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Auto Retailers: Customer Experience Needs to Be Your Differentiator

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Tom Knighton said it best, Customer experience is the next competitive battleground Customer Experience - the term is everywhere in business and even in society now. As with many business practice movements, the term has been misused and misrepresented. Over the past few decades, business has used and practiced the art of Customer Satisfaction, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Customers for Life, Customer is King and even more mantras. They have all been attempts to put focus on the customer. But they often based those concepts on technology or a belief that there were tools that make this happen for a business. Customer Experience (CX) is not the same as Customer Satisfaction. Customer Experience is an emotional attachment and value that the customer owns. I would explain it using something we all understand. Ever have a meal and say "that was satisfying"? Simply asking this to yourself meets basic criteria but does not create a lasting memory. Now if you have ever gone out to eat, no matter how typical or fancy the restaurant and had a great table, fun company, excellent service, fantastic food, tasty beverages and overall enjoyed the event, that becomes an EXPERIENCE. You will likely continue to talk about it and treasure the experience, not just the food. What is CX Really? I would also push the concept further that Customer Experience is not the new business practice, technology, department or business function we simply build. In fact, Customer Experience is not something we as a business own at all - it is also personalized and individualistic. The customer owns it. The customer experience is what they think, feel, and believe they experience as a holistic interaction. We as a business can merely build and align the business processes, technology platforms, channels, training and metrics against a good customer experience. We must do it one customer and one experience at a time. We need to stop measuring and driving the industry on a transaction focused Customer Satisfaction score. We must begin to really understand, align and deliver against personalized customer expectations and needs to deliver a holistic experience. The Industry Issue In auto retailing, it is true that all the horror stories of the past and the bad image perception have scarred the current thinking about buying and servicing a car. Perception is reality. You will often hear people get excited about the prospect of the new car, followed by a sigh that they have to make a trip to "the dealer." In recent research, it has been conveyed that the Millennial generation would in fact rather go to the dentist than visit a dealer. According to several Consumer Reports articles, the main dissatisfiers with the retail process (despite vast improvements) continue to be: The sales representative made the experience a challenging and unhappy one The F&I process was too time-consuming, wasteful and confusing Getting the run around on the phone Not being able to match an offer or vehicle to a real deal All the haggling Lack of visibility, transparency and trust All the "back-and-forth" and time wasted Not concerned about the customer needs Now, compare that with experiences we have all had in other industries. The pandemic itself has highlighted and accelerated the ability of many businesses and industries to become more customer experience driven. Many are offering curbside pick-up and drop off, mobile delivery, omni-channel access, more virtual agents and self-help options and more personalization to suit the customer needs. I always like to share one simple CX example from an industry we can all relate to in our lives - pizza delivery. For a $5 pizza order from Domino's, or almost any pizza chain for that matter, you begin a customer experience journey. The full experience can include: Order through multiple channels Recognized by your name, an account ID, or your phone number as a previous or new customer Able to repeat a previous order with one swipe Given the ability to track your order through multiple devices Receive order updates Ability to change or add to your order up to departure of the delivery Notified when your driver is on your street or in your driveway Delivered within 30 minutes, as promised in the majority of cases  Given a discount or earn loyalty points for your order in many cases Asked (surveyed) after delivery about your experience. Not the pizza, the experience.  