Dealerships

Nearly 200 dealers gathering for NIADA’s Capitol Hill event

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

One of the most important events hosted by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association starts today with a new name and the organization’s most ambitious goals ever.

A record number of independent dealers from across the nation are converging on the nation’s capital for the National Policy Conference and Day on Capitol Hill — formerly known as the National Leadership Conference — NIADA’s annual opportunity to meet face-to-face with legislators and regulators.

The event, which runs through Wednesday, was renamed this year to reflect its overriding mission — making the voice of the independent dealer and small business heard and represented in shaping the policies of the federal government.

As in the past, the highlight is Wednesday's Day on Capitol Hill, when more than 180 dealers and industry partners representing the national association and its various state affiliates will participate in more than 100 meetings with members of Congress or their staff, advocating for the industry in support of tax reform, reforming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and repealing the CFPB’s arbitration rule, and against a blanket ban on sales of recalled vehicles by independent dealers.

Both of those numbers will be the most ever for NIADA's Washington conference.

In addition, NIADA will present its inaugural Legislator of the Year award at a reception Tuesday night at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington D.C. Legislators expected to attend include Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas). Afterward, the PAC Cup will be awarded to the NIADA region that contributed the most to the NIADA Political Action Committee over the past year.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) will be the featured speaker for Wednesday’s Power Lunch during the Day on the Hill.

The conference also includes a series of regulatory briefings Tuesday, including updates from the CFPB, the Federal Trade Commission, the Small Business Administration and, for the first time, the White House.

D.J. Gribbin of the National Economic Council and deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn are the scheduled speakers from the White House.

“NIADA is engaged in the legislative and regulatory process at the federal level year round,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said. “That’s one of the association’s highest priorities. The National Policy Conference is the centerpiece of our efforts to serve as advocates for our members and the used vehicle industry.

“Four years ago, we felt it was important to come back to Washington D.C. and let independent dealers talk to legislators firsthand about who we are, what we do and what we represent. It’s very exciting to see this event grow, but we've only scratched the surface of its potential,” Jordan went on to say.

FrogData joins the the CDK Global Partner Program

LONG BEACH, Calif. - 

FrogData is the latest company to announce Friday that it has become an approved CDK Partner, and is now part of a marketplace made up of 300 partner companies that offer more than 400 different applications for auto dealers.

FrogData can now seamlessly access dealer data for use in its Dealer Data Analytics Platform, which allows the company to provide dealership transaction data faster, according to the company. 

“We are pleased to obtain this approval from CDK and are looking forward to providing our customers daily dashboards and analytics using our powerful big data platform,” FrogData chief executive officer Tej Soni said in a news release. “Our platform capabilities, combined with seamless data integration with CDK, will give us the ability to respond rapidly to our customer’s needs.”

In addition to providing dealerships enhanced reporting capabilities, FrogData’s Dealer Data Analytics Platform is designed to help dealers use the data they receive, the company said

Following vehicle purchase, the data analytics solution allows dealerships to monitor incoming leads, sales, F&I and track service transactions.

“We’re very pleased to introduce FrogData as the newest member of the CDK Global Partner Program,” added Howard Gardner, vice president and general manager of CDK Data Services. “FrogData’s data analytics solution adds to a growing range of partner offerings.”

CarLotz expanding to 'serve national accounts at national level'

RICHMOND, Va.  - 

Florida. The Mid-Atlantic. New England. Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Arizona. California.

Not only do these areas contain some of the largest cities in the country, but they are also areas where the commercial consignors utilizing CarLotz have heavy volumes of vehicles for the company to remarket at retail.

So with a $30 million round of equity capital funding now in its coffers, the CarLotz chain of used-car consignment store will push northward, southward, eastward and westward to add at least five locations a year and expand into these areas, says chief executive Michael Bor.

CarLotz, which began in Richmond, Va. in 2011, has spread its wings outside of Virginia in the past year, expanding its store count to five and moving into North Carolina, as well.

Bor said the company has been pleased with the process of getting those stores rolling, and its commercial accounts are pleased with the retail remarketing services of CarLotz.

“Based on feedback from our commercial accounts and extensive discussions with them on where their vehicles are located and where they’re having difficulty remarketing, or getting appropriate pricing on their vehicles, it became very apparent that we should have these locations in key markets all around the country so that we can serve our national accounts at a national level,” Bor said in a phone interview Tuesday.

