By Michael Trasatti, CEO
My previous blog ended with a comment regarding the propensity for failure if a leader or a company’s compass points in the wrong direction.
I wanted to lead in with a few guiding principles that have helped us immensely along the way and led us to this point while driving much of our decision making here at DealerBuilt.
We consciously try to manage expectations while leveraging a deep understanding of the industry. Simply put, corporate decision makers that don’t know the consequences of a poorly implemented product can wreak havoc with their clients. Couple that with decision makers that may not fully understand the ins-and-outs of the industry, and you end up with a low success rate. We have seen this a few times in the DMS space. A product ships with high expectations only to fall short. We ourselves have learned this the hard way on a smaller scale when a product launches before going through the proper vetting.
We are product driven. Who in the industry is not product driven, right? Product driven to us means maximizing our working dollars back into the product line. This means hiring developers before marketers, and support staff before sales staff.
Thus, word-of-mouth became our marketing slogan. Why? Because it’s less expensive. We could apply more dollars into development and support, making a name for ourselves as we matured the product. In the end, this decision acts as a governor to growth, thereby allowing us to naturally ‘wait’ our turn to YELL that we have something. At 30% growth year over year, it was manageable to expand at that rate while validating our value proposition with our clients.
We relied on organic growth. When financed by investors, equity partners or lenders, a certain amount of oversight is necessary to measure a reasonable return within a reasonable amount of time. We did not have that influence as we were developing the product. DealerBuilt grew mostly organically through initial investments by its founders. We therefore had to manage capital judiciously. Those passionate about the product and making a difference were the same ones investing in the product to begin with. And that extended to each employee because everyone felt they had a vested interest.
In this scenario, you tend to nurture your product. Couple that with not having the pressure to sell or create instant ROI, and you have the freedom to make better decisions. Not always the right decisions, but overall better decisions with the ability to pivot if we seemed to stray from our goals.
We genuinely care for our clients’ well-being. This point is critical and likely the most significant driver behind the ‘Best Kept Secret’ in automotive retail technology. It sounds lofty and may be difficult to quantify, but when you base growth decisions around what’s best for the client, you find that making the tough decisions becomes apparent. When your corporate culture centers around a servitude attitude, everyone feels empowered to make a difference for our clients.
To ensure that we are caring for the client’s well-being, we apply a two test rule: 1.) Do we treat our customers how we would want to be treated? and 2.) Can we sleep at night with our decisions? It’s actually rather remarkable that after applying these two rules, how easy growth decisions can be made. In our case, we were not ready to YELL. We needed to first make sure we could care for each client that allowed us the honor to handle their needs.
The results from these core principles speak for themselves. DealerBuilt provides services to some of the best and largest Dealer operators in the country. Growth continues both in clientele and product depth. And DealerBuilt has established itself as a formidable provider of Dealer Management Systems for those Dealers looking to leverage their technologies in different ways.
With the complexities and challenges that face providers like us, we love what we do, have passionate people that literally are the best in the industry, and proudly pronounce we have something great to offer.