In some cities, the delivery is being tested with an autonomous delivery vehicle, or to a hot spot or mobile delivery spot of your choice All of this for a $5 pizza. At IBM we have a saying, "The last best experience you have, in any industry, becomes your standard going forward across all industries." So we all carry these experiences and increased expectations from recent events and business service levels into the auto retail environment. The stakes have now been raised even further for auto retailing. So Why is CX So Important? In my last article , I wrote about the possible future outlook of 2030 in the industry and auto retailing. The fact is that it is quite unknown. Will retailers become less relevant? How will service and parts business be sustainable in the current footprint with more electric and autonomous vehicles in the sales mix? What will be the new car sales levels in the next few years with the pandemic effect and more at-home workers (less commuting)? These are unknowns but the constant for the industry, or at least the shifting of the industry from new car vehicle transactions to a mobility enabler will be the customer. Traditional new car sales will not sustain the industry forever. The customers will. Customer expectations and customer needs will continue to shift, but we must adapt and be the provider of the experience. If you follow the customers, you will follow the revenue and profits. Their needs and their journey are what the industry will transform around. Auto retailers must build and become a "Customer Network Platform" for mobility, providing access, services and experiences... whatever they may be. An engagement, a bond and connection must be fortified between retailers and customers to transform together and not focus on the product, or the transaction, but on delivery of a mobility experience. That will secure the sustainability of a retailer in the future. As mentioned in the opening quote by Tom Knighton, "Customer Experience is the next competitive battleground." Businesses who deliver upon an experience, will find the right products, services and value bundles to offer and deliver to customers. The customers value the experience and they will drive their needs into the industry, or others will come in and deliver upon it. Five Action Steps to Take Now I don't want to paint a total doom and gloom picture here. Many retailers have taken great strides to improve customer processes, customer engagement and the overall experience. Much work has been done by many to improve system integration and data availability to help support a holistic customer experience. More focus has been placed on this issue and that is a good thing. Here are 5 areas I suggest be constantly focused on to continuously improve and keep customer experience the driving mission in your business. The recommended actions are: One view of the customer - Continue to integrate systems and data to have one single view of the customer. A service experience should not be a separate incident from a sales transaction or part purchase. It should be one single journey of that customer with personalized engagements along the way. Work to get one single source of truth of customer information across all channels, all departments and all engagements. Focus on need not the sale - One of the major reasons customers are so dissatisfied with the sales and service process is the lack of understanding, empathy and fulfillment of their actual need. Customers are often not asked about their needs for a new car, or their needs around timing or availability of a service experience but are rather mandated their options. Don't reward and measure metrics that only focus on transaction volume or transaction satisfaction. Make the customer experience the focus, the priority and the mission. Channel Consistency and Information Access - The customer process across any channel at any time should be one of consistency. Starting this process over and over each time they access a new channel or talk to a new person should not be part of the journey. The ability to quickly access information and find value is of utmost importance. Leverage virtual agents, chat functions and self-help functions to assist customers to access what they need quickly and easily. Examples include service updates, price information and inventory availability. Personalization - Don't lose sight as you begin building tools and capabilities to deliver customer experiences - they need to be adaptable to individuals. Each customer is unique and the focus should be on building and delivering capabilities that can adapt and personalize each and every experience. Customer recognition, customer specific need fulfillment and unique treatment will make each customer experience special. It keeps customers coming back, no matter the actual product or service of the future. Create "Wow" Factors - Find, develop and deliver experiences that set your dealership apart. What will make your dealership relevant and differentiated from the rest? Become known for something special that you can "own" and deliver. A "wow" builds the overall experience. Summary The Customer Experience will be what defines the future of our industry. The product, the transaction, the specific service will matter less. Why will they come and do business at your dealership? It cannot just be because of price or product availability, it must be more holistic and meet the customer's needs. Build and deliver a customer experience on each engagement, with each specific customer, over and over each time. This experience will define your dealership as being relevant and differentiating to a customer's mobility needs. This experience will sustain your business through unknowns of the future of the industry. If you enjoyed this article, take some time to listen to the latest podcast episode on Experimarketing  with  Colin Carrasquillo
