Products/Software

3 benefits of California and Texas dealers leveraging Instamotor

SAN FRANCISCO - 

Online used-vehicle sales platform Instamotor announced on Wednesday that it will allow dealers and private sellers in California and Texas to list their available inventory for free on the company’s iOS, Android and web platforms.

By listing on Instamotor, dealers will get:

• Access to more than 100,000 serious car shoppers monthly

• Free inventory listings with viewership and engagement metrics

• Free vehicle history reports for each vehicle listed

Instamotor, which had previously been entirely peer-to-peer, made this decision after continuously receiving interest from dealers seeking relationships and opportunities with the marketplace. The company insisted dealers recognize that listing on Instamotor is an easy way to get additional exposure for their inventory from customers they may not otherwise be able to reach.

Unlike other free mobile marketplaces, Instamotor users are “serious buyers,” according to the company.

Looking ahead, the company will implement certain features to qualify buyers even further, giving sellers the opportunity to clearly identify and contact ready-to-buy shoppers.

“As a former dealer myself, I understand how valuable it is to gain exposure for available inventory through as many channels as possible, especially via mobile,” Instamotor co-founder and chief operating officer Val Gui said. “By listing on Instamotor, dealers will have the opportunity to make meaningful connections with more than 100,000 users on our marketplace.” 

Since its inception, Instamotor insisted that it has provided a safe and transparent way for used-vehicle sellers and buyers to transact. Each vehicle is screened to identify issues such as branded or salvage title, lemon history, odometer inconsistency, weather damage and more. All major issues are flagged on each listing so shoppers can be informed before making their decision.

Instamotor is currently available in the markets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas and Houston, with plans of expanding into additional markets in 2018.

“The way consumers are shopping for and purchasing cars is ever-changing, but we will continue to keep the experience on Instamotor a safe, and easy one,” said Gui.

Gui previously discussed with Auto Remarketing how the company to growth through initiatives like what it revealed on Wednesday.

Affinitiv marks first year with new exec team, end-to-end marketing solution

CHICAGO - 

Since combining four companies a year ago, provider of marketing and technology services Affinitiv announced Tuesday it has finalized its executive team and will soon introduce an integrated platform that offers dealers an end-to-end marketing solution.

Last year, the merging companies included DPS, Peak Performance, OneCommand and TimeHighway.com.

Additionally, since then, Affinitiv has also acquired WSA Solutions, a provider of wireless service-tablet software to auto dealer fixed ops departments.

Affinitiv’s new solution is designed to keep car buyers connected to their dealer up until their next purchase.

“We know your customers. We know what they like and what they respond to. We know where to find them and how to drive them to find you," Affinitiv executive chairman Scot Eisenfelder said in a news release. "Making the sale is just the beginning. Creating a connected customer for life requires a whole new approach.

"To increase customer retention, dealers need to get past using tactics like oil change coupons to draw in customers. Our platform helps dealers understand what works and doesn't work from a communications standpoint, to keep their customers engaged and committed," Eisenfelder continued.

In addition to Eisenfelder, on the heels of celebrating the company’s first anniversary, Affinitiv has brought aboard Adam Meier, Stan Megerdichian, Hans Bodine, Jillian Slagter, Karen Dillon and Kevin Winter to its executive team.

The executive team

Eisenfelder is a 25-plus year automotive market veteran, according to Affinitiv. Prior to Affinitiv, he held positions such as senior vice president strategy at AutoNation and senior VP of product management, strategy and marketing at Reynolds and Reynolds.

Meier has been appointed chief operating officer. He has nearly 12 years of experience as chief finance officer and as a board member at Brandmuscle where he led the acquisition of four companies.

As executive VP of OEM relations and strategy, Megerdichian will focus on bringing the latest technology solutions to current OEM partners, as well as forming new OEM relationships. Most recently, he was president and chief executive officer of Peak Performance Marketing Solutions, which he founded in 1991.

Bodine has been appointed executive VP of sales. Previously, at Cars.com, Affinitiv said he helped to build a successful team of experts over more than 18 years.

Slagter will serve as chief people officer. She brings 20 years of HR and recruiting experience to her new role. Most recently, she spent 11 years at Nielsen as vice president of HR.

Dillon has been appointed executive VP of service scheduling. She has over 30 years of experience in the auto industry in various sales, marketing and executive positions, according to Affinitiv. And in 1984, Dillon became president of TimeHighway.com.

