Auto Industry Insiders Jeff Spreen Screen Shot

The Auto Industry Insiders show scheduled for Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 at 12 Noon EST has Philip Zelinger, the President of Ad Agency Online, LLC, interviewing a third generation “Car Guy” – Jeff Spreen, the GM and Owner of Spreen Honda in California.

Jeff’s family history in the business started in 1952 at Bob Spreen Cadillac in Downey California.  At that time they were the third largest Cadillac Dealer in the world. Spreen Honda starting serving the community in 1982 following the same customer first philosophy that built their first dealership.

According to Jeff, the secret to their success is best defined by their Mission Statement that says it all:

Spreen Honda is dedicated to perfecting the customer experience through continuous improvement of our processes and procedures. Spreen Honda embodies a true family experience for the discriminate customer. Our goal is for every customer to feel as though they truly enjoyed their experience whether it is in a car purchase or a simple oil change.

One of Jeff’s main focuses over the years has been with computers.  When he came to Spreen Honda in 2003 he applied his computer skills as the world moved online.  Under Jeff’s leadership Spreen Honda has always ranked in the top 5 dealerships in new vehicle sales in CA., but they have been one of the first places people look for quality Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles..

Philip and Jeff will discuss best practices applied by Jeff in his varied self assigned areas of responsibility that include overseeing all day to day operations.  However, Jeff takes personal pride in what he sees as his most important role; attending to customer complaints to ensure that a high level of customer satisfaction is obtained.

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Consumers always have and always will seek the path of least resistance to get the best deal they can when they purchase a new or pre-owned vehicle; and you can’t blame them.  Similarly, it is understandable that auto dealers always have and always will try to define what the best deal is for their customers; and it typically includes preserving a fair profit.  Unfortunately, their objectives aren’t always weighted the same; even though they should be.

Today’s internet educated customers have fewer reasons to rely on an auto dealer for the information they need to purchase a vehicle.  Online resources by third party providers and social networks of likeminded consumers offer easier access to relevant transparent information and they have more credibility with shoppers than auto dealers.

Competitive product comparisons and even price negotiations are more convenient in virtual showrooms than in real ones.  Next generation technology driven applications have automated the process for online customers who can now select a vehicle, compare it to other dealer offers, appraise their trade, apply and get approved for credit, compute an out the door payment and solicit the advice and support of their family and friends without ever having to involve a sales person.

Frankly, the only control still held by dealers is the fact that most people like to test drive a vehicle before they buy it, they prefer the human touch when making a decision and they will always need to have it serviced at a facility that is conveniently located.  Unfortunately old school auto dealers need to accept that even that control is being eroded.

Video chat programs and video FAQ’s on websites can now answer most questions in real time better than most sales consultants.  Pending changes in legislation will soon allow dealers to deliver a vehicle to a customer’s home or office with a financial agreement that will protect the dealer while allowing the consumer time to return the vehicle for virtually any reason.  Finally, many OEM’s are experimenting with remote service facilities that are not linked to a sales showroom.

All of these evolutionary changes benefit the consumer and even the OEMs who has always had their eye on reducing the costs of their distribution channels. Franchised auto dealers will still play a role in the technology and consumer driven market of the future; as will their sales staff.  However, auto dealers must reduce their expenses and increase the value added services they contribute to the process or they will be designing their own obsolescence.

Auto dealers that want to survive into tomorrow must start making the necessary changes to their business model today.  They must increase their use of technology driven marketing and sales processes in their real and virtual showrooms to improve their margins and remain competitive.  They need to leverage their most valuable asset, their customer base, through the use of social media and automated data base marketing to improve customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty.  They need to provide training for their staff and information for their customers that helps them make a buying decision vs. trying to “sell” them something.

Simply put, auto dealers must accept the fact that change and human nature are two constants in the auto industry that must be recognized and addressed.  More specifically, online transactions powered by consumer demand and acceptance of technology driven solutions is a reality for tomorrow that is already being constructed today!

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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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AAE 04-18-14 Best Practices In Social Media

WAAOL – All Automotive Advertising News All The Time

Automotive advertising agencies don’t know what they don’t know about Social Media.  However, they do know where to find out; today’s Automotive Advertising Experts show!

Philip Zelinger, the President of Ad Agency Online, LLC and host of a free automotive advertising resource portal – AdAgencyOnline.Net – will share best practices in the use of social media being applied by several next generation vendors in both their B2C and B2B social marketing efforts.

Driving Loyalty, an automated marketing platform using proprietary algorithms to deliver equity and service alerts sourced from data collected from an auto dealer’s DMS, is presented as an example of best practices with their newly announced Social Marketing Initiative. They invited several complementary vendor partners to extend the reach, frequency and most importantly influence of their social marketing messages.

More uniquely, their shared B2B efforts extend into the real world with enhancements to the sales and service processes at a dealership provided by CallRevu’s telephone management/monitoring system, IntellaCar’s iPad based sales/marketing solution, DealerAppVantage’s dealer branded mobile app to enhance the customer’s ownership experience after the sale and OfferLogix with their data management software that inserts customer specific lease information and payments into the Driving Loyalty equity alerts.

If you represent a next generation technology based vendor solution serving the auto industry that would complement Driving Loyalty’s solution please comment here or reach out to Philip Zelinger at pzads@bellsouth.net to learn how you can join their networking family.

After all, what are friends for!

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LWP Driving Loyalty Data Base Social Marketing

WAAOL- All Automotive Advertising All The Time

Automotive advertising agencies have learned to manipulate the changing algorithms that search engines like Google and Bing use to drive organic search.  SEO is a fluid science that must now include social media. 

Automotive advertising agencies are dealing with recent changes on Facebook that limit organic search to power messages posted in their social networking community.  In today’s Lunch With Phil show I discussed old school best practices that delivered consistent creative across multiple media and channels to increase the reach, frequency and most importantly retention of message.  This practice can be applied to social media to compensate for now limited organic search and expensive paid advertisements.

I used Driving Loyalty’s data base marketing platform as an example of how consistent relevant and transparent messages delivered via email, direct mail, PURL’s and outbound call centers can extend the reach of social media.  Driving Loyalty has recently introduced their Social Marketing Initiative to educate dealers on how to link their conventional and digital messages to social media to leverage consumer content on social networks.

New “friends” sourced from the auto dealer’s DMS are invited through Driving Loyalty’s algorithms that deliver equity and service alerts to target the specific needs of the customer.  In addition, select vendors have been invited to join Driving Loyalty’s Social Marketing Initiative as networking partners to enhance the customer experience through improved sales and service processes at the dealership as well to develop shared B2B opportunities.

CallRevu is a telephone management/monitoring system that monitors inbound calls to the dealership and delivers real time alerts advising the dealer of missed opportunities.  IntellaCar is a sales/marketing platform that resides on an iPad controlled by the sales consultant that delivers credible third party information throughout the sales process. DealerAppVantage is a dealer branded mobile application offered to the customer at delivery that maintains communication between the dealer and the customer after the sale with service alerts and information to enhance their ownership experience.

The sales and service processes powered by these vendor partners insure that the customers’ experiences at the dealership will meet or beat the expectations delivered in the dealer’s marketing messages.  These positive reinforcements power the viral nature of social networks more than any manipulation of their organic search.

Simply put, the best way to replace organic search on social networks is to insure that the every contact becomes a friend and then a customer; in that order.  The best way to make a friend is to under promise and over deliver in the way that you conduct your business,

After all, what are friends for!

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