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Dashboard Dialogues Episode 4 – Automotive Trends and Flying Cars

by | Dec 22, 2021 | Dashboard Dialogues, Support

Transcript

Sam Flecker 

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dashboard Dialogues podcast. It’s a beautiful Friday here in Colorado, and as usual, I’m your host, Sam Flecker. Today, I’m joined by Devon Peterson, our VP of Dealer Services here at Dealerslink and an “OG”in the Dealerslink office. As we like to say. H e’s been with the company for quite a time, and he has a lot of stories and experiences to share with us today. How are you doing today? 

00:00:43:09 – 00:00:44:11 

Devon Peterson 

I’m doing good. How are you? 

00:00:44:11 – 00:00:45:16 

Sam Flecker 

I’m doing great. 

00:00:45:16 – 00:00:46:05 

Devon Peterson 

Thanks for having me. 

00:00:46:20 – 00:00:53:03 

Sam Flecker 

Thank you for coming on. Well, let’s get into it, I guess. As usual, will you tell us about your first car? 

00:00:53:03 – 00:01:37:06 

Devon Peterson 

Certainly, this is a story I always tell. My first car was in 1979 GMC Sierra Longbed. My dad bought it brand new from the dealership. Wow. And it was our old like, it was the beater truck ride. It was something that we just would beat around, as you know, as we had. But then when when I turned 16, my dad had it completely repainted, we rebuilt the engine. Yeah, redid the entire inside and everything like that. And I drove it around. And I mean, it’s one of those. It’s it’s that big old truck. Yeah, what we saw, right? Yeah. It was really fun. We had a, you know, we used to do stupid stuff in it all the time and we would, you know, high school like driving around with like 15 people on the back, you know, all those stupid things that we did in the nineties. 

00:01:37:08 – 00:01:40:03 

Sam Flecker 

Yeah, I’ve been there, done that, unfortunately. 

00:01:40:03 – 00:01:43:11 

Devon Peterson 

I wish I still had it, actually. 

00:01:43:11 – 00:01:51:02 

Sam Flecker 

That would be cool. Alright, Devin, do you mind telling us a bit about your role here at Dealerslink? 

00:01:51:16 – 00:02:50:17 

Devon Peterson 

Certainly. Right now, as a VP of dealer services, you know, my role is anything that has to do with our customers. So that right now includes our support staff and our training staff. So, I run those two teams right now, but it’s one of those ones where I’ve in addition to that, I have many other roles inside the company right now. As you know, everyone is not everyone, but as people have seen around here that there’s the person who knows everything and every company and that that jack of all trades at this time. So whenever it’s something need something on the on the technology side is there, you know, that’s part of my roles. And then one of the other roles that I have here is I’ve recently been working much more with the development team. Yeah. So I help project manage a lot of the new innovations, a lot of the new features that we are developing every day to help our customers out. And you know, that’s something that I’m really, really just getting my feet wet in and working on that. 

00:02:50:17 – 00:03:18:24 

Sam Flecker 

Very cool. Well, you know, you’re kind of on the forefront of innovation, kind of, a portion of our business, it seems like. Do you mind telling us, like how is the role of tech changed since you’ve kind of been in the industry, joined Dealerslink, I mean, you’ve been in the automotive industry for quite some time and with Dealerslink for close to ten years, if I am not mistaken? So you’ve definitely seen a lot of, the role of technology changing a lot. So, you know, if you wouldn’t mind just touching a bit on how that has changed. 

00:03:20:02 – 00:04:13:27 

Devon Peterson 

Certainly, it’s so funny. So I started in the car business in 2006, so I was in the dealership before I came here to Dealerslink. So and I came in right at that time where the dealership was just starting the, you know, technical revolution, right. You know, websites were just coming in and, you know, Cars.com, AutoTrader were just getting their start. And so it was that odd time where we were starting to have that bridge between the old school dealer and what it is now. So that was one of the big things, actually, when I was actually brought into the car dealership that was kind of one of my first roles was to understand the technology, make sure that you know, that we had the dealers, had the tools and had the the road map Like setting up the roadmap. So this is where we’re going and to do that. So but I mean, that’s when, you know, my used car manager still had this NADA book in his back pocket. 

00:04:14:17 – 00:04:44:17 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah, he would just pull it out and look and go, Well, I think it’s worth that much, you know, or whatever. And that’s how that really worked. But, you know, for since then, till now, the technology in the dealership has changed dramatically. There isn’t a single aspect, whether it’s sales, service, F and I, fixed Ops, however it is, it doesn’t make a difference. There’s some sort of new technology, a new software program, however, it is, that has only made the dealership get better and better. 

