"You're In Charge" with Glenn Pasch
"You're In Charge" with Glenn Pasch

Episode 147 · 3 months ago

How to Build Positive Company Culture

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Culture is a buzzword that gets thrown around in business all of the time. 

A company has a great culture! A company has a poor culture! 

The key is how to build a positive culture in your business that lasts. 

In this episode, Liza Borches, President/ CEO of the Carter Myers Automotive Group shares how they have instilled a culture of "Moving Lives Forward" in their group, their community and in the hearts of their employees. 

It is a fantastic conversation everyone can benefit from .

Enjoy!! don't forget to subscribe, share and rate the show!!

About Liza

A 4th generation Automobile retailer with experience in growing an organization exponentially through a people-focused approach.  Offering employee ownership, managing partnerships, and values based hiring, CMA has grown from 3 dealerships to 20 in the last 15 years, representing 6 markets, 1000 associates and 18 franchises across Virginia.

The mission of Carter Myers Automotive is to Move Lives Forward for customers, associates and the community. Under Liza’s leadership, CMA has lived this mission through progressive changes in the customer experience, innovative benefit programs and employee ownership, a commitment to sustainability and through the many non-profit partnerships

Her community service awards include the Automotive News “Top 40 Industry Leaders under 40” for 2013; the Hovey S. Dabney Corporate Citizenship award on behalf of Carter Myers Automotive; and in 2020, Liza was recognized by Cox Automotive as the Barbara Cox Woman of the Year for 2020, by Automotive News as a Top 100 Leading Woman in Automotive and by the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce as the Chamber Business Leader of the year.

Liza and her husband, Pete, live in Charlottesville, VA with their two children, Parker (age 13) and Taylor (age 16).

Connect with Liza: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizaborches/

The "Infinite Game" book recommendation: https://amzn.to/3R2k7vh

About Glenn Pasch:

"Everyone finds themselves in charge at some point in their lives. Yet many of us lack the skills to generate consistent results. My goal is to help you learn the skills to adapt and grow in your personal and business life.”

Glenn Pasch is CEO of PCG Digital, a full service digital marketing agency that specializes in helping businesses create and deliver customers raving, recommending & returning for more. He is author of 2 books including "The Power of Connected Marketing" and has spoken and educated audiences throughout the US and internationally.

Thanks for making this a top 30 podcast in Personal Development space

https://bit.ly/3pmbArb

Let’s Connect:

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/glennpasch/

Personal Website http://glennpasch.com/

Company website: https://pcgdigital.com/

Culture is a buzzword that gets thrown around in business circles all the time. Your company has a great culture, has a poor culture. How do we build a culture? And that really is the question. How do you build a culture? Is it top down, is it from the front lines, or is it d all of the above? Well, I'm excited today for this conversation. I have lies abortionous, who is the CEO of the Cartermeyer's automotive group, and she talks about her journey. She's a fourth generation dealership uh family member, but when she first started out she thought maybe we could be doing this differently, really building roots in the community, both for our employees and for our customers, and over time she has developed Carter Meyer's automotive group to one of the most enviable organizations out there because in her philosophy, her mentality is every day, how are we making an impact on live for both their customers and, more importantly, for their employees? So she shares her journey, what she does tactically to help invest in her team in order to grow this organization so everyone sees their job has a purpose and they're making an impact on people's lives. It's a really fascinating and inspiring conversation. I'm looking forward for you to hear this. So let's dive into today's episode of you're in charge now what with lies abortions? All right, so, Liza, thank you again for being here. You know, as I said to you just a few seconds ago, you know I'm very excited to chat with you because I've been a fan from the outside. I know we've probably crossed paths, but just your mission and the way you approach things, the more I've, you know, dived into who you are and spoken to people who are in your circle, are closer to you, Um, it's just amazing what you what you've accomplished, and so I really want to unpack that. So my first question to you is, in my research, something that jumped out in your story or description or when people are talking about you. It's this idea of your mission is, how many lives can we impact? And as a business owner, in all the research I'm doing, you're not talking about how much are we selling, how much are we making, this concept of we're going to impact lives, both customers and our employees. So talk to me about where did that come from and how is that or why is that? You're, you know, grounded mantra, so to speak. Well then, first I appreciate you having me on because I agree. I don't know that we've ever connected one on one, but I have watched you from afar and followed all of your different podcasts and posts for so long, so I am really grateful for the opportunity. You know each other a little bit better. Um, where this all came from? That that it could be a long story, so I'M gonna try to tighten it up for you. Um, the reality is is that I came into this industry not because I love cars. In fact, you know, my family has been in this for three generations and I always, from the outside, saw it as more transactional. You know, I always heard how many cars we sell and how many customers we service, and we had some challenging times in our company back in the nineties and it was how many cars we need to sell to keep the company afloat. And when I went outside of our company and our and our market and I was working for Honda on California as diusity dealers around the country, I started seeing this holistic picture of the impact that the auto industry has on lives in so many ways that we don't think or talk about in our dealerships, and my eyes were opened to really understand how much our industry matters the different places that we touched people, through our communities, through our customers and, most importantly, through our associates. So I think so much of the conversation in our industry talks about our customers, and our customers are critical, but what I talk about our new higher orientation. I take them through our whole customer experience expectations and then I told them, I said, but there's one thing that is the most important part about creating a great customer experience, and I ask all of our new hires what do you think it is, and you know they throw out lots of ideas. The most important part of the customer experience is that we've created a great associate experience, because if you're not excited and enthusiastic and understanding the impact that you can make on people's lives by being a part of this industry, then there's no way we're gonna have a great customer experience. And so it all starts with helping everybody understand that every time they pick up that phone. Every time they answer and Internet lead, every time they run into someone in town at Walmart after work,...

