ACV Dealer TEC Talks: NADA 2023 Featuring Kraig Quisenberry from ACV and Tony Lucas from Casa Auto Group

May 11, 2023

Team ACV




ACV Dealer TEC Talks: NADA 2023 Featuring Kraig Quisenberry from ACV and Tony Lucas from Casa Auto Group

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ACV Dealer TEC Talks at NADA 2023 featured Kraig Quisenberry from ACV and Tony Lucas from Casa Auto Group. Lucas shares insights into the success of Casa Auto Group in the used car industry, emphasizing the importance of focusing on small things and doing them well. He talks about the significance of finding good partners and hand-picking partnerships, paying attention to every single deal, and using ACV's live appraisal product to offer aggressive trade-in offers. Lucas suggests that success in the used car industry is down to the process of doing simple things well. Quisenberry echoes this sentiment, noting that ACV offers advice to dealers and believes in sharing best practices to improve the industry as a whole.


Kraig Quisenberry: We have Casa Grande Auto Group. And Tony is here to share some of his wisdom about used car operations. Now, I wanna be clear here at ACV, we have a whole lot of dealers that help buy cars from us and sell cars through us. But you, what you've done at Casa Grande Auto Group is exceptional. It truly is. 

That's why you're up here. Obviously, what you have done and what you do, not just through ACV, but just with your business is exceptional. And I wanted to get a few moments just to chat with you about what are some of the key things you are doing to help Casa Grande Auto Group be successful.

Tony Lucas: Sure. Thank you for inviting me. I think conferences like this and books coming out and a lot of podcasts and conversations that are around the car industry, that's what everybody wants to know, right? Everybody wants to figure out what that silver bullet is? What's that trick to win at used cars? And honestly, I heard this last year from Admiral McRaven at a conference and he took this quote from the book “The Art of War”. It became one of my favorite quotes. He says, “Everything in war, it's simple. It's just simple things are difficult.” And that's what it is. 

I think if I were to narrow down our success, we would grow the market share on the market as the total volume of used cars sold in El Paso went down, and we went up in market share. I think it all narrowed down to one thing. We just keep our processes. You just continue doing the simple things, the little things very well. I think that's what it is. I've been saying this for a while. I think if you can't tell me what you do as a process, you don't know what you're doing. So if you can tell me your process and all the little things, I think you're gonna win.

KQ: So, when you talk about process, and particularly used cars, what are a few things that you think Casa is doing that are significantly helping or making things better?

TL: one of the things that I would say is the simple things that are kind of hard to do sometimes that we've done really well is find out which are good partners. We not only make a good partnership with the customer as well as sell them a car, but a partnership with the vendor too. 

In a scenario like this, at a conference like this, every single person here or an exhibitor has a good product, in my opinion. They have good things to talk about the product, but the sad reality is with a lot of them, you sign up and then they disappear, right? I think we spend a lot of time figuring out which are the real partners. Who wants to partner with Casa to do a good job for our customers? I think this is one of the simple things that Casa does really well, we spend some time and hand-pick our partnerships.

KQ: That makes sense. You know, having been a major dealer for a number of years, a lot of years in the retail automotive space, we do experience that. We do experience great ideas, a lot of great ideas, but then once we sign the dotted line, nobody's there to do anything, or we have a problem that nobody's there to answer. So, I agree with you. I think that's what a partnership is, and you should have the other person's back. I appreciate that we've been able to partner with you and have been able to support you in your journey. 

What about used car acquisitions? Has anything changed? Did you approach strategies differently last year? Did you do anything different?

TL: This is a business that is always changing and a lot of new things come up in the car industry. It's not the same business they all studied years ago. But one thing that never changes is the money that’s made on the buy.

KQ: Those that are sitting there, money is made on the buy. Just write that down, take a note, and put it in your phone.

TL: That’ll never change how you acquire a vehicle. That's whenever you are able to give a customer a good deal. It's whenever you are acquiring a car correctly. I think one of the things we've done really well is to focus on the small things and Look to Book and trade-ins. And there was a good partnership with ACV doing this too because, with live appraisals, we were able to give some offers that are aggressive with the backup of a third party. 

We need that trade, we need that customer, we need the service department, but also we need that trade acquisition in total. We build some buying centers and give a lot of focus on purchasing cars from the community. But that small little thing of paying attention to every single deal to capture every trade, and using ACV or other partners that we have is tremendous for us.

