Another National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention & Expo has come and gone. The big show—this time NADA’s epic centennial celebration in New Orleans—passed, as always, like a blur.
Unlike the previous show in the Big Easy in 2014, the weather cooperated this year for NADA100, which gave attendees no excuse to skip daytime convention attendance or the city’s legendary nighttime revelry. For some, the latter may have canceled out many of the memories of the former, but overall, most people left the show feeling optimistic about the industry and the future.
NADA100 came hot on the heels of another record-setting sales year in 2016, and although the prognosis for 2017 reflects the inevitable drop-off following an extended sales surge, optimism remains. NADA’s chief economist, Steve Szakaly, forecasts a decline of light-vehicle sales to 17.1 million units (down approximately 400,000 from 2016), with the caveat that if some or all of President Trump’s campaign promises of infrastructure investments and tax cuts come to pass, sales could be better than forecast.
As always at NADA, there was too much to cover and too little time. Although the Dealer Marketing Magazine team sat in on press events and general sessions, we mostly checked out the vast expo hall, speaking with and getting demos from many of the show’s vendors. We also met with some intriguing companies that weren’t exhibiting at the show, but have products and solutions we think dealers will want to learn more about.
This leads us to this issue’s cover story, which features 12 vendors selected by our team as being particularly hot or noteworthy. The following pages tell each company’s NADA story. We encourage you to check them out—they all offer answers to the question, “How do I keep my business thriving in 2017, even if sales soften?”
This year promises to be one of surprises and changes, but we hope it will be a prosperous one for all our readers and their dealerships.
This year, Autobytel saw more foot traffic at its NADA Convention booth compared to even busy prerecession shows.
The buzz? Dealer technologies that drive website traffic and increase showroom visits, including AutoWeb Paid Search Solution, which engages millions of consumers at Autobytel’s web properties each month and drives that traffic to dealer sites, and Payment Pro®, a shop-by-payment dealer website tool that prequalifies consumers for dealer inventory with no social security number or DOB required.
Other buzzworthy products were TextShield™, a web-based lead management system for text, WebLeads+ featuring instant retargeting, and SaleMove® next-generation video chat.
“The majority of our dealer conversations focused on how we can make their websites better—from increased quality traffic to website visits that convert into showroom visits,” said Scott Pechstein, Autobytel’s VP of national sales. “Dealers are still very interested in quality new and used car leads, but this year, we saw an influx of interest in our products that turn dealer websites into fully optimized conversion tools.”
At the show, Pechstein said the company also promoted the relaunch of its website, UsedCars.com; it announced its Dealer of the Year winner, Newton Motor Group, for the highest standards in sales, customer service, and technology; and Pechstein conducted three highly attended workshops, “Stop the Digital Merry-Go-Round and Go Sell!”
Autobytel also received its own accolade as Highest Rated New Car Leads in the DrivingSales Dealer Satisfaction Award.
Visit dealer.autobytel.com for more information.
In anticipation of NADA100, the largest convention in the conference’s history, AutoLoop—an industry leader and driving force behind automotive engagement marketing—began readying itself as soon as last year’s exhibition wrapped up. And the intense preparation paid off.
“NADA100 was a tremendous success for us,” said Steve Anderson, CEO of AutoLoop. “Coming into the event, we already had appointments scheduled with dealerships, networks, and potential OEM partners. We met a lot of great people and proudly showcased our latest innovations.”
Since 2005, AutoLoop has helped dealers and OEM partners increase sales, improve retention, and achieve higher customer satisfaction. The company’s flagship program, Essentials, is the engine that drives the AutoLoop platform and its partners’ profits by collecting, interpreting, and sharing information from all customer interactions. Powerful on its own, Essentials also supports a comprehensive suite of products that maximize efficiencies, raise CSI, and increase revenue across both service and sales.
