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.

Edmunds adds new virtual vehicle 'fit test' tool to app


Edmunds announced Tuesday a new augmented reality (AR) feature for its app will soon be available to help car shoppers determine whether any vehicle will fit in their garages, parking spaces and driveways.

With an iPhone, Edmunds said the feature allows car shoppers to conduct “fit tests” virtually, with as many vehicles they want.

The new capability will be available on version 12.0 of the Edmunds app with the release of iOS 11 for the iPhone.

By tapping on the button labeled “Can It Fit?,” users can find the feature in both the tools menu and vehicle overview pages in the app.

“Mobile-driven AR technology is evolving in ways that we can now start to leverage it to make car shopping easier and more convenient, similar to the disruption we’re seeing elsewhere in retail,” Edmunds’ director of immersive technology Brock Stearn said in a news release.

“By developing and making this industry-first AR feature available within our robust suite of car shopping tools, Edmunds continues to lead the way in empowering consumers to make informed decisions throughout their car shopping journey.”

By leveraging depth-sensing, area learning and motion-tracking technology, the AR feature scans a local environment to create a 3D mesh of an environment.

The 3D mesh is used to determine if the 3D model of a vehicle can fit within any particular environment scanned.

The new feature uses the phone’s camera to scan an environment and then overlays a 3D model representative of the vehicle onto the image.

Users will be able to create "virtual walls" for driveways and other areas outdoors, according to Edmunds.

Additionally, the feature will support specifications of nearly all U.S. vehicles introduced after 1990.

InterActiveTel welcomes new president & COO


InterActiveTel announced Monday that Bill Leek has come aboard as the company’s new president and chief operating officer.

Leek brings more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry, and he most recently served as vice president of sales for Dominion Dealer Services, according to InterActiveTel.

In addition to leading the entire InterActiveTel organization, in his new role, Leek will be responsible for both maintaining business development partnerships and guiding the adoption of the company’s suite of communication products.

“We could not be happier to have someone with Bill’s character and reputation on board,” InterActiveTel chief executive officer Jack Behar said in a news release. “With his wealth of expertise in everything from CRM to call tracking to data mining, Bill really understands what information a dealership needs to make the most informed decisions to benefit the customers. This is a huge win for us.”

At Dominion, prior to serving as vice president of sales, Leek served in a variety of roles at the company. 

He was the director of sales at Autobase, a division of Dominion, when he was asked to lead the AutoRevenue and AVV sales teams following the company’s merger in 2011.

Prior to Dominion, Leek worked within sales and management at both ADP and Newgen Results.

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.”

E-Drive Autos joins CDK Global partner program to offer appraisal tool


E-Drive Autos recently announced that it has joined the CDK Global Partner Program as a digital partner to offer dealers TradeVue, its interactive vehicle appraisal tool designed to give dealers enhanced flexibility during negotiations.

E-Drive Autos is now part of a marketplace made up of around 300 partner companies that offer more than 400 different applications for auto dealers.

In addition to providing buyers an accurate value, TradeVue is designed to increase conversions and generate more leads on auto dealer websites, according to E-Drive Autos.

“We are excited to be a part of the CDK Global Partner Program.” E-Drive Autos chief executive officer Derek White. “With TradeVue, we are seeing increases in conversion rates as high as 120 percent on other website platforms. I’m confident CDK websites could realize even larger returns from the tool.”

Additionally, TradeVue also features its unique Browsing Footprint Technology, which can send customers the VIN numbers of the vehicles they browse.

“We’re very pleased to introduce TradeVue as the newest member of the CDK Global Partner Program,” said Howard Gardner, vice president and general manager at CDK Data Services.

“TradeVue is a welcome addition to our vibrant program that provides dealers with a range of partner choices and the assurance that their programs can be seamlessly integrated with our applications,” he continued.

For a full list of vendors and applications currently available through the CDK Global Partner Program, visit

IAS picks Columbus Fair AA to pilot latest management tech


Integrated Auction Solutions announced Tuesday that Columbus Fair Auto Auction (CFAA) will be the first to experience the latest version of its AuctionMaster auction management system.

AuctionMaster Version 3 (V3-AMS) replaces CFAA’s AS400 green screen management system, which the auction has used for 25 plus years, according to IAS.

Following proof of viability at CFAA, IAS said the new system will be made available to other auctions after September.

“Providing the most state of the art AMS is finally here. We are strategically launching at CFAA, an auction with great size, with many third party integrations, manufacture modules, and reconditioning facilities, to just start the list,” IAS vice president of sales and business development Peter Levy said in a news release.

“We are dedicated to give the auction community options and will integrate with anyone that our auction partners desire,” he continued.

