Mike Davenport didn’t become a 30-car-a-month sales guy overnight. He consulted the best in the industry and applied hard work, innovation, and dedication to get there. In addition to his impressive sales numbers, Davenport is well known in the industry as a leader in personal branding – an empire he’s built through careful attention to his customers and the creative use of social media. We sat down with Davenport to pick his “always on” brain at Internet Battle Plan this August.
1. What was the make and model of the first car you purchased?
The first car I purchased was a 1998 Dodge Stratus, manual transmission, five-year lease, 18 years old – and I got screwed. I got pounded over the coals on that deal [laughs].
2. How has technology impacted your job the most?
Technology has impacted my job in every way! For almost 18 years now, email, video email, text messaging, YouTube, Facebook live, YouTube live, Twitter, Snapchat, all that stuff – literally while we are doing this interview someone has hit me up saying, “I love your Snapchat! I love your YouTube! I want to buy a car from you.” People want my autograph, which is really weird to me because I’m just a car salesman. I’m just trying to hustle and grind and make a good living, and doing it in an honest way to show people that there are more good people in the car business than there are bad, like the stigma suggests. Technology has changed a ton and has helped me to sell more cars, but also to get out there that there are good people in the car business.
3. What’s the most exciting thing happening at your dealership right now?
We just took on a company to broadcast all our customers’ pictures. We have 13 or 14 TVs all around our showroom. We have this TV that everyone would love to have in their man cave – it’s three 60-inch TVs wide, three 60-inch TVs tall. It puts up our customers’ pictures and really engages them. It sends them a text message and they can broadcast the picture to any of their social media with the hit of a button. It’s pre-populated with a script, so they just have to hit the button and move on.
4. What keeps you up at night (i.e., what’s your biggest challenge at work)?
Well [smiling] … editing videos, scheduling Facebook posts. I’m on two hours of sleep right now. I stay up all night working on stuff: storyboarding videos, thinking of ideas… what am I going to do next on YouTube? What am I going to next on social media? That’s what keeps me up.
5. What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened at your dealership? What’s something that stands out in your head that you have done to bring attention?
The biggest impact has been the customer response. You can go to my YouTube channel and see all the positive responses – “I love your stuff,” “Keep it up,” etc. There are trolls out there, the keyboard warriors, and I love them too, because it means I’m doing things right. But all the people who leave encouraging remarks, that’s phenomenal. That’s the biggest thing.
6. What’s the biggest change in automotive retail since you started?
The biggest change is transparency, which is a good thing. I tell this to my customers all the time when they want to come in and try to negotiate a car deal. I tell them that when everyone is fast asleep at 2 a.m., except for me, and you are looking at all these websites where all the inventory is pushed to, we have five seconds to capture your attention. That’s been the biggest change, that the consumer can sit there and know, “I’m going to choose to contact this dealership based off of the five seconds of interaction on the internet.” Back in 2000, we would pick up a phone and say, “Hey, when’s the best time you can come in? We won’t let price get in the way.” We didn’t put everything on the internet, and call for price doesn’t work now. That’s a big change.