Building Trust and Authenticity in the Auto Industry
CEO & Founder
Coffee Lunch Coffee
Founder and CEO
After years working at an automotive dealership, Jay Grosman, Founder and CEO of iAutoAgent, was determined to improve the auto industry by building a trustworthy business that clients could rely on. Learn how Jay’s authentic business and networking practices have led him to success.
“...the most beautiful things come to you when you can actually show someone that you're human, and that you're not a perfect person. And that, yes, you have the same problems as them. That's where those connections really, really come.”
Alana Muller 0:09
Welcome to Enterprise.ing, a podcast from Enterprise Bank & Trust that's empowering business leaders one conversation at a time. We'll hear from different business leaders about how they found success in cultivating their professional networks and keeping them healthy and strong. I'm your host Alana Muller, an entrepreneurial executive leader whose primary focus is to connect, inspire and empower community. We at Enterprise Bank & Trust thank you for tuning in to another episode.
Alana Muller 0:39
Hello, listeners, welcome back to Enterprise.ing podcast. Today, meet Jay Grosman, a seasoned automotive expert with over 26 years of industry mastery. Formerly a top tier salesperson at a renowned dealership, Jay's prowess led him to become a trusted automotive advisor on two St. Louis space news stations, Fox 2 and CBS 4. As the charismatic host of The Auto Authorities Podcast and even a Shark Tank auditionee, Jay's passion for innovation shines. He channeled his drive into founding iAutoAgent, a trailblazing venture that's reshaping car buying by prioritizing transparency and consumer satisfaction. Jay Grosman, welcome to Enterprise.ing podcast.
Jay Grosman 1:19
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Alana Muller 1:21
So glad you're here. So to my understanding, you have created a real estate agent for cars, right?
Jay Grosman 1:27
I did. I did.
Alana Muller 1:30
Jay Grosman 1:30
That's what they tell me.
Alana Muller 1:32
Well, so cool. I want you to tell us more about iAutoAgent. And I know there's another side to your business called “Done For You Fleet Management.” And I'd love for you to share a little bit about both companies.
Jay Grosman 1:44
Absolutely. So in 2015, I made a huge jump from a very, very comfortable sales position where I was in the top 1 percent until somebody higher up than me decided to change the compensation plan. And I had this great idea that we could actually make the car buying experience and the selling experience, a pleasurable experience and something that benefited the consumer. Because we all know, when you go to buy a vehicle, it only benefits the dealer and the consumer just doesn't have an advocate. So I wanted to create something similar to a real estate agent for homes, but for cars.
Alana Muller 2:29
So cool and so useful. I mean, I can tell you, whenever I've had to go purchase a car, I have to sort of gird my loins and head over. And I'm always worried about it and I never am in a good mood. And I know it's just incredibly stressful. And the only time that I ever had any, I don't know, I guess any leverage, is when some family members and I all sort of banded together and we bought three cars at once.
Jay Grosman 2:53
Yeah, isn't that terrible that it has to be that way? And truly, because of the connections we have, when we work with the dealerships now and the dealership plays by our terms. And there's a lot of good people in the car business. There really are. They're few and far between. But there really are and that's who we choose to deal with. And we go in as advocates really like wearing the cape, you know, Alana? Like putting a cape on and saying, "Hey, we're here to save the day for you."
Alana Muller 3:22
Love it. Okay, so that is for the individual auto purchase consumer.
Jay Grosman 3:27
Alana Muller 3:27
Talk about the other side of your business, which I think is closer to like a B2B model. So the Done For You Fleet Management program — what is that?
Jay Grosman 3:35
Yeah, so the Done For You Fleet Management program — because I'm a business owner, and we're almost nine years into this, I've really understood very, very clearly how valuable my time was. So now what we have done is we've developed a program for those busy business owners that own these fleet vehicles, they're being pulled in multiple directions, and they're having to sell and buy the vehicles and most of the time, they're responsible for it.
