Podcast Ep. 79 – Strength from Adversity
Larry Olsen December 7, 2021
Casey Turner is a free agent for an automotive C-suite position. He is 3rd generation within the automotive family whose leadership and insights has created many new and upcoming leaders. Casey’s love for the business has guided and inspired him through much adversity, and his journey will inspire all who listen.
Larry Olsen: Welcome. I’m Larry Olsen, and what’s on your mind? Once set, it delivers your life. To change the outcomes we want, we must change the plays we’re running. Join us at Mindset Playbook with Real people – Real talk for Real insight.
Narrator: Today’s episode is sponsored by Aperneo, An Achievement Acceleration Company, whose approach to professional development enables clients to gain insights and perspectives to live, work, and engage with more success.
Larry Olsen [00:00:17] I want to welcome all our listeners today to a new version of Mindset Playbook, which is called the Great Automotive Experience. And my guest today is Casey Turner. And for our new listeners, this show is all about debunking some of them negative myths that can get attached to the auto buying experience. Now, remember that the great automotive experience occurs when the buying experience meets or exceeds the thrill of owning a car. So set the bar pretty high here. Casey Turner is here to do just that. He’s a third generation in the auto business and has a ton of experience to base his perspectives on as to what he’s been involved in to create a great buy in or service experience for the customer. Casey, I want to welcome you to the show and thank you for investing your time with me and my listeners.
Casey Turner [00:01:16] Thank you, Larry. I’m happy to be here.
Larry Olsen [00:01:18] Appreciate it. Now, having been in the car business since birth, so to speak, I you’ve seen the industry experience its ups and downs. And what have you done in the business to break one of these myths that the car business is just out to get your money and doesn’t really care about you as a customer?
Casey Turner [00:01:40] Well, I think one thing you know, growing up around a dealership my entire life, you know, I knew what people put into it. I knew that there was a lot of good, hardworking, credible, you know, ethical folks. It wasn’t what the myths were, you know, among like the buying public. And, you know, coming from a family business that, you know, was started with humble beginnings, like many auto retailers, I think, you know, back in the 50s, 60s and even into the 70s, you know, from what my grandfather and father described, you know, they had too just be different. You know, they weren’t they didn’t run organizations that were thrown keys on the roof or telling people to get out, you know, just being downright rude, which we’ve all heard some of those stories. And sometimes people think some of that stuff’s funny. We didn’t. So, we took it seriously. They were involved in the community. And you know, I think as I got older and started working in a dealership, I think by the time I made it to the sales floor, and I had to work personally on myself when it came to somebody that would walk in a dealership. And you know, they would. We call it the double starfish. You know, the get away from me and you came to our place. I’m not knocking on your door selling a Kirby vacuum. You know, you’re in our house and I’m here to help you. And you know, I’m just, I’m not what you might think I am. And. Presenting yourself as like just professional. You know, it’s funny. My grandfather was very anti beard, and as I sit here with a beard today, you know, he didn’t think he would even allow his technicians to have a beard. It was like, “Go work” somewhere else, you know? It’s not as principled people from his generation that were born in the 20s, you know, and came up from, you know, the 50s forward. It was definitely a different deal, but I personally always I think my number one thing was always just to find common ground with the client and let them know like, hey, I’m not what you think I am. And usually from there, it was relatively easy.
Larry Olsen [00:04:15] Yeah, yeah. And once you once you once you develop that connection.
