Article

Napleton Automotive In Cyberspace Internet Is Catalyst To Record Growth

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Terran Lamp - Also by this author

When you go to napleton.com and click on “about us,” this is what you will see. The Napleton Automotive Group has a proud tradition of serving the customer for 74 amazing years. Today the Napleton family owns and operates 54 franchises in five different states!

The Napleton Automotive Group consists of five Dealer Groups led by Ed, Bill, Paul, Steve and Jerry Napleton. As the fourth generation of the Napleton family looks forward to another 70 years, the Internet has become a major part of the group’s success. In 2001, Ed Napleton began to see a value in focusing on Internet sales and launched his dealer group on the World Wide Web. With help and vision from Internet e-Commerce Director Rafi Hamid, the leap into automotive cyberspace proved to be very impressive for Napleton sales. Internet sales soared so high that the other Napleton groups decided to join the Internet boom. In October 2004, after major preparation and strategic planning, Napleton Automotive Groups launched Napleton.com.

With 30 locations in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Florida and an Internet site that spans the globe, Napleton Automotive Groups began to see sales skyrocket. In January 2005, following the Internet launch and the conglomeration of the Napleton group, sales increased up to 45 percent per month. This year The Napleton Groups are on target to sell 15,000 -17,000 cars from dealership operations. The Napleton Automotive Businesses also includes a fleet group which plans to sell 8,000 units. In addition to success in dealership and fleet sales, Napleton.com has set a 2006 goal of 500 units/month sold over its Internet site - that’s double over last year!

With high goals and even higher expectations, Rafi Hamid and the Napleton team are on the way to changing the way the automotive industry participates in customer interaction and e-business. But managing 30 locations and 54 franchises won’t be easy. What is the plan? How do you manage the e-commerce of all these locations and still hope to turn a profit? It began with building the Web site. Today Napleton.com uses DealerOn Web site technology to support their Internet functions. Perfect planning in combination with the support provided by DealerOn started the ball rolling during the beginning phases of Napleton.com. “I believe if you don’t plan to succeed you plan to fail,” says Mr. Hamid.

Together with Napleton Automotive Groups, DealerOn and selected vendors, Napleton.com is able to control a high volume of Internet traffic and meet record breaking sales goals! In combination with great planning Mr. Hamid has developed a one of a kind system for Napleton Automotive Groups that is unheard of in the field of automotive e-commerce. Unfortunately we can’t divulge all the secrets - but what we can say is that it involves Blackberry Technology that allows the General Manager or Owner of every store to see all the communication between the Internet Manager and the customer who is inquiring. At the corporate level, Internet E-Commerce Director, Rafi Hamid can also see all communication between the Internet Managers live as it occurs. This feature has proved to be a huge part of the success for the Internet departments. Using the process and the Blackberry Technology has increased the response time in some dealerships to over 90 percent custom response to every inquiry within 15 minutes of each submission. Internet lead sources include Napleton.com, the manufacturer and Auto USA. Another great tool that the Internet groups have at their disposal is the option to try out any new vendor or program for 30 days in order to ascertain if the service will work within Napleton Automotive Groups. Napleton has created an Enterprise Active Reports System that allows for a short-term glimpse of the progress of all the 54 franchises and their business objectives. The success of Napleton.com is also driven by strong advertising through the franchises. Advertising includes radio airtime, commercials, newspaper ads and much more. Napleton Automotive Group spends approximately $250 per unit on Internet advertising (and with a goal of 500 units per month that’s a 1.5M advertising budget in 2006!) Customers are also drawn to Napleton.com because of a variety of special incentives that are given to only Internet customers. Napleton.com is constantly looking for ways to stay competitive in the Internet market and shows customers appreciation by offering discount savings to those who purchase electronically.

The integration of the Blackberry Technology, the vendor selection, the new DealerOn Web site Platform System along with human brain power has given the Napleton Groups the ability to adapt to new things efficiently and effectively. Napleton Automotive has taken steps to enable their sales and Internet forces to be a leader in the challenge of going from brick buildings to Internet interactions. Mandatory monthly meetings between the Corporate Staff and all Internet Managers are scheduled to update employees on new systems and programs that will move Napleton Automotive Group and Napleton.com in the positive direction. These meetings are designed to make sure everyone understands the focus on Internet business and to encourage Managers to understand all facets of Internet Management (sales goals, profits, lead providers, the Web site platform etc.) “In addition,” says Rafi Hamid, “we deal with a group of wonderful vendors that have helped us out with their incredible flexibility and willingness to accommodate all of our needs within Napleton Automotive Groups at all of our 54 franchises.”

  • Sample Meeting
  • Agenda
  • August Performance
  • Black Book Online
  • DealerOn.com
  • E-mail Administration
  • Vendors
  • Auditing, Volume, Sales
  • Blackberry Technology
  • Breakdown of Lead Sources
  • Gross Profit

Although the technology and the valuable knowledge are great, just as in everything else in life, COMMUNICATION is the key. “The single most important part of managing this project successfully is open communication among all the members of Napleton Automotive Groups”, says Hamid. To have a successful Internet department the company excitement and enthusiasm must start from the General Manager and flow down. The General Manager must be involved and there must be an Internet Manager who completely understands the importance of e-business. In the experience of Napleton.com someone who is hands on at understanding e-commerce in the automotive industry is critical to becoming a top performing Internet retailer.

Since 1931 Edward W. Napleton has been providing customers with great service and great cars. Now that Napleton Automotive Group is turning its wheels to focus on new Internet business the commitment to quality stays the same. Napleton Automotive Group and Napleton.com still believe that Customer Satisfaction is the #1 priority to grow the business.

Vol 2, Issue 8

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