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Interview with Tracy Myers of Frank Myers Auto Maxx

Tracy Myers in front of Frank Myers Auto Maxx Dealership

Tracy Myers in front of Frank Myers Auto Maxx Dealership

Tracy Myers of Frank Myers Auto Maxx Dealership in Winston-Salem, NC has been kind enough to answer a few questions about his experiences in the auto sales industry and what it’s like to be a dealer in today’s economy.

If you would like to be included in our Car Dealer Interview series, please drop me an email at will(at)easyautosales.com or twitter us @easyautosales.

1. Tracy, tell us a little bit about Frank Myers Auto Maxx and your own career in the auto industry?

Once upon a time (when I was much younger), I was rebellious and wanted nothing to do with the family business. So I packed my bags & went off to college. I wanted to start an automobile company and if you were to visit website, you’d know that’s how I saw myself down the line. A few odd jobs later, I was searching for a better way to make money while going to school. That’s when I got a job at a nearby Toyota dealership and caught the bug real bad. I was in class from 8am to 1 pm and sold cars from 3pm to midnight and was promoted to Sales Manager in less than a year. I was only 19 years old and thought I knew everything so I quit school to make money in the car business. And all of this happened without my father’s knowledge! With that kind of experience and success under my belt, I thought it would be a great time to go to work for the family business. My dad welcomed me into the business and gave me a job right away…in the detail shop! I went from making $80,000 a year to minimum wage and I was really discouraged…but in hindsight that was the best thing he ever did for me. I am glad my Dad didn’t give me a free ride. My mom and I have a joke that I have worked out of every office in the dealership at least twice.

These days, I own the dealership (which I bought from my father 4 years ago) and have become a Certified Master Dealer, the NIADA National Quality Dealer of the Year in 2006 and was named one of the top 100 Small Businesses in NC (coming in at #22).

2. How has your dealership been specifically affected by the current economic situation?

In my opinion, the current economy is not bad…it’s just DIFFERENT. I can’t operate my business the same way I did even 6 months ago. The business climate is changing like the weather and we have to be prepared to change with it at a moments notice. When I wake up every morning, I have to determine if I need an umbrella or the sunscreen! But I’m ok with that because when these meltdown is over, the strong will be left standing. My dad says that a recession is necessary every few years to purge the wanna-be’s and the Mickey Mouse operators. While I may not punt it as bluntly as he does, I tend to agree.

3. What expenses have you cut from your daily operation?  What new programs have you added to your daily operation?

I have tried not to cut out anything. Instead, I have consolidated some departments and I am continuously striving to make everyone more productive. I tell them that they don’t get paid for the hour. They get paid for the value they bring to the hour. It has always amazed me how much wasted time there are inside of dealerships. So I have stressed to my team that if they will come to work to work then I won’t have to cut pay, positions or benefits. I have also switched everyone to performance based pay plans which encourages everyone to maximize every opportunity. It is a win-win…gives them a chance to make more money IF they produce. If they don’t, then they make status quo.

4. Has your attitude towards the marketing budget changed?  Has it shifted more and more online?

My marketing budget has always depended on the ROI…regardless of the medium. Most dealerships seem to only focus on a percentage or a per car amount. I use 10 to 12% of the total gross as a guide but the ROI is more important to me. I feel that there is a saturation point for all marketing. By that theory, if I spend $12,000 to gross $100,000 then I should be able to spend $24k to gross $240,000 but that aint gonna happen. I have already reached close to my saturation point. So what do I need to spend to get the “extra” business I need? And what is the ROI of the “extra” money that I spent above the 10-12%? Those are the things that I look at. And YES…my marketing has shifted more and more online but I still get a good ROI from traditional mass media. I utilize TV and am buying it cheaper now than I have at antime in the past 10 years.

5. What are your thoughts on online reputation management? Are online reviews of dealers the next IT thing?

Online reputation is and will be important to a dealers survival but it is just old fashioned word of mouth that uses technology as its method of delivery. Dealers that were proactive with positive “old school” word of mouth should handle version 2.0 with ease.

6. What are your thoughts on the future of dealerships as many people start shifting their shopping patterns towards online research and browse?  What can dealers do to adapt?

I remember being at the NADA conference back in 1995 and 1996 and dealers were scared to death about the Internet replacing traditional sales people. As a matter of fact, there was a speaker at one of the seminars that predicted the demise of sales people by the year 2000! That didn’t happen. What dealers need to realize is that the Internet is just another form of marketing…and for most consumers, its the preferred method of shopping and researching for a vehicle. That is why it is imperative for dealers to stop resisting the internet and to understand that it is not going away. Embrace it abd give the customers what they are asking for. Go with the grain in your sales/shopping process…don’t go against it.

Thanks for your time Tracy!  Readers, if you have any more questions for Tracy feel free to add them in the comments.  Hopefully we can keep the interview going.  You can also find Tracy on Twitter @myersauto, as well as the official blog of the Frank Myers Auto Family

Again, if you would like to be included in our Car Dealer Interview series, please drop me an email at will(at)easyautosales.com or twitter us @easyautosales.