Dashboard Dialogues Podcast host Sam Flecker chats with Randy Roberts automotive sales legend, enthusiastic outdoorsman, and a seasoned dealership veteran.
Watch as Randy talks about his 36 year experience and why he loves working in the automotive industry. Randy highlights tips for fighting the inventory shortage, what makes the Dealerslink Marketplace so powerful and advice for those looking to make a career in automotive.
[00:00:00] Sam Flecker: Hello and welcome to another episode of Dashboard Dialogues, sponsored by Dealerslink. As usual, my name is Sam flicker and I’m your host. And today I’m joined by Randy Roberts. Randy is a crucial member of our sales team in the Southeast region and has a variety of accolades under his belt. He was the youngest franchise owner for Nissan, and he served on the board of a variety of automotive organizations and brands.
[00:00:41] We’re super excited to have him on the show today. Randy, how are you doing today?
[00:00:44] Randy Roberts: Doing awesome. How about you?
[00:00:46] Sam Flecker: I am doing great. Thanks so much for joining us. So let’s get right into it. You know, as usual we, we ask, what was your first car? So
[00:00:54] Randy Roberts: My first car was a scout.
[00:00:57] Sam Flecker: Oh, wow.
[00:00:58] Randy Roberts: That goes way back. [00:01:00] Yeah. So yeah, my first car was a scout. I’m a big outdoors man hunting fishermen
[00:01:04] Sam Flecker: Awesome.
[00:01:06] Randy Roberts: That was my first and my second one was CJ scrambler, Jeep.
[00:01:10] Sam Flecker: How old are youAbout when you got it?
[00:01:11] Randy Roberts: I was 18 when I got the scout.
[00:01:14] Sam Flecker: Perfect.
[00:01:15] Randy Roberts: Yep.
[00:01:16] Sam Flecker: Awesome. Well, you know, along those lines, how did you get started in the automotive industry?
[00:01:22] Randy Roberts: Well, I got started in the automotive industry by my father. He was one of, one of Nashville, diggers, best friends. And he would always buy his oldsmobiles and stuff from him. So we introduced me to him and he asked me to he wanted to get me in the car business. And I said, I don’t want to be a car salesman. You know. So one thing led to another and I started selling cars for him.
[00:01:45] Sam Flecker: Like father, like son.
[00:01:46] Randy Roberts: And then Mr. McAdams took me under his wing as a mentor and made me work every department. And that’s how I got started. And that’s how, where the love started for the business. What’s that? Yeah. [00:02:00] So when I started in 1985 and then bought my first store in 97, a hundred percent by myself. So that’s, that’s how the passion just grew and grew. So, through those mentorships.
[00:02:12] Sam Flecker: Yeah. Kind of seems like the pattern was a lot of people at Dealerslink and they’re just in the automotive industry. And as soon as they get into it, they just, know, they know it’s there.
[00:02:21] Randy Roberts: You know, if it’s for you or not.
[00:02:22] Sam Flecker: Yeah.
[00:02:23] Randy Roberts: I mean, you know, it comes from the gut. Yeah, it does.
[00:02:26] Sam Flecker: Awesome.
[00:02:26] Randy Roberts: So
[00:02:27] Sam Flecker: Sweet. So going from there, how do you get involved with Dealerslink? Like specifically?
[00:02:32] Randy Roberts: So a counterpart of mine from a previous job introduced me to Travis and we got to talking and Travis asked me to come on board. So I did. So we have the same passion for the business and it was really a great fit for what I had done prior to Dealerslink. And then. You know, Dealerslink remind me of a Dealertrack ,when I first [00:03:00] started with Dealertrack is it was a small company than a group, but Dealerslink is I would say more passion and more team oriented and that’s the reason.
[00:03:12] Sam Flecker: Awesome.
[00:03:12] Randy Roberts: Yeah.
[00:03:13] Sam Flecker: Yeah, definitely agree. So, you know, you were more on the sales side of our program. So, what would you say your biggest triumph has been in your career and then your biggest challenge that you’ve faced? Maybe it doesn’t necessarily have to be at Dealerslink.
[00:03:28] Randy Roberts: Biggest triumph would, I would say when I bought my Nissan store was putting processes in place. So the employees, it benefits them to take their stuff to the next level. You know, how can I help. Make more money in and provide for their family better. And those are the things that are put in place. And you could take an average guy that was eight to 10 cars a month. And within six right months, he’s on 15 to 18 cars a month. And that [00:04:00] triumph to me is how can I help somebody else be better?
[00:04:03] Sam Flecker: Definitely.
[00:04:04] Randy Roberts: And that’s, that’s, that’s been my passion even today.
[00:04:07] Sam Flecker: Yeah agreed. That’s kind of something that all us share Dealerslink as well.
[00:04:12] Randy Roberts: It is. It is, and this is just the teamwork, orientation, not orientation, but the teamwork
[00:04:19] Sam Flecker: Dynamic
[00:04:19] Randy Roberts: Dynamic concept, you know that we have it here at Dealerslink.
[00:04:22] Sam Flecker: It’s awesome. Love that of the company. So and then biggest challenge. What would you say?