Want New Revenue Opportunities for Your Dealership? They’re in the Data

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I can’t stress enough the importance of a clean, up-to-date marketing database. Data inaccuracy harms your efficiency and effectiveness and makes you look like an amateur– no trait any potential customer is looking for. This problem isn’t unique to dealerships, but as other industries adapt and change with consumer expectations, automotive retailers are falling behind. Adapt and Attract Take online retail, for example. Amazon adapted to contemporary consumer expectations of convenience and transparency by offering all the info a customer might want on one page: customer reviews, costs and discounts, product details and images, and more. By offering this information upfront, customers don’t need to leave the site to learn about the product. What does that mean for your dealership? Within your dealership management system (DMS) and customer relationship management system (CRM), your customer and vehicle information are continuously updated. That information should be unified so it is the same no matter where you or your customer access it. As a simple example, your digital ads (Google, Facebook, etc.) should showcase exactly what’s on the lot. Additionally, leverage that unified information by allowing customers to create a profile or account on your website to customize their experience. You can suggest recommended vehicles or services (think Amazon’s “additional items you might like” feature) while echoing messaging you’ve delivered via other channels, keeping your brand presentation consistent. However, just having a firm foundation to work from is barely scratching the surface of what accurate data means for your business. It’s possible, via predictive analytics, to take a proactive approach and create brand-new revenue opportunities. Consider the well-known case from several years ago in which Target inadvertently outed a pregnant teenager to her parents with marketing derived from her buying history. This is an unfortunate (for her) but effective example. Target was able to identify a potential buyer based on past behavior, using predictive analytics to correlate hundreds of more variables than any one person ever could. In short, that’s the power to nudge potential buyers in the right direction before they even know they’re in-market. For your dealership, predictive analytics helps you identify customer needs before even they are aware of them, disrupting the usual buying cycle to put customers back into the sales funnel quicker and keep your dealership top of mind. Of course, much of this hinges on your ability to engage and convert at a meaningful rate online. Walmart and other retail giants often achieve conversion rates of over 40 percent thanks to their mobile-first web mentality and their strength in transitioning customers from online to in-store. To that effect, here are a few best practices to keep in mind: Always optimize for mobile, both to maximize your Google search result ranking and to capture customers using their phones. Keep customers engaged on your website, such as with prepopulated lead forms and relevant content. Keep in mind that, in an age where customers visit the minimum number of dealerships possible to buy their vehicle, your job is to stand out from the competition by offering something unique, advertising it clearly and effectively, and meeting customer needs. Clean up Your Data – Then Act on What It’s Telling You Maintaining clean and accurate data puts your dealership in a great position to succeed day in and day out, from meeting customer expectations to creating brand-new revenue opportunities by implementing predictive analytics. Back this strategy up with engaging web optimization choices to make sure you can convert those potential customers you do attract, and you’ll have built an operation that competes aggressively for every last revenue opportunity.
Why Automating Your Google Ads is the Future of Your Dealership

