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Right-Sizing Extended Electric Vehicle Warranty And CPO Policies, an Interview with Josh Bass, VP of Innovation at JM&A Group

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"It's all about ensuring that JM&A Group stays ahead of the competition, specifically in the F&I Product space."  The  MAPConnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022  is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted by the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit with Josh Bass, Vice President of Innovation at  JM&A Group .  The Automotive Industry: A Transformation  Josh has had an exciting career, "most of my roles have centered around strategy and product innovation," he shares. Josh has spent most of his career at the front and center of emerging ideas and innovations. He started in the dotcom space and the e-commerce world "when everything was moving from brick and mortar to online retailing," Josh says. "I have seen the evolution and innovation that took place there and then spent many years in the energy industry." Terms like customer centricity and the evolution of home-based technologies were becoming prominent. Josh was fortunate to be involved in roles focusing on leveraging emerging technologies and trends to shape strategy and product innovation. In 2012, Josh continued his career by joining JM Family Enterprises, an $18 billion privately held company based in Deerfield Beach, Florida and parent company to JM&A Group, as Director, Sales Planning, then Vice President of Strategy and Business Transformation and subsequently, VP of Corporate Enterprise Strategy. Continuing his role as an agent for change, Josh became Vice President: Innovation, a new role within JM&A Group, a leader in the F&I industry for more than 40 years. In his new role, he is focused on combining the synergies of marketing and product development, "ultimately, it is about listening to our dealers and customers to leverage intelligence in the right way in order to provide great products and a great experience for our dealers," Josh says.  "It's all about ensuring that JM&A Group stays ahead of the competition, specifically in the F&I Product space," Josh says. "Most importantly, we focus on how our product helps dealers with their performance and, in turn, supports the end-user buying the product."  Predicting and Building for the Future "I think on a personal level, you've got to be curious, and you've got to be trying to connect the dots of things happening both within and outside your industry," he shares. However, Josh adds that an additional layer of sensibility is required. "I think where you can get caught up or trapped if you're looking way too far out and not being sensible about what's manageable and doable today." Josh cites bridging emerging trends with current trends as a critical factor in identifying how you can make things actionable in the present. However, he explains that a balance needs to be found, "not dreaming too far into the future and not being myopic and missing out on what's happening in your industry today." Connecting Marketing and Product Development for a Competitive Advantage "It's about the voice of the customer and our dealers." Listening to the dealers and the customers to fully understand their insights is vital when crafting products.  "Collaborating with our dealers to make sure that we're providing products and services as well as branding that is going to help them progress in ultimately understanding the customers' needs" is essential, Josh says. JM&A Group is committed to helping our dealer partners understand their customers better. Josh explains that leveraging consumer insights helps dealers effectively sell F&I products and brings a level of sophistication to the overall buying experience.  The E.V. Customer: Dealers need to be ready to answer sophisticated questions There are, of course, similarities between the traditional buying experience, those purchasing I.C.E. vehicles, and those purchasing EVs. "They are ultimately still buying a vehicle, but there are differences for sure," Josh shares. "We have seen that they tend to be a more sophisticated buyer, that typically has done more research prior to their purchase; EV customers ask more questions."  EV customers want to understand how the battery will maintain its health over time. In addition, they want to know how and where they will charge their vehicles. New technology within the vehicle, such as dashboard information relating to the car's performance, is another aspect that dealers need to be equipped to answer.  JM&A Group focuses on helping dealers create a compelling sales experience through the recent launch of their EV+ Protect™ brand.  "One of the reasons we launched the EV+ Protect™ brand is because we want to make sure that when customers come in to buy a new vehicle, they understand how to protect it and have the peace of mind that they have the coverage to prepare them for the road ahead."  JM&A Group has been providing service and maintenance F&I products to dealers for many years now and prides itself on listening to its dealers. Josh explains that collaboration with dealers allows for opportunities to be realized, "we understand that there is an opportunity to have a comprehensive brand that supports and covers our products." He goes on to share that "helping our dealers and their customers understand the buying experience to include a tailored set of products that are specific for a unique technology."  