The V3-AMS system has full functionality from anywhere, allowing dealers to easily manage inventory, dealers and accounts.

It features a fully integrated block with AWG simulcast, along with a both a web-based option and tradition local server option, according to IAS.

“Our corporate mission has long been to protect the interests of independent auction owners”, added Alexis Jacobs, chief executive officer of IAS. “This technology provides our community the tools it needs to maintain sustainable, scalable, stable, industry-standard services our customers expect.”


CDK makes video marketing tech provider new program partner


Flick Fusion Video Marketing announced Tuesday that it has joined the CDK Global Partner Program to offer dealers SMARTFLICKS, its full-solution video marketing and hosting platform.

Flick Fusion is now part of a marketplace made up of around 300 partner companies that offer more than 400 different applications for auto dealers.

"Many dealers now realize that videos are not something to just post on your website, but an essential part of an integrated online marketing strategy that will increase the informational and emotional value of the dealership’s online content across all digital touch-points," Flick Fusion chief operating officer Tim James said in a news release. "The integration with CDK allows more dealerships to take advantage of our dynamic video marketing and hosting platform."

SMARTFLICKS automates the entire video production and distribution process so dealers can easily make inventory videos and personalize video e-mails and customer testimonial videos.

The platform is designed to deliver videos that fit shoppers’ needs at the right time during the car buying process. It monitors the activity of dealership videos and tracks individual shopper’s behavior.

Using shopper's activity, SMARTFLICKS can instantly cue relevant video content and integrated marketing messages.

eAutoAppraise joins Mazda's website program to deliver appraisal solution to dealers


eAutoAppraise recently announced that since joining the Mazda Digital Certified Program, its trade-in platform has been newly integrated to now allow dealers with a Mazda Certified website to use the company's technology to offer their customers vehicle appraisals via their websites.

All Mazda dealers who have enrolled with a Certified Website Provider have access to the new integration with the layout of their sites, the company said.

"We are proud and honored to be part of the Mazda Digital Certified Program and we look forward to helping Mazda dealers across the country increase their lead conversion and sales," eAutoAppraise managing partner Barry Brodsky said in a news release.

To provide dealers with high-quality leads, eAutoAppraise features both a value trade-in and sell-your-vehicle format that works with the CreditMiner platform to produce permissible full file bureau data.

Additionally, the platform’s technology is fully responsive and works on all devices, according to eAutoAppraise.

For more information about the Mazda Digital Certified Program click here.

KIA makes UnityWorks certified video advertiser


UnityWorks has been named KIA’s latest certified video advertising provider through the brand’s KIA Digital Certified Solutions program to provide turnkey, dealer customized video campaigns featuring model-specific creative for Kia models via Double Click, YouTube and Facebook advertising platforms.

The campaigns are specifically designed to target “in-market” auto intenders who are within a 25-mile radius of a dealership, according to UnityWorks.

“One of the reasons why we selected Unityworks was based on the exceptional results that we achieved from our test campaigns last spring in select markets across the country,” KIA Motors America digital planning manager Amber Ewell said in a news release.

“During that time we received view and click rates that were well above industry averages, and Google search interest for pilot dealers increased by 59 percent year-over-year. Not only was it highly effective in reaching auto intenders, but it was very cost-efficient too,” she explained.

UnityWorks’ packages include dealer-customized model video ads, a selection of campaigns on media platforms such as DoubleClick, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and a Full Line Kia Video Showcase to serve as the primary destination for click-through action within a dealer’s site.

“We’re delighted to partner with Kia and their dealers to offer an end-to-end, multi-platform video offering that nicely complements search activity, reaches prospects on their mobile devices, and will help drive more traffic to dealer websites and ultimately more retail sales,”  added Tim Copacia, UnityWorks executive vice president.

CDK adds SpinCar to partner program


SpinCar announced Monday that it has joined the CDK Global Partner Program and is now part of a marketplace made up of 300 partner companies that offer more than 400 different applications for auto dealers.

“We are very excited to be a part of the CDK Partner Program as we continue on our mission to provide innovative tools and services to automotive dealers,” SpinCar chief executive officer Devin Daly said in a news release. “This program allows CDK dealers to experience our product suite to its fullest.”

In addition to its Mobile Capture Application, which is designed to boost photographer efficiency and promote higher inventory coverage, SpinCar’s 360-degree Walkaround has delivered dealerships and OEMs 42 percent more leads on average and increased consumer engagement by 56 percent, according to the company.

“We’re pleased to continue expanding the CDK Partner Program with SpinCar’s platform,” said Howard Gardner, CDK Data Services vice president and general manager. “SpinCar is a welcome addition to the Partner Program’s group of vehicle merchandising applications.”

For a full list of vendors and applications currently available through the CDK Global Partner Program, visit