Casey Turner [00:04:21] Yeah. And you know, every dealership I’ve been at, we’ve enjoyed, you know, good CSI, you know, warm culture. I’ve been happy to be a part of that and have worked with some amazing teams that, you know, people that really genuinely cared. And that goes a long way. And I think even as we enter this new era with, you know, it’s very transactional now, right? So, you know,
Larry Olsen [00:04:55] with the internet sales and one, yeah,
Casey Turner [00:04:56] all that and you know, the threat of direct sales. And you know, even let’s say Tesla has some very good processes and technology with their buying process. On the flip side, you don’t always get the dealer experience or a traditional dealer experience for if you have a problem with the car, you know. And I think people, yeah, it’s we’re at this crossroads right now in the industry. And I mean, it’s exciting and it’s also nerve wracking because, you know, as I’m nearing 50 years of age and within a few years of that and I’m like, what’s it going to be like in just three years, you know? And then you start looking down the road. But with all the disruption consolidation, I mean, we’re I think it’s still going to always be good for retailers, but it’s there’s just going to be fewer opportunities. And you know, you hear every day about these buy sales. And you know, I’ve experienced myself just a company coming in and buying your existing dealership out of their lease and a franchise being terminated that, you know, twenty-two thousand nine would have in common. And now is like the Volvo brand is relatively hot. You know, you don’t hear about things like that, but you don’t you never know what to expect. Yeah, yeah. It’s, you know, it’s wild. But again, I’m excited about it.
Larry Olsen [00:06:32] Yeah, in that in that all that chaos, you know, we’re always looking for predictability because I think some security comes with that try to anticipate as opposed to always just reacting. And what did you like? You know, I noticed in in some of the information that I read about you that you did a lot of a lot of training of the sales force as well. And what did you? Where do you think you went with the training to make sure that that connection was one of the primary elements that occurred as opposed to, you know, you get you get a young guy in a family of seven, comes in and immediately starts to help them try to find a van or a station wagon. And after a few questions and frustration over an hour of getting nowhere, he realizes that they just brought the kids along and his father was looking for a sports car. So, there was there was this preconceived notion that we all have. And more often than not, it can interfere with our ability to, you know, to be able to make a real connection with the customer. What would you how would you deal with that in your training for these? These new folks are going to go out and
Casey Turner [00:07:53] depend on the staff that I had or the friends with. So, when I was with Nissan years ago, it was more of a BDC type environment. And you know, you had more layers and management, and this is in the early 2000s. So, any younger team, but the majority of my experience, the last, you know, 15, 16 years has been with Volvo almost exclusively. So, with Volvo dealerships. There’s a few things that are great about them. Your staff is small. You tend to have an older, you know, age among like the average age. So, it’s not youngsters, it’s more seasoned, you know, middle aged folks. So what I found was instead of being, you know, let’s from the BTC days and the early days of having, you know, crimes and new processes and things like that, which were great at that time where I found the most success was, you know, five six years ago, aligning myself with a team of people that were I was fortunate we had people that these guys were educated and all of them and they went A to Z. So, they start to finish. They did, you know, the finance and everything. And as Volvo came out with some exciting new product, I had always a knack for the digital side of things. So, I knew, you know, I either had the right vendor in place to assist us in some way and support us, or we had some kind of training, you know, and no one was always, you know, the product. I mean, that was all because if you could talk about the product that made you more credible, you know, and then if it became a matter of, you know, the wheeling and dealing or negotiation, you know, it’s just very we kept very basic. I mean, we never we were always quick. So, if an internet inquiry came in and you know, they wanted to know a specific quote, what we provided it where many dealers even today, when can you come in, when can you come in? And that’s all they hit people with or it’s oh, sorry, I’m not the decision maker. I’m the assistant, you know. And now it’s scaled to a point where it’s virtual and its artificial intelligence. And we have people coming into showrooms now that they’re asking for the virtual assistant, and they have no idea. They think it’s a person, you know. And it does a really good job, but it can’t do everything. Yeah, yeah. And you know, and just being ready, you know, like I know one thing I worked hard on with my team at McKevitt Volvo was stripping time out of the transaction. Hmm. Know we went to we started with timing transactions discretely. And then we found the right digital components to be able to, you know, eliminate some of these, this lag time that we have in this business. And that made a world of difference. And it just it’s amazing how many markets still dealerships, just, you know, they’re not. They’re market driven, they’re not management driven. So, and I learned years ago, like really work at being management driven because no matter where you’re at, who you’re with, what’s going on, you can tap into that and improve it.
Larry Olsen [00:11:52] What would you how would you differentiate for our listeners, marketing driven relative to management driven?