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It's no secret that there is a revolution happening in the automotive industry that, in many ways, has already impacted other industries: Applying automation to every aspect of your business, and more specifically, your digital advertising. You're either buried behind your desk creating specials, or investing thousands of dollars with your agency to do this, and you may or may not be getting the results you want. If you can relate to either of these sentiments, it's time to revolutionize the way you run your digital marketing. What is Automation? According to Forbes , "Automation enables enterprise migration from manual routines toward more innovative and efficient digital processes." It is rule-bound, streamlines simple tasks, and takes the place of human busywork. Believe it or not, we use automation quite often in our everyday lives; from automatic bill pay, to waking up to a hot pot of coffee, to enjoying the AC in our homes. These are all common automated processes that have already been around for years. Humans vs. Automation In the automotive world, the opportunity for automation is bountiful. Think about it. Automation can do everything on a functional level that an account manager could do. It can open accounts, create ads, generate keywords, optimize ads based on important data signals, etc. And, because automation is run by a machine, it's always getting faster and smarter. Automation can not only do all of this better than humans, but it can also complete on a massive scale in real-time, so it's working even when we're sleeping. What's the real game-changer? Using automation and all its glorious powers within your paid advertising strategy. Automating paid search strategy gives dealers access to leverage all kinds of keywords, keyword combinations, dynamic inventory ads, and more. For example, if a shopper down the road from your dealership searches for a car in your lot that's been sitting there for 8 months, your dealership should own that search. The automation targeting capabilities surpasses any manual campaign setup. Google Ads Automation for Your Dealership More often than not, a big chunk of the paid search budget goes to Google. In this case, we're looking at automating Google ads specifically. What is Google Ads automation? It's the ability to automate your paid search advertising operations within Google Ads. Powered by artificial intelligence, Google Ads automation will create entire campaigns - including keyword strategy , competitive landscape, and copy/design. And, with Google being the core of where your intent-driven advertising is going, your typical digital marketing routine won't cut it. Intent driven advertising is also known as Google's popular micro-moments . Google has created a framework defining what people are looking for during different stages of the buying process which helps dealers understand where to put their advertising focus for optimal results. Google explains: "Of online consumers, 69% agree that the quality, timing, or relevance of a company's message influences their perception of a brand." Benefits of Automating SEM Strategy Efficiency : When we think of what agencies do behind the scenes, our brains immediately imagine manual labor, time-lag, and phone calls back-and-forth. With automation, all this goes away. If a price changes on your website, it will change in minutes on your ad. No need for phone calls or manual labor. And, this avoids any angry customers coming in looking for good prices that aren't actually available anymore–even though your ad doesn't reflect this yet. ROI : Automation can triple a dealers' ROI and keep the dealership top of its market simply because of optimization–creating more effective, quality keywords, scaling up quickly and cutting what's not working to minimize wasted dollars. Dealers can focus on translating signals from their website and CRM into real-time changes in their advertising to achieve their goals. Transparency : Automation platforms give you access to all the metrics at your fingertips. With access to a dashboard, you will be able to see what happened in your account, pull reports from specific time periods or channels, and compare performance month over month. This transparency can then help you become a more data-driven company, making smarter decisions for better results. The Future is Bright, and Automated Automation is the future. If you have access to a powerful, intelligent engine running everything from bid strategy, to ad creation, to updates; you will see tremendous improvements in performance. Taking advantage of the most cutting-edge solutions allows dealers to stay competitive with 24/7 optimization. Automating Google Ads is no longer a fantasy, but a revolutionary reality. Welcome to the future of automotive! Top of Form
Take the Headache out of OEM Rebates

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As Happy Gilmore says, “The price is wrong BOB!”. Factory rebates are one of the most aggravating aspects that inventory managers struggle with today. As I work with dealers across the country, dealership managers tell me time and time again about the many hours spent and the pain they endure from managing new car incentives for their dealership’s marketing sites. Every OEM is different, and almost every OEM has found a way to complicate the issue. I can point to three major challenges dealers face when managing their rebates online. Unfortunately, if the dealer claims the rebates incorrectly they are the only party in the transaction left with a financial loss when the rebates are not paid to the dealer by the OEM. #01 The first obstacle is that most OEMs have chosen only select website partners to share proprietary rebate information with. This information then is not shared with other websites or inventory providers.  