There were many announcements for connected car dealers at NADA this week. NADA celebrates its 100 years of history. There are studies by Naked Lime and Marchex. Companies in the news are Dealer.com, Calamp/LoJack, J.D. Power, DealerSocket, Carfax, Autosoft, CDK Global, LotLinx and Dominion Dealer Solutions. Trends show a greater inventory and more tools for dealers to contact buyers online as well as improve relationships through phone calls.
Snippets Help Dealers Says Naked Lime
Naked Lime Marketing conducted several case studies in the last year with the goal of illustrating the tangible benefits enjoyed among automotive retailers taking advantage of Naked Lime’s services. While the studies range across a wide variety of Naked Lime services, a clear pattern emerges across all: the case studies support the need for an ever-evolving digital approach to attracting and retaining dealership customers.
Reputation Management is a vital tool in helping dealerships make sure an accurate story of their business is presented to the public: earning and maintaining a positive online reputation is the key to that in today’s digital age. Naked Lime addresses this need with its Digital Reputation Management service, including a Response Handling option, in which a dedicated specialist is appointed to investigate negative reviews, post personalized responses to all reviews with approval, and push on-site reviews to dealership social media.
Naked Lime analyzed year-over-year data for dealerships new to reputation management services to see the impact from 2015 to 2016. Based on Google, Yelp, and Facebook responses, dealers using Naked Lime’s services saw response activity increase over 200 percent. Read here for the full study.
Structured Snippets, Google ad extensions generated from content on a website, help people decide if they are interested in visiting a site. Dealers face stiff competition in driving website traffic, and every ad extension has the potential to increase impressions, clicks, and conversions.
Naked Lime selected sample dealerships and tested a variety of Structured Snippet headers to evaluate effectiveness. The result: in months of advertising featuring Snippets versus the same months without, each dealership performed well above normal expectations in click-through-rate, cost-per-click, and average search position. See the full study here.
Dynamic Used Campaigns are a tool to help dealers overcome the significant challenge of successfully advertising used vehicles because that inventory changes daily. Dynamic Used Campaigns allow dealers to show digital ads for specific vehicles in stock, based on customer search matches to their actual inventory.
Naked Lime began testing Dynamic Used Campaigns as a way for dealers to more effectively sell used inventory, working with two test dealerships of very different sizes. The first, a large Toyota store, saw an increase in the number of used units sold of over 350 percent, and a decrease in the days used vehicles spent on the lot of over 500 percent. The second dealership, a smaller Ford Lincoln dealership, saw modest, but still significant, improvements: an increase in the number of used units sold of 22 percent, and a decrease in the days used vehicles spent on the lot of 21 percent. Check out the full study here.
Marchex Says Dealers and Shops Should Improve Phone Call Handling
The Marchex Institute, relased new research, titled “Intro into the Auto Industry,” to shed light on how auto dealers, OEMs, and independent repair shops can capitalize on inbound calls to their business. The data, which comes from more than one million aggregated and anonymized inbound phone calls placed by consumers to auto providers in the United States last year, revealed that the auto industry is missing significant opportunities to improve sales by improving current call-handling practices.
The data highlights the need for dealerships and standalone service shops to better optimize call processes in order to convert sales. Specifically, managing inbound calls is a weakness for many auto providers, as dealerships place callers on hold or transfer them 68 percent of the time, and standalone shops place callers on hold or transfer them 20 percent of the time. As a result, of these callers, 12 percent abandon the call before a sales rep returns to the phone, leading to significant missed sales opportunities, as ten percent of all callers show intent to purchase.
Additional findings from the research include:
- Consumers’ likelihood to purchase rises 19 percent when the dealer knows whether or not they have a car in stock versus having to check and get back to the caller at a later time.
- Consumers’ likelihood to purchase increases 22 percent when the dealership offers alternative relevant options to the caller when the requested car is not available.
- When a caller attempts to set up a service appointment with a dealership over the phone, 23 percent of the time an appointment does not get scheduled. Standalone shops are even worse at 30 percent.