Casey Turner [00:12:01] Well, management driven everybody needs to buy in to the process and the, you know, and have a sense of, hey, I’m going to contribute. I may be the lot porter, but I’m important. So that’s something I learned from my family. You treat everybody the same. So, you’re not any better than anybody else. You treat everyone the same. If it was the CEO of the franchise that you’re, you know, selling comes in to visit the dealership or the car wash attendant, you treat him the same. So, I never allowed staff to mistreat people. And if I did have issues that way, you know, we took the, you know, the are the proper route. Mm-Hmm. Ernie, that so if people came into the store, it was clean. It wasn’t cluttered. You know, my staff knew what they were talking about. We were quick and we didn’t hassle people. You know, people still don’t realize like they don’t want to be hassled. Some like to negotiate. I’m sure we can do some of that. But like right now, for example, good luck. You know, when friends reach out and say, hey, what do I do right now? My leases, do I buy this car? Do I go get another car? What should I do? I was told that the payments two hundred dollars higher than it was three years ago. Is that what’s going on? And I let them know. You know, look, either hang on to what you have. It is a good time to sell. It’s a seller’s market. Yeah. Yeah. To get off track. Yeah. I mean to be more management driven. It wasn’t just, hey, let’s open the doors, put out some balloons and let’s see who comes in. And let’s just get after it and go, you know, let’s make something happen when there’s no appointments booked. We haven’t. Maybe they haven’t confirmed them. I mean, it’s so simple yet. We miss it a lot and a dealership. You know?
Larry Olsen [00:14:09] Yeah, and you can have three or four. It’s in the calendar for,
Casey Turner [00:14:13] yeah, a stamp that you get now. Do these pay plans in California that you pay hourly? And then there’s this, you know, this aggregate number that you know you got to hit to earn a certain amount of commission per car? You know, it’s a little bit goofy the way the business is. You know what it’s turned into? So, a lot of those folks that were real go getters that could make a six-figure income and kind of be their own independent agent as a salesperson at a busy dealership. You know, there are few and far between now.
Larry Olsen [00:14:50] Yeah, yeah. One of my clients had the 200 club. So when you sold two hundred cars in a year, which is a good job, you were able to designate your own hours and you know, you got to kind of run your own show because you were basically not asking the dealership to drive business and you were you were out there with your own marketing campaigns and your, you know, your referrals and everything else, and that became something that everybody sought after. Right? Because you can get so limited sometimes by pay plans in any organization. And unfortunately, they sometimes you have this concept of management driven, you know, we want you to buy in. Yeah, we’ve capped what you’re capable of making right. And in our market today with the great resignation, people are going to thank you very much. I’ll go find someplace else to play. So it’s how important do you think it was that that this philosophy that started with your grandfather, that everybody matters? How important do you think that is to any organization today?
Casey Turner [00:15:59] Oh, I think it’s huge and I think it’s timeless. You know where no matter what. You know, environment we’re operating in, that’s always going to be important. And I think, you know, I’m thankful every day for, you know, some of the just the wisdom this guy had. And he was a simple guy, you know, he wasn’t a real, flashy dealer. You know, he was he appreciated everything that the car business did for him. Mm-Hmm. And you know, but he had that good Midwestern common sense approach. And, you know, he had they had a heck of a run dealer for 58 years. You know with Volvo? Wow. He was one of the earliest Volvo dealers, you know, in the country. And you know, it was tough for me to go through a couple of buy sells and, you know, and to see my dad faced with big decisions like, you know, should I, you know, is this the right thing to do? I mean, it’s sad that it’s less generational now than it used to be. But you know, I learned back in 2005 five at the NADA Academy, the last week is all succession and you know, they scare the you-know-what out of you. They give you statistics where you know that if you’re like a third or fourth generation, you’re the odds are slim. And look, there’s franchises that you can build empires from. Let’s face it, yeah, you have some of the German brands Toyota, Subaru, you know, you have some great companies that allow you to have that anchor to build, you know, a group from. And then there’s been a lot of brands that used to be something, and now they’re not and it’s or they’re coming back. So, it’s funny how everything comes back in cycles and, you know, brands that weren’t hot. Now they are. And you know, it’s that’s still very exciting. And then now with electrification, it’s what’s this looks like, you know, and a whole new game now. All new, yeah, whole new game. I think what concerns me is just a retail car person is, you know, with all these new companies. What are those opportunities look like if I’ve been, you know, on this side of it, you know, if I was going to make a career change, you know, what’s that look like if I’m working for one of these newer companies? That’s maybe direct sales model, but you know, then you still need the servicing and customer experience and yeah, good things that dealers still do.
