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Automotive Is About Bringing Your Hustle


Yaron SaghivMichael Cirillo

Daniel Govaer, General Manager at Mercedes-Benz of Easton, is a seasoned manager in the auto retail space. Before joining Mercedes-Benz of Easton, he worked for Bernie Moreno Companies, McGrath Acura of Downtown Chicago, and Libertyville Toyota to name a few.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Daniel Govaer explains how he joined the automotive industry

  • How Daniel promotes mental health for his team

  • The marketing strategies Daniel implements for his dealership

  • The future of the automotive industry

In this episode…


Do you invest in your employees' mental well-being? What can you do to promote better work relationships between employees and management?


Mental health is crucial when running a business. To support his company, Daniel Govaer encourages his team at Mercedes-Benz of Easton to take advantage of professional help from BetterHelp, covered by his company. This has led to better relationships, a stronger company culture, and improved work performance.


Daniel Govaer, General Manager at Mercedes-Benz of Easton, joins Ilana Shabtay in this episode of the InsideAuto podcast, to talk about the benefits of investing in your employees' mental health. They also discuss top marketing strategies for 2023 and the future of the automotive industry.


Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode...


This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics.

Visit their website at www.autoleadstar.com to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.


Episode Transcript


Intro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you would want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.


Ilana Shabtay 0:14

Ilana Shabtay here, host of InsideAuto podcast where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. And before we introduce today's guest, this episode is sponsored by AutoLeadStar.com. AutoLeadStar is automotive's first and leading customer data and experience platform CDXP. Top dealers invest in CDXPs to unify dealership data sources automatically create one-to-one customized journeys and execute omni channel shopping experiences. Today we are welcoming Daniel Govaer to the podcast. Hi Daniel. How are you?


Daniel Govaer 0:48

Hey, how's it going?


Ilana Shabtay 0:49

Good, good, and thanks to a special thanks to Tim Cox from CarNow to introducing us we will also get him on this podcast eventually. Before we dive into today's topics, Daniel is currently the general manager of Mercedes Benz of Easton and has years of managerial experience in the auto retail space. Before joining Mercedes Benz of Eastern he was working for breeding rental auto McGrath, accurate Libertyville, Toyota, and a few more. So he's got a lot of that experience under his belt. He also has some special experience that is near and dear to my heart, having served in the IDF, Israel Defense Forces. So we have that in common and very excited to have, you know, a veteran of the IDF during the podcast. But I know you're joining us from super cold United States now that that's where you live. So thanks again for joining today.


Daniel Govaer 1:43

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I just I thought I was happy to know that you'd gone through everybody important, and then finally had to turn the page and get me. But now I know that Tim Cox hasn't been on here yet.


Ilana Shabtay 1:52

So yeah, no, definitely not. You're just as important. No, he has not been on and I'm trying to get him on. So hopefully after this podcast, he'll join us.


Daniel Govaer 2:00

He's one of a kind. He's absolutely one of the best people to know in the industry.


Ilana Shabtay 2:03

100% I had the pleasure of finally meeting him in person at MRC. So hopefully, I'll see him at any day if he's planning on going. Okay, so I like to start this podcast, understanding how people end up in automotive. It's like, everyone has such a good story of how they get into automotive. How did you find your way into this? Crazy but awesome industry?


Daniel Govaer 2:27

Yeah, that's a good point. Because there's not a lot of people that I meet either that when they were five, they're like, I'm gonna go into automotive retail.


Ilana Shabtay 2:32

Yeah, like, I want to be a firefighter. Wait, no, I want to be a car dealer.


