What's Up With David Kain During Quarantine?
Updated: Aug 31
David Kain is the President of Kain Automotive, which provides expert training to dealers in many aspects of the automotive business. He is also an active speaker and has been featured at a number of automotive industry conferences across the U.S., Brazil, China, and Australia. But, his work doesn’t stop there: David is also the host of Kain & Co. on the CBT Automotive Network and writes articles for industry publications like Ward’s Dealer Business and Dealer Success.
Before he started Kain Automotive in 2003, David was the Co-Founder and COO of FordDirect.com, the dealer and factory-owned joint venture that serves as a data hub for Ford and Lincoln dealerships.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
Aharon Horwitz and Ilana Shabtay introduce their guest, David Kain, the President of Kain Automotive
David talks about one of his hobbies
The impact that COVID-19 has had on dealers, consumers, and the automotive industry
Maintaining the relationship between dealers and customers despite the pandemic’s effect on in-person sales
Regulation in the automotive industry
David discusses the philosophy of his podcast, Kain & Co.
In this episode…
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit,dealerships had to quickly and creatively adapt to the needs of their customers. While pre-pandemic car buying was already moving toward an increasingly online experience, the new normal meant that dealerships still needed to pivot if they wanted to ease the uncertainty that customers faced.
David Kain, the President of Kain Automotive, believes that the present innovations happening in the automotive industry will reach far beyond the current pandemic.
Join Aharon Horwitz and Ilana Shabtay in this episode of Inside Auto Podcast as they talk to David Kain, the President of Kain Automotive. David shares his adjustments to life in quarantine, how dealership training has adapted due to COVID-19, and the benefits of podcasting as the world moves to a new normal. You can learn more about David and his training expertise in the resources section below.
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.
Visit their website at www.autoleadstar.com to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.
Welcome to Inside Auto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you'd want to talk to in and out of the automotive industry.
Ilana Shabtay 0:15
Ilana Shabtay and Aharon Horwitz here, co-hosts of Inside Auto Podcast where we feature top leaders, entrepreneurs, GMs and authors across the auto industry. All right,
Aharon Horwitz 0:27
thank you, Ilana. We are here with David Kain, truly a man who needs no introduction, but we're going to introduce him anyway. And he definitely has the best background of all the podcast podcasts we've had so far. So David, kudos on the brick wall over there.
David Kain 0:42
Aharon Horwitz 0:44
The President of Kain Automotive, featured speaker in many of the auto conferences that happen I learned recently, not only in the United States, but also in places like Brazil, China and Australia, which could probably be a cool story. So we super excited to have David David's been everywhere in automotive, he trains through Kain Automotive trains dealers in many different facets of the business. He's always a person who has great insight who we respect and love very much. And we're super happy to have you welcome David.
David Kain 1:14
Well, thank you all around and thank you Ilana. It's great to be here and and I think it's important for people to know where you guys work because I always find it interesting when I'm talking to people on zoom. What the time differences because it's 8:30, 8:45 here on the west coast in California pacific time and Aharon it's late in the day there in Israel and rates later in the morning. They're in Miami for Ilana of so yeah, a lot of fun to get together and I appreciate you all accommodating letting me sleep them a little bit today.
Aharon Horwitz 1:47
Pleasure Well, there's sun everywhere I see. So out my window. So now you're we're on sunny places. Um, wait, David, I noticed in your bio, tell us tell us if it is true or not that your new thing is mountain biking is that new or not?
