Bob Tasca III and his family run a business spanning four generations, with multiple car dealerships in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The enterprise, started by his grandfather nearly 75 years ago, has survived and surpassed most other dynasties, which Tasca attributes to a wealth of wisdom passed down and the continual adaption of new technology.
“My grandfather used to say, ‘Be around a lot of the right people, ask the right questions, and remember the answers,’” Tasca says with a smile.
He has remembered many of those answers, because he sits on top of an enterprise with more than a dozen dealerships. Then on weekends, Tasca travels the country on the NHRA circuit with his nitro-fuel Shelby Mustang Funny Car, roaring down the 1⁄4-mile track at more than 300 mph.
“I’m a data guy, and this sport is data-driven. You have to do what the race car is telling you to do. After any race, we collect at least 50 different data inputs. The data is displayed on a graph, and we can compare that to other graphs from previous races – either our best race, or a graph from similar track conditions. This composite view tells us the fine-tuning we need to make.”
Likewise, he takes a composite view of his dealerships’ data and can compare it to previous months, best months, similar conditions, similar factory incentives, and more.
“We have a very structured way of looking at our data. Data is only good when compared against something else. That’s when it becomes useful.”
Since public preferences have changed, Tasca has been far ahead of the pack in realizing the need to connect with customers digitally. “Going forward, emails and text are far more effective than phone calls. We have always worked hard at capturing email addresses, and now we can create personalized URLs (p-URLs).”
Racing in the 2017 Season
AutoAlert is the main sponsor for three of Tasca’s eight races for the 2017 season. “Their sponsorship has had a huge impact on us,” Tasca said. “The challenge in any racing season is to collect enough data in order to be competitive. This gives us enough races to gather that vital data.”
Tasca is grateful to his fans that have followed him for the past 10 years on the NHRA circuit.
“I am so appreciative to AutoAlert and to all my social media followers. Between Facebook and Twitter, I have about 60,000 followers, and we’re active in posting what we’re doing on the race track. These postings reach a lot of influencers.”
Tasca said he had used data to help him stay on top of his lease business, but couldn’t find anything to help the retail side.
“For years, we were trying to find some data tools for the retail side. Then we discovered AutoAlert. It lets the cream rise to the top – we can easily see the customers who pose the best chances for a sales opportunity. We’ve done very well with it.”
Small Changes Add Up
Whether racing or focusing on the dealership, the key toward longevity is to always be fine-tuning operations – but not implementing wholesale changes.
“In our race car, a gigantic change is 3 grams of additional clutch weight. A huge change is whether to add one-tenth of one pound of additional tire pressure. A big change in timing would be 1 degree. Our crew chief will agonize over these small changes.”
That philosophy carries over into his business operations.
“A lot of small changes can make a huge difference, but we don’t want to have the ‘program of the week.’ We’re building a culture of continued success versus a culture of knee-jerk reactions.”
What keeps him focused is to let the data do the talking.
“We measure our company in a consistent manner, based on what the data is telling us,” Tasca said. He said from the sales side, he looks at foot traffic, total leads, total appointments, total closes, the Customer Satisfaction Index, overall volume, and overall gross, along with other performance indicators.
“AutoAlert plays heavily in all these metrics. It plays a role in our overall volume; it has a significant impact on the gross we generate. We can see which customers are in a position to swap keys, and then do further upstream business with them.”
When it comes to decision-making, Tasca admits there is one key difference between his racing business and the dealership business.
“The race car spoils me, because I know in under 4 seconds if the decisions we made were right or not. But business is much different – it isn’t instant pudding. You have to give your marketing plans and processes time to work. We evaluate everything over time.”
Tasca said the biggest obstacle for any dealership in adapting new ways of doing business is to be able to let go of gut instincts.
“You must trust the technology. A lot of managers and GMs won’t adapt new ways – they want to go by intuition. I’ve learned no matter what I feel, the data doesn’t lie.”
“The race car spoils me, because I know in under 4 seconds f the decisions we made were right or not. But business is much different-it isn’t instant pudding! You have to give your marketing plans and processes time to work.”
He said dealers that have adapted to technology and used it to their advantage are in a much better competitive position.
“The days of operating off the hip are gone,” Tasca says emphatically.
While data is most useful when compared, it also must be actionable.
“You know the saying – what gets measured gets done. In that respect, the AutoAlert program really holds our team accountable. Since so much of their data is measurable, we can make sure that we’re taking action on it. We’ve been able to really impact the retail side and enhance the lease side of our business.”
His business – whether it is racing or the enterprise dealership – will always focus on data at its core. Because of that, he anticipates a long, continued relationship with AutoAlert.
“The secret sauce for AutoAlert is their ability to compile data in ways no one else can, and secondly, to put it in a framework that is easy to understand. I think the best is yet to come with AutoAlert.”
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