Dave Dyer's timing could not have been worse. In April he closed on buying two dealerships — one selling Chevrolet, the other, Mazda — both located across the street from each other in Vero Beach, FL.
In a speech appropriately titled, “I Just Bought Two Dealerships. Am I Crazy?” Dyer tells the annual AICPA conference in late October he probably wouldn't have made the same decision today.
Not to mention he probably couldn't have gotten the deal done in today's environment.
Dyer is a noted turn-around artist in the apparel industry, having served as CEO of companies such as Tommy Hilfiger and Land's End. He says he was lured into the business while shopping for a yacht.
“I was always taught to follow the money,” Dyer says. “It seemed every dealer was looking to buy or trade up for a yacht.”
Another factor: his oldest son landed a job with Asbury Automotive Group's Courtesy Group in Tampa, FL, and loved the business. Following his stint with Courtesy, his son took a general manager's position with a Ford Lincoln Mercury store in Ohio.
Despite the difficult conditions that have enveloped the industry, Dyer refuses to be pessimistic and instead brings a take charge, get-it-done attitude to the dealership.
Here's a snapshot of his management philosophy. It's a great reminder of how much our success depends on attitude.
- “Get the right team. I want people on my team that have integrity, a sense of urgency, passion for the business and respect for the customer. I also want to have a team that will go to war with me and fight the battles with me. I believe in supporting the willing, carrying the wounded and shooting the stragglers. There's no place for people with negative energy in our company.”
- “Love the customer. I've never understood… What the hell is an up? The customer is why we come to work every day. Unfortunately, in our business, the customer sometimes takes a second seat. Some deals are unfair for the customer. I can live without those deals.”
- “Question every expense and every process. We need to cut, cut, cut. Expense cutting is an attitude that should never go away. We've cut $2 million expenses across both stores since April and aren't done yet.”
- “Cash is king.”
- “Build market share. We need to get our unfair share of market share. Right now, both stores together sell about 250 cars a month. In our market area last month there were between 1,500 and 2,000 new and used vehicles sold. Come on ? we can't get another 100 of those? If we do that, we'll be sitting in the tall corn, as they say in Wisconsin. We do this with intelligent marketing and community involvement. We want to differentiate ourselves from the competition. There are things just as important as price. I want to have a business I can be proud of.”
Dyer admits he is crazy, even “nuts,” he tells the audience. “Can I do business differently and succeed? That's the grand experiment — I guess we'll find out.”
Here's hoping you do, Dave. We need more people with your attitude in this business.