Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  14:45  

Yeah, it seems like you just have that deeper relationship in deep understanding of the client especially, you know, when you go into a specific niche and, you know, so that’s that’s a big decision right? You go, Okay, we’re going to not work all these other, you know, with these other businesses, right? We’re going to focus on dealers. And then second, can we talk about the evolution of the services that you offer you just mentioned right now, if someone’s watching the video, we can see we’re on And, you know, right now, you can see the solutions page, right? Their sales were fixed apps, acquisition, branding, recruiting, talking about the evolution, what do you start off with when you start working with dealers? And then what did you expand according to as you got to know them? And probably, you build your team?

Andrew Street  15:38  

Yeah, they continually change. And it changes based on what type of technologies available, the capabilities that we’re building out in house, because we’ve got developers building out our own internal software. And then also what you know that with the needs of the dealership, as Chip shortages and global viruses and everything that’s happening, that that’s kind of dictated what a dealership needs, if anything, and I like to think that we’re still small and nimble enough to where we’re going to be one of the last things that they would ever cancel, because, you know, through the iteration of what was possible, so dealerships love leads, they weren’t really good leads, but their leads, and Facebook, maybe 2015 2015 16, somewhere in there came out with lead forms. And you tap on an ad.

And it brings up a pre-populated form with all of your contact information, first name, last name, cell phone, and personal email address. And I was like, okay, we can generate leads, dealers can take leads, we can route them directly into their CRM, this is the holy grail, let’s unlock this. And so every single customer we had, we were going aggressive with lead forms. And then what you find is, it’s too easy to fill out that lead form. And there would be a lot of people who aren’t intentionally filling it out. Or people who couldn’t qualify for getting this type of car. And it would just fill the dealership up with bad leads, which they could convert at maybe 2%. At the beginning, from just like this high volume of leads to sales, but they weren’t, nobody’s equipped to really handle that many bad leads to trying to set appointments.

So we quickly had to scrape back and be like, Okay, we’re going to reserve those types of ads that are asking for people’s contact information. For people who already know about the dealership, how do we do that? Okay, they’ve come by the website, they’ve looked at a particular vehicle on the website, now we get back in front of them with that vehicle and similar vehicles. Now let’s ask them to start the conversation because they haven’t filled out a form on the website. And so it’s a lot of trial and error and a B testing. And then if, like I had mentioned, you know, and right after everything went into a lockdown during COVID, there were so many dealers, and I’m in Texas, and it was pretty, we’re pretty capable of selling cars, buying cars, servicing cars.

But a lot of the country was limited to, you know, people delivering cars, they could, they were still essential. So they could do services and figure out what that state allowed. And then just taking all of our budgets or reducing our budgets and doing that. At the same time, we were applying for loans and our grants from Facebook for car dealers and everything that we could possibly do from our desks to help. And we don’t do graphic design or website updates, but we were doing it and we were offering it in just like okay, this is a unique situation, let’s do whatever we can to help. But then, you know, when you’re asking about getting outside of just car sales and services, it’s as we’ve developed technology to be able to harvest their data and to ingest their CRM data ingest the DMV records, to be really prescriptive with who we’re targeting.

So if somebody is within a 10 mile radius of our dealership, they live in that radius, and they drive a rav4 but they didn’t buy it from us and we’re a Toyota dealership. I want them to come into our dealership for services or for trading up or opera affinities for getting my vehicle appraised or for a warranty issue, or, you know, there’s a number of things that we could trigger to try to conquer people off the streets. And the same token, since we’re targeting people in their CRM, it’s if you’ve purchased from us, but you’re not doing routine services, and you live in the city, let’s give you service opportunities, or let’s simply just as soon as you purchase, let’s have a message that says thank you, for 30 days, or 90 days that just says thank you. And this is because we’re a big part of the community. Everybody that works here as part of the community. This is how we grow by referrals from your neighbors and your family. So it’s coming up with a lot of different solutions using the same platform where it’s common for advertisers just to look at it as a one trick machine that drives cheap website traffic, or cheap leads.

Jeremy Weisz  20:59  

I want to talk about the software you mentioned. And I’d love to talk about software development as an agency. Right? Because you can build it, or you

Jeremy Weisz  21:12  

can just use another software. So I’m wondering about your thought process on the type of software? And why build it as opposed to using something else, I guess, off the shelf?