00:04:45:05 – 00:04:56:19 

Sam Flecker 

And it’s it’s really just. Mind blowing. When I when I look back at what the old dealerships used to be and what it is now. 

00:04:56:19 – 00:05:11:16 

Sam Flecker 

Yeah, it’s crazy. I mean, technology in all fields is just changing at such a rapid rate, you know, and every year there’s something different in some, you know, everything has to one, every year it has to be one upped, you know, especially in automotive. So it’s crazy. 

00:05:11:16 – 00:05:30:28 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah, it’s pretty intense. And the nice thing about it with, especially with the technology in the automobile industry, is that at this point in time, you know, it’s it’s full adoption already, it’s already been fully adopted and everybody now in, you know, the dealerships who did not adopt are no longer operating as dealers. 

00:05:30:28 – 00:05:32:24 

Sam Flecker 

Can’t be left in the dust, you know? 

00:05:32:24 – 00:06:23:11 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah, exactly. And one of the big things now is that, you know, we’ve got dealers now who are looking for not just what technology is going to help me, but which technology is best. Yeah. You know, how can there’s there? There might be 15 companies that do the same thing, but which one does it best? Which one’s going to help my dealership the most? Yeah. And that’s what’s really exciting about this time in the car business in the technology world is that with all that innovation, everything that’s going on with, I mean, there’s hundreds and hundreds of companies, you know, you go to NADA and sit in that NADA Hall and it’s just vendors as far as the eye can see. I mean, it’s just, yeah, and it’s all about who’s got the best, who can help the dealer do their job the best, which one can give the most ROI? Yeah, all those kinds of things. That’s what this whole industry is about. How do we best help the dealer? 

00:06:23:11 – 00:06:37:15 

Sam Flecker 

Definitely. Cool. Well, along those lines, what are some of, like, the current trends that you’re seeing that you see kind of taking off for the next four years, be it within technology, innovation, just kind of some current trends that you’re seeing? 

00:06:37:15 – 00:07:25:29 

Devon Peterson 

Well, the big thing obviously with with COVID and everything like that is now that the digital retailing. Right? No longer do you have to go into the dealership to buy a car. You know, Carvana changed that. Vroom. All those online only companies have done that and the other dealerships, everyone else has had to adapt to compete. Yeah, in that space. So I only see the the digital aspects of the retailing of being able to sell vehicles directly to a customer, whether it’s, you know, with them, you’re coming in for just the paperwork or sending the paperwork or doing it online. However, that’s going go, that’s only going to continue because that’s what our customers actually demand. Sure. That’s number one. Number two is going to be the change in the the new cars, right? 

00:07:26:17 – 00:08:27:22 

Devon Peterson 

We’ve had this chip shortage. Yeah. That we’ve all talked about for years or this last year. And, you know, if I see it going on for the next year or two, who knows? But that’s really limited the number of vehicles that are on dealerships lots. And so what that’s really going to change is that’s going to make dealers and consumers much more oriented to an order process, I feel. Yeah. Where if you want a new F-150 instead of going down and having to pick from, you know, 45 on the lot, what you’ll do is, you’ll sit down at a desk with a person or online on the computer and you’ll just say, I want this F-150 and this color with these seven options and that and I’ll get it shipped to me in six weeks, eight weeks. You know, who knows what the manufacturing times? Yeah, that’s true. But I think you know this. The slowdown has really started to train customers, train consumers, right? Yeah, it does make difference what it is, whether it’s furniture or whatever, right? You know that if you want something big, you’re going to order it and you’re going to get it. 

00:08:27:22 – 00:08:35:10 

Sam Flecker 

And the consumers kind of are, have more power, I’d say. Would you agree? More power than in the past. So they can be picky. 

00:08:35:10 – 00:09:17:15 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah, and they can be. And you know, right now it’s, you know, consumers know what they want. Yeah, right? If you’re going to go buy a vehicle and you say, I want, you know, a blue car with a sunroof, you know, you go to the dealership and they might be able to talk you into something there, but that’s getting fewer and fewer, fewer and fewer. You’ve got options. They’ve got options. They can go to another vehicle. They can they can find out through, you know, Cars.com, Car Guru. They can go to the dealership and or to the internet and find the dealership has the car that they want. So when you look at it on the new side, you know, being able to do that on for on a manufacturer side, it’s going to be a huge change for that. Lot less vehicles on the lot. Yeah. 

