2020 Best Practices: The Importance of Personalizing Your Customer’s Buying Experience

David Kain

As 2019 quickly comes to a close, dealers’ sights are now set on finishing the year strong and setting up solid expectations for the new decade. If you’re brainstorming new standards for your dealership’s marketing, BDC, and sales training efforts, then our next guest has some advice you don’t want to miss. We had the chance to speak with David Kain, president of Kain Automotive and host of Kain & Co. every Thursday on CBT.


Jim Fitzpatrick: Hello everyone. Thanks so much for joining me on another edition of CBT News. I’m so happy to be joined today by my good friend, Mr. David Kain, who is as you know an auto industry expert and owner of Kain Automotive and host of the phenomenal show Kain and Company right here on the CBT Automotive Network. Welcome back to the show, David.

David Kain: Well thank you Jim and it’s great to be here as always, and I will tell you, and you agree with me on this one, is we’re only experts because of the people we surround ourselves with.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. Good point.

David Kain: Fortunately you and I get to talk to a lot of really smart people, so I guess we can claim a little expertise.

Jim Fitzpatrick: This is exactly right. I agree with you. Well, let’s talk about all the people that you do surround yourself with because the 15th annual Clients, Friends and Family Digital Success Workshop just closed the 15th time I guess I could say. Talk to us about some of the takeaways from that conference and some of the trends that you see out there in the industry.

David Kain: Yeah, so it came through really loud and clear. The number one trend is the consumer really is looking for help and sometimes we kid ourselves that they’re technologically driven or it’s all about the price and what we’re finding is as consumers move down the path of self-learning while they’re clicking around on your website and other websites in the industry, they get a little twisted up into what they’re getting into their mind and they need an expert to really guide them forward.

David Kain: Oftentimes what we were finding with presentations is a lot of people mystery shopped and some of them did huge mystery shops in preparation for these kind of fall events that we’re hosting and the prevailing wisdom that dealerships were starting to put out to clients is when can you come in? The consumer already knows they can come into the store so what we’re finding is it’s got to go well beyond that when can you come in strategy when you’re responding to them.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. That’s right.

David Kain: The second one is something that you have spent a lot of time on, I know Brian on his show has talked about quite a bit is digital retailing and everybody had some sort of package, or every technology or web-based company was involved in digital retailing. So we don’t know where that’s going to go. I’ll share this. When we launched [4 Direct 00:00:02:34] 19 years ago, we had a digital retailing platform. Consumers weren’t ready for it. Dealers certainly weren’t ready for it. So I think today they are. I think consumers love this opportunity to buy the vehicle online and now we’ve just got to facilitate the right organizational structure to make sure that happens.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure and I think a lot of dealers feel the same way about this and that is that they want to have a component to the digital retailing area or to that arena, I guess you could say, to that market of people, but they also want to be able to sell the car the way the consumer wants to buy a car. It might be in the showroom, it might be on their couch. It might be a hybrid of the two where they do 50% of the work from their couch and the other 50% in the dealership. So do you find that to be the case where it’s kind of to set up this showroom atmosphere or environment that allows the consumer to do what they want to do in the style in which they want to do it?

David Kain: Completely. And you and I, we’re not the youngest people that are in the automotive industry and even I find it really attractive if I can do my own sell of a product or service than I love to do that self service. But there are some people who, “What’s a sedan? What’s an SUV? What would I need to know and do I trust the information that I’m retaining? Do I need to go to Lending Tree? What the heck do I do for financing?” So yeah, I think consumers love if they’re very experienced doing the whole deal themselves. But the large majority of auto shopping consumers eventually need someone to kind of walk them through the finer details of either the product or the financing, whichever way they go and I think it’s going to end up being a mixture for the next several years.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. We all see those commercials and those of us that are in the industry of Carvana where the girl’s sitting on our couch and she’s got her iPad and what have you, and she orders the car and looks at it and does the financing and up comes behind her in the picture window there the vehicle that she just purchased. It comes in minutes and I think that’s probably enticing to some dealers out there, especially the younger dealers out there that are taking over their mom and dad’s dealerships now. To say, “Wow, we can do that. I’d buy a car that way. Let’s sell cars that way.” But it’s still a very small portion of the overall industry out there. Right?

David Kain: It really is.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I mean, it could be something that in 20 years from now, it’s 50% or better, but right now it’s still a pretty small portion. Right?

David Kain: Yeah and you can make a case to say that 95% of consumers start the process online. But when it comes to the actual transactional details of it, we’re seeing most of our clients are less than 5%. So it still turns into a good communications medium and consumers are very much aware, I think we’re getting more trusting of the details of the transaction because of it, but even if you talk to finance managers and dealerships, they’re a little hesitant to have all that information laid out there. Because if you imagine this Jim, an $80,000 Ford truck, what’s the monthly payment that’s going to be displayed on the website and who’s going to hold that customer’s hand to make them feel okay when the payment’s $1200 bucks a month online and they’re like, “Well, I can’t afford that.”