Daniel Govaer 2:37

I did think I did have a lot of dinosaur knowledge when I was younger. And that doesn't really play out in later life. So I didn't I thought that was going to be your career path. But it wasn't. No, I mean, it's writing automotive retail wound up, you know, for a lot of the same good reasons. So after I finished my military service, I came to the US and I, you know, I didn't so much have as much of a family infrastructure financially. So it was, you know, like a lot of people do, right, you have to figure things out. And so, automotive retail presented an opportunity where you could without the education, which I didn't, which you know, I didn't have without the education, you could become good in a certain field of retail, and I was good at retail, and you can move up from there and present you with an income opportunity that you wouldn't normally be given. So started at, so there was an there was a training program, quote, unquote, at a totally a large study leadership, still a large Toyota dealership, west of Chicago. And I went there and was told that congratulations, I'm a green pea. And I split a cubicle with four other green peas. And, and started and they were, they were open until midnight, and so started selling there. And very quickly, a move was made, they acquired a Mercedes Benz dealership, and in a smaller suburb, and move they decided would be good as if, you know, I could experience Mercedes Benz, and I kind of didn't really know anything about it at the time. So what we did was, I would go over to Mercedes. And that was a very different experience, from what I had seen it at Toyota, both in terms of what the showroom was both in terms of who the salespeople were in the clients were. And, and so I would start there and start learning a process there, but then they will close early. So then after they closed, I would go back to Toyota. And I would talk to clients in the service drive and stuff until until midnight, and kind of sell cars there. And so that and that just sort of progressed from there into that from from that group, and then eventually, I was living in downtown Chicago, so I was fortunate enough to be able to go and work at the Mercedes Benz dealership that was that was closer to me there.


Ilana Shabtay 4:38

Wow, that is like the real hustle. And I love that because I think part of what I really love about automotive is the opportunity that it gives to people who might not have had the opportunity to go to educate, you know, get the proper education or I don't even know what proper is meaning like, based on what what whoever standard is or the veteran is the opportunity to work, which is really important. I mean, people who decide a different path and then therefore just want to instead of going into education actually start their career path. So I'm glad that we have some here in the podcast that actually was able to take advantage of that


Daniel Govaer 5:12

I liked it, I liked it, it was a you know, bring your hustle and what you put into it and see what you get out of it. You know, there's a multiplier, anything you do between your effort and what the result is there, if you can find a multiplier, and be in this industry is a multiplier. So I know that the amount of effort that I put in can get multiplied inside the industry, and then get me a better result. And after that, you know, you know, also that like after the military, you're sort of all full of all sorts of feelings. And I didn't want to just, you know, like, the choices were to continue on in the military. And it was like to continue on in a career in the military or in the security apparatus. I remember that. Yeah. And that's not not not what I wanted to do. And so if I didn't want to do that, and I didn't want to go into the standard, you know, schooling program, then, but like, yeah, I want to, I don't just want to survive, like I want to succeed, and I want to be able to give myself financial independence, there's very few routes that let you do it.


Ilana Shabtay 6:00

Yeah. But I also think there's something very valuable to being able to apply your skills to a job without having to go through an you know, a certain education path that you might not be interested in. So that's also really special here. And you actually did that. And now you wear a lot of hats as VM at the store. I follow you on LinkedIn, I see you post a lot of really great things there. Something recently you posted was about BetterHelp. Yeah, I love seeing this. It's something that you're investing in for your employees. Can you talk a little bit about that, and how that affects the culture at your dealership?


Daniel Govaer 6:34

Yeah, so one of the things that's very important to us is to give every team member the opportunity to speak candidly with their manager at least once a month, it it's it's a requirement upon the managers to ensure that that happens. And these discussions, these are one on ones that aren't performance related. This is this is talking about what how good the foundation is, between you and us, and how good is your foundation when you're not here. And a lot of things that came up over the past couple of years, I knew that these were issues that that needed to be spoken about with a professional. And so when we would, but our team members were bringing this to us in inside these discussions. And so the process that it's set up normally inside, at least in our dealership was, if you're on our insurance, then you can call this number, and we kind of go through the steps and our insurance company will refer you to somebody. And after doing this with, you know, three or four people, like I just the process just did a not everybody was on our insurance for whatever reason, the the process of going through our insurance company, sort of the umbrella organization that would then refer us, you know, refer the team member to the, to the mental health that they needed. It was a it was a very cumbersome apparatus. And so what I liked about BetterHelp was that. And we decided that we would pay for as many sessions for as long as any team member of ours wants. So it's 100% covered by us. And it was much easier people just I can't help how people engage with things. And if they need to get help, and they need to engage with help, they need to engage with somebody to speak with, yeah, if it's not easy, it's just not going to happen. So BetterHelp presented a much easier option. So they're a group of incredibly I mean, a large variety of issues that they can help with very well trained specialists, and almost everything. So we've been live for a little over six weeks now have about a little over 10% of our team signed up for it. And we do not have specific, you know, once I've signed once we enter our roster, and you sign up for the service, I as the account host and as the billing, I have no visibility, it's completely confidential. I've no visibility as to who's on there by name, what they do give me are some statistics in terms of demographics, male female age groups, things like that. And then BetterHelp commits to also sending out satisfaction surveys on a regular basis, and they notify us of what our team members are telling them their satisfaction rating is right. So far, it's been absolutely five out of five.