Inviting Change through Exceptional Relationship Management "We develop strong relationships with our dealers and maintain continuous dialogue," Josh explains. "Ultimately, we consult with our dealers to ensure that when emerging technologies and processes change within the dealership, we are right there to support them " he says.  "EVs are the next piece in the line of evolution in our industry." "Dealers have always been good at adapting to change in the industry, and JM&A Group is there to ensure that they are getting what they need in terms of product, insight, training and perspective on how to adapt to the changes." It all comes back to the relationships between JM&A Group and its dealers and customers. JM&A Group also used dealer feedback to create and launch a new EV warranty product under the  EV+ Protect™ brand. "We believe we have the most comprehensive and unique F&I warranty product on the market today," says Josh. The product provides comprehensive coverage for used vehicles. "Customers buying any EV vehicle can be provided comprehensive coverage for the vehicle as well as protection for the battery for the duration of that warranty period."  A Culture of Innovation "It is a continuation of our corporate culture to find new ways of doing business," Josh smiles as he answers what excites him most. "For us to be innovative in the market, and particularly to remain ahead of the curve relative to our competition while ultimately providing innovative products and services for our dealers, is the most exciting part." JM&A Group is committed to trying new things. "Part of innovation requires you to be able to try things that may be new to a market or new to the customer," says Josh, "some things are going to be successful, but there might be times where we don't do as well as we thought." Overall, JM&A Group has a deep commitment to learning from those experiences to convert them to success in the future, the freedom to create, and the byproduct of true innovation and, ultimately, learning.  In terms of launching the EV+ Protect™ brand, the team, through its field team, has made it accessible to dealers to gain a complete understanding of EV F&I products. "We can promote products and the brand. In addition, we have point-of-sale materials and information for customers during the buying experience." The MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit "We're going to be discussing the performance of EVs as well as the vehicle's impacts on claims considerations that you have to take in terms of pricing F&I products. These aspects will also impact product design and marketing, ultimately selling F&I to the buyer."  Josh will be teamed up with James Davies from J.D. Power, who will have unique insights and data perspectives on EV technologies currently operating in the market. "We are looking forward to also hearing the perspectives of the audience and participants, having a great dialogue around these topics," which will make it an engaging session. Join Josh in the interactive session, "Right-Sizing Extended Electric Vehicle Warranty And CPO Policies"  MAPConnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit  at the Westin Southfield Detroit on October 25th and 26th.  www.mapconnected.com
Building Summits: Creating value through Networks

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We sat down with Pam Walter, the VP of Business Development for Thought Leadership Summits, the producer of CXAUTO Summit Series and Founder of MAPconnected Membership Forum and the VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit. Pam is remarkable in the way in which she engages with people and has helped build a brand and community that is changing the way that the automotive industry comes together. How has the last couple of years affected the CXAUTO Summits? At the start of 2020, we had already begun planning for the CXAUTO summits in June. I never thought that we would need to go virtual. We kept moving the date out until we realized that things were not changing, in fact, the restrictions were becoming more severe as the year progressed. We had to adapt our strategy to support our brand and our community. It took a lot of work, coordination and relationship management; we were just not set up for virtual conferencing and it required a lot of effort and understanding to make it successful. After CXAUTO2020, I had considered what we had achieved and was grateful that we had been able to adapt our model and make it work. That said, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that we would need to do it all over again, virtually, the following year. When CXAUTO2022 was in its planning phase, we decided to focus on in-person fully and decided not to adopt a hybrid model and include digital. It may have been more accommodating to those who are still not traveling but based on our brand, our audience and our business platform, it made more sense to create an exclusive and closed environment in which to share and meet people. What was different about this years’ summits in comparison to those held, in-person, in previous years? There was a distinct sense of appreciation for