[00:04:28] Randy Roberts: Biggest challenge, I think in the, in the car business is today is change. You know, whether it’s an employee or whether it’s a GM or an owner, I think change is You know, it takes time for them to accept the change. But once they, once they accept the change, they become more profitable. They become more at ease. They free up two or three hours a day of their time.
[00:04:55] And those are the things what is, what makes Dealerslink [00:05:00] ,Dealerslink. On our marketplace, you know, everybody’s used to buying cars at the auction.
[00:05:05] Sam Flecker: Yeah.
[00:05:05] Randy Roberts: But when you go in. Show the dealer and consult with the dealer on the different changes that they can make on the marketplace at buying.
[00:05:14] Sam Flecker: Yeah.
[00:05:14] Randy Roberts: And then they start buying 20, 30, 40 cars a month no buy fees or sell fees, and we’re saving up 20 grand a month. Those are the things that really make the change, you know, with, with Dealerslink too.
[00:05:29] Sam Flecker: Yeah, I’ve entered the industry a little more recently, obviously it’s you know, some, I’ve just noticed legs, you know, car dealers and the people working in automotive always have to adapt from there. And that’s stuff that I’ve noticed, you know, just industry conditions, you know, always say some of the busiest people I’ve ever met. For sure. So, so building off of that, you know, you’ve been with Dealerslink and for a while, you’ve been in the industry for awhile, what kind of motivates you to keep going everyday? Keep charging forward?
[00:05:59] Randy Roberts: My [00:06:00] passion is how do we help dealers be more successful? And then when we think that process, we think, how do we make their managers be more successful?
[00:06:08] Because if we can show them how to save money and make money at the same time
[00:06:12] Sam Flecker: Yeah.
[00:06:13] Randy Roberts: That increases the dealer’s profit, but it also increases the manager’s profits as well.
[00:06:17] Sam Flecker: Definitely. That’s a I think it’s really cool. You guys are motivated by, you know, you guys are car dealers in the past, you know, that’s what really keeps that company moving forward is just made for dealers, by car dealers.
[00:06:31] You know? So I think that’s really cool, you know, because you’ve experienced it all firsthand. Right. So
[00:06:35] Randy Roberts: That’s correct. And you know, and we, we share our ups and downs with other dealers. You know, we go in all the time and they ask us, well, what’s working. You know? What about other dealers doing? And we’ll share different things with those dealers based on what they’re asking for, but yeah, I mean, it’s just the passion to help people be [00:07:00] successful.
[00:07:00] Sam Flecker: Awesome. So what do you meant to us a bit about the region that you’re operating in? You’re in Southeast based out of?
[00:07:07] Randy Roberts: Yeah. So I’m going to Southeast region. I cover. Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. So, but we have a great bunch of dealers. The dealers in the Southeast are pretty close knit.
[00:07:24] Sam Flecker: Yeah.
[00:07:24] Randy Roberts: You know, there’s not a lot of bigotry between them. They’re always asking, you know, what’s the
Birmingham dealer doing, or what’s the Nashville dealer doing, or what’s the Little Rock dealer doing.
[00:07:36] And we just have that comradery between. The dealers, and really, you have a ton of communication between the siblings of the dealers. You know, now we ha we’re seeing the next generation come into the dealership, you know? So you’re seeing those guys come up forward and [00:08:00] You know, I’ve known some of them since they were kids and they play with my kids and they call me uncle Randy.
[00:08:05] And but it’s just, you know, they’ll pick up the phone and say, Hey, what about this? But I think it’s just the closeness and not saying that other parts of the country that are not close, but uh, I’ve been in the Southeast for since ’85. And yeah, that’s my experience in those theaters.
[00:08:24] Sam Flecker: I could definitely see that.
[00:08:26] A big community aspect. Yeah. So going off of that, what kind of advice would you have for people that are looking to break into the industry now? Kind of the new comment, next generation. What would you have to say to them?
[00:08:40] Randy Roberts: I would advise them to find a successful mentor. And latch on to them, you know? I’ve mentored, up to 30 people at one time.
[00:08:51] Sam Flecker: Wow. Yeah.
[00:08:52] Randy Roberts: You know, there’s different stages of mentorship and, and all that is find you a mentor because the car business [00:09:00] changes daily and the way it has been since COVID, you know, we, we we have to find cars. We don’t want to spend all of our own money at the auctions. There’s different ways to run dealerships than it was two years ago.
[00:09:14] Sam Flecker: Yeah. So it’s no mystery right now that dealers are having to deal with a lot of. Interesting conditions right now. I’ve got the inventory shortage, high demand. We’ve got some supply chain issues. What advice would you have for dealers? Be it in your region, any part of the U.S. Kind of to deal with these conditions? You know, keeping their dealership running strong.
[00:09:34] Randy Roberts: My suggestion is look at every technology platform. So we can look and see if, if we can acquire more inventory. I think. Dealerslink. Well, I don’t think I know Dealerslink has the best marketplace for, for used car inventory. I had a dealer call me Saturday and told me that he had bought 85 cars.[00:10:00]
[00:10:00] Sam Flecker: Wow. Gosh.