Visitors to AutoLoop’s booth were able to demo many of its signature products, including the new ShopMonitor, a revolutionary new service workflow tool. Attendees were also treated to exclusive automotive insights with Doug Van Sach, AutoLoop’s VP of analytics and data services, with topics including the value of digital engagement, lead conversion strategies, and the new customer loyalty landscape.
“Right now, AutoLoop is focused on developing new state-of-the-art tools and making existing ones even more powerful,” said Anderson. “We can’t wait to show them off at next year’s show.”
Discover more at www.AutoLoop.com.
As a leading provider to more than 800 auto dealers around the world, including large dealership groups such as Boch Automotive and the Faulkner Organization, Conversica was delighted to be a sponsor of the 2017 NADA Convention.
Conversica provides a cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) service that presents itself as a dealer’s human assistant who reaches out to internet sales and service leads and engages each of them in a human conversation. With an average 35% email engagement rate—far greater than that of traditional lead engagement methods—Conversica’s sales assistant significantly increases the number of quality conversations with real buyers, and reduces the time salespeople and BDC reps spend chasing fruitless leads. From more conversations comes more showroom visits, and from that, more vehicles sold.
“We were proud to be a sponsor of the 2017 NADA Convention and celebrate 100 years of the National Automobile Dealers Association,” said Dave Marod, SVP of sales at Conversica. “For more than 90 of those years, dealership salespeople and service advisors had to chase leads the hard way, first with just the phone and now with multiple digital channels. But over the past few years, by leveraging AI, hundreds of dealers now engage every single one of their leads automatically and in a human-like conversation that maximizes their opportunities to sell more vehicles and book more service appointments.”
“NADA is the premier event in the automotive industry for learning about new approaches and technologies for improving the dealership,” continued Marod. “We look forward to showcasing tremendous innovation at this event for the next 100 years!”
CU Direct arrived in New Orleans this year with a full bag of new product enhancements to share with the eager crowds at NADA’s Centennial celebration. Front and center was the company’s next generation CUDL Auto Lending Platform, still the go-to tech for more than 13,000 auto dealers nationwide.
The CUDL network, which connects auto dealers with 1,100 credit unions nationwide, powered a record $30 billion in auto loans in 2016 alone. With many new features and enhancements—most notably the fresh user interface and user profiles that better connects dealers with the information they need—CU Direct continues to find new ways to get clients to “yes” faster, with streamlined processes and simplified technology.
Additionally, the company previewed its new CUDL mobile app, which keeps dealers connected to lending status updates while walking the lot or on the go. The new features streamline the dealer’s experience with faster responses to/status updates on loan applications, resulting in an improved car-buying experience for consumers.
CU Direct’s chief strategy officer of automotive solutions, Ron Frey, helped introduce the company’s next evolution of AutoSMART, the nation’s largest credit union auto shopping network. The new AutoSMART includes an overhaul of its user interface, and a number of significant new perks for credit union members shopping online among the site’s 2 million-plus cars. New features to AutoSMART include DealerRater reviews and ratings, revamped vehicle display pages, and dedicated dealer pages that market local auto dealers to credit union members, and help dealers better feature vehicle inventory to car buyers.
At NADA 2017, izmo introduced its new content-rich virtual reality (VR) platform, izmoVR, which significantly shortens the development life cycle of VR products for automotive companies.
The platform helps rapidly deliver virtual reality products for OEMs, dealers, advertising agencies, and others at a lower cost than any other provider in the market today. The result is a low-funnel sales tool that helps engage automotive customers in the service bays, accessories and parts department, F&I office, and new car showroom.
By enabling customers to feel, touch, and experience the car in virtual reality, dealers have a greater chance of making the sale. izmocars is the only VR provider in automotive with the necessary, high-quality content needed to engage customers and bring them into showrooms.
Learn more at izmocars.com.
In its second year of participating at the NADA Convention & Expo, National Credit Center (NCC) had another incredible experience interacting with dealers, networking with industry alliances, and showcasing its highly successful AimLogic predictive analytic marketing solution.