Larry Olsen [00:18:53] I don’t know if I remember this, remember this because, you know, relative to me or you’re just a young man and you know you, you have to recognize, too, that there’s an old statement that we were given at birth. We were given everything we need to be successful, except one thing. You know that one thing was
Casey Turner [00:19:17] no lay it on me
Larry Olsen [00:19:18] experience, right? And you can’t put a price on it now turns into wisdom and it and it gives you the edge. And let’s talk about you a little bit and market you and those of you that are watching some of these video clips on YouTube or Instagram or Facebook see that she’s in a car. And that is not just for his love for the industry, that he decided to do this in the car. It’s the first off, his integrity and his commitment to keep his word. And by golly, he was going to make this podcast one way or another. So, your kind of in transition now, and you’re probably a pretty hot market out there because the one challenge that all industries are facing is getting great people. And so what took place that year in this situation right now, if you don’t mind sharing?
Casey Turner [00:20:14] Oh, I’m happy to share. I am so I’ve, you know, enjoyed a lot of success in the last seven years or so with Volvo and I, you know, I had been recruited away from to dealerships to essentially just better opportunities. I’m a native of Northern California and I grew up in Sacramento. I had a great opportunity to move to East Bay Area near San Francisco. And but I had lived after college. I had lived in Orange County and always had. I just enjoyed Southern California. So, I was just approached by actually a dealer principal who just called me out of the blue one day, and I think I was recommended to him like, hey, if you’re looking at Volvo, you know you need to call this guy. And it turned into this great relationship. And, you know, we opened a new store in Calabasas. It was exciting. The family was very committed. You know, at that time and six very successful BMW mini dealer for, you know, a hundred-year history. So, so my must haves typically are family owned is a big key factor to me personally. And, you know, it led me to just a great experience. I I’d never opened a store from scratch. So, at this point, it kind of bounced around the area. It had been in Thousand Oaks; it had been in Calabasas previously. But being more of an upscale market, you know, it was just it was exciting. And my family, you know, where we lived in the East Bay Area, we, you know, everybody was kind of settled since leaving Sacramento. But we as a family, I just felt like this was a good move, but I knew there was risk involved. Of course, then it could work out or something. Might have, you know, or family doesn’t like it. But we moved a Thousand Oaks, California, and, you know, my family fell in love with the area. All right. I really enjoy it. It’s one of the best places you could probably live in the country. So, you know, two and a half years in was, you know, typical dealership. UPS and downs, you know, growing a team, developing a team. But you know, we started hitting our stride. And, you know, but there was a big commitment that the owners were faced with, you know, building a new facility or renovating a lease facility, essentially. And then just, you know, having a good feel for our are we in it with this brand for the long haul? Well, we thought we were, but now we’ve been approached to basically give up our facility. Another group with another brand is going to move in. And as painful as that was, you know, they thought that was the right decision, and I respected that because I might have made the same decision myself if I was in use. So, the sad part is we really had a great crew and that a lot of work went into that. And now you have it’s not like they were like, hey, we’re going to open another store. We’re just close this one. All right. So, it was tough that way, and I think it was tough for them. I mean, we could see it. They didn’t feel great about it, but it was a pure business decision that, you know, everybody that the management team respected.
Larry Olsen [00:24:02] Well, you feel like you create great relationships.
