Service & PartsReviews

Service & Parts
Interview with Assurant Global Automotive: Customer Experience Tech

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As Bob Hooey said, "if you are not taking care of your customers, your competitor will." With so many dealership options and value offerings a potential customer can turn to, the differentiator factor will ultimately be "The Customer Experience." This experience is not only up and till the transaction takes place but continues to be built on each customer engagement point for the lifetime of that vehicle. It is known that it is 5x easier to retain a customer than acquire a new one. Why not deliver on this lifetime CX opportunity by adding extra value to the post-purchase experience? Being tech-smart on how your dealership will deliver the benefits of added value and take care of the customer could give your dealership a competitive edge. Assurant Global Automotive has recently launched a mobile app that will help dealers and clients connect with their customers, deliver a more personalized car ownership experience, grow their revenue, and retain more loyal customers. The Dealer Marketing Magazine team had the opportunity to chat with Martin Jenns, Senior Vice President of Global Transformation at Assurant Global Automotive to see the new Pocket Geek Auto (PGA) app in action. What inspired Assurant Global Automotive to create Pocket Geek Auto (PGA)? We've always had deep conversations with our dealer partners and there was one consistent theme that stood out – increasing the value of core dealer products and services to consumers. There was an opportunity to help dealers grow consumer loyalty, improve the customer experience, and drive value for dealer offerings like maintenance, protection plans and service, and from that, Pocket Geek Auto was born. Pocket Geek Auto is part of the Pocket Geek family of products offered in Assurant's other core businesses like mobile and home, where we help consumers manage and protect their mobile device performance, content, and maintenance throughout its lifecycle. In the auto industry, the post-purchase lifecycle management of a customer is very manual, labor intensive, and fragmented. Pocket Geek Auto serves as a necessary relationship tool between the dealer and consumer that streamlines and improves the customer experience. Take banking for example. Do you remember the last time you physically visited your local branch? Likely not, as most financial institutions have created apps where you can easily manage your account and seamlessly deposit and transfer money through the click of a button. We've taken a similar approach with Pocket Geek Auto. Customer Experience in automotive has been a trending topic and focus for dealerships as they build new strategies post-pandemic. Your focus on the post-purchase experience is certainly interesting and is a crucial point to ensure your customer is retained for the long run. How does the overall objective for the Pocket Geek Auto app support this idea? It's all about creating a better post-purchase experience. For dealers, our objective is to help build customer loyalty, strengthen core offerings, and drive service revenue. We're also helping dealers become more transparent and direct in their engagement with customers to drive customer satisfaction. For consumers, we're focused on creating a personalized car ownership experience that extends beyond the vehicle purchase. We want to help dealers ensure that consumers have a hassle-free car care experience and can connect with their dealer efficiently today and down the road. Can you tell us a little about Pocket Geek Auto's key features? It is a mobile app designed to help keep dealers connected to their customers over the lifetime of the vehicle ownership. Through the app, dealers can communicate with their customers by sending maintenance reminders, safety recalls, deals, and price match offers, and other information. Pocket Geek Auto also offers a paperless feature called Digital Glovebox, which has the capability to store vehicle-related documents regarding ownership and vehicle coverage for multiple vehicles. Other key features of the app include on-demand technical support for in-car technology and we will be introducing a simplified claims process that allows customers to report a protection policy directly through the app. How can Pocket Geek Auto be accessed? Is it free for dealers and consumers? Anyone can download Pocket Geek Auto for free to their iOS or Android mobile device and connect it to their vehicle but there are enhanced benefits when a consumer downloads in conjunction with a Pocket Geek Auto dealer or partner. There is no cost to the consumer or the dealer. For our dealer and other distribution channel partners, it is a value-add product that can serve as the primary method of communication to the end consumer via a white labeled version specific to their business. Consumers will typically download the dealer white labeled app at the time of vehicle purchase while they are still in the dealership. Our dealers and partners will receive access to expert technical support for their customers, assistance with administrative details, and even customer insights and analysis straight through a convenient portal. Superior end-to-end customer experience is a major driving force in building brand loyalty, which is essential to retain customers for the possibility of repurchasing. Are there customized options available to complement your brand and business processes? What else makes Pocket Geek Auto unique to dealers? PGA's offering is unlike anything we have seen in the industry to date. The app's technology and open API pulls in over 20 integration points and complements OEM apps already in use with different dealer specific features. Dealers also have full control of branding, imagery, and offers digitally delivered to their consumers through the app, including reporting features that allow for real-time analysis of consumer interactions. Our clients continue to look to us for innovative ways to solve today's business problems and we will be continuously adding new features to the app based on the feedback we hear from dealers and their customers. We leveraged our learnings across the Pocket Geek family of apps, specifically Pocket Geek Mobile, to bring an enhanced experience for today's digitally driven consumer.
