Grant Cardone on Changes that Automotive Managers Need to Make in 2020

Grant Cardone

We’re pleased to welcome to the show today, Mr. Grant Cardone. Grant is a world-renown serial entrepreneur, international influencer, and real-estate tycoon with $1.4 billion AUM. He is also the New York Times best-selling author of Sell or Be Sold and The 10X Rule, as well as the founder of the 10X Growth Conference which will hold its annual event this February 21-23 in Las Vegas.


Jim Fitzpatrick: Hey, everyone. Jim Fitzpatrick on the CBT Automotive Network. We’re so happy to have with us today, the one and only Mr. Grant Cardone. I know that you know this face and you know this man. He has been around the industry for the last 30 years helping dealers large and small move more iron off the showroom floors. Grant, thank you so much for taking the time out of your extremely busy schedule to spend with us here at CBT News.

Grant CardoneGrant Cardone: Buddy, always good to be with you. We just had a hundred dealers down here in Miami at our school, just opened a school down here because so many people were like, “Hey, we want to spend time there. We want to come see your environment, want to come see the culture that you built.” People are very interested in this 10X movement.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, there’s no question, some of those things that we want to talk to you about today, in fact. So from your perspective, what do managers need to focus on in this new decade? In 2020 specifically, though, in this next year, if you were running a-

Grant Cardone: They need to quit being managers.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Well, talk to us about that.

Grant Cardone: Sell cars, man. Sell cars. If you got to be called a manager … I’ve never called myself a manager. I’m trying to grow my business every day. I come to my business every day. I’m not thinking about how to manage something. I’m thinking about how to grow something. So if you want to manage something, that’s fine, but what you should be doing … When you’re managing, you’re not selling. You’re not promoting. What I’m doing every day … I had a guy ask me the other day, he’s like, “Man, are you a promoter or a salesman?” He’s like, “I don’t know which one you are. Are you a great marketer or a great salesman?” I said, “I’m neither one, man. I’m a business, and a business is not about management. A business is about growth.”

Grant Cardone: If you look at the guys that are growing the most right now … Watch what Elon Musk is talking about or Jeff Bezos. They’re not talking about management. They don’t have PowerPoints in their meetings. They’re talking about expansion, and that means I got to go out and make contact. Sales is a contact sport. The car business is a contact sport. Who am I making contact with?

Jim Fitzpatrick: So in your opinion, where do you think sales managers are falling short?

Grant Cardone: They’re not selling.

Jim Fitzpatrick: They should be out there with their salespeople, selling and pushing the product?

Grant Cardone: Do all the stuff that you want your salespeople to do.

Jim Fitzpatrick: You do it along with them.

Grant Cardone: Save the deal for me. Save a deal for me. Save a deal. Call a customer. Quit telling me what to do. Call my customer for me. Give me a deal. Give me a customer back in here. Go visit a customer. Look, this thing’s going to get tougher and tougher. I’ve been saying this for years. It’s going to escalate now. It’s going to get tougher and tougher. Who’s going to win are the people that can actually go get the deal done.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So in this new normal we have here, and we’ve got Vroom and Carvana that are delivering cars right to the front door based on somebody using their Vroom or Carvana app. What’s your take on that? Is that here to stay or is that a fad?

Grant Cardone: For sure, it’s here to stay. Why do I want to go to your $20 million facility? I don’t want to go to your … I’ve said this for years. Why would I spend 20 or $30 million on a facility nobody wants to come visit? People are so out of touch. I don’t want to go to the mall today. I don’t want to even go to the AMC theater. I don’t want to go to Pic theaters. Both of them are going to go bankrupt. I think Pic’s already in bankruptcy. All that money they spent on a beautiful theater, separate seats. I don’t want to leave my sofa. Okay? I got my little coffee stain on my sofa, I know where it is. I don’t want to go stand in line, don’t want to park, don’t want to sit in somebody else’s chair. I want to watch it on my phone or I want to watch the game on my big screen and watch Instagram on my phone.

