Article

The Best of 2010

March 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jennifer Murphy Bloodworth - Also by this author

Nine Products Making a Difference for Dealers


Dealers partner with a host of product and service providers to effectively run their dealerships. As the past year came to a close, the staff of Auto Dealer Monthly took a look at products and services that positively impacted dealerships in 2010. After much discussion on a rather wide variety of products and services, the staff found nine products that stood out. While space constraints only allow us to provide a “40,000-foot” view of each product or service, here are the “Best of 2010” as chosen by the staff of Auto Dealer Monthly.

Data Management Systems
DealerTrack DMS
– a DealerTrack product
The DMS market has a lot of players – big and small – and the DealerTrack DMS stands out for a number of reasons. First, it’s full-featured Web-based software, which eliminates the need for in-house systems that require a fair share of maintenance. Another reason it stands out above competing DMS providers is the customer support that DealerTrack DMS users receive. Based on feedback from dealers, the support for it surpasses other tier-one DMS providers.

Also an advantage is ease of integration, whether it be with other DealerTrack products, OEMs or third-party products. One focus of the company has been to simplify integration to facilitate the flow of information that must pass back and forth between the DMS and other programs.

Further evidence of the DMS’ popularity is its consistent showing in the annual Auto Dealer Monthly Dealers’ Choice Awards, which are based on votes cast by dealers.

For more information, visit DealerTrack.com or call 888.485.6894.

Digital Marketing
eShark Interactive eMail
– a Today’s Dealer Solutions product
Previously, dealers had limited choices to engage customers through e-mail. While customers could click a link or call a phone number in the e-mail, they couldn’t simply and quickly engage in a real-time conversation with the dealership. Interactive e-mail allows dealers to include a link to an online chat, so with one click the customer can make immediate contact from an e-mail. Today’s Dealer Solutions’ BDC responds to the chats accordingly.

Each chat link is coded so the company can appropriately communicate with the customer on behalf of the dealer. For example, if the e-mail is regarding service specials and a dealer’s goal is to set service appointments, whoever answers a customer’s chat request from that e-mail is aware of that goal. This service also allows customers to chat with the dealership while they’re at work, which is oftentimes not possible because chat is regularly blocked by companies’ firewalls; the e-mail chat link can skirt around such issues.

For more information, call 888.837.5250.


Finance Companies
Exeter Finance Corp.
– a subprime auto finance company
While the subprime auto finance market improved throughout 2010, there weren’t many companies making waves. Exeter Finance Corporation, which is based in Irving, Texas, is relatively new to the market (it was founded in 2006) and has seen steady growth throughout a turbulent economy. And 2010 was a particularly good year for growth for the company. In addition to naming finance industry veteran Mark Floyd (former AmeriCredit COO) as Exeter CEO and vice chairman of the board, other key growth points for Exeter in 2010 include:

• 70 percent increase in total originations
• 65 percent increase in managed receivables
• 190 percent increase in franchised dealers
• 2 new branch offices opened (Atlanta and Philadelphia)
• 70 percent increase in employees

For more information, visit ExeterFinance.com or call 214.572.7899.

Customer Relationship Management
GoldDigger 2.0
– an eLEAD CRM product
Data mining is a technique that has been on many dealers’ radars for some time now, and the GoldDigger 2.0 product not only mines dealers’ data to find sales opportunities but also handles the contact points and sets appointments for sales and/or service via eLEAD CRM’s call center, leaving dealership personnel free to do what they’re best at—selling and servicing. 

GoldDigger 2.0 uses a combination of advanced data mining technology, OEM Incentives, book values and other third-party data to identify the hottest leads in the dealer’s DMS. Dealers work directly with company representatives to create monthly marketing campaigns that target positive equity, end-of-term or -lease, lower payment, warranty, delivery and defector customers. Every GoldDigger 2.0 marketing campaign includes live calls by the eLEAD call center. Automotive-industry-trained appointment specialists drive leads to the dealer’s sales and service departments.

For more information, visit eLEADCRM.com or call 866.887.0859

Inventory Management
Live Market Suite
– a vAuto product

Today’s used vehicle marketplace is über-competitive, which is why so many dealers rely on the technology provided by Live Market Suite. When used properly, it allows dealers to plan, price and promote their used car inventories in a way that until now hasn’t been available. The technology not only allows them to watch their own inventory, but it also allows them to watch for market opportunities for prime-credit customers. 