Ilana Shabtay 8:57

That's awesome. Do you see I mean, I don't know, I know, this is pretty new. But do you see an overall improvement in like mental health within the team or you feel like that's gonna take some time?


Daniel Govaer 9:10

There's, there's definitely a few team members that have and I only know because A, we've noticed, you know, we mentioned to them that their attitude and their engagement has improved considerably. And they've come they've come to me afterwards and said that they really appreciate and we giving them you know, this partnership, and they don't and they're not shy that few of that have come and spoken about it or not shy about it. And they said that like this was yeah, this was this really helped me understand a few things. You know, this going back a long time, you know, before I worked here and I was able to understand things better, and it's helping me clear my mind here and it's helping me connect with my co workers better. So the responses from even the people that have come and said yeah, thank you for you know, for forming this partnership has been just tremendous. So yeah, it's it's something that people see and appreciate. We don't think mental health isn't something that we're going to that needs to be spoken about in hushed terms anymore. War. Yeah. And, and you know, it was the same thing. Right? Do you mean going back to getting out of the military? There were no, there weren't really any systems that were available for people with injuries that were internal, but not medical. Yeah. Or, or I shouldn't say not medical, but there weren't issues of biting and, and so then, right and, and you know, and if you were a guy who was, you know, the tall, dark and handsome and you get out of the military. And that's just how you carry yourself, right. Like that was, everybody wanted to be Cary Grant. And that just wasn't the case. And that, but that's how it was back then. And it continued on with different stigmas or different perceptions. And we just wanted, the biggest thing, I think, that I wanted to get across to our team is that we hold no preconceived notions, we have no weight, there's no perception, right. And so that's, this is 100% confidential, but this is a great resource. And if you want to use it, the place where you work supports that entirely, and it won't cost you anything.


Ilana Shabtay 10:51

Yeah, I think that's great. And we've talked a bit about culture at the dealership on this podcast, but not a ton. So I appreciate you giving us the insight. And I think for the dealers, listening, this is something that I think could be really, really beneficial for the culture. I know, that's a big focus for 2023. I've been reading a lot about it and talking to dealers about it. So that's definitely something that people should find value in just shifting a bit, because I'd love to just talk a little bit about the marketing strategy in 2023. And I know that you do touch that touch on this as well. Do you anticipate any changes in your dealerships marketing strategy for 2023? If you haven't started them already?


Daniel Govaer 11:30

You know, I think we could add there's, there's probably a whole other multi hour podcast about people describing what they think marketing is or what marketing is for them. Right? I think


Ilana Shabtay 11:39

it's just different basics yet. Right?


Daniel Govaer 11:42

Right. So you know, we've done a few things that I think will start to bear fruit and things that we'll continue with, you know, one of the things is, we we insulated our clients during the time where it was very common for dealers to charge over MSRP. And it's not that that didn't apply even in our case. But we insulated our clients from that. So if you are a previous client of ours, you're able to order a vehicle and and there's we're not, you're not paying over MSRP. And in some cases, our loyal clients that have that have purchased from us in the past also receive can receive market adjustment discounts, and not necessarily adjustments that go up on those vehicles. And so we were seeing that being something that's bringing us back, and that we didn't, you know, have a lot of attrition in our previous clientele, we do a lot of experiential things, right. So if you're a client of ours, we want you to have access to it to a lifestyle that you would enjoy, right. So we always have, you know, tickets on the glass for our Columbus Blue Jackets, tickets on the field for the Columbus Crew, we try and do a lot of things for our clients, other than just give them a great place to experience the brand. And for us to make sure that their vehicle is running in the best condition, we want them to know that as a client of ours, you know, we're gonna you have access to these things, and we want to make sure that you're enjoying the whole life with us. That's awesome. And then we've we've always done very well, transacting on social media, we've made a lot of great clients and a lot of great clients and made a lot of great connections, through our social media, we want to in the following year, we've made some investments, both in personnel and equipment. And we really want to take our social media to the next to the next level, because we really, and we're gonna tie it into our web presence, too. You know, it's high time that our our website, on the front page should have our social media feed on there, because it's how we communicate with so many people. And I don't know, and I just looked at it one day, I was like, I don't know why this is two separate things. I don't know why I have a front page on my website. I don't know why I have social media or someone's content that we're continuing to update with why these two worlds aren't married. So we'll at least start doing that. And I think that's something that we're going to definitely continue on for next year.