The study clearly shows the importance of properly handling sales calls. The good news for auto providers is that when they invest in better customer experiences it can lead to considerably higher revenues. Tips for salespeople in the auto industry based on the findings from the report include:
- Find ways to decrease the need for transferring the call or putting the caller on hold.
- Train your sales reps to attempt to schedule the appointment for the caller.
- When a caller is seeking a set time to bring their car in for service or repair, ensure it is scheduled.
Dealer.com New Products
Dealer.com, a Cox Automotive brand, today announced several product introductions and enhancements across its integrated platform of Websites, Digital Retailing, Advertising, and Managed Services.
Dealer.com’s new products and enhancements focus on four areas to elevate the dealer experience, including in the vital areas of their “virtual showroom” and digital advertising portfolios. They include:
- Enhanced Digital Retailing tools. Dealer.com’s integrated Digital Retailing solution — which streamlines online deal-making through a uniquely comprehensive workflow that includes payment, trade, and credit tools, as well as F&I menu selling and deal communication — has been upgraded with several user experience improvements and the ability to deliver Kelley Blue Book valuation tools.
- Enhanced Digital Advertising solutions. Dealer.com’s multichannel digital Advertising solution now aligns search, display, video and social channels, improved mobile delivery, and a new Compass tool in the dashboard which will allow dealers to optimize for performance. This combination makes it possible for dealers to influence consumers at every stage of today’s digitally-driven shopping process with integrated data-targeting ad campaigns.
- New Website content personalization and enhanced specials. Offered through a new “Experience Optimization” package, Dealer.com’s market-leading Website platform now makes it possible for dealers to merchandise their inventory more effectively and deliver consumer-specific content based on their shopping behavior from Autotrader and KBB.com. This capability allows dealers to dynamically serve the inventory and content that is most relevant to individual consumers. Additionally, Dealer.com’s website platform also includes new mobile user experience enhancements and data security upgrades.
- Enhanced Managed Social Media Service – Dealer.com’s turnkey Managed Services offering is enhanced with improved social media services, allowing dealers to deliver a sophisticated social and community management strategy – including integrated content coordination on every major social channel and reputation monitoring.
Calamp Lauches LotSmart by JoJack
Calamp announced nationwide availability of its powerful connected car applications, LotSmart by LoJack and SureDrive™ by LoJack, to provide long-term value for automotive dealerships and consumers. With this enterprise-grade connected vehicle technology, dealers nationwide can access advanced inventory management capabilities to streamline operations and improve their customers’ buying experience. This sell-through connected vehicle package also enables dealers to offer a connected car mobile application to customers. LoJack’s LotSmart and SureDrive solutions will be on display this week at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention (NADA100) in New Orleans.
Leveraging CalAmp’s best-in-class telematics solutions, LotSmart and SureDrive help dealers and consumers benefit from advanced data access to their vehicles. LotSmart offers automotive dealerships detailed information about the status of their inventory, providing improved control over their vehicle operations. The telematics solution also offers a seamless sell-through option for dealers to grow incremental revenue by offering SureDrive to consumers who want a comprehensive aftermarket connected car solution. SureDrive provides consumers with easy-to-use technology that helps safeguard their families while driving, including Instant Crash Notification, stolen vehicle location assist, and Tripwire™ Early Warning that helps detect unauthorized use.
When these products are combined with the proven LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System, dealers and consumers can have an added layer of protection against financial loss due to auto theft, which according to the 2015 FBI Uniform Crime Report rose 9 percent year-over-year in 2015.
J.D. Power Watch Out for Incentives
In a joint press conference held at the 2017 National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo, J.D. Power’s vice president of vehicle analysis and analytics, Jonathan Banks, remarked, “Everyone needs to keep an eye on incentives.” Known for his candid responses to reporters, Banks’ statement addressed a question often asked by car shoppers and automotive industry insiders alike: What indicators exist that can signal where used vehicle prices are headed?
About Those Indicators
According to Banks, the supply of used vehicles, and increased new-vehicle incentives, contribute to depreciation (which is accelerating).
Led by a 33 percent increase in off-lease maturities, total used supply increased 13 percent in 2016. Lease volume will continue to spearhead used supply growth moving forward, but at a reduced pace.
