Posts Tagged “helios”

Most dealers recognize the value of their data base of past and present customers.  Many even invest in automated marketing programs that rely on algorithms to target qualified customers and deliver equity alerts for vehicle exchange programs and properly timed service alerts based on factory recommended maintenance to improve customer retention and loyalty after the sale.

The following potentially missed opportunities to maximize the R.O.I. realized by managing your most valued asset – your customers – includes many that I have overcome and a few that hopefully my friends will add in their comments:

1) Cross promotions between sales and service and service to sales:  Most dealers have a process in place to introduce new customers to a service writer to schedule their first service appointment and anchor future maintenance to preserve their warranty.  (If you don’t, make this a two for one missed opportunity and set up a process to insure a T.O. to service that extends beyond your service hours.)

However, few dealers have a similar structure in place to monitor and manage sales processes in the service lane that remind customers when they qualify to trade-up their vehicle to a new or newer one.  Typically, this is due to a lack of data, resources or staff that can research and notify customers when they have enough equity to qualify to trade-in their vehicle with little or no money down for a new or newer vehicle for similar payments.

As mentioned in my introduction, vendor solutions like Driving Loyalty can automate this discovery and notice to the customer.  However, to take maximum advantage of their marketing platform, they suggest a proven process that includes a dedicated individual in the service lane to assist the customer with their decision to exchange their vehicle vs. paying for the scheduled service that brought them to your dealership.

Driving Loyalty reminds their dealer clients that when quantifying their R.O.I. from this process they should consider not only the front and back end profit from the new or pre-owned vehicle sale but also the value of acquiring a potentially qualified Certified Pre-Owned vehicle and the increased customer loyalty and retention realized by your efforts.

2) Social Media – Marketing – Networking: Many dealers have become frustrated with using social media/marketing to communicate with their customers primarily due, in my opinion, to unrealistic expectations.  Sourcing vehicle sales and service appointments from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinetrest, Instagram, Linked-In and a number of yet to be discovered consumer centric social networking communities is not be as easy as through conventional and digital media.  However, once again, technology driven vendor solutions can provide a realistic R.O.I. from your social marketing initiatives.

Next generation apps like HELIOS developed by xChange Automotive reside entirely within the Facebook environment and provide relevant/transparent information to a customer without distracting them from their more socially driven conversations.  HELIOS provides everything from contests for cash to integrated processes that host one on one discussions with their “friend in the car business” about a considered vehicle purchase or pending service need that can be shared with their online friends and family in a non-confrontational manner.  More uniquely, the customers never have to leave their comfort zone within their Facebook page and the dealer is able to deliver/receive the information directly through their CRM/DMS and established sales/service processes.

3) Dealer Reputation/Referral Platforms: Soliciting positive feedback and referrals from customers before. during and after the sale is an old school technique that has survived into today’s technology driven marketplace.  Word of mouth advertising, bird dogs and simply asking for a referral is common place, however, third party marketing platforms that profess to be consumer centric and dealer focused have often left consumers out of the formula.

Carfolks.Com is a site that has existed for some time that adds an additional feature/benefit for consumers as well as dealers on several levels.  As expected, they notify a dealer of a poor review to offer them an opportunity to address and resolve it, however, to preserve credibility for consumers they do not allow the dealer to eliminate the bad reviews.  Instead, they insure that the dealer has the last word vs. posting a string of unwarranted attacks with the expectation that the dealer will either resolve the problem or support their position in a positive manner.

More uniquely, they offer sales consultants and service writers a “free” page on their site so customers can post their comments directly with/about the people that they actually did business with. As a result, the dealer can identify where/who the problem/opportunity originated with so they can address the individual and either critique or compliment them.  In addition, the sales consultant or service writer can learn from their replies and hopefully develop a customer base that will allow them to improve their sales techniques and increase their income.  The resulting increase in customer satisfaction/retention is coupled with an increased employee satisfaction/retention which directly benefits all parties; the customer. the employee and the dealer!

I can continue listing other examples of how/why a dealer can/should focus on their past and present customers vs. constantly investing new advertising dollars to attract new ones.  However, now would be a good time to ask you for your thoughts on the subject and suggested examples of how we can all maximize the R.O.I. from our DMS and our collected list of customers.

After all, what are friends and Ad Agency Online for!

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HELIOS Blog Talk Radio

WAAOL – Auto Industry Insiders

Auto Industry Insiders is a blog talk radio show that reviews next generation technology based vendor solutions.  The show airing on Thursday, 04/24/14 at 12 Noon EST features an interview with Charles Chamblee III, the founder of xChange, discussing their new social marketing customer engagement/conversion platform – HELIOS.

xChange provides social and mobile marketing services and applications for existing automotive retail market service providers and OEMs.  They develop marketing programs that create lifecycle relationships with online, mobile and social media members, application users and shoppers by establishing a “cradle-to-grave” relationship with them and their vehicle.

HELIOS uses incentive gamification and predictive analytical marketing communications to encourage vehicle services and sales via patent-pending social engagement and conversion processes.  HELIOS, creates a virtual dealership within the Facebook community, equipping the dealer with automated social-mobile customer relationship management, customer vehicle maintenance schedules, maintenance appointment services, vehicle search and shopping, real lease and loan information and instant customer credit checking into a seamless customer engagement and conversion program.  The principal expectation of the program is customer retention, recapture and new customer acquisition by making social members application users, and then convert them through pull-activities that result in recurring lifecycle vehicle services and sales engagements through proactive and reactive data mining algorithms and social communications.

What is the pain point solved by HELIOS?

HELIOS converts social marketing to social engagement, customer conversion to continuous lifecycle management to include the continuation of business and product awareness, all within the social-mobile community.

