AutoLeadStar’s Inside Auto Podcast features top leaders, entrepreneurs, influencers, and authors inside and outside of the automotive industry. Find this week’s episode here and check out all of our latest podcasts here. 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Our CEO, Aharon Horwitz and Director of Marketing Ilana Shabtay welcome their guest, Marat Pashkevich from Shift Digital

  • Marat talks about how his lifelong passion for cars and technology led to his career in the automotive industry

  • The growth of technology in dealerships over recent years

  • Key advice for establishing relationships with dealers

  • Marat shares his predictions for the future of car buying

In this episode…

Dealers are primarily focused on selling cars and often overlook important aspects of the business, like marketing and data. Marat Pashkevich, the digital business consultant for Porsche Cars North America at Shift Digital, educates dealerships about their data to help them make smarter decisions and increase their ROI.

Join Aharon Horwitz and Ilana Shabtay in this episode of the Inside Auto Podcast as they interview Marat Pashkevich from Shift Digital. Marat shares his journey from his first job in a race shop to his current role in managing the digital business strategy for dealerships. He also discusses the evolution of technology in dealerships, the importance of building rapport with dealers, and what lies ahead for the car buying process. Learn more about Marat’s expertise in the resources section below.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03

Welcome to Inside Auto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay  0:14

Ilana Shabtay here co-host of Inside Auto Podcast I have with me Aharon Horwitz, also co-host of Inside Auto Podcast where we feature top leaders inside and outside the auto industry. Past guests and clients include pro basketball, football and baseball stars that own and operate fleets of car dealerships. Before we introduce our guest, I’d like to tell you that this episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar. AutoLeadStar is pioneering smart marketing automation in the automotive industry. Built by top tier engineers and data scientists, AutoLeadStar’s sophisticated machine learning future proof dealerships, marketing automation operations, and replaces traditional marketing methods with automation. We’ve been featured in over 10 Auto publications including Dealer Magazine, Auto Dealer Today and Car Biz Today. And we work with more than 30 OEM brands.

Aharon Horwitz  1:16

That’s awesome. Ilana, we sound awesome don’t we? Yeah, we do. Yeah, I am super excited for today’s guest, because this is a person who combines personality and professionalism and just incredible knowledge about the vehicle, but also the industry and as someone who, you know, I think has taught us a lot in our journey through auto, not always about cars, also about food, let’s be honest. So you know, and sushi. I don’t think he I think we in our team, we have a lot of knowledge about drinks and other other sorts of things. So we’re okay, we hold our own sometimes. But I’m, let me with no further ado, because we could have do for a while about this. I want to introduce Marat Pashkevich. Marat is the digital business consultant for Porsche Cars North America at Shift Digital. So he works with Porsche out of Shift, which manages the the Porsche digital program. He partners with over 50 dealers in five different regions. So he sees a pretty broad cross section of the United States and he supports Digital Innovation and Excellence with those dealers. Marat has over 17 years of experience in luxury automotive and motor sports, and we’re just super excited to have him with us here today. Marat welcome.

Marat Pashkevich  2:33

Thank you so much, Aharon. Yeah, what a great intro I’m excited to discuss you know, the automotive industry, technology, where things are going

Aharon Horwitz  2:48

Marat, we’re gonna ask you about how you got into auto but what what what is it what vehicles on your wall back there?

Marat Pashkevich  2:54

guys I’ve got a GT2 RS in acid green Then, you know, and that stems from my childhood. The 911 is a pinnacle vehicle and I also have a CLK GTR super sports, which is another another favorite of mine. In what how

Aharon Horwitz  3:14

did Why are those near and dear to you? Like what, what what calls you from those vehicles?

Marat Pashkevich  3:19

The GT2 RS I mean, that’s, that’s the halo car for Porsche, right aside from the 918. And just the engineering of the vehicle, it’s over engineered. I mean, the thing is a jet fighter. Right? And, and what’s beautiful about it is you can take it to the grocery store, and then you can also take it to the Nurburgring set a lap record, a world lab record and drive it back home. In luxury and comfort with the AC blowing. I love it. Everything about that car, it It still has the lines of the original 911 and obviously it’s a very Beautiful interpretation of the evolution of our company. Right. And the CLK GTR. Ss. I mean, it was originally a ephi race car parking, right. That was there was homologated just for regulation purposes. They had to make 25 road going versions of the vehicle that that our work back there actually has the road going and racecar kind of flipped, which is really, really cool. And it’s just it’s an incredibly unique vehicle. It’s got one of the most beautiful sounding diesel engines that any manufacturer has built. It’s just while it’s really one off, so I love

Aharon Horwitz  4:50

it you you like you, you relate to cars like poetry. It’s incredible. Very nice.

