When you meet Cory Mosley, you'll no doubt like his quick wit and easy charm. If you hire him, it'll be for his industry knowledge, dealership experience and commitment to your bottom-line results.
"I want to see guys really get out there and crush it, really take advantage of the market," Mosley says. "I’m all about the competition. I’m all about outsmarting and outfoxing the other guy, and that’s what I like to see."
As president of Mosley Training, an automotive retail consultancy, Mosley focuses on what he calls "turnaround work." He helps underperforming dealers learn how to get their house in order, implement effective processes and hold themselves accountable.
"I don't usually get the call from the store that is No. 1 or doing everything right, so I have to make sure people understand on a dealership and individual level that if we can work together, everyone wins. Two of my favorite lines are, 'I didn't make up this stuff I'm sharing with you last night,' and 'I can't want your success more than you do,'" Mosley says. "It's important that the owner or decision maker who hired me make the agenda clear. People must know the consequences, or else they will wait for whatever is the new product, process or person to go away."
Prior to launching his company in 2004, Mosley says he owned several businesses – getting his entrepreneurial start at 16. Ventures ranged from Apple computer consulting to hair salons, landromats and TMG, an automotive industry reseller of business development center, direct mail and telephony services. In the dealership, Mosley said he "lived the classic retail life" – moving from his first job as a floor salesperson to positions in BDC and Internet sales and sales management.
DealerADvantage recently spoke with Mosley to learn more about the issues he and his clients are addressing in their stores. Mosley says he resists the temptation to look for simple solutions (i.e., magic bullets and "shiny objects") to address complex problems.
"I am very straightforward about these types of things. Just ask my clients," Mosley says. "I say, 'You can always buy more stuff.' All of the clichés apply: 'This is a marathon, not a sprint. Rome wasn't built in a day.' We have to balance quality products and services with the fundamentals of the sales process and common sense."
DealerADvantage: Why did you adopt that progressive, new-school approach? How do you see it playing out in your clients' stores?
Mosley: I think it's important to separate the things that look cool from those that actually increase sales, profitability, customer satisfaction and customer retention. I like what I'm seeing from dealerships that are taking their reputation seriously, keeping merchandising at the forefront and focusing on the customer experience. I love being in the Chevy store that treats its customers like Lexus buyers. I like the stores that take risks and focus on communicating and marketing where their customers are, not where someone may think they are. Finally, I like the dealers who are saying the old way just isn't good enough anymore and are open to and are taking action to implement and invest in a more progressive approach.
DealerADvantage: What is the dealer mood you’re seeing as you go around the country?
Mosley: To be honest with you, the mood is really dependent on the person. I think there’s a general mood of optimism because it’s better to be optimistic than pessimistic as a general manager, as an owner. I think that people want things to return to some semblance of normalcy, but they may not understand that what they thought was normal before will no longer be normal. I think what people have to do is start establishing a new normal. For people who aren’t looking to change or aren’t changing, the market, the industry, the consumers are going to punish them. I'm reminded of the quote: “People who hate change will hate irrelevance a lot more.”
DealerADvantage: What is the new normal?
Mosley: I think the new normal is focusing on maximizing every opportunity – not relying on some big ad campaign, the mailer at the end of the month that hopefully will save us, the giveaway, the newspaper ad or the manufacturer. We have to maximize every opportunity from the moment customers hit the lot. That’s the theme of things. I work with a BMW store that doesn't do a great job online, but it shops other stores. One of the guy's responses to me was, “Well, these guys aren’t impressive either.” I said, “Thank God. Thank God you’re all mediocre. God forbid somebody comes in and really starts to clean up." That’s the beauty of this business: You only have to be a little bit better. If people really buckle down and get competitive – not competitive at who's going to give away the car the cheapest – and creative, they could close some of these gaps.
DealerADvantage: You frequently talk about "old school" and "fundamentals." What's the difference?
Mosley: "Old school" is a matter of philosophy and technique. When someone says "old school," we’re talking about things we’ve been saying forever: "What would it take to earn your business?” or, “Well, sir, you know this increase in payment we’re talking about is the price of a cup of coffee every day. Could you live without a cup of coffee every day?” Those are old-school techniques. The problem is something called the law of diminishing returns – and that’s what we’re experiencing when a salesperson says, “We’ve been stagnant; we’ve been doing the same numbers for the past four years, and we can’t do more.” I ask, "Why can’t you do more?" Well, you can’t do more because what you’ve been doing is the exact same. When I hear the reply, “But we’ve been successful," I counter with, “Well, you’ve been successful to a point.” It’s an attitude I hear expressed with, "If customers were interested, they'd call back," – not that salespeople have to follow up with a person for 45, 60 or 90 days, because that’s not part of the old-school regimen (e.g., "A real buyer comes in. A real buyer buys in 72 hours; all these definitions of a 'real buyer' or what you have to do to sell a car.") It’s really a philosophy, a language versus fundamentals: road to a sale, the meet and greet and trial closes.
How do you solidify those areas? How do you make those areas stronger in a way that fits with what the customer today is looking for? No matter how customer service-driven you want to try to be or how "transparent" you want to try to be, at the end of the day, there’s still a psychology that has to be put into place for us to complete the sale. Practicality causes delay; emotion causes action. If we allow a customer to remain practical, we’re in this information exchange that causes a person not to completely act. So you have to combine that part of it with what actually causes the transaction to take place – and that’s an emotional tie to a vehicle, to a dealership, to a salesperson.
