DealerSocket making rounds to 7 states for dealer shows

For dealers who couldn’t make it to Las Vegas for the national events orchestrated by the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers or the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association earlier this year, DealerSocket is going on a road trip to seven states to participate in more dealer events to showcase its soon-to-be released solutions.

DealerSocket is making this journey because the company is in the midst of its largest technology investment ever in the independent market along with sponsorships of several major state dealer associations and a lengthy lineup of convention appearances.

“DealerSocket’s dedication to independent dealers is unprecedented among tech companies in this space,” said Marylou Hastert, director of product marketing at DealerSocket. “We continue to increase our investment in independent product lines, including the release of an advanced new platform, called BlackBird, which will include a dealer management system (named iDMS) built specifically for independent dealers and a game-changing CRM.”

The company’s July appearances include the Georgia and Texas state IADA conferences.

• Georgia IADA Convention & Expo today through Saturday — Todd White, sales director, independent, at DealerSocket will present “Evolve at the Speed of Millennials,” pulling back the curtain on this fast-growing customer base as well as sharing new strategies and technologies to appeal to millennial buyers. Learn more at

• Texas IADA Conference & Expo on Sunday through Tuesday — For the first time ever, TIADA will open up the exhibit hall during select, non-exhibit hours for pre-scheduled demos. DealerSocket, a TIADA Business Partner, is now filling time slots on Monday between 2:30 and 5 p.m. for demos of products within its integrated technology platform tailored to independent dealers. Register for a demo at

In addition to Georgia and Texas, DealerSocket will appear at IADA conventions for the Carolinas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, along with NABD’s East Coast conference. The company will conduct live demos throughout each show highlighting its new integrated technology platform tailored to independent dealers, including DMS, CRM, inventory management software, data-mining tools, website offerings and digital marketing services. 

Wayne Reaves Software finalizes integration with F&I Express

A little more than a month after Wayne Reaves Software rolled out an enhancement to its current platform that can provide the capability for buy-here, pay-here dealers to furnish credit data to Equifax, the DMS provider completed an integration with F&I Express, a digital solution that can allow operators to electronically secure customer signatures and transmit contracts and other required data directly to participating sources.

Officials explained the incorporation of F&I Express eContracting within the Wayne Reaves DMS is designed to generate a streamlined process for dealers. Within the DMS, dealers can digitally send the customer’s deal information directly over to F&I Express to complete the contract. F&I managers are ensured of 100 percent accuracy and error-free contracts with a few clicks, sending the contract digitally to the customer for signatures.

Once completed, the digital contract can be easily tracked and submitted.     

“This new integration with Wayne Reaves will now further simplify the electronic contracting process — eliminating the need for dealers to re-enter contract data into the DMS,” said Brian Reed, president and chief executive officer of F&I Express.

“The integration with Wayne Reaves allows us to serve a wider range of dealers and provides them with new functionality that streamlines the total process. Dealers who use eContracting with Wayne Reaves DMS integration will find the process to be error-free and even more efficient,” Reed continued.

Reed went on to mention that eContracting can allow operators to significantly modernize their processes. It can automate critical checkpoints by ensuring that required fields and signatures are entered and contract requirements are met during the review process.

In addition, dealers now have access to more than 120 providers through the connection with F&I Express.

The companies added that the integration between Wayne Reaves and F&I Express significantly improves the process for independent dealers and BHPH operators. All Web-based, customers can be met where they choose and the contracts can be completed instantly.

Wayne Reaves president Jason Reaves insisted independent dealers now have more options than ever to serve their customers.

“Wayne Reaves’ car dealer management software provides an easy way to manage every aspect of the business,” Reaves said. “Now with our integration with F&I Express, our customers are able to easily pull accurate rates for providers and submit contracts electronically, 100 percent error-free.”

NIADA survey: 34% to increase workforce as sales expectations dip

Of the more than 150 independent dealerships included in Equifax’s latest edition of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association Business Confidence Survey, a total of 34 percent indicated an anticipation of adding personnel within the next year, even though the expectations for sales growth during the third quarter and beyond softened.

