DealerRefresh: Let’s do a meet and greet…Hi, we’re DealerRefresh and you are….?
Aaron: I’m Aaron Wirtz, a native of Wichita, Kansas who just turned 31 years old. I got into the automotive industry through a dynamically worded job posting for a Social Media Manager on Craigslist. I was working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Wichita State in pursuit of my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing–I love teaching– but was in dire need of more income for my upcoming wedding, among other things. I made a video resume on a Tuesday evening, interviewed on Thursday and was hired on the spot, and started work on Monday.
DealerRefresh: I would be lost each day without…
Aaron: My pen and spiral notebook. I love my iPad, digital calendars, and all the rest, but my organization begins with handwritten notes, and I don’t ever see that changing.
DealerRefresh: What if you could invent a product for your department, what would it be?
Aaron: In a perfect world, I’d love to have a social media management/scheduling tool that handled EVERY platform I maintain a brand presence on. This is the reason why I still don’t use tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social very much–because I still have to have other windows open in addition to those.
DealerRefresh: What changes have you seen over the past year at your dealership?
Aaron: The biggest changes over the past year would have to be the transition from Suzuki to Subaru and the addition of an additional Super Car Guys location.
DealerRefresh: In 2 years what will your dept look like? In 5 years?
Aaron: In two years, I imagine my department to be at least twice the size that it is now. Meaning, it will have two people. In 5 years, maybe a virtual reality dealership? Hard to say.
DealerRefresh: Describe the difference that lies between your view on the brand transition and, for example, a sales rep.
Aaron: From a Social Media perspective, transitioning from Suzuki to Subaru was like hitting the jackpot. The Subaru brand universe is diverse, vast, and goes back a long way. The challenge that accompanies this, though, is that there are more voices in the conversation, so we have to work even harder to stand out. As far as the difference between a sales rep’s view and mine, I think they’d be pretty closely aligned. I went through the same Subaru certification process that the sales guys went through to get a better understanding of what makes these cars such an incredible value, and I try to go farther by providing some historical insight into the Subaru line. I am a big fan of old brochures and print ads, so we’ve started a collection of Subaru-themed materials, which I then use for blog posts, Pinterest pins, and so forth. There’s SO much more of that kind of stuff available for Subaru, so I am having a great time with it.
DealerRefresh: Your title is Social Media Manager – how important do you think it is for each dealership to have someone like you? Any reason a dealer shouldn’t? You do more than SM, right?
Aaron: Regardless of what the position is called, I’m convinced that it’s important to have someone in the dealership to tell the story of the organization as it unfolds. It can be effective when a GM or Dealer Principle posts as him or herself for the sake of local celebrity-building, but as far as building a unique tribe, employees need to be able to point at pictures, videos, posts, etc. and feel a sense of ownership in that content. This really became clear to me when I posted a video about our transition from Suzuki to Subaru (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px7wBFs7HUE) and several people who were not even in the video told me it felt like I was telling their story, too. I understand that employee turnover can be a concern, but when employees are treated like they’re going to stay, many times they accept live up to the challenge.
Yes, I do much more than Social Media. My role is evolving in the direction of Marketing Management, and I have the amazing opportunity to work with Scott Pitman and Tom White, Jr. (our Dealer Principle and General Manager) regularly throughout the week. Most currently, I’ve cut some radio and television spots for our used car brand, Super Car Guys, which now has two locations in Wichita and making huge gains (my first commercial is now on the air: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hOunSOWSsQ). I come from a performing arts background, so this is a great fit, and I’m excited about the possibilities of what this could mean for me in the car business. I also help with minor IT issues when I can.
DealerRefresh: Tell me more about the unique culture at SOW and what role that plays in carrying out your daily tasks.
Aaron: Our company culture is pretty much everything, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just been a matter of aligning the stream of fun, helpfulness, and innovative approaches that happen within the dealerships with the online streams of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Google+, and so forth. I consider myself an actively creative person, but if there weren’t interesting things going on around me all the time, my job would be tough.
DealerRefresh: Do you own jorts? Would you admit it if you do?
Aaron: I actually had to Google the word “jorts,” and I’m not exactly sure what that says about my current level of hipness. To answer your question, though–No, I don’t. I would admit it if I did, though.
DealerRefresh: What nicknames do people call you?
Aaron: It depends on which store I’m at. Here at Subaru, I’m A-A-Ron. At Super Car Guys West, I’ve been given the name “Matrix.” So far, I haven’t been given a nickname at Super Car Guys East–we’ll see how long that takes.
So, there you have it – the insightful thoughts behind a Social Media Manager at a successful dealership.
Be sure to catch Aaron’s session at DSES13!