...they have an opportunity to impact a life and help move it forward. Our our our everything we talked about as our mission is we're here to move lives forward. How many cars do we sell today? How many lives do we move forward today? Because transportation helps people get where they want to go in life and it's a big deal, not just from a financial purchase, but having safe, reliable transportation that fits your budget, that that's your family needs and it helps you experience life. You know whether it's going to work reliably every day, whether it's getting your kids to school, to soccer games, going to church, visiting loved ones in another state. Transportations what gets you there. And so if we can help everybody inside and outside of our industry understand how much what we do matters, ultimately it ties back to people and we're moving lives forward and we are blessed enough to be in an industry that matters that much. So I guess the short version. But but that's great. What I love about that is that you're you're helping your team understand and that it's not just transactional. It can be a conversation at Walmart. It is listening to someone and offering a solution or just being proud that you work for your organization. Um, but to that point. So here you are, you know Honda earlier in your career, before you came back and enjoined the family business, so to speak. So here you come in with this idea of moving live forward. Did you run into hesitation? You know, so again, if you're saying, well, I'm listening to business and it's all transactional, and now you're coming in to say, well, we need to care about our employees and we need to care about our customers, did you get pushed back in this idea of, you know, transactional versus, you know, maybe a long term play, if that makes sense. Well, I didn't just come back in to run the company. I started at our small little Volvo store. We had thirteen associates when, Um, well, I bought the store, and so all I was trying to do was create something special at that one dealership. Back then we had uh all Tho was our fifth dealership, but they were all individual silos. We didn't know each other. I didn't even know the general managers of other stores relationships, and so I was just focused on that store and in that store I knew every customer. I called personally called every customer after they came in for service. I sat down one on one with every associate. I knew their families, I knew their kids. They threw me my first baby shower. So I really started it without the language of moving lives forward. I didn't have that clarity yet. I just knew that the only reason I wanted to get into the retail side of this business was because it was the people business and I loved the relationship part of it and I knew that I could put roots in a community and make a difference. So I don't I don't know that I had the clear vision back in two thousand and three when I joined C M A, as to what the big picture for our company was, but I knew that if I could come into a small dealership I could make a bigger difference there than I loved Honda and I loved the job I was doing, but I was calling on dealers who are making a difference in their communities and I wanted to be. I knew that I do that too. So I really just started at our small bol though dealership and and quickly saw how successful I mean that that store changed pretty dramatically in the first year that we owned it really because of relationships and getting everybody on the team to understand how important those connections were and to move from being transactional to being relational. No, and I I love that and that that idea of proof of concept. I you know, sometimes I think everyone may think it's a good idea and they're going to say, well, go prove your concept out, but when you do prove that concept out, I agree. And I was sharing a story the other day. I was just on someone else's podcast and they asked they said you're always talking about people, and I said, well, I was in hospitality and hospitality reminds me a lot of automotive in the fact that you have processes and you have, you know, structures, but at the end of the day it's about the people and it's the experience it. Yes, it's part of it is the food, but it's what surrounds that food that's going to get someone excited to come back. And it's the same thing. It could be very transactional I could buy a Volvo from you and transact once and I'm gone. Versus. Well, why wouldn't? I want to go back to what my father used to always have as that person he always relied on to solve his issues or problems around a car. I need a car and need a service car. There was one person and if that person moved dealerships, guess what, we drove different brands of vehicles because that became that trusted partner. And I think what you're saying is by putting down roots, you're looking to be part of their family and help them solve problems and help them, as you said, move lives forward through that concept. So how did it roll then, like as you expanded your role? How did this blossom to where you oh, your whole dealership group now is known...