The investment comes from TRP Capital Partners, and it’s the first round of investment in which all the capital has come from one private equity source. Prior funding, Bor said, has come from individuals and small groups pooling together.

Interestingly enough, TRP is the rare blue-chip, major private equity fund that focuses entirely on transportation, Bor said.

“There aren’t many of those that exist,” Bor said. “We got to know them just over time, because they are in our space. And we just kept in touch and they were very interested to see how scalable our commercial activities can be and how big a company we can be, if we have locations around the country.

“Both their capital and their industry contacts and expertise are going to be tremendously helpful as we continue our national expansion and growth strategy.”

Asked about the process of choosing exactly where CarLotz will be setting up shop in these new markets, Bor said: “We’re looking at markets that are kind of top auction markets. And those tend to be the largest cities in the country.

“But the fact that we remarket at retail means that we have to be a very visible retailer on the automotive retail strip. We like to locate on major auto miles in the cities in which we set up shop,” he said. “And we feel that the better location we have, the faster the vehicles will sell, the better pricing we’ll be able to get for our commercial accounts. So we’re really looking for those marquee properties on the automotive row.”

And while it may sit nestled between the wholesale market traditionally led by auctions and the retail market traditionally led by dealers, CarLotz doesn’t aim to be a thorn in either’s side.

It’s very much about working with the existing players. The model is less about disruption and more about supply chain management.

CarLotz is aiming to “build a system” where this very small slice of used-car market that’s retail-ready at wholesale can go direct to retail, Bor explained in another interview, earlier this year.

Asked how dealers and auctions have taken to the growth over the past year, Bor said Tuesday:  “We now work for dealers, and so what I think is great about the dealership space is that there’s just healthy amounts of competition, meaning that we all ultimately compete for buyers to show up and buy vehicles, but we’re also very aware that there are millions and millions of transactions every year.

“And any way we can help each other out, basically benefits everyone,” he said. “We help other dealers by selling their trade-ins or vehicles that have aged on their lot.

“And then on the auction side, I think they’re generally aware of us and interested to see how we grow with several of our key accounts which happened to be shared amongst us and the auctions.”

CarLotz is aiming to launch at least five stores per year in the near-term. Within 24 months, the goal is for its store count to reach 15 (including the five existing stores), “and we’ll really be located such that the shipping costs to get to our locations will be minimal, which will further help our accounts increase their retail remarketing lift,” Bor said. 

Football legend Saban among NADA keynote speakers

TYSONS, Va.  - 

While NADA Show 2018 takes place during the height of college basketball’s March Madness championship run, one of its five keynote speakers has a few rings of his own from the college football world.

On Thursday, the National Automobile Dealers Association announced the keynote speakers for its annual convention, and Alabama football coach Nick Saban is among the quintet.

And appropriately enough, Saban has been involved in dealership ownership, so he will know his audience well. 

Keynoting NADA Show 2018, which takes places March 22 through March 25 in Las Vegas, are:

  • 2017 NADA chairman Mark Scarpelli (March 23)
  • Saban (March 23)
  • 2017 NADA vice chairman Wes Lutz (March 24)
  • Waymo chief executive officer John Krafcik (March 24)
  • Robert O'Neill, team leader at Naval Special Warfare Development Group (March 25)

“In addition to the keynote speakers, the NADA Show offers one of the best educational training and networking opportunities in the industry for both dealers and their managers — from participating in the workshop sessions covering all dealership departments, attending the dealer-franchise meetings to shopping for the latest products and services from hundreds of exhibitors," said Richard Stephens, NADA Show committee chairman, in a news release.

“Attendees will be among the first in the industry to find out what's new in the retail-auto industry and stay ahead of the competition,” he said.

Dealers and dealership managers can begin registering online Oct. 2. That includes an early-bird discount (which ends Nov. 17) an hotel selection.

For more information, visit www.nadashow.org.

How much insufficient training is costing dealerships

ATLANTA - 

The data points Cox Automotive found through its dealership staffing study are startling.

Stores have a 67-percent annual turnover rate among its sales teams, and the average cost of hiring a new dealership employee is $10,000.

