really great. It seems like a great product. I don't know much about the organization, but the products and the price point seems really interesting to me. But I think over time, like anything else, there'll be some consolidation as well. I think these next 10 years are really going to be transformational for the business that you and I have spent a lot of time working in.

I think that's exciting and fun. Quite honestly, as an old guy, I'm looking forward to that. I can tell you, I'm sure a lot of our younger folks are really looking forward to that as well. But technology is going to change. Hopefully how we transact is going to change, how we communicate with our consumers is going to change. I think that's exciting for us. There'll be bumps along the road. It'll be lumpy. No one's going to get everything right, but hopefully we'll learn from it, grow from it, and keep going. I'm really hopeful for the innovation that's coming to this space, post on the product side and on the software side for the dealer bar to do a better job servicing their clients and guests.

My favorite question as of late is anything keeping you up at night? I think we're all wired differently as people. I'm so jealous of the people that I can stare at night. They never worry about anything. I wasn't blessed with that. I'm the guy that worries about every little thing. I care a lot about our business. I worry about our people. I worry about stability. My dad died really young. I grew up with a single parent. We moved a lot. That made an unstable environment tough for a kid to grow up in. We really want to create a stable environment for our employees. Even where they can grow their careers and create stability. If their kids never sense instability, that's success to us. We really want to take care of our associates, give them an opportunity to grow their career, give them an opportunity to sit in any seat that they want if they're willing to bet on themselves and take that journey. We talk about being the most guest-centric automotive retailer.

There's several parts to that. We have to service our customers better than our competition within our markets and we have to give them what they want. Our partners are bifurcated in our deal because we're public. It's our shareholders and it's our manufacturers. We have to be really good partners to our manufacturers, understand what's important to them and deliver to them. In our shareholders, I'm thankful. Our largest shareholders have been long-term shareholders. They love the space. They're committed to the space. They look at the long view. They love the vision that we have for the business and I'm so thankful that we have them supporting us. I'm lucky to have a board that's so uniquely talented in their careers and the seats that they've sat in and how helpful they are to the management team in getting us to think about our business and grow.

As long as we take care of our clients, as long as we take care of our employees and we're representing our partners well, that's part of our vision to really grow as an organization continue to build. Our goal is not to be the biggest. Our goal is to really be a place where people want to work and do business and where our partners think that we've been good partners to them to work with and for. What's next for Asbury? Get better at what we do. We're really focused on software right now and implementation. We've invested more in training. This business is a great business to come into but you know this firsthand. There's not enough training and enough training in all the different positions and ongoing training. We've built that out.

We've added a lot of trainers to our organization. So we're trying to get better with software. We're trying to train our people better off of more career path opportunities with the hope that we can have more success down the road at differentiating ourselves from the other deals we compete with. I have a way to close my friend. I love to hear it. David, truly really enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for sharing your insight. It's clear why you guys are so successful. I think that attention to detail. I think that's one of my takeaways here. How that permeates to the organization. And I just want to wish you all the best. Thanks for coming on. Sharing your insight. We're going to have to do this again. There's going to be a lot more to talk about.

As you said, we're going through a super transitional time in the industry. But with that said, thanks for coming on and we will talk soon. This was a lot of fun. I appreciate your time and enjoyed it a lot. Thank you. All right. Hope you enjoyed that episode. Check out the link to the show. Subscribe to the show and check the show notes for links to what we talked about. Thanks for tuning in. I'll see you guys next time.