BHPH Report April 2015 : Page 1
RepoRoute Aims to Streamline Process for Agents Subprime Auto Finance Is Booming: Will BHPH Dealers Get Their Share? A Publication of NABD and SubPrime Auto Finance News 4 10 FTC Answers Dealers’ FAQs about the Privacy Rule 18 April 2015 | Volume 2 | No. 3 DealerSocket Reiterates Commitment to Dealers After FEX DMS Acquisition By Nick Zulovich, Editor 3 Ways to Improve Website Foundation SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — DealerSocket chief executive of cer and co-founder Jonathan Ord ac-knowledged buy-here, pay-here dealers might be concerned when something “transformative” hap-pens like what transpired earlier this year. Back in February, DealerSocket announced the acquisition of FEX DMS, a dealer management system (DMS) for BHPH and other independent dealers. Established in 2001, FEX DMS is the f rst and only fully integrated, Web-based automotive DMS that includes an integrated loan-servicing platform de-signed exclusively for inde-pendent dealers. For operators thinking FEX DMS is going to be radically changed or even might deteriorate now that it’s within DealerSocket’s portfo-lio, Ord tried to quell any of those thoughts and more dur-ing a phone interview with JONATHAN ORD BHPH Report this spring. DealerSocket First, Ord emphasized DealerSocket’s successful history that dates back 14 years. T e company is quite entrenched in the fran-chised dealer space with about 4,500 stores using its CRM product and another 2,000 dealerships lever-aging DealerSocket’s website and digital marketing tools. T e company ventured into the independent dealer space about a year ago and already passed the 1,000-store threshold in that part of the industry. “We have 95 percent retention rates on all the customers we’ve ever rolled onto DealerSocket,” Ord said. “Our f rst customer was Larry H. Miller Lex-us, and they’re still a customer of ours today. We also have Galpin Ford, the largest Ford store in the world, and they’re still a customer of ours today. We pride ourselves on customer service and support based on our ability to maintain what we develop, meaning it’s usable at the dealership in a way that’s meaningful to that dealership.” COMMITMENT continued on page 6 By Nick Zulovich, Editor IRVINE, Calif. — Michael Jack-son approaches building and improv-ing dealership websites from a vantage point that buy-here, pay-here opera-tors who come from a mechanical back-ground might appreciate. Jackson’s f rst automotive experiences came from re-pairing vehicles by taking them com-pletely apart before reassembling, a pro-cess that might have included some tri-al and error, too. “T at’s the thought process we do with everything; let’s take apart the web-site and put it back together and see how it works,” said Jackson, now the chief ex-ecutive of cer of Auto Search Technol-ogies, a California f rm that specializes in enhancing websites for dealerships, especially in the BHPH space. “T e main primary goal for a deal-er to be online is to get leads and sell more cars. T at’s the absolutely simplis-tic thing you have to break it down to,” Jackson continued. During a wide-ranging conversation and best-practices exchange with BHPH Report , Jackson delved into a host of areas operators might consider to im-prove their website performance. With shoppers having more options nowa-days, Jackson insisted that BHPH deal-ers have to ramp up several facets of their online presentation so they’re not only found online, but also those poten-tial buyers put down their laptops, tab-lets and smartphones and arrive at the store to make a deal. “It would be pointless to inundate you with facts about online advertis-ing, or the fact that having a website in today’s market will increase a dealer’s sales and bottom line. By now you are aware that having a website is a must,” Jackson said. Selecting a URL In keeping with the idea of tearing apart every single part of the website, Jackson f rst touched on how a store can be found online — the site address that serves the same purpose in the online world as the street address the dealer-ship has physically. Jackson explained that many com-panies will traditionally look for an FOUNDATION continued on page 3 Cherokee Automotive Group | 301 Cascade Pointe Lane | Cary, NC 27513 Ask the Hall of Famer with Julian Codding E. GREENVILLE, PA US POSTAGE PAID PRSRT STD Permit No. 555 12
DealerSocket Reiterates Commitment To Dealers After FEX DMS Acquisition
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — DealerSocket chief executive officer and co-founder Jonathan Ord acknowledged buy-here, pay-here dealers might be concerned when something "transformative" happens like what transpired earlier this year. Back in February, DealerSocket announced the acquisition of FEX DMS, a dealer management system (DMS) for BHPH and other independent dealers.
