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Social Media Advertising Strategies for Dealerships With Eric Barbosa

  • July 29, 2022
20 min read
Social Media Advertising Strategies for Dealerships With Eric Barbosa

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Eric Barbosa
Managing Partner, Henson Brand CDJR Ford Chevrolet GMC Buic

Eric Barbosa is the Managing Partner at Henson Brand CDJR Ford Chevrolet GMC Buick and has been in the automotive industry for over 23 years. He is a multi-talented, top-tier automotive dealership business leader known for having strong ability to drive sales with experience in finance, budget management, and customer service. Eric is valued for having accomplished volume and profit records in selling new and pre-owned cars.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Eric Barbosa entered the automotive industry
  • Eric explains how he uses social media to sell cars
  • Eric’s approach to advertising in a small town
  • How Eric handled inventory shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic ,and how his company manages their contact database
  • Eric’s advice to dealers on building a unique social media advertising strategy

In this episode…

Social media can be a great source of leads for dealerships. When utilized properly, it can be an easy way to drive sales and promote creativity among marketing teams. So, how can you build a unique social media advertising strategy?

Eric Barbosa leverages social media giveaways and Facebook Live events to market cars for his dealership. He drives traffic, engagement and exposure by offering cars to people in need. Through this strategy, he is able to generate 200 leads per day.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay interviews Eric Barbosa, the Managing Partner at Henson Brand CDJR Ford Chevrolet GMC Buick, about how he uses social media advertising to generate leads. Eric also shares strategies for handling inventory shortages and managing a large contact database.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics

Visit their website at to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay 0:14

Ilana Shabtay here, host of InsideAuto Podcast where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. And before we introduce today’s guest, this episode is sponsored by AutoLeadStar is automotive’s first and leading customer data and experience platform CDXP. Top dealers invest in CDXPs to unify dealership data sources automatically create one to one customized journeys and execute omni-channel shopping experiences. Today we have Eric Barbosa with us. Eric, thank you for joining us.

Eric Barbosa 0:49

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Ilana Shabtay 0:51

Yes, I am. Looking forward to the conversation Eric brings a lot of interesting and unique new topics to InsideAuto. But before we jump into it, let me quickly give you an intro. Eric has been in the industry for over 23 years. He’s a multi-talented top-tier automotive dealership business leader known for having strong ability to drive sales and operational excellence. With experience in finance, budget management and customer service. Eric is valued for having accomplished volume and profit records in selling new and pre-owned cars. He’s decisive, forward thinking and innovative. He is now Eric is now the managing partner at Henson Brand CDJR Ford Chevrolet GMC Buick. So lots of really exciting experience an amazing leader. It sounds like so hopefully we’ll get into that as well. Again, thanks for joining us today.

Eric Barbosa 1:41

Yep, awesome. Yeah, whoever wrote that I want them on our team. That was great.

Ilana Shabtay 1:46

I tried to pieces from different places. So it’s probably your team, though. Good job. Yeah, so look, before we get into, like I mentioned at the beginning, Eric and his team is doing some really exciting things, mostly on social media, but also just innovation in some HR stuff as well. They have I think over 50% of their team is women. Correct me if I’m wrong with that number, which is really outstanding to see an automotive. Before we get into that just give us a quick bio and how you got into automotive.

Eric Barbosa 2:18

I’m originally from well from Puerto Rico. But when I got introduced to the auto business I was living in in Southern California. And a friend was working at a dealership and I was washing cars or whatnot. And then he say you should do sales. I went the dealership Monty Chevrolet Hyundai and Jeep weird dynamic now that you think of it. But that’s what it was. And I started selling cars. I loved it. I was 18 years old. And I went from there to, you know, being what they used to call internet managers, fleet managers, and then finance and I got to manage it really early, then moved to Texas, and full full in 2007, I believe. And then came to Houston and ate and then my first GM opportunity happened with RFJ Rick Ford, in 2015. And then three, almost four years ago, I joined Foundation, and now my managing partner and spring.

Ilana Shabtay 3:20

Yeah, wonderful. And so I got connected with you through Delano Palmer who was on the podcast and mentioned to me you have to have Eric on the podcast because he is the number one social media dealer in all of the United States. I want to hear more about this. Ever since he introduced us. I also have been following on LinkedIn. And I noticed that you have a very strategic Facebook Live event for the dealership that you’ve been running. So tell us a little bit about that and how that’s helped you sell more cars?

