How These Dealerships Leverage Technology In Order to Improve the Sales Process – Alex Damoorgian, Maroone Chevrolet & Volkswagen

0

In today’s edition of CBT News, Jim Fitzpatrick sits down with Alex Damoorgian, President and General Manager at Mike Maroone Chevrolet North and Mike Maroone Volkswagen, to discuss technology and digital retailing and how Alex uses it to benefit his dealership.

Alex says that when purchasing their stores in 2017 their main focus was to get the best technology that automotive has to offer and that their employees and managers were all comfortable in using this technology and understanding it in order to better the sales process. He also talks about what the future might hold for the digital retailing car buying experience, and whether or not he sees a time when the entire car buying process will take place online. To hear more from Alex check out the full interview above.

technologyVIDEO TRANSCRIPTION: 

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Hello, everyone. I’m Jim Fitzpatrick. Thanks so much for joining us on another edition of CBT News. Today, we’re happy to have with us, Mr. Alex Damoorgian, who is the President and General Manager of Mike Maroone Chevrolet North and Mike Maroone Volkswagen out in the beautiful state of Colorado. Welcome to the show, Alex.

technologyAlex Damoorgian:
Thanks for having me, Jim.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. Congratulations, 40 under 40, we all just got our Automotive News, and you’re in there. That’s pretty cool. Congratulations on that.

Alex Damoorgian:
Thank you. Yeah, it’s an exciting time. I’ve been following Automotive News and everything they’ve been doing. The 40 under 40 program, I’ve had colleagues and friends that have been awarded and very excited that this year was my time. It’s something that we as automotive people strive to earn.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Let’s kind of jump in here. You had some good points that you made in the article. You talked a lot about technology. Talk to us about the emphasis that you do put on technology in dealerships.

Alex Damoorgian:
What we came in, when we bought the stores back in May of ’17, was we wanted to get the best technology that the automotive industry offered. We went with the full suite of products that Cox Automotive offers. What we’ve been doing is, our focus, day one, is when we hire a new sales associate, a new service advisor, a new sales manager, rather than just throw them in the seat and do the traditional training that a normal store would do. What we do is we do our hardcore push to make them learn the in and outs of our technology. So for the service end it’s [inaudible 00:01:53], for the sales end it’s VinSolutions. We use vAuto for used car inventory purposes. But, it’s not just knowing how to use it. It is knowing how to dive in as a manager, dive in as a sales associate, and become more successful with the data that these systems provide. I mean, there’s so much in these systems, whether you’re with Cox, or whether you’re with … Whatever CRM system you have, or service system you have, DMS you have. What I’ve seen is most managers or any dealership employees don’t utilize what really these systems offer. What we do is we use that data and that expertise to pass along a better experience to our guests, both in the service and sales. That’s just a small piece to that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. So we’re no longer looking for that guy or girl that’s got a great personality and is necessarily great with people. It’s more of a technology and data play in dealerships today, isn’t it?

Alex Damoorgian:
Yeah. What I’ve seen in dealerships in the past is you have the old dogs that still do everything on paper on the sales side, still do everything on paper. We kind of just let it be. We say, “Oh, they’ve been doing it for long enough, they do their 15, 18 cars a month, let’s let them do what they want so we don’t piss them off.” Well, that’s not the way I look at it. I said, “Let’s not force it upon them, but let’s empower them to say, “Hey, you’ve been doing 15, 18 cars for 20 years. What if we can get you to 21, 24 if we can teach you how to use technology to better yourself rather than just push it to the side?”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Every dealer we talk to has a different interpretation of what digital retailing means. If you look at the Carvana commercials where folks are sitting on their couch or at their kitchen table, and they go car shopping. Then, before you know it, they do the entire transaction online, and up comes the flatbed and rolls their vehicle off. To me, that’s a true digital experience all the way through. But, there are different iterations of that, right? Where somebody may want to do some of the transaction online, but still come to the dealership for that validation and confirmation, and take delivery of the vehicle in the finance office, if you will, under the traditional sense. What is it that you’re shooting for? Do you see the day that the majority of your vehicles will actually be delivered directly to the front door, and all of the transaction will really take place online?

Alex Damoorgian:
I’m very impressed with the Carvana model. I really, truly think that’s where we’re going to go. My friends, my family, when we talk about what we’re trying to do here, they respond well to that model, and you can see it. I mean, Carvana is selling a ton of people with very happy customers.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Alex Damoorgian:
We actually had this conversation last week in our monthly operating review, what is the true definition of digital retailing. Well, my definition of digital retailing is, they’re not necessarily 100% using our digital retailing tool online. Digital retailing means getting away from the traditional model, whether the guest does 15%, builds their deal in our digital retailing tool, then they decide to call our dealership, and we start that transaction, where we send them a secure online credit app, etc., etc. It’s not necessarily … Digital retailing doesn’t necessarily mean they’re just using our digital retailing tool, and they’re going from A to Z in that tool. Digital retailing is really shortening that transaction time, or that in the store time for the guest, which ultimately, and has been proven, a better customer experience.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
With today’s very low unemployment rate out there, it’s so difficult to find good people. You run a progressive dealership there. Where do you find the talent to come in, and how do you get that college graduate guy or girl, and how do you sell them on coming into the retail automotive business?