Established in 2001, FEX DMS is the first and only fully integrated, Web-based automotive DMS that includes an integrated loan-servicing platform designed exclusively for independent dealers. For operators thinking FEX DMS is going to be radically changed or even might deteriorate now that it's within DealerSocket's portfolio, Ord tried to quell any of ^ those thoughts and more during a phone interview with BHPH Report this spring.
First, Ord emphasized DealerSocket's successful history that dates back 14 years. The company is quite entrenched in the franchised dealer space with about 4,500 stores using its CRM product and another 2,000 dealerships leveraging DealerSocket's website and digital marketing tools. The company ventured into the independent dealer space about a year ago and already passed the 1,000-store threshold in that part of the industry.
"We have 95 percent retention rates on all the customers we've ever rolled onto DealerSocket," Ord said. "Our first customer was Larry H. Miller Lexus, and they're still a customer of ours today. We also have Galpin Ford, the largest Ford store in the world, and they're still a customer of ours today. We pride ourselves on customer service and support based on our ability to maintain what we develop, meaning it's usable at the dealership in a way that's meaningful to that dealership."
Next, Ord emphasized the financial resources DealerSocket has available. Last May, DealerSocket entered into a strategic investment relationship with Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm with more than $12 billion in committed capital focused on investments in software and technology-enabled services companies.
"We dump a ton of money and investment dollars into the creation of the next best innovation," Ord said. "When we acquired FEX DMS, we already had a whole plan around what our product roadmap is and what the next thing we want to roll out is to give to the independent dealer.
"FEX DMS was in a position where it was a fast growing, small company that was a little bit cash strapped, a little bit resource strapped. Now that they're inside of DealerSocket, we've been profitable for over 14 years now and growing at a rate of 35 percent for over 10 years," he continued. "We get scale. We understand product improvement. We understand the betterment of our resources and support structure. We've taken their great resources and the great qualities they bring to the table, and we've added to that a structure that will help them scale both product-wise as well as service- and support-wise for a long period and do more than they've ever been able to do or more than anyone's been able to do for that matter in the independent space for the independent dealer.
"The industry has been starved for a product line and a platform company that truly invests and know the buy-here, pay-here space and the independent dealer space really well. Tat's the niche we're trying to fill," Ord went on to say.
DealerSocket already had an integration partnership with FEX DMS before the acquisition deal was announced. Furthermore, DealerSocket already was integrated with several DMS providers, including Au-toStar Solutions and Auto/Mate Dealership Systems. But now DealerSocket owns FEX DMS to go along with partnerships with operations such as Dealertrack Technologies as well as Reynolds and Reynolds.
"We are automotive so we do not want to upset the dealership's apple cart, meaning we don't want to make life hard for them," Ord said. "To do that, we have open integrations with anyone and everyone that they want to do business with. So the Auto-Stars of the world, Fraser, Reaves, I've talked to the CEOs of all of those companies and I've told them our integrations would remain open, and we will continue to play really nice in the sandbox.
"If dealers don't want to use FEX DMS and want to use one of the others, we'll try to make it fell like they're using our own product as well so we maintain that relationship that we are automotive," he added.
Relationship with FEX DMS
Ord shared that the relationship with Finance Express — the moniker the company used before rebranding as FEX DMS — goes back nearly two years. Connecting with Finance Express management was one of the first moves DealerSocket made when it decided to venture into the independent dealer space.
"As we went around asking our customers on the independent side what they needed and what they wanted, their biggest complaint was this DMS side of the business by figuring out how we could have better integration with the CRM and with the digital marketing and media assets that we deliver to that space," Ord said. "Because we were integrated with all of the major DMS players in the independent space, we knew a little bit about how they service their customers and the level of technology they have and their abilities to help and assist their customers in doing what they do best."
Soon after gathering that dealer customer feedback, Ord indicated the DealerSocket became "enamored" with Finance Express for several reasons.