Jim Fitzpatrick: What do you say to the old school dealers though, that are hanging on to the past and saying, “No, no, people still want to come in and kick the tires. They want to visit the showroom. They want to take a demonstration drive. They’re not going to buy a car over an app, and it’s a fluke”?

Grant Cardone: Bring it to me. Bring it to me. Explain Uber Eats.

Jim Fitzpatrick: But it’s not a car.

Grant Cardone: Okay, but you sound like Blockbuster.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s not me. I’m just telling you what dealers are saying. I happen to be with you. I think it’s the wave of the future.

Grant Cardone: It’s ridiculous, what you’re saying. You sound the guy that didn’t want to drive a car because he wanted to keep his horse.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Grant Cardone: Just because you impeach a president doesn’t mean you’re going to replace it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: True story, very timely.

Grant Cardone: This has been going on. I have been at the forefront of this, not to pat myself on the back, but 30 years ago before there was an internet, before there was Amazon, before there was consumer reviews, before there was even the term customer satisfaction, I was saying, “Look, the way we sell cars is incorrect. You’re spending three and four hours with a customer.” I know guys still holding onto that idea.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I remember your term in the training because we had you at some of the dealerships that I manage, which was information overload, give the customer everything that they wanted on the first trip in without asking them for anything. And that was 25 years ago.

Grant Cardone: Look, I was a little ahead of my time, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: There were a lot of dealers that thought you were crazy offering that or telling salespeople to do that. That’s exactly what we’re doing today.

Grant Cardone: Yeah. And you’ve noticed that I moved away from the auto industry for a few years to go pay attention to some industries that are willing to pay attention to me. And those companies, like the furniture industry, they understand where this thing’s going now. This is not about the car business. It’s not about anybody’s idea. It’s about what the consumer wants to do. Every day at this office, I’ve got 25,000 square feet here in Miami, every day there’s Uber cars delivering food here all day long, from nine o’clock in the morning till six o’clock in the afternoon, all day long. I’ll bet you I have 40 cars drop off food here a day, rather than my people leaving and going to a restaurant. And by the way, they have the choice to do whatever they want. 40 people a day call a different Uber Eats to have the food delivered. It’s just easier.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So having said that, this is something that you’re recommending to dealers, that they embrace digital retailing in a big way and get on board quick?

Grant Cardone: I should never have to go to your dealership. You should be bringing that car to me. You should be bringing the car to me, regardless of where I’m at in my trade cycle. It could be 12 months. I might not even be … there’s no way I could trade. Bring me something to look at. Keep that car in front of me. Keep the service in front of me. Send somebody out to the store. It’s cheaper to send somebody than it is to fix your store up. Unfortunately, the manufacturer is going to require the dealer to do both, spend the extra 20 million to make the facility look beautiful and to get it in line with the other stores in the look and the brand. It’s just very, very expensive to do that proposition, but it’s more expensive, not to sell the car.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Hey, in this new digital environment that we’re in, something that is near and dear to your heart, what kind of a skill set are we looking for with regard to today’s salesperson? Do they have to have a great personality? Do they have to be a strong closer or should they be more tech-savvy?

Grant Cardone: We do about $40 million, Jim, out of … The last time I was with you, we didn’t even have this department. We’ll do $40 million this year out of e-commerce with a bunch of digital people. If I tell them to close, they don’t even know what that means. If I say, “You got to qualify the customer,” they don’t know what that means. What they need is strong leadership. You still need somebody pushing for the target and nobody’s really talking about this in this e-commerce space. You need a pusher man. You need somebody to hold people accountable. There has to be a target that is almost unachievable to exceed or to achieve, and then somebody pushing to that target. And going outside e-commerce, you give these guys an opportunity to not come out from underneath their computer, they won’t all day long, just be behind the computer collecting data, all kinds of data, and still not selling anything. So what I do is I force them out from behind that computer to actually make contact with the customer.