Andrew Street  21:28  

Yeah, it’s, I feel like there’s a common thing that that agency owners get to once they hit, I don’t know, like one and a half $2 million in EBIT, da that they want to start investing back into the company and either they can’t find the right places to put it or else they think that you know that, hey, we’ve got an idea, let’s, let’s put some time behind this. Totally different skill set, then. So might you know, my background is design and marketing and sales, then to switch into overseeing product development. That came with you know, the crux was common where we built, we built out a platform that ingests the inventory and CRM information. And then we scrapped it and started over with a different developer. And we had a Platform Manager, a project manager, like people on staff who have no product, which I thought we could figure out quickly. But I was wrong. And we couldn’t give it the amount of tension that it needed. So we got nearshore developers, developers in the US, because when we’re looking at licensing other people’s platforms, it was prohibitively expensive.

It would have made more sense if we were an ad agency who used every single platform from media buying to OTT and display networks and paid search and paid social. So we could, you know, be a much bigger part of the pie for a dealerships advertising budget, but we were a sliver, we were this assassin that comes in and maintains that business and keeps that business and is you know, the best in class, not the cheapest, but the you know, the best for this one category. And so a lot of the software was really expensive. And we found it here, irreplaceable, valuable for us to be able to pull in our customers information, their data, their website, visitors, their past customers, or current customers, that customers that start to fill out their lead forms that abandon them, you know, and then pull in data from consumer warehouses, like OLC and Experian and TransUnion to be able to identify people.

So instead of us targeting the 6 million people in Houston that are on social media every day, around the dealership, and just carpet bombing everybody, we could be much more prescriptive to people who have maybe a low net wealth, low household income, credit score challenges, don’t have a great credit score things that could help identify them as somebody who we could help get the right appropriate ad and the right appropriate vehicle to helping people qualifies, you know, instead of the message being you know, here’s this 90 $90,000 Silverado it’s here’s a vehicle that we can get you qualified for low downpayment low monthly payment. And so with the platform that we built called veniam. It gives us an opportunity to make much faster advertising decisions and be much more prescriptive with who we’re targeting and what we’re saying to them.

Jeremy Weisz  24:58  

When you are created , start creating it. Obviously, you’re scratching your own itch. Right? Was there a thought of yeah, we’re going to use internally or to be more efficient, we’re going to be better for our clients. Was there a thought of releasing it as an external product as well?

Andrew Street  25:18  

There is, I mean, yeah, there has been some interest in being client facing and having it be more of a SAS, which I’m not interested in doing right now, that could be a play in the next couple of years. But that’s a different company, that’s what I’m going to have I want to do if what we’re going to do is gonna be done right, where we have people whose job is to onboard that customer. And to ensure that they’re using it that they’re getting value out of it, that they’re upfront when we first started doing it, like we used to use Infusionsoft did a really good job of onboarding us and had a coach that we had to pay for that would meet us twice a week and require us to go through and do different things and launch different campaigns on that. Because right now, I mean, we’re, we’re dealing with dealerships who don’t have an internal marketing team that really has the bandwidth.

They are capable, they have capable people for sure. But they don’t have the bandwidth to take all these different audiences and be like, Okay, here’s what the dealership needs, we need to do better retention with our service department, from sales, people purchasing to people coming back and doing services. And we want to go from 25% retention to 40%. Here’s all the people who purchase who aren’t doing services, here’s all these DMV records of people who drive our cars. Now what you know, is because we’re set up to do all of that deployment, and show the dealer that we’re doing it, but until and when and if they get those capabilities, or it could be other ad agencies to start doing it with. But I’m not focused on that right now. I just want our team to use the hell out of it. And then we can talk about that once. You know, once we’re farther down the road.

Jeremy Weisz  27:15  

Yeah, no, it seems, you know, focusing on what you’re doing, because it’s like you said, it’s a whole separate business, I’d love to hear, you know, because a lot of agencies specifically have ideas and ways that they could probably make their workflow better, easier for their team. I’d love to hear some of the challenges and pitfalls while you were going through this process of creating the kind of the software internal software. I mean, if you look at some big companies out there, it kind of was birthed out of an agency, I think MailChimp, was actually birthed out of an agency. And I think MailChimp, you know, the past few years was acquired for $12 billion. I mean, that’s obviously the unicorn situation, but it came out of how they were serving clients and serving their own needs and their client’s needs. So it’s always interesting. Agencies kind of uniquely see a unique viewpoint because they see it across, you know, a bunch of companies. What are some of the challenges and pitfalls you had? When you were creating this yourself?