Jay Grosman 4:04
And what we find is, they can't dot all the i's and cross all the t's and look at all the miniscule things that really make an impact in their business. So we act as a strategic partner for those businesses, where we handle the buying of the vehicles, the selling of vehicles at maximum dollar. And we handle all those tedious non-revenue-generating tasks. So we handle the maintenance for them. So, the oil changes, the tire rotations, we even go to the DMV for them.
Alana Muller 4:36
Jay Grosman 4:37
Alana Muller 4:38
Hugely valuable, hugely valuable. Well, I have to say, I'm especially impressed with the way that you and iAutoAgent have expanded the pie essentially, for your clients in terms of, as you describe, eliminating the hassles and liberating them from non-revenue-producing tasks. So I suspect that in order to get all this done and to sort of get your clients to say yes, you have established trust with them in a way that's very unique. Talk a little bit, I guess, in essence, how you have been able to manage your network, how you sort of established those relationships and then cultivated them?
Jay Grosman 5:11
Yes. So somebody told me a long time ago, when I was in the car business that they said, "Establish your own book of business, don't depend on the dealership." So from 1996, when I first got in the business, all the way to today, I developed a list of clients. And those lists of clients are people that I've done business with. They know, like, and trust me. And that's been so key to building iAutoAgent, because we don't do any advertising. When you actually do what you say you're going to do — hence, the "I" in iAutoAgent stands for integrity — people will come back to you, when you actually do what you say you're going to do. And it's one of my big, big mantras and core values.
Alana Muller 5:58
Yeah, I love that you not only state that it's kind of part of your name, and frankly, part of your mission, and that you're living by that. And you know, we all say that we do that. But the fact that you've been able to build such a robust business, I think is testament to that. So in terms of the business itself, what's something that you're working on professionally, that you're particularly proud of? And who are some of the key players involved in that effort?
Jay Grosman 6:22
Wow. So let's talk about the Done For You Fleet Management program, because I hit a wall. About five months ago, we were doing really, really well, with our individual side. And I'm part of the Entrepreneurs Organization. It's a worldwide organization, I'm on the board. And we have these accountability groups. And I basically had a fire lit under my butt, because I've been saying I've wanted to do fleet for a long, long time. And we've been doing fleet since 2015. So don't get me wrong. We were doing fleet about 5 percent and 95% individual, and things have changed in this world if anybody hasn't noticed, and it's really, really hurt us from a revenue standpoint, on the individual side.
Jay Grosman 7:12
So one of my mentor-coaches said, "Hey, you need to be in fleet like now." And then another one of my coaches, who's like more of a sales coach, said, "Hey, listen, you need to be in fleet now." So we did a major pivot from 95% individual 5% fleet, to 95% fleet 5% individual about five months ago, and it's about having those coaches and mentors, because they can see things you can't.
Alana Muller 7:47
Yeah, I mean, so first of all, the fact that you are surrounding yourself with personal advisors, professional advisors, I think is really critical. And it's almost like they delivered to you, or the universe delivered to you not only that guidance and advice, and really the frank talk, but at a time when you needed it. What was it that even led them to have that conversation with you?
Jay Grosman 8:08
Well, part of our accountability group, it's a very, very like secret, like you don't tell anything to anybody outside the room. It's a, there's NDAs, and all these different things. So we talked about some very, very private things. And the revenue was just not where it needed to be. And the revenue just pretty much hit a wall in ‘22 and, and ‘23. And they said, "Listen, you know, you have to get this done, you can figure this out." And I have. Like, we've been doing a lot of these things as like, one-offs. Like we'll sell a car, we'll help people buy cars, you know, we'll do some extra things for these businesses. But by putting this under one umbrella and packaging it, where it's a recurring revenue now for iAutoAgent.
Jay Grosman 8:54
It has been life changing for us, not just for the company, but me personally and professionally. Because knowing what we're doing for these business owners, I know what it feels like when you've got a million people pulling you in different directions. You don't have time to look at, “oh, well, maybe I'm selling the car at the right time. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not.” And then I asked him, "Well, how do you determine when to sell a fleet vehicle?" And you know what they say? They wing it.