creating an environment for people to connect in-person, to shake hands, to step out from behind their computer screens and connect once again with people. Attending an event in-person, forces you to be fully present without the distractions that come with digital technology being the sole environment to connect. It really created the opportunity to share, engage and network. What makes CXAUTO different? There are many conferences that take place in our industry, there is a huge market and an incredibly diverse ecosystem within automotive. As a smaller and select group, our events allow for everyone to experience direct access. Anyone they want to speak to is available and so you are able to create relationships with people easily and the quality of the engagement is beyond that which can be experienced at large events or in a different environment. We have found that based on the exclusive environment that we create, everyone in attendance, as well as our sponsors, come prepared to share and receive thought leadership and experience something very personal and unique. How did CXAUTO come to be, how did you come to build this brand and create these experiences? I specialize in automotive and have been running CXAUTO within the Thought Leadership Summit brand for the last 6 years. I think that traditionally, my role represents a very transactional function. However, I am fully invested in each person who forms part of our ecosystem, I truly want everyone to benefit from participating and attending. I truly care about people, their brands and their business. My distinct specialty is relationship marketing and having built my foundation in the hospitality industry, I am able to bring something different to the table. I stay in touch with our network and really focus on sharing the experience with everyone in it. For the most part, we have an exceptionally high retention rate based on the experience we create and the relationships that we build. In terms of my own story, I spent the late 1990’s and early 2000s in Chicago working for Hyatt Hotels. I was selected for the Executive Committee, Director of Catering role to re-open the flagship Park Hyatt on Water Tower Square and was really on top of my game. My husband was approached by his company to launch a program which he had started in the US, over in Europe. What was meant to be a 2-year sabbatical had turned into a 15-year European Adventure and it forced me to look at other career opportunities. It was at that time, living in Amsterdam, that I got my first taste of being a hotel customer while creating and hosting pan-European business to business conferences in key cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Berlin and Paris. Living abroad and working extensively while immersed in different cultures changed our lives. It was such an incredible opportunity and experience. When we returned to the US, I knew that I wanted to continue to focus on automotive conferencing and that I wanted to do it through building real human relationships. What is up next in the calendar? Well the dates for CXAUTO2023 have been confirmed and we will be back at the Ritz-Carlton Marina DelRey next year June 20-22 but until then, I am really focused on MAPconnected Members Forum which I started in 2021. It is a network of executives responsible for the warranty lifecycle: warranty, aftersales, aftercare, technical services; all the way from the manufacturer’s warranty through to additional extended warranty and financial services products. There are a lot of events focused on marketing and new and used car sales which get a lot of attention in the industry but very limited attention and forums for warranty and technical services peer networking and benchmarking: which is a huge expense for manufacturers besides raw materials.   MAPconnected was created for this reason and offers different levels of membership and varying packages which allow for single or multi user executives who are interested in connecting with like-minded people. The MAPconnected model provides monthly small virtual benchmarking and sponsored webinars, and our messaging forum allows you to further communicate as well through private and group threads throughout the entire year.  And, the annual summit, VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit will be taking place October 25th and 26th at The Southfield Westin in Detroit, open to leading automotive, powersport, bus, truck, construction and agricultural equipment OEMs, Parts & Equipment Suppliers, their Retailers, Dealers, Distributors, Logistics & Services Providers.  We have a really exciting lineup of 35+ speakers who will be sharing case studies on Strengthening Your Warranty Roadmap in a Customer-First-Connected-World focused on 7 core topic pillars including: Warranty & Quality Strategy – Connected Customer & Recall Strategy – Financial Services & Extended Warranty – Service Operations & Parts – Legal & Regulatory Compliance – EV Warranties & New Services – Technical & Field Service Ops Take advantage of the July early bird special and receive 2 tickets for the price of 1 through July 15th.   Reserve & Read more here: www.mapconnected.com Pam Walter LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pam-walter-4aa9143/
Everywhere I look, I see automotive