Because of this, if you opt to use a separate website or inventory management tool to manage the rebates that the OEM has not chosen, then you will likely not have their correct rebate information. Historically, Ford’s OEM has made it extremely difficult for managers to efficiently track rebates. A new 2019 Ford F-150 can have over ten 15 different rebates based upon cab size, engine specs, and packaged equipment; there is no easy one-size-fits rebate for an F-150. OEMs need to be more flexible with allowing additional providers to access rebate information from their system so that their franchise stores can accurately price vehicles online. #02 Secondly, OEM’s have different ways of discounting vehicles. For instance, the marketing team at General Motors has decided that 12% off MSRP is a great way to advertise a discount with a consumer. This may look great to a consumer but can make managing those rebates even more difficult for a dealer. At a glance, how does 12% off even resonate with a customer? I am used to going to a big box store and getting 50% off the retail price, I don’t even notice 12% off. This week a new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has 12% off the MSRP on select trucks. As the dealer, the math of how to get to the 12% off can include several different combinations of OEM rebate money and dealer discounts. Getting the 12% discount to display on a website correctly without showing the standard rebate can be a complex equation. Additionally, the dealer must ensure that the particular unit is eligible for the 12% off MSRP incentive which turns into an extremely tedious process. #03 Lastly, third-party websites like CarGurus, Cars.com and TrueCar only accept two price fields from a dealer’s data feed. Usually, third-party websites will allow for an MSRP and Final Price (Including dealer discounts and rebates). The only chance that a dealer has to properly break out what rebates they are using, is in the description field. This can mislead and create a lot of confusion on behalf of the consumer as to what all the price includes. Third-party providers need to be able to accurately map rebate incentives to the pricing on new cars in order to allow dealers to have consistent pricing online. Moving forward In these instances, a store needs a sophisticated inventory management tool that can decode the cab, engine, and vehicle package. Even then, for certain vehicles, the inventory manager may still have to manually specify the unit rebates. Unfortunately, no perfect solution currently exists to accurately display dealer’s rebates to consumers but here are some ways that a store can do it better. Manually process and update the rebates in the dealer’s inventory export tool. Depending on a dealer’s inventory size this can be a long and arduous process that needs to be done daily by the inventory manager. It risks data entry errors and attaching each rebate disclaimer would need to be updated at the beginning of every month.  I have observed inventory managers try to hopelessly keep up with processes like this. They have wasted countless hours of their month on a non-value add for the dealership. It is an option that is really only sustainable for dealerships with a smaller new car inventory size. Inventory management and export tools now have the ability to automate rebates within the tool. This allows new vehicle pricing to be done in one place and to manage the rebate disclaimers that can be included when exporting prices. While it is still a challenge on VIN-specific units most of the guaranteed rebates and finance cash can be used. On top of this, a dealer can use bulk pricing updates and conversion rules in the export tool to segment out individual units that receive the percentage discount or select aged inventory cash and quickly price each of those units. The dealer can request a “back feed” of new car pricing from website vendors like CDK, Dealer.com, DealerOn, and others to their inventory export tool. This will make sure that the final discounted price is displayed in the dealer’s inventory management tool and can be exported to other third-party providers. However, most website providers are unable to back feed the incentive breakdown that is required by most states to meet advertising regulations. There could be an additional charge for this from the website provider as well. Many states are starting to regulate dealer new car pricing and audit dealers across all dealer website platforms to ensure they display a consistent price with disclaimers. Therefore, it is imperative that franchise dealerships maintain accurate and consistent pricing across all online. How stores choose to manage their new car rebates will continue to be a challenge until OEMs decided to share their proprietary data with other providers and third-party websites allow more flexibility on pricing fields.
