AutoSuccess: The Future of Integration

Connecting the Dots for a Better Customer Experience

See how dealers across the nation are unlocking the power of true performance, personalization and integration with customer experience solutions.

Today’s automotive ecosystem is being reshaped by seamless integration, digital adoption, technological advancements and empowered consumers. Thanks to companies like Amazon and Netflix, consumers no longer strive for personalization, convenience and speed, they expect it.

“It’s astonishing — dealerships today utilize about 10 to 15 different technology applications to communicate with customers. Like separated pieces of a puzzle that were never designed to integrate or fit with one another,” says David Boice, CEO of Team Velocity. “This siloed system leaves the customer more confused and frustrated than ever.”

Just in these past two years, we have seen the industry lean into a new digital and integrated era more than ever before. Companies regardless of industry are searching for new ways to stand out from their competition and provide the best possible customer experience across both online and offline mediums.

AutoSuccess

AutoSuccess: The Sky is Not the Limit

The Sky is Not the Limit

New Technology Changes the Future of the Customer Experience

Thanks to companies like Amazon and Netflix, consumers are demanding highly personalized online shopping experiences. Automotive websites have been slow to adapt to meet these new customer expectations — until now. Spurred by necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dealerships have been offering better online services, including appointment scheduling, online transactions, repair reminders, upgrade offers, car pick-up, delivery and more.

“Instead of finding ways to bring the customer to the dealership, it’s how to bring the dealership to the customer,” Eric Frehsée, president of Jeffrey Kia, says. “That’s not something that any dealer can do on their own or something that any manufacturer can do on their own. It’s an evolution.”

In this ever-changing digital world, finding ways to bring the dealership to the customer in a personalized and automatic manner is the key to staying relevant and profitable. Customers’ needs have changed and as a result, the customer experience needs to change as well. “Personalization is no longer a ‘nice-to-have,’ it’s a must-have,”says Brian Benstock, Vice President and General Manager, Paragon Honda and Acura.. “Amazon’s model works because Amazon knows its customers. Dealers need to look at their website the same way. Customers don’t want to go through the hassle of filling out a form to schedule a service appointment because they expect you to already have all their information. If they are shopping for a new car, they expect to easily find out what upgrade options they have and what their payment would be. The data is there, it just hasn’t been used in automotive websites until now.”

 

Mission Improbable: 2021

Mission Improbable: 2021

Imagine this…A customer walks into a dealership and is treated exactly like they are routinely treated online. They would meet a bunch of people, and it would go something like this:

Website: Hi, my name is Website. Thanks for stopping by. How can I help you today?

Customer: Hey, we are looking to check out the new 2022 Telluride, see what our trade might be worth, and get a feel for of our monthly payments to see if it works in our budget. If so, we are interested in purchasing over the next few days.

Website: Perfect, let me show you around. BTW, how did you hear about us?

Customer: Your friends, Google and Facebook, suggested you. They said your offers on the 2022 Telluride were awesome!

Website: Ok, but first just a word of caution. Whatever you and Google and Facebook discussed privately may not be the same information you get here. But not a big deal, right?

Anyway, let me introduce you to my helpful widget friends. Just to name a few…This is Chat, that’s Trade, and over there is Video. My friend Finance is awesome, VDP is my main man, and you might even get to meet Retail, but most people don’t get that far.

Let’s get started with Chat. Just so you know, she will jump around frantically to get your attention and bug you all day long, unless you just say “hi” and tell her who you are. If I were you, I would just do it, because if you don’t, she is never going away. No matter what. Seriously dude, I am not joking around. I see it all day long. It’s actually crazy.

Chat: Hey, how may I help you today?

Customer: Hi, can you start with giving me some info on the new Telluride?

Chat: Slow your roll stranger. How about you start by giving me all of your information in case you decide to leave quickly, and a member of my team needs to reach you…like maybe tomorrow, probably… or at some point soon?

Customer: Ok, I am already here though. Why can’t they just speak with me right now, before I leave? But, fine, here is all my contact info. Now can you please let me know about that new ’22 Telluride?

Chat: Hmmm, that is such an incredible question. Hang on for a minute while I check. Darn it, Customer. I am afraid a member of my team cannot answer your question, but we will try our best to call you back tomorrow, hopefully. Is there anything else I can possibly do for you today?