...for this it. I mean, it didn't happen overnight, but it was as we were growing and starting to add dealerships. What drove me and why I wanted to grow this company was because I wanted to create more opportunity. As you know, and we are, we can touch on later, we are employee owned as well. Of the company is owned by all of our associates and my goal was to say, how many owners can we create really great futures for? And so then it was up to how do I recruit people and other leaders in our company who have the same mindset, growing them from within, but also at the pace that we wanted to grow. We had to pull some from the outside. Scott Finden's is a wonderful example of one of our partners that we recruited that overseas our stand stores, that was the right culture fit, that had the right philosophy to be able to take that whole concept into a new market. We've had UM. Now we're in six markets and we found partners and that we've grown from within and pulled from the outside that have been attracted to that culture. We share our story a lot on social media because we know that the people who have the same mindset as us will be attracted to that message and will ultimately reach out to us and we'll create relationships and then maybe the right opportunities. It didn't happen overnight, but we've had so much momentum over the last six years of people understanding how much more meaningful their work can be when there's purpose behind it. And you know, I think you always hear the saying that the only people who are really tired are you're tired if you're not really living your potential. You know, it's exhausting if you work a ton of hours and you don't really believe in what you're doing and there's not purpose behind it. We can find people because we do work people hard and we have very high expectations, but when they understand that it's part of a bigger mission, that they're part of a team that is impacting lives, which is where we started. Yes, you do might work lot of hours and you're gonna put in a ton of effort, but that should be creating energy and creating purpose and creating excitement in your life. So, Um, I think by sharing our story we've attracted the right mindset of people. I'll share with you a story that happened to me this morning. Um, it's my kind of maybe top off this this particular issue that we're that we're discussing. I was up at our Volvo dealership, which is across the campus from my office, is and one of our associates who cleans service cars, Um, he's kind of like a service porter, service assistant, names Ralph it's wonderful. And I walked in and he introduced me to his daughter, Ashley, who is she was hanging out the dealership because her high sto orientation was starting at nine am. He's like, I just wanted to come in first and kind of get everything ready, make sure they didn't need me. I'm a take her to orientation. And he said, but lies, I want to tell you a story. I said sure, Ralph, and granted I was late for our nine am leadership training, but if I have an associated wants to tell me a story, I'm gonna stop and make sure I listen. And he said the other day, he said a customer came in and, Um, he said, I was welcome by the service lane and she was asking to have air putting her tires. He said. So I grabbed her car and I said, man, would you like me to wash it for you while the technicians put in the air and the tires? And she said that would that would be great, and so he took it down, he washed the car. She wasn't getting service that day and brought it back up to her. Well, about seven days later, he said she showed up on the Volvo a lot and pulled him aside and gave him a handwritten thank you note and told him him that her car had never looked so clean and that she really that he had completely brightened up her a week. And he looked at me said lives as she made me really feel like what I do matters and I moved her life forward that day. And that just happened to me this morning as I walked into our horalvo dealership. So it really has. That mission has been embraced through every level of our organization and they take it really seriously. Right. And so for those of you listening, because again so I I can just feel some of the adience is saying in their brain, yeah, that sounds good, but that's that doesn't exist where I am, or it will never happen where I am. But I want to unpack a couple of things that Liza said, and I hope you didn't miss it. One is the fact that it was well thought out and planned out. There is also investment in the people, right. So Richard Branson always says take care of his top priority as his employees, not as customers, because if I take care of my employees, they'll take care of my customers. So it is that idea. There's there's people who to your point. There they work a lot of hours, but if you're only working in a transactional business, those hours can be grinding because if you don't feel the support behind you and you can still work in the transactional and what I mean by that is, if it's only transactional, what you as an employer, giving to me and there's no one giving you something behind you either? Support, training, coaching, a pat on the back for what you just did, for Ralph to stop for a moment,...

...like think about that, your level, top of the food chain, so to speak, at that organization, to stop and listen, versus saying yeah, yeah, that's great, but I have somewhere else to go. It's all of those little things that reinforce it, because what happens, I think, is there's a lot of places that talk again, don't think it out, think it out, but don't support it in the micro moments of a day. And so do you think that's why maybe a lot of other organizations don't take on this challenge or don't believe in it or test it, tried and fail? What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, you know our our industry. I think we get so caught up in living in thirty day cycles and there's a lot of pressure from everything from manufacturer objectives to financial statements. Two, we have to hit numbers in this thirty days and believe me, we take our numbers very seriously and and we have goals that we're going to achieve Um but I do think that sometimes we can allow that to distract us from what the bigger picture is. And I'm sure a lot of people on this podcast to have read the book the infinite game and we read it as a leadership team back and I think it was two thousand nineteen and but I think that gave people the understanding that yes, while we do have thirty day goals we're going to hit and and annual goals, it's a much bigger picture than that and we are playing an infinite game. And if you go through, back through, you know the different parts of that book, it's probably one of the most relatable to the car business, or at least how we should be thinking in the car business. Book don't and that's why I think people can put a mission on the wall, they can put core values on the wall they can use it as a Hashtag on things, but if you're not willing to make decisions around it, if you're not willing to prioritize it above a number that has to be hit today, then it will get pushed aside. It will become uhly used when it's convenient right. And I think that and that's a great point because you know, we defoy. I think there's so many people who look at you're running teams, are building a business with sports, but there are times when you have a team where you're going through rebuilding or you you are trying your best and you're not achieving the results. But you start looking for these small winds because if you're right, if everything is so important on a thirty day cycle um where you're willing to just get so frustrated or fire or let people you can't win all the time on that. You have to find a way to have those goals, work hard towards those goals. Tie It into quarterly goals, tie it into, you know, yearly goals. I mean my wife, who was a top sales person, but her company she worked for, it was a yearly yes, you had targets and you had metrics you had to hit, but it was this longer term and she said I don't think I could ever work in a thirty day grind where all of a sudden you know, within one day, you know how you're looked upon. Is Great to not great Um. And I think to your point is I think you can get so caught up in that pressure and I think it's the role of a leader to be that shield right downward, to say it's my role to hold on to this and I deal with the pressure because if I just let the floodgates go down, it's going to wash these people away, versus finding a way to translate that into okay, what are what did we do? What actions did we do trying to get emotions out of, you know, the this review to allow our team to move forward. I I agree a lot with that. Yeah, and one of the core values that we have is never straight, but always forward, and you have to acknowledge that there will be bumps in the road, there will be challenges and if we always expect straight line growth, there will be disappointments and sometimes you actually have to pause to invest. I mean a lot of times when we buy new stores or we get an open point and we invest a lot of money. It might affect our profitability short term because we're investing in the future, and so there has to be Um recognition that strategy isn't always perfectly straight lined growth, whether it be in profits, volume what not, but it has to be in line. You know, we say never straight, but always forward. It's always got to be moving the company forward, moving lives word. Yeah, we, we. I talked to my team about it in a different way. I say, you know, if you look at it, think of it like bouncing a basketball on an escalator. You know it's going to be ups and downs, but hopefully we're chugging along, but these waves up and downs. And you're right, sometimes your P M L is going to be heavy with staff, but you have to plan for growth or else what happens is the growth shows up and your team is not ready to deliver and then your experience suffers. So all of these and that's that's that's a that's the role I think of a leader is to be, and I'm still envisioning trying to Um uh...