The car share of used supply will be 49 percent in 2017, which is much higher than the 39 percent share of new sales, but supply growth is slowing. Pickups and utilities will continue to experience large increases in supply.
“In a nutshell, luxury car prices are taking a beating and losing a ton of value in their first three years of use,” said Banks. According to his presentation, the year’s estimated decline would leave wholesale used vehicle prices 9 percent below 2014’s all-time high, and 8 percent above 2007’s pre-recession level.
DealerSocket Precise Price
DealerSocket, the automotive retail industry’s leading integrated technology platform, announced the launch of its Precise Price digital retailing tool at the 2017 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Expo in New Orleans.
Precise Price is a fully transparent and accurate digital retailing tool that allows customers to calculate the true price of a vehicle and begin structuring the terms of the purchase through an integrated, web-based platform. Precise Price, whether utilized by customers online or sales teams on the showroom floor, integrates with dealerships’ CRM and desking platforms for seamless data synchronization of pricing information for a more efficient and transparent desking experience.
DealerSocket, continuing its leadership in customer service, announced a real-time, technology-driven customer service model to drive greater profitability for its 11,000+ dealership customers through better utilization of DealerSocket tools.
To provide easier access to DealerSocket product support and resources, the company is introducing a simplified customer service model through a single point of contact, or Customer Success Manager (CSM). When engaged, dedicated CSMs can provide portfolio-wide advice and insight for all interactions with their respective assigned dealers regarding sales, setup and support.
To assist with training needs, DealerSocket leverages state-of-the-art, on-demand virtual training. Dealers can subscribe for unlimited training to orient new salespeople and managers, refresh users with weak usage, and shore up knowledge in advanced product areas like DealerSocket’s List Builder and Campaign Manager.
Carfax & DealerSocket
Carfax and DealerSocket are giving online shoppers more Carfax information to help dealers boost customer confidence. More than 4,000 Carfax dealer websites powered by DealerSocket now are upgraded with Carfax Snapshot, which puts key vehicle history details – such as reported accidents, number of owners, service records and open recalls – for specific vehicles right on the search results (SRP) and vehicle details (VDP) pages. With this information, online shoppers can quickly assess if a vehicle has the right history for them and make faster buying decisions.
A single mouse click on the Carfax Snapshot tool instantly takes buyers to the full Carfax Report.
Carfax Integrates with Advent Resources
Advent Resources has fully integrated its dealer management system (DMS) with myCarfax Service Shop tools, giving dealerships more access to valuable information from Carfax in their fixed operations. Dealerships using the Advent DMS can easily join the myCarfax Service Shop program and take advantage of free resources like Carfax Service History Check and Carfax QuickVIN.
“This integration is another example of our efforts to deliver maximum value to Advent DMS clients,” said Tim Gill, CEO of Advent Resources Inc. “Working with Carfax and the myCarfax Service Shop program, we’re putting trusted information about past maintenance in the hands of service writers to better serve their customers. We fully expect this enhancement will have a net positive impact on operations efficiency and service revenue.”
Carfax Service History Check shows a vehicle’s reported maintenance history. Armed with this information, service technicians can make better service recommendations to their customers which, when combined with other myCarfax benefits like Carfax QuickVIN, helps avoid parts-ordering errors and increases ticket averages.
The Advent DMS also features a button to register service customers for the free myCarfax.com vehicle maintenance service. Dealers that register their customers with myCarfax.com are automatically stored as the customers’ favorite shop. Through the myCarfax.com mobile app or desktop version, customers get alerts about recalls and when it’s time for their next recommended maintenance visit, directing them back to their favorite shop.
New Autosoft Features
Autosoft, an affordable and innovative DMS provider for over 2,000 automotive dealerships, announces it will reveal features and functionality of its next generation platform and its all-new Sales and F&I software at the 2017 NADA Convention and Expo, which takes place January 26 through January 29 at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Expo attendees can demo Autosoft Sales and F&I and see the next generation DMS.
Autosoft’s innovative platform is being built from the ground up to thread all solutions together in a seamless experience. All applications will be housed in a single, unified database. The cloud-based platform will allow dealerships to do business on any mobile device.
