The First Pencil

The First Pencil

Mike The Car Guy Correra and Kathi Kruse are best friends, with many many years of retail experience in the car biz. We decided to get together every week and talk about the things that are important to us in the auto industry, and hope you’ll come along for the ride. We’ll cover industry stuff, social media, digital retail, all with a dose of our love for 80s/90s music. Join us!


March 23, 2023 50 min

For those of us who spend time on Twitter (even though it has seriously degraded since Elmo took over), the changes have not been positive. We would like our platform back and of course, that's not in the cards, which is why we must turn to self care. Self care in the form of a rant. Join us, won’t you?

Afterwards, we explore how dealerships can do this ONE thing to increase their social media visibility. And it doesn’t cost an...

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Kathi and Mike welcome back our friend, Bill Playford from Dealer Knows. We got to talking a few weeks ago about the sad state of automotive conferences and Bill is here to share some exciting news. Bill and his partner Joe Webb have been working hard to deliver a very different alternative that will likely change your mind about what a conference can be. 

One of the many outstanding attributes in the Dealer Knows Summer Camp is tha...

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Great content that people are interested in doesn’t have to be a chore. Social media is supposed to be fun (and profitable) but when you’re stressed and at a loss for what to post, it’s anything but fun. Implementing even a rudimentary strategy for social media content will greatly increase your chance of success. 

Kathi and Mike discuss some of the techniques they’ve used (and still use!) that can help you not have that sinking fee...

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March 2, 2023 35 min

We are back from a short mental health break just in time to discuss the sale of the last Cal Worthington store here in So Cal.

Kathi and Mike both grew up with Cal Worthington coming through their TVs (maybe you did too?). He was the OG car dealer and there'll never be another like him.

Yesterday was John Doe's birthday so we are celebrating by talking about one of our favorite bands: X.


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February 16, 2023 53 min

Mike and I haven’t really shared our views on the whole “Full Self Driving” saga that’s been causing so much harm to unsuspecting drivers and by extension the driving public. Today we break our silence to convey how happy we are that a recall was announced saying that FSD “may cause a crash.” 

Then, we talk about a fool proof way to always have thoughtful content to post on social media. Hint: Memes, baby!

And finally, we share updat...

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February 9, 2023 60 min

We are so happy to have Justin Osburn on the show this week. Justin is a leader in our industry for many reasons and when you listen, you’ll see why. 

Franchise or independent retailer, finding cars to sell is an art. Introducing BDC (Business Development Center) tactics can improve your success substantially and we talk with Justin about how to change and adapt to a new process that leverages our relationships online and offline.


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February 2, 2023 47 min

First, we discuss a little bit about how the car business stereotype is still alive and well. Both Mike and I have spent our careers fighting the stereotype and we think it’s time to fix it.

Then we cover ChatGPT and how we might be using AI today and in the future of the car business.

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot system that OpenAI released in November to show off and test what a very large, powerful AI system can accomplish. You can as...

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January 12, 2023 54 min

It’s crazy to imagine but did you know that only a small fraction of the millions of US businesses use their Google Business Profile? Our guest today is Craig Darling of Darling Local and he’s on a mission to change that.

Google Business Profiles are the single best way to get noticed in Search...for FREE. 

Craig is a long-time friend of ours. He was a superstar Chevy salesperson and ended his career in auto retail as an award winnin...

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January 5, 2023 52 min

It’s a new year, and it’s a good time to review your social media strategy. 

  • What do you want out of social media?
  • Do you have the resources to get there?

There are a thousand different ways you can use social media and we talk about taking a multi-pronged approach. Hiring a social media manager is the first step and then supplement their efforts with ads, training and content created by employees. 

Kathi shares her insights f...

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It’s a New Year! In this episode, we share our insights on Cox Automotive’s Jonathan Smoke’s predictions for 2023.