Eric Barbosa 3:48

We did it goes back to how it all started. I’ve been in marketing forever, right? Since honestly, since I was 14 years old, I’d rent a house out, pass out flowers in California and I was I had this entrepreneur spirit. So think about 14 doing fly. DJ.

Ilana Shabtay 4:08

You were the Airbnb before Airbnb.

Eric Barbosa 4:12

Yes, and, you know, from my house to big events, but marketing is a big deal for me. So it was weird because I wasn’t trying to market I just, I was trying to find a way to give people an opportunity to buy a car cheap, right? Like we promote a car for $500. And I wanted to go into somebody in need, you know somebody that didn’t have a car but had $500 and that would change, you know their lifestyle or what they had going on. And what happened one day was I had a call from a teacher. Now with Texas I can say her name her name is Vicki. And she calls me says hey, I have this student. Her name is Lily. Her mom needs a car so they she’s an adult she’s able to take Lily to her St. Jude appointment because she was fighting leukemia, and really struck struck me. And what we decided to do is give her give them a car with a handle on that family, me and the staff. Then we started giving away cars on social media that I, you know, go forward, I came to Hansen, and we did what we’ve been doing giving away a car to, to people in need, or someone in need. And it blew up and went viral and had like 7 million views or something. And then I started saying, Okay, now, we have to be responsible, because we have all these eyes on us. Now let’s capture, you know what we do. And then we’ve gone through that one unique thing is that we try to keep both things separated, the giveaway is the giveaway, we do that, because that’s what we want to do. Now that we have this exposure, then we advertise on a different end from that, but we try not to advertise on that, because that’s, there’s a reason we do that. And we don’t go away from that that’s to help somebody and that’s that. And

Ilana Shabtay 5:58

that that stems from that story to be inspired by something that you obviously were moved by, and then you don’t want to, you know, take that with, with the advertising that you’re doing separately, if I understand correctly. Yeah, I know what it’s like not to have a car

Eric Barbosa 6:13

to be able to get to work not to be you know, my mom was a single mom. So I know all these things that I went through that I was like, not have the ability to help somebody. And I think that’s why it’s it’s been good for us because it came from a good place.

Ilana Shabtay 6:25

Yeah, I totally believe that. Yeah. So you also mentioned that the stores that you’re managing right now are in a 4000 people town?

Eric Barbosa 6:35

Yeah, population, I think is just

Ilana Shabtay 6:39

wow. So that might be different from the previous stores that you were managing what? Like, tell us a little bit about how that influences your marketing, how you run the store. There’s probably advantages and disadvantages, I’m sure.

Eric Barbosa 6:54

Well, I’ve been in the Metroplex, I’ve worked in Southern California, I’ve worked in Houston, I’ve worked in Dallas, I’ve worked in Miami, coming to a town of 4000. That was unique in itself. It was I’ll be honest, it was a little scary. Because I’m gonna I’m used to traffic high volume, the smallest town before that was 25,000 people, but it was around Dallas, so I can still pull on it. I found the challenge. I was like, Okay, I like this. It’s on the freeway. And I think that’s what’s starting to inspire me. How do I get, you know, to have the activity of a Metroplex at a stores that are, you know, a destination store. And the good thing the owner that owned the store before his name, Brian and Liz Henson, they had already set the delivery method. They’ve been delivering trucks. Yeah. So they when I came here, I mean, he said, Eric, we’ve been delivering this. And I said, Okay, perfect. So you already have a foundation for it. The only thing is they were using the old ways of doing business, newspaper ads, you know, other things. And I said, What would be the easiest way in instead of just looking at my PMA, my one hour radius of zip codes that I have there, right? I said, I just want to deliver cars to anybody, and I don’t care where they’re at. And that’s the approach we took. So we advertised and we advertised, you know, we’re calling now the triple play. It’s a seven day money back guarantee warranty for life. And we deliver nationwide at no cost to the consumer. And

Ilana Shabtay 8:32

yeah, we do meffre COVID. We were doing that pre COVID. Yeah. So you were in the you are in a good space, then

Eric Barbosa 8:41

ruin COVID hit in March 2020. We had a call and I will say I was not uncomfortable by the situation. I don’t know why. And I’m not talking about the health portion of this court. And yeah, that I remember having the call and saying we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We didn’t furlough anybody. I think we I’m sorry. We may be furloughed for people. And that was because if we were probably going to do that anyway. And we put our foot on the gas but what we were doing and we didn’t look back.