...trouble basketball and elevator and it would be going down backwards behind me. Yeah, it might be Um. So let's let me ask about you, because again we've talked about the business and, like I said, I just admire that so much and I think that's why you've had the growth and I do I think that's why you attract people. Because I'm sure, and let me ask you this, do you get people who come from the outside and are sort of thinking this is too good to be true, like is this really and so maybe for the first thirty days they're looking for when's the reveal going to be? Uh, it's just like every other dealership I worked in. We definitely uh, we attract a lot of people who want it to be what they've heard, and thankfully I believe that we do fulfill that expectation. Um. But yes, people do try to poke holes and we're not perfect. We make mistakes like anybody else. Um. But I do our new higher orientations. We do them every thirty days, but in different markets, so depending on where the new higher is in my sixty days to get to one of them. But one of the goals is that they've typically heard a lot and so they come and spend um two thirds of a day with me and my dad and our HR director and and I share with them our mission, vision values. I share with them our three year strategic plan. I share with them our last ten years of profits and what our next five year forecast looks like. They get a financial statement, Um, and so I I think that they one are a bit shocked that my dad comes and does the history of the company. He takes on our walks them through ninety eight years, and so I think that's a great reinforcement that they're like, okay, this is real, these people are actually real humans and they are sharing with us everything that they say they do because they're a ESOP and we're very transparent. Um. So I think that's a really good uh step to reinforce what they've heard when they come to that new higher orientation. We certainly orientations that happen in the dealerships, but the in fact that I get a lot is people say, well, I can't believe the owners are here spending the day with us for orientation. Usually when we come to a company we see a video or the HR director or the general manager responsible for that, and so I think that's one of the biggest things that we do to help them realize that, yes, this is real and we do have these expectations of you and this is the company that we are. Yeah, and and and I would say that, yes, I think having the owners there, but I would what I want to focus on a little bit now is I could probably find tons of dealerships that do a decent job, or maybe even a great job new higher impressing that new higher. What I've seen as an outsider looking in and and talking to Scott Simons, he was on the podcast as well. But what I see from you is the investment in education and training for your staff as an ongoing basis, because that's where I think this why I wanted to chat with you is because I think there's a lot of people who do a really good job with new hires and then they're just cut off or there's a lack of when I get promoted to from salesperson to maybe finance manager or a desk matter, or as I move up, there's less and less training. In my brain, I'm going there should be more and more training. What what what you know with I think you posted a few days ago talking about your c m a day where you constantly are doing training. So today, so I see I was doing my research. I wanted to because that's what I think we should also be really highlighting and I like to talk about, is this ongoing training and support of your people. Not just product knowledge, but it's personal and the people you bring in are so beneficial. Um It. That, to me, is why I think that goes back to that micro support, not just out of the new hire. So talk about that philosophy because to me, I think that's one of the big keys of your success as well. You know, when I said earlier that people get energized when they're living their potential, and one of the most important ways that we moved people's lives forward is by helping them grow both personally and professionally. And that's about a lot more than teaching them how to sell or service a car or pool parts or do accounting. and Um, we didn't always do this. Um, I think it's been about three and a half years since we started launching training across the company. That wasn't dealership specific. So every Wednesday from nine to ten am it's CMA training day and different groups are in different weeks, but everybody, on the first Wednesday of the month, from nine to ten am, every associate in the company is invited to join us live. Due to the nature of our business, not everybody can be on live, but then they get a recording a few hours later if...

