Tag Archives: dealers

The Webmotors Journey – Automotive Classifieds & Finance in Brazil


When carsales acquired a strategic stake in Webmotors in 2013, it was more or less a business unit within Banco Santander that was fighting it out with iCarros to be Brazil’s number 1 automotive vertical classifieds website.

Santander invited carsales into Webmotors to help transform its thinking as part of the bank to that of an absolute number 1, legitimate automotive classifieds website that provides an online channel for effective consumer financing.

As we get towards the middle of the 2018 calendar year, the Webmotors business is now run as a nearly totally autonomous business and is the clear number 1 automotive vertical classifieds website in Brazil that is bringing enormous value to the Santander Financiamentos business along with the thousands of car dealers who chose Santander as their finance partner, not to mention the millions of consumers buying and selling their car on the Webmotors platform.

As I talked about in a previous post titled “What Does Brazil Know That We Don’t?“, the three leading automotive vertical classifieds websites in Brazil are owned by banks: Webmotors is owned by Banco Santander (70%); iCarros is owned by Banco Itau; and Meucarronovo is owned by BV Finaceira. This is unique to Brazil (and not the only thing that is unique to Brazil!).

So how do I think carsales has brought increased value to the Santander Financiamentos business? By changing the focus of the business to helping dealers and consumers to sell cars (as opposed to advertising) as the key metric rather than having finance drive the business. Finance can only come about if a car is sold so this thinking isn’t revolutionary but it is a mindset change in Webmotors, in Santander Financiamentos and with the Dealers.

What has been the difference is an unwavering objective of delivering sellers value and helping them to understand, embrace and manage the value that Webmotors is bringing.

This has come about in a number of different forms and there is not one thing that has put Webmotors into the position it is in today.

People – I love visiting Brazil and working with the passionate, smart people at Webmotors. The thirst for learning and achievement is there in each and every visit. We have a great team in place with a fantastic leader. We all know in business how important people are in an organisation. When you can combine passion with smart people across a business of 170 plus people being led by a great leader with a fantastic support team who are smart and engaged, I think you are on the verge of something special.

Product & Technology – Webmotors is an online business that therefore relies on Product & Technology which must be at the forefront of your competitors and peers. One of the first things we had to do in 2013 was create a Product & Technology team by hiring a CIO and to move the technology platform out of Santander. It is hard to believe now that Webmotors did not have its own Technology team some 5 years ago. Development changes would be submitted to the Santander team and prioritised against bank priorities. Being nimble or agile wasn’t in the vocabulary. Today Webmotors Product & Technology is in great shape led by a couple of incredibly talented and passionate people and getting better by the day enabling us to provide enormous value to buyers, sellers and Santander.

Education – This one cannot be underestimated both internally and externally. Internally it is about educating ourselves. Everyone at Webmotors had to understand and believe in our objectives. As I say to the Webmotors team what seems like all the time, “we at carsales are not smarter than you guys, we’ve just lived through this stuff before“. This continued education of Webmotors people of carsales thinking along with their expertise on the local Brazilian market is a formidable partnership.

Santander Financiamentos – One of the great advantages Webmotors enjoys is the support of the Santander Financiamentos business and in particular, the 1,000 odd strong people out in the field visiting and supporting dealers. The association of Webmotors and Santander and the value proposition that exists therein provides for a unique offering to car dealers and in return, both the Webmotors and Santander Financiamentos businesses. As mentioned earlier, the Webmotors focus is on helping sellers sell cars. By having over 1,000 Santander people visiting dealers living the Webmotors focus of helping sellers sell cars, an unparalleled value is created for the dealers and Webmotors.

carsales Strategic Focus – This might be a little self-indulgent but I have no doubt the role that carsales has played in where Webmotors is today. The mindset of everyone at Webmotors had to shift in order to facilitate change, this is why Santander brought carsales into the business and each time I’m there it gives me great pleasure to see that change of mindset in action and continually growing.

What has been particularly pleasing is what has been achieved in the past few years in a Brazilian economy that has been poor at best. Where other Australian companies have seen their interests in Brazil take a hit, Webmotors has bucked the trend to prove that money can be made when value is delivered. Now that the economy appears to be turning a little, we are in great shape to take advantage of it.

While we are pleased with where Webmotors is today, this is still only the start of the journey. Brazil is an exciting, unpredictable place and none more so than in the world of online automotive. Webmotors is primed, ready and willing to take it on.


1 out of 3 ain’t bad, apparently


To find a used car to buy before the Internet world we live in now, you would read the Trading Post or newspaper Classifieds and/or visit a good strip of multiple dealers close by so you didn’t have to run around too far.

Today it is so much easier to see all the cars for sale online in the one place but that in itself can make it somewhat harder as you second guess yourself and try to do everything to ensure you are getting a fair price.

I’ve just been through the car buying process again and can confirm that buying a car can still be hard work and stressful, even with all the information available today.

This was the process I recently went through.

The first step was to narrow down a few makes and models. I did that by searching through carsales, saving the cars in the member area, reviewing, culling and finally coming up with a model choice.

This part is definitely easier with lots of photos, information and great tools to help the search for the right car.