Ilana Shabtay 9:18

That’s and also just, you can now leverage the family business. The advantage of being a family business in a place where most people probably know who you are and know that people that are here store, but also leveraged to the rest of the United States. And it’s pretty incredible. Yes,

Eric Barbosa 9:34

that was the plan. Yes. Yeah.

Ilana Shabtay 9:36

So my my question to you and this might be irrelevant now, but maybe we’ll talk about inventory instead. But I’d love to know when there is less inventory because COVID I could understand now it didn’t have much impact on your on your business because your business was set up for success already. But when a crisis like an inventory shortage comes to your dealerships How do you approach, you know, how do you approach that? And how and if you approach it any specific way, and then when it comes to marketing? Also, I would love to know, did you change anything for your marketing strategy when you saw the inventory dip? It doesn’t have to be marketing. I just I like to talk about marketing on this podcast doesn’t have to be, but I’d love to know how you responded to that? Well,

Eric Barbosa 10:23

it’s all marketing. Was all marketing. So I mean, as soon as we started feeling that ship shortage, we I mean, there’s two things you can do, you can either just okay, that’s, that’s your new reality, or you figure a new way. And we went straight after marketing for customer orders. Now, we have a bootcamp going on right now with dealers that from Foundation, a few dealers that are out. And they asked me this yesterday. And, you know, we, we, we went from a database of 30,000 people in 25 years to a database of half a million in the last three years. And they say, Why do you do that? So well, I want to keep people in the pipeline, I’m not looking for return on investment right now I am, but I’m not, I’m looking for return on engagement. And people interested in our brand and offering different things, no cars will order your car, no use cars will custom what you want, and I’ll find it for you. Financing was the other thing, special financing went to after we have fixed something called to give people an opportunity to go for a loan and get them started in that journey. So you, we just shifted, we went after we really went after custom orders and whatever it is that you’re looking for, we can get it. And we you know with warranty for life, we just changed our marketing shift. And we did it all through social. And then our staff, we started paying them for not only the customer orders before they showed up, because they need to be occupied. acquisitions. positions, like we want your used car, we want to appraise your used car. So we just we I think it’s just you have to adapt. You know, that’s that’s the deal. Now, it’s what you did 10 years ago, the change in six months, what used to last 10 years, you have to be very informed and be able to shift.

Ilana Shabtay 12:14

Yeah. 100%. And I think that’s the takeaway here. You said that you went from 30,000 to half a million your your contact database. How do you successfully manage all of those contacts? We don’t? You don’t? So what’s the system?

Eric Barbosa 12:30

We’re working on it? We didn’t expect to have? We get two leads a day?

Ilana Shabtay 12:35

Yeah, no, it’s, it’s a lot. Yeah.

Eric Barbosa 12:38

We’re using systems and if it’s okay, we have tools that we use. So our texting tools that we have within our company connected, is one of them.

Ilana Shabtay 12:50

We recast last week. Okay,

Eric Barbosa 12:53

Yeah. So you know,

Ilana Shabtay 12:55

Colby was just on the podcast last week. It was released last week. So yeah, we’re familiar.

Eric Barbosa 13:00

I bet. I think they piloted this store when they first started. And again, like everything, it’s got its little things. But what we do is we drive all the traffic to our website. First, you got to capture it. You’ve captured it. They go to the website, they’re registered and you got to you got to follow up with them. So the easiest way for us is a quick tech so that way they know that a somebody’s talking, right? Yep. And that’s where data comes in. Yes. And then after that, if they say, yeah, they’re engaged, it turns into a lead to our salespeople that goes in our CRM, and then we start a follow up process. And now we have a central BDC. We had a cbdc, what I call social media VDC. So as soon as a consumer responds to us on Facebook, they’re on there, you know, but yet work in progress, because I have never dealt with the amount of leads we have.

Ilana Shabtay 13:51

Yeah. Wow. And so you said you have a central C BDC. Your BDC sets for all the stores? Didn’t one, one location. It’s a

Eric Barbosa 13:59

corporate office of the foundation. Yeah. Oh, great.