...they would, uh, if they need to watch on the reporting and so I always kick it off with about a ten to fifteen minutes of shoutouts. How was the previous month? What are our focus areas this month? And usually a key big pictures, something that's happening with C M a. But I'm seeing all their faces and we're shouting out ROB and Shamika and Kim and the people whom we wanted to recognize for last month. And it's not just about their numbers. Some of them are stories about how they've helped another associate or or someone in the community or a customer, and some of it is numbers related. We try to do a nice combination of both top sales people top technicians are highlighted. Things like that. Um, and then we roll into about forty five minutes of a training topic, and it's never specific to what we do in a dealership. Uh. It might be about, Um, how to have better teamwork. It might be about the difference in the growth mindset first to fixed mindset. It might be about Um uh, positive attitudes and how that affects everybody around us. And specifically there was one topic about managing your emotions how that Um can create a better workplace environment for everybody. We've had one titled how to be the most valuable asset. You know what does that mean? And so it's always topics that are helping people grow personally that also overflows into their professional life. So that's always the first Wednesday. Second Wednesday we have anyone who's a manager leader in the company is on that that week. Um We have the third week, which is more of the GM executive team, and the fourth week. For a long time we were bringing in just outside speakers on a variety of different topics, and so we also all of these are recorded there in our CMA Academy, you know, several years worth. So a new associate might join and they can pop in there and go back and listen to different topics that might be of interest to them or we can revisit and relisten. But it's it is important about the topic, but the other piece of it is really how it brings our company together. But when you have all of these faces on a zoom learning together, and it's people from our Toyota store in Martinsburg to the Hyundai store in Richmond to the Ford Store Williamsburg. It does allow you to create relationships. Then they have conversations offline that are helping each other's stores. So we then get the UH some of them together in person. Every quarter we do in person training that we bring in cross sections of groups from across all of our stores. Sometimes they get to raise their hand to be a part of it. Sometimes I intentionally put together groups of people that I think connect and learn from each other, and I personally go to every single one of those days. I am on every single nine am training and I go to every in person leadership training or group training because it allows me to get to know our team in a way that I can't do when I'm just walking through a dealership. Yeah, I think also you being there sets the impression that this is important, um and it's valuable and the fact that you participate or that you're doing this and, as they said, I think that to me it just what I love about it. Is it? There's the consistency versus, oh, we had a bad month, we need to have a training, versus no, we're constantly training. Number two is I love the idea that you're focusing on topics beyond what would some would consider the skill set, you know, the tactical skill sets, as you said, of Oh, the step by step of closing or this or talking to this. We're now. No, let's talk about your brain. Your mentality could be health. Um, and that idea of connecting your group, because I had this conversation with my team. You know, my brother and I will come back. We talk about events. We were at people. You know how they view our company. Um. But once you bring them there and get them out of the four walls, all of a sudden they see and they go whoa. But to your point is when they all of a sudden they're used to their dealership, in their team, and all of a sudden they could, they could hear about all of the other people and great people across. Once you see them one the volume of people, they understand the size of the organization. But now they to your point, they start collaborating or getting relationships. They have people that they can talk to in each of the other dealerships, to reach out to to say, how are you doing? How are you dealing with this. So I saw that. I just think that's such a great I don't want to say it's a simple it sounds simple. I'm sure it's not that simple to pull it together, but the fact that you've committed to it and the fact that you've done it consistently, I just think that raises that expectation of one. I don't want to disappoint this team, because look what they're investing in me and that idea of look how far I have people who want to help me go further. That, I think, is just so inspiring to those individuals who are working there, because they're surrounded by this high expectations but also high levels of support, and I think that's why you and see that success or the growth and, as you said, building...

...your team from inside out. That's that's phenomenal. There are two other quick comments I'll say about the training piece. Um One, when I'm participating with them, it is the best opportunity for me to identify future leaders of our company. I get to see how they think, I get to see how they react, how they communicate with each other, who steps up into the leadership roles when they do breakout sessions and small groups. It's a wonderful way for me to to really help to identify who we need to continue to invest even further in Um. A second thing that we do. You know, a lot of the conferences that happen in our industry, and I'll obviously a lot of people go to in a D A, are Virginia Auto Dealers Association. We typically have the largest contingency of people at almost every conference we attend. The Virginia Auto Dealer Association. We were by far the largest group represented there. We actually brought everyone from Um, some marketing team members to HR, just some people in our dealerships in a D A. I mean we this year we might have like forty people there. Um, a group our size, but we we, we believe that bringing people together outside the dealerships to learn creates relationships and best practice sharing in a way that you can't do necessarily be a zoom Um. I can I'll remember Glenn Uh Lundie's first hustle and grind, or maybe it was the second one. Actually. We had this massive group of people there. It was maybe a third of the people there, I think, well from C M A, but all of a sudden everybody around us is like, wait, who is this company and why do you all, why do you bring all these people? And I had to pay for myself to come my my and use my days off for my Pto to be there. So that's been also a great recruiting tool by making sure that that as we invest in our people, it is showing around the industry and people who want to learn and our have curious minds and want to grow are again attracted to that. So it's also been a good recruiting tool and we want people to know that it's an expectation within C M A that you're you have to invest in your personal professional growth every day. So if that's not you and you want to be in transactional business, which is completely your prerogative, we're probably not the right place for you. Right. No, I and and listen. I love that. And Uh, you know, as someone who hosts two large events, you know when we that's one thing that I don't see enough of. I see sometimes where you know, the dealer, principal or the general manager may come, versus bringing more people to to an event where they can learn and connect with other people that are in similar jobs or roles. You know, when when we've seen this, you know, down to maybe the marketing managers. All of a sudden they meet other marketing managers. Now they've started to create their own twenty groups, so to speak, and they have resources that they can reach out to other people. So I I agree as as, as I said, someone who hosts events. It's just incredibly valuable. Um. So let me just as we are winding down into the last a third of this. I'm fascinated also, I mean it just makes complete sense. But also your charitable you know the fact that you are partners with the United way in Charlottesville and you're focusing on helping individuals again, this idea of moving lives forward and what you can do. Talk to me about that, what you're doing with them and your charitable side of your business to help your communities. Um, two important things that I'll share with you. One, uh, it's certainly been a part of our d n a well before. For me, I mean back generations in our company. It's just been a part of what we do. But I think that's the case with a lot of automobile dealers. I mean we are all involved in our communities. But what really hit me a handful of years ago was, as we started community hating the importance of the auto industry and the importance of transportation in people's lives. I was a part of a work group that was studying Um. It was called the Orange Dot project and it was studying every family who lives in poverty within a certain geographic area and the eight elements that it takes to move a family above the poverty line. And it's everything that you would expect from having stable housing, access to healthcare, stable employment, UM, financial literacy with some savings, child care, and then one of the big keys is reliable transportation to your job every day. You can't keep your job, therefore you can't take care of your family and your other way, and so the united way was the leader of there were probably ten nonprofits as a part of this work group and they were able to solve all of the other all of the pieces, except for the transportation piece. All the markets that we do business and are not in metro areas not having great public transportation, and it really hit me that this is what...