The second step was to visit a dealer to test drive the model I selected. As soon as got to the dealership another model jumped out as “car of interest” so I test drove both models. The new choice of model got the nod.

The third step was to get back onto carsales to find the right deal. I narrowed it down to three cars so I submitted enquiries on two of them as the third one was at the dealer I visited the previous weekend. Both dealers were prompt in contacting me which was great and I indicated to both that I would be visiting their dealership the coming Saturday.

The third step was to visit the dealer to check the cars out. I went out to the first dealer and headed into the new car sales as the car I had enquired on was listed on carsales as a new car demonstrator vehicle with a few thousand kms.

When I asked for the sales person I spoke to on the phone I was directed to the used car section. This was strange. Even stranger was the actual kms on the car – 27. Not 2,700, not 27,000, just 27. This was a new car. Being sold in the used car section. WTBH (What The Bloody Hell).

I asked the sales person the obvious question – Why? “The new car department is too busy so we are helping them out”, was the reply. It didn’t gel. I checked over the exterior of the car closely and found an obscure little divot that looked very much like a hail divot. This has to be why it is in the used car yard.

I asked the sales person if this car was a hail damaged car. “No, we don’t have hail damaged cars” was the response. I showed him the divot. He looked surprised, reiterated his answer, I questioned again so he said he’d check and waddled off to the office.

He came back five minutes later and said “Yeah, well it is a hail damage car. That’s why the price is so great. There’s only the one divot, it’s a new car in every aspect with the 5 year new car warranty, capped price services and all that”. Yes there’s only one divot, that we can see now. How many were fixed?

Ok, so 3 questions and 1 straight answer. Further to that, the car was advertised online as a new car demonstrator vehicle with a few thousand kms on the clock with no mention of it being a new car with hail damage. This is clearly misleading.

I ask the question now – which approach is better? To mislead and lie per my experience just described or to have advertised the car as “A great deal to be had, brand new car with minor hail damage, 5 year new car warranty, capped servicing, don’t miss out!”.

I don’t quite get it out but then again as I have had pointed out to me many times before, I’ve never actually sold a car (my previous cars sold themselves)


6 moves that drove carsales


With carsales turning 20 this year, everyone seems to forget or fail to realise that for the first 5 or so years, carsales was not profitable and was fighting for the number 1 position with a number of (much bigger) players.

carsales had a (seemingly) unique advantage from the outset in terms of access to dealer inventory by virture of starting out of the number 1 dealer management system provider, Reynolds & Reynolds.

This is a snippet from the carsales’ website in February 1998 when there were just 9 dealers online (1 from South Australia, 4 from Western Australia, 4 from New South Wales):

But this wasn’t the silver bullet everything thought it was (some still think it is today funnily enough), things didn’t just happen for carsales though – they happened as a series of good, calculated business decisions that weren’t necessarily popular or seen as the best way forward at the time but each of them were winners.

Who have thought the “I’m Interested” Form would have been so influential:

Here’s 6 influential moves that drove carsales to where it is today:

Private Listings (2000): Despite having a seemingly huge advantage with unparelleled access to dealer inventory, carsales needed to find a way to drive traffic to the dealer’s cars especially since it didn’t have the seemingly huge advantage it’s competitors had – offline marketing presence. It’s leaders understood that “buyers are sellers and sellers are buyers” so if they could attract private listings on carsales these sellers would also be buyers (of dealer cars). Of course the dealers did not agree with this thinking as they were worried that nobody would look at dealer cars if cheaper private cars were also available for sale. We know who was right.

carsales September 2000:

Sell Your Car Until Sold (2002): Most automotive websites around the world are products of media groups, usually newspapers migrating online. Their model for selling was/is “pay me now for this edition, if it doesn’t sell pay me again to advertise again…and so on”. Translated, this means if I do a bad job helping you sell your car, pay me again. This makes sense for a newspaper as there are costs associated with re-publishing each edition but there is no (cost) reason for this model online. When carsales introduced a flat fee to sell your car until it was sold, private sellers lapped it up. It now made sense to sell your car where you are looking to buy.

Lead Model (2002): Like the previous point, the media groups and their online automotive off-shoots were all about sellers advertising their cars “for sale”. If carsales followed this lead, it would be tough to compete as there was no differentiation to its competitors who being propped up by their offline assets. The carsales leaders decided to change the paradigm by moving from “fee per listing” to a “fee per lead” model. Almost instantly carsales changed the currency of online automotive to leads and created a differentiation that helped propel the business. For dealers, the proposition was now not about “advertising” online but it was all about “selling” – the better they worked the leads they were paying for, the better their closing ratio and more cost effective their online “advertising” would be. It was a true win-win-win for dealers, consumers and carsales.

Acquired Trader Assets (2005): For a number of years there was speculation about “who was going to buy carsales”. Yahoo was the first to take a small stake in carsales in late 2000 which they on-sold to Fairfax in early 2005 but for the carsales’ leaders, each inquiry for acquisition was a takeover bid, something they did not want. The approach from PBL and the end result was different as it was about merging the complimentary assets for both sides to get a win-win (one plus one equals three…or ten as the saying goes). carsales acquired the Trader online assets in the deal in return for 41% of the business giving it the number 2 online auto player as well as number 1 online assets in bikes, boats, trucks, machinery, etc. adding an unparalleled depth to the business.