Alana Muller 9:22
They wing it, when it feels right, I guess, right?
Jay Grosman 9:25
Alana Muller 9:26
They'll know it when they see it. That doesn't quite work, right?
Jay Grosman 9:30
It doesn't. And ones that really understand their time, they get this. They understand that their business is their business and doing these other miniscule tasks that really could cost them in their business by doing and that themselves is really going to cost them if they continue to do these things themselves.
Alana Muller 9:48
Yeah. I want to sort of key in on something that you brought up, a slightly different topic though. And that is your participation in Entrepreneurs Organization, or EO, as a lot of people know it. Sometimes people hear about what I call these networks, or almost like a secret society. And with Vegas rules, as you described, you know, "What is said in the room, stays in the room." How did you get involved with EO? And have you always been involved in different networking groups? Or what are some ways that you would recommend to others to get involved in different kinds of organizations that are appropriate for them and their industries?
Jay Grosman 10:21
Boy, that's a good question. So believe it or not, the way that I got in EO, and I knew I wanted to be an EOA. But you have to qualify from a revenue standpoint to get in there. And I didn't quite qualify, and I was in this exercise class, and it was called CrossFit. And I was literally talking to somebody because I talked to everybody. And I was like, I found out that he was in this organization. And I'm like, "Man, I would love to be in this." He goes, "Well, what's your revenue?" I'm like, "Well, I'm a few thousand away from, you know, what I need to be. He goes, "Let me talk to him." And it turns out that he was able to get me in in 2019.
Alana Muller 10:56
Jay Grosman 10:56
When I got into 2000 — I've, literally between 2019 and 2021, I almost doubled my revenue within two years. It's because I got involved with an organization that there's no ulterior motives, they are all there to help you. And it's what I needed. And I recommend for anybody to really look into it. They can even call me and I can even give them some information, whatever. But there's other organizations like score that I want to, I didn't have a great experience with it. It's kind of hit or miss. But actually, one of my coaches actually is a score coach.
Jay Grosman 11:32
And I was just actually, he just wrote a book. And I was in his book, my story was in his book, and that's how we connected. It's all through networking. And so the other thing is too, if you have a business, get into some of these other networking groups, like there's not any like that, I absolutely like you have to do, there's all kinds of ones out there. But these groups, there's 20 and 30 people, you stand up and say what you do for about 30 seconds, but it's the one on one meetings that really, really build that trust. So people don't ever do business with you until they know they like and they trust you. And that is something that takes time. And it's not a sprint, it is a marathon when it comes to networking.
Alana Muller 12:17
Wow. And essentially, what I think you're talking about is showing up, right? You show up, you attend, you put yourself out there. And then frankly, even the way you're describing how you have the conversations with your peer group, with your advisors, it's you're allowing yourself the vulnerability, you're opening yourself up to others, is that difficult for you? Or is that something that came easily?
Jay Grosman 12:36
It's easy for me, it's crazy, because my mom has always told me, you know, "You trust everybody, Jay." And truly, I've gotten burned a lot. You know, when I say that these people don't have ulterior motives, people have tried to come in the company and literally take the company from me. So it was my mission to get with somebody, a company or an organization that does not have any ulterior motives. Now, that's not saying if you go to a networking organization, that that's going to be the case.
Jay Grosman 13:02
But I wear my heart on my sleeve. And I think people see that, which makes me vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable. If you have your guard up at all times, the most beautiful things come to you when you do and when you can actually show someone that you're human, and that you're not a perfect person. And that, yes, you have the same problems as them. That's where those connections really, really come. And sometimes it's not business, it's "Hey, how do I get my 220 pound paperweight out of my basement in my 21 year old? You know?" It's like, "Oh, I've got one of those too!" And then you make those connections. And you find out whether, if you're in St. Louis, "Where did you go to school?", was always the question everybody wants to know. And so, but hopefully that answers your question around about why.