Sierra Toyota Recognized for Community Actions

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Sierra Toyota in Sierra Vista, AZ is a small market Toyota dealership, and the leadership team understands the value of providing an exceptional customer experience. They have invested in technology, training, and staff to support initiatives like digital retailing and vehicle pick-ups for service. One program they recently implemented is called Quickride, an app that organizes home deliveries, vehicle pick-ups, and shuttles.  As a start-up consultant, I serve on the advisory board for Quickride. During our normal check-in call, I asked to hear about some of their recent success stories from clients. I expected to hear about happy customers or the benefits of adding home delivery options to their services per usual, but they shared with me a story about Sierra Toyota that caught me by surprise.  Gabe Rendon is the Service Manager, and he manages the team responsible for managing customer pick-ups. He shared that feedback was overwhelmingly positive since implementing the home delivery service. Customers waiting for shuttles appreciated being informed about their shuttle and wait times over the previous system, and those who scheduled vehicle pick-ups appreciated the convenience and being informed about pick-up times without constant phone calls. This feedback fit in with what Sierra Toyota hoped to do with the new program, but no one on the Quickride or the Sierra Toyota teams anticipated this next comment.  The dealership received an unexpected visit from Brenda Charles, who said, “I can’t tell you how much I love this new service you’ve introduced. I have a stutter, so the app made it incredibly easy for me to schedule a service and vehicle pick-up. I’ve recommended you for a commendation for local businesses that take steps for disabled people.” In Gabe’s words, they added this because they wanted to increase customer satisfaction, but they never imagined it would have this kind of impact.  Gabe and his team were originally concerned that people wouldn’t embrace the technology or might abuse the service. However, the opposite has been true. Customers have embraced pick-ups when they have trouble leaving the house or need assistance. Most regular customers appreciate having the option available to them but use the service sparingly as they recognize it comes with additional overhead from the store.  The pick-up service also provided unexpected benefits for the service department. Service advisors can now write up vehicles during downtime because the customer isn’t waiting for service. The vehicle pick-up service also offers them a valuable closing tool for customers who might otherwise find a lengthy and expensive service too inconvenient to finish that day.  On October 8th, 2020, Gabe and Sierra Toyota owner K.C Han went to the City Council meeting, where Mayor Rick Mueller presented them with Sierra Vista’s “Vist-Ability” award for their actions in the community. As their customer mentioned during the ceremony, “This [app] to me has been priceless.” Disclosure: I am also an advisor for and an investor in Quickride. 
An Automotive Service Center Marketing Secret Using Google Reviews

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Some forecasts project new vehicle sales in 2020 to be down 20% or more this year due to the COVID Pandemic . So while doing everything you can to maximize vehicle sales is critical, is there an opportunity to increase the revenue in your service center to offset some of this? I see more digital marketing solutions (and agencies) with specific strategies to market your service center. However, one strategy that is often overlooked is how service reviews can fit into that marketing strategy. This strategy is not just a means to promote how great your service department is, but rather a tool to drive more web traffic and leads to your Service center. It really hit home when you conduct a Google search for auto-related services – oil change, brakes, tires, etc. you will notice that franchise auto dealers are not the usual suspects to display.  It is the Jiffy Lube and Pep Boys of the world that are on the top of the search results. Some of this is a function of how you built your website and SEO .  Focus on the Content If you want more traffic to your Service Center pages, step one is to invest more in the content on your website promoting those services. Also, skip scanning in your coupons if you still go that route as those images will never index well on Google.  Develop a Focused Google Listing The extra step to consider to aid in driving traffic to this web content is to create a separate Google listing just for the Service Center. Many have seen this happening already. Either a dealership in your market has proactively created multiple GMB (Google My Business) listings for their different business units, or Google has done it for them.  One issue to note is that the appearance of an additional listing does not always appear obvious, and searching "Dealer Name Service Center" is not guaranteed to display the listing. The best way to check is to go to Google Maps, search for your location, and zoom way in. The multiple listings will then display, and you should claim the listing if you haven't already.  