Dashboard Dialogues Podcast host Sam Flecker chats with DealersLink Founder and CEO, Mike Goicoechea.
Listen as Mike talks about growing up in Wyoming, the origins of DealersLink, and his current outlook on the automotive industry. Mike highlights the role that technology plays for new and used car dealers, as well as strategizes automotive solutions for dealers affected by the current inventory shortage.
[00:00:00] Sam Flecker: Hello and welcome to the dashboard dialogues podcast. Sponsored by DealersLink. My name is Sam flicker. I’m your host. And today I’m joined by Mike Goicoechea founder and CEO of DealersLink. Think I’ll put in that name too badly, the last name, but, um, so we’re super excited to get this podcast going for you guys. And, uh, we have a lot of exciting content coming out for you guys over the next month.
[00:00:40] So, Mike, my first question for you is what, what excites you most about this podcast?
[00:00:47] Mike Goicoechea: I think what excites me most is DealersLink has been a bit of a black box over the last 10 years. You know, we’ve been focused on R and D. We’ve been focused on making our products better, focusing, uh, building our team and we haven’t done a big PR push.
[00:01:02] It really opened up the walls to the dealer community and, and let them know more about the personality and the culture. So I think it, it’s a great opportunity for the dealers to understand, uh, you know, what we do over here. Uh, what’s important to us, our staff, what really drives us. And I think it’ll give them some insight into why we’re so passionate about product development.
[00:01:24] Sam Flecker: Yeah, definitely. I’d agree. So, uh, we like to start off with a fun question. So I’m going to get right into it. What was your first car?
[00:01:33] Mike Goicoechea: Well, technically my first car was a 66 Mustang, so I was 15. I was in Wyoming, had a hardship license that gave me a 50-mile radius. Uh, from town. So my dad let me have his, uh, his classic car.
[00:01:46] It was, it was a beautiful chromed-out engine or a cherry exterior. And I drove that around town for a couple of weeks and then asked for a little bit more range. I want to drive down to south. And he said that was okay. So I took that Mustang down on the three sisters that are three huge Hills, got up to at least a hundred, 110 as much as it can handle.
[00:02:09] Um, needless to say, it blew a radiator hose car overheated. I was stranded on the side of the road, no cell phones, a highway patrolman came and. Helped me reconnect some, some hosing, and added some coolant in that car. Didn’t ask about my license or anything. So I got pretty lucky on that.
[00:02:28] Sam Flecker: Sounds like it.
[00:02:30] All right. So you, you mentioned you grew up in Wyoming as like, um, how did that affect your view on kind of the automotive industry and the business world and just kind of wanting to become an entrepreneur? Yeah,
[00:02:41] Mike Goicoechea: I’d say first off in Wyoming, you know, car dealers are revered. They’re kind of pillars of the community.
There are guys that are buying some of the four H animals, um, participate in local rodeos, high school sports, Friday night lights, that type of thing, major employers in the state. So, you know, the fact that we are involved in dealing cars, um, you know, it was growing up an environment of respect, just a businessman, and then that, and beyond that, and Wyoming, you know, there’s not a lot of opportunity is not a lot of good corporations or, or jobs like that.
[00:03:15] It’s. Uh, oil. Yeah. So, so really the, the guys that are successful in the state and entrepreneurs, the builders, developer, small business owners, and I, I learned at a young age, that’s the community. I want to be a part of and, and saw those guys doing great things in the community and in that small town environments, and definitely want to make my country.
[00:03:38] Sam Flecker: So, I mean, going off of that, what would you say are some of your biggest influences? Like, it certainly sounds like you were influenced by kind of the community around you and seeing those above you, but within kind of the business world, what would you say are some of your biggest influences or just growing up rather,
[00:03:54] Mike Goicoechea: you know?
[00:03:54] Yeah, absolutely. Uh, being part of the dealer community in the state of [00:04:00] Wyoming and then entering the vendor space. I have met with thousands of dealer principles over the years, large and small. Um, you know, guys are running remarketing programs, um, for enterprise and some of the larger fortune 500 players in the space.