Ilana Shabtay  4:56

This is why Marat makes fun of me so much when I told him I wanted to Get a Buick Encore at my next. Oh yeah.

Marat Pashkevich  5:05

South Florida deal. Yeah, it’s we’ve kind of hinted to that.

Aharon Horwitz  5:11

But I really feel it. I mean, you know that that acid green Porsche is a nice looking vehicle back there. Okay. So Marat, tell us tell us how you got here meaning you are running essentially kind of retail innovation in some ways, meaning is you are evangelizing digital transformation for 50 dealers of probably the most successful luxury brand luxury vehicle in the United States, many planets both somehow straddles that mass market but also maintains its luxury. kind of feel similar, almost like to an apple in certain ways. How did you end up in this business and in this role,

Marat Pashkevich  5:47

tell us about your journey of it. Yeah, I mean, my passion for automotive started in our, in our journey from the Soviet Union to United States. Part of that was a brief stay in In Italy, where I laid eyes on my first Ferrari, right, and it just it captivated me. And, you know, just growing up, I’ve always been around cars, even though my family wasn’t really into it, aside from my grandfather lacking Soviet Union, but in any case, my first job 15 was working in a race shop in Dallas, Georgia, where I was very hands on, I was big into drifting, I wanted to build my own racecar. And so I just started learning and I realized that

Aharon Horwitz  6:31

if those of us who do not know what drifting is, what is it

Marat Pashkevich  6:34

so it is a comes really from, from Japan, it’s it’s a form of racing where you slide your car sideways to returns, right? So it’s, it’s, it’s not more about time. It’s more about finesse. Right and going through a corner and hitting the apex with the nose of the car you know, completely sideways, so maintained you were doing

Aharon Horwitz  6:56

this, you were you were driving vehicles and drift and doing that Separation Yeah, my my first car

Marat Pashkevich  7:01

I tend to 240 SX coupe and, and I’ve done metal color that I think I kept stock for about two weeks. Then I pulled the motor out and started modifying the suspension turbos, anyway yeah. That’s really what got me started is building those kind of cars being hands on super exciting but I’ve always had you know, my parents telling me Hey, you should look at the business side of things obviously looking forward to college as well. And I knew that I wanted to be on the business side of automotive, so worked with several different performance shops in Atlanta oversaw e commerce and marketing for them. And, you know, just just grew from there. I had a great opportunity to work with Mercedes AMG right out of college overseas in global digital content and running the private lounge, which at the time was the largest owners only online community. So that was great. And decided I wanted to take a next step in my career and was on LinkedIn one day and saw this phenomenal opportunity with with Porsche and Shift and you know, who doesn’t want to work for the best sports car manufacturer in the world? Right, it was always a dream. And interestingly enough, you know, I had some opportunities to interview a Porsche. Unfortunately, you know, I didn’t get those back in the day. But, you know, once you once you enter Porsche headquarters in Atlanta, you realize that like that energy, right, you want to be a part of that. They built it. It’s like a museum. There’s no other brand that you want to work for. And even though I got turned out for those opportunities, you know, I think I found the right one, you know, doing what I do. You know, loving to travel and interact with people, new people on a daily basis. And I landed this role with Shift Digital. We have a phenomenal team. I think five of the top guys in automotive, we truly are subject matter experts in digital, specifically to premium automotive as well. So, actually in two days, it’ll be three years. Wow.

Aharon Horwitz  8:53

Marat, let me ask, is it common to have such extensive knowledge of both the digital marketing side, the kind of digitization side and also the vehicle platform? Or is that sort of a unique blend that emerged from just your passion as a young person for vehicles?