Digitize Your Dealership Operations Now to Be Ready for 2020—and Beyond

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Dealership operations can often be a big ship with a small rudder. With all this movement in the technology revolution, what does it take to change course? The answer depends upon the lens through which you view technology, change, and what is happening in the industry. When implementing technology, or deciding whether to so, do you see such decisions as ornamental or systemic? The answer is revealed, in part, by how much you budgeted this coming year to grow your dealership’s ability to connect with consumers digitally. If you made no change, you’re not unique. A new study from Ernst & Young (EY) reveals that only 20% of dealers plan to invest in their digital presence through 2020. That’s not prudent, the research firm suggests, if dealers want to remain viable connection points for consumers. “Dealers need to redesign their value proposition adapting digitalization to provide an engaging interaction and compelling experience across all touch points,” notes EY’s new report, “Automotive Retail 2030: Evolution of dealerships and potential new roles in retail.” Consumers continue to perceive and engage dealerships as their primary way to buy a car, the EY study notes. Does this information mean the calls to digital retailing have fallen — and are falling on — deaf dealer ears? The industry is nearing a jumping-off point as dealers are feeling the effects of the following trends and their influence on dealership practices: Cars as a service (CaaS) model Rideshare and ride-hailing Autonomous vehicles Electric vehicles Worker robots Used car sourcing Vehicle affordability Finance interest rates Reshaping the Industry Digital technologies can help a dealer engage these forces that are reshaping the industry. Digital does this by eliminating the obstacles, redundancy, delays, and errors that can encumber traditional practices. For instance, by having a digital subscription model platform in place, dealers will be able to streamline, manage, control, and ensure customer satisfaction from this new profit center. Modernizing F&I to enable online consumers in obtaining financing information, evaluating trades, and learning about extended warranties and other aftermarket products will help make the dealership more profitable, as well as a more accessible and comfortable choice for customers to buy a car. We know dealers are embracing digital technologies of all sorts to help them serve customers better. The herd of technology vendors at the annual NADA exhibition would have been culled out by now if dealers weren’t buying their wares, one would think. We know this is not the case. Dealer adoption of digital F&I menu systems is a good example. As we’ve reported before, dealers using a digital F&I menu versus no menu to present F&I products realize a: 58% increase in profitability; 50% increase in service contract penetration; 35% increase in GAP penetration; and 60% increase in other products. These performance gains result in a $537.50 average increase in PVR — $500 per new car and $575 per used car — for a $967,500 F&I profit per year on an annual volume of 1,800 cars. The need for dealer expansion in all channels that reach potential customers is high. Ernst & Young notes the progress OEMs, captives, and brokers are making to reach customers throughout this sales funnel. This emphasizes, based on separate studies about online sales done by EY, that these entities are improving how they reach and engage customers along their sales funnel by providing: Product information, including digitized brochures, videos, and product specs using downloads, chat, and texts; Product engagement, using online interactive tools, videos, and virtual reality experiences; and Purchase engagement, by making available online vehicle reservation tools and accessible virtual documentation, e-signature, and delivery options. Consumer education Up-funnel engagement practices as described by EY cannot be understated. Use these channels to educate consumers about not only vehicles and services, but about the various F&I products you sell. The data shows a significant percentage of consumers in your F&I office will not understand the value or benefit to them from purchasing the service contracts, maintenance plans, and similar budget-protection products you sell. In past articles, we’ve often discussed how when customers don’t understand these products or their value, they decline to purchase them. A little bit of product value-based product education with customers can help counter this, whether you educate them online and up funnel, or in your office. Finally, F&I continues to be a source of complaints from buyers, who grumble the process takes too long. Digital is the solution. Using F&I interactive videos, virtual reality tools, and self-administered surveys that reveal consumer interests about the risks and rewards aftermarket products address helps to increase product sales. At the same time, digital lending, contracting, rating, and remitting speeds up transaction times to get the customer to delivery more quickly. Tools make the transaction experience easier and the relationship between F&I manager and customer more productive for everyone. In the future consumers will increasingly move to complete retail product transactions virtually. The current usage rates may not be that convincing — through 2017, online insurance product sales accounted for 4% of all sales. But watch out: The segment is expected to blossom, growing by 300% by 2020. The evidence is sound, and the case studies are aligning around the same message. Perhaps the 80% of dealers interviewed for the EY study who did not plan digital presence investment are now awake, realizing 2020 is barely more than 12 months away. If you plan today, 2020 could be the year you look back and see the benefits of a digitized dealership — or look back in hindsight and wish you had embraced the change more seriously. The choice is yours. Jim Maxim, Jr. is president of MaximTrak , a RouteOne company, and chief digital officer for RouteOne , a provider of digital F&I platforms for dealers. He is an F&I visionary recognized by CIO Review magazine, a frequent panelist and speaker at various F&I conferences and summits, and a contributor to automotive retail media about evolving F&I technologies. Reach him at maxim@maximtrak.com.
