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:
Mike Renaud, the Vice President of Leader in Cars Auto Group, discusses the most important aspects of marketing during a buy/sell
Mike shares his strategies for driving successful campaigns
The challenges that a marketing department faces during a buy/sell
Mike talks about the current campaigns he’s implementing at his dealership
The increase in first-time car buyers due to the COVID-19 pandemic
In this episode…
During a buy/sell, a dealership goes through many changes. Mike Renaud, the Vice President of Leader in Cars Auto Group, knows that while every aspect of a dealership is affected during a buy/sell, the marketing department plays a key role in helping the dealership through the transition.
Join Ilana Shabtay in this episode of Inside Auto Podcast as she sits down with Mike Renaud, the Vice President of Leader in Cars Auto Group. Mike shares his experience in the automotive industry and discusses what a dealership’s marketing department needs to keep in mind during a buy/sell. He also talks about how to preserve data during a buy/sell, the benefits of data cleaning, and the campaigns that are most successful during this unprecedented time.
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 host of Inside Auto Podcast where we interview top GMs entrepreneurs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. Before I introduce today’s guest, this episode is sponsored by www.autoleadstar.com. AutoLeadStar is pioneering marketing automation in the automotive industry with sophisticated machine learning that future proof that dealerships marketing automations and replaces traditional marketing methods. I also want to send a special thank you to Pete Petersen CEO of Dealers United who originally introduced us to today’s guest. So without further ado, I’m excited to welcome Mike Renaud, Vice President of Leader in Cars Auto Group. Mike is a self starter who has experience ranging from door to door sales to public speaking to managing high complex dealership and diversified marketing plans for several multi-million dollar campaigns. Most recently, Mike has operated four franchise dealerships and negotiated an extremely successful buy/sell, as well as partnership agreements. Mike, thanks for joining us today.
Mike Renaud 1:18
Hi, Ilana. How are you doing?
Ilana Shabtay 1:19
I’m good. Thank you.
Mike Renaud 1:20
Great to see you. Thank you for having me. You
Ilana Shabtay 1:24
ready to have you? Thank you. So like I mentioned when we were introducing you, I’m looking forward to learning about what happens to marketing during the buy sell. So I know you oversee a lot of things at the dealership, but I’d love to know what are some of the most important things or must have for marketing departments during a buy sell. And you just recently went through this so it’s all fresh.
Mike Renaud 1:46
Yeah. And and it’s, it’s very important because first of all, you have a marketing department that you know and a dealership and everyone in a dealership that kind of season end date, right? That buy sell day be it you know September 30, or January 1, whatever it is that there’s an ending, they know, this, this, these campaigns, these things are ending and not just like it ends on a normal month where it’s something I carries forward and you just make those tweaks and changes like it’s over. So you have to, you have to do two things. One is you got to get your staff in a mindset that we’re pushing and driving all the way to the end here. And you need to have those conversations with them and make sure that you know, their head is in the game and still focused on it. You have to make sure your campaigns are still performing. You have to you have to be careful of the staff and the quality degrading as people’s heads are going in different directions and advice. And when it comes to the marketing departments, you need to still do that, but you do it in a different way. So you start right you have different parts of the funnel that you’re attacking in a marketing and advertising campaign, right. So when you take When you have those different things, you start ending the long term campaigns. Right? Okay, you start cutting back those long term, you know, bottom, you know, top of the funnel customers, the repeat customers, you don’t have to do that anymore. Those are the customers you’re not trying to engage now you’re just trying to take the entire funnel and jam it through into your store and sell as many cars as you can get many, you know, cars through service as you can, between you know, the time you’ve made that decision and the buy sell date. So what you’re doing is you’re cutting your, you’re not spending on that long term, but you’re taking that money and you’re driving everyone out of the funnel that you can kind of like squeeze in that that rag there. So
Ilana Shabtay 3:43
you’re saying like the if you look at the funnel like brand and awareness and potentially a little bit of consideration, you just kind of end all of that you put everything into just intent buy buy buy
Mike Renaud 3:54
exactly getting here, you know, come on in, you know 20% over both On your car, you know every campaign that you know ski swaps this that you just throw every every bottom of the funnel campaign you throw at the customer to drive through. Because, you know, a Okay, everyone’s always talked about a 60, 90 day funnel, it’s probably even shorter right now. But you take that, you know, you take everyone in that funnel and you drive them through and that time when you get to that end of that pie, so that’s a very important thing for because what are you advertising for the next guy? You don’t want money for the next guy. So you’re really just, you know, stay focused on you. And that’s important for marketers, you know, those two aspects keeping people’s head in the game and understanding. Let’s clean our funnel, let’s get off whose lease is coming up in six months. He wants to get those people out of their cars make deals.