From a stocking perspective, dealers can identify the fastest-turning vehicles in their markets, evaluate their current inventories and determine where to buy vehicles. They can also view updated used vehicle values (book, auction and retail) and other information like a particular vehicle’s days supply in a market. Dealers can look at the market price of a vehicle and find that sweet spot so the vehicle is both competitively priced and will turn the desired profit.

For more information, visit vAuto.com or call 877.828.8614.


Social Media
PowerSocial
– a TK Carsites product
Over the past year, savvy dealers across the country have proven the effectiveness of social media, so naturally more dealers are interested in harnessing the power of social media. However, not everyone has the know-how or the personnel on staff to handle it because, when compared to other marketing initiatives, social media is a very different animal. In October 2010, TK Carsites rolled out four new options for dealers who want a social media presence but are either new to social media or don’t have the staff to handle it. With PowerSocial, dealers have four different product levels from which to choose, ranging from simple integration of the dealer’s current social media with the dealer’s website to an enhanced, broad-based social media solution that includes setup, outsourced engagement and management, and additional tools.

As a relatively new product in a market where there’s definitely demand, this should be a product to keep an eye on in 2011.

For more information, visit TKCarsites.com or call 888.372.4856.

Lead Response
SmartQuote
– a ResponseLogix product
Quickly responding to Internet leads with professional-looking and complete e-mails is a challenge, especially with leads coming in from so many different sources—the dealership website, OEM website(s), third-party lead providers and more. SmartQuote automatically handles that task when leads come in. A customized quote is built for each lead and e-mailed to the customer within 10 minutes of the lead’s arrival. The quote is based on the make, model and trim level requested by the customer and includes pricing information with rebates or incentives.

Before the quote is sent, the lead is fed into the dealer’s CRM tool and assigned to a salesperson, so the quote is a personalized e-mail from a specific salesperson (eliminating the generic feel of an auto-response). Quotes can also include information on similar vehicles. For example, if a new vehicle quote is requested, the e-mail can also include prices for different trim levels of the same model as well as information on similar pre-owned vehicles.

For more information, visit ResponseLogix.com or call 408.533.0222.

Video Technology
Video SmartSites
– a Dealer.com product
Creating quality video, harnessing the SEO benefits of it and making sure load times are in line are all chores in their own right. Partnering with a provider that offers all three in one product has significant advantages. Video SmartSites automatically create quality video for each used vehicle in inventory once at least four photos of the vehicle are uploaded. It creates them for new vehicles as well, either with stock photos or once four actual photos are uploaded.

The videos use text-to-speech descriptions of the vehicle which have a pleasant, conversational tone (unlike other text-to-speech technology). The video resembles a quality PowerPoint presentation showcasing the vehicle photos, the logo of the vehicle make, in-video text highlighting important parts of the vehicle description, and appropriate background music.

Each Video SmartSite also includes a video gallery, video blog and a video sitemap. 

For more information, visit Dealer.com or call 888.894.8989.


Business Intelligence
VisiCogn INSITE
– a Dataium product
When used correctly, knowledge is power. By the same token, when dealers can learn about their website visitors (like when they’re on the site, how long they’re on the site, the vehicles they viewed and what other sites they shopped), dealers can better meet their visitors’ (AKA potential customers’) needs. The VisiCogn INSITE product is free and gives dealers detailed data about their dealership websites. It’s a desktop application that provides real-time monitoring of a site or group of sites. It features six information “pods”—an inventory searches pod, Web stats pod, lead-to-visitor report pod, popular vehicle report pod, auto shopper report pod, and news/information pod.

The pods show aggregated data for the past seven days. If dealers want to see more than seven days’ worth of data, they can pay for one of the two more-advanced versions of the product, which also include reporting capabilities. Through proper analysis of the data collected, whether with the free version or through a paid version, dealers should discover how to improve both the website visitor’s experience and performance of their site(s).

For more information, visit Dataium.com or call 877.896.3282.

Vol. 8, Issue 1

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