Winter brings more than 15 years of experience both developing and managing automotive sales and service CRM programs for OEM clients to his new role as Affinitiv chief client officer. Most recently, he work for Epsilon where he served eight years. Prior to Epsilon, he also worked for R.L. Polk & Co, according to Affinitiv.

In the past year, Affinitiv said it has garnered preferred relationships with a dozen OEMs, including: BMW, Kia, Lexus, Chrysler, Volkswagen, MINI, GM, Porsche, Mitsubishi, Audi, Volvo and Maserati.

Record360 integrates app into loaner vehicle solution

SEATTLE - 

Record360 recently announced it has integrated its asset documentation App into TSDLOANER, TSD’s cloud-based solution designed to track and manage rental and loaner car fleets.

With the addition of Record360, TSDLOANER users can now enhance the walkaround process within their loaner departments, the company said.

Both dealers and customers have the ability to digitize and time-stamp the condition of loaner vehicles in real-time.

At hand-off and upon return, these features can reduce unnecessary customer damage disputes or claims, according to Record360.

“Loaner vehicles traditionally have been a great way to provide a super-convenient, free service to valued customers when it’s most critical to them,” Record360 chief executive officer Shane Skinner said in a news release.

“An outstanding way to drive goodwill, the last thing any dealer wants is to have a good deed go punished through unnecessary claims or disputes. That’s a quick way to ruin a relationship. Record360 seamlessly optimizes the process of vehicle condition documentation with better clarity for both customer and dealer,” he explained.

TSDLOANER can help fleet owners manage loaner vehicles more efficiently by improving CSI, reducing liability, controlling expenses and enabling personalized paperwork processing.

Additionally, in the near future, the two companies also expect to integrate Record360 into the TSDRENTAL solution, according to Record360.

New Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book social media program provides advertisers real-time data

ATLANTA - 

Cox Automotive announced Monday the launch of a new social media audience extension product that employs anonymous website behavior data from Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com.

The audience extension product is designed to help OEM's and regional associations improve social media advertising efficiency, the company said.

Advertisers can use the behavior data from Autotrader and KBB when deploying highly targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram.

"Today's customers increasingly rely on online research before purchasing, and it's critical that our industry reaches them where they are and at the right moment," Cox Automotive product operations and social media director Adam Pavkov said in a news release. "This program gives advertisers the tools they need to get the right messages in front of shoppers when it matters most."

The program creates highly-targeted and unique advertising audiences for clients using real-time browsing behavior, according to Cox Automotive.

Car buyers are divided into different audiences based on their individual behaviors and preferences, such as specific make and model, in addition to location and demographic.

Advertisers can target their different audiences on Facebook and Instagram with their own specific message.

Honda Motor Company was an early user of the service.

"We're always looking for new ways to use data to make advertising more efficient and effective," said Dan Rodriguez, manager of Auto Remarketing Certified Pre-Owned at American Honda Motor Co. "This product has helped us more accurately identify in-market shoppers and narrowly target our messaging, and we're excited by the results."

Compared to other companies, advertisers using Cox Automotive's data for Facebook and Instagram campaigns reported on average 64 percent higher click-thru rates, 497 percent higher conversion rates with a 57 percent lower cost per conversion, according to the company.

Additionally, campaigns targeting conquest and segment audiences, show 39 percent higher click-thru rates, 175 percent higher conversion rates and 22 percent lower cost per conversion, Cox Automotive said.

Mobile inspection app adds Ford CPO inspection checklist to library

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - 

Automobile Technologies (AMT) has added the Ford OEM Certified Pre-Owned Inspection Checklist to its InspectionNotes app’s online forms library, the company announced Monday.

InspectionNotes provides common OEM inspection forms and a custom online forms builder, which users can access to identically match any paper inspection forms they have.

The app was created to allow mobile vehicle inspections and condition reports to be done from a tablet or smartphone, according to AMT.

“Our goal is to offer a user-friendly, mobile app, combined with the most advanced cloud software technology, to meet the demands of the automotive industry,” AMT executive vice president Mike Fischer said in a news release. “A huge goal for automotive dealerships is to offer excellent value with Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. InspectionNotes hits the mark with its easy to use comprehensive solution by offering an efficient way to provide transparency and accuracy in the CPO process.”

The answers to questions that inspectors record on their mobile devices are either transmitted to a cloud-based dashboard or to websites and third-party software systems via API, according to AMT.

Additionally, the app allows inspectors to print inspection forms and add pictures, video, and digital signatures during the inspection process.

FrogData joins 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.”

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

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - 

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

HOUSTON - 

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.”