Ilana Shabtay 4:50
So what were some of the tools or software’s that helped you with that? Maybe CRM mining or even just like what was most What was most successful for you in terms of the type of channel so search display social?
Mike Renaud 5:06
So, yeah, so you’re driving those campaigns that, you know, either I found or you find for yourself that are the most successful at the bottom again, that at the bottom right funnel, right, your cleaning funnels, what are my campaigns that clean the funnel, you know, I’m going to get rid of all my, my, my high, you know, brands campaigns across the board, they’re all gone. No more branding campaigns are going to stick to modelines. We’re going to stick to real intenders in Facebook, get rid of the Evergreen campaigns, all that stuff. And you’re just going after that, that entender you’re staying with your fate, your successful Facebook campaigns you’re doing, you’re just spending on that model line that bottom of the contender in Google, and then you’re you’re hitting your lease retention list, you’re going to you’re going to your OEM list. You’re going through your internal list, and you’re hitting all of those customers and getting them out of their cars. Because if you don’t get them out of your cars right now, the next guy is going to because all your data is going to that next owner, most likely.
Ilana Shabtay 6:12
And that’s that brings me to my next question, which is a great transition. Let’s talk about data for a second how he did that. I saw how you did that. That was wonderful. I’m helping me out here. How How do you preserve data? And is it important, especially when there’s processing management change? What is what does that look like?
Mike Renaud 6:32
Well, listen, it’s important because, you know, we all want to see people succeed, and you’re most likely selling a dealership not to someone who will, you might be selling them to a current competitor. But in the future, once the buy sell is complete, they’re not your competitor anymore, right? So you want to be an honorable person. You want to do the right thing and you want to make sure that data is intact, and has integrity because most likely in the buy sell agreement. You’re selling all the data Going to the new owner. Okay, so, um, you know, and we all know everyone watching this knows the biggest problem with data is garbage in and garbage out. And it goes back to that question that you asked earlier about the marketers, what’s the biggest thing is the same. Same problem, your desk managers are going to have no buy sell, same problem your service manager is going to have everyone down is going to have is everyone’s worried about their job. Everyone’s worried about change, and the new guy and everything else. So everyone’s getting sloppier and making more mistakes and all that stuff. So you’re ending up with sloppier and sloppier data deals with better a mess and everything else. So that challenge again, of keeping people’s heads in the game, getting them to understand, you know, you know, that change isn’t so bad and, you know, whatever you have to do to explain to people why you have to focus on your job right now. And what’s in front of you right now to make sure that data stays just because you want to do the right thing for the next guy. You
Ilana Shabtay 8:00
That’s interesting, I actually would have thought that it would force a dealerships to do more of a deep dive and clean up data. Because it’s like, Okay, we got a clean house here before we had to stop.
Mike Renaud 8:11
Now, a lot of dealers just Here you go, here’s my junk, take it, hmm. And you know, and that’s kind of happens a lot of buy, sell, here’s my, here’s my junk. See you later. Now it’s your problem. I don’t deal with this problem anymore.
Ilana Shabtay 8:24
And then typically, are you are they staying in the same CRM and DMS? Cuz that’s a whole nother problem? No,
Mike Renaud 8:31
no, some like the one we just did. They completely change the DMS and CRM. They went, we were Reynolds store, they went to CDK. And so, you know, that’s a tough transition. You know, that’s a tough transition. You know, I still talk to a lot of staff over there and, you know, the staff, they’re fine, you know, Reynolds, CDK, whatever, we can figure it out. The staff that’s been in the business for a while who has been on Reynolds system for you know almost their whole career CDK is a change a big change
Ilana Shabtay 9:11
I can How long did that take that transfer
Mike Renaud 9:15
oh they do it we that transfer starts like before the buy sell wow so everything’s right yeah right so everything’s arranged like the next day after the buy sell CDK was in there doing training setting up printers Do you know it’s it’s quick it’s the learning curve is the problem. Yeah, data transfer all that stuff. We do that in the weeks leading up to the buy sell between the buyer and seller.
Ilana Shabtay 9:39
And you said you switch CRMs as well.