DealerADvantage: How do you create that emotional connection?
Mosley: You create that connection by starting to establish or re-establish a new set of techniques, a new set of actions, a new set of principles for how you engage the customer. We’re not going to simply tell people to, "Come on down," anymore. We’re going to create a what's-in-it-for-me conversation with shoppers that meets their needs. What are the principles under which you want people – yourself, your sales staff and your customers – to take action? Where’s the authenticity? It starts at the high level. I’m a believer in life and business as 80 percent psychology, 20 percent mechanics. If I’m not mentally tied into what I’m saying or if I’m not connected to the act of what I'm doing, all the word tracks and all the processes in the world won’t matter. So, at the high level, what is the principle action we’re going after – not what is the process? If you think about life for a second, people die every day for their principles. I’ve never heard anybody die over policies or procedures.
DealerADvantage: Is it tough to convince your clients to make that shift?
Mosley: I’m an advisor. I don’t come into somebody’s store and tell them this is the absolute way he or she must do it – or else. Everything's not going to fit everybody. That’s the danger with, unfortunately, a lot of consultants who are kind of popping up and have spent a year or two at a store and they were successful at one store and in one town and now go around the country telling people how to sell cars based on the way they were successful. Those stores are going to run into challenges with their business doing that because you have to look at the landscape of how the store runs, how it operates to meet that goal.
I need to change the psychology. I need to break down the psychology of what they’re thinking and what they’re doing. If I can change their psychology, if I can get them to see the why, then they’ll be better focused on and more interested in the how. Too many consultants go in with the how. They come in with their packs of phone scripts and do drills all day. Everybody is trained, and everybody is a bunch of robots. I work with the why: Here’s why we want to change. You can always buy more stuff. Some of it works; some of it doesn’t work. There are great products out there, but that’s not necessarily the problem. I always get those phone calls from clients. “So-and-so was here pitching us about (the latest shiny object). What do you think?" I say, "It’s all great stuff, but you can’t answer the phone yet."
People have to be careful when they talk about best practices -- are they trying to institute best practices? They have to keep in mind what is relevant to their store, what they’re willing to do and not do. I’ve watched dealers go out of business in the past four years because they wouldn’t fire the people that were hurting their business. They wouldn’t make the personnel decisions or invest in the technology. People need to understand the difference between the idea of old school and what would be considered fundamentals – the fundamental road to the sale. The fundamentals of what you’re trying to accomplish on the phone call. The fundamentals of what you’re trying to accomplish in an email exchange or when converting an Internet customer to a showroom visit. That’s why I’ve never painted myself as this guy that wants to just pack a lot of technology and chase whatever the great technology is - because we’ve still got these fundamental things that we can’t get quite right.
DealerADvantage: How does your approach play out in practice?
Mosley: The conversations that I have are more focused because I work with a store over an extended period of time. Very rarely will I go in and do something just for a series of days. I normally have stores six months or a year in what I call a dealer development phase. I’ve learned over the years of doing this that, with anything less, you don’t have sustained results.
One of the realities I've learned to accept in this business is that my clients will want to change course. When a dealer tells me he wants to veer away from what I’d like to see happen, or from my advice, I explain that it’s my job to mitigate the loss he'll experience from some of these decisions. I’ve had dealers spend a year building a BDC and then decide they don’t want it anymore. They say, “I changed my mind. I don’t want the expense. It’s not what we thought it was. It’s not what we wanted.” Yet they’ve done everything we discussed: They’ve sold more cars, they made more money. For whatever reason, they’ve decided in their mind that this isn’t the way they want to go; this isn’t the direction. I say:
Mosley: OK. What do we need to do for you now? My first job is to try to deliver on what you’re asking me to from the beginning. You asked me for more sales for your BDC. You got those. You decided you didn’t want to continue with the BDC. What do you want to do then?
Dealer Client: I want to get the salespeople more involved.
Mosley: Fine. We’re going to switch direction, and I’m going to help you. In the meantime, we need to do X, Y and Z to help deal with the growing pains that we’re going to have.
Maybe we need to bring in a call center, maybe we need to bring in some technology or outside vendor. That’s why you have to be versatile. You can’t just go in and say, “This is how I sold cars in San Diego at the Honda store, and now I’m your consultant. Even though we’re in Muscatine, Iowa, this is how we’re going to sell cars here.” You can’t do it that way. You have to adapt. Every month, I believe in measuring and looking at things, but I don’t believe in getting stuck or thinking we have to do something just because it’s what we said we were going to do. You have to try to find the right mix that works for your store, works for your organization. That is really the crux of it. I’ve got clients that have different needs. One guy has got five stores with different setups in each store. One is a single-point store that lost its Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge franchise and has one franchise left that it never paid a lot of attention to. All of sudden, it's the only franchise, and we had to revamp the whole Internet and marketing strategy. Now the dealer is the top dealer in his region for new-car sales and doing very well with used cars. The store's in a rural area and tripled its Web traffic.
How did that happen? It happened because the dealer and the management team listened. You think there's a correlation here? Zig Zieglar – the famous motivational speaker – said it: People talk about motivation and training, but they often decide it doesn’t work, it doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why you need to do it daily. That’s why dealers constantly need to be exposing themselves to new information.t here