[00:10:03] Randy Roberts: Well, yeah. And you know, he was, he he called me, he says, thank you so much. So, you know and he’s been on the platform and in he’s one of our highest um, marketplace buyers. But you need to, whether it’s, you know, we’d always, don’t have to go through the auctions. Yeah. There’s other sources for vehicles, you know, and there’s these new players that’s came into the market in the past 24 months, but there again you know, there’s buy fees and sell fees.
[00:10:33] Our whole thing is a dealer is. How do we eliminate the buy fees and sell fees? And do we buy it? How much overbook or under book can we buy it where there’s nothing on Dealerslink’s platform that’s over clean book. And, you know, 90% of the cars are frontline ready. They’re just aged cars that they’re not moving at this particular dealer, but they would move at this dealer twenty-five miles away.
[00:10:55] Sam Flecker: Yeah.
[00:10:56] Randy Roberts: So our marketplace gives the dealer the availability to [00:11:00] locate, search, buy, sell, navigate through , our analytics process on what’s your top 10 used cars that are selling their, And where I’ll go get them at on the stocking report. So if you don’t have a technology driven platform, that’s per store, then it’s actually going to cost you. My gut says it will cost you 15 to 20 deals a month because you’re not carrying the right inventory. I had a dealer call me Friday and he says, Dealerslink is the hidden gem in the car business today. And this is a, this is a dealer that’s been in the car business 45 years. He said your system everybody should be using it. Yeah. Everybody should be using it.
[00:11:42] Sam Flecker: It’s pretty essential. In today’s day and age, you got to have a data-driven kind of approach to your, not just in car dealing, but you know, especially in car dealerships, you need to have that data to back everything up and to be able to understand the market, can’t do it without some kind of platform. So
[00:11:56] Randy Roberts: You can’t do it. I mean, you just can’t do it and it has to be the [00:12:00] right platform. One thing about Dealerslink. All of us at Dealerslink are car guys, you know, we all think in that same tank. You know and we’re constantly improving, you know, if you’re not improving monthly, then you’re falling behind.
[00:12:14] So we do a really good job of suggestions from the dealers. If there’s something that the dealer wants, he can put into the suggestion box and we’ll, we’ll do it on first come first serve basis. And then we launch it out to the rest of the dealers’ on the platform. So everybody gets to take advantage of it.
[00:12:31] Sam Flecker: And it’s that community aspect we were kind of discussing earlier, you know, so how everyone’s kind of helping each other succeed and helping each other, understand the market, which is awesome.
[00:12:39] Randy Roberts: It is, it is. I have, I had here, here’s another example. I had a dealer in Mississippi two, two years in Mississippi and they’ve always been rivals.
[00:12:49] But they’re like 90 miles apart, you know, we’ve all had that scenario, but they both signed a marketplace. Guess what? Now there are two best friends. [00:13:00] They, they exchanged 20 to 25 cars a month.
[00:13:03] Sam Flecker: Wow.
[00:13:04] Randy Roberts: You know what I mean? So it’s not only, you know, you’ll have 10 or 12 dealers in your marketplace group within 200 miles that you’ll do your business with.
[00:13:14] I mean, it’s just consistent that way.
[00:13:16] Sam Flecker: It’s awesome.
[00:13:17] Randy Roberts: It’s just a way of bringing the leaders together. You know, we’re helping each other out. We’re having to do the more people more profitable.
[00:13:23] Sam Flecker: Yeah. Awesome. Well, you know, I don’t want to take up too much of your time today, but thanks so much for coming on.
[00:13:30] What, what do you like to do in your free time when you’re out here in Colorado visiting?
[00:13:34] Randy Roberts: Hunting and fishing. I’m a big fly fisherman uh, hunt elk deer. So that’s what we do. My family’s a big hunter. My wife’s a huge fisherman. She’s a bigger fishermen than I am. Yeah.
[00:13:48] Sam Flecker: That’s pretty cool.
[00:13:49] Randy Roberts: That’s pretty cool. I’ll call her. I’ll go. I’m fishing. I got to go, you know, so, but no, I enjoy, I’ve been doing that since [00:14:00] I was a kid. So know I used to be a duck, big duck hunter, but no, I, I enjoy it and I enjoy hunting fishing with my buddies and everybody here at Dealerslink is an outdoorsman. So I really love that too.
[00:14:11] Sam Flecker: I tend to agree. Yeah. That’s awesome. Is that a thing that we all share here? So, yeah. Great. Yeah. Well, I love it. Thanks so much for coming on, Randy. Great to meet you. Great to have. We’ll see you soon.
[00:14:22] Randy Roberts: Been my pleasure. Thank you.
[00:14:24] Sam Flecker: Thanks so much for tuning into the Dashboard Dialogues podcast. We’ll be back with another episode for you guys soon. In the meantime, check out our YouTube page for all of our previous episodes, or you could also listen to us on Spotify, apple music or soundcloud. Also be sure to follow dealers like on social media, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.[00:15:00]