Ilana Shabtay 14:03

Okay. So we talked a little bit about this. Also, before we signed on foundation is the larger corporation that Henson belongs to how many stores does Foundation have

Eric Barbosa 14:14

as of last Friday? 35.

Ilana Shabtay 14:17

Congratulations, what

Eric Barbosa 14:18

they acquire. Yeah. Kevin and the team have done a great job. I mean, you’re talking about three years.

Ilana Shabtay 14:23

Wow. Yeah. What’s their newest store?

Eric Barbosa 14:28

The Jones group in Tennessee. Five stores out there that amazing. They had an amazing operator owner and a system that’s very unique that we’re trying to adapt. That that’s pretty unique.

Ilana Shabtay 14:43

Can you share it on the podcast?

Eric Barbosa 14:46

Probably not yet.

Ilana Shabtay 14:48

We’ll stay tuned. That will be part two. implemented it. Yeah. Okay. And I would say just because there’s so much information here, if you can wrap up for the dealers that are listening in that listen to this podcasts, if they want to start a social media, a unique social media strategy, meaning of course, every dealer is investing in Facebook ads, and they’re organic, but if they want to kind of follow this lead and, and really invest in some kind of unique, whether it’s the bootcamp or the Facebook Live for the giveaways, what would you suggest? How do they start?

Eric Barbosa 15:21

First commit to a plan. And if dealers watching this, and they need any help, I haven’t been open to it, but I am open to it. Now. As long as you’re not 30 miles from me, I’d be more than happy, but start be committed and be consistent. The deal is you, I was just talking about this with the have this bootcamp going on. And I see all these unique faces that have never been in the auto industry, but they’re videographers, they’re influencers, they’re at a college, you know, think differently, and acquire these people to come in the know that system, because this is how people communicate. Now, you know, the Gen X, or Gen Z, I’m sorry, they communicate through Snapchat, which I don’t even have. There’s different methods, and it’s a big return, I’m gonna give you some quick deals were over 100 million views we generate 200 leads a day, we have a good following. It’s all organic. And it’s the easiest way instead of going out there and doing your process to it for report, like meet and greet, do all that you do it through social, so by the time they come in or interact with you, they already know you. So why not go that route? You know, it’s easy, and I don’t know, it’s very rewarding. I think that they’re not doing it now and do it, make sure you gotta hire a team and get getting the materials and here’s the last thing, empower them to be creative. If you take that away, it’s it won’t work.

Ilana Shabtay 16:48

It won’t work, right. Like, look at tick tock, this is why I don’t have tick tock, but I look at the tick tock. And I mean, the content is so creative. I’m always so impressed with just people out there. And I’m always thinking, How did I not think of that, you know, that funny content about you know, how my husband, whatever, doesn’t clean that, you know, there’s all these funny things about it’s just, it’s just important. It’s unfortunate that I don’t have I don’t have that natural creativity, unfortunately, but dealers should find people that do because I think that really helps people connect with the brand. Yeah,

Eric Barbosa 17:21

and they gotta remember when something like that happens and like we have a store Freestone. That’s our group that has a video goes 66 million. Wow, reach you just branded to 66 million people, then there’s then you got to put a plan to get your name out to all of them. website, link phone numbers, all that stuff. So yeah,

Ilana Shabtay 17:39

And you guys are working on that, especially with this new team, I’m assuming.

Eric Barbosa 17:42

We’ve been doing it. That’s yeah, the problem is, is that we do it. I think we do it well with the team Kara Delaine. Dolphine, Courtney, Lacey that we have, we have a full production room that is created this monster of leads. And now I have to build another business to make sure we take care of it.

Ilana Shabtay 17:59

Yes, of course. I think it’s important to think of both. And let’s, I think end on that because it gives dealers a really good thing to think about which is build the business to get the leads, but make sure you can actually, you know, have a process for for following up and retaining them and turning into business. Absolutely. Awesome. Eric, thank you so much. And for those listening, this is InsideAuto Podcast. You can find us on all mainstream outlets, Apple, Spotify, You can find all the information there. Thank you so much, Eric.

Eric Barbosa 18:33

Awesome. Thank you.

Outro 18:35

Thanks for listening to InsideAuto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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