Since debuting AimLogic at NADA 2016, NCC has experienced exceptional growth and continued interest as AimLogic repeatedly demonstrates the ability to reduce dealership marketing expenses and target real in-market buyers, while producing true measurable results to dealerships nationwide. NCC’s success was measured by the industry’s enthusiasm and the new dealership business partnerships it formed. Dealers are looking for effective marketing that doesn’t sacrifice quality or message reach, and will reduce their operating expenses by as much as $7,000 per month.
“A key observation from talking to dealers and several major service providers is [that] dealerships are looking to reduce costs where services are underperforming, or system integrations have not led to better services or products,” said Robert Granados, president of NCC. “NCC is viewed as a favorable provider because we are able to deliver enhanced marketing service, with lower pricing, less work on behalf of the dealership, and higher quality service.”
Also contributing to NCC’s positive show experience was its ability to review and provide significant cost savings to dealers with their credit reporting. NCC leverages its 20-year relationship with the three top credit bureaus and passes those savings onto the customer. It’s a win-win for everyone.
To find out more about NCC and AimLogic, go to nccdirect.com/marketing-solutions/aimlogic.
NADA100 came hot on the heels of the debut of Reviver’s rPlate, the first-ever interactive, digital license plate, at the Detroit Auto Show. The response to this innovative update to the 125-year-old metal license plate was met with huge enthusiasm by both dealers and OEMs alike—all of whom saw the benefits of automating the hassle of DMV registrations, the peace of mind offered by the integrated telematics and fleet management functionality, and the infinite opportunities that a programmable, digital screen gracing the back of their loaner and service vehicles could offer for hyper-local, targeted messages when the vehicles are parked.
“In addition to the cost and time savings to be gained from automating DMV registrations, dealers at NADA were pre-ordering the next-gen rPlate, which will be available later this year, because they saw how simple it was to create and display customized messaging,” said Allan Cooper, partner, Reviver. “You’ll soon be seeing dealership vehicles with rPlates displaying messages that are specific to their OEM franchise and/or PMA, like vehicle-specific lease payments, fixed operations branding, or even promoting a sponsored community event or dealership-supported charity.”
Reviver is also incorporating future programming for emergency broadcasts, including extreme weather warnings and Amber Alerts—as well as VIN-specific recall notifications—into the rPlate.
The rPlate has been approved by state legislators in California and Florida, with legislation in progress in Texas. Prototype rPlates are already operational in California, and Reviver plans to launch the rPlate in four states by the end of 2017. Dealers who wish to pre-order the rPlate can visit www.reviver.io/dealers to learn more.
Sometimes you come across a service or company that is so impressive that it makes the list whether the company exhibited or not. This is what happened at this year’s NADA Convention with Roadster, a unique, modern, and consumer-centric digital retailing solution.
Who says that buying a car can’t be like buying an iPhone? Roadster has taken the automotive industry by storm with a commerce platform called Express Storefront, which can be used both online and in-store. This is not just a “buy” button on your website, it’s is a complete technology solution that empowers employees across your entire dealership with the information they need to sell cars as efficiently as possible.
From merchandising your inventory to self-desking, instant trade-ins, F&I showcases, credit apps, messaging, and delivery, your team can walk a car buyer through to a penny-perfect offer while driving some serious dealership efficiency. Roadster partners are saving an average of three to six hours per transaction.
So whether the buyer starts online and comes in to your store, or walks in and finishes at home—Roadster’s ExpressStorefront has you covered.
Find out why Roadster dealer partners are saying, “I can’t imagine selling the old way again,” by visiting www.roadster.com/dealersales.
At NADA 2017, Spireon unveiled Kahu, the first connected-car solution specifically designed for dealerships. Kahu provides streamlined lot management while delivering a new F&I profit center by offering consumers a modern location-tracking and stolen vehicle–recovery service. The solution also enables dealers to grow service retention with car buyers by providing accurate vehicle data for proactive and timely maintenance reminders.
