INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Covid, Cars, and Opportunity
We talked to Andrew Lemoine of Autocorp about a world where the customers and the dealers both win, and this is what he had to say.
How are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Andrew Lemoine: Like so many families, we’re learning to adjust and adapt to the situation. Our days have entirely changed. I have two daughters, who are both doing school from home, and our entire company went remote. I think our company going fully remote worked out for the better. As a company, we are far more effective and efficient than pre-Covid. For myself, I used to find myself in my car commuting two hours daily to and from the office. Now that I have these extra two hours, I see more efficient ways to spend it, like on my health, through diet and exercise.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Autocorp?
Andrew Lemoine: It would take a Netflix documentary to try and tell the whole story, so I’ll try and summarize it as best as I can. I’ve spent my entire adult life in the auto industry. Right out of high school, I got into selling cars. Shortly after joining, I found myself managing teams and then not so long after managing dealerships. I completely fell in love with the automotive industry, but I noticed many archaic and inefficient processes that needed fixing. I would see that certain technologies were available in other sectors, but not the automotive industry. So I left retail five years ago and founded my first technology company. We’ve changed our aim a few times, but our overarching goal has always been to create change and make a dent in this billion-dollar industry. We want to mark our mark in the industry and push it to progress.
How does Autocorp innovate?
Andrew Lemoine: Our company bleeds innovation; we’re obsessed with innovating. We decided that innovation is our main focus. To always question how we can make processes better and more efficient adapting and evolving so fast that something innovative 12 months ago may be useless or standard today. We meet daily to have creative meetings and put a focus on UX.
How are you creating innovation in the automotive industry?
Andrew Lemoine: It boils down to three T’s, trust, time, and transparency. Everything we do, we focus on these three T’s. We know the big asset today is saving the customer time. Our industry has historically lacked trust, and technology is making it a lot easier for dealers to build the bridge of trust. People need accurate information and processes available to them while having transparent answers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Andrew Lemoine: Like most companies in the world, we went through a few scary weeks. Luckily it was only a few weeks and not a scary few months or even years. We decided as a company to take this time and turn it into an opportunity. Since Covid, we’ve grown 400%. Was it scary at times? Absolutely. Covid is a terrible thing, and we’re not trying to make light of the severity of Covid-19. But from a progression and innovation standpoint, Covid-19 forced much-needed innovation in the automotive industry, and in turn, our company was positioned in the right place at the right time.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Andrew Lemoine: I had to make the most difficult decisions of my career at the start of Covid-19. Every media outlet told me to shut down, stay home, let people go, and conserve cash. The message was to stop. I had to decide to listen or not to listen. I had to ask myself what is the worst-case scenario, which was we go out of business. The ironic thing is, if I would’ve chosen to stop entirely, we would have gone out of business. So it was a tough decision. We didn’t sign up for easy, and I don’t think any entrepreneur signs up for easy. We ended up pushing through, and we came out much stronger because we didn’t lose a single employee throughout Covid.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Andrew Lemoine: Now more than ever, mental health has become so important to focus on as a company. We’ve been fortunate as a company not to face many mental health problems. We’ve been a company that has always had a focus on physical health. About a year and a half ago, we implemented something called the power hour. The power hour is paid every day, where each employee can go to exercise, meditate, or read a book. We feel this helps our team’s productivity and can help with our team’s physical and mental health. We have health-focused Slack channels where we can keep track of each other’s fitness activities. We’re using tech at home to gamify health and mindfulness so the team can see when employers did an hour of meditation or went for a run.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Andrew Lemoine: Our competition is fierce, and we deal with competition every single day. We’re competing with ourselves, with our mindsets and our limiting beliefs. We focus on getting better; I believe that we are our own biggest competitors.
Andrew Lemoine: There’s never been a better time to start a company, and there’s never been a better time to scale your company. Covid has changed the world as we know it, and in doing so, it created more opportunities than we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes. What Covid has taught me is how intertwined everything is. It showed me the importance of having a balance between business and personal. I think it’s shown us how disconnected we were from ourselves and our families. It has forced us to ask ourselves tough questions that we’ve never asked before. It’s looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking if this is the person that I want to be and am I becoming the person that I want to become. For us, Covid has made us better people, it’s made us a better company, and it’s made me a better father, and it’s made me a better leader. My final thought is more than ever, get out of your head, get out of your way, and START.
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