John Sevier and Kelly Kleinman talk about his upcoming automotive strategy podcast that will be hosted on the www.dealershipnews.com
Kelly Kleinman: [00:00:18] Hello, this is Kelly Kleinman. And you’re listening to the DealershipNews.com podcast, where we spotlight the who’s happening in the automotive industry, its foot soldiers, visionary salesmen, GM owners, service managers and industry vendors alike.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:00:34] Our guest today is John Sevier of the soon to debut severe strategy broadcast, which will be available right here on DealershipNews.com. John has sharpened his sword as an Internet/BDC director for Northgate, Ford, Lincoln Kings, Toyota and most recently the Kenwood Dealer Group. So he knows a thing or two about working the web and getting results. John, welcome to the podcast and welcome to DealershipNews.com.
John Sevier: [00:01:02] Hey, Kelly, how are you today?
Kelly Kleinman: [00:01:04] I am doing great. It’s sunny in Southern California. We’ve got mid 80s. We’ve got sun and surf and bikinis. I couldn’t ask for more.
John Sevier: [00:01:13] I was going to. It’s hard to stay in an office today like today.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:01:16] One thing we don’t have is Kings Island. We have something called Disneyland. I’m teasing.
John Sevier: [00:01:23] Not really on the same playing field there. But, you know, we do love Kings Island.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:01:27] Kings Island is fantastic. I went to the University of Cincinnati, folks, and of course, Ohio State for the Ohio State University. For anybody who’s listen to the podcast before, you might have heard me mention that. Let’s let’s start off by finding out how the heck you got into the automotive industry. John, was it something you were attracted to or did you suddenly wake up to new car smell and stale coffee?
John Sevier: [00:01:50] You know, I kind of got pulled into the automotive industry. I used to run it and help manage a call center for a large bank. And, you know, managing around 100 people, doing customer service, a little bit of outbound sales on the phone.
John Sevier: [00:02:09] And, you know, there was an Internet director position that opened up with an automotive dealership. That was Northgate Ford at the time. And, you know, kind of went over there and get my toe in.
John Sevier: [00:02:22] And I’ll tell you what, I I don’t know that my love for this business can can ever be changed. You know, when I started there, it has been wonderful ever since. And I just got addicted to everything automotive, jumping in and making sure that, you know, it’s just a wonderful world to be a part of in sales.
John Sevier: [00:02:46] It’s competitive. And it’s kind of pulled me in ever since. And I don’t think I’m going anywhere anytime soon.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:02:53] Well, we hope you did well. We know where you’re going. You’re going up to one of the sharpest Internet guys in the industry. So why don’t you share with us, your industry timeline since you were hired? You mentioned Northgate, Ford, Lincoln. And what is it that you’ve learned in the years that you’ve been in the industry? And what do you need to teach to dealerships?
John Sevier: [00:03:12] You know, I I’m a huge data nerd, and I will fully admit it. You know, I started a while ago as an individual store. So just one dealership, one rooftop where I was managing a small staff of about three Internet sales representatives. And from there, I, you know, grew into sales manager role with a with a large dealership selling about six hundred cars plus a month. So that was definitely very interesting. And from there, I decided to take on the role for a centralized BDC for 14 dealerships and build that from the ground up. So, you know, as as you get started there and building that that whole foundation and hiring 20 plus people, writing all the processes and doing all of that, it definitely made me rely on some of the great minds that are out there because I told you I’m a huge data nerd. But the other thing is I will never stop learning. So there’s a lot of great content out there that I was able to really dive into and implement some of those ideas and strategies that helped me become who I am today. And in turn, you know, I think it’s important to realize your strengths and your opportunities. And one of my strengths is definitely the BDC world, the digital side of things, as well as a little bit of operations. And so I wanted to kind of give back and offer a place and a podcast for somebody to listen into to get some really strong information without all the fluff, just to be able to walk away after they listen to this podcast with actionable information and strategies that they can implement at their dealership. The same way I was able to learn and educate myself on some of the other platforms or forms that were out there before.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:05:14] Before we get into the pod. Yes. Which is something we’re all really looking forward to. Tell us what you’re doing now that allows you to fill up your shopping cart at the grocery store.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:05:27] I love that question, by the way, you know. You know, what I’m doing now is I am the current CEO of a company called Dealer Advantage BDC. So it took all of all of the information that I had. And, you know, the progressive tactics of shooting video, you know, really communicating with the customer and making an unbelievable BDC department. And I wanted to make sure that we could offer that to other dealerships that may not have the time or the capability to build their BDC and train them constantly and stay progressive. I mean, it is a lot of work and it’s definitely successful if you do it in the story, you know yourself. But let’s face it, you’ve got to get expert in there to really run it. You don’t want to just get some random person. So just like with everything else, we wanted to offer a solution to, you know, one of the problems that’s out there is handling your online customers. And, you know, we take pride in doing that and making sure that we deliver exactly what we say we’re going to deliver, which is a great online customer experience to get them to communicate with us and get them into your showroom.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:06:41] Sometimes you’re just not going to hire the greatest talent. Let’s face reality. It’s sort of a hit or miss. You try to get the best people in there. But if it’s a processes game and it works and I think you’re more than halfway there. So it’s important, as you mentioned, to have a solid BDC strategy. And that’s I guess that’s what you’re doing. You know, it’s just a matter of whether or not the dealerships want to go along with the program in getting everybody to buy it. But when they do talk to me about the results, they can expect.
