With a little help from his DealerSocket Customer Success Manager, Rudy T., 'El Patronn,' discovered the power of DealerSocket's CRM. Now Brooklyn Mitsubishi sells cars like candy bars.

DealerSocket's Regis Saffold remembers it well. It was December 2016 and he had just inherited the New York territory as a Customer Success Manager (CSM). His first assignment was to have the dreaded "cancelation conversation" with Brooklyn Mitsubishi and save the one-year-old account. Saffold knew he was about to earn his stripes. What he didn't know was he was about to earn the respect of a dealer who is single-handedly proving that the days of the larger-than-life dealership pitchman aren't gone.

Rudy T., or El Patronn as he is known to the more than one million connections he's forged on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn since taking over Brooklyn Mitsubishi less than two years ago, was embarking on a new venture of his own. The dealership was his fifth turnaround project in nine years, and he wasn't about to break his streak. That meant everything and everyone was under review, including his store's relationship with DealerSocket and its use of the company's CRM, along with its SocketTalk™ and RevenueRadar™ add-on tools.

"When I come in, I like to disrupt everything," Rudy says. "I also like to use tools I've used in the past and have been successful with, so Regis came in and said, 'Listen, let me sit down with you and show you why we are who we are. I gave him a shot.

"But I was a little rough on Regis at the beginning," he adds with a chuckle.

A "little rough" isn't exactly how Saffold remembers it, but the CSM believed in the product and the dedication DealerSocket had shown Brooklyn Mitsubishi. "Rudy is a guy who doesn't care about yesterday," Saffold says. "So, we went through some candid, sometimes passionate conversations. And out of that came trust."


The rise of El Patronn

Rudy T. is the car business' newest generation of dealer pitchmen, minus the wacky stunts and crazy antics. He is every bit Brooklyn cool, flashing his designer watches, custom suits and trademark Carrera sunglasses. Instead of Saturday morning TV commercials, the vehicle for El Patronn's fame is social media - where his followers can catch him delivering a motivational speech during his store's Friday morning meetings, in his office, or from the backseat of one of his six cars.

The dealer officially took the reins of Brooklyn Mitsubishi on Aug. 5, 2017, with a vision of owning the Brooklyn market with a massive inventory that featured everything from a $3,000 special-finance car to Bentleys with 1,000 miles on the odometer. The problem was, as he pointed out in a video he posted on social media this past August to commemorate his one-year anniversary, "If people can't find you, they can't do business with you."

The solution came to him on Dec. 6, 2017. He was in the audience at a conference hosted by motivational speaker Les Brown. On the stage was Hank Norman, the media mogul responsible for turning celebrities like sales guru Grant Cardone into celebrity brands. His presentation centered on the importance of brands using social media to connect with their audience. Rudy T. was moved.

He already had the persona thanks to the El Patronn nickname he picked up back in 2012 while serving as general manager at a Ford-Lincoln store in New Jersey. Now he had a plan. "It was like this guy was speaking to me," Rudy T. says of Norman's presentation.

El Patronn committed to doing Facebook Live once a week during his Friday morning meetings and on his own once a day. He figured his life would change, but it wouldn't be immediate. "It was very discouraging at the beginning, because you're on Facebook Live talking to yourself. You don't have engagement, you've got nobody," he says. "But then you get that one hit, it goes viral, and then everybody is asking, 'Who is this guy El Patronn?'"

It took nearly six months for that to happen. When it did, speaking invites and interview requests began flooding his email. It wasn't all show and no go, with smitten car buyers flooding his showrooms hoping for a chance to meet El Patronn himself.

Brooklyn Mitsubishi rolled 400 cars in the first three months of 2018, just about matching the dealership's output for all of 2017. By the end of the year, sales and total profit were up more than 50%. This past April, Rudy T. revealed that Brooklyn Mitsubishi was capturing 94% of his primary market area. "That's unheard of, especially for this store," he says. "I saw the potential here. We changed the culture and made sure we had the right technology."


Iron sharpens iron

The El Patronn phenomenon hadn't taken flight when Saffold traveled to Brooklyn Mitsubishi in December 2016. He was hired four months earlier as part of DealerSocket's restarted Custom Success Manager program. Having worked retail, he knew the quickest way to the dealer's heart was to show El Patronn how he could create a pipeline of potential business using DealerSocket's CRM.

The CSM first delved into the different ways the CRM captures customer data, including text messages between salespeople and shoppers via SocketTalk. He then hammered home the importance of Rudy T.'s sales team entering every bit of information into the CRM and how even the most trivial note can fuel a campaign generated by DealerSocket's RevenueRadar data-mining tool.

Lastly, he showed Rudy T. how he could configure the CRM's unique dashboard to track all those activities by simply adding and subtracting different widgets. "I came out of the meeting thinking that DealerSocket CRM is our bible," Tremenio adds. "And the one thing that increased business for us was the CRM's business notes. If you put in that a customer is looking for a specific model and the model comes in a couple of days later, like magic, we get an alert. That's what it was designed to do, but we never worked it that way until Regis showed us.

"And that's why I tell my guys that it doesn't matter if the customer's here on a lunch break, you have to log it into notes," he adds. "Because I need to know what's going on, why the customer left, and how the customer heard about us. Hey, advertising is expensive, and I need to know exactly what's working and what's not."

Today, Brooklyn Mitsubishi fields about 100 leads a day behind El Patronn's social media efforts, an active BDC, and a nearly $100,000 monthly ad budget. That's why he's also a big fan of DealerSocket CRM's Business Rules. The feature will automatically reassign an untouched lead to another salesperson if it's not responded to in a set amount of time. Mitsubishi gives its dealerships 10 minutes to respond to a lead before it's passed on to another location; El Patronn requires a response from his team in five.

As for SocketTalk, Rudy T. requires that his BDC staffers follow up every customer email with a call and text to confirm a scheduled appointment and the location. "I think people are more receptive to responding to a text message than a phone number, so it's extremely important," he says. "Hey, we live in a different era. I have zero unread texts, but I have 70,000 unanswered emails."

The tool he saves the most praise for, however, is RevenueRadar, which allowed him to take advantage of 20 years of untouched customer data. "That's a tool I highly recommend that dealers activate within the CRM," he says. "We're in there creating email blasts and buy-back programs. You can't survive if you don't live off your data."

All those activities are being tracked daily by Rudy T. using his customized dashboard, which allows him to see every note and know which manager is working on which deal. "Just make sure everything you do is tied into the schedule within DealerSocket CRM," he advises. "If you don't, a customer might not get a follow-up."

Brooklyn Mitsubishi broke 800 new vehicles in 2018 and has its sights on 1,000 for 2019. Saffold says he plans to be there every step of the way. "Once I showed Rudy how we capture data and use it to market to his base, he bought in and became his own consultant for his store. Yes, it was difficult at the beginning. Now, when I visit those guys, it's like visiting family."

Rudy T. is quick to return the compliment. "I was going to change my CRM, but Regis took the time to convince me otherwise. That's when the relationship turned," he says. "And I was a nobody back then. Now everybody wants my business."

Note: Rudy T., aka El Patronn, has since moved to another New York-based dealership