Ilana Shabtay 13:40

Yeah, and especially with the next generation of buyers. That's just it makes a lot of sense. That's where a lot of the brand is going to be in the Gen Z buyers are all on Tik Tok and reals and I feel like I mean, even for my brand to it's something we talked about internally that we really need to make sure this social media is at the forefront of our brand because that's just the next generation. Make sure it's tied into your your core strategy. Um, you also spoke about the customer experience, which I think is really important. Even if it's not necessarily like digital marketing, but if there is something marketing about it, it's more traditional. I think it's really important for dealers to be thinking about holistically, how can we make the customer experience amazing and something that you liked that you that you said that I really liked it, which is also how can you experience life with us, meaning you're not just buying a car, but this is actually a brand that you should be thinking about day to day. So I think that's super powerful. And then lastly, here, any predictions for 2023 whether it has to do with marketing or not, that you think we're gonna see here, or even in 2024, whether it's something about TVs or inventory, anything that you think that that will be like a big change for us that we should we should watch out for.


Daniel Govaer 14:58

Yeah, I think we all kind of think about Every morning when we get up, right, and then everyday we're trying to see our crystal ball. I think that what we're seeing already. And there's a great article, I think was Automotive News This Morning about who's going to blink first, you know, is it is it the OEM? Is it consumers? I saw that, right. And so you know, what we've had for the past two years is we had a scenario of scarcity is something that drives a market, right? Scarcity is something that makes somebody want something. And so we had that in the last two years. But what was different too, is what we had was it was a level playing field. In other words, we understood the scarcity. And our consumers, our clients understood the scarcity also, typically what we're used to, and what we're getting back to in automotive, retail is work, we understand something, and we'd like our clients to understand it the way we do, or vice versa. And it's not always the same playing field. But we've had in the last two years, we all knew cars were hard to get. So we if nothing else, we know already that not all cars are hard to get all the time. And this dealer


Ilana Shabtay 15:59

was that, as you say, and even if they are I feel like there's now a process in place for it for that. Industry, we know what to do with it. Okay, there are these cars, it's harder to get those how do we market those? And how do we sell those versus other cars.


Daniel Govaer 16:12

And so the thing that we need to be the thing that we need to guard against, at least I know, in my store, is we've had a lot of team members that joined us during the pandemic. And so the only type of automotive retail they know is the automotive retail that we experienced during the pandemic. And we, and we, and we tell them stories, and it's almost like, right, like, like Eliza Schlessinger with you know, like the elder millennials, and we gather them around and like, let us tell you the days of TrueCar. And it's do you remember Autobytel? And it's and they're just kind of like, look at us, and they're like, okay, but now it's we want to make sure we like these new team members. And during the pandemic, we got new team members that wouldn't necessarily have come to us if automotive retail didn't look the way it did. So now that now that we have them, we like them, that part of the team will how do I make sure that they don't leave me? So the same thing we're talking to there's going to be big focus for us is going to be retention. Yeah, big focus for us is going to be retaining our is not just retaining, but building loyalty with our clients, and also and also with our team. And I don't think manufacturers are going to be able to help themselves when they get to an issue of when we have issues of day supply. I don't I don't know to say that every manufacturer is going to be as disciplined as they initially as we hoped they would be and as maybe they gave us some hope that they would be. And so if you're going to have an influx of inventory, client demand is going to waver a bit. How do we then we control what we can control? How do we not lose our current clients gain new ones and make sure that the team that we built during the pandemic is the team that stays with us through next year?


Ilana Shabtay 17:43

Yeah, I think that's really a great way also to sign off just because it really sums up the past two years, and then how you can apply what we've learned through everything that we've gone through for the next year or two years and so on so that we can be successful. And appreciate the insight. Awesome learning about you and your dealership. It's also kind of cut for those are celebrating so Happy Hanukkah. Thanks so man here in Jerusalem, we're about to light the candle, so that will be nice. Also, we didn't say this, but you have a newborn. So congratulations on that. That's, um, this is inside auto podcast. You can find us on all your favorite podcast platforms. Thanks again for joining us, Daniel.


Daniel Govaer 18:25

Appreciate it. Thank you for having me.


Outro 18:30

Thanks for listening to InsideAuto podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.



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