...we do right. We have access to vehicles, two lenders, to service, to parts. This is what we do. I believe that if we can use our knowledge and transportation to help families in the communities where we do business and maybe beyond. We can have make exponential impact in people's lives. You know, we've always gave contributions to tons of nonprofits. Almost anyone who asked we were trying to give. But I realized if we could be more intentional about it and more focused and use the skill sets that our industry has, I think we could make a bigger difference. So we made a shift, uh slow at first, but now it's pretty strong, that everything that we do, when we give back, we try to tie it to transportation. I'd say everything giving us transportation related and people like well, you know what happens when the SPC a comes and wants Subarut to partner with them. So we still work with, actually very well with our SPC a s. One of our volunteer projects was their mobile pet unit. We went cleaned out the entire mobile pet unit and we gave them a year of free service in our shop for their mobile pet unit. We find ways. With our pediatric cancer month we provide fuel cards and car repairs for families who are bringing their kids to Um have cancer. Treatments in all six of our communities. So we found ways that we can help in a more impactful way. I act to what we know and do and I believe that it's it's really, I think, given everybody in our company an understanding of, yeah, we're not just writing a check that they're not a part of. You know, you might see, well, you're you're getting twenty dollars to this particular nonprofit. Well, that's great, but when I'm the technician working on the car to help get somebody from network to work who's moving into a self sustaining lifestyle and we're giving their free service so then get to their job like it just makes it that much more meaningful. And finally, during Covid we started a nonprofit, nonprofit program called driving lives forward, and that's what was officially with United Way and Habitat for humanity network to work. And what we do is families can be nominated through this program Um if they have all the other areas of life covered but transportation is the one thing that's holding them back. United way might nominate them, we find the correct car for them, we put up the collateral and that way they can get into a fair market loan um, so they're not paying crazy interest rates. They pay back that loan for for thirty six months. They create credit because most of such damage credit. So it's a it's a lot more in depth I won't go into today, but that program has been very meaningful to our company and I'm now on on the board and a founding member of a group that we're trying to take that nationally. It's called drive for freedom and work with dealers across the country on how, together we can we can raise people out of poverty through transportation. No, I, I see. I. What I love about that is the intentionality. You know, he's listening to a podcast today and someone said, you know one one he was talking to somebody about, you know, what was going on, and the person just looked at him and said, so, are you going to complain or what are you going to do about it? And it became that for this individual it took him from just writing a check to thinking about well, who's in my network that I could leverage to help to do something? And he said it completely changed his mindset about who he wanted to be involved with. Yes, he would still write a check here there, but it became more intentional, and you're right, that idea of having a reliable vehicle to be able to get to work because, as you said when you were explaining it earlier, I just saw the domino effect. If I don't have my car, then the domino goes. I lose my job. If I lose my job, how can I be financed? Then my health care and on and on and on and on and on and it and it is sometimes just servicing a vehicle and and it does tie in. This is also, wonderfully, you know, circular, where you talked about at it earlier, when your employees see that their work has a sense of purpose besides just checking a box. And I finished it. So to your point, is when I'm working on a vehicle where I'm helping this person or I'm driving this person or we're giving them a loaner car to be able to do like there, there's more to it than just checking the box and I think that out of the conversation today is this these micro moments of purpose and intentionality. It builds that infrastructure where you have this organization that others look at and and I think you know the words I always hear about your organization. Oh, the culture, oh the culture like you have. A culture is built on the micro moments, you know, and it's built by the people like you. Don't build culture, people build culture and and it's this and that's what exciting to me. And again, I just think it's so admirable because it's it's intentional and you're it doesn't always work or it may not...