Andrew Street  28:20  

Hold on, I’m taking notes now for $12 billion. You’re like our external facing now. Exactly. If you know, it is that like that there’s been several challenges. One is the funding of it was pretty, everything’s been bootstrapped. And I’ve looked at taking money in the past. And at the time, I didn’t exactly know what I would do with it. Now I know exactly what I would have done with it. And it would have been getting amazing people and starting building products earlier. Like a lot of the challenges too, are just internal and excess or or, you know, an identity crisis as we’re building it. Our leadership team internally is like, Okay, this is a SAS, let’s build it as a SAS. Let’s market it, our sales team is going to put this forward. This is the first thing that makes us different.

This is what makes us special is the software and like yes, it’s what we do with the software though. It’s what we’re doing , it’s what enables our team, our graphic designers or performance managers or dealer consultants to be really good and really fast. And then well valuations on SAS companies and, you know, the, the ability for us to sell into larger entities and larger dealer groups and publicly traded dealer groups then I Uh, after marketplaces and you know, it’s like, it did create a bit of a riff internally for us to really land on our feet with what we’re doing with it. And a lot of it just stems from my background is not a SAS person, I want to do what I want to deliver, like I want our team to be able to deliver. And with the customer base that we have, they’re not, they’re not a customer, that’s going to be able to take a bunch of this information and do something with it. We can, like we are built to do it. And an industry where I think a lot of companies are built the opposite way, where we’re a data mining platform or a consumer data platform, a CDP, or, you know, we do this component that’s creating a lot of information for targeting and are creative.

And then the customer doesn’t know what to do with it and either cancels or just doesn’t use it. And then they accidentally become an ad agency X. i There’s a lot of people out there that own an ad agency, but grudgingly and they didn’t mean it to be an ad agency. They meant to be a software or a data mining platform. Where we were an ad, we’re still an ad agency. At the core. We’re a facebook, instagram specific ad agency that’s testing out Pinterest and Amazon Display Network. But at our core, we are an ad agency, we are a designer, we make things bespoke custom that stand out from other dealerships in the market. And we just now happen to have a software component that helps to fuel a lot of our decisions. And a lot of our measurements and a lot of our targeting capabilities.

Jeremy Weisz  31:48  

And we want to talk about hiring in culture. Right. Internal hiring also helps you. One of the things you do for dealerships is you help recruiting and hiring too. Right. Right. So what are some of the things that have worked for you from a hiring perspective with your agency?

Andrew Street  32:14  

There’s been a few ways. I mean, obviously, we’ve done, you know, the marketplaces for recruiting people for getting applications. And I think it’s, it’s really grown over the years from where like, I don’t know if this analogy still is obvious. But we used to be like the Jon Stewart for people’s careers, where you get out of college, and you work for us, and we’re going to train you so hard and get you really refined into a machine that understands this platform understands how to have the conversations, and then you’re worth more money to somebody else, because we couldn’t pay you that much. And then double your salary and go somewhere else. And we did that for five years, four years, until we got into a you know, a profitability position to be able to pay people with chops. And to retain them, and to invest in them.

And to come up with benefits around it that include education bonuses for them to go learn anything, ceramics or, you know, really drill down on their specific niche. And invest in people when we’re going to industry conferences to to bring people from our team there to expose them to, you know, the the conversations that are happening the other providers at the risk of people getting poached, and we’ve had people poached from these events, and it’s just a price that we aren’t going to pay for keeping that culture and that value alive as people are gonna get poached. And it’s gonna suck. And I’ll tell the other, you know, competitors that like, look, this one’s free. Next one will cost you like, you know, don’t start gouging our staff.

Jeremy Weisz  34:18  

But yet, they’re gonna wake up with a horse’s head.

Andrew Street  34:20  

Yes, yeah, something. Yeah, I’ll leave the mystery open. Exactly. But I’ll just figure it out if they do the second time. And, yeah, I mean, the alternative of not investing in the staff not ringing them is, you know, keeping your best talent under lock and key and they stopped developing anyway, you know, you don’t get a chance to sit with them and hang out with them and get to really know them because we’re in a complete remote work environment. And yet another thing with hiring too, it’s like, we either need to fill a position and we need to start taking a lot of applications for it and In vetting and getting referrals, or we have a position that would be nice to fill.