How independent and buy-here, pay-here dealerships might use additional human capital surprised John Giamalvo a bit when the vice president of dealer services at Equifax examined the survey data, which was released on Wednesday during the 2016 NIADA Convention and Expo in Las Vegas.

“What really struck me was the area on which they’re going to increase human resources assets really lacked in the area that they need the most — in the finance area,” Giamalvo told BHPH Report during a phone conversation. “That struck me because it’s completely contradictory to where the business has been going in that space where I would suggest that’s the area that needs to be bolstered the most.”

According to the survey polling dealers during the second quarter of this year, only 4 percent of participating operators who intend to increase their workforce plan to bolster the finance department. The majority (53 percent) expect to reinforce the sales team while another 39 percent plan to increase personnel in the service department.

BHPH Report asked Giamalvo to consider why independent dealers are not pushing more staff into the finance department.

“I think there’s a little bit of legacy here where I think the independent and buy-here, pay-here space looks at traditional finance outlets and having to staff up for those areas, they don’t really look there,” he said.

“When you consider the last 15 years or so, the used-car market has gone from maybe 10 percent or 15 percent using financing for the sale to now well over 50 percent,” Giamalvo continued. “When you consider that, there might be a little legacy there. Certainly you need to have a well-thought-out finance department in place when half of the cars you’re going to put over the curb require financing to do so.”

Beyond what Giamalvo mentioned, Equifax highlighted three other major findings from the latest survey, including:

• Outlook for retail sales growth for the third quarter (44 percent) was less optimistic when compared to the growth expectations for the second quarter (56 percent), while there was an increase in the number of respondents who thought sales would remain the same.

• 48 percent of respondents anticipate their customer traffic will remain consistent, and 51 percent believe overall economic conditions in the auto industry will stay the same.

• 95 percent of dealers plan to maintain or raise their investment in digital marketing, with 30 percent expecting to decrease their spending on traditional media.

“While there are some indicators that show slightly less growth, dealers still see the industry as stable and the fact that investment levels across different marketing channels has increased is a sign that shift to digital and its potential, is a reality,”  Giamalvo said.

While Equifax and NIADA have worked together on this survey for some time, it wasn’t until this week that the finding were distributed publicly. Giamalvo explained why independent and BHPH dealers should watch what these trends are doing.

“Independent and buy-here, pay-here dealers don’t have the benefits of the resources from the manufacturers and the benefits of the captive lenders, which tend to be massive and capable of moving the market,” he said. “The independent market and buy-here, pay-here dealers, they don’t have those resources and they don’t have those insights that can be provided by the manufacturers.

“The ability to move the needle that the manufacturers can provide with incentives and what the captives can do by buying deep,” he continued. The captives buying deep is what’s eating into the buy-here, pay-here market quite a bit. They’re buying deep to move new cars.

“I think the independents and the buy-here, pay-here dealers responding to these surveys and understanding what you’re feeling in one state is aligned with what your brethren is feeling in other states as it relates to the issues these fellas are facing whether it’s financing or compliance, inventory issues, NIADA does a great job of crowd sourcing this information so they can focus in on the pain points and provide the thought leadership and disseminate it,” Giamalvo went on to say.

Equifax and NIADA conducted a presentation on Wednesday where experts from both organizations drilled deeper into the survey results. A video recording of the session can be found soon at

“Partnering with Equifax on this quarterly business confidence survey has allowed us to gauge the pulse of the industry and the needs of our 15,000-plus dealer members,” NIADA senior vice president of dealer services Scott Lilja said about the survey, which can be viewed online here.

J.D. Byrider welcomes new franchisee in Denver

J.D. Byrider recently expanded its buy-here, pay-here dealership footprint in Colorado by bringing a new franchisee in the process.

The newest J.D. Byrider dealership is in Denver. It's the second store in Colorado but the first one for franchisee Rick Steenbock.

“My team and I are very excited to expand the J.D. Byrider brand to Denver,” Steenbock said. “We’re dedicated to bringing quality cars with affordable financing and a high level of customer service to a great community.”