Alana Muller 13:47
Yeah, no, super, super useful. Shifting gears just slightly, what's the best piece of business advice you've received?
Jay Grosman 13:52
The best piece of advice, I would really say... Okay, going back into my entrepreneurs group, in my accountability group, I had somebody in my company that she was with me for a year and a half. And she was, I thought was, incredible. And then I started seeing these red flags. And he said to me, "Jay, document every one of your processes so even a monkey can do it. I mean, anybody a three year old can do your processes.” So, so well. And when he told me that I really took it to heart and I started documenting things. And sure enough, my red flags were right. She wasn't doing what she was supposed to be doing, and left me with an absolute mess.
Alana Muller 14:35
And so through the documentation of the processes, were able to clean up what had been broken? And did that make it a little bit more seamless in terms of turning things around?
Jay Grosman 14:44
It did. So the red flags were going up way too many times, and I wasn't recognizing them. So by the time I recognized the red flags and recognized she wasn't doing what she was supposed to be doing, I literally did not have everything documented. But what I did was I got in a mindset, and I said, "I'm gonna make this happen, I'm gonna go back to Jay being the admin, from Jay being the CEO." So I put that hat on. And truly the lady that I have right now, Jamie, who's been with me for two and a half years now, when she came in, she says, "I've never seen something so documented and so easy to plug in." And when you do that, number one, that stress level goes way down. And then we use this word trust, she really trusts and has the safety feeling coming into iAutoAgent, like, "Hey, they know what they're doing." Because I had to take over that job for three months when she left, until I found you.
Alana Muller 15:41
Well, and that makes sense. And kind of what you're describing is what all entrepreneurs know. And anybody who's thinking about entrepreneurship needs to know. And that is that you're often wearing multiple hats, right? This is the child that never totally grows up. Right?
Jay Grosman 15:55
It really is. And truly my goal is, every month, I try to push something off my plate that I shouldn't be doing. I surround myself, I do what I do best and let everybody else do the rest. And truly, that's another one of my mantras. And that's why this Done For You Fleet Management program. Everybody should practice that. But business owners, they get this control factor, and they want to do everything themselves. Now granted, sometimes you don't have a choice, but sometimes you do have a choice.
Alana Muller 16:27
Now that makes really good sense. Well, as we start to wrap up here, one of the questions that I ask every guest and I'm now prepared to ask you the same one, if you could meet with any person, any one person, who would you want to meet and why? Let's say you're gonna go grab a cup of coffee, and I don't care if they're living, not living, fictional or nonfictional.
Jay Grosman 16:47
Wow. And it can be anybody?
Alana Muller 16:49
Jay Grosman 16:50
I was going to say Les Brown. Because when I was going through some tremendous heartache in 2015, I started programming my mind with his message. "If you can look up, you can get up." And I really, truly believe that. And I would love to this day to meet him. And I really, truly believe I will meet him. I want him to know what he's done for me personally and professionally. He was just amazing. And he doesn't even know.
Alana Muller 17:23
What a cool answer, I haven't gotten that one yet. And I'll tell you maybe he listens to Enterprise.ing podcast, and now he knows.
Jay Grosman 17:29
I'll send it to him.
Alana Muller 17:30
I hope so. I hope you will. Well Jay Grosman. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you on Enterprise.ing podcast. Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and about iAutoAgent?
Jay Grosman 17:39
Yeah, just simply our website. "I", like “integrity" AutoAgent.com. That's iAutoAgent.com. Or you can watch my podcast The Auto Authorities on YouTube.
Alana Muller 17:52
Terrific, Jay Grosman. Thanks for being on Enterprise.ing podcast.
Jay Grosman 17:55
Thank you. Appreciate you having me.
Alana Muller 17:58
Thanks for joining us this week on Enterprise.ing. Be sure to visit our website, enterprisebank.com/podcast, to subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. If you found value in today's program, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or telling a friend about us. Enterprise.ing, powering business leaders, one conversation at a time.
Alana Muller 18:23
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