00:09:17:16 – 00:09:50:06 

Devon Peterson 

And for dealers. And the other thing that’s going to change is that’s really going to change the incentive game. Right? Definitely. You know, right now, if I did or previously when, you know, a manufacturer was just keep using Ford, for example, here had, you know, hundreds of thousands of F-150 is across the board. They would have to throw out a 7000 dollar incentive, or 0% for 72 and 3000 or who knows? And we all know how crazy that got, right? Definitely, you needed. You needed an advanced degree in mathematics to figure out what your car was going to cost you. 

00:09:50:20 – 00:10:09:28 

Devon Peterson 

So, you know, I think with the ways now with where that’s going, I think the incentives and how that’s it’s going to be simplified, which is good for everybody. It’s good for the consumer, it’s good for the dealership, it’s good for the manufacturer. So hopefully that that continues and I think that’s going to be two of the big things that are going to go for new cars. 

00:10:09:28 – 00:10:32:06 

Sam Flecker 

Cool. Yeah, very interesting. So going off of that, you know, there’s been anyone in the automotive industry knows there’s been a ton of chatter lately about electric vehicles – Are they taking over? Are they kind of a myth?Are they really the future or is it kind of overplayed? What what’s your opinion on that? How do you how do you do you see them taking over the industry over the next year? You just got one correct? 

00:10:32:07 – 00:11:18:19 

Devon Peterson 

I did. I just like, I’ve had it a month. I got 1000 miles on it. Wow. So I love it, by the way. So it’s fantastic. But as far as electric vehicles overall, I mean, the industry is is telling you that’s where they’re going. I mean, they just announced that Ford’s investing with 25 billion VW is investing this money. Toyota is investing all this money. It’s an arms race kind of thing. Yeah, it is. It’s really one of the things where it’s who’s going to be able to get the best value electric car to market the quickest. So I mean, Tesla’s been doing this forever. Right? Of course. But I mean, there’s not a lot of people in this world who can afford a 65, 75, 85,000 dollar electric car. Yeah, that’s right. A big part of it, for sure. 

00:11:19:01 – 00:12:22:10 

Devon Peterson 

So, you know, once you get an electric car down into that 35, $40,000 range, which is about the average price of any car right now, you know, go out there and I’m not sure exactly what the what the exact number is, but it’s north of $35,000 is what the average price of a new car on a dealer’s lot is right now. So you get a very reliable. Electric car that’s got that 200 to 300 mile range in it. Yeah. And it’s going to go. And, you know, I really think that it’s really good for everybody. You know, I really like it. Like I said, my electric car is like should have had 1000 miles. It’s a kind of namedrop. I haven’t Volkswagen I4 and it’s their new SUV. And one of the big things that I really enjoy about it is that they didn’t just take, you know, they don’t take a Volkswagen Tiguan or one of their existing SUVs and just put it some batteries in it and make an electric car. And it looks like the same as everything else. They designed this car to be in its own electric car. 

00:12:22:10 – 00:12:26:27 

Devon Peterson 

I mean, the cars of the future in every sense of the term, you know, certainly. 

00:12:27:07 – 00:12:36:22 

Devon Peterson 

And it’s like, you know, just like a one size, it’s like a rolling computer business like you. It’s like it’s like your mobile cell phone, right? It’s got you can download its apps and you can do all the fun stuff with it. 

00:12:36:22 – 00:13:04:07 

Devon Peterson 

And on that, and like I said, I really think that’s the way that the future is going. Our consumers are going to demand that they have a good car that’s got lots of high technology. And then also the, you know, the fact that it is that is an electric vehicle to do that. So just as I mean, it cost me about. $17 a month for the electricity to drive and all that money. So, you know, 

00:13:04:07 – 00:13:07:05 

Sam Flecker 

I spend about triple that on gas every week. 

00:13:07:05 – 00:13:25:17 

Devon Peterson 

Yes, exactly. You know, so once the infrastructure gets set for that and with, you know, charging stations and home chargers. Now we go look for a new home like one of the first options on there is you want electric car charger in the garage and you’re like, OK, well, I can just check that box and get it done. 

00:13:25:17 – 00:13:30:17 

Devon Peterson 

So, it’s really going that way, and I’m excited for the future of the electric car industry. 

00:13:30:17 – 00:13:48:03 

Sam Flecker 

Likewise, flying cars – they’re coming. let’s do it. I like it. So you’re involved with a lot of our future updates and new features here at Dealers Link. What are some of the new features that you’re most excited about, either this year or upcoming within the next few years? 