The show was buzzing with news around Kahu, with many dealerships expressing interest in this smart new add-on. Conversations centered on how dealers had previously been cut out of the connected car trend, until now. Kahu gives dealers the tools they need before, during, and after the sale to grow profits and benefit from the connected car revolution.
Kahu’s key benefits include:
- Streamlining lot management, allowing dealers to easily track vehicle location, see low-battery indicators, and create a better buying experience for consumers. Virtual geofences and after-hours alerts allow dealers to identify and recover stolen vehicles within minutes.
- Delivering a new F&I profit center, as consumers increasingly seek peace of mind with next-generation vehicle-recovery solutions and mobile features. From 24/7 vehicle location visibility—so consumers can track their vehicle and family at all times—to smart alerts for speeding and geofencing, Kahu is an attractive add-on that safeguards consumers while driving dealer profit.
- Increasing customer loyalty through GPS-based mileage tracking, which improves the accuracy of service reminders and increases service retention. Consumers benefit by being able to maximize warranty protection.
To learn more about Kahu, please visit www.spireon.com/kahu.
Stream Companies, the integrated advertising partner, had its best NADA yet. It was a blast introducing dealerships to the latest and greatest in marketing technology, including the new Marketing Suite: Proactive Portfolio Management and Equity Mining tools, designed on the most advanced platform for dealers ever, FullThrottle. Now dealerships can maximize the use of their database and provide their customers with offers relevant to their needs with emails, text, and mail that automatically go out.
Stream’s mobile-first marketing event successfully navigated dealers through the technology they need to ensure they’re not missing opportunities to sell more cars via mobile devices. From the live Facebook Q&A at the Stream booth, it was clear that educating dealers on what works and what doesn’t is important in helping forge lasting partnerships.
The response from dealers was astounding. With a large crowd surrounding the booth getting their questions answered—as well as having on-the-spot SEO analysis done—it’s no wonder year after year the Stream team continues to provide actionable tips dealerships need to sell more cars.
Once again, Stream proved its 20-year relationship in both digital and traditional marketing puts the company at the forefront of the automotive industry as your obvious choice to do business with. For more information, visit wearefullthrottle.com.
String Automotive, attending but not exhibiting at the convention, recently introduced its free market-targeting app, String PulseDPS. Once downloaded, the app helps dealerships track their local competitors, compares market share by zip and area, provides model by model rankings, and serves up detailed new inventory pricing and turn information, down to trim level.
In addition, a “competitor feed” feature will alert the dealer when changes in pricing and inventory levels occur, allowing the user to react and adjust accordingly. The result is a handheld game plan to win the dealer’s own market.
You can find String PulseDPS free in the app store on your iPhone, with the Android version coming soon. For more information, visit stringautomotive.com.
NADA 2017 proved to be an extremely successful show for VinSolutions. Hundreds of dealers were attracted to the VinSolutions booth by its newly announced integration with Dealertrack: a Connect Desking upgrade called Rates & Residuals. The upgrade automatically factors in captive and non-captive lender data for faster and more accurate deal-making, and shows dealers what they’ll make on every option.
Rates & Residuals garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from dealers, who were excited by its ability to streamline their desking process. There was also a surge in interest for demos of Connect CRM, which included a free, signed copy of Grant Cardone’s newest book, Be Obsessed or Be Average. Connect CRM is Cardone’s first and only automotive product endorsement in more than 30 years.
“I’ve never been more impressed with a CRM, I’ve never had more long-term confidence in one, and I’ve never had one that I was completely satisfied with until now,” Cardone said.
With product demo requests reaching triple digits after Cardone’s endorsement, VinSolutions director of marketing Shelli Clark says she’s confident that post-show enthusiasm will be just as strong.
“NADA was a big win for us this year,” Clark said. “We were very happy with the turnout and look forward to helping dealers become obsessed with their CRM and stay connected to their customers in 2017.”
For more information about Rates & Residuals, go to vinsolutions.com/winwin.
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