David Kain 2:02
So it is relatively new. I started about six years ago and I kind of got tired of reading about friends and got hit by cars. And I'm I'm an avid cyclist and and then Kentucky where I'm from. We only have these two lane roads and lot of rolling hills and y'all been there so you've probably got a good orientation to it. And it just seemed crazy for you know, everybody always says, Well, he died didn't suddenly love Well, I don't love cycling that much, too. I want to die getting hit by car. So I started mountain biking and oddly enough, my very first trip I was going on a little troll in Lexington where I'm from, and I hit the tree and I was like, This is dangerous stuff. Fortunately, I just kind of shake it off and next person through behind me was like you Okay, and I was like, yeah, no worries, no worries, but I've gotten really good at it. I don't do anything crazy. But here in California where I live now, it's year round and it's it's a lot of fun and the climate is good course the nature is beautiful. So I absolutely and when you guys come out if you're ever into we'll get your bike and we'll try and send out anything.
Aharon Horwitz 3:16
Yeah, yes. We titled this podcast what's up with David Kain during quarantine? Are you biking during quarantine? have you managed to do it during the covert? Yeah. Okay, good.
David Kain 3:28
As you can imagine, you know, everybody is, is being very cautious. You know, I've got a mask that I wear all the time and in our co working space, everybody's very much socially distant. So we're aware of it and we pay real close attention. I find it kind of crazy that some people want to rebel against mask and my view is look as, as quick as we can get this under control, the quicker we're going to be able to get it back out there and induce what you were saying in the prelude. This is We'd like to meet an airport. I'd like to meet at conferences. I don't care if I get to wear a mask, I shake your hand at a conference where plastic leather, rubber gloves, whatever, I just appreciate that human one to one interaction. Zoom is good. And it's good for two dimensional, but boy, it's sure nice to see people.
Aharon Horwitz 4:19
Yeah, it's incredible. I mean, I always think about auto as living in this sort of core human concern of transportation, which really from time immemorial has been a core human concern get places faster, safer, and more comfort. And so much of transport is about enabling that connectivity between people and families to see one another. And, you know, now if I don't see a family member living here in Israel and say, my mother, for example, in Cleveland, I don't see her for a few months, it feels like it's very, very difficult. 50 years ago, 60 years ago, 70 years ago, you'd go years without seeing something Just how our expectations change because we just crave contact and relish it so much. It feels very difficult to have have that taken away. At least you know, in my experience in zoom in Whatsapp Video do not make up for it
David Kain 5:18
is interesting. So my father is 91 and at the beginning of the year he ended up falling and breaking this hip and are not as hip but his pelvis. And then he had cancer surgery and for those who know him a lot of people in the industry do. He's very resilient guy but we've not been able to physically be together in the same room when I went to visit him literally had to stand outside the hospital room and small hospital there in his hometown and get the wave tearing through the window and that was just really awkward. And there's something to be exchanged with the endorphins. You know when we put a hand on an arm or on a shoe shoulder, something like that. And we, you know, maybe sit there and go good man or something just for the fun of it. It just feels better. And it's hard to create that and, and so that that's one of my greatest misses when it comes to this quarantine and I think a lot of people are probably suffering through that.
Aharon Horwitz 6:21
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that's it. This is it's anything, it's a lesson on humanity and kind of what makes us know what, what we are and what we need. And I hope, you know, we're able to carry those lessons forward in terms of mutual support and aid and the value of having of not being lonely essentially, and, you know, and those that are really suffering and it's very challenging times, you know, segueing into the industry that we're in which again, I think about it again from the social impact side. You know, the automotive industry is an industry that employees, let's say the dealer networks, which is sort of where you've spent your career and where we've been, as a technology provider, you know, employees 1.2 million, 1.3 million, whatever it is individuals, us, you know, $70 billion a payroll a year, unbelievable amounts of state tax, you have 25% of state sales tax can come from automotive or whatever it is, and, and you look at that whole industry, then you think of the automakers and what goes on in those factories and how that's been created. pillars are just such a tremendous pillar of kind of the middle class democracy. Right. You know, and I think when we look at this pandemic, there's definitely a, you know, creates a shakiness in all these industries, and in ours, as well. And I guess I'm curious what your takeaway is right now, like where do you think we are in this journey of somehow coming through this pandemic intact as an industry From your observation lived and perceived as you interact with dealers and OEMs.