[00:04:18] Those guys definitely helped mentor me. And, uh, Michael Bostrom at an enterprise, uh, was someone that was, you know, a mentor to me when sunlight. And just the dealers that we started dealing with when we started this company, we asked for their help. We asked for their help of, you know, how, how can we develop a platform for you to trade?
[00:04:39] Um, what could we do better? And those guys were instrumental in not only the success of DealersLink, but helping us learn how to become business leaders. And I have so much respect for the car dealers. It’s one of the most complex. Uh, positions in business, you know, these guys have to be experts in [00:05:00] personnel, finance, HR, mechanical systems, advertising sales.
[00:05:08] Yeah. So like everything under the tent. And I basically pick and chosen different skills and different tricks from, from all those business leaders over the years and tried to put it in my toolset.
[00:05:22] Sam Flecker: Yeah. It’s a good. So, you know, building off of that DealersLink is, is a tech oriented company, software oriented.
[00:05:32] And you know, you’ve guys have been around since early two thousands. You’ve seen everything change within the world of tech. How, you know, technology has changed the way you operate, the products you have to develop. What would you say? What, what, how do you see the role of tech changing within the automotive industry within the next few years within the.
[00:05:55] Mike Goicoechea: Yeah. So I, I see tech influences the [00:06:00] auto business in two ways. Number one, the tools that they use to operate and manage their operations and their dealerships. And number two, how their end consumers interact with their vehicles and services, view technical platforms, whether it’s social media or dealer websites.
[00:06:20] Online classified portals or anything of that nature. And what we’ve seen especially now is a generational shift in car buyers where the younger generations that used to be like kids, millennials, or gen X generations, uh, they’re now young professionals. They have great jobs. They’re starting families.
[00:06:39] And they have a lot of power and the way that they like to engage with car dealers, all the dealers know this is different than their parents and their grandparents. Definitely the dealers have had to evolve and that’s the new market. And those dealerships that have embraced it have become more technical.
[00:06:57] We’ve invested in [00:07:00] more technical services. Like what we offer at dealers link ultimately have been more successful. So I think those are some of the biggest challenges
[00:07:09] Sam Flecker: along those lines. Um, you know, the automotive kind of car dealership industries, you know, more traditional than other industries, there’s guys that are in it for, you know, 40 years and not that kind of stick to it as a career path from the get-go.
[00:07:25] So for younger entrepreneurs, more of the gen X kind of people trying to break into it, what advice would you have?
[00:07:34] Mike Goicoechea: Well, I think most of the people that end up in the automobile industry have a passion for cars. They, they love, uh, vehicles. You know, there’s so much about vehicles to be passionate about their, in many cases, their art form, uh, there’s the technology that’s part of them, the heritage, uh, everything, you know, just really captivates the imagination.
[00:07:58] So I would say don’t even bother being [00:08:00] in this industry. If you don’t love cars, if you’re not passionate about cars. Yeah. You know, sometimes they interact with the vendors and just hear them talk about car dealers or vehicles or things like that. Clearly, they’re not passionate about cars. And I’m wondering, how did you get into this space?
[00:08:15] You don’t like cars, man. Like what are you doing here? So I think just the passion you want to be involved in something that you love. And that’s something that we definitely build a dealer’s link. That’s one of our first questions we ask potential candidates is, you know, did you work in a car dealership, fix cars growing up?
[00:08:31] What was your first car? Are you passionate about cars? And typically those guys and are passionate about cars. We know that they’re going to get bored or kind of disillusioned, but I think it starts there. And I think the second. The advice that I’d have for someone young is just expect change. It used to be that change would go slow.
[00:08:49] It would go 1, 2, 3 year cycles. Now it’s almost quarterly. If not monthly, like market conditions, changing technology changing. And if you really like [00:09:00] a dynamic fast pace career, that’s based around, um, automobiles and transportation in general, um, And you like to like change. Yeah. Great place to be constantly changing.
[00:09:13] Yeah. But why cars and you don’t like to work and your cab, a lazy bone, I’d say there’s probably better industries out there.