...be perfect, hell a lot better and a lot of other things, because you have a goal, you're looking at it and and everyone's trying to move forward, and I just absolutely love that. So Bravo, Bravo, Bravo. Thank you. We still have a lot of work we can do, but I am I'm just really proud to be a part of this organization because it is all one thousand ish plus associates that, like you said, make it happen. Culture doesn't start, it's not one person, it doesn't start. Might Start with a couple of people, but for it to actually be if it for it to be true and for it to be meaningful, it has to live in the hearts of everybody in the organization. And I think several years ago, I, you know, I would say something like that and like Oh, everybody's just gonna think that's cheesy and whatever. She's like lives in this dream world. If I started seeing the momentum build, and then I started seeing the performance rise, and then I started seeing other dealer groups calling me wanting us to buy their stores because they want their people to be a part of C M A as they exit, and I see this organic growth, like I'm I'm no longer not only am I no longer embarrassed about saying things like this, I'm super proud that we can show that it works, that it's not just fluff, that it's real and it drives performance and it makes an impact in our industry and in our communities. I could not have said it better and and I applaud you for that, because it is, as you said, something that started in the Volvo store as a proof of concept has grown, but it's taken a lot of hard work. It's taken leadership in vision, you being one of the people in your organization who has that vision and that commitment. But you've been willing to commit resources to embody it, to help, to listen to the front lines and let people you know have a voice, and you've created arenas for people to feel comfortable, to have a void, is to feel supported, and I think who wouldn't want to work in an organization like that? Because if I'm going to go to work and put in those long hours and feel pressure of performance, which is everybody does, it's okay if it's we're in this together and we're supported and it's on those micro moments of the day to day, not just when we the only time I hear good things is when we we hit our goal right, versus taking time to listen to that gentleman about, you know, the letter that he received and the fact that he did that. It just proves it's the proof of concept that no one told me how to wash the car. Right in his heart he said this is this is the right thing to do to just because, and it wasn't well, I'm going to do this to make you happy, because it was just taken. I just like that selflessness. It in experience. That's what I think everyone is looking for and, as they said, I applaud you for doing that. So listening. I talked to you all day. This is you. You. This is just a fascinating and and it's something I believe in. Wholeheartedly and I try to do as much as I can for my own company Um. But at the end of every every episode I asked four or five questions, just different ones, to get to know you a little bit more. So we'll dive into those and then we'll wrap up. So the first question I always love to ask and and it seems to be one that people really like answering. You and I were talking earlier about our children. My son's going to be a senior. You have arising junior as they call them, and we were talking about colleges. But I'm also fascinated at how their brains are working at that time and you know how they view the future. So if you look back at your sixteen year old self, what is the constant like? What can you see in that sixteen year old that still exists in you today? And then the reverse, second half the question is that, with that sixteen year old could see you now, what would she be most surprised about? That is a great question. So I think the consistent piece when I think back to my sixteen year old self, I was very active, very into sports, super competitive, Um, constantly running, constant high energy. That definitely has not changed. I am up bright and early, I'm out running at five am. I love to any opportunity I have to continue to participate in sports with my kids, with my teams, by myself. But I think the bigger thing is the lessons that are learned through sports and the competitiveness, that spirit that was in me at sixteen that's in me today. And we talk a lot about people, but winning, what we're...

...doing with our people is all. For me, that's the big win, and so I think that competitiveness and desire to win was very evident in me at sixteen and still now. Um, what would surprise me? So I told my husband this was beyond sixteen. At Sixteen I did not have a vision that I would be in the car business. Um, in fact, I think it was maybe two years prior to that where our company was not doing well. We had to move to Charlotte's Felle. My Dad was concerned the company might go under and there was a saying in our house six cars a day keeps the banker away, and my dad worked a lot of hours. I rarely saw him. Um, he was trying to keep the company going. So my vision of what it took to run a car dealership was not a good one. Um, and in fact I told my husband when I met him for the first time, we were not dating, we were rollerblading out in her most of beach. I was working for Honda and warrants at the time. He had just moved there for his job and we were just friends and I said, you know, I might get married one day, I'm definitely never having children and I'm definitely never moving back to Virginia to work in the family business. And here I am are and loving every moment of it. All right. So I love that. I love that, Um all right. Next one is I know you mentioned the one of the books earlier and I'm going to draw a blank on what the new infinite game. Okay, what other books are you reading or watching or listening to something that's inspiring you right now that you would share with others? One of my biggest weaknesses is that I tend to have like five books going at the same time and then I'll get trying to figure out which one I should finish next and where I'm moving and so Um, we actually start at a lending library at C M A and we've got an online portal with a ton of mostly leadership business books and I started the lending library with kind of all the ones that we had around from our executive team. But now we've had our associates also at times adding books to the lending library, and so I've been going through there and picking books that maybe I wasn't familiar with Um at the time and said well, if this was important to one of our associates, you know I'd love to read it. So Um, in the middle of three books right now and all different areas. One that I'm reading has never split the difference. I know it's such a good book, great learning lessons, but from a whole different perspective than our business. Um, I just finished in the name of it's going to escape me, but it's a Mitch album book. It's Um, these are they're so short and and the name of its escaping me. But it was all about, I think it was what if I had one more day? And I agree with about a man who wanted to have one more day with his mom and and it was just an interesting, very short read. I read it last week and just reminding us all of usually the things that you regret are the things that you didn't do nothing that you do, and I think that applies both in business and in personal life. Um, and I think as my my parents are aging, I picked up the book. It's been sitting on my bedside table for a couple of years, I think, and it took me a very short time to read. But I think it's just a great reminder of we regret what we don't do and we all have those thoughts in our head and we need to act on them before it's before today gets away. Um. As far as an inspirational book, I think the third book is not an inspirational book that I'm in the middle of reading, Glen, but you're the ad of a teenage son. I am a dad, or the mom of two teenagers and I have found that my my life, Um, is it's really important that my kids are the top priority, my family, I should say, and so I oftentimes have to think about how do I prioritize my work schedule, my team and my home life, and I have found myself way too often wanting to respond constantly to my team members, no matter what the hour. My kids just see that I'm on my phone too much at night and and they don't understand when I'm telling them not to be on their phone, that I'm responding to an emergency at work or trying to give somebody some piece of advice. And so I'm reading a book called UNTANGLED, which is about the seven step stages of a teenage what a teenage girl goes through and really trying to understand social media and and technology and how I can be a better example and that and one the things that I learned. You'RE gonna think I'm...

