To those who have worked with him, auto retailer Greg Carrasco is a combination of influencer and disruptor.
“We were aware of his ability and fan followers,” said Saleem Budhwani, CFO of The Prestige Group, which hired Carrasco in 2019 to run its Nissan and Infiniti dealerships in Oakville, Ont., southwest of Toronto.
“We thought we would get a bigger and better audience with him. We knew he had that charisma.”
Indeed, Carrasco, the dealerships’ vice-president of operations and general manager, has a knack for cross-promotional marketing and branding.
An early adopter of social media in 2008, Carrasco has amassed a significant online presence, including 7.5 million YouTube views and 99,000-plus Instagram and 65,000 Twitter followers.
“I found a way to get a Facebook account when people didn’t have Facebook accounts,” he said. “I thought it was brilliant. You could talk to all these people all around the world you had no connection with. I got deep down the rabbit hole.”
For 14 years, he has hosted the “Greg Carrasco Show,” first aired on an all-news station in Toronto and now heard on TSN as the sports station’s only nonsports program. Billed as “the most influential and largest automotive radio show in Canada,” the three-hour program airs on Saturday morning and is available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and TSN.ca.
While TSN declined to disclose audience numbers, Carrasco dismissed suggestions that he obtained the airtime in exchange for advertising dollars.
“They are unrelated,” he said. “A lot of people think I spend more money than I actually do, and I’m not going to give away my trade secrets. Especially because of social media, a lot of stuff I do is organic.”
Carrasco is unafraid to express opinions on his show, which sometimes highlights social and political issues.
“He is making some noise and making people aware [of the dealerships],” Budhwani said. “Once in a while he goes against the grain, but when you are speaking your mind, not everybody is going to be happy all the time.”
Carrasco said his multimedia platforms are designed to “activate, antagonize and provoke.”
‘A DIFFERENT APPROACH’
He applies a similar philosophy to the way he manages his dealerships, challenging the business norms of an industry he believes has been too slow to adapt to changing consumer habits.
“Well, just like everything that is vast, it takes a lot for it to change,” Carrasco said. “Within every industry… there are some people willing to take the shots. The pioneers are always the ones that first died trying to go off the beaten path. I decided to take a different approach to the car industry.”
When he managed Newmarket Nissan from February 2012 to February 2014, Carrasco shifted sales staff from commissions to compensation based on salary and performance bonuses.
“I had a hypothesis, and it was simple,” Carrasco said. “If you remove the adversarial aspect of the exchange with the customer, you can have the salesperson now focus on what is important — to help the customer find what they are looking for. It’s about the salesperson making the customer fall in love with the idea of the dealership and the process.”
The move, however, prompted the resignations of 75 per cent of his sales employees, who feared they would earn less under the new compensation model, he said. Carrasco subsequently recruited people who had never worked on the dealership sales floor.
“I wanted to be the only point of reference they had,” he said. “A lot of the bad habits the industry has suffered throughout all these years is because of bad habits that have been passed down through generations of salespeople. I’ve removed this continuity of bad habits.”
‘THEY KNOW WHAT I DO’