Casey Turner [00:24:05] Yes, I know I have in the past, and that’s served me well, and I feel like, you know, at some point your luck’s going to maybe change and as good as something might feel or be, it could lead you to something else that’s even better. You know, that that’s I’m wide open that way. You know, we kept our home in Sacramento and we lease that out to somebody and we’ve always kind of kept emergency options open for a return up north. Or, you know, I really enjoyed working in the Bay Area. You know, as you may be aware, the housing market’s crazy. Yeah, you know, it’s kind of frantic. There’s a lot of tough stuff in California right now. So, you know, I have family that just moved back east to Knoxville, Tennessee, that I’m real close with. And so, I’m wide open. I have, you know, fraternity brothers from Northwood that are, you know, many of them are with either groups or their family has a group throughout, mostly like the Midwest and some up in the northwest and even East Coast. So for me now, I feel like, you know, after going through some challenges with a family member getting injured badly, you know, a sibling passing away this last 30 days, being unemployed, it’s been weird, you know, not being in a dealership. It’s the first time I’ve ever been, like, completely disconnected. Yeah. And an uncle of mine that I’m close with who said, hey that’s probably a good thing because if you’re going to go through some stuff. You know, being disconnected will only help you land, you know, at your next assignment. Absolutely. And that being said, I’m wide open, so I don’t know. There’s been a few. It’s been more out of town interest. But again, I haven’t had enough time and energy to really push it to get in there and as we all know, in the car business to around the holidays. Yeah, it gets a little dicey for people looking, you know? Right? And so, I think by January 1st, you know, I’m confident I’ll have something lined up. Yeah.
Larry Olsen [00:26:26] Well, you know, like, you know, when you’re talking to a lot of people now sharing your story. Yeah, because there’s a lot of transition and we know the pandemic really allowed people the opportunity to ask themselves, Do I really like what I’m doing? And those that did want it to keep it roll in and some couldn’t because of just proximity issues with the virus and whatnot. Right. But my philosophy for you and in the training, I’ve had for years and years and my background, I don’t know if you’re aware of it is in neuropsychology and it’s about how we think and how thinking affects performance. I can guarantee you; you’re going to look back at this and this is going to be the greatest and worst moment of your life, right? And you would be not somebody who a new employer would be excited about having going through all of this loss, walking in and trying to interview right now. You need to assess and in you need to put this. You need to give it you’re grieving, and you need to, you know, relish in it and make sure that you don’t pass through it too quickly. And that’s going to make you even stronger for what’s ahead. And no matter how much transition goes on and how many things change in our lives, there’s one thing that will always stay the same. And that’s something Keisha, you’re really good at and that’s building relationships because even when you talk to, I had a young lady on who graduated with her master’s at, I think it was 18 years old, and she’s a in the Z classification, the digital born out digital right. You have more analog. And, you know, she talked about being staring at a computer and a phone in the other hand and how to relate to that instead of being turned off by it. And one of the things she said is no matter what anybody thinks, all anybody wants is to be able to connect to another human being. Mm-Hmm. And when we’re able to do that, wonderful things happen. And remember, that’s your ace in spades. And that’s something that’s difficult to teach. You can learn it. But to be authentic about it, you need to own it. And your experiences and your generations and your understanding of even having an escape plan which was renting, leasing out the Sacramento house, you know, you always recognized that. The real stability in all of our lives comes through our own perspective. Mm-Hmm. Because things will change around us. But when we know who we are and what we stand for and we hold on to that, we don’t have to be too concerned about the doubt that comes into play. Now am I still a value? I have been out of the game for 30 days. I mean, there’s our mind can do some strange things if oh, definitely right if we’re not careful. And I think you are destined to be on this show and you, and I have this conversation because just never lose sight of your own greatness and those of you aren’t aware of this. Both Casey and I had a sibling three years older and as mine was marked with mentally retarded. They don’t even use that term anymore, differently abled, gifted multitude of names that changed my life because it caused me to look at people differently. And it caused me to question mean-spirited people on why on earth would they do that? And my thing was that they don’t know any better. And and yet the other element about Casey and I not only having minute to connect is that we were only we’re born the same month, two days apart. So, based on all my experiences, do you need to have the time of your life even though you’re going through some pretty traumatic experiences and being there for your family? You know, having your family know that it’s all OK because when it’s not OK with Casey, it’s not OK with anybody. And that’s the same thing in all of our lives. So not that you asked for that information or necessarily needed it, but
Casey Turner [00:30:48] now it was great. Great that
Larry Olsen [00:30:52] good. Good because you’re a wonderful human being, and people can hear that through this conversation that we’re having and everything’s going to be wonderful for you. And just make sure you stay in the driver’s seat. Definitely. Right. Because you’re the one, it’s bringing it to the party and anybody else is going to be blessed that they have you on their team. So that being said, pardon.