KQ: So let me ask you again. I may be getting old, although I don't think I am, when you have a deal, a retail deal, and you're too far away on a trade that happens…you're using live appraisal, which is an ACV product, you're getting instant, hard money that lasts for up to whatever length of time. You're finding that that's making retail deals rather than having Save-a-Deal meetings on Mondays where you're looking at all the paperwork on deals not made, and trying to get people to come back. Is that what I'm hearing?

TL: Yeah. It's actually pretty simple. Even for a customer to understand that there are so many markets in the country. And pay equals a word different in each market. A car that is in El Paso, it's in high demand. A low supply might be worth something. And it's different in another country, in, in another market. So with ACV and a live appraisal, that gives the opportunity to put that car out for bids from all the dealers that are around the country. They might be able to be more aggressive on that trading than I can be on my market because I don't sell the car in my market the way he does in his market. That gives me the opportunity to offer my customer, and my community, more money for their trade. Happier customer and zero risk for me.

KQ: Let's just talk about disruption for a minute. At ACV, we are seeing a shift that's been occurring for several years now. It's really taken off exponentially in the last two years. And that shift is consumers shopping their trade. They're pre-shopping their car and you're not seeing them when they come in take delivery of their new car or their next used car. Are you seeing that at all?

Basically, with normal trade capture, and I'll pick a number because everybody's different, but let's say normal trade captures 44-46%. We're seeing that number go down significantly like 30%, not down to 30%, but like 32-34%, which means roughly 33% of the trades we normally would capture are no longer captured in a retail deal because the consumer sold them to someone before they came in your door. 

Are you guys seeing that as well?

TL: There are two parts of that that I think I've seen happen to a lot of people. But with Casa, I've seen the opposite. I've seen a Look to Book growing as we focus on those small things. As I talked about in the beginning about your question, if there's one thing I think we are doing correctly or better now, it's focused on the small things and doing really well and paying attention to every single deal. 

Now customers can go online and put the number and the amounts and pretty quickly get our offer from different numbers. Of dealers, and I'm not gonna say names of companies, but the companies that buy cars and wholesale them and stuff. For us, and I think that's the difference, whenever you see that happen, as the total number of countries, Look to Book is going low and I see my company Look to Book going up. I can tell my people are getting better. That's how.

KQ: Your people are leaning in harder, putting more intensity, more focused intensity on customers before they get in the door to ensure that trade's coming in. That also means I would have to think that you're putting really good numbers on the cars up front. In other words, you're not offering a low number because that's a little bit of a barrier to getting people in the door. So obviously your appraisal process or valuation of vehicles must be better as well, I assume.

TL: I like to say that. I think we do a better job than most, especially in our market and with our customers. As a coach, we value our customers. I like to work for Casa because I wake up in the morning and I help people. With partnerships like ACV and live appraisals, and a focus on Look to Book getting higher, it's a different feeling. It's not just about money, but I know I'm helping folks in my community. I like to say that my team does a really great job at maximizing that number for our customers and making a better experience for them.

KQ: You guys had a great year last year. Now we're starting 2023, any other things that you could share with the dealer audience? What would you say to them to become a better used-car retailer and used-car acquirer? 

TL: I think in conferences like this, everybody is walking in the halls looking for a silver bullet. They're looking for that software, that program, that training, that thing that is gonna change their life and it's going to work. But I do believe it's down to the process of doing the small things really well. Again, I'll leave these two quotes. 

  1. “If you can't tell me what you're doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.” 
  2. Everything in war is simple. Just simple things are difficult.”

If you can get really good at the simple things, I think you're going to win

KQ: Makes sense to me. And at ACV, one of the things we offer is advice. We have great people in our company. Randy Barone, myself, Doug Hadden...we've got a lot of people that have been in this industry a long time. They are not as interested in talking about solutions as they are interested in sharing information, sharing what the community here says and is doing for best practices. 

You are sharing some great information, thank you for that. At ACV, we are always open to sharing best practices and things we're seeing happening in the industry with dealers. We believe if we all get better at doing what we're doing, we all get better. And what better way to start 2023 than by just doing better? And that's the simplicity of what you're saying. So thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your opinion with these dealers, and I’m glad that you joined us today.

TL: Thank you very much. I really appreciate the partnership. ACV is a great partner of Casa. Thank you very much for having me.

KQ: Well, thank you.