The showroom at 6401 N. Federal Blvd. consists of 7,500 square feet along with 10 service bays.

This location is the second J.D. Byrider dealership to open this year as the company rolled out a store in Fort Smith, Ark. The company now has 169 locations in 36 states.

“Rick is an exceptional operator and will serve our customers well with his expansion in Denver,” said Tom Welter, vice president of franchising for J.D. Byrider. “He understands the value of our business model and operational support, both of which are driving the unprecedented unit growth we are experiencing.”

For more details, go to

DriveTime’s Sauder joins NABD Hall of Fame

Mark Sauder's reaction when Ken Shilson approached him about becoming the newest member of the NABD Hall of Fame might have come straight from a script you’ve heard on countless TV shows or movies as the police are interrogating someone. Sauder told Shilson, “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

While the exchange between the executive who helped DriveTime Automotive reach immense successes and the president of the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers had nothing to do with law enforcement or illegal activity, the dialogue was the beginning of how Sauder became the latest addition to the NABD Hall of Fame, joining Ed Bass, Julian Codding, Jim DeVoe, Martin Ingram, Bruce Kennett and John Linnehan Jr.

“There is no question that Mark has been an integral part of the success and growth of DriveTime. Anybody you talk to, even the top people at DriveTime, say that Mark is certainly one of the smartest — if not the smartest — guy in the operation, and I’m not taking anything away from (chief executive officer) Ray Fidel and (owner) Ernie Garcia, who deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done,” Shilson said.

“Without a good financial guy in an operation like theirs, the success and growth would not have been possible,” Shilson continued.

“A top-flight chief financial officer is the difference between the best buy-here, pay-here operators and everybody else. I can point to every single buy-here, pay-here operator that has had the most long-term success, and they all had a top-flight CFO,” Shilson went on to say.

Sauder joined DriveTime in 1997 and became CFO five years later. During his time in that post, DriveTime grew to a nationwide network of stores that Sauder highlighted now make up the fourth-largest vehicle retailer nationwide. DriveTime also streamlined its payment collection processes and improved vehicle quality by incorporating pre-sale inspections along with warranties and vehicle service contracts.

Altogether, it’s been what Sauder described as “transforming of an ugly duckling into DriveTime.” Sauder insisted much of DriveTime’s success came because of Fidel and Garcia.

“Starting back in the 2002 timeframe through today, that whole revolution within what is considered the buy-here, pay-here industry and how we go about business, it’s allowed DriveTime to become the fourth largest vehicle retailer in the entire country,” Sauder said.

“It’s really been an entire revolution in auto retailing for credit-challenged individuals,” he continued.

Sauder also recollected what it was like being DriveTime’s CFO during the Great Recession, a time when many segments of the auto industry struggled and some didn’t make it through.

“In the 2007 and 2008 timeframe when the securitization market went away with the recession and bank lines were dramatically reduced, weathering that financial storm was great,” Sauder said. “The commitment of our owner Ernie Garcia to put money back into the company during that timeframe allowed us not only to survive through that period, but the changes we made through that period really set us up for success we’re enjoying today. That timeframe was definitely a memorable and challenging experience.”

Along with mentioning Fidel and Garcia often during a conversation with BHPH Report, Sauder also praised the entire workforce DriveTime has for the company’s accomplishments.

“I’ve worked with some of the brightest people I know. They have really great hearts and care for each other and for the company. There’s a focus placed on the company’s culture,” Sauder said.

“It truly is and has been a differentiator for DriveTime’s success,” he added.

Sauder hesitated when Shilson stated that NABD’s Hall of Fame committee wanted to induct him during this year’s National Conference for BHPH at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

“When Ken reached out to me, I was actually shocked that I had been nominated for the Hall of Fame,” Sauder said. “My first response was, ‘You’ve got the wrong guy. There are others who deserve it way more than me.’ He encouraged me to accept the nomination, stating the committee wanted to acknowledge the critical importance of a CFO and their role in the success of a buy-here, pay-here company related to finance, analytics, risk, accounting, integrity, controls, transparency, access to capital.