"One, because of the technology. The technology was first rate, 100 percent soft-ware-as-a-service, scalable," Ord said. "Secondly, the people and the way in which they approached the automotive industry. As you notice with a lot of our marketing campaigns, we talk a lot about that we are automotive, which basically means we're all about the automotive dealership and figuring out a way that we can better their work life and their customers' experience. When the customer trips their curb is center of what we want to do.
"Finding Finance Express was great," Ord continued. "As we got to work with Dave Huber and the team over there, we found that they were a great platform on which to build our foray into the independent space. We're really excited about it. It took from meeting them a couple of years ago to doing initial integrations with our product offering to doing joint sales calls and referring business to us to them being very high on DealerSocket in the independent space to us becoming more enamored with what they do. It was probably a year and half in the making in trying to figure out if it was the right cultural fit. It worked out really well."
In reacting to the new development, Finance Express president and CEO David Huber said, "We are pleased with the opportunities that this partnership creates. It particularly helps with the ability to more aggressively promote and distribute our best-of-industry dealer management software."
How FEX DMS Fit into DealerSocket Platform
Ord explained that DealerSocket understands how dealers trying to run their business, especially since so much happens on a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. Furthermore, the CEO insisted that the company comprehends the data that underlies store solutions, information that tracks vehicles, sales performance and customers.
"If you think about the three legs of the stool," Ord said, "you've got website and digital marketing. You've got CRM, which includes showroom tracking control and Internet lead management and even those buy-here, pay-here and independent stores that have a service department. We have all of the service scheduling and shop loading inside our tool. We also have a great social media aspect to our CRM to make sure they're rated well on DealerRater and those types of sites.
"The third leg is the DMS, which really is governing the transaction, what happens when the customers says 'Yes, I want to buy that vehicle.' It's how to track payments and to make sure that when they don't pay something happens and to go repo the vehicle. All of that happens inside the DMS," he continued.
"To execute on that strategy, we've bought Finance Express, which is the third leg of the stool," Ord went on to say.
The DealerSocket boss also stressed that the company want to make a solution presentation to BHPH operators that fits their tastes best.
"Our ability to help that dealer from a full platform and to be able to go to an independent dealer and say, 'Listen, we can do everything soup to nuts for you. We can also do things in the silo, like just Internet lead management or DMS or CRM.' The real goal is to have all of this stuff integrated so the underlying data is totally integrated and totally accessible in whatever part of the dealership they're in so they can better serve the customers and sell more vehicles at higher profit margin," Ord said.
"An independent dealer can choose DealerSocket websites, DealerSocket digital marketing, DealerSocket CRM and Dealer-Socket DMS all from one vendor because we have the tight integrations between all the ways the data flows back and forth in terms of customers, vehicles, financing sources, service opportunities and all of the lead and management structure that happens even before the customer comes into the showroom," Ord went on to say.
Future Growth Possibilities
The acquisition of FEX DMS continues of string of growth moves DealerSocket has made in recent months.
Back in January, DealerSocket bought DealerFire, a provider of automotive websites and digital marketing.
"DealerFire has demonstrated wonderful innovation and high-integrity service to many of our dealers for a long time," Ord said. "They know automotive, they are passionate in what they do for the industry, and they are a perfect addition to our 'We Are Automotive' platform. This acquisition is just one more step in demonstrating our ability to leverage the right tools and service offerings to make life easier and more profitable for dealerships around the world."
DealerFire, launched back in 1999, works to provide custom automotive website solutions from large automotive dealer groups to independent dealers, as well as supply dealerships with extensive automotive websites, mobile applications, content marketing and search engine marketing.
And with the support of Vista Equity Partners, DealerSocket might be far from finished in the growth department.
"It's been a whirlwind, and we love it. It's been a whirlwind for the last 14 years," Ord said. "We've been building the platform and structure and enabling the scale for a long time for the execution of these days. We are continuing to be acquisitive. We have a couple of other deals that we're looking at and doing due diligence on that you'll see announced in the coming months and years. We're really excited about the space.