...crazy. Some of the things I'm learning in that book actually relate to some of our associates too, and reception that that I can put out my daughter can also go to my team if I'm on my phone and trying to respond to them in person at the same time and not looking them in the eye. And Anyway, there's a lot of little things. So I didn't answer your your I just want to know what you're reading. No, listen, I love just understanding what people are reading and those are great and will list them all in the show notes too, because, yeah, I have to to teenage boys and same thing that you're just watching them how they deal with technology and and and, but being present for them. They used to joke. Same thing. Oh, you're working, you're constantly working. And then I made a rule of when I was done, even being remote. You know, five o'clock I'm cooking dinner and that's there is nothing. There is nothing unless it's a phone call not on my phone. Someone would have to call me in order to, you know, get my attention, and even then it's unfinished with it and I'll be right back. Uh. Two more questions. One is if I took all your best closest family friends, people who really know you, put him in a room and said describe lies in one word, what's the one word they would use to describe you? That? That's really difficult. Um. I was on a phone call not long ago with Honda when we were going through this open point process, and the guy from Honda told Matt Wash My CEO, you need to make lies of talk about herself as the leader of the organization during this call, because she keeps deflecting and talking about the team. I have a really hard time talking about myself. So Um, one of the words that I think people would stay to describe me as humble. Um, I don't like to be in the spot light because I know that the only reason a lot of the wonderful things happened in my life or because of everybody around me and the team that I sponded myself with the home and at work. So I think humble would be a word and I think intentional would be another word that would come out loudly. Those makes sense. Yeah, my my wife says I'm very similar. She goes, it's so odd that you actually do these things like a podcast, when you don't like being in the spot at all. I said she and she says you'd rather do everything for everyone else. You're always last, and I was like, it's all right, it's all right, and so so, lastly, last question before we wrap up. We've talked about a lot and again, this has been a phenomenal conversation and I'm so glad I've had the chance now to sit and talk with you and meet you and I hope that we can meet in person and continue building on this, because it's just there's so many similarities. But for someone who listened to this whole conversation, if I asked you to say, if if that audience member got one thing out of this conversation, what's the one thing you would hope people would take away from our discussion today, but I'm assuming that a lot of people who live listener in the automotive industry, and so the one biggest takeaway that I want everybody who touches our industry to be thinking about constantly is to really grasp the overall impact of each daily action that every single person in this industry makes, how it impacts lives. Our industry doesn't have a great overall perception always and I don't think that people are always super proud, at least not in the beginning, to be a part of the auto industry and I just wish I could lift everybody's heads up and make sure that they know the impact that they that they have on people's lives and that what they do matters. That's the biggest takeaway. That's that's great and I agree with you because they're the people I've met in in the automotive industry over the last twelve years. You know, they're some of the most generous, giving people. It's just it's that frustration of pressure, of immediacy or not knowing how to build processes or playing that short term long term game. It's it's it's not as easy and and and. But you've you've said, a great example of how to get there. So all of the audience may want to know. How can they connect with you? Find you on social media. If somebody wants to connect with you, where? where? Where should they go? And we'll list all that in the social media is super easy. They can find me on facebook as Liza meers, borious, instagram, same thing linkedin. Um, I'm not much for TIKTOK. I'm only on there because my daughter is. My kids have banned me. They said you're too old to be honest. I like to follow what she follows. But social media, those three areas. Um, I will make sure you have my email address and cell phone number. Your feel free to post that. I am very easy to find and I love connecting with New People. So friend me, uh,...

...follow me, and I would love to follow you back. Great and folks, please do it. This is this is someone who you should be following and connect with and truly she is truly one of the most generous people. And again, thank you so much for being here. Audience. You know the drill. Please make sure that you follow, please make sure that you subscribe, but, more importantly, if you know someone. If you found value in this conversation and you know someone in your network that could benefit, please share it out. It helps the podcast grow. I appreciate that you're here with us, uh, with Liza and I. There's a lot of places that you could consume content, but the fact that you spend some time with us really does matter. And just remember, like I say at the end of every episode, when you feel, uh, that you're in charge of something and you go, I don't know what to do, what do I do next? Well, we're here every single week with tips and strategies and conversations like with the one we just have with lies that help you become better, both personally and professionally. Thanks so much. I'll see you next episode in Liza. Thank you again, so much. Thank you, K.

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