Marat Pashkevich  9:46

Yeah, I think it is. I think it is pretty unique. I mean, you see it a lot more now with with the younger demographic in this workplace and the workforce in this industry. But I think traditionally You can have either automotive or tech or marketing, right, and there wasn’t really this combination of all of them. But besides, you know, being a gearhead, I’m a huge tech nerd. So I’m always learning, you know, what the latest and greatest is whether it’s you know, AI, machine learning, you know, marketing, automation schools, whatever, whatever it might be. And then stems from, again, just my passion for technology. I used to build computers, you know, back in my early teens, that also evolved. And I learned how to code and c++ and VB six and HTML. So

Aharon Horwitz  10:37

 in when you approach your dealers today, kind of you’ve been let’s say, you’ve been doing this for three years take us on kind of the attitude that you the attitude evolution, which I’m assuming may have existed over the past three years to some of the things that you’re talking about when it comes to somehow implementing The tools that that make use of the things you just mentioned the types of technologies like what’s happened, uh, you know, since I’m 20, whatever it is 17, let’s say,

Marat Pashkevich  11:10

Yeah, um, this, you know, and when it started in 2017, this was a brand new program, Porsche didn’t have this. And honestly, Shift Digital has been around with other manufacturers. And this program is incredibly unique, because we do have so many touchpoints we oversee so many parts of digital business, whereas some of the other teams might just focus on after sales, or the lead generation process. So coming in and talking to Porsche dealers, I don’t think they they had a grasp of what they should be doing, what their agencies should be doing, what kind of technology should be in place, how they should be managing their CRM, what their CRM is, or even capable of doing, you know, in terms of providing data to make better decisions were their marketing decisions, outreach decisions, whatever it was in their next steps. So it was really eye opening. I think dealers, oftentimes, you know, they’re focused on selling cars. That’s their primary reason for being in that store. They’re not marketing experts, right? They’re not data scientists. So we come in, we make sense of the data for them, we educate them as to what clean data looks like and what the end result can be. With that data, so it’s definitely evolved. We, we talked about basic website UX in the very beginning. And then we got into advanced, paid social media campaigns, what that looks like, and what kind of content that should be creating and we take the data from those first campaigns. We say, Okay, this worked, this didn’t work. Let’s optimize, let’s move forward. Let’s take the next step. We look at paid search. And, you know, that’s kind of where you guys came into play and using your tool, you know, to to automate the entire marketing process. And that was huge for the dealers that using it currently. We looked at what other agencies were providing our dealers, and if that was effective, you know, it’s a constant evolution, you know, we’ve implemented new CRMs like, drive centric, you know, which was built around video. And so it’s, it’s grown from the very, very, very basics of website 101. And how to optimize that experience for the buyer, all the way to how to communicate properly now in a time where people are more weary about leaving their home. And that process is now built on video for our dealers,

Ilana Shabtay  14:03

and Porsche such a visual brand, how does that play into the marketing for Porsche, if it does at all?

Marat Pashkevich  14:12

I mean, we have the best looking cars in the world, right. And we have to represent it in a way that I feel like everybody should fall in love When they see a Porsche, right. So, you know, aside from our tier one campaigns that come from corporate, I think it’s important for dealers to kind of differentiate and tell their own story of Porsche, within their demographic within or within their, their own ecosystem. So why a Porsche of Jacksonville might be different from a Porsche of Orlando, right. So for us think that storytelling through video has really taken off. And I’m a huge fan of all of our imagery, of course, but that image doesn’t paint a clear picture sometimes of what our cars are capable of or how well they are built, or some of the technology now built around. So hopefully that answers that question

Aharon Horwitz  15:20

and Marat just following up on that, um, are you

I guess how do you communicate to dealers? Or what’s your kind of go to to them when you talk about how they’re, they should take that next step or what should be their major focus for this new era? I guess like, if you were going to give us your go to piece of advice when you walk in any one of those 50 stores? Obviously, it’s going to be different but when you kind of either start them or help shepherd them on that journey, what’s that go to piece of advice on how they should be setting themselves up and what they should pay attention to you They should not about a specific vendor, but about kind of the direction of where things need to go.