"We're doing everything we can to make sure we build products, buy products and integrate products that drive just a ton of value to the dealership. We're having a lot of fun. Our management team has been together for over 10 years. We don't have a lot of voluntary turnover in our company. We've got great technologists, great support people. These acquisitions, both Dealer-Fire and Finance Express, bring some great people to the table that match our cultural values. You'll see more of the same from us, which is extreme growth organically at about 35 percent and add to that acquisition growth of probably 50 percent this year," he went on to say.
Ord didn't share any specific target but he did divulge details about the questions DealerSocket asks before proceeding.
"We will look at those companies individually and say, 'Do they have the same philosophy we have in being totally for the dealer? Are they innovative? Do they have great people they can bring to the table that we can add value to them? Do they have the ability to scale? Do they have the ability to work in this overall cultural environment that we've created over here at DealerSocket to really benefit our customers in unique way?'
"If they can, we're open to talk about future acquisitions and doing more for the independent dealer through the consolidation of great innovative people throughout the space," Ord concluded.
3 Ways To Improve Website Foundation
IRVINE, Calif. — Michael Jackson approaches building and improving dealership websites from a vantage point that buy-here, pay-here operators who come from a mechanical background might appreciate. Jackson's first automotive experiences came from repairing vehicles by taking them completely apart before reassembling, a process that might have included some trial and error, too.
"That's the thought process we do with everything; let's take apart the website and put it back together and see how it works," said Jackson, now the chief executive officer of Auto Search Technologies, a California firm that specializes in enhancing websites for dealerships, especially in the BHPH space.
"The main primary goal for a dealer to be online is to get leads and sell more cars. That's the absolutely simplistic thing you have to break it down to," Jackson continued.
During a wide-ranging conversation and best-practices exchange with BHPH Report, Jackson delved into a host of areas operators might consider to improve their website performance. With shoppers having more options nowadays, Jackson insisted that BHPH dealers have to ramp up several facets of their online presentation so they're not only found online, but also those potential buyers put down their laptops, tablets and smartphones and arrive at the store to make a deal.
"It would be pointless to inundate you with facts about online advertising, or the fact that having a website in today's market will increase a dealer's sales and bottom line. By now you are aware that having a website is a must," Jackson said.
Selecting a URL
In keeping with the idea of tearing apart every single part of the website, Jackson first touched on how a store can be found online — the site address that serves the same purpose in the online world as the street address the dealership has physically.
Jackson explained that many companies will traditionally look for an available domain name (URL) that matches the name of business, a practice that can aid customers with whom the dealership might already do business. But Jackson reiterated that the store website is meant to generate new business, and many operators do not understand the importance and value that search engines attach to a domain name.
For example, Jackson shared that the current customer base likely would make the connection that Bob's Auto Sales might have a URL of www.BobsAutoSales.com. If a potential buyer already knows the name of the store and types the name into a search engine, that store's website likely would be included on the first page of search results, possibly even in the top position of the listed results.
"That's great if the potential consumer already knows the name of your company, but it doesn't do you any good if you're trying to showcase your business to potential customers who have never heard of your business before," Jackson said. "The chances that a potential customer who has never heard of you is going to type in your exact website address is about as unlikely as randomly meeting a person on the street for the first time and guessing his or her home address.
"If you can think like the consumer and select a domain name that would match what the potential consumer is looking for, it will in effect allow your domain name to drive online traffic to your website by showcasing your business under the results for general searches a consumer is most likely to conduct," he continued.
Jackson explained that ABC Dealership is located in Atlanta. URLs that might provide better online coverage could be domain names such as www.UsedCarsAtlantaGA.com or www.BuyHerePayHereAtlantaGA.com. He pointed out these possibilities for domain names includes what potential customers would be searching for within an area rather than just the name of a dealership.
"It is still a good idea to own a URL with the name of your company—you can have multiple domain names pointing to the same website, just as you can forward your office line to your cellphone," Jackson said.
"But remember that the additional domain names will not have the same effect on search engines. To Google and the other search engines, the only URL that matters in the search is the one the website is actually published on. So purchasing a variety of domain names containing strong search keywords won't help your site show up in searches," he continued.
