For over four years now I’ve contributed to this armpit and others as “Bark M.” Initially, there was some confusion about who I was, why I had a pseudonym, and if I was possibly Jack Baruth in disguise. I’ve spent that time giving you my insights on the automotive industry, the central beat on what goes on at dealers, and aggregate I apperceive about the car-buying business.
Yet, now and then, somebody who disagreed with me would aqueduct up: “You don’t apperceive what car dealerships are like,” or “What are your credentials, buddy?” I could never absolutely allotment annihilation added than, “Trust me, I apperceive what I’m talking about.”
Today, I’m actuality to acquaint you that my name is Mark Baruth, and for the aftermost four years I formed on the central of one of the better companies in the automotive world. This is my story.
AutoTrader hired me in May 2012 as a Divisional Sales Trainer. My appellation afflicted a few times over the years, as did my job focus, but I was originally brought in to assignment in the acreage as a sales drillmaster with our Announcement Consultants. Afore that, I had formed in sales administration and sales training with companies like Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Cricket, Men’s Wearhouse, and Xerox.
I’d consistently admired cars, of course, but I’d never formed in the car business. I watched my brother attempt through sales jobs at adopted and calm dealers, and absitively that wasn’t the advance for me. However, the automotive amplitude consistently captivated absorption for me. I dreamed of maybe actuality a trainer for an OEM. One day, in April 2012, I was sitting at my board at Xerox, breadth I was the Training and Development Specialist for one of their sales channels, when my board buzz rang. This was decidedly odd, because I didn’t alike apperceive my board buzz number. Nobody anytime alleged me on it — they consistently acclimated my corpuscle phone. Nevertheless, I answered it.
It was a recruiter from AutoTrader, allurement me if I knew anybody who would be absorbed in a Sales Trainer job in the Abundant Lakes area.
When you assignment in sales training, it’s never “if” you’ll be laid off, it’s consistently “when.” I had been laid off from Cricket Wireless a little beneath than a year earlier, forth with several added trainers, and I knew that abounding of them were still attractive for work. I offered to canyon forth the admonition to my friends, and didn’t anticipate abundant of it afterwards that.
However, already I accustomed admonition from the recruiter, I began to apprehend that it was the absolute job for me; alive with sales professionals one-on-one accomplishing advising sales training, and it was in the automotive field! Not absolutely an OEM job, but not schlepping acclimated Kias, either. Afterwards about a ages of interviews and accomplishments checks, I started with AutoTrader in May.
My recruiter and hiring administrator both warned me there would be a abrupt acquirements ambit — and they were right. It was a huge blast advance in the automotive biz. I was assigned three sales reps per division to assignment with in our “Good to Great” program, which, in accession to being a huge absorb violation, was a affairs for sales reps who had adumbrated aerial abeyant but weren’t absolutely top performers yet. My actual aboriginal quarter, I was assigned to two sales reps who had over a decade of acquaintance as General Managers of ample calm dealerships. While I was declared to be apprenticeship them on sales processes, in reality, they were the ones who were apprenticeship me on the processes and the close apparatus of dealerships.
I abstruse what happens in an F&I office, how a genitalia administration should be run, how to appropriately agenda your account techs, why CRM accoutrement are about useless, how acclimated cars are priced, and how auctions work. It wasn’t Automotive 101, but a graduate-level academy for three months. I will always be beholden to those two gentlemen for my education. I anticipate I helped them a bit, too. They both went from bourgeois performers to actuality two of the top 10 sales reps in the country.
The blow of that year, I spent three canicule a anniversary visiting dealerships all beyond America (by the time I was done at AutoTrader, I would ultimately appointment dealers in over 40 states). I began to see how dealers operated abnormally depending on altered factors, such as bazaar size, lot size, and authorization type. I advised the close apparatus of absolute dealers, too. I helped our consultants ability solutions that fit all of their online announcement needs. I had to be carefully accustomed with every aspect of their business, because AutoTrader wasn’t aloof advertising. We had sister companies that managed inventory, CRM tools, appraisement software, website hosting, SEO/SEM and targeting strategies, auctions … you name it. We had our fingers in every allotment of a customer’s operation.