“A buy-here, pay-here or any independent dealer, for them to grow or succeed over the long term requires a strong CFO working in conjunction with the rest of the leadership team,” Sauder continued. “After he walked through all of that, I humbly accepted the honor on behalf of all of the other CFOs who have been instrumental in the success of their companies.

“It’s a very meaningful and humbling,” added Sauder, whose relationship with Shilson dates back nearly 20 years when NABD first started to hold national events to help BHPH operators.

Shilson reiterated why NABD chose Sauder after inducting operators such as Bass, Codding, DeVoe, Ingram, Kennett and Linnehan who spent nearly their entire careers in showrooms hammering out contracts with customers who had damaged credit for one reason or another.

“You have to have somebody in an organization come to you like they do every day in this business and say, ‘I’ve got a great idea. Here’s what we want to do.’ This happens every day in every operation in buy-here, pay-here,” Shilson said.

“You have to have somebody in the operation who will say, ‘OK, let’s look at the impact of what that’s going to do to us, what it’s going to cost, what the cause and effect are going to be and how that’s going to impact our future.’ That’s what a good chief financial officer like a Mark Sauder does. That’s what he is,” Shilson went on to say.

Sauder no longer is the CFO at DriveTime, but he is still with the family of companies owned by Garcia. Sauder recently became the president of SilverRock Holdings, which provides F&I products such as extended vehicle service contracts, global positioning system (GPS) theft recovery products, guaranteed asset protection products (GAP) and auto insurance solutions

“We’re leveraging all of our knowledge gained within DriveTime to offer proven products designed to help independent dealers,” Sauder said. “It’s all designed in such a way to help independent dealers succeed. Our goal is to become the No. 1 F&I provider for independent dealers. We’re committed to making that happen.”

Dealers rave about info & wisdom shared at NABD’s recent conference

Four of the operators who attended the 18th annual National BHPH Conference hosted by the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers last week offered glowing assessments of what they took away from the Wynn Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

More than 70 speakers and panelists discussed important subjects collected under the theme of “Navigating the Road to BHPH Success.” Three days of material might seem overwhelming, but Owen Gorman of the Gene Gorman Automotive Group said he enjoyed it very much.

“The sessions were just long enough to be informative and not drawn out,” said Gorman, who operates dealerships in the Florida cities of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. “The session moderators are a must, and they did a good job.”

The educational sessions featured 14 different workshops covering:

—Current industry developments
—Accounting and tax updates
—Lowering reconditioning costs
—Add-on products that add value
—Maximizing tax refunds
—Using the web and social media to gain market share
—Payment devices
—Technology solutions for success
—Turning charge-offs into cash
—Deal jacket reviews
—Inventory acquisition, disposition and financing.

All sessions were interactive, allowing attendees to ask questions and get answers on these important topics.

“The NABD gives me a front-row seat to all of our industry’s hot-button topics,” said David Bearly, who operates Dave’s Greenlight Auto Sales in Greenville, Ill.

“Now that I know what I don’t know, I can direct my efforts to help improve my customers’ experience while protecting my bottom line,” Bearly added.

Lloyd Robertson called this year’s NABD event a “win-win.” Robertson runs Lloyd’s Auto Sales in Hot Springs, Ark.

“Not only did I learn practices that will make me a better, more efficient operator, I will be much more profitable because I learned what not to do,” Robertson said.

Some of what Robertson and other attendees learned about what not to do likely stemmed from the presentation by Malini Mithal, a director at the Federal Trade Commission. Mithal discussed FTC’s jurisdiction and enforcement authority over the BHPH industry and her presentation included examples of current FTC initiatives involving deceptive practices, fair credit reporting and other violations including the furnisher rule, risk based pricing, privacy and data security and other violations.

Mithal also provided helpful guidance to a jam-packed audience on compliance reference materials.

“This session will help attendees avoid regulatory mistakes that can cost them millions,” said NABD president Ken Shilson. “We are deeply grateful to Milani and to the FTC for their candor and insights.”

Other general education sessions included a presentation by Cox Automotive leaders on “simplifying how vehicles are acquired and sold,” a benchmarks and trends update, and the Hall of Fame induction of Mark Sauder, former chief financial officer of DriveTime.