Perhaps one of the primary reasons dealerships are burdened by those personnel challenges is connected to training — or the lack of it. The anecdotes shared by Isabelle Helms, vice president of research and market intelligence at Cox Automotive, paint a grim picture.

During a phone conversation before the study was released this week, Helms told Auto Remarketing, “One person said, ‘I assisted with a salesperson for one week and then they threw me out to the sharks.’”

“Another one said, ‘Training? Huh? I was required to complete all online ‘training’ mandated by the OEM and the dealer. Otherwise there’s never any training,’” Helms continued.

The 2017 Cox Automotive Dealership Staffing research was conducted on behalf of Cox Automotive by KS&R with consultation from Hireology. The study was fielded among a random representative sample of 50 dealer owners, principals and general managers through an online discussion about their current dealership staffing practices and challenges.

The project also included 343 dealership employees through an online quantitative survey about their experience as a dealership employee as well as 834 U.S. general population also through an online quantitative survey about their opinions about working at a dealership.

Helms suspected the project would highlight the stereotypical challenges about working at a dealership — long hours during a six-day workweek while being compensated mainly by commission. However, Helms emphasized it was the training component that she thought impacted dealerships most, especially since it’s possible that the quality of worker support could be improved.

“We know there are dealerships out there, in particular the more progressive dealerships, the larger dealer groups, that have formal training programs in place. Those are the ones who should be modeled. But for the most part we saw a huge absence in training,” Helms said.

Beyond the sales team churn and the cost of hiring new employees, Helms also noted how workforce issues can cause other problems for stores, including planning for long-term objectives.

“Many dealers are having to think about the future. They’re thinking about how they’re going to have to evolve and create a dealership of the future,” she said. “When you’re constantly focused on retaining your staff, or bringing on board new staff, that leaves very little time to really think about how you’re going to evolve your model and how you’re going to set up your dealership to compete.”

Furthermore, Helms also mentioned how customer loyalty can erode if buyers seeing new people working at the dealership each time they make a purchase or come in for service.

“Once you create a rapport with someone at the dealership, you expect that person to be there,” Helms said. “Loss of customer loyalty can be a factor because we know from research that the two more important factors that go against a positive customer experience at the dealership; it’s the sales staff followed by F&I staff.

“If you’re having turnover in those two areas in particular, your customer loyalty tends to sustain a significant impact,” she added.

The study showed turnover within the F&I office is lower than the store’s sales department — 38 percent versus that 67 percent figure. But overall, dealerships are sustaining a 40-percent turnover rate across all department.

And referencing back to that $10,000 average that it costs to a hire a new employee, “You can do the math quickly. If you’re experiencing 40 percent turnover at your dealership, that runs up pretty quickly,” Helms said.

Yet one other potential pitfall for employee churn: Helms pointed out that maintaining and refining operational efficiencies might not happen to the degree ownership would like.

“If you’re constantly rolling in new employees, you don’t have the chance to build processes into the business and find the opportunity where you can improve,” she said.

With so much at stake — both financially and with non-tangible costs — Cox Automotive’s study also included some thoughts for dealerships to consider, including:

— Look at your culture and pay plans and make changes where necessary.

— Review your hiring process to properly assess talent, accelerate early relationships with managers and peers and share information about career opportunities in your organization.

— Make sure your development plans support performance expectations.

“My hope by conducting this research is we’ll be able to change people’s opinion about what it’s like to work in the automotive industry, in particular, dealerships,” Helms said. “It’s an exciting new world. The world at dealerships is changing significantly. We need the next generation of workers to embrace looking at this industry differently.”

EFG commentary: Another turn of the screw by the CFPB

DALLAS - 

On July 10, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a rule banning companies from denying arbitration to groups of people. And, if everything passes, the law should go into effect in September. For auto retail dealers and lenders, this change is just one more turn of the screw clamping down on the ability to do business.

The new ruling stipulates that auto dealers and their lending partners will still be able to include arbitration clauses in their contracts. But those clauses may not be used to prevent consumers from joining a class action lawsuit. The rule specifies the language that must be used in the contract. Companies are also required to submit detailed information to the CFPB about claims and awards made in arbitration. That data eventually will be made public, with consumer names and identifying data removed. It’s no wonder dealers and lenders are feeling like Big Brother is looking over their shoulders.