Customer: You have not done one single thing for me today. Literally.

Website: Hey Customer, welcome back. Just so you know I cannot see or hear anything that any of my widget friends say or do. It’s like they live in their own world. But let’s get you straight over to Trade and see what happens.

Trade: Hi there. Tell me all about your trade, and then I will obviously need all of your contact information, and then I can send you a value report.

Customer: Ok, here is all my trade information, but I literally just gave Chat all my contact info, can’t you get it from her? Don’t you all work here? It’s the exact same information she just asked for 30 seconds ago.

Trade: Listen Customer, I can see you are already frustrated because you have not gotten a single bit of useful information since you arrived and have repeatedly been asked to identify yourself. I am sorry to say that this is only the beginning. Every other widget friend will need the same information. It’s what we are born to do. We cannot share your information because technically, none of us work here. We are employed and powered by other companies. See my real logo. It’s better to think of us all as “certified” and completely independent contractors. We can only keep our job if we prove to the boss that each of us have separately obtained your contact information. It’s like our fun game. Anyway, then we send your info over to CRM. He is getting old; he still counts the leads with his 20-year-old ADF calculator. Does that make sense Customer, in some small way?

Customer: No, not even in the slightest. I came here to get information to buy a Telluride. So far, all you want is for me to give you information to send to CRM. I thought you wanted to sell me a new Telluride. Google had me so convinced I could get a great deal, and it would be easy.

Website: Hey buddy, welcome back. I get it, just keep your chin up. I am going to get you straight over to my main man, the one and only VDP. We try and make sure everyone here meets him.

VDP: Hey Customer, I promise I am going to get you exactly what you need. Sounds like someone needs a great price and a payment on this 2022 Telluride. Am I right?

Customer: Yes, thank you VDP. You seem friendly with Website, so can you please tell me how much our monthly payment would be on this Telluride, including our trade information that I just gave your colleague, Trade.

VDP: Didn’t Website already explain all that? Whatever info you gave Trade stays with Trade. Sorry, I basically need all your exact same information. Relax, take a breath, because you may or may not like this… but the “awesome offers” you first saw from Google, or anywhere else, before we met are not actually our very best price. Isn’t that surprisingly fantastic news? We have something special called an E-Price. BTW, nobody knows what the “E” stands for. I am pretty sure it’s supposed to be like our “Extra” Special very best price. But it is not here now, it’s in a secret hiding place. All I need is your information and a spot to send this extra special E-Price because you understand I cannot exactly give it you now, right? I hope you get it. Fingers crossed.

Customer: Whaaaat? We are standing in the middle of your showroom right now, and we are ready to buy a Telluride. I don’t get it? I already gave your widget friends all my information and I just want to know an idea of my extra special payments NOW. That’s why we came here in the first place. Is that too much to ask, VDP? I mean, isn’t this a super common question?

VDP: Chill Customer. Please don’t bounce on me. We do have one final last-ditch option, and that’s to introduce you to the biggest, baddest widget friend in the dealership, Retail. But I am warning you, once you two meet, we may never see you again. She is a lone wolf with her own unique style and has her own entirely separate way of doing things. But perhaps she just might be able to help you. Really, at this point what do you have to lose? Are you ready?

Customer: Sure, let me meet her. But first, please tell me that all your other widget friends, or you, Website, already gave her all my contact information, all my trade information, and all my shopping history. I can’t take explaining this 2022 Telluride again and again. I don’t want to answer the same questions again. PLEASE!

Retail: Hey Customer, you look beat. By the way, what’s your real name? If I am going to help you, we need to start over fresh, and I do not want to hear about your time with Google, Facebook, or Website either. That’s all in the past.

Customer: Seriously, Retail? You also need my contact information, trade information and the details of what I want, too? And why are your prices and payments different than your associates, Google, Facebook, and Website? Are you joking?

Retail: Nope. Look, whatever your name is, only 3% or so of people even get this far. You should feel great about your effort. You have worked so hard and met so many widgets. Let’s finish this thing. Now, again, what’s your name, how can I reach you later, what are you trading, and how are you paying for it?

Customer: OMG! Do you even know Website, VDP, Chat, or any of the other people I have dealt with along the way? And shouldn’t Website have been able to just give me all this basic information himself, quickly? I still do not have an ounce of information I originally asked for. It’s so maddening.

