In October 2016, WardsAuto interviewed and wrote an article regarding the pain and struggles the Cardinale Automotive Group went through during the 2008/2009 recession, and how the group changed its mindset to survive and thrive.
The Cardinale Automotive Group was enjoying life going into 2008. Business was good and the group was seeing a bright future ahead. Then the recession hit and there was a major reality check.
What seemed like an automotive group that had everything perfectly aligned, was actually not prepared for what the recession caused. According to Erich Gail, “we were on our butts; we were insolvent.”
It wasn’t just the Cardinale Automotive Group that was feeling the pain; it was auto dealerships across the entire nation. Annual auto sales dropped significantly in just a couple of years, from around 16.2 million units in 2007 to 10.6 million units in 2009. California alone saw a drop of 800,000 units during that time period and three hundred dealerships in the state were forced to close their doors.
The Cardinale Automotive Group was able to fight its way through the destruction and come out with a new lease on life. The group’s business operation is different now than it was prior to the recession. The guiding principle is that “We Develop Outstanding Relationships Where Everybody Wins.” By staying true to this promise each day, the factories win, the dealerships win, and the customers win. Working for the Cardinale Automotive Group is no walk in the park as striving to create the very best experience for a customer is laborious. Gail states, “We want to be faster today than we were yesterday.”
In order to provide an outstanding experience, appointments need to be made and customers need to show up. The Cardinale Automotive Group has devised a strategy that results in about 80 percent of customers keeping their appointments. “We have the manager pick up the phone and confirm the appointment. We’re always driving for the appointment. It is a touchpoint. It’s critical. Managers shouldn’t consider themselves too important to call,” says Gail. Additionally, the customer-relationship management system (CRM) is the key tool to managing appointments.
Now the Cardinale Automotive Group ranks No. 2 on the WardsAuto e-Dealer 100 and the future is looking brighter than ever.