Jim Fitzpatrick: The fact that you said an $80,000 Ford truck, but it’s true. I was in a Ford showroom not long ago and the one sitting on the showroom floor was $67,000 and it said that was after a $10,000 discount. I mean it was an incredible truck and had everything but the kitchen sink in it, but still just the notion that we’re that high. Average price of a vehicle now a new vehicle is $37,000.

David Kain: So the other areas that really hit and I’ll just kind of hit the tree top version of this is engaging with video and you know that. That’s your living, you broadcast all the time and video is powerful for communicating ideas and strategies, and yet when it comes to leveraging it for automobile sales, we’re still at the very beginning. There’s a few dealers in your state, the LA Grange Toyota store does hundreds of videos every single month and there are some dealerships that are really mature in that area. But for the most part, a lot of dealers walk away from what is a wonderful good linking strategy.

David Kain: Then from a marketing standpoint, Google My Business and whenever I go down to Atlanta and I’m looking for… never can remember what’s the address on technology? So I always go in and type in there again, Google My Business. So I click on directions and it takes me right where I want to go. Dealers were exposed to that during our conference and a lot of them weren’t paying really close attention to it, but Google has big ambitions for Google My Business and we heard it loud and clear that that’s something they need to pay attention to.

David Kain: Then you couple that with this artificial intelligence, who knows whether you’re talking to a human or a robot. My personal opinion is I’m totally cool with artificial intelligence so long as it doesn’t try to weaponize or something like that. Help me buy a car, market to me, communicate with me, make my life easier and I think that’s just going to start being woven in to a lot of good marketing strategies.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. You still installing as many BDC centers in dealerships as you were a couple of years ago?

David Kain: Well, it’s interesting and then you and I’ve talked about this and I have mentioned that I’ve been to more BDC funerals than I have births.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I love that line.

David Kain: And now a lot of times you see the rebirth. BDCs are still very popular and yet at the same point, Jim, what we are concerned about is it’s not really business development, it’s business survival centers. A business survival center just to kind of clarify that is a store that says, “My salespeople can’t talk on the phone. They can’t write emails or do texts. So we’re going to hire a team to replicate what they should be doing,” and so we don’t really do business development, we just do business survival.

David Kain: That’s not true business development. True business development is when everybody at the store really is defined by what do you bring to the table? Who are your friends? Who are your family? What can you do to create a repeat referral type environment? And that makes a big difference. So we are insisting for business development customers that you don’t create just that survival mechanism, but you truly create a business development opportunity. And it can’t just be the BDC team, it has to perpetuate throughout the whole store.

Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s no question about it and dealers are still challenged in that area. They go back and forth on it, some of them look at it, install it and then, oh, it’s a huge expense. It didn’t pay off. The salespeople hate it because they’re not in touch with the customers the way they once were and it takes a total commitment, but I think it’s something at the end of the day that if done properly, would you agree it’s better to have a BDC than to have no BDC in a store? Is that a safe-

David Kain: Well, it really, to me, from our experience, they’re pretty equal. So we have some of our most extremely talented and successful stores do not have a true full-time BDC. We’re putting in hybrids to where we’ve got the salespeople are doing their part of the interaction and then we’ve got the BDC, which is on a different scale doing the mid longterm followup.

David Kain: So what we see is best as a hybrid type relationship or what we turned the business development dealership strategy to where you do have this skilled BDC team that is good for communication, good for business growth, manifest list, customers inequity, lease free renewals and items like that working in harmony with the sales team and that tends to really be the real strength. Not just the substitute for salespeople who can’t do good communication.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Well, David Kain, I want to thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. It’s always a pleasure. Congratulations again on the success of your 15th annual workshop. That is fantastic. Kudos to you, man. That’s great. You’re fighting the good fight and doing the good work out there, so thanks again.

David Kain: Thank you Jim and I would like to say this to you and the whole CBT [inaudible 00:11:50] network team, you all do a really wonderful job in educating dealers out there. Everywhere I go, people come up to me and say, “I’ve seen your show on CBT. What about those guys at CBT? It’s part of my morning routine,” and that really means a lot I think that what you all get back to the community of automotive dealers and manufacturers. So thank you very much and [crosstalk 00:12:15].

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thank you for those kind words. It’s always good to hear that. We don’t have a studio audience here, so we don’t know if we’re connecting a lot of times, but to hear that you’re out there getting those kinds of comments given to you, we appreciate that and we appreciate your comments here today. So couldn’t do it without you either.

David Kain: Thank you very much.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So thank you.

David Kain: Thank you very much, Jim. Y’all take care.

CBT Automotive Network, the number one most-watched network in retail automotive. This has been a JBF Business Media production.