[00:09:20] Sam Flecker: Yeah. So dealers link is a, you know, it’s made by car dealers. You were a car dealer. Once many of the people work here with car dealers prior to this. I mean, it’s for car dealers, you know, you’ve, you’re constantly around car dealers.
[00:09:34] You’ve been around them in your whole. What would you say? What do you like most about working with car dealers?
[00:09:42] Mike Goicoechea: Uh, that’s a great question. There’s a lot to it. Um, I think that car dealers get a bad reputation. I think the majority of car dealers are very honorable high [00:10:00] integrity business, sophisticated business operator. I think, uh, what’s challenging about being car dealer is, is sometimes you don’t get the sort of respect that a realtor gets a lawyer again, can see that for sure.
[00:10:16] Or, uh, uh, maybe a doctor gets, you know, and I’d say, what I really Revere about car dealers in general is what they contribute to their communities, the amount of jobs that they deliver their community. The local tax dollars, they spend supporting local sports and, and charities. And the car dealerships in general are gathering places in many communities.
[00:10:42] People come and we check out new cars, there’s cafes inside the dealership. It’s a very social environment. And I think what I respect the most about the car dealers is they are true pillars of their community. And it’s disturbing to that sometime they’re disparaged for being, you know, slick like used car guys that take advantage of you.
[00:11:05] In most cases, the reputable dealers have had their signs for decades and generations. There’s some of the most honest, hardworking, generous. Businessmen and their communities. Yeah. So, uh, I, I definitely respect them. Um, I’m proud to be part of that community.
[00:11:22] Sam Flecker: Yeah. I always remembered growing up, you know, you hear, uh, just the names on the radio on TV and they kind of stick with you wherever you go.
[00:11:29] Just stuff of the dealerships and the owners. So they really are, you know, leaders of their community. I’d say. So more specifically towards Dealer’sLink. Um, what would you say makes dealers think unique compared to other vendors in the, uh, automotive space, automotive tech space?
[00:11:50] Mike Goicoechea: Yeah. There are some things that make this company This team is unique that I’m most proud of. Uh, the fact that we’re a hundred percent employee-owned. I, [00:12:00] I believe we’re one of a kind, there might be a few out there in our space, but most of our competitors, have large private equity firms. Venture capital firms are publicly traded and they have a huge investment component to their organizational makeup.
[00:12:16] And what that means is it, uh, it drives decisions in the organization that drives culture in the organization. And anytime you take a 20 or 30%. Chunk of your, your gross profit and you hand it to an investment group. Um, you don’t have as much resource to share with the employees who are the ultimate stakeholders and invest in R and D and all those great things.
[00:12:40] So being a hundred percent employee on company, we can really focus on what matters, delivering great product, taking care of our customers and taking care of our employees. And when we prosper in the space, then those employees are able to benefit from it. And. Take care of their families. And, and, uh, we have a [00:13:00] really close knit team and a lot of dedicated people cause they feel, feel a pride of ownership.
[00:13:05] So I think that’s really important. I also think what makes us unique is our development philosophy. So we like to develop products that are simple fast, and cost-effective, you know, many of our competitors, they like products that are complicated. Um, you know, bloated slow and they’re, they’re expensive.
[00:13:28] Let’s get honest with these guys are charging out there, um, is very expensive for the services that they’re delivering. Uh, so I like to, to keep to that main focus and there’s dealers out there that want complicated, bulky, bloated type software, and maybe not great customers for us, but we’ve experienced time and time again in.
[00:13:54] And the market that most dealers have really complicated positions. Um, it’s very hard [00:14:00] to get through the day lots of decisions, lots of challenges in their day, and they need a software experience. That’s just streamlined. It’s simple. It’s, user-friendly, it’s easy to train if they have turnover of their staff and that’s where we’re trying to hit, uh, dealers.
[00:14:18] Sam Flecker: Thank you so much for joining me, Mike, great speaking with you and I will see you around the office and thank you everyone for tuning into this first episode of dashboard dialogue, lots of ideas. We will have a new episode coming out relatively soon. So be sure to check us out on social media on all the dealers are going to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
[00:14:42] Thank you so much and we’ll see you soon. .