David Kain 8:05
Yeah, so it's it's really kind of an interesting mixed experience. If you look in the some of the states that delayed any kind of a shutdown, or clouds really had a role to have small disruptions versus those that were in states where we had closures and the shutdown lasted a month, and the dealerships had to be hyper innovative, and do a lot of zoom meetings, closed deals, with FaceTime videos and like, and now those store those stores that were in states, where it was relatively short shutdowns, and then they came back are now suffering through where we didn't contain the pandemic. So so there's a lot of insecurity from the consumer standpoint now and I'll share this line that I gathered from one of our clients and I think you have heard me talk about The appointed customer and one of the things that we teach is, you know, sell the value of the appointment, the VIP experience. And so heretofore, we've always said, because you shopped online and you see the value of saving time, we're going to offer your VIP experience when you come to the dealership. And so our card says they like that they still want to use it, but something they found more effective is the late end they'll say, in order to keep you healthy and safe, we offer a VIP experience and the guests are like, ah, perfect. And so that little change of phrase for today's audience tends to work really well. Additionally, in order for a lot of people to feel secure about even doing a deal, but we've been training consistently is create your own zoom accounts as an individual salesperson or use FaceTime or whatever media your consumers are mostly comfortable with. And in most salespeople can use WhatsApp or any variety of tools. But they have these virtual appointments. And they work remarkably well. And so the guest is in a position to where trust is built, they tend to build a relationship. And we see that as a persistent path forward, even beyond the pandemic so that consumers are able to, at their, at their own luxury, be able to have this dialogue and and learn about the product, learn about the deal, and then come in some few papers and get out of there. So that's the good side of what the outcome is. But we have to recognize that consumers really are in a position to where they're not clamoring to want to come into a crowded showroom or come to attend seller anything.
Aharon Horwitz 10:49
Go ahead, Ilana
Ilana Shabtay 10:50
think that's really interesting. We were We were thinking about that from the AutoLeadStar perspective. But what was that have you seen anything super creative out of the box that the dealers have been doing to try and get people into the show? Or to close a deal online, anything crazy?
David Kain 11:04
Well, so nothing perhaps crazy. What's crazy that comes from this is you can get all the way down to signing documents DocuSign everything, except there's always one or two that require wet signatures. And so as crazy as it sounds, what we've seen is salespeople will have a tailor dealerships will have a table set up outside under a tent. They'll walk out with their packet and they'll their, their paperwork down there, then they'll go back to the showroom, and then the customer will come out, sit down and do theirs. And
Aharon Horwitz 11:42
so like Korea, like goes out and outside.
David Kain 11:48
Yeah, so so that that we think is crazy, just from the standpoint of it was a good workaround. But the other funny part is how guests will go sit in their car while while the deals are being marked up. And interesting enough, when when you're able to entertain them. And what we've seen is dealerships and this is really innovative, they will have all the items that they're trying to upsell on a video format and that's been out there but these are more kind of organically made. And it's not the polished ones that you would get from a, an OEM or perhaps a a finance provider or something like that a JM Ma, but it literally is the salesperson saying here's what I think Take a look at this. And it works really well. So I encourage people to pass that along. Because one thing I learned from the CEO of YouTube was people go to YouTube for texture, not polish. And in those type of operations seem to be really getting a good
Ilana Shabtay 12:58
drive by It
Aharon Horwitz 13:03
it's very interesting.
David Kain 13:06
I will make this one point for the BBC to work with but they're not real happy about the showrooms being unlocked again. They like it better when it's all scheduled. So kind of interesting. Oh, yeah.
Aharon Horwitz 13:20
It's very interesting
Ilana Shabtay 13:20
probably because the show right there show rate might have gone up,
David Kain 13:23
though it definitely has gone up and the club's right when they do come in as
Aharon Horwitz 13:29
Yeah, that investment to go in, you're like, you know, you're not
Ilana Shabtay 13:32
risking your life.