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Steve Schmith is the director of automotive industry strategy at Acxiom . He has spent nearly all of his 25 years of professional experience working in the automotive industry, including 17 years at Deloitte, wrapping up his tenure as the Global and US Automotive Marketing Leader and two years at Automotive News as the Executive Director of Custom Research and Data and host of the Daily Drive podcast. I caught up with Steve at 7am, as he has his morning coffee and is accompanied by his three Boston Terriers. The Industry of Opportunities “I had no intention of ever working in automotive. In fact, I had never even been to Detroit.” I went to journalism school, I got a degree in journalism with a minor in television and radio production. I actually started my career in economic development. What I have come to love about this industry and what outsiders sometimes don’t see is how much opportunity there is in the automotive industry. If you’re an engineer, a designer, a marketer, if you studied supply chain, I really believe that there is an unrecognized opportunity for folks who didn’t grow up in an automotive family, to create their space here. I think that when most people think about the automotive industry and dealers, they stop with the transaction; the sale of the car. The truth is, when you think about it more broadly, and you think about how people connect with all the brands in their lives, it is so much more than that.  There are so many vendors because there are so many opportunities. From selling a vehicle, to financing a vehicle, insuring, repairing, and servicing, as examples.  If you’re in the business of reconditioning vehicles, or running fleets. And none of that even begins to touch on what happens when you’re inside the vehicle, particularly as vehicle connectivity improves, matures and scales and the opportunities to connect with customers those technologies create. There are just so many opportunities for people to connect with brands and there are increasingly a lot of brands – automakers, suppliers, lenders, insurers, in-vehicle content providers, etc. – competing for that attention.  “I think a lot, I think about the industry a lot.” Clearly these are exciting and fundamentally transformative times in the automotive industry, so it helps being such a fan of the industry, a fan of the brands and the manufacturers. It’s also very fun and inspiring to be on the road and to see these beautiful machines and all the technology. You often hear people speaking about automotive brands as if it forms a part of their identity. These brands are very personal to people. They take them on family trips, they take them to work every day, they hold our families and they are where some of the most wonderful conversations happen. I just feel so lucky to be a part of the automotive industry, to work in storytelling, in strategy, to bring it all together in such a personal way. Being able to relate the personal nature of automotive and the brands in this industry helps as our team at Acxiom thinks about and strategizes how we can best deliver value to our automotive clients. An Industry in Motion “It surprised me that it took a pandemic to really drive digital retailing.” Digital retailing in our industry has been around for 20 years but there was really no catalyst to put a lot of money into it because the model was working. Coming out of the 2009-10 Great Recession, we were on a growth trajectory that did not stop for 10 years.  So, understandably, there was no reason for automakers or their franchised dealers to go “all in” and fully invest in, adopt and scale what is best-in-class digital retailing.  Then suddenly, the pandemic hit and the environment changed. We saw disruptors entering the market who did not require the in-person relationship, and they became very big competitors. It’s amazing to see how far we have come in the last two years and, yes, there is a lot of disruption and, yes, there is a lot of investment and growth but I am truly excited and think it is so wonderful to see how companies are focused on connecting with customers.  An Industry Driven by Data: The Changing Ecosystem “As we push digital, we also need to understand that we have this entire ecosystem of businesses that have historically worked within very defined industry lines. Those lines are blurring.” There are so many opportunities for different brands in the connected mobility business ecosystem to connect with people outside and increasingly inside of the vehicle. There are so many aspects of the full customer journey when you think of the entire experience. Whether they are driving the vehicle, sharing it, or riding in it. Whether they are getting it serviced or charging their EV. The once clear industry lines separating the brands engaging people as they move from one place to another are blurring more and more each day.  On the flip side, having that single view of the customer gets very hard and that is where Acxiom really plays well and creates value for our clients. That is our core competency, our ability to create a single view of the customer and help brands deliver in real-time personalized, omnichannel customer experiences based on a deep understanding of people.  