And we’re going to serendipitously find that person. And it’s not urgent. We’ve had a couple people that have been great hires that or it was just the timing was right with their career. And we’ve seen eye to eye with them over the years, and they work with other providers and competitors or clients of ours. And then they’re available, and we get in touch. And it’s like, okay, we don’t have a specific role right now. But let’s make one. Let’s make one, let’s bring you on. Let’s get started. Let’s roll our sleeves up. It’s not an insurmountable risk for us to take. And let’s make it make sense in the next 60 days like this. Yeah, let’s just start working with this person.

Jeremy Weisz  35:50  

Andrew, you mentioned, you know, education, bonuses, stuff they like to do, obviously, from a compensation perspective, just investing in education. What else has worked from a retention standpoint, I actually I’m gonna pull up here, you can check out And, you know, one thing is just having a nice actual careers page with all the benefits on it. And you can kind of see on here, what if you’re looking for certain perks, education, 401k, matching health plans, profit sharing, PTO? Um, is there anything else that we’re missing? intangibles?

Andrew Street  36:43  

Yeah, I didn’t know, we had that on our website. But yes, I mean, that is big for us to be able to articulate while we’re hiring. But then when we’re onboarding a new employee, we typically fly them to Austin or Columbus, where we have a couple of headquarters, or we have our leadership team lives, then we get a conference room, but to sit down and really try to explain how we do what we do, what makes us special, where their role is, and what kind of like upward trajectory could look like, within our organization, which is small. And we typically float around 20 people. And, and to have, like, five years ago, if you asked me what culture was, I’m like, Yeah, you know, we’ve got a foosball table, we haven’t put it together yet. We’ve got beer. We do.

And there’s a new employee, we go to lunch, you know, there’s like small things that that really aren’t kosher, but it is what I thought it was, but now it’s just really caring about people and knowing that their dog is sick, or that their what their boyfriends name is, or their husband’s name is Or their wife’s name is and knowing people, you know, and caring about people. And, you know, being able to help with finding opportunities for them, Hey, you don’t you’re not taking we have unlimited PTO, which is sometimes a little bit of a two edged sword where it’s like, okay, you’re never taking your PTO. It’s been nine months, let’s find an opportunity for you even if you don’t have to go somewhere. But caring about people, you know, paying them competitively. And then having like, we have to have a beacon internally, we have somebody named Jasmine that works with us who’s an introvert who loves to help organize the holiday PowerPoint presentation, slide show the games, the happy hours. And there’s ways for like that she’s unlocked. Have you ever seen Legally Blonde too? I don’t

Jeremy Weisz  39:08  

I’ve seen Legally Blonde. I can’t remember the second one. This sequel.

Andrew Street  39:13  

I haven’t seen either claim or not yet, I should probably see it. But there’s a thing called Snap cup, and legally blind to where they’re all there. They’re, I guess they’re arguing at some law firm or at some office environment. And they go, they sing a song about SNAP cups, and everybody sends a snap out to somebody. And then we tie it in with our core values. So when somebody does something that’s above and beyond or somebody just needs recognition, there’s a Google form that they can fill out and then a drop down, pick somebody with their nickname next to it on what they did. And so during happy hour, we’ll go around. We’ll start out by singing the snap cup song from Lee really blind to. And then just like somebody will kick it off on something great that somebody did that somebody came in while they were out the cover, there was no errors, or you know that a, an BDR is that do outbound calls that say they got their first appointment and their first deal and they get a shout out.

And it’s a cool opportunity for people that are in every single department of the company to be able to see what people are doing. And an opportunity for people that are really delivering to get recognized. And to, you know, have that be seen in front of all the leadership team. And then like little things like that, having happy hours that aren’t just sitting on a zoom and drinking, but having some, some games to it had been fun. As fun as it can be to be, you know, completely separated by time zones and state lines.

Jeremy Weisz  41:10  

From what you mentioned, is your upward trajectory. I love to hear a little bit about that. I know, this comes up a lot in agency conversations about how do I create this upward trajectory? And, you know, compared to if there’s a large corporation where they have an accountant, Junior account manager, account managers, you know, middle account manager, Senior Account Manager, you know, you know, there’s a lot of different layers there that leave room for upward trajectory. How do you tackle that in your organization?