Having managed dealership operations for many years, we both feel strongly that challenges are coming - but nothing that we haven’t seen before. We are car people which means we always persevere through the tough times to come out on top. 

Link to Cox Automotive Predictions 2023: HERE

In our music segment:

We each share a ...

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We stirred up some things with last week’s episode about building a community rather than an audience…and we loved it. This week, we invited our friend and amazing car guy, Bill Playford to pick up the conversation where we left off! 

The invincible strength in relationships within communities leads to higher sales. Bill shares examples of how, when he was working at dealerships, this powerful tool can be deployed at the dealership ...

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We’ve all seen them. “Influencers” who have lots of followers, likes and comments on social media. Some do “live videos,” look super successful but in truth, only a small fraction of influencers actually earn a living. If you’re in car sales, or any sales really, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. But at the end of the day, what exactly do you have except a lot of noise?

In this week’s episode, we compare the value of building ...

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You’re in for a treat. This week’s guest is Brent Wees. Brent is a wicked awesome speaker, coach and digital marketing strategist. He’s also been a friend of ours for over ten years. If you’ve ever seen him speak, you’ll never forget it. Brent’s energy is infectious and he’s here with us to share some of his tips on how to get chosen for a session speaker slot at the automotive conferences...and so much more!

No matter what your pos...

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December 1, 2022 45 min

We’ve been thinking a lot about the state of automotive social media. Both of us have witnessed so many years of salespeople and dealerships either ignoring the value of social or not taking action because of old limiting beliefs.

In this episode, we share some real-life examples of successful social media and some simple tactics that could help you get started…or get better!

Link to the waitlist - the new, promising social...

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November 23, 2022 39 min

Did you know that Google has renamed Data Studio? (wait till you hear what they changed it to!). This on the heels of sunsetting our beloved GMB app and changing the oft-loved name - Google My Business - to Google Business Profiles. Kathi and Mike talk about the value in brands that we love and what happens when they change. 

PS: Remember the Ford Taurus?

In our music segment:

Snippet of Howard Stern interview with Bruce Springst...

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November 17, 2022 38 min

Those of us in the car biz, who’ve worked ding to dong, helping the public buy the vehicle of their dreams, can be a tad cynical. Retail can do that to you, but it’s not something we try to be, and it happens over time through experiences.

What is “Modern Retail?” This is a term we’ve heard lately that defies logic. It’s a great word - Modern - but it seems more like a marketing term. We’re really interested in what it truly means f...

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November 10, 2022 45 min

The topsy-turvy world that is social media right now is causing a lot of people to review each platform’s privacy and data collection policies. TikTok has been singled out as a unique concern so we decided to look at some of the reasons to pause before you jump.

Kathi and Mike also talk about the precarious position some vehicle customers will be in during the coming months/years and how close attention to inventory levels is key.


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Our guest today is Mike Fitzpatrick, Founder of SmartTarget. Kathi and Mike have known Mike F. for over a decade. We all came from the car biz and found ourselves in the scary vendor world all at the same time. 

And speaking of scary (it was Halloween just a few days ago), Google Analytics 4 has launched and we’d like to calm your fears. Mike F. is our Google Yoda and he explains what GA4 is all about and how you can create reportin...

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This week, Mike shares the very disturbing update to Google Business Profile management that makes it even harder to manage multiple accounts. Oh, and where did the uber-important Photos metric go?

Kathi gives a short synopsis of Facebook’s Q3 earnings and the resulting 25% one-day drop in their stock price (which is a good indicator of how the world views Facebook’s future). 

Kathi also shares the pitfalls of posting short...

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Social media is not a broadcast channel. It’s a two-way communication tool, which means you should be listening as much as you’re talking. Kathi and Mike discuss strategies for social listening and why it should be part of your overall marketing process.

But first, Kathi shares another update on her Facebook short-form video testing. She also provides some up-to-the-minute insights on the state of Facebook ads. Hint: it’s not pretty...

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