If you consider the buying side, there are multiple channels where a person interested in buying a vehicle can enter the shopping funnel – an automaker website, a dealer website, a third-party website or simply walking into the showroom of a local dealer. Brands that can connect those channels and deliver a personal customer experience while doing so can be better positioned to win. Consider the finance and insurance aspect of buying a vehicle and services like extended warranties, gap insurance, or increasingly connected vehicle subscription services. They all come into play and there are just so many ways that people interact and expect those interactions to be personal. Having the ability to deeply understand consumer behavior, preferences, timing and then make it all personal, that is the challenge that the industry faces.  How do you create a consumer experience that brings all of that together, that is very personalized and that is done at scale and done in ways that are ethical and done with privacy built in? That is what we do at Acxiom.  What are you thinking about, what is next? I am really interested in how various segments of the U.S. market will adopt electrification. It is not a one-size fits all model. Acxiom has a point of view publishing in June where we will be presenting a bell curve that is essentially a view of EV adoption among people in the U.S. Not all consumers are in the same position, which means marketers require different approaches in terms of marketing; the mission is different for people wherever they fall on the adoption bell curve. People on the far right side of the curve shouldn’t be ignored today regardless if they are likely years away from buying an EV. They simply require a different message than that of people ready to buy today.   I am also thinking about the customer experience at the charging station and whether a good or bad experience may be associated with the type of charging station or the vehicle brand itself. Right now, that’s an unanswered question, but my sense is if a new adopter of EV technology has a poor charging experience, the person might equate that experience to EV technology and the brand EV they are driving and not so much the charge point provider. When you consider your in-depth understanding of consumer behavior, what do we know? We know that when it comes to autonomous technology, consumers are interested in technology that protects them from themselves. Interestingly, the paradox is that the willingness to pay for autonomy is not high. I think that presents an interesting opportunity when we consider connected solutions like infotainment and vehicle health monitoring, which, in contrast, is a faster and more near-term opportunity.  Right now, when we consider the regulations and the fact that there are somewhere between 15-16 million new vehicles entering the market in the United States annually, each one with about a 12-year life cycle, it is going to be a long time before we get to fully autonomous vehicles everywhere. The more near-term opportunity to connect with people will be through in-vehicle technology. That experience inside the vehicle, greater convenience within the vehicle, managing your calendar, your groceries, your digital communication from inside the vehicle, all of that, can happen in the vehicle right now. What I also really love about this technology is that it can be built, it can be upgraded, it can be scaled much faster than autonomous technologies can. We are going to likely see a lot more forward motion regarding what happens inside the vehicle in terms of connecting with consumers and creating experiences. Of course, the development of autonomous vehicles will continue to move forward but there are clear opportunities that are technologically rich and where the ROI and the value to shareholders is clear and scalable. “When we think of people, these are not experiences that are foreign to them. When you get an update on your phone, you don’t consider that a recall; your phone is now better because it got updated. Same should go for your vehicle. If your car is pushed an update, your engine can run more efficiently, the software inside your vehicle has been patched to provide better cyber security. Your car is better: The vehicle that I bought last year is better today. That is a very fundamental shift in how consumers view their vehicle." There were so many ideas shared in our session, so many perspectives gained. Steve is a deep thinker and it is apparent in everything he does, including the way he speaks and tells stories. His ability to seamlessly shift from technical, data driven conversations to sharing his personal views on the industry is flawless. Steve will be moderating a panel at CXAUTO2022 which will include Jeremy Beaver, the CEO of the Del Grande Dealer Group ; Richelle Estrella, Department Head – Customer Data Lab at Honda North America ; and Myles Rose, Automotive Digital Strategy Director at Acxiom . This Panel will be discussing “Harnessing the Power of CDPs to Nurture A Customer First Philosophy That Drives Profitability and Loyalty.” CDPs offer automotive brands the opportunity to build modern marketing platforms where customer identity serves as a foundation on which automakers and dealers can build strong, first-party identity solutions while also regaining control of marketing decisions related to targeting, media spend and attribution.
Let The Government Be Your Customer Service Department!