Shaun Petersen, vice president of legal and government affairs with the National Independent Auto Dealers Association (NIADA) recently joined the EFG Companies Common Sense Compliance podcast and shared some thoughts on how this ruling might impact dealers in the future.

“While the original purpose of the CFPB was to ‘root out’ unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices, supervise companies, and enforce laws,” Petersen said, “the bureau has certainly had its eye on the automotive market. While there are certainly some bad actors, the majority of auto dealers and lenders are trying to help the consumer. This additional ruling complicates these efforts.”

“This rule will force small businesses to bear additional costs in defending class-action litigation, particularly meritless suits,” Petersen continued. “Those costs will ultimately be borne by consumers, and in the case of those who are credit-challenged, it could prove to be too much.”

Petersen outlined some of the steps the NIADA is taking to work with key members of Congress to oppose the ruling. “From the outset of this rulemaking process, NIADA has voiced concern about the poor policy reflected in this proposal to both the CFPB and to members of Congress,” Petersen said. “As Congress considers CFPB reform, we will be urging lawmakers to overturn this anti-consumer rule.”

In the meantime, Petersen encouraged dealers and lenders alike to review their contract language, as well as any other materials which discuss the consumer’s rights to contract arbitration.  “The ruling is scheduled to take effect Sept. 18,” Petersen elaborated. “While we continue to work with members of the House and Senate to oppose this ruling, we also don’t want dealers and lenders to be caught flat footed.”

Compliance is certainly a growing challenge for auto dealers and their lending partners. When entities such as the CFPB issue wide-ranging rulings, it’s no wonder that dealer principles, F&I teams and lenders throw up their hands in frustration. How can you manage the pressure from this latest turn of the compliance screw? Stick to your compliance checklist and leverage available resources from industry associations and providers. And turn the screw back toward your favor.

As vice president of compliance at EFG Companies, Steve Roennau utilizes his extensive industry experience to provide EFG clients a sophisticated analysis of their current compliance procedures and proactively prepare them for upcoming changes in federal and state regulations. Steve is an AFIP Senior Certified Professional in Financial Services, and has developed compliance training modules in the areas of adverse action, privacy rule, risk-based pricing/exception notice, red flag rule, safeguards rule, deceptive practices, and federal and state regulations. In addition, he has conducted several compliance courses, including compliance workshop for dealership managers; AFIP prep course for F&I producers; and, F&I compliance training for F&I producers. He can reached at sroennau@efgusa.com.

DealerSocket partners with TCN to integrate contact center platform tech into DMS

ST. GEORGE, Utah & SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. - 

TCN and DealerSocket announced Wednesday a new partnership to create a seamless integration between TCN’s advanced cloud-based contact center solution, Platform 3.0 and DealerSocket’s iDMS for independent and buy-here, pay-here dealerships.

The integration can help dealers improve customer service operations, conduct effective marketing campaigns and streamline their payment collection process.

Performing outreach via TCN’s integrated and automated dialing tools can lower dealer's outreach cost by 75 to 90 percent, according to the company.

“We are proud to partner with DealerSocket to provide our advanced and adaptive contact center technology for the automotive industry, providing new and innovative ways for independent and BHPH dealers to effectively engage and communicate with their customers,” TCN director of business development Bryce Payne said in a news release.

“We are confident that this partnership will help streamline operations, automate customer outreach and increase overall revenue streams for dealerships of any size.”

The advanced omnichannel contact center technologies now available via DealerSocket’s iDMS include TCN’s: Auto Dialer and Predictive Dialer, Interactive Voice Messaging, AgentSMS, VocalDirect and Business Intelligence.

Autotrader names September's top CPO deals

ATLANTA - 

In time for this upcoming fall shopping season, Autotrader’s September list of top picks for certified pre-owned deals includes attractive incentives from Volvo, which boasts seven years or 100,000 miles of comprehensive warranty coverage from the original sale date and zero-percent interest for up to 24 months on CPO 2015 S60 sedan models.

"If car shoppers don't want to spend too much money on a brand-new car, but still want a vehicle that's reliable and trusted, a certified pre-owned model is a great choice," Autotrader executive editor Brian Moody said in a news release. "And the good news is that many automakers offer deals and incentives on CPO cars, giving the consumer a major advantage."