Mike Renaud 9:43
Yeah, they did. Yeah. When they when they bought we’ve when we did our buys. See know everyone was on Reynolds already. We changed CRMs right. You know, one of the buy cells we had a couple years ago when we bought a dealership they had higher gear still
Ilana Shabtay 10:00
Oh, I’m done with that.
Ilana Shabtay 10:04
Now, the automotive
Ilana Shabtay 10:05
in 2016 I don’t know what
Mike Renaud 10:08
a higher gear was like, it was like a cartoon. Um, but uh, you know, some change that but so yeah, I mean, listen, some, you know, you want to conform all your all the dealerships in your group to one you get better deals with vendors you get, you know, staff that you can interchange between stores without problems and things like that. So whoever’s buying, they’re making the change, they’re gonna change the systems, especially today.
Ilana Shabtay 10:36
Yeah, for sure. And so in a way, well, it’s sloppy at the it’s also a data cleanup because you’re transferring and you’re cleaning and you’re unifying and streamlining.
Mike Renaud 10:49
Yeah, but you’re leaving it to vendors to clean up.
Ilana Shabtay 10:52
Ilana Shabtay 10:55
Mike Renaud 10:56
every, all the vendors that will offer all will clean it up. We’ll do a match, three, fix the addresses blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, just pay me an extra, so much per record or whatever. Right,
Ilana Shabtay 11:07
right? And so out of through all of this, and it seems like you’ve been through quite a few buy/sells, what was the biggest challenge for you when it comes to marketing and you’ve spoken about some of them, right. So making sure that the staff is still really motivated and making sure that your campaigns are in tip top shape and getting the results that you want. Is there any other any other challenges, then how did you actually overcome those challenges?
Mike Renaud 11:34
I think well, that’s good questions. So I think it all goes back to and stems to the biggest challenge of a buy sell is keeping your staff in the game. Right? That’s why countless owners don’t tell anyone about a buy sell until the day before. Why ours this most recent buy, sell we went through. I mean, it was supposed to happen so many times and it ended up Being like an eight month long drag out with closing dates changing constantly. The staff became completely fatigued because they knew about it for way too long and it was just something that plagued in their head for way too long. So, um, that of course is the number one challenge handout. Okay, so how do we get through our marketing things? So it was really what you had to do is open up your your marketing a little bit and dissect everything. Okay, where are we going? Where are we spending? What are the individual campaigns? I mean, we used in that not to toot your own horn here but we use AutoLeadStar to help us break down what are the campaign’s where are they hitting customers, where are they touching customers? Where in the funnel is these these Google campaigns because I can break it down to each individual specific campaign. Oh, that model line is actually a high funnel campaign. We didn’t even realize it. Um, because we’ve never dug this deep in the data in a while. Um, so you know, we can get rid of that campaign. Oh, wow. This camp this this You know, whatever branding campaign actually is hitting and attracting bottom funnel owners but up bottle on on Sat buyers let’s you know focus that let’s keep that campaign so we were able to go through each campaign and kind of look at them individually see where they were hitting see where customers were coming from and you know we talked to you talking about data cleaning we actually did a marketing you know a cleaning that after when we were done we’re like God, we should do that every you know, quarter. Yeah, what a great way to look at it but it took time. You know, it was more than half a day of locked in a room staring at a computer and not doing anything else. You know, bright and even with the simple easy way that AutoLeadStar kind of lays everything out for you and finds it. It still took time you have a lot of you don’t people don’t realize how many Google campaigns they have running at a time or how many Facebook campaigns. Have running at any one time, um, to break down each one individually that that it was tedious, but it was very good. And I think buy/sell or not, it’s something people should find time for every quarter.
Ilana Shabtay 14:15
And is that something that you’re going to now implement every quarter?
Mike Renaud 14:18
Oh, yeah. worse. What a great way to do it. Yeah. You know, but again, it’s great in theory, I, you know, and I hope every quarter I can make my time to do it. You know, that’s, that’s the other challenge is just making sure you make that time in the day to do that.