Alex Damoorgian:
It goes right back to what we were just previously talking about. We pitch in a different way. We pitch not as a car salesperson, but we want a customer experience, or a guest experience professional. You look at a Starbucks, or an Apple store, or an AT&T store, you walk into those establishments that have very sharp looking young employees that are very willing to help you. It’s totally different than what we’re used to, where the salesperson sitting at their desk, and a manager yelling at them to go find it up on the lot. I want to empower anybody that we’re looking for, that we’re giving the exact same experience. I like that model of the AT&T and the Apple store, where you have young professionals hovering around with iPods, ready to provide you information at that exact moment. You go into an Apple store and that’s the experience that we’re all striving for.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Let me switch gears a little bit and talk about how you promote your people to management in your store. We were just talking about the emphasis put on digital and customer experience. You mentioned some other big brand retailers out there, such as Starbucks and the Apple store and things like that, that we’re familiar with. Do the managers in your dealership, do they have to go through the sales floor to get to become a manager, or do you hire, or are you willing to hire people that have been managers in other industries and bring them in as a manager?

Alex Damoorgian:
That’s a great question. Obviously, our ultimate goal is to promote within whenever we get the chance. But, myself, Mike, the owner, many of our other employees had seen success stories from other industries. We are definitely not afraid to try that out. Again, it’s customer experience. Restaurant managers that come in, they know how to treat people, they know how to treat people well. It’s learning the technology, it’s learning the systems, and at the end of the day, customer experience. I’m going to say that word 100 times today. But, it’s what it’s all about.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. What can the industry do to bring in more females. As you know, Auto Nation, Mike Jackson and the board just announced that they appointed Cheryl Miller as the new CEO of that company, which is obviously the nation’s largest automotive retailer. A, what can we do to bring more females into the industry, and B, what do we need to do to keep them in the industry? It seems like some dealerships have reported, “We try to bring women in, but they just don’t do that well.” Then, when you ask them about the number of hours that these women have to work, and the number of days that they have off, and which days those are. Typically, I hate to say it, it may sound sexist, but the female in a family, has a tendency to take care of the kids more than the male does. Therefore, you’ve got to come up with a work schedule that caters to that, and is more family friendly.

Alex Damoorgian:
That question is something that us as an organization think about and talk about every single day. We want to get more women in our company and get them promoted and make them as successful as possible. There’s different ways in doing it, and one, I think the most important way is, let’s lower the macho barrier that we normally have in a store. That boys’ club needs to go away, and welcoming everybody. There is different custom things we can do with schedule, different type of flex schedule. But, the end of the day, it’s how you build the culture. Watching other women succeed in the culture, become leaders and mentors in the company is only going to empower others to say, “You know what? I think I can try out … I want to raise my hand when this promotion comes up.” So we don’t put any preferential treatment on females when they’re there. But, we definitely recognize and acknowledge successes with females in our organization.

Alex Damoorgian:
We have a leadership conference every year, and last year … So we do a top sales person of the year, top finance manager of the year, top service advisor of the year. Three out of the four winners of categories that we honor were female, and it was a very, very proud moment for Mike and the organization. It’s exciting to say. It wasn’t because we did anything special. But, it goes back to creating a culture, and what we call our culture of caring. There’s a million things that go into that. But, it’s building a culture that empowers everybody, not just females, and letting those females feel more comfortable within the organization.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, absolutely. Well, before I let you get out of here. Talk to me about your future, and what that looks like. You’re 32 years old now. You’re the President and General Manager of a dealership. Many people are watching this right now going, “Wow, that guy’s doing phenomenal.” Where is Alex in 10 years?

Alex Damoorgian:
You know what? I hope Mike keeps buying stores and I keep growing with the company. I know in my article I said I get real excited about what we’re doing, but I truly do. Mike couldn’t be a better mentor to have, where he’s got connections all over the nation, all over the world in the automotive industry. We’re getting all the newest technology. We’re getting all the newest processes. I look forward to growing with the company and watching us succeed, not only in the smaller markets of Colorado Springs or [inaudible 00:12:29], but definitely need some bigger metros and go from there.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, absolutely. Sounds like you got your hands full. Again, Alex, congratulations on being in the Automotive News 40 under 40. It’s quite an honor. I commend you on the job that you’re doing, much success in the future. Thanks again for joining us on CBT News. We very much appreciate it.

Alex Damoorgian:
Thanks for taking your time, Jim. Really appreciate it, have a great day.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thank you. Say hello to Mike for me.

Alex Damoorgian:
I will.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here