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Three super-large dealership groups are trying it!   Here’s how it’s going for them so far… Carvana lost the ability to transact in Illinois according to  Automotive News  (May 16, 2022) because, “The Secretary of State's police department opened an investigation into consumer complaints about Carvana in February, (Henry) Haupt told  Automotive News . The investigation spans about 90 signed complaints, Haupt said. He said he couldn't provide an exact date as to when Carvana might see the suspension lifted.” According to a press release from the Texas Attorney General’s Office: “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a deceptive trade practices lawsuit against the online used vehicle dealer Vroom Automotive LLC and Vroom Inc., which also sells cars to Texas consumers under the name Texas Direct Auto. The lawsuit alleges that Vroom has misrepresented and failed to disclose significant delays in transferring clear title and obtaining vehicle registrations, burdening thousands of consumers. The State also alleges that Vroom has misrepresented and failed to disclose vehicle history and condition and terms of financing and approval—all violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act. According to the lawsuit, Vroom has not managed its growth effectively, leading to inadequate systems and procedures that have harmed Texas consumers.  Over the last three years, consumers have filed over 5,000 complaints with both the Better Business Bureau and the Office of the Attorney General against Vroom and Texas Direct Auto.”  According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Press Release dated April 1, 2022: “The Federal Trade Commission and the State of Illinois are taking  action against Napleton , a large, multistate auto dealer group based in Illinois, for sneaking illegal junk fees for unwanted “add-ons” onto customers’ bills and for discriminating against Black consumers by charging them more for financing.  Napleton will pay $10 million  to settle the lawsuit brought by the FTC and the State of Illinois, a record-setting monetary judgment for an FTC auto lending case… A survey cited in the complaint showed that 83 percent of buyers from the dealerships were charged junk fees for add-ons without authorization or as a result of deception. One consumer cited in the complaint reported that the dealership located in Arlington Heights, Ill., charged him for nearly $4,000 in add-on fees after he’d paid a similar amount in down payment.” So, from the outside looking in, it appears these three (3) organizations do not have procedures in place to handle their customer queries, issues, and problems. So, by default, by attrition, or by apathy, they are ceding control and allowing the regulators to fine them and suspend them, thereby driving the dealerships to manage their own business affairs. (Good pun, right?)                                                                                                                 In the Napleton matter, a staggering 83 percent of buyers said Napleton took advantage of them. Let’s examine that statistic even further. In order to gather the information about the 83 percent, Napleton had to allow the FTC to have access to its customer files.  The FTC must have had quite a lot of leverage for Napleton to agree to give them that access.  Further, 83 percent cannot be simply “miscommunications” or “misunderstandings.”  It’s an astonishing number which cannot be explained away. Let’s keep this simple: Handle your customers or the government will.  
Communication Has Changed: A Conversation with Joe Shaker

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How do you interview someone who is truly an industry heavyweight, a Massachusetts Dealer of the Year, the CEO of a Tech Company, and who has been interviewed so many times before? You prepare. And then you scrap your prep notes and questions and you allow magic to happen.  “I think the first-mover advantage is the first person to learn, right? Whoever learns first, has the advantage, and we've learned a lot.” Meet Joe Shaker , owner of the Shaker Auto Group and the CEO of TruVideo . Someone who is “trying not to be famous,” doesn’t exist on LinkedIn and openly shares his story with honest excitement, energy and a formidable presence that, honestly, left us invigorated.  Below is his story, in preparation for CXAUTO2022 . When I tell the story, I tell it from a point of: these are the real problems, this is what we've learned and this is what we did when we learned it. And then guess what? We learned something else. So when I say it's genuine, it's actually true. I wanted customers to see what they're paying for. What is being disrupted, what is changing? Communication is changing.  I think one of the key things that I like to remind people, and what I've learned myself, is that we forget about the big picture. Sometimes when we're talking about service or sales we get focussed on details that don’t matter. I tell Dealers: don’t change the way you do business, change the way you communicate.   Overall, 95% of customer experience is largely embedded in how well or how poorly you communicate. So we need to really focus on how we communicate and what it is that we are communicating. I like to joke around with the OEMs. I love it when I go to the meetings and people talk about trust and transparency or when the marketing team talks about meeting people on “their terms”: Yeah, just a quick question. How do you deliver on that? How would I execute that? Oh, you don't know. You're just saying that. Okay, great. Thanks for the punchline. So what we end up doing is going back to the theory without an execution model, but we can solve these problems! The stars have aligned for TruVideo and the reason I say that is because texting is the most used function on a phone and 10 billion videos are being watched daily on Facebook alone. Customer behavior has fallen inline for us, and with phones now taking high quality video, there has been an alignment between consumer behavior and technology. Asynchronous communication is how customers want to communicate. They love it, they click on it, they open it and, if you want to do business with a customer, it's the best way to maintain a relationship based on all the data and stats. Also, because of where we are in this journey, we can now also see how customers are interacting with the communication.  