Ilana Shabtay 14:34
Yeah. Or making, you know, having those conversations with vendors and saying, These are the goals that I want to make sure we review at the end of the quarter. Let’s, you know, put that on the calendar and we can do it together. I think you should do it together. I think it’s important for us to understand their data, and not just rely on the vendor to say here, that’s what we found, because no, that’s
Mike Renaud 14:53
Yes, what’s so important. You have to find a way to get around your vendors and see what Actually,
Ilana Shabtay 15:00
I mean, this also is why I think it’s so important for every single dealer to have access to their own ad accounts. I mean, this is a conversation that was very, it was a very hot topic. You know, a year ago or two years ago, I haven’t heard since maybe a lot more. You know, third parties are allowing for dealers to have their own login. But I do think that dealers must be able to see on a campaign ad ad set, I don’t care level what’s going on in their data, because then they can do cleanups, like me, and they can understand what’s top of the funnel, what’s bottom funnel, what’s working, what’s performing. So I think you are a great example of a dealer that understands that and can use that to drive different results for the dealership.
Mike Renaud 15:41
Yeah, we never, we’ve always owned our accounts, we’ve always had our own accounts. It was always a number one thing for me, someone taught me that early on, you own your outward accounts. And it’s, you know, it’s been successful for us because you can see what’s real and what’s not.
Ilana Shabtay 15:59
And that’s also probably Easier to transfer after a buy sell as well? Because,
Mike Renaud 16:04
yeah, yeah. Well, you don’t transfer a lot of the marketing stuff. I mean, you transfer the, like, we transferred over the ad word accounts. Mm hmm. Um, you know, the ad word accounts went over. But, um, and that helps. It’s a, again, you don’t have to do it. If it’s written into the buy sell agreement, you know, into the, the APA then fine. It’s in the APA and you transfer it over. If you’re smart, and you’re entering a buy, sell and you’re buying something, make sure you put the ad word accounts in because then you have all that history. Yeah. You’re not starting fresh with retargeting data anymore. Yeah, you’re you have all that retargeting data, you have everyone to hit nothing starting fresh. You have all that history because you’re hanging on to that AdWords account.
Ilana Shabtay 16:54
Yeah, I think that’s a very important point. And so what’s the plan for the store for the next couple of months I see you’re in it looks like you’re at the New Rochelle Hyundai location. I’m
Mike Renaud 17:04
at the Hyundai store now and we have the Huntington store and now that we’re part of the Empire group we have they have many more stores and we’re a part of that family. I think the biggest concern like everyone is what’s the inventory going to look like? You know with Hyundai we’re pretty lucky Hyundai has a nice supply of inventory right now on their their plants are still working Korea handles COVID a little better than the rest of the world. And so we’re doing okay at that on Mazda? You know, as far as I’m under 100 cars in inventory. Wow, we
Ilana Shabtay 17:41
Mike Renaud 17:45
Ilana Shabtay 17:45
Sorry What happened with them Garden City Mazda.
Mike Renaud 17:49
So that was completely sold. New Rochelle Hyundai Huntington Mazda were partnerships and Garden City Mazda is complete.
Ilana Shabtay 17:56
Okay, so Huntington Mazda is still having inventory issues. Just because Mazda
Mike Renaud 18:02
right here in the northeast right now.
Ilana Shabtay 18:04
So what’s your What do you What’s your what are some of the campaigns you’re you’re doing are implementing now even with low inventory trying to do you know the trade in your car without buying a car from us to get more inventory whatever yeah so
Mike Renaud 18:17
you want to build but use cars is booming right we all have tons of used car inventory many places to buy them so I need those lease returns. I need those CPOs we need we’ll buy your car. Those campaigns are very successful right now listen, people are buying cars. You know, the carton is strong. You know, it’s so you have to look at it like okay, inventory is tight. We’re gonna have inventory problems we’re grossing there’s, there’s not a lot of cars that we’re giving away. Right? You know, we need to now is the time for the industry to make some money because it’s going to be it’s going to be rough in the fight. I don’t think anyone has an amazing outlook for the fall or have a lot of question marks around the fall and what’s going to happen So I think, you know, the more dealers can hang on to that gross and not give away cars is is is really important right now. Mm hmm. Um, you know, of course grossing always was but, you know, now we got it we got a really gross Yeah, good point and that’s what’s happening that’s what you’re seeing customers aren’t complaining customers aren’t fighting you in the showroom they’re not nickel and diming things you see in service people are investing in their cars are spending more money in service than they did before. Um, so, you know, you even hear that you’re seeing more lease buyouts you’re hear people talking about buying out their leases, you know, on so in between all those things every, you know, the only hiccups are going to be the world. Yeah, and what happens with COVID and elections and the economy, you know, those are the question marks that are out there and, um, you know, I don’t know my, my glass ball here isn’t, isn’t it’s pretty cloudy still. So what I usually the crystal ball usually shares them all. But right now it’s No, no, it’s and and and that’s, you know, but the American consumer is still buying, or let’s say at least the one here in the northeast and what you read in a lot of parts of country people are still buying. Yeah. And not selling. We’re not selling to the volume that we did because of inventory issues, but we’re grossing.