Aharon Horwitz 13:34
I mean, cuz I, I feel like from what I know, historically, much of the current architecture, like the structural architecture of the industry, emerged in the wake of the Great Depression when NADA and the dealer associations kind of went to win state by state to kind of protect the franchise and create that sort of balance between In the OEM of the franchise, and it was a huge achievement, if you think about it, meaning, if there weren't such laws, do we imagine that dealers would still be around to the numbers? They are very much? Not likely, right. So, in retrospect, it protected a really powerful economic opportunity for millions of Americans, right. And I think now if you look at the kind of call of the hour if I'm, you know, if I'm an NADA, which I'm not, obviously I don't really know what they're thinking, but I am looking at all the legislation around wedding requirements, I'm looking at all the regulation around how advertising happens when you're fully digital, fully online. There's so much that needs to be done to kind of give the dealers what they need to fill on this new reality, which, you know, we don't know how long it will last. But the assumption is that even assumptions when we come back to having the ability to reduce social distance, there will still be a larger segment of the population that wants to continue the more digital, you know, the more digital pathway.
David Kain 15:03
Yeah, you know, it's interesting that you bring that up because the NADA, you would assume as taking the lead on that. But I think NADA to a large degree is in a situation where they they learn from the innovation of the dealers and you've got the the states each have a dealer representative and you all probably are familiar with rockered, the NADA chair this year, and he's a dear friend and a former client of ours and he's just really creative and he pays real close attention to it. So I can't imagine a better person for that. But but the NADA, and all of their moderators that do 20 groups and all the NCM moderators that we see around, are learning from their dealers in that that ecosystem where Ilana will get an idea and she'll share with Aharon and you'll share it with me and you know, we go back and forth. That's the real strength of this franchise network and, and truly had the original franchise designers not created those ins inside franchise laws, we definitely would be in a situation would be a lot like Elon Musk and Tesla. And here's what's crazy about all that is, do you think those corporate run entities would care about mom and pop America, Main Street America and little hometowns where a dealer might sell five to 10 cars a month, but that might sell 50 years. So they're able to do it but then the franchise benefits because they've got a service facility and they've got all of the accoutrements necessary to, to provide to the local customers what they need, and they don't have to go to one or two regional centers in a big state to get their vehicle worked on. So system works, that work then it worked. Last year, and it will certainly work in the future, as long as you see individual entrepreneurs investing back into their community in their business.
Aharon Horwitz 17:10
Yeah, and I think I mean, I feel like Tesla is almost the exception that proves the role there very few companies Apple Tesla's what comes to mind, I'm sure there's a few more who can go from manufacturer all the way down to end retail right to point of sale retail. There's very few companies that are that. I mean, Microsoft just closed its stores and malls, right? I mean, it's very difficult to pull that off, when I imagine would happen and would have happened in probably is sort of being worked on by many people, is again, like the Amazon ification, the Walmart application to take those big players coming in pushing down wages, you know, more or less, creating efficiencies that ultimately would destroy the small medium businesses among the dealers and would leave again, a few groups around but I think there's something very special and a lesson in well That kind of regulation can do for an economy and I don't know that the fact that cars a little more expensive because they pay good wages to people are necessarily something we should all be, you know up in arms about that I think there's it's an amazing lesson in American history as to what the economic impact can be from, you know, creating an industry and giving it what it needs to live. So, you know, again, I always comes to mind with all these antitrust hearings in Washington, you know, you think about like, well, what happens if those things get broken up? Like, I don't know, when things get broken up? There's a lot sometimes a lot more innovation and a lot of good that comes from that, right. There's a reason antitrust exists. It's not necessarily bad, to have have different players and different actors and whatnot. So and I understand the other argument, but I very much think it's a it's a wonderful piece of the current American capitalist landscape. The dealer markets, you know, and Tesla is an amazing company, believe me, I, I look at them and I study everything they do on their website, because you know, you're at we're always curious Like what's going to work? But um, yeah, anyways, you know, it's there's obviously a lot of interesting things happening right now on the macro in the industry. So are you finding that you're, you have a lot of inbound on how to be effective in this era now like is that the major question coming in from dealers or entirely different