The program concluded with interactive sessions covering collections best practices, phone skills for success, succession planning and a discussion on how regulators are changing the BHPH business.

“Attendees who stayed to the end derived significant information and value from the Thursday morning sessions,” Shilson said.

John Linnehan Jr. and Tim Byrd of DealerRe conducted a motivational session on the final day that got the attendees in compliance spiritually.

“NABD is extremely grateful for their participation and contribution to the success of this event,” Shilson said.

The conference began with a first-timers reception that had more than 200 attendees.

Donnie Cochran wasn’t a first-time attendee; he has come to NABD’s national conference 11 times.

“Enjoy it every year,” said Cochran, who operates Bayou Auto Sales in New Iberia, La.

NABD sold out its exhibit hall as vendors and service providers enjoyed their time at the Wynn, as well.

“This was the best conference that I have attended in my 21 years in business,” Tax Refund Services and TaxMax founder Bill Neylan said.

“We had a record number of dealers come to our booth to learn about our products, and we even had proactive dealers sign up for our service right in our booth,” Neylan continued. “Dealers at the NABD Conference were dealers who were serious about their businesses and were ready to act on products that can better their dealerships. Congrats on such a great show, NABD!”

CAR Financial president Rick Potter offered this assessment for operators who did not make to Las Vegas this year.

“NABD promised it to be one of the greatest BHPH events in history, and it did not fail to meet this objective,” Potter said. “I witnessed standing-room-only crowds in some of the sessions due to the very robust attendance, and talked to a large number of new and prospective dealers during the vendor showcase periods.

“The seminars and speaker panels were fantastic, and focused on the most influential aspects of our industry today. If you did not attend this event this year, don’t make the same mistake in 2017,” Potter added.

For operators who couldn’t make the trip, conference presentations have been posted on the NABD website at and can be downloaded for free.

“2016 NABD was the single best presentation of events that I have experienced in my 10 years in this industry,” Cal Amp’s Bill Caan said. “Record attendance and a dynamic lineup of speakers and topics made for an outstanding three days.

“Ken and Ingram (Walters) continue to build on previous shows and their hard work has paid dividends. Future NABD events are a can’t-miss for industry participants and vendors,” Caan went on to say.

NABD announced that its next event will be a BHPH conference Nov. 1-3 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. “This facility is the nicest resort in Orlando and NABD offers discounted room rates with no resort fees while supplies last,” Shilson said.

More information about that conference is available on the NABD website or by calling its headquarters at (832) 767-4759.

“It’s always exciting to see a diverse group of dealers come together with a focus on improving their business and the industry as a whole. I’m already looking forward to the next NABD event,” NextGear Capital’s Lori Kahre said.

NABD also is considering offering BHPH Master Dealer Certification training. A brief survey is available on the NABD website and survey responses are requested.

NABD's current view of the industry

Leading into the 18th annual National Conference for BHPH hosted by the National Alliance of Buy- Here, Pay-Here Dealers, we spoke with Ken Shilson, the president and founder of NABD, about a host of issues impacting operators.

BHPH Report asked Shilson about the diminishing market presence BHPH dealers possess nowadays, how moves made by investment leaders on Wall Street are impacting dealers on Main Street, as well as some tidbits that dealerships can leverage during the second half of the year.

How are BHPH operators surviving the storm from subprime finance companies that seems to have been going on for several years now?

Based on numbers that Experian has provided through December 2015, it appears that buy-here, pay-here has lost about 40 percent of its market share to subprime finance companies, credit unions and franchised dealers. That’s a pretty big slice out of the market, and therefore it has to result in some adjustments. One of the big adjustments is in order to survive today you have to have financial flexibility and capital availability. You have to get your financial house in order to be able to weather the Storm, so to speak, where all this competition is going on. If you to sell a car today to pay the bills tomorrow you’re in deep trouble because it’s going to take time for us to regain our market share. It’s not going to come back automatically.