An example here is it is common when searching for a FCA dealer to see a second GMB location for "Mopar Express Lane" that is unclaimed, and you should claim and change the name to include your dealership. There are several advantages to having two separate listings for your dealership (assuming Sales and Service, but you could also have listings for Parts or Collision/Body Shop). Make It Easy to Do Business As with any digital marketing, one key to success is to make it easy for customers to do business with you. Separate listings can aid here, assuming you make them easy to find. Common goals of going to a Google page for a business is to find an address, phone number, hours, or have a look at what past customers have to say. Most dealerships have different hours and phone numbers for Sales and Service, and by providing separate listings, the customer gets the best information right from the start.  Consumers interested in auto repairs will also be most interested in other customers' repair experiences with you. Someone's experience in purchasing a new vehicle is much less relevant if they want an oil change, tires, or brakes. A separate listing for your Service Center makes all of this easier for your customers. What and How Much Is Said Matters When it comes to SEO on Google and even running PPC (Paid Per Click) ads on Google, the reviews for a business have a significant impact. Google has said that review count and review scores are factored into local search ranking; therefore the more reviews and positive ratings, the better your dealership's local ranking will be.  In a study on 2018 Local Ranking Factors: Reviews accounted for 15.44% of how Google ranks a local business. Keep in mind that Google is not focusing solely on review count, so the best practice is to set goals for 1) Average Rating, 2) Review Quantity and 3) Recency of Reviews. Number three means you can't sit back and relax once you hit a specific milestone.  Reviews have a similar impact on your PPC (Paid Per Click) campaigns. Your rating on Google impacts your quality score too, which affects the cost per click you pay on Adwords. There have been multiple studies showing that higher review scores get better click-through rates on ads. The result is that better reviews will save you on ad spend. If you have a review invite process in place, adjust so that reviews written by sales-related customers push to the main GMB (Google My Business) page and service-related customer reviews are directed to the Service GMB page. Check Your Stats As a final thought before driving all service customers to a new GMB page, make sure your main GMB listing has a robust and competitive rating and review count. Service customers provide volume for review invites that might be needed to improve the primary listing. The big takeaway here is that if you want to make growing Service revenue a priority in 2020, then giving that department its own GMB page and actively generating reviews for that page will increase your web traffic at a lower cost. With a web site built to convert Service leads this will be a key to accomplish that goal. 
Auto/Mate's Chief People Officer to Present “How to Win the Fixed Ops Talent War” at DrivingSales Executive Summit

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Albany, NY — October 1, 2018 — Auto/Mate Dealership Systems’ Chief People Officer David Druzynski will present at the upcoming DrivingSales Executive Summit in Las Vegas, NV. In his session titled "How to Win the Fixed Ops Talent War,” Druzynski will tackle one of the biggest challenges that auto dealers face today. "Employee turnover rates continue to be a problem at dealerships for several reasons," said Druzynski. "Many dealers lack effective recruiting, hiring and onboarding processes. Additionally, culture, mentorship and professional development programs are all important to ensure you can attract and retain the best candidates." Druzynski will co-present the breakout session with his cousin Tom Druzynski, Director of Service Operations at West Herr Auto Group in New York. In the breakout session, Dave Druzynski will share tips on how to source and recruit job candidates and how to establish a hiring process that ensures every new hire is a good culture fit with your organization. In 2017 Tom Druzynski successfully filled 100 technician positions for West Herr Auto Group. He will share the program they use, including partnering with schools, internships, referral bonuses and a 5-level mentorship program that has been key in helping to fill the technician void. “Our recruiting program ensures a steady supply of technicians without resorting to poaching from the competition, which is a tactic that drives up labor costs for everyone,” said Tom Druzynski. Session attendees will learn how to: Create a comprehensive recruiting program Build and market a culture and employment brand to attract top talent Create professional development programs designed to retain employees and grow their careers Druzynski is scheduled to speak Monday, October 22 at 11:15 a.m. The DrivingSales Executive Summit runs from October 21-23 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV. Click here to register and use the code AUTOMATEVIP for a $150 discount. About Auto/Mate Auto/Mate Dealership Systems is a leading provider of dealership management system (DMS) software to retail automotive dealerships, typically saving dealers thousands of dollars per month from their current provider. Our Automotive Management Productivity Suite (AMPS) is a user-friendly, feature-rich DMS in use by more than 1,400 auto dealers nationwide. Auto/Mate has received DrivingSales Dealer Satisfaction Awards every year from 2012 to 2016. Auto/Mate’s employees have more than 1,200 years of combined experience working in franchised auto dealerships, the foundation of its “Designed By Car People For Car People[miscellaneous type="superscript"]TM[/miscellaneous]” slogan. Auto/Mate is committed to winning its customers’ business each and every month with no long-term contracts and free software upgrades. For more information follow us on Twitter @AutoMateDMS and subscribe to our blog at www.automate.com/blog . Media Contact Holly Forsberg, Carter West PR,  www.carterwestpr.com , 602-680-8960