Grant Cardone: So if you come into my office and see here, we have about 40 people online doing whatever they’re doing online, and next to them is probably 16 people, one for every four people, that’s actually calling customers either off of Instagram, Facebook or because they responded to a text message or something on e-commerce, some landing page they hit and registered on.

Jim Fitzpatrick: This is what you’re talking about for the auto industry. They need to have somebody that’s pushing them, that’s leading that.

Grant Cardone: Doesn’t it matter what the product is. I’m the same consumer. I buy a car, I buy a diamond, I buy a jet, I buy a vacation, I buy a hotel, I buy a book at Amazon. I’m the same customer. I go to the Four Seasons, I go to the Holiday Inn, and I’m the same guy. I remember when I stayed at Holiday Inns. And I’ll stay at a Holiday Inn again if I can’t get the room I want it at another hotel. It depends on where I’m at, what country I’m in, what I’m looking for. But I’m going to use the internet to get there.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right.

Grant Cardone: Whether I’m doing a vacation rental in a home or I’m going to go to a nice hotel or I’m going to go to a restaurant, I’m the same guy regardless of whether I’m buying a bike for my kid or I’m buying a car for my wife.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Right.

Grant Cardone: It’s still about who I know and who I trust too. I just had a card delivered to me. I bought it from a dealer, said, “Hey man, send it to me.” I don’t want to go through all the research. There’s people that do not want to go through all the-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Right.

Grant Cardone: Hey, I saw a car and liked it, can you send it to me?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. 176,000 people picked up a car from their smartphone, never took it for a ride, from Carvana last year. So it seems they’re trying to-

Grant Cardone: Jim, I put 35,000 people into a stadium this February, Super Bowl weekend.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know you did. Right.

Grant Cardone: The tickets were 295 to $15,000. I sell seats that are more than used cars. Okay? How do I do that? How do you do that? I paid $10 million for Marlin Stadium. I put more people in Marlin Stadium than Derek Jeter in the entire Miami Marlins roster can put in the stadium for three days. Jay Z and Beyonce can’t fill up a stadium for three days. I’m just saying, how do you do that? I learned all that in the car business. The car dealers taught me everything I know today. It is the key. There’s nothing different.

Grant Cardone: Things are no different than they were 30 years ago. I take a phone call, the lady calls up, Helen, says, “Hey, I want a car.” “Great. Let me bring it to you. You don’t need to come down here. Who wants to come over here?” I didn’t want to trust her making it to the store. I was worried about her dying on the way to the store. I could tell how old she was. I said, “I got to go get her before pulse stops.” And sure enough, I sold that lady two cars.

Jim Fitzpatrick: And hopefully they had credit life on them.

Grant Cardone: She had everything, trust me, I did the finance too.

Jim Fitzpatrick: She had the whole protection.

Grant Cardone: And here’s the crazy thing. Her son-in-law was my competition in a Pontiac store and I sold her a Pontiac.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh my God.

Grant Cardone: Because he wouldn’t go see her.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s pretty strong.

Grant Cardone: So it’s the same thing today. Somebody hits your landing page, okay? you could put an ad up right now, “Hey, register for a free Honda.” Well, what do I know? People that register for a free Honda … and you guys give it away at the end of the year. Give it away whenever you want to. Don’t give it away. Whatever. Right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Grant Cardone: And people register. What are they saying? “I’m a driver. I’m a buyer for a car.” Once I fill that registration list out, maybe you’ve got eight or nine or 10,000 people that register in your town, then you know you got 10,000 people that are interested in a car. Now your job is to follow up on those people.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Grant Cardone: How do I follow up? With a phone call, with an email, with a text message or a personal visit?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Greg Cardone, the one and only world-renowned serial entrepreneur. You guys know him in the car business for the last 30 years. Thank you so much. Appreciate all your time. We’re going to call on you again if we can, because I got all these questions I got to go over with you.

Grant Cardone: You got it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thanks so much.

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