Electrifying Automotive Dealerships with David Gow

David Gow

How It Began

In this first episode of the EVready Podcast, Chris Nihan, CEO of EV ready Energy, interviews his good friend David Gow. Chris and David became acquainted in 2013 while working together at Solar City.

Chris initiates the conversation by asking David about his interests outside of work.

Before answering the question, David expresses his belief that this new podcast will be beneficial for individuals who are new to the EV charging industry and want to shorten their learning curve, particularly sales professionals and potential EVready customers.

The reason Chris reached out to David to be the first interviewee of the EVready podcast is because of Chris’ focus on industry leaders who offer unique perspectives on EV charging.

Be The Best Version Of Yourself Every Day

The first question that Chris poses is what motivates David daily and what advice he can offer to other professionals.

David emphasizes that success leaves clues and advises listeners to seek out like-minded individuals who are passionate about putting their best foot forward. He cites a quote from Jim Rohn, which states, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job,” as his personal favorite. Ultimately, David professes to be a student, and how working on yourself as much as you can is the key to personal and professional success.

The EV Challenges Facing These Industries: Automotive, Tech, Fueling and Convenience

Chris asks David what he believes are the three biggest challenges for electrifying these three verticals: automotive, tech, fueling and convenience.

David says that identifying current customers, understanding who the key contacts within those industries are, evaluating what is currently effective and what needs improvement, and building strong relationships. He emphasizes the importance of having a deep understanding of the business, possibly even surpassing the knowledge of the customers themselves. In order to come across as credible and knowledgeable, David advises against a sales-focused approach and instead emphasizes the importance of building relationships and providing expertise. He highlights that this is the distinction between being a sales rep and a sales professional.

For David, his top priority is to convey to customers that he genuinely wants to help them and establish a genuine, long-term relationship that extends beyond a single transaction.

Electrifying Automotive

Map out an account: Large auto group, for example; drill into their locations, which OEMs have we worked with in the past. Searching and scrolling through all of the funding and chatting about available programs that fit their situation. Find ways to stay in touch. It can take 6 months to build trust.

Dealerships want to make operations more efficient and sell more cars. Each dealership has its unique set of challenges so knowing these nuances is important.

Part of what EVReady does is to future-proof the charging stations that dealerships install. “How do we get them to understand that the hardware is only 25% of the cost? Our job is to make sure our customers understand the full picture,” says Chris. “We help customers strategize on how their EV charging purchases will serve them for the next 3, 5, and 10 years,” David adds.

Dealerships face pressure and tight timelines presented to the individual dealerships by the OEMs in terms of installing EV chargers. Understandably, the OEMs have products they want to move, but David would like to see a collaboration between the top-performing dealers with level 2 and then level 3 chargers.

Because the demand is so high, EV charging equipment companies are coming out of the woodwork. If dealerships are not going with a company that has a track record and been around for over a decade, then they might have sunk a lot of money into equipment that will be rendered obsolete in less than 1-2 years. And finally, getting the dealerships to imagine what their business will look like in less than 5 years is very important. If they’re going to do an electrical upgrade and new construction, David says creating a strategy is the best way to future-proof your investments. Especially for dealership owners, if you plan well, you can sell your dealership as an EV-ready business.

When dealerships and auto groups rush to meet requirements or timelines only to find out they have a temporary solution with hundreds of thousands of dollars gone; it’s going to create a lot of reinvestment in the future, which could have been avoided with a well-thought-out strategic plan.

Fueling and Convenience – From Gas to EVs

Often, fueling and convenience operators do not take into account the possibility of networked capabilities for adding EV chargers to these types of locations. There are many things to take into account: how do you use software to drive in-store sales, how do you lower your cost of charging by partnering with fleets or OEMs, it’s the networked element of fueling that relates to charging will impact how people electrify their locations.

A great example is how Tesla offered free unlimited supercharging for the first 10 years! Depending on who you ask some people don’t think it made any difference but either way, Tesla pulled a major software trigger to gain a significant market share. With that said it will be interesting to see how software plays out over the different verticals.

What Role Does A 100-Year-Old Grid Play On EV Charging?

The utility grid. The utility grid is 100 years old. There are so many factors tied to how a business gets charged for electricity that impact them and need to be a factor and considered when they’re doing the construction for EV chargers. When this is ignored by enterprise clients 20 times x 100 x 200 x 1000 – it ends up costing them a lot more money.

Chris turned David on to the book: Understanding Todya’s Electricity Business. For Chris, this book was a wealth of information about the grid and gave him a better understanding of what we’re dealing with in terms of the grid’s capabilities and shortcomings.

Will Public Spaces Be Transformed In The Future?

Chris is curious to see if more co-working spaces pop up or if parking garages integrate EV charging to make the spaces more valuable. Also, how retail will allow other companies to own the EV chargers at their locations. Chris believes creating a stellar driver experience is key to winning customers over.
How will (EV charging) software change user behavior in the future?

We’re In This Together

The interview is wrapped up with David stating that most people are in the EV charging space to be part of the sustainability movement, to feel like they’re doing something important, and it’s what gets people out of bed in the morning. Things change rapidly but remembering the Navy Seal adage: slow is smooth, and smooth is fast helps keep him focused.

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