Marat Pashkevich  16:06

 First and foremost, I want to start off with an extremely key piece of advice for any consultant, anybody walking into the dealer and trying to work with their management teams or executive teams of these large automotive groups. You want to build a relationship with them and build trust prior even talking business. And I think that’s something that’s often very forgotten in this industry, because dealers see so many vendors come in, and so many consultants and advisors, you should do this, you should do that report first. But they have so much data, right? They have data from their CRM, they have data from the OEM, that the OEM provides them their data from agencies, making that data easily digestible, and helping the dealer walk, you know, walk them through it. Why does this why is this important? Why does it make sense sense, right? And what areas of business do we apply this to? Right? What technology Do we need to bring in? Right? To take this data and maximize ROI with it? Right? So for instance, you know, we have some really great reporting from our side that shows all leads that dealers work and then other Porsche dealers that basically conquer those leads. So why, why did for instance, a customer in Jacksonville send a lead in and that deal was taken over and a person bought in Orlando? Where was the downfall in communication until a dealer how many, how many deals they lose within a month within a week within a quarter? We can break down the process and until you have excellent examples as my dealer in New Orleans who a few years ago that They’re losing maybe close to 70% of their deals so that dealers and we’re able to look at the process, we were able to see the downfall in communication, the follow up, recommend new CRM recommend some video technology. And within half a year, you know, we pulled all that back. Right? And they’ve become incredibly successful. And that technology has grown for us now. And it’s a common recommendation that we make to our dealers.

Aharon Horwitz  18:30

 Very nice. Marat, just to kind of wrap us up. You know, you’re looking at the landscape. You know, don’t reveal any trade secrets here. But kind of maybe if you could just share it, you know, pick one interesting thing, what’s one of the most innovative, even super futuristic ideas that maybe no dealer is yet willing to implement? But it’s you’re seeing emerging down the road and you think it might be something that people should be paying attention to a new technology, a new idea, a new concept, new marketing model, you’ve privately dismissed I’d read some really awesome just concepts from the tech world that you’ve seen, that you’re in love with. But is there something that you feel like, Oh, this actually might be a thing in three, four years? Yeah.

Marat Pashkevich  19:11

I think, again, it’s it’s a, it’s a multitude of things. It’s going to be bundled into one. I think the automation process, whether, you know, starting from the marketing, but also going into the buying experience. I think everybody wants that Amazon approach the quick and easy way of purchasing a vehicle and no longer spending four hours on it. But I think most importantly, is the entire experience. From a brand perspective, right? I want to fall in love with the brand, not just with the car. But then what the buying experience looks like. And in my opinion, I think augmented reality mixed in with virtual reality. And then video technology in general, is where it’s at next. So you know, me being able to sit in my house and then A sales Ambassador halfway across the world may be in Germany being present via avatar in my living room, right? Or am I boardroom, wherever I may be, along with a one to one 3d render of a car that I can make manipulate 360 and build out together with somebody. That’s a hell of an experience. Right?

Aharon Horwitz  20:22

Not just, you see that yourself? Have you experienced that, at that level,

Marat Pashkevich  20:27

I experienced that for myself. And it’s an incredibly amazing experience to see. You know, you can you can take a one 114 scale model, right, and then blow it up in your living room to a one to one model of a GT two Rs, and then have a color palette and a palette for your interior and start building out a custom car like you would see in a showroom. But it’s sitting here in your office. I think that’s incredibly wild. I definitely see that as a future, you know, people that we’ve talked to, you know, from a customer perspective have food in odd about it and ask when that’s coming around. So I definitely think that, you know, that should be a major technology piece in the process in the future.

Aharon Horwitz  21:15

 Amazing. Well, also entrepreneurs if you’re listening, that was an invitation. Yeah. So listen to covering from drift racing all the way to guiding the digital future of a, you know, an iconic brand. We were very excited to talk to Marat Pashkevich and really get some insight into who he is and kind of what he thinks, Ilana, I think we’re gonna wrap with that, right.

Ilana Shabtay  21:41

Yeah. Thank you so much, Marat. It was a really interesting episode. And we’re so excited to have interviewed you.

Marat Pashkevich  21:48

  Yeah. It’s a great opportunity. I really appreciate it, guys.

Aharon Horwitz  21:52

  All right, Marat, take care.

Outro  21:57

  Thanks for listening to Inside Auto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.