John Sevier: [00:07:08] Yeah, I think it all starts with, you know, culture. And the reason I’m going to start there with your question is because, you know, you talked about hiring people and retaining them. One of the you know, you talked to a lot of Internet managers or BDC managers or just managers in general in the automotive space. And they they love to talk about their accomplishments or how many cars they saw. One of the big things that I like to discuss and, you know, wears a badge of honor is in the BBC world. When I was running a centralized BDC, which is just very recent before starting this company and offering a solution, we had around 25 to 30 employees for BDC wrapped handling these Internet lead. And in 2018, when we closed out the end of the year, we had a turnover rate of 9 percent. And that’s going to include involuntary, involuntary. And so we promoted people up. We really built a strong culture. So we have those experience BDC reps that honestly are trained and educated on the product, more so than some of the salespeople we even have in the dealership. And so what that’s allowed us to do is deliver, you know, a lot of response back to the customer that they’re talking to, somebody that’s actually educated and knows what they’re doing and going through a training program. We make training mandatory.
John Sevier: [00:08:32] And, you know, when you build a culture of success and, you know, the Internet level, what happens is you really get some strong results. You know, we talk about training. We talk about process. We talk about operations. But the biggest win for us is setting those clear expectations and building a culture where people actually enjoy coming to work, because as you know, you’ve heard it before. If you talk to somebody and they’re sitting up in their chair and they’re smiling and they’re having a great day or they’re enjoying what they’re doing, that conversation, that inflection and the tone, all of that comes across. And that’s some of the things that set us apart. And what we’re able to deliver for dealerships, you know, we’re shooting personalized videos for every single Internet response. There’s no excuse. Every single Internet lead that comes in, we’re gonna shoot a personalized video where we hold up a sign. Right. The customer’s name on it. And we see about a 70 to 80 percent click the rate.
John Sevier: [00:09:30] And that is what we’re able to deliver. We’re able to deliver a customer experience that they want to work with. Whatever dealership that we’re representing when we’re answering the Internet leaves for these, you know, other dealership, which right now where we’re growing with an intern, you get all the wonderful stuff from that.
John Sevier: [00:09:51] You get the appointments that show. You get the sales that come with it. But it starts with, you know, your team and building a strong culture and process around being able to deliver upon appointment, set and shown and visits and deliveries.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:10:07] Great answer. Well, let’s Paolo on the podcast. What do you want to accomplish? What’s the theme and how often are we going to be listening in?
John Sevier: [00:10:17] I again, I appreciate the question. The. The main thing that we want to do is try to get out a weekly podcast. We’re going to shoot or Tuesday or Wednesday of every week. We’ve already got some podcasts started that we’re really excited about. Just to touch base on something, I am definitely what I consider her an expert in the BDC world. But by no means am I an expert in every facet of the automotive industry, and I don’t think I should sit there and pretend to be. So what I’m really excited about is delivering a weekly podcast to where we are going to have industry experts on. We’ve got David Cain, who’s going to be on there. We got Sean Kelly. And I’m not trying to name drop, but these are a lot of people that I have a ton of respect. Well, we have Steve Wrestler. I mean, we just did a podcast on video and video engagement with customers. So when you listen in every single week, whether you’re on break, your lunch, you know, your drive. We want to be able to deliver that podcast that you can walk away and have great information and new techniques and strategies to implement at your dealership.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:11:28] Well, you’re mentioning Sean Kelly and Steve Roessler. I have no idea who those guys are, but teasing unbelievable individuals. My favorite people in the industry. So you’re going to be working out of a skit. Are you going to be working out of a fashionable podcast studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, or have you repurposed your uncle’s tool shed in Beaver Creek or something in between?
John Sevier: [00:11:51] You know, it’s funny. We are in the BDC that we’ve built for Dealer Advantage BDC. We are in an old dealership. So we’ve got the glass front. That’s where we have the podcast. So we want to make sure we did this right. You know, we definitely have our studio, but it’s not where you are. We don’t have the sandy beaches and the wonderful weather. You know, you’re around. I mean, I’m in Cincinnati, Ohio, where, you know, I could I could go into work. And if you 60 degrees and, you know, by the time I leave is 20 and, you know, by the by the time I decide to go to bed, it back up to 80 degrees again. You never know what’s going to be what the weather is going to be out here.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:12:29] Well, it all sounds fantastic. You have my full support. I want to thank you for popping in and give us giving us the lowdown on severe strategy. I consider it a must listen for any dealership looking to get an edge up and then some, you know, good luck with that. When are we going to be here and. What’s what’s the timeframe?
John Sevier: [00:12:45] So we’re launching next week.
John Sevier: [00:12:48] We plan on today is the eight. We plan on getting our first podcast out so everybody can listen to it. And that’s the one on engagement around how to implement video into your dealership. Best practices around video. That’s going to be launching on the 13th of August 2 next Tuesday, 13 of 13th of August.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:13:09] That’s right. I will be flying to a beautiful Columbus, Ohio. Oh, by the way, I’m sorry. I’ll be flying into Cleveland, then into Columbus on the 16th, and then I’ll be in Las Vegas at the Digital Dealer show. You’d be going digital dealer by any chance.
[00:13:27] I am not. I promised the family that we would go on a vacation before we kick off everything for, you know, full court press full steam ahead with the podcast, because I want to make sure that you know what we say, we’re giving the content out that we deliver upon that. So we’re going to be taking a vacation during that time. So I’ll be missing digital dealer.
John Sevier: [00:13:50] But I will be at every other conference of teams that coming up within the next year.
Kelly Kleinman: [00:13:55] Maybe we’ll do a podcast together. Well, folks, you’ll be able to hear him on DealershipNews.com very soon. So stay tuned for severe strategy. The podcast is up and coming. Well, that’s off for today. I’m headed to the beach. Going to catch the last waves of summer. See you soon.