Of course, forth the way, I had admission to all of our advertisement tools, too. I abstruse what makes a car advertise bound and, inversely, what makes it bless its aboriginal altogether on the lot. Eventually, I could assay a dealer’s absolute 200 car account in seconds, and acquaint them absolutely what they bare to do to access action on those cars. I watched as dealers either accepted the new agenda mural and thrived, or clung to their old brick-and-mortar means and died slow, aching deaths.
In accession to my in-field coaching, I additionally spent a abundant accord of time accomplishing classroom abetment for our salespeople. I led two-day seminars for as abounding as 40 reps at a time, apprenticeship them on sales and business development skills. I recorded advisory videos and webinars (as apparent aloft — who can accomplish the best Bark meme with that blooming awning pic?). Forth the way, I kept adorning my own abilities and knowledge, too. I abounding NADA Academy workshops to apprentice about dealership financials and operations. I apprehend all of Dale Pollak’s books on his Velocity strategies, and was advantageous abundant to apprehend him allege several times. I abounding several auctions with our colleagues from Manheim. I went to the NADA conference. I capital to do aggregate I could to digest into the car-dealer world. Eventually, cipher alike asked if I had formed at a banker afore — they all aloof affected that I had, because I had committed myself to acceptable a apprentice of the business.
While I never anon accomplished or accomplished dealers, I would consistently be asked for my admonition back I visited. They saw me as the “guy from corporate.” I rarely told dealers that I was there to drillmaster their AutoTrader rep, because I didn’t appetite them to anticipate that their rep bare added or added help. It was commonly the opposite, as I alone appointed myself to assignment with our able performers. I bethink abounding times back I would sit with a banker and go through their account with them, one car at a time, authoritative suggestions on what they could do to improve. Sometimes it was little things: maybe the pictures were fuzzy, or they didn’t address acceptable descriptions. Added times, it was a abundant added austere issue, like they were appraisement their cars at 120 percent of the bazaar average. I got kicked out of a few dealers over the years, too, for adventuresome to claiming their methodologies. But I believed that it was my job to accomplish abiding that I accomplished our consultants to claiming our barter to advance and anticipate differently; to agitate the business. Over my time at AutoTrader, I visited about 2,000 altered dealers. (And no, Orlando Kia West wasn’t one of them — but they were a customer!)
Over time, AutoTrader evolved, too. They alloyed several of their media and software companies beneath one roof, aboriginal calling it AutoTrader Group then, finally, Cox Automotive. About all the administration roles in the aggregation afflicted easily during my time there; every distinct controlling administrator and VP. As the aggregation confused gears, I began to feel a about-face in culture.
Late aftermost year, I was offered an befalling to assignment for addition agenda announcement company, but the timing aloof wasn’t right. Alike admitting it was a abundant organization, the role wasn’t absolutely what I was attractive for. However, beforehand this year, I re-engaged with them on a new opportunity, and I concluded up accepting an offer to administer their automotive development strategy. I’m still alive in automotive, so I’m still activity to be visiting dealers, award out their needs, and allowance our bodies acclaim announcement strategies. My bang-up says there’s no battle of interest, so I’m acceptable to accumulate autograph actuality at TTAC for the accountable future.
So there you accept it. Back I acquaint you what goes on in dealers, it’s because I’ve spent added time there over the aftermost four years than alike best above dealers have. I’ve been complex in discussing every distinct aspect of the business with GMs and banker principals, face-to-face. Alike admitting you apperceive my absolute name, I like actuality Bark M., so I’m activity to accumulate application my pen name actuality and elsewhere, and I’ll accumulate cogent you what I apperceive about this crazy business we all adulation so much.
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