Top 5 Strategies to Use Mobile Technology to Boost Sales and Service Revenue

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As a progressive dealer, ask yourself what your biggest accomplishments have been over the past few years. What is your competitive advantage compared to other dealerships? Next, ask yourself how mobile technology plays a role in facilitating what you do well, and how you can leverage those advantages even further. In this article, five dealership principals and managers share top strategies on how their dealerships use mobile technology to foster what they do well, and how they leverage those competitive advantages to sell and service more cars. 1. Mobile customers want to engage Whether they’re a customer or potential buyer, today’s consumers rely on and interact with their smartphones much more devotedly and frequently than they do with any other tools. As Kelsey Bilyk, marketing director at Lacombe Ford, puts it, “Mobile app customers are much more interactive through their smartphones. They want to be connected to our dealership; they prefer the convenience of scheduling a service from our mobile app; they appreciate the peace of mind that they get with one-touch call roadside assistance; [and] they are keen to receive updates on our mobile offers, community events, and special promotions.” She adds, “This unique connection and usage is essential to growing our business and keeping our customers loyal to us.” 2. Service means providing exceptional value For modern, forward-thinking dealerships, courtesy, friendliness, and professionalism are a few of the qualities that define exceptional value. Extending this value into the digital realm delivers incremental value to customers and keeps them coming back. Richard Davies, vice president of Midland Honda, says, “We use mobile technology to help serve our customers better. We’re delivering engaging experiences by enabling our customers to directly schedule a service from their smartphone, as well as improving our customers’ ownership experience by giving them access to their service history.” Davies notes, “Our customers are assured that servicing their vehicle regularly and retaining the all-important service history records from their smartphone could add value when the time comes to sell, and give buyers confidence a car has been well cared for.” 3. Customer analytics help buyers buy Dealerships can use mobile analytics to measure performance and make decisions that will help maximize auto and service sales. This gives them a competitive advantage and delivers highly personalized experiences to maximize the potential of every opportunity. Michael Mills, general manager at Champion Chevrolet Buick Cadillac GMC, says, “Our mobile analytics gives us insight into who is downloading our app, how often they use it, how many mobile offers and rewards are being redeemed, how many referrals are being shared, [and] which prospects are visiting our competitors, just to name a few.” Mills adds, “What’s more, we’re more effective in targeting prospects during their buying cycle. For example, we can search for customers that are in the market for a new vehicle and proactively invite them to RSVP to a special event. This level of personalization helps us sell more cars and improve loyalty to our dealership.” 4. Customer referrals grows your business Referrals not only reduce the cost of customer acquisition but also have a higher close ratio — especially when referred by a trusted family member or friend. Rick Funk, principal of Funk’s Toyota , says, “Digital word-of-mouth has been one of our strongest marketing tools for selling cars. Through our mobile app, customers are able to share a referral promotion through any digital channel, including social networks such as Facebook; peer-to-peer platforms such as Skype, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp; as well as traditional communication channels such as texting and email.” Funk concludes, “These channels are a great way to generate qualified sales leads.” 5. Leverage geofencing to be more competitive Geofencing enables dealers to set up a virtual perimeter around their dealership location, as well as competitors’ lots. When customers and potential buyers pass through the perimeter, they trigger a timely and personalized message alert to their smartphone, enticing them with an effective call-to-action to visit the dealership. Andrew Auger, marketing manager at North Bay Toyota, says, “We use geofencing in a variety of ways to increase our visibility. We geofence our competitive dealerships and send timely and personalized incentives to active buyers who are currently shopping on their lots.” He continues, “We also geofence our own dealership to improve service retention with existing customers as they drive by. Sending the right message at the right time helps us to convert more potential buyers to customers and keep them loyal to our dealership.” T ony della Busa is the CEO of Mobile Einstein, a leading provider of mobile customer VIP and geofencing solutions for auto groups. Mobile Einstein gives dealerships the power to increase shoppers on lot, convert more buyers to customers, increase monthly service appointments, and improve service retention. www.mobileinstein.com