Casey Turner [00:31:19] I look forward to the next the next assignment.
Larry Olsen [00:31:22] Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you do. Put me in coach, right? Yep. And I got a feeling the next one, you’re going to get a little piece of the action. I just got a feeling of that. Because that’s how important you are to the transitions that a lot of these companies are going through. They need someone that’s got that experience. And so, before we wrap this up. Time has just flown by is, as is such an old cliche, but it’s all I can say about it. It’s the time we’ve had together. As people are going through transition, we talked a little bit about it and, you know, people are tuned in this not only to hear a little bit about debunking the auto industry, but also the lives that that are going on inside of those organizations and that we don’t throw the keys on the roof anymore. And we, you know, in organizations like that are dinosaurs. They just don’t know they’re dead yet. And the customers somehow now and then walk into them and, you know, it’s not always a wonderful experience, so thank goodness for you and what you’ve been doing and through what you’re going through right now, what would you share with people out there that are that are in transition? And, you know, I’ve had some tough things happen along the way. What advice would you give to them?
Casey Turner [00:32:43] You know, I would. You know, one thing that I’ve noticed in management is a lot of people, they don’t take their resumes seriously. They don’t keep track of their highlight reel, so to speak, over the years. And then when they need it, you know, they’ve got a poorly done just resume without key stats or, you know, acknowledgments that would help them. So, like when this recent experience happened to me, I had and I had done something just a few months prior, just out of habit like, hey, it’s time to clean that up, tune up my, you know, just and maybe I sense something, but I didn’t really act on it. It was just something I had that I had done. But it was fun to share just some feedback because I’d been through the by cells and had to go market myself. And I think people, they don’t spend time, energy or even a little bit of money at just working with somebody to get your resume right, your LinkedIn profile and, you know, keep your head on straight. You know whether it’s meditating or exercising or reading a good book or listening to a good audio book to put you in that right space. You know, I think there’s so many people still in this industry that, you know, there’s a lot of I’ll just use sales managers as an experience. Just bring me the folder and I’m, you know, I’m King Kong and it’s like, really? You know, OK, yeah, but you wouldn’t go help change the lot around or, you know, assist a customer or go greet somebody or take an up. But you’re that person just bringing the folder. So, I don’t personally, I’ve always I don’t value people like that. It’s the hands on. Let’s just get up and go. Let me help these people. And when I have a management team made up of folks like that, we feel like, you know, we can’t be stopped, even though we might just be selling baubles or something. But it’s a great feeling and it’s, you know, it’s like anything sports or, you know, other aspects of life. But just being prepared, I think, is anybody that’s going to be in transition or looking like do a few basic things to help yourself, you know?
Larry Olsen [00:35:11] Great advice. Great advice. Well, it’s been a joy having you on, and I thank you for keeping your commitment. It’s huge, especially with everything it went on. I feel bad about emailing you so many times, you know, like, ah, you know, it
Casey Turner [00:35:27] worked out great. I’m glad that it is goofy as this is in a car off I-5. You know what? I’ll take it so good. It’s great. It’s made my day better. And all right. I appreciate it.
Larry Olsen [00:35:43] Well, we appreciate you and thank you so much and thank the listeners for taking your time. You could be doing anything right now and I appreciate your investment and hopefully you feel like you’ve got a good return on it. And one thing I and well, good. Good. One thing I want to share with our listeners before we closed and that is, remember, wherever you are right now is exactly where you need to be. And it’s all about choices. And you know, it’s hard to make the right choices when you don’t know what the end result is. So that’s where the power of vision comes into play. So, decide for yourself what kind of outcomes you want in your life, and then it’s easy to handle the circumstances. So again, Casey, it’s been a treat, all the best to you. Remember what an amazing human being you are.
Casey Turner [00:36:33] OK, thank you.
Larry Olsen [00:36:35] And thank you, all of you, and we’ll see you next time.
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