Affinitiv Completes Acquisition to Create a Full-Service Automotive Marketing Platform

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Chicago — September 17, 2018 — Affinitiv announced today the strategic acquisition of Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises . Affinitiv, an industry-leading provider of customized, omni-channel owner retention programs and innovative service lane software solutions, will combine with Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises, experts in digital and new media (audio/video) marketing, to provide the automotive industry with comprehensive solutions for each stage of the customer life cycle. “This is an exciting opportunity. We realized the value we could add to our clients after a successful joint project earlier this year. Given the increasing demand for digital marketing and new media creative solutions, it is no surprise they’ve grown significantly over the past few years. This acquisition truly makes us the marketing authority for all marketing spend within a dealership,” commented Affinitiv COO, Adam Meier. Affinitiv offers automotive OEM, dealer groups and individual dealerships a complete view of customers: from market entry to point-of-sale, their first service appointment to major maintenance needs and beyond. Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises partner, Paul Caldwell stated, “I've always known that our company had the potential to lead the automotive marketing industry, and I could see we needed the right partner to get us there. Affinitiv makes this a certainty with their breadth of client relationships and complementary solutions.” Ensuring a true end-to-end marketing option for dealerships nationwide, the combined company will pair consultative planning with its unique digital, data and omni-channel marketing capabilities. This data-driven and consultative approach ensure that the most effective, accurately targeted omni-channel strategies are implemented, with an acute focus on specific client objectives. “Our new amplified capabilities will help our clients extend their digital reach, better connect with new and existing customers, plus enjoy stronger campaign results than ever before,” said Scot Eisenfelder, CEO of Affinitiv. “We’re thrilled to have yet another way to enhance our client’s marketing initiatives.” Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises is also pleased to provide its employees with more growth and development opportunities through Affinitiv. Tom Kerr, Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises partner commented, “Joining a service marketing powerhouse like Affinitiv will open many doors for our team members and we are excited to share these opportunities with our talented, dedicated, hard-working staff.” About Affinitiv Affinitiv is a leading marketing technology company serving automotive manufacturers (OEMs), dealership groups, and individual dealers. Affinitiv’s Connectiv1 Platform is designed to provide a 360° view of customer, vehicle, dealership and marketing campaign effectiveness all in one place. It makes it easy for auto dealerships to leverage data and target customers with the right message at the right time on the right communication channel. Affinitiv enables dealerships to produce, manage, measure and optimize omni-channel communications to drive brand loyalty and increase revenue. Affinitiv’s digital and analytic capabilities support a consistent customer experience through the entire ownership life cycle. Affinitiv was formed in 2016 and is headquartered in Chicago, IL. About Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises, an Affinitiv Company Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises is the automotive retail industry's leading provider of traditional and digital marketing. The company was launched in 2017 to unify the power and resources of CK Advertising, Ember Social and DyGen Digital. Today, Caldwell & Kerr Enterprises is one of the nation’s largest full-service automotive retail marketing companies. Current dealership clients represent the vast majority of vehicle manufacturers, including some of the largest publicly traded dealer groups and numerous Automotive News Top 125 Dealer Groups. In 2018, the agency formed a strategic partnership with Affinitiv to become the automotive industry’s one-stop-shop for comprehensive marketing throughout the customer life cycle. Media Contact Holly Forsberg, Carter West PR,  www.carterwestpr.com , 602-680-8960
Valassis Data Provides Auto Dealers, Service Providers With Owner’s Manual for Effective Advertising