David Kain 19:22
is and what we've found is this, this pandemic actually plays very well to our audience. I used to say to my co workers into our clubs, I'd say, Well, how do you do during downturns are up swings and things and, and we actually are beneficiaries no matter what the situation is. Because if we're in an upswing, everybody says, whoa, I want to take advantage of that. How do I get there forever? When the downturn, they're like, oh, we're in a downturn, how do you help us, you know, to foresaw, you know, this, this real crash, it's getting ready to come so we really are able to be very flexible with our money. messaging and what we teach, whether it be on the website or with search strategies, or digital marketing strategies, social and otherwise, as well as the tactical aspects of working with a guest to as you requested information. So we're really adaptable to that. And so as I was mentioning earlier, we'd become so good at teaching our clients how to have a virtual relationship with their client and in an enriching relationship and, and just you know, what's funny is our clients have always been here to for you got to come in we we learn better when you're physically there, and so on and so forth. And then when the rules of the road are, we can only have five people in a big meeting room and so on. And we've got to wear masks and social distancing. We do web meetings. And what's so funny is our requirement is just give us a camera to where we can see the room. And then let us be on the big screen. I'll zoom or something Other meeting platform, and it works really good. Now, I have to tell you, when you're on this huge HD screen, you're really sensitive to your skincare and making sure that there's no hair growing erroneously anywhere. So you know, we pay real close attention to our grooming, before we get in these kind of situations. And yet at the same time, I've done 20 group meetings, I've done, you know, hour long training sessions. One, one nice benefit is we're able to be with our client more often. And as opposed to, you know, we'll go in and then we'll see him again in two months or three months. This affords us an opportunity to have a couple of meetings a month, and we're actually seeing a good uptick in performance because of that regularity.
Aharon Horwitz 21:52
That's very interesting. And
Ilana Shabtay 21:54
we see you everywhere. I mean, I was just saying I see I see pictures of David during his training with some groups, you know, all over Facebook and LinkedIn. So seems like this pandemic is still keeping you busy. For sure.
Aharon Horwitz 22:07
moving to California was probably a good move pre pandemic for that skincare kind of set, you know,
Ilana Shabtay 22:13
Aharon Horwitz 22:17
And so, David, just tell us about your podcasts a little bit. What do you what do you sort of focus on? What's your what's your sort of moving philosophy for that podcast?
David Kain 22:24
Well, so our perspective is this is if we're going to shut down we need to keep learning. And early on, the curiosity in me got to the point where I was like, Well, I don't really studied that much. I never really know enough about this. So it's an enrichment activity. And and the nice thing and we experience it when we interviewed you is, we do the interview and then my two teammates, Chelsea and Steve, come on, and they get to ask questions of the experts that we're talking to. So it's just been a really wonderful enriching activity. Additionally, I've got a soft spot in my heart for those companies that are developing new technologies. And when you did your interview with me, you introduced me to some stuff. And I was like, Oh, that's really cool. Yeah. And we really can't cover that when I stopped by your booth or when you guys are in Lexington for an hour type visit. This afforded us an opportunity to where we can really do a deep dive, learn a lot. And now I'm starting to say I'm going to use about every third or fourth interview to to try brand new company that nobody in automotive has heard of, or relatively few have. So I hope it can be a launchpad for something new and innovative that the industry may need to hear about that they hadn't considered before.