Ilana Shabtay 20:26
Mm hmm. And the rebound is much stronger than what people thought from Oh, especially. So I was gonna ask you, especially in New York, because from what I’ve seen, and I think I just read something recently, I think it was either Washington Post or Wall Street Journal. I think it was New York Times, but it was saying how New York specifically, a lot of New Yorkers are going to become first time car owners because no one wants to take public transportation. Are you seeing that in your you have?
Mike Renaud 20:53
Yeah, oh, my god. Yeah. I mean, nourish our little more than Huntington because we’re closer to the city, right. But I talked to him. My friends who are dealers in the city, you know, I mean, 55 year old people coming in to buy a car for their first time with a learner’s permit in their hand.
Ilana Shabtay 21:08
Mike Renaud 21:10
Crazy. That’s what’s happening right now, you know people who have
Ilana Shabtay 21:14
allowed to someone who is learning
Mike Renaud 21:18
this is if they can get insurance. Ah, you know, but, you know, the fact of the matter is, is that, um, you know, people who have lived in the city their whole life or who live in the city now who have never owned a car who have lived on the subways and the buses, you know, and the trains. Those people don’t want to get on subway buses and trains. I mean, you were just up here recently. I don’t know if you went into the city. There’s no taxis.
Ilana Shabtay 21:47
I didn’t go into the city and I drove from Miami to New York like that’s that’s the type of demand that that automotive is going to have.
Mike Renaud 21:54
A look you came in by an RV. Forget about I couldn’t get on. You can When people were so worried Hertz was going bankrupt, enterprise, they’re all screwed. You can’t even rent a car right now.
Ilana Shabtay 22:07
Mike Renaud 22:07
Oh, yeah. People want to be in cars, they want to be in big cars. They know that they got to be a little independent people aren’t getting on airplanes, even though we’re seeing more and more planes and air traffic, people still aren’t there yet. But they’re comfortable with their own family and their own car and traveling in their own way. And that’s what’s why we’re seeing a good, you know, a good economy right now. Plus, oh, listen, unemployment in some parts of the country is rough. real rough. You know, here it’s it. We’re a little better because we have a lot of people working offices and they’ve transitioned to working at home and they’re still working. Yeah, you know, everyone in the suburbs is still working. They’re still making their paychecks. Yeah, you know that. Okay, so now I’m still making my paychecks. I’m not paying the commute not paying to go out. I’m not paying to go on vacation. Let’s just get a bigger better car, right? Because we’re gonna be driving around more. And we’re gonna be you know, let’s fix this same mentality on why people are spying. You know why Wayfair stock is through the roof because everyone’s buying on Wayfair to improve their homes
Ilana Shabtay 23:14
and their decks there
Mike Renaud 23:18
I can tell you I have spent a lot of money on my outside deck this year and things for the kids and yeah, you know, Amazon comes every day the guy and I high fived each other I mean,
Ilana Shabtay 23:29
I hope you elbow
Mike Renaud 23:31
Mike Renaud 23:34
but I mean, that’s that’s where we are right now. That’s where the world is. And, you know, I wish that I wish I are and you know, if anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen, they’re lying. Because no one knows. Or not even the pollsters no one it’s just no one trusts anything anymore. No one believes anything anymore. And how can you make predictions when the worlds like that?
Ilana Shabtay 23:57
Yeah. It’s been quite the year Yeah.
Ilana Shabtay 24:02
Wow. Well, Mike, thank you so much. We started about talking about buy, sell and marketing and data. And then we just went in, you just shared your knowledge and everything else, which I love. Thank you so much for joining us today. I really, really appreciate your time and your insight as always, it’s just incredible and so interesting. So I’m excited to have you on our podcast again soon. Oh, probably.
Mike Renaud 24:25
Thank you for having me. This was awesome. I had so much fun.
Ilana Shabtay 24:29
Thank you so much. And to our listeners. If you liked this episode, please subscribe to Inside Auto Podcast. Thank you so much,
Mike Renaud 24:37
Thanks for listening to Inside Auto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.
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