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Livonia, MI  — August 14, 2018 — Valassis , a leader in activating consumers through intelligent media delivery, today released new research providing insights into the decision-making process of today’s automotive shopper in order to better fuel dealers’ and automotive service providers’ advertising efforts. Dealerships and service providers have a ripe opportunity to influence this audience. Nearly one in five consumers expects to be in-market for a vehicle in the next six months (Prosper Insights & Analytics, Monthly Consumer Survey, June 2018) and nearly 70% of consumers paid for some type of auto service or repair in the past year (Scarborough Research 2018). Stemming from a survey of nearly 1,800 respondents, Valassis found that 56% of shoppers can be swayed by advertised promotions to switch brands when purchasing or leasing a car and 46% can be persuaded to change for service or repairs. These percentages are even higher among millennial parents (67% and 60%, respectively). Dealers and service providers cannot put their marketing efforts on cruise control at any point during this path to purchase. Valassis notes that whether buying a car or looking for service, consumers conduct research. Twenty percent of shoppers spend more than six months researching and planning before buying or leasing a car and 54% spend more than three months. Over 58% conduct some type of research for service. This long consideration window and high research activity, coupled with the sway advertised promotions have on decisions, present an interesting challenge to engage shoppers early and often — right up until the point of making a selection. “While consumers have several options when it comes to making automotive purchase decisions, dealerships and service providers can encourage brand loyalty through strategic, well-timed promotions and location-based advertising,” said Curtis Tingle, Chief Marketing Officer, Valassis. “Brands that engage through cross-channel campaigns and personalized marketing efforts are more likely to beat out the competition, activate consumers and begin to build loyalty.” Automotive dealers and service providers should keep the following data points in mind when developing their advertising campaigns: Relevant dealer offers and promotions, as well as consistent communication, are the keys to starting consumers’ engines 75% of shoppers feel more loyal to a dealer when they offer personalized discounts. This number rises to 81% among parents and millennials. 72% of parents and 70% of millennials are more likely to bring in their cars for service if they receive periodic reminders (vs. 56% of all consumers). 73% of millennial parents (vs. 50% of all consumers) are prompted to visit a dealer’s website after receiving a print advertisement from them. Once consumers have landed on a dealer’s website, finely-tuned chatbot enablement can easily assist these individuals without being too pushy or invasive. RetailMeNot found that 40% of companies are planning to incorporate chatbots in 2018 to positively drive sales and the automotive market is no exception. Location plays a substantial role for automotive advertising success Over 50% of consumers are willing to drive a half-hour or less from home or work to purchase or lease a car and approximately a quarter are willing to travel an hour or more to do so. For maintenance and repairs, nearly 80% of consumers are only willing to drive 30 minutes or less both from home or work. When it comes to repairs, consumers do their research 67% conduct some type of research when looking for automotive service providers (compared to 58% when looking for dealer services). 29% look for discounts for dealer service, while 39% seek these deals from automotive service providers. 28% consult online reviews for both dealer services and automotive service providers before selecting a provider. For more information and to view the full findings, read Valassis’ Fueling the Dynamic Automotive Shopper e-book . About the study The Valassis Awareness-to-Activation Study is an ongoing study fielded in conjunction with The NPD Group, Inc., a global market research company. The sample was derived via an online survey, and all participants were at least 18 years of age and living in the contiguous United States. Approximately 10,000 respondents are surveyed annually. The specific data included in this report is from the research wave fielded April 17, 2018–May 29, 2018 to nearly 1,800 respondents and is balanced by age and gender to U.S. Census demographic profiles. About Valassis Valassis helps thousands of local and national brands tap the potential of industry-leading data through intelligent media delivery — understanding, engaging and inspiring millions of consumers to action with smarter cross-channel campaigns. We’ve been a part of consumers’ lives for decades, introducing new ways to deliver offers and messages that activate them — whether via mail, digital, in-store or the newspaper. NCH Marketing Services, Inc. and Clipper Magazine are Valassis subsidiaries, and RetailMeNot Everyday™ is its consumer brand. Its signature Have You Seen Me? ® program delivers hope to missing children and their families . Valassis and RetailMeNot are wholly owned subsidiaries of Harland Clarke Holdings . Media Contact Mary Broaddus, Valassis, broaddusm@valassis.com , 734-591-7375