The first module in the next generation Autosoft DMS is Sales and F&I, and it will help dealerships decrease transaction times, enhance customer engagement, and maintain performance visibility. Within the new solution, dealerships can both close more deals with collaboration tools that connect all departments and obtain valuable prospect insights with social media reverse lookup.
Autosoft is a two-time, consecutive winner of the Highest Rated DMS award from DrivingSales.com in their annual DrivingSales Dealer Satisfaction Awards.
New CDK Next Gen Websites
CDK Global has launched CDK Next Gen websites, the latest evolution of CDK’s website platform, culminating a two-year mobile-first development initiative to completely redesign CDK websites to deliver the best possible online experience seamlessly across smart phones, tablets and notebook PCs, as well as future device classes on the horizon.
Mobile traffic now accounts for nearly two-thirds of web traffic to dealer websites. Further, 75% of all consumer research for purchasing a vehicle is done online, while physical dealership visits continue to decline. To help dealers compete in this environment, CDK Next Gen websites combine responsive technology with cutting-edge designs allowing dealers to differentiate their brand image and help them reach their profit objectives. Next Gen sites deliver unmatched site performance that is twice as fast and further optimized to deliver industry leading out of the box SEO performance. On the backend, Next Gen features an all new site editor that provides the speed and flexibility to make substantial site changes in only a few clicks and full site re-designs in just minutes.
The migration of existing CDK customers to the Next Gen platform began in October 2016 and will continue through mid-2017. CDK will build dealer websites on the Next Gen platform for new customers beginning in April 2017.
LotLinx Marketing for VIN-Specific Campaigns
LotLinx, the leading digital marketing solution for car dealers, launches LotLinx Turn, the automotive industry’s first cloud-based marketing platform designed to analyze inventory, build VIN-specific campaigns, and spur engagement all within one easy-to-use interface. LotLinx Turn simplifies the marketing process for dealers, cutting through the noise by delivering the right cars to the right shoppers at the right time to ultimately move inventory faster.A comprehensive marketing solution, this cohesive platform is built to drive online engagement that leads to on-lot visits, and helps dealers sell their inventory faster. With LotLinx TURN, dealers can:
Analyze their inventory for insights and opportunities.
Create campaigns to reach interested consumers.
Optimize their digital media spend to deliver maximum return.
Receive transparent performance reporting that shows the business results from campaign activity.
Dealer Activator Plugin
Dominion Dealer Solutions announced today that its industry leading automotive equity mining solution, DealActivator, has launched an automotive equity plug-in tool. This allows dealers using DealActivator for equity mining to integrate with any industry customer relationship management (CRM) system regardless of vendor.
The DealActivator Plug-in gives dealers easy, instant access to their equity data while allowing them to simultaneously view the customer’s profile in their CRM system. CRM and DealActivator information will appear on the same screen. No longer will dealers need to log into their CRM separately from DealActivator, saving time for both dealership employees and customers on the lot. Dealers can quickly review top equity service customers daily without leaving the CRM. Conversely, dealership staff will now be able to quickly distinguish the equity standing of each client in the CRM through the DealActivator Plug-in.
Dominion Dealer Redesigned
Dominion Dealer Solutions has released a completely redesigned Inventory Manager App for appraisal data for its Dealer Specialties product line, the leading provider of automotive inventory merchandising for over 20 years. The mobile appraisal application gives dealers access to all of the resources, including book values and competitive intel, needed to make a fast, educated decision that helps them reach profit goals with just a few clicks. The app will be available for automotive dealers nationwide on both iOS and Android devices and contains complete appraisal data.
Dealers who have used the previous version of Dominion’s Inventory Mobile App will notice several changes immediately. In addition to a more user-friendly interface, the app contains simplified fields for gathering customer information, bulk upload and deletion options for appraisal photos, and more than 70% faster photo upload speeds. Vehicle photos have also been removed from the initial appraisal lists on the app. This is a direct result of extensive dealership testing validating that photos on this list were unnecessary to complete an effective appraisal. Additional upgrades for both auction and inventory data will be added after NADA 2017 based on user involvement.