Autotrader editors' top picks for certified pre-owned deals for September include:

— This month, Ford's CPO program offers seven years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage and 12-month or 12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty after the original factory warranty expires. Qualified buyers of select CPO Ford models can get 1.9-percent interest for up to 66 months.

— Kia’s program is offering qualified buyers an attractive incentive through the end of September. Through the end of the month, shoppers can buy a CPO Kia with just 1.9-percent interest for up to 36 months.

— The Lexus CPO program’s warranty coverage touts six years of protection with no mileage limit through the end of the month. Additionally, this month, Lexus is offering its large ES luxury sedan to qualified shoppers with 0.9-percent interest for up to 48 months on both gasoline and hybrid-powered models.

— At Mazda, shoppers can take advantage of a long powertrain warranty of seven years from the car's original sale date or 100,000 miles, as well as an additional 12-month or 12,000-mile extension to the car's comprehensive warranty. This month, Mazda's CPO program also offers qualified shoppers certain CPO Mazda models with 1.49-percent interest for up to 36 months.

— This month, Land Rover is offering buyers seven years or 100,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection. Qualified shoppers interested in a CPO Evoque can get rates as low as 0.9 percent for 24 months, or 1.9 percent for up to 60 months through the end of the month.

— Subaru's CPO program touts a warranty of seven years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection from the original sale date. Qualified Subaru shoppers can also get 1.49-percent interest for up to 36 months on select CPO models.

— Throughout the end of the month, Volkswagen’s CPO program is adding two years or 24,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection to the original three-year or 36,000-mile factory warranty for a total of 5 years or 60,000 miles of coverage. Qualified shoppers can also get 1.99-percent interest for up to 60 months and up to $500 cash back, on all CPO VW models.

— This September, Volvo's CPO program boasts seven years or 100,000 miles of comprehensive warranty coverage from the original sale date and a deal on CPO 2015 S60 sedan models. Shoppers can purchase CPO versions of the sedan with zero percent interest for up to 24 months. Additionally, Volvo models of other years are available with rates starting at 0.9 percent for 24 months.

Compact SUV demand keeps overall truck values steady

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - 

With some interesting anecdotes about how dealers are handling hurricane fallout, Black Book also highlighted how one specific segment impacted the entire truck segment.

This week’s Black Book Market Insights report mentioned compact SUVs increasing their value noticeably, giving the truck segment an overall boost in retention value.

Editors noticed the car segment depreciated by a standard amount with only one vehicle category — midsize cars — increasing in value by 0.13 percent.

“Active buying continued last week as Texas dealers replenished their inventory. Compact SUVs and midsize cars did well,” said Anil Goyal, Black Book’s senior vice president of automotive valuation and analytics, who is among the wide array of experts coming to Used Car Week, which begins on Nov. 13 in Palm Springs, Calif.

Volume-weighted, Black Book reported that overall car segment values decreased by 0.48 percent last week, similar to the average weekly decrease of 0.41 percent in values over the previous four weeks.

Editors noticed luxury and sporty vehicles in car segments declined the most at 0.87 percent each.

Again volume-weighted, Black Book pointed out that overall truck segment values (including pickups, SUVs and vans) were nearly flat compared to the average weekly decrease of 0.27 percent in values spotted during the previous four weeks.

Editors reported the compact crossover/SUV and compact van segments increased the most among truck segments by 0.37 percent and 0.51 percent, respectively.

As Goyal referenced, Lone Star State dealers are heading to the lanes to find vehicles as consumers impacted by Hurricane Harvey are looking for replacement vehicles. In fact, one of Black Book’s observers at a Georgia auction watched the action happen.

“A dealer from San Antonio bought a lot of vehicles for strong money. He stated that he usually buys 15 units a week but bought 41 at this auction alone today to meet the demand back home,” Black Book’s representative said.

Within the state of Texas, the activity was even more intense.

“Sold almost everything today, and the buyers that usually don’t buy high mileage units were not discriminating today,” Black Book’s lane watcher in Texas reported.

Another report from Texas added, “Hundreds of flooded new vehicles at the auction where they were marshalling them before they were to be crushed.”

Black Book’s other two reports from the lanes mentioned much less active scenes.

From Tennessee: “Lots of no-sales as dealers and commercial accounts are holding their floor prices in advance of the anticipated high demand caused by the recent storms.”