Aharon Horwitz 23:54
Cool. It's like a Product Hunt for automotive products hands is dead. But it's less popular now. But two years ago, everyone was launching products. And that was the the place to launch a new product outside of it. I think that the That's very interesting. And I certainly enjoyed being on. And I just think what we're seeing now is like the digitization of the whole automotive supply chain, and at least where we are, which is the marketing side of it, you know, that sort of from the advertising and engagement of the customer, bringing them to the website, mining data so that we can do a better job of that and then converting them and helping you move that sale down the funnel. There's just so much room for innovation now. And I think this this pandemics, a forcing function for more innovations. Definitely causing us to think about new creative ideas. Like you mentioned the video we released a product in like three weeks on three dealers, which was a click up video meeting and A video room for every salesperson so a salesperson got their own dedicated video room in the browser and on the website you could put up a CTA using our Connect tool that would allow you to step into the room we tested it it's it's not our meaning there's I think it actually is a wonderful tool for a website provider would build it or if a even a CRM would build it we decided at this point to kind of hold on it for a few months but what was interesting about it was that we realized customers don't want to necessarily click off in the moment why because they're when you browse on a website, it's different than when you if you go into a dealership and one of our dealers that we tested on was luxury like you know you kind of prepare to go in maybe you go to your partner you it's not to say you just push push a button suddenly you're on screen with some you know that there's something and even the salespeople weren't comfortable with it. They wouldn't they were stressed by someone just popping up on their screen right little ding and next thing you know, there's David and you know, you've taught me that there is an element of cultural transition there that we thought were really interesting and it's something that we are Certainly, we experience experiment with people do like to schedule virtual meetings. that's a that's a, you can, when you get a scheduler in there, then people are more comfortable. And so you learn a lot about like, what is that etiquette of digital, as you experiment with some of this, you know, this new technology?
David Kain 26:16
Well, it also goes to tell you that a lot of people just aren't wearing what they would consider appropriate attire. They're wearing hats, their hairs and bass. You know, there's that personalization. We talk about the internet being made TV, I get to control the aspects of it. And I always find it funny when I go to someone's office or if I'm traveling, we're sitting on the couch in a hotel lobby, and they open up their laptop and they've got a little piece of tape over their camera. What are you doing that you're so afraid of? And the other day I was
Ilana Shabtay 26:53
our CTO and if you think that that
Aharon Horwitz 26:59
cameras out You know,
David Kain 27:00
yeah, it is and you know, you hear about that that going on. But the fact of the matter is, I think this is a time where your technology, particularly from a scheduling standpoint, I look at this Carter Cadillac in Canada, and they build in a nice little video that talks about how you are able to schedule your meeting and you pick your platform and and you know, whether you want WhatsApp or you want to zoom, zoom or whatever, it works out really nice for them. And I think it gives a visual aspect of cleverness and innovation to their customer base. So
Aharon Horwitz 27:43
absolutely, yeah, we like in connection with this nice VIP scheduler works really well i i really think video is gonna someone's gonna figure it out in a really innovative way. And I think it'll, it'll be great when they do it. So, David, you know, that was that was really fun was great to talk with you. I really enjoyed it.
Ilana Shabtay 28:04
Aharon Horwitz 28:05
Totally, I mean, our annual pilgrimage to Lexington, that's a you know,
David Kain 28:13
people are Fingers crossed. I mean, November, we still got a little ways away. We know that, you know, the November 10 to the 12th. We're thinking we're working with a hotel and it looks as though we may be able to have a few people physically there. We'd like to have the presenters there. But But you know, the key for us and you all know we call it the friends and family for the content frenzy event. Two, we're basically what we're trying to do is to provide those educational opportunities to our clients, and let them come and mix and mingle and, and so we're not this big blow up, you know, we got to do the equivalent to some of the big events in the industry. We just want to make sure that our clients have every door open to him to be able to absorb from industry leaders like you guys and We we really are keeping our fingers crossed, we're able to do it.
Aharon Horwitz 29:04
Yeah. That would be wonderful. Absolutely. Well, thank you, David, and we wish you much success, health and some fun mountain biking during this, these next coming months.
David Kain 29:15
Thanks, guys. We'll see you later.
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