Andrew Street  41:47  

I think a lot of the staff comes most of our staff with very few exceptions that have been really successful, what the recipe is for them to come in and be what is called a performance manager, just doing ad operations. And understanding the philosophy and the intricacies of what we do have where the rubber hits the road. And it is the most vital role that we have. And then just based on people’s I guess, skill sets and desires. There’s other roles from being a more client facing sales facing that they can evolve that people have evolved into. And it’s just based on, you know, them getting a good grasp of what we do, being able to articulate it, being able to articulate it. And then just being able to work with car dealerships, which isn’t, you know, an instinctual thing that a lot of advertisers, younger advertisers really want to do. But it’s, you know, one way to grow.

And then we have people that have moved into our internal marketing team, we’ve got people who showed a propensity for like, being very technical and becoming the technical lead to help customize pixels and all the super detailed digital marketing stuff. And it’s to recognize that and do it pretty quickly, you know, to hire fast and promote faster and fire fast, but keep promoting, you know, like, make things move quickly. You know, the rule of hiring slowly is not necessarily true. I think in our case, when we’re growing, we need to fill some roles, and we need to push some people that have mastered what they’re doing. And try one last question.

Jeremy Weisz  43:49  

But before I ask, I want to point people to check out your website, , to learn more about what you do. I just love some of the in the trenches, stories you shared throughout the conversation. So thank you. My last question is some of your favorite resources. Resources could be a book. It could be a podcast, also groups that you love, and I let you know if there’s any takeaways from Yo, no, you’re an EO. So what are some books, podcasts? Movies, items, things you’ve learned in certain groups.

Andrew Street  44:34  

Man, lot, dude, like right now like EO or EOS like the you know, like the entrepreneurs operating system with traction was pretty pivotal for us to be able to move to a remote environment. It came up at the same time for us to be able to have like the level 10 meetings and rate them and who attends them and all The Accountability chart was big. And for us to use an EOS implementer was really helpful. It was a great investment. Crucial Conversations, I mean, there’s been a lot of books that have been really helpful for exploring weak areas that I feel like I need to improve on. But right now, like, what’s been what’s been like, the most beneficial are stories of other entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs. I just like the last two books I’ve read were Steve Jobs by our biography, and Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, his autobiography, they’re both great. These are both like huge Titans that just continually get gutted along the way and are walking through fire. And it’s just a, it’s, it’s comforting, I find them strangely comforting to read or to listen to, in podcasts like this, like yours, and like the pursuit that you’re doing with the agencies, it’s great, because it’s all so different.

And so similar and so relatable at the same time. iOS has been instrumental Entrepreneurs Organization, just to, you know, have some educational things to attend, but just to have the format of communicating with people and a network of folks who are kind of going through the same high highs and the same lows, and, you know, finding resource there to be to be of, you know, to be helpful to the other people that are in over. And have them be helpful that, you know, iOS has been great. I’ve been an agency Management Institute with Drew McClellan was very helpful to like, look under the hood, and look in the books of other agencies and be able to, you know, get some input as well as, you know, get their input with with our positioning and, and things that we’re going through and our aspirations and our hires and things like that.

So like, you know, 30 minutes ago, we’re talking about this being resourceful and finding consultants at the right things, but it’s also finding the right, you know, the I’ve been fortunate to find the right books, I mean, the world of podcasts that are coming out at infinite warp speed of new podcasts, and they’re great, you know, they’re well thought out and getting the right types of guests that aren’t going to resonate with everybody, but it’s going to resonate with a population of people. And if you’re talking to agency owners in their story, that’s me.

Jeremy Weisz  47:51  

Andrew, I want to echo that I love traction, Crucial Conversations. Shoe Dog. I agree when people ask them about Shoe Dog. I definitely say it’s kind of like entrepreneurial therapy to see a big icon of a big company go through the same thing.

Andrew Street  48:13  

Yeah, you put it well, the fires that everyone else does a bunch of them from your intro song

about going through the firing on the other side.

Jeremy Weisz  48:20  

Right, exactly. But so thanks for sharing. Everyone, check out and more episodes of the podcast and Andrew, I want to be the first one to thank you so much.

Andrew Street  48:32  

Thanks, I appreciate it. Thank you, Jeremy.