Retail: Look, I admit I do not know them well. Except we go to conferences together and party like rockstars 😊. But, just between us, I am always the last person you’re gonna meet. It’s just how it works at our dealership. Now, like I said, let’s relax and start from scratch. It’s much easier if we both pretend everything that happened before we met is erased from your memory like it never happened. Even though it did.

Customer: You have got to be kidding me.

Can you imagine if this is what the in-store experience was like?

If you know the automotive landscape, I hope you enjoyed a laugh or two, like I did while writing this. While fun to smile, we are seriously devoted to creating solutions that empower retailers to dramatically improve their customers’ experience, both online and offline.

The bottom line is this…a dealer’s sales process (inside their stores) would never mimic the online sales experience. I would argue the customer experience is currently far better, more informative, and logical inside the dealership. Online, it’s typically disjointed from the first click of an email or a digital ad all the way through to a website filled with widgets. It’s even worse on mobile devices. The current online shopping journey takes consumers from one siloed experience to another, littered with distractions along the way. This ecosystem has slowly developed over 20 years and was not designed to easily facilitate the most important result: a transaction. Dealerships cannot efficiently manage 8-10 companies, all with individual goals and technology, and expect to create a meaningful customer experience that generates a great outcome for their business.

Integration is a change already established in most other industries, but not automotive retail… yet.

I call it “Mission Improbable” because the current ecosystem was developed like separate pieces of a puzzle that were never designed to fit. Given the exceptional online experiences customers have in other areas of their lives, it’s improbable they will play hopscotch through the maze of inconsistencies in both offers and user experiences. This siloed ecosystem is unique to automotive, and it’s heavily supported by a financial model that rewards silos, OEM certifications, etc. It’s become the norm.

But what are the alternatives? I see two logical pathways to improvement. The first would be a format to share customers’ contact information and shopping data across different platforms. Real integration between various technologies. But, the chances of wide enough adoption are unlikely because the level of cooperation would require tech companies that fiercely compete to also agree. On top of that, growing consumer privacy regulations and security environments would prove challenging.

The more likely alternative is the birth of all-inclusive platforms that were designed, acquired, or both, to facilitate the entire customer journey from the creation and first click of an ad to the final click of scheduling a sales delivery or service, without any unnecessary interruptions, all originally engineered to work together seamlessly. But, platforms like this will take time to adopt because investors, dealers, and OEMs are accustomed to the current mindset. Integration is a change already established in most other industries, but not automotive retail… yet.

We are passionately committed to a better alternative that is facilitated by one, fully-integrated technology platform, designed from the ground up for all “widgets” to work together for customers and dealerships. It is how the rest of the world is already retailing, and we believe we can too.

David Boice
Team Velocity Co-Founder & CEO

“I want to be just like (insert Dealer name).”

Are you sure?

Each week, a growing number of new or prospective clients ask us to provide, “whatever (insert dealer name) is doing that is working so well.” The belief being, if they work with the same company and use the same technology, the results will also be the same. Maybe, maybe not.

Why?

We are fortunate to serve many OEM’s and over 1500 progressive dealers in the automotive, RV, Powersports, marine, and motorcycle industries. A common belief amongst them is that by substantially improving and personalizing their customer’s experience, they will, in turn, complete more transactions. In this regard, they are customer experience mavericks. Their belief system (and ours) has formed the entire basis for our Apollo technology platform.

Before you try to emulate a dealer, you perceive as successful, I would encourage you also to evaluate changing the way you think about retail. We know that change, whether good or bad, is resisted with equal intensity. While that is true for humans, it is even more true for organizations.

To be as successful as a progressive retailer, it requires more than just switching companies. It requires re-thinking as well. One change, without the other, is a formula for continuously switching vendors or strategies and then wondering why you are not getting similar results.

Here are five out of a list of many real-world examples of how progressive dealers think versus a typical retailer. So, before you change companies, ask yourself, are you ready to be like dealers who think this way?

1.) Let us start with an easy one–scheduling service online. Progressive dealers want fewer inbound phone calls and chats to schedule service. Is that a typo? No. They think scheduling services online should be easier and faster and ideally completed with just a few simple clicks or voice commands. The common thinking and old KPI’s reward conversion metrics for more calls and chats. The more conversions, the better, right? Wrong. Progressive dealers consider those KPIs outdated, less attractive, and not in the best interest of their customers. Ideally, they want most service appointments to be scheduled online without ever requiring a customer to speak with a human or chat with a bot. More online service appointments and fewer inbound calls/chats equal fewer failure points with decreased operating expenses.