You must have a compliance focus today. That’s because in the past the industry has not been scrutinized the way it is now. You cannot ignore that big brother is looking. You can’t ignore it. Whether you’re big or small, or in between, you better get your compliance management system in place.

You have to have consistent underwriting. Trying to match what Wall Street is doing, what franchised dealers are doing and what credit unions have done is not smart. What is smart is to keep a consistent underwriting approach and follow your business model. I have a saying: Never match underwriting with stupidity. If you try to do it, you’ll end up with disastrous results. You need to be consistent and disciplined in your underwriting.

You need to get efficient by embracing technology. With the loss in market share, you have to reduce your costs. You have to operate more efficiently in order to operate more profitably. In other words, you need to be able to do more with less. Th e good news is that once the industry rebounds you’ll make that much more money because you’ve already streamlined things to be more profitable.

No need for specific numbers, but what’s your assessment as to how many good operators have departed the business in the last couple of years? What void is it leaving?

I think that’s a great question and no one has asked me that question before. It’s a very valid question. My answer is none. No good operators have left the business because good operators understand that it’s a marathon, not a 100- yard dash. They’re prepared to stay the course. Operators. What we’ve lost is people who were over-leveraged, who didn’t discipline themselves properly, who tried to match underwriting with stupidity, who didn’t get compliant, who didn’t do any of the things that I just said.

They continue to fail. They will continue to fail as long as they don’t have a long-term plan. I know these guys. I know who the good operators are, not based on subjectivity but based on performance. They’re all still there.

Both Fitch Ratings and Moody’s have shared reports this year about the deterioration of subprime auto ABS. What’s your reaction to the concern shown by Wall Street?

I have been tracking this for two years now. I talk with Wall Street people who are both investors and securitizers. I have said for the last year, maybe the last 18 months, that there are some deep subprime securitizations that were poorly put together and poorly structured. To that end, they are starting to fail. What I mean by that is the securitizers who had no experience in the underwriting or collection of this kind of paper, those who did not structure deals where they matched the right vehicle with the right customer, are failing and will continue to fail. Not all securitizations are bad. Th ere are many that are performing well. Those people who structured them right and those people who did do the right matching process, that paper continues to perform. But I think in the months ahead more of these poorly structured ABS transactions are going to surface. Th is is going to create an enormous opportunity for the buy-here, pay-here industry to get the customers and those vehicles back from the defaults that come out of these poorly structured deep subprime deals.

At the federal level, how informed — or misinformed — are regulators and lawmakers when it comes to how BHPH dealerships operate? What can be done to improve the situation?

There are some regulators that I would consider to be fairly well informed and others who are not. I don’t think it’s fair to generalize one way or the other. What I would say is the key To this is a continuing communication, which needs to exist between the industry leaders and the regulators to try to help more of them to have a clearer understanding of the importance of subprime auto finance industry in America today. How important of a source of transportation it is? Now at the end of the day as the leaders step up to do that — and I want to applaud NIADA’s efforts through their leadership conferences that NABD totally supports — it’s not going to be what NIADA does or what NABD does, it’s what the individual operators do. We’re going to be judged by their actions. If the industry is waiting for us to make all of the problems go away, that’s not going to happen. They’ve got to take compliance seriously. They’ve got to operate properly within regulatory constraints to do the right things or suffer the consequences.

The NABD is approaching 20 years of hosting the National Conference. What’s your assessment of the journey not only for the organization but for the BHPH industry during that span?

We want to thank the tremendous support from the many operators in the industry and other, our sponsors, people who are involved in the industry who have embraced and supported us over that journey. To them I say this: Buy-here, pay-here is a vital source of transportation in America. Without the buy-here, pay-here industry, millions and millions of Americans would not have any transportation at all and would have difficulty working and living. Buy-here, pay-here is a critical component of the American transportation system. Our consumers are car dependent.

Now NABD has championed the cause for the self-financed, buy-here, pay-here operators throughout its entire existence. We believe that the industry continues to need that type of representation. At the end of the day, we believe that the education and the training that we’re providing and offering have never been more important in this journey. The journey is not over. The journey continues.

What pearls of knowledge and wisdom would you like to leave with BHPH operators going into the second half of 2016?