If we take it a step further, focussing on the customer experience, CX personalisation is probably the strongest underpinning right now. Video has provided this personalization which has allowed these communications to explode on the customer experience front as well as dealer revenue. Simultaneously, you get to take two bites out of the same apple. “TruVideo really took off within the sales department of forward thinking Dealers” We have a case study that analyzed 16 stores, within a large group, during December of 2020. The case study showed that when you sent the video to a customer that personalized their experience, the appointment set rate and show rate, both increased. We all know that when we are talking about leads and customers, we are looking at how many leads were generated, how many appointments were made, how many were confirmed and how many customers showed up to those appointments. The next layer, percentage wise, is how many vehicles were sold after this whole process. Any change on any level, with any of those factors, makes the number at the bottom go nuts because it’s a multiplier.  Well, with the case study group, they sent out just under 7000 videos and sold around 560 more cars during COVID than they did prior to the pandemic in December 2019. We started to realize that so many people were watching the videos over and over again and sharing them, we realized this data is actually more valuable than the website data. We can send videos, we can scrape words and phrases, we can really grab all this rich analytics and data and reach customers.  How are you able to manage your duties within Shaker Auto Group as well as deliver on your goals as CEO of TruVideo? One of my favorite quotes is: “Commit to the process, and surrender to the result.” Our Business, the car business, has been largely built around processes. When we hire, we share our process, our system, which we are willing to hire into. It is not a blank slate. We are willing to hire you to work within this ecosystem and we have spent a lot of time creating a systems and process driven environment. This means that hiring correctly and training people to thrive within our environment, really is our big picture.  We do behavioral profiling so that we get the right fit within the environment and we also have a different way of paying our people versus other Dealers. The reality is that someone like me is usually buying more stores to grow further. I have chosen to diversify what I do and how I do things through software and technology. I have a great management team that we have cultivated in order to run the process environment and this allows me to grow in different ways typical to the industry.  In an environment where everybody is focussed on training, how do you truly integrate training into your environment? Theory without execution is hallucination, and I don’t like to hallucinate. People do and say things, buzzwords, but don’t execute on them. When people say they do training, I want to know what that means. Usually, theoretically they are right but I want to understand how they execute on these things. And I think that's really the secret; we won't sign up with vendors if we don't believe we, as the dealership, can execute on it. There is a difference between those who flippantly use  training  as a component of their operations and ourselves. It’s part of our system, our process, it’s a religion with us. What can we expect at CXAUTO2022 TruVideo has really been an incredible experience for us and some of what I'll be talking about at the Event is  conversational commerce ; what it is and how we found ourselves there. We knew we were doing something different but found out that the concept existed, we were just executing it in a very unique way. When we started learning about the communication chain, we realized everyone was getting the same message. We had to fix that and, then, that’s when we really started learning. We spent the first few years really focussed on solving the customer problem. The word  engagement  slips in all the time but when we really think about it, has the message been delivered and not just the text lines? Maybe we know the open rate of an email, but do we really know anything else? “I want to talk to the Doctor, not to the Receptionist” In 2021 we released the ROVI Report; We wanted to share data from our first 7 million videos. One OEM partner that shared data with us showed us  a 1.1 million repair order sample. The ROs that had video were $55 more, and, simultaneously increased CX scores. Customer “Intent to Return”, went up 4 points on the Net Promoter Score and “Value for Service” went up 3 points on NPS. Some of our OEM partners have exploded on the JD Power Service Index; so we are truly seeing the impact on the customer.  Following the data has shown us that we can not only eradicate doubt, but fix the communication chain. We realised we had data when we saw 35% of videos being shared in service. The inspection from the technician was no longer diluted by going through various people. The same transparent message was now going to the advisor, customer and any friend or confidant.  What matters about data and analytics is: how do we make it actionable? How many times are people watching, sharing, what is the real time data? We can show that through our dashboard, allowing managers to know what they need and allowing the Dealer to control the communication.  Our high-energy conversation ended with us sharing our personal views on how the world needs  more . More communication, more technicians, more perspective, more creativity and more acceptance of differing skills. Especially when it comes to breaking negative cycles through inclusive thinking.  See Joe live at the CXAUTO2022 in Marina Del-Rey next month! We would highly recommend it!