00:13:48:03 – 00:14:52:06 

Devon Peterson 

There is so much to talk about that this could be a long segment. But all right. First off, you know, it is one of the some of the most recent ones that we’ve come at is we’re really working on our group stuff. We have a lot of groups who utilize our software and there’s also been a number of, you know, mergers recently. And then that seems to be that that’s a lot of the way that the industry is going, that, you know, the three store chains become the sixth store chain, the six-store chain’s becoming the ten-store chain and so forth and so forth. So, we’re really working on that. one of the big things that we just first that we just launched actually in the last two weeks or so was a group trade decision tool. So, a vehicle is traded in at one dealership. And now you can utilize the Dealerslink tools to be able to say, “Where should I place that vehicle within my chain?” Based on the stocking, you know who’s low, who’s high in inventory, how fast that vehicle turns at that particular dealership, and how fast that vehicle turns in the markets based on those dealerships. 

00:14:52:06 – 00:15:10:13 

Devon Peterson 

You know, if you got three dealerships sitting all together, it’s, you know, it’s all different. But we got dealerships spread across states in multiple states. That really helped there. So I’m really excited about that one. And the other part about that is that that’s just the start. Right? Yeah, definitely. This is, you know, be one for us, right? 

00:15:10:13 – 00:15:17:28 

Sam Flecker 

Just going to grow from there and more. It’s a very data driven, if I’m not mistaken, correct. So more data points, so very cool. 

00:15:17:28 – 00:15:47:13 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah. And then the more you know, the more things that we can add to help the dealer make that decision. Yeah, right. Just give them the data that they need to be able to, you know, take a look for themselves and say, I think I want to place this store here. Yeah. You know, a lot of the guys, a lot of the directors and places, they already know where the vehicle is to go. But now we give them the data to help back it up for them to really say, “Oh yeah, like, I know that this Hyundai Sonata works really well at this location.” 

00:15:47:13 – 00:16:17:16 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah, they know it. But now we can say here’s the data to help back that up. And it really has it like here it is. And then also for the newer people who are promoted or the people who are, you know, into the, you know, maybe go from the store level, the corporate level to help. And that’s kind of teaching them as well to – certainly, giving them the opportunity to know that. The other thing that I’m really excited about is is all the stuff that we are doing to help the dealers work with their customers. 

00:16:17:20 – 00:17:05:08 

Devon Peterson 

Right? Yeah. A lot of what Dealerslink does a lot of automobile, you know, inventory management is behind the scenes, right? It’s yeah, it’s making that decision to help with the dealers. It doesn’t really go from on the consumer side. So what we’ve helped the dealer do recently as well is what we call our trade justification tool. OK. So what we did, we developed a way to for a dealer when when they’re presenting an appraisal to a customer to be able to use data points, whether it’s market, whether it’s vehicle history, whether it’s recon, you know, the things that need to be done where a dealership can sit down with a customer and really help the customer understand why we have to give the appraisal number that we’re giving? 

00:17:05:08 – 00:17:07:21 

Sam Flecker 

Yeah. So why more so than just the what? 

00:17:08:02 – 00:17:34:08 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah, I can just, you know, I can sit here and I can throw a piece of paper down and say, I’m gonna give you $40,000 for your car. Yeah. And the consumers can look at me and be like, Why would you say, Well, it’s because I said so I’m the car dealer. Here’s 14,000. But now with this, with our tool, with our with some of the stuff that we have, we’re able to have a really nice presentation in our teach our dealers how they can talk to their consumers and really understand, especially in this market or in any market. It’s always tough. 

00:17:34:08 – 00:17:52:00 

Sam Flecker 

But this the trust building trust, certainly. So let’s talk a little bit more about your kind of personal career. Um, what are some of the most valuable things that that you’ve learned from the automotive industry during your either your time at Dealerslink or just in general? 

00:17:52:24 – 00:18:15:14 

Devon Peterson 

Well, and I’ll just I’ll just go generally. And you know, I’ve said I’ve been in the dealership for five years. I’ve been here at Dealerslink for ten years now, so I’ve got 15 years experience in the automobile industry. But really, what it comes down to, it’s the same thing that, you know, I talk to other people in other industries and everything like that. The biggest thing that comes down is people and processes, right? And doing business the right way, right? 

00:18:15:15 – 00:18:25:21 

Devon Peterson 

So that’s one of the big things that I’ve always found that, you know, it’s easy to do business the right way. Take care of your customers, right? That’s the first thing you do is you make sure that everything’s about the customers. 

00:18:25:29 – 00:18:43:21 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah, and doing that and the way that you make things about the customers is you have the right people and the right processes, right? So that’s one of the big things I really feel proud about what we’ve done here at Dealerslink over the years is that we’ve developed a very curated team of professionals across the industry 

00:18:44:24 – 00:19:00:29 

Devon Peterson 

And we’ve got some characters, right? As you’ve been talking to a bunch of yeah, yeah, just a few of them, just a few and hopefully more. Yeah, certainly. Certainly. But you know, we get the right people who have the same core value of taking care of the customers. 