I urge operators to stay the course, to get their capital and financial flexibility in order to continue in the highly competitive environment of today. I urge them to reconnect with their customers, which will help them regain market share. I urge them to take compliance very seriously and to get a compliance management system in place.

I would also say to them if they are not willing to get the education and training necessary to help them do those things, they need to expect the worst results. We’re at a time where you have to have more skill and more knowledge to navigate the course successfully than ever before. That cannot be attained by doing the same old things every day and expecting a different result.

Autotrader’s BHPH Center at crucial third year

When dealers come to Las Vegas for the National Conference for BHPH hosted by the National Alliance of Buy- Here, Pay-Here Dealers, Autotrader’s solution for this slice of the dealership space will hit its second anniversary. At this same event in 2014, Autotrader unveiled an online tool specifically designed to match BHPH dealers with customers who need the financing they provide.

Thomas Wadley, product manager for Autotrader’s BHPH Center, has been involved with the project since its inception and reflected with BHPH Report on the journey the company team has traveled with nearly 2,000 dealers from almost all 50 states who have tried the tool.

“One of the things we’ve been able to validate is that when we launched this initiative, we identified a market segment that wasn’t being catered to and we created a solution specifically for that market segment,” Wadley said. “Over the course of time, we were able to get on board those buy-here, pay-here dealers starting back at the NABD Conference in May 2014. Since then our number of registrations has continued to increase. We’ve seen this solution does work. We’ve gotten dealers on board who are getting shopper traffic, and this shopper traffic is generating the leads for those dealers.

“The problem that’s uncovered in the past is that these dealers and shoppers have had difficulty connecting with each other,” he continued. “This environment is the perfect solution for them, the dealer, to focus on financing and merchandising their vehicles with a financing model. It also allows the shopper to be more confident that they are connecting with dealers that will approve them to get a vehicle.”

One of the attributes of the Autotrader BHPH Center that propels it to have such an impact in this space is how potential buyers most oft en find the site and look over dealership inventory. “What we’ve observed is over 70 percent of the consumer traffic comes from mobile devices. That’s been a pattern we’ve seen for the last year and a half,” Wadley said. “We’re excited about that because the site is built in responsive design fashion so that it renders to the device it’s being viewed with.”

Wadley also touched on the other attributes the solution can deliver.

“Another key feature that we’re excited to release is the back-end reporting that dealers are able to view,” he said. “They can see the performance of their vehicles on the site. They’re able to see what the shoppers are interested in in terms of the payment information, the most sought-after vehicles within their local search market, and the number of times their vehicles are viewed.”

In the past two years, the Autotrader BHPH Center team has demonstrated the solution to a wide array of industry experts and has gone to independent dealership gatherings to highlight the product. Collecting assessments of users has also been crucial to development.

“We’re confident with the feedback we’ve gotten at dealer conferences as well as some of our other testers that the solution is quite user friendly,” Wadley said. “We’re still interested in getting more feedback from our dealer base. As we continue to promote this product to this market, we’ll adjust the whole experience as needed.”

Now with the Autotrader BHPH Center about to embark on its third year, Marcus Dame, senior director within product management for independent dealers, described how the company is making plans to place additional resources on the project so the solution can be an even sharper tool in a BHPH operator’s toolbox.

“In getting to know the team and the platform, the dealers who are subscribing to it and the shoppers who are using it, what we’ve been able to do over the last two years is really validate that we can be effective in attracting qualified buyers, and we’ve been effective in attracting qualified sellers and engaging those two in almost like a match-making environment where then we’re delivering value to both,” Dame said. “They have validated to us through their activities that we’re getting the product optimized in a way that aligns with the original vision.

“We’ve taken it beyond proof of concept that it’s working and working very well,” he continued. “What that has done is positioned us to take that investment pivot. How do we really integrate into our business outside of a concept or test and make it part of the fabric of our enterprise and organization so we can support it in a way with dedicated efforts, sales and support and not just a couple of people who are running day and night to make it happen; rather, a portfolio of resources around it so we can really serve those shoppers and sellers optimally the way we do for our core businesses.”