Curing your COVID Hangover

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If you ordered a new vehicle and were told it could take a few weeks to come in, and all you had to do was leave a deposit and wait, you’d be pretty excited right? Well, what happens when a post pandemic global chip shortage starts to squeeze automakers’ abilities to deliver their vehicles to their dealer network? Dealers are now delayed in scheduling retail deliveries with their customers, and have to disclose missing items. The chip shortage is creating catastrophic wait times, crippling dealers’ ability to offer vehicles containing the high-tech features many customers want. The outward-sensors are controlled by microchip processors and therefore some manufacturers are building vehicles without the features altogether. Others are simply pausing production. Either way, it’s not a happy problem to have. There are a variety of anomalies occurring in the automotive industry currently. The biggest challenges we face include: managing customer expectations, factory constraints, and used vehicle valuations skewed by current market conditions. The values, because of low supply, are at an all-time high. Meanwhile, increasing delays leave some customers wanting to back out of their orders. The others customers remain waiting weeks and months more. When they do finally take delivery, the sales process suffers greatly. In the customer’s mind, they were lied to and ignored. They are extremely frustrated. They are anxious about getting their new vehicle. Increases in MSRP and egregious dealer addendums, have customers feeling squeezed by the charlatans. After being ignored by their salesperson for the last few months, they have no patience left for our process and they certainly aren’t interested in spending extra time in the business office listening to our pitch. The customer has the cashier’s check in hand, made out to the penny, and can’t wait to torch you on the factory survey. Those customers are also highly likely to leave a really nice 1-Star Google or DealerRater review. Did I miss anything? Vehicle sales plummeted to some of the lowest levels at the start of COVID and now that we have sold through the bloated inventory, we struggle to build back up again. We are reminded that after enduring what we have all experienced during this pandemic, including its shortage repercussions, people’s psyches have changed. Not only our employees, but our customers too! It’s time to re-adjust our approach, our attitudes, and our actions.  To fix this, we start with an attitude adjustment and increasing the amount of engagement. Simply reach out periodically with updates, and let your customers know what’s happening. It makes people feel nice when you call or text them. It makes them feel like a priority. They are happy you didn’t forget them and they know someone is paying attention to their vehicle and its arrival date. We change our negative attitudes regarding low inventory, it’s low everywhere. Next, pay attention to our appearances and the vibe we give off. When people are dropping $100,000 on a new Escalade, they want to know we care about their purchase. Finally, take action! Start realizing one of the biggest perks our industry is experiencing - low volume and high profits.  How fortunate are we? You’ve never had to sell fewer vehicles for more gross profit in history. Commissions are at an all-time high and life is pretty good considering. Get excited about having more time to spend with each customer. During busy times when we give cars away for little to no profit, we are always rushed. We never seem to get quality time, connecting with them and solidifying meaningful relationships. If you spend extra time with customers now, you can set clearer expectations. This allows you to manage communication more effectively during the waiting process. This ensures the delivery is more successful and brings the customer back again for their future purchases in sales and service. It’s time to get re-connected with our customers and stay there.