From Colorado: “Low attendance and low vehicle volume but the vehicles that were here sold well.”

Communication platform aims to solve service pain points for dealers & consumers

CARY, N.C. - 

You dropped your car off for service at the dealership and hours later, you have no idea about its prognosis or when the work might be complete.

These frustrations a consumer might have during the vehicle service and repair process come to mind fairly quickly.

And largely, they revolve around notifications that the vehicle is in service and the vehicle pickup process, says Patrick Southward, the co-founder of Singlethread.

“But from the dealership side, as well, there’s a lot of frustrating aspects from an advisor’s standpoint. One, trying to communicate with a customer while that vehicle’s in the shop, whether that (might) be getting services approved or giving those status updates, and so on and so forth,” said Southward, a former dealer himself, in a phone interview.

“So, Singlethread was born around those issues for both the consumer and dealership user or employee,” he said.

The company was founded by Southward and Will Mapes, whose background is in providing technology solutions to car dealers, including time with RouteOne.

Singlethread provides dealers web-based software that’s designed to help them with communication, including providing text-messaging communication for the service department.

The text-messaging platform, which Mapes and Southward say can easily integrate with the major DMS providers, allows dealers to communicate vehicle-service status updates in real time.

Whenever a change is made in the DMS regarding a vehicle that is in service, Singlethread is able to pick up those changes and notify the consumer with a status update.

It also includes built-in estimates, pictures and video. It can also help the dealer educate a consumer on a job that needs to be done. It also includes a mobile bill pay, Southward said.

And now, the company is entering into the electronic inspection space.

“We’ve set out a really good foundation with our text messaging products. The inspection side of things is the newest area we’re making entry in. And a lot of the dealerships around the country are doing their vehicle inspections by hand,” Mapes said. “So, they’re doing them with paper forms and using pens, and checking off different things on the forms. And then those forms are either being handed to a customer — hopefully, at some point — or sometimes they’re not even being completed in the dealership.

“And a lot of it is just based a lot of that frustration,” Mapes said. “If the technician goes through the process of doing a vehicle inspection, which takes some time to do, and then that isn’t being used or isn’t getting to a customer, the effectiveness of that inspection and the amount of times it gets completed and accurately goes down.”

With that in mind, Singlethread is launching an electronic inspection product, designed for easy use, that’s integrated into the existing Singlethread product.

Once the technician finishes the inspection, it allows the advisor to easily transmit that inspection to the customer along with an estimate on repairs, and then get a decision from the customer quickly. The company has been beta-testing the product and, as of mid-September, had plans to roll it out shortly, Mapes said.

It is designed to integrate into a seamless platform, where the dealer can text-message the customer, deliver what they need in terms of service (including having their car inspected), and then give the customer the ability to utilize mobile pay.

Singlethread utilizes an opt-in method that allows the company to track utilization, which they say is at least 80 percent.

“When we first started the program, (consumers) wanted to text message with the dealership,” Mapes said, “because it made their transaction a lot more efficient.

“And dealers sort of adopted it to satisfy the customers, but we’re seeing now a lot of our dealers are really, really pushing on the consumer, even consumers that might say, ‘You know, I don’t really want to text,’” Mapes said.

“And the dealers are realizing how much more efficient it is for them” and so they’re encouraging the customers to utilize texting as an effective way for the consumer to receive estimates, inspections and pay for the service, he said.

“The volume of text messaging has really sky-rocketed this year,” Mapes said.

For those consumers who do have concerns with texting, most want to know they’re not going to be inundated with spam or mass marketing.

“Which of course we do not do,” Southward. “We’ve been asked by dealers, ‘can we send out a blanket text to everybody?’ And we have to educate the dealers at that point, and say ‘Here’s why you don’t want to do it.’ And 95 percent of them agree with that.”

And if the shopper or dealer needs further convincing as to the benefits of text messaging in the service department, consider what Mapes and Southward wrote in a post this March: “Dealerships that use text messaging for their ROs (rather than the phone) can expect to generate more customer pay revenue. In today’s mobile-first environment, customers are more visual than ever. They want to know what’s broken, what it will cost to fix it, and when it will be done.

“Text messaging is easier, faster, and more transparent than a voice call can be. Texting can accomplish these objectives in a matter of minutes rather than dealing with frustrating voicemail and phone tag that may take hours.”