12 new features of DealerSocket’s mobile CRM

DealerSocket rolled out a major upgrade to its mobile CRM technology for buy-here, pay-here and independent dealers. The latest software features a mobile driver’s license scanner, push alerts for website visits (when using a DealerSocket website) and support for attaching images and videos on outgoing emails within the mobile application.

Dealers attending the National Conference for BHPH hosted by the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers next week in Las Vegas will have the opportunity to see the company’s latest mobile technology in action.

DealerSocket’s mobile CRM app can help dealers capture and leverage customer information on the lot, on the showroom floor, or even away from the dealership. Since they are not restricted to recording customer information while behind a desk, app users see an average increase in data collected of at least 30 percent, which translates to more sales.

The company’s mobile CRM also offers BHPH operators nine other features, including:

• Real-time push alerts when customers open emails, click on links, submit a web lead, visit the dealership website and more

• Call tracking integration with the time, date, duration and employee name logged to the customer work notes

• Immediate access to the dealer’s entire inventory library

• The ability to send e-brochures containing specific calls to action, all with a single click

• A VIN scanner that pushes trade information to third-party appraisal tools

• Customized automated processes based on multiple lost resolution codes, so dealers can handle a prospect who bought from another store differently than a prospect who simply had bad credit

• “Smart vehicle reply” email functionality, which adds up to four new/used cars from inventory based on the customer’s chosen vehicle

• Daily work plan, which lets dealers know the right time to reach out to the right person with the right message so no activity slips through the cracks

• Optional modules like SocketTalk texting functionality

“For years, DealerSocket has led the way in mobile innovation, from websites and online lead generation to mobile platforms for CRM and DMS. We are committed to giving buy here, pay here and independent dealers access to the latest flexible functionality, both in terms of customer experience and dealer usability,” said Peter Ord, national sales director at DealerSocket.

“It’s truly needed in today’s marketplace because, according to our Independent Dealership Action Report, these shoppers are high-frequency users of mobile devices. Not to mention, we believe that increasing flexibility and convenience for dealership staff correlates with improved productivity and, therefore, results,” Ord continued.

After close to a year of development, DealerSocket is also nearing the third-quarter launch of iDMS, the debut product in its full-scale, integrated technology suite made specifically for BHPH and independent dealers.

The comprehensive platform will include newly tailored solutions for CRM, inventory management and digital marketing, with even more options to be added in the future. iDMS users can benefit from robust collections and accounting functionality to help BHPH dealers run their businesses with maximum profits and efficiency.

Key features include:

• Dynamic queueing processes

• Stacked promise-to-pay functionality

• Buy-here, pay-here decisioning

• Real-time accounting integration with QuickBooks

• Flexible general ledger (GL) account creation and mapping, giving dealers granular control of GL transaction accounting

“We are thrilled to launch our new independent platform to provide dealers with increased flexibility and streamline the use of DealerSocket products,” Ord said. “We will no longer be constrained by product line, so users can easily access all the tools they need to do their jobs, not by product but by role.”

Dealers can schedule a free demo of any DealerSocket product at the NABD’s event by visiting

If operators cannot attend the entire conference, NABD is offering day passes. More details can be found at or by calling (832) 767-4759.

Selly Automotive CRM integrates with Skywerks DMS

Two technology platforms buy-here, pay-here operators might already use now can communicate with each other.

The Skywerks dealer management system is now integrated with the Selly Automotive customer relationship management platform, allowing the two systems to share information with a new bi-directional integration.

The companies explained the integration between Selly Automotive and Skywerks allows the two services to exchange information, eliminating redundancies while increasing efficiency for dealers.

“This integration reinforces our commitment to providing seamless solutions for independent and BHPH dealerships,” Selly Automotive founder and chief executive officer Zach Klempf said.

“As technology evolves in this segment of the market, independent and BHPH dealership software solutions will only communicate with each other more,” Klempf continued.

The new integration allows existing and new Skywerks dealers to take advantage of the Selly Automotive platform.

For more information on the integration between Selly Automotive and Skywerks, visit or