How does HELIOS solve that pain in a differentiated way?

It sponsors continuous customer engagement through proactive and reactive social communications… software algorithms that learn customer service requirements and sales wishes based on customer interactive behavior within the program application through smart data mining.

Who does HELIOS solve it for?

Their program provides both the social customer and the dealer the opportunity to engage and build lasting relationships through a customer-driven engagement-to-sales conversion process. 

About Charles Shamblee III

Chief Executive, xChange Automotive

April 2010 – Present (4 years 1 month) Charlotte, North Carolina

Chief Executive, ImpactWare

February 2012 – Present (2 years 3 months) Charlotte, North Carolina

ImpactWare is developing the next generation social media integrated ecommerce applications as an online software service (SaaS). Small businesses require management, sales and service applications with real-time integration to 3rd party systems. ImpactWare will provide small businesses with a holistic software solution for fixed and variable sales processing; inventory management; customer finance and payment services; product service scheduling, including maintenance and repairs; parts inventory management; accounting integration and smart data analysis capabilities.

Chief Executive, NeoSynergy

August 2002 – November 2007 (5 years 4 months) Cincinnati, Ohio – Detroit, Michigan

As the Founder and CEO of NeoSynergy the limited liability software development and services company, we built the first complete web-based automobile dealership management system for new franchise dealers. The product DarwinXE, was licensed to and implemented by Assurant Solutions for their US based recreational vehicle dealer market and to Auto-Mate of South Africa for their South African franchise dealer market. NeoSynergy was merged with MotorAlley in 2007 to create NeoSynergy, Inc under a new venture capital oriented management team in cooperation with Gunn Allan Financial at a market value of over $30MM.

Vice President, Car Company Solutions Group, The Reynolds and Reynolds Company

January 2001 – April 2002 (1 year 4 months) Dayton, Ohio

At Reynolds and Reynolds, I was hired by the CEO to consolidate and grow their direct global car company solutions business. I was responsible for continued business development, product positioning and marketing into all car companies globally to include overall customer satisfaction for product implementation and customer support services. During my term the group reached 140MM of annual recurring revenue.

Chief Executive, Baerli Five – DealerKid

January 1991 – November 2000 (9 years 11 months) Cincinnati, Ohio – Detroit, Michigan

As the Founder and CEO of Baerli Five – DealerKid, I lead the company as Baerli Five from its inception as we built and delivered client server network platforms for automobile dealership operations in our early years from 1991 – 1996.  We subsequently merged our platform services into a greenfield software development operation under the new brand, DealerKid in 1996 and created the first comprehensive automotive retail customer relationship management (CRM) solution “DealerKid” for the demand side of the automotive industry.  I was responsible for the vision and leadership that developed and managed Ford Motors and Nissan Motors – Infiniti’s use of the DealerKid software as a part of their enterprise dealer CRM initiatives until DealerKid was sold to Reynolds and Reynolds in the fall of 2000.  The sale of DealerKid brought an investor return of 10-25X depending on entry point.

Chief Executive, ComputerLand Franchise

November 1988 – October 1990 (2 years) Detroit Michigan

After leaving the military, I purchased an existing ComputerLand franchise in downtown Detroit with the financial assist of a non-institutional private equity investor. The business was expanded from a retail only operation to a retail and corporate product and service provider of IBM, Apple, Compaq and Zenith computer systems including network service products from Novell and Microsoft.  The ComputerLand serviced the major Detroit metro counties of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb.  I worked as chief executive of the ComputerLand franchise until it was sold to Inacomp Corporation in 1990.  The sale of the ComputerLand brought an investor return of 4X.

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Most discussions about Social Media between automotive advertising agencies and their auto dealer clients center around R.O.I.; or their perceived lack thereof. I accept responsibility for providing proof of my performance. However, I question short term quantitative evaluations that don’t consider the qualitative long term benefits of customer loyalty, satisfaction, retention and residual income derived from a comprehensive marketing plan that includes social media.

A real world example of a vendor that uses conventional and digital media enhanced by an integrated message delivered through social media is Driving Loyalty. Their data base marketing platform relies on a proprietary algorithm that delivers relevant transparent messages on a regular basis. They use emails, direct mail, personalized websites and most recently consulting services that advise their dealer clients to leverage customer generated content on social networks to reinforce the dealer’s online reputation and relationships with their past, present and pending customers.

Relationship based selling is a proven process that has been made more efficient and scalable through the use of social media and the viral nature of social networking. Forward thinking vendors, like Driving Loyalty, embrace the extended reach and frequency provided by customer generated content. They recognize that word of mouth advertising and referrals must originate from like minded customers vs. the dealer with their presumed self serving agenda.

Fortunately, the R.O.I. from social media can be proven when it is properly defined. Increased traffic to websites sourced from social marketing messages, posts by customers on the dealer’s Facebook pages that evidence positive experiences and improve the dealer’s online reputation and even sales and service appointments sourced from social media tracked by analytic tools built into most technology driven sales and service platforms are all verifiable returns on investment.

Next generation social marketing applications, such as Helios being introduced by xChangeAuto, are even providing conversion platforms that reside on Facebook with integrated real time communications to the dealer’s CRM and DMS. This seamless integration between the customer’s social networking habits and the dealer’s sales and service processes provides the first tool with a verifiable R.O.I..

Simply put, social media matters because in today’s internet driven marketplace the customers are in charge. Auto dealers that prioritize their customer’s experience before, during and after their sale or service at their facility will attract and retain more customers. Social media has the unique ability to insert the auto dealer into the conversation that is the market without having to time their message.

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