2.) Progressive dealers believe in providing customers with all the information they need online to complete a sales or service transaction quickly and efficiently. Providing their contact information is only a voluntary step along the way. Traditional thinking requires the customer to provide all their contact information as a necessary first step. Most dealership advertising and websites are littered with interruptions during the process of requesting contact information. Innovative dealers need traditional leads but focus more on developing a seamless information-based customer experience without interruption.

3.) Progressive dealers believe the primary purpose of their website is to facilitate sales and service transactions. Commonly, automotive websites are overwhelmed with slow 3rd party widgets solely designed to extract contact information from consumers in exchange for the promise of a better deal, accurate price or payment, higher trade value, etc. Conversions, not transactions, are King. Progressive dealers believe these constant distractions undermine the very purpose of their website, which is to help them sell and service more cars.

4.) Progressive dealers believe in the value of humans answering inbound texts during business hours. As a percentage, there is no higher type of engagement that converts to a sales or service transaction better than a well-written text exchange between humans. Text is, by far, the most preferred method of communication among adults in the US. Unfortunately, typical thinking is to outsource 100% of these opportunities to bots that cleverly gather customer contact information and routinely end with “Sorry I can’t help you with that. A member of our team will contact you”. A phone call is an opposite outcome the consumer prefers, but ideal for typical retailers who believe their websites should primarily extract information from consumers so they can follow up later. So, rather than having a live exchange upfront, they delay a potential transaction with the hope of reaching a customer later. Progressive dealers think that is illogical.

5.) Progressive dealers prefer fewer technology applications with deeper integration for the companies they choose. Conversely, traditional thinking is, “We cannot put all of our eggs in fewer baskets.” Dealers who think like this often work with 15 or more companies to string together a disjointed customer experience. Progressive dealers gain their inspiration from companies like Tesla, Carvana, Amazon, and others with innovative, fully integrated platforms like Apollo, which provide information and facilitate transactions openly.

Progressive thinking is hard to adjust to because, for 20 years, marketing efforts and websites have delivered a high volume of lead forms and phone calls, not transactions–two distinctly different outcomes. Tesla, Carvana, Vroom, and others have designed their entire platform from scratch (without widgets or independent retailing tools) to facilitate transactions. Their main call to action is to create a secure online account that allows consumers to facilitate a transaction from start to finish. Everything else is a distraction in achieving that goal. We agree.

The bottom line:

The company and technology you choose should reflect how you feel about retailing. Before you make the switch, ensure you are equally committed to thinking differently. Your belief system will dictate your success. Take some time to think about it upfront, so when something does not go as planned, you can stay the course. Along with our progressive clients, we believe the 20-year-old KPIs are outdated and increasingly less useful. Completing sales and service transactions with simplicity and ease should be considered the new standard for success.

AutoSuccess: Paragon Honda and Acura

STAYING AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION

Paragon Honda and Acura see a 133% increase in revenue using Team Velocity’s Retention Solution, Apollo Service.

In a time when customer retention has never been more critical, we sat down with Brian Benstock, vice president and general manager of Paragon Honda and Acura, to reflect on his success as he celebrates his 39th year in the industry. In the wake of COVID-19, Paragon achieved a 133% increase in revenue utilizing Team Velocity’s award-winning customer experience technology, Apollo. “2020 was the best year we have ever had, in the middle of a global pandemic. Team Velocity helped us achieve that,” says Benstock.

“The whole notion of having to come to a dealership for service is outdated. If a customer doesn’t want to set foot in the dealership, they shouldn’t have to,” says Benstock. “Our customers don’t have time to waste when buying or servicing their car. Technology has changed their expectations, so we have to change our approach and exceed those expectations.”

“I replaced the most popular legacy service scheduling tool with one from Team Velocity that is fully integrated with my website and my DMS, includes personalized service coupons for every one of my customers, and offers the ability to pick-up and drop-off vehicles. Not to mention, the entire process can be completed in about 30 seconds or less from a mobile device. Team Velocity’s service products have made it drastically easier for my customers to schedule service, which has increased our online service appointments by five times and played a significant role in helping Paragon achieve 133% growth in revenue,” says Benstock.

