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Kelly Automotive VP Chris Saraceno tackles industry consolidation, recruiting female employees, and much more

As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted across the country, many dealers are turning to a new way to do business and recruitment doesn’t quite look the same. On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Chris Saraceno, Vice President and Partner of Kelly Automotive Group and he’s also the best selling author of The Theory of 5. We’ll be discussing the first quarter of the year and also talk about recruitment in today’s market.

Saraceno starts off the conversation by discussing the opening of two new franchises under the Kelly Automotive umbrella, and how the dealer group plans to continue growing. The top 100 car dealers over the last 20 years now own 30% more stores than they did 20 years ago. Saraceno says Kelly Automotive’s expansion is largely due to how easy is it to hire people in the local market.

The conversation shifts to the ongoing chip shortage and the resulting inventory struggles. Saraceno says a lot of these struggles are dependent on the franchise. Car dealers have to focus on fixed operations, used vehicles, getting referrals, talking to owners, prospecting, and working on our service department. In fact, Kelly Automotive had its best month ever in fixed-operations. It’s time for dealers to dig in deep, says Saraceno, and do all things that they should be doing. Car dealers may take a dip because of inventory, but processes and procedures need to be in alignment at all times.

In terms of recruiting female employees to the dealership, Saraceno believes that the biggest challenge is not properly communicating what it takes to succeed in this business. Car dealerships should be upfront and transparent about the expectations and commitments of joining the industry. However, Saraceno also believes that the industry needs to change to accommodate the unique needs of female employees.

Saraceno closes the conversations by commenting on the current trends in modern, digital retailing, and the electric vehicle market. As many know, the outbreak of COVID-19 forced car dealers to accelerate their digital retailing systems. Car dealerships in Pennsylvania saw the results first hand. Saraceno explains that car dealers wouldn’t have embraced digital retailing so quickly if it they didn’t have COVID in the Pennsylvania market. In regards to EVs, Saraceno thinks that transition will be slow, and that he hopes to see more hybrids enter the market.


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