"Instead, publish the site on a URL that will show up in a common search and set up an additional domain name using your actual business name," Jackson went on to say. "Tat will allow consumers who don't know you to find your website with ease in an online search while your regular customers can get to you by simply typing your store's name into the address bar—and you can use that URL in your advertising."
Choosing a Website Hosting Provider
BHPH operators might outsource several aspects of their business such as transportation of vehicles from the auction or reconditioning them. Jackson noted that website hosting is another provider BHPH operators must choose carefully.
"Doing the research is extremely important as there are a variety of website companies offering a wide variety of different services and pricing structures," Jackson said. "Some providers sell websites. Others lease websites. You can choose a company that requires a contract or one that offers no contract.
"With the size and budget of your dealership in mind, as well as the level of services you are looking for, you should be able to find a perfect fit for your business," he continued.
Just like consumers shop for vehicles, Jackson suggested that BHPH operators compare website providers. Not only should the search for recommendations from other dealers, but Jackson also emphasized that the provider helps with another critical area: search engine optimization (SEO).
Jackson explained that SEO is the practice of making sure the store website lands at the top of the search engine results for consumers to see when they are researching online.
"A website at the top of the list of search results is more visible to the consumer and will get far more traffic than those at the bottom," Jackson said.
"Because SEO is a strong selling point these days, most companies will offer SEO services. But you need to make sure you research the company's SEO claims and ask to see examples of them in action to prove their effectiveness," he continued.
"There are many factors to search engine optimization, and there are different levels of SEO companies that apply to websites. Using SEO on a website is like saying there is salt used in a recipe—the question is how much was added," Jackson went on to say. "Was it just a pinch or the whole container? While any amount of SEO added to a website is still helpful, you need to research who and what you are competing against to know how much is needed to succeed within your online market."
Adding Content to the Website
Jackson highlighted that most website providers allow their customers to add and manipulate the text content on their sites through dynamic page editors, or at least go through an interview process when initially building the website.
"The text content on your website is more important than you can imagine, and it's one of the most commonly overlooked items by dealers," he said.
"Consumers are looking at your website just as a business would look at a resume during a job interview. Keep in mind; you are not the only website they are reviewing," Jackson continued.
Jackson indicated that what differentiates store websites from the competition is the content within it. He mentioned that some content a BHPH operator could promote on the site is not only the store inventory, but also any awards the dealership has claimed, how the store is a member of trade organizations such as the National Alliance of Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers or the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association as well as the philanthropic endeavors store owners, management and employees lead.
"The more you can make potential customers feel comfortable with your business and help them understand your sales or financing process from your website, the easier it is to earn their business," Jackson said.
When adding content to your site, Jackson recommended that operators be sure to include the dealership's location and contact information frequently throughout the site's pages.
"The more information you can make available on the Internet about what you do and where you are, the easier it is to showcase your website when a potential consumer is in the market for your services," the said.
"Having a website is a must, but these days merely having a site up and running isn't always enough. There is always room for improvement. With technology growing at a viral rate, new companies seem to be popping up out of the woodwork, trying to earn your business," Jackson continued.
"While it can sometimes feel overwhelming, being aware of the additional available technology can play a major role in harnessing the effectiveness of your online presence, showing your business to a much larger consumer base and increasing your return on investment," he went on to say.
TOP 30 BUSINESS DIRECTORY LISTINGS
Intuit Business Directory
Best of the Web
Chamber of Commerce
Source: Auto Search Technologies
TIPS TO ENHANCE BUSINESS DIRECTORY LISTINGS
■ Create additional links in the search engines for your business.
■ Promote additional offsite links directing to your website.
■ Push down any negative results in the search engines.
■ Make sure to keep record of your username and password.
■ Give yourself a goal of one to two per day.
QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT WEBSITE CONTENT
1. Does my website really have what I claim it does?
2. If I were to grade my website, what grade would I give it?
3. Is there any room to improve?
4. Are the words I want to be found under even on my website?
5. What can I do?
Read the full article at http://digital.subprimenews.com/article/3+Ways+To+Improve+Website+Foundation/1979297/253424/article.html.