 

AutoSuccess: The Top 10 Companies to Watch in 2021

Team Velocity designed Apollo to put the customer experience first, creating a frictionless experience that customers trust. With Apollo, you have one technology platform with a suite of integrated applications that simplifies your processes and reduces costs by eliminating the need for multiple vendors and plug-ins. Apollo ensures consistent offers, creative and messaging across every online and offline customer touchpoint and provides an Amazon Prime-like experience for every customer, with personalized websites dynamically configured to their specific information. Apollo’s intelligent and personalized campaigns not only deliver a better customer experience, but are proven to increase sales and service growth year over year.

 


Learn more about Team Velocity and the other 9 companies to watch in 2021:

AutoSuccess: Murgado Automotive Group

DOUBLING DOWN

How One Auto Group Achieved Double-Digit Growth Amid the Pandemic with the Help of Integrated Technology

While other dealerships have scrambled to quickly adapt to changes brought on by this year’s pandemic, the Murgado Automotive Group’s position never wavered, thanks to the keen foresight Mario Murgado and his partners had during the economic recession from 2008 to 2010.

Mario Jr. serves as the Marketing and Operations Director at the Murgado Automotive Group – Brickell Motors, which his father founded back in 2001. The Miami-based business has over 18 locations that sell a wide selection of brands, ranging from mass-market Honda and Nissan to luxury Bentley and Ferrari.

“After graduating from college, I came back to the automotive world and focused on sales management. My return took place right after the 2008 – 2010 economic recession. Back then, we really had to change our business into an internet sales model, or digital-forward model, that a lot of the automotive industry really had not adapted to or taken initiative yet,” Mario Jr. said. “Being a little bit younger and exposed to more of the technological side of the business, it was a good opportunity for me to look into how we could create an internet sales department that would withstand the upcoming market change.”

 

AutoSuccess: Commonwealth Auto Group

Cultivating the Customer Experience

Commonwealth Auto Group Increases Net Profits by 20% YOY

Like many dealership leaders across the country, Charles Daher Jr. grew up in the family business. He worked his way up the ranks of Commonwealth Motors in Lawrence, MA, by cleaning cars, fixing dealership lots and selling vehicles any chance he could get. After graduating from college, his passion continued as he transitioned into sales and service management positions.

Commonwealth Motors started in 1991 by Daher’s father Charlie, who, over the past 30 years has grown the business to include five franchises — Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Nissan and Volkswagen — along with a business development center, serving communities throughout Northeastern Massachusetts.

Today, one of the group’s biggest challenges is their location. Lawrence isn’t known for its affluence or attractions, making it crucial to connect with customers in surrounding areas, such as Boston commuters and residents of neighboring cities. Because of their location, they found a blanket approach to their marketing efforts ineffective and realized they needed a more dynamic strategy to reach their target audiences. The Dahers decided to partner with Team Velocity to help them implement a winning strategy focused on data and a personalized customer experience.

AutoSuccess: The Missing Piece

Paragon Honda Paves the Way with Personalized Customer Experiences

As a dealership partner and industry leader, Brian Benstock knows the importance of staying ahead of the technology curve.

For many years, the general manager and vice president of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura in Queens, NY has made keynote speeches at industry events across the country encouraging dealers to leap into the new age of the frictionless customer experience, or risk getting left behind.

“There is a great quote by Steve Jobs that says, ‘You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.’ That is exactly what we’ve done here at Paragon,” Benstock said.

“We have been fighting an ecosystem of siloed applications for five years,” Boice said. “When we first started, Brian was using some of the leading companies in this space, which don’t integrate at all with each other or anything else. As a matter of fact, most of the time, they’re archenemies. So, we had to take a different approach. It’s been a five-year journey of building a new and integrated technology platform.

 

 

AutoSuccess: Going Virtual

Bringing the Dealership Experience Online in the Wake of the Coronavirus Outbreak

AutoSuccess: Going Virtual

Most of American life has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. With many states issuing stay-at-home recommendations or outright lockdown restrictions, it’s clear that daily business will not go on as usual in the near future.

Yet for all the unprecedented issues the coronavirus has brought to the world, engagement in online shopping has never been higher. From groceries to crafts to home office equipment, people are finding ways to purchase the things they need without leaving their homes.