00:19:00:29 – 00:19:18:00 

Devon Peterson 

Yeah. And then we get those people; we get them with the right processes, and it seems to resonate very well with our customers. So, you know it all for me, it all comes down to doing business the right way and the people and processes to make sure that we take care of our customers. 

00:19:18:00 – 00:19:30:15 

Sam Flecker 

Going off of that, what advice would you have for someone younger person, perhaps like myself, that was looking to enter the industry? 

00:19:30:15 – 00:20:01:22 

Devon Peterson 

Well, I would say run first. No, I’m just joking. I’m just kidding, right? OK. But you no, really. The automobile industry is is a great industry. You know, it’s I’m not sure the exact stats, but as I’ve said, it’s somewhere in the range of one out of every six jobs somewhere in there is somehow tied to the automotive industry, whether it’s, you know, oil and gas currently, electric in the future, all the suppliers you’ve got. I think all the tire companies, all the all the a lot of electronic companies, all those kinds of things, it’s a huge part. 

00:20:01:22 – 00:20:17:05 

Devon Peterson 

All the dealerships, I mean, I think an average dealership employs 50 to 60 people in a town. If it’s a dealership, especially on someone’s big ones, sometimes hundreds, you know? Yeah, on there. And they’ve been, you know, large drivers of the community for a long time on there. 

00:20:17:05 – 00:20:44:00 

Devon Peterson 

So it’s, you know, it’s a big industry on there, certainly. But for anybody who wants to get in first thing, I think you’ve got to have you’ve got to have a passion for for the industry, for not just cars. I mean, cars having passion for cars helps, right? You know, I mean, loving cars, you know, a lot of us grew up with, you know, I, you know, I had a Corvette poster on my wall up and those kinds of things, you know, on that. 

00:20:44:06 – 00:21:16:06 

Devon Peterson 

And the other thing is, is really in embracing technology is part of it too, right? Because it’s no longer just the automobile industry, it’s the automobile and the automobile technology. The innovation aspect. Yeah, that’s right. So whether it’s you want to go design cars, you know, you can go work for Ford or Toyota or whatever that is or if you’re in a position like ours, you know, here as in the in the vendor space where, having that passion for innovation, for technology, you know, really helps. 

00:21:16:06 – 00:21:24:04 

Sam Flecker 

Yeah. Very cool. I think that’s great advice for sure, you know, it’s one of the quickest changing industries. So that’s it. 

00:21:24:04 – 00:21:59:24 

Devon Peterson 

And it’s fun. Like, that’s the thing. Exactly. You know, being in being in an an industry that is has been established as long as the automobile industry has, but is in, you know, with especially with the reason we’ve been talked about, we talked about the technology revolution of last 15 years. Yeah, that’s not slowing down anytime soon. We talked about the electric car transition not slowing down. That’s only going increasing. So then what’s the next part, right? You know, who’s going to be out there, you know, developing the next huge innovation we’re going to? 

00:21:59:29 – 00:22:07:11 

Devon Peterson 

You mentioned flying cars are going to be flying cars this time could tell. I don’t know. Maybe, maybe Sam’s flying car factory can be one of the things out there. 

00:22:07:11 – 00:22:17:21 

Sam Flecker 

Has a great ring to it. I like it, man. Might quit my job here to pursue that right. I think it’s a good idea. Cool. Well, I don’t want to take up too much of your time here today, Devon. Do you have any big plans for the holidays? 

00:22:18:13 – 00:22:42:12 

Devon Peterson 

I’m going to Mexico, actually. Much needed vacation. Yeah, and one of those fun, all inclusive spots, you know me and the wife of I’m going to really enjoy that. We’ve actually got a couple of times that we were supposed to go last year. But of course, you know who knew anything about last year. So again, so I’m enjoying it. Hopefully, hopefully, it’ll be fun. 

00:22:42:12 – 00:22:48:09 

Sam Flecker 

Well, thanks so much for coming on, Devon. It was a pleasure having you on the podcast today and see you soon. 

00:22:48:15 – 00:22:49:15 

Devon Peterson 

Awesome. Thanks. Appreciate it. 

00:22:49:15 – 00:23:09:21 

Sam Flecker 

Enjoy the trip. Yeah. All right. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of the Dashboard Dialogues podcast. You can find us on YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music. And be sure to check out our other episodes and our social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

00:23:10:16 – 00:23:12:01 

Sam Flecker 

Thanks so much, and we’ll see you soon. 

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