Mediamotive (2009): The move by carsales to create its own direct corporate sales presence was pivotal in the growth of the business around this time. By taking control of the display sales and recruiting seasoned experts, carsales was able to take its product directly to the buyers using analytical data to ensure a premium marketplace. The Mediamotive business has been a show point for carsales to all automotive classified marketplaces around the world such has been its effectiveness in delivering in a results driven environment.

carsales May 2009:

All Car Search (2009): This may not seen significant to some but by including all cars in the one user search was a great success for carsales. Once again they were ahead of curve in understanding that “all car buyers are new car buyers, it’s just some of them are used” (credit to Greg Roebuck for that quote). For the first time a user could search dealer used, private used, new cars in stock and new cars available in the one search meaning consumers who thought they couldn’t afford a new car, were presented with new cars directly comparable to used cars. There was a fear by some that leads on dealer cars would go down if a consumer could directly compare dealer and private seller cars in the one search given dealer cars are usually a little more expensive (to cover warranties, overheads, etc). Well the opposite was true, interest on dealer cars (new & used) increased and a whole new consumer experience was the result, another win-win-win.

Finally
Running an online business like carsales doesn’t just happen, it takes hundreds if not thousands of constant decision making moments (big and small) to ensure it first of all gets ahead of the curve and then stay there.


A Trade In Price is not a Retail Price


One thing the Internet has done to the car sales industry is (even further) blurred the line between a consumer’s view of a wholesale (trade in) price and a retail price.

When I say “blurred the line” I really mean “created an even greater divide”.

What do I mean here? Well, a consumer now has at their finger tips a proliferation of information on cars for sale, not only in their area but all over the country. Even more, this data is updated multiple times a day.

An important part of this information is the price of their car. This is where it is blurred as the car owner can easily see retail prices of the their car but rarely the wholesale or trade in price.

So when a consumer is buying a car from a car dealer and a trade in price is provided for their car, they are hit with “sticker shock” as they are conditioned on a retail price, usually the asking price and not even the sold price, further increasing the gap.

The end result is the consumer chooses to sell the car privately online and the dealer misses out on acquiring a good car to on sell.

carsales‘ Instant Offer goes a way to plugging this gap in bringing trade in cars to dealers as an option for private sellers selling privately.

Instant Offer is a great alternative for a consumer looking to sell their car quickly without the private seller process where our partner, a reputable wholesale buyer, will inspect your car to check that it matches the details submitted online and meets the offer conditions and will then offer you a wholesale price for your car (similar to the price a dealer would offer as a trade in).

While you may be offered slightly less for your car than you would selling through private channels, this is a quick and convenient method of sale which offers you next business day payment. From there the car will usually find itself for sale through the dealer network just like a trade in would.

It’s important to remember that wholesale prices (including trade in prices) will never be retail prices – they can’t be – but like retail, wholesale is negotiable and doesn’t have to be accepted.

At the end of the day it is in an auto verticals interests to ensure buyers and sellers (dealers and privates) have efficient methods to transact on cars in a retail and/wholesale environment.

Dealers and privates need to take advantage of the “network effect” a good online auto vertical brings. That is, the more sellers, the more buyers.


3 Keys to Converting Online Leads


carsales has successfully operated a business model centred around the value it delivers to its clients.

The billing mechanism is online leads delivered but the model is about the sale not the lead. This is applicable to all businesses using online as a sales mechanism, not just the auto industry.

It’s interesting in our business as some clients will convert 1 in 4 online leads to a sale and another client in the same city with a similar inventory mix will convert 1 in 8 leads. Why?
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The answer comes back to the way each and every lead is treated where:

a) Those who sell 1 in 4 leads want more and more leads (because they know they are sales opportunities) to the point where they will call our support centre to see what is wrong when leads drop off because they know that it means their selling will drop off.

b) Those who sell 1 in 8 leads complain about the quality of leads.

Do the clients receive the same quality of leads? Yes, leads are not vetted to send the good ones to certain clients!

The keys to converting online leads are available to all businesses:

1 Treat each and every lead as a hot prospect – the person is sending a lead or calling because they want to buy from you or use your service. In our business, more often than not a sale is made on another car in the dealer’s inventory than the one enquired on.

2 Speed of response must be immediate and is paramount – first of all a template email response and then human follow up. Consumers regularly tell us they end up buying from the dealer who contacted them first or more to the point, some dealers just don’t respond or fail to follow point 1.

3 Track and measure all leads from all online sources in the one lead management system – this is especially so if you have sales people you are relying on to sell your products/services and look after your brand. Emails can be deleted and phone calls “didn’t come in” but not so in a lead management system where email leads are logged into the system and can’t be deleted. Calls are also logged and recorded.

When you think of it, it is kind of funny how some say the Internet (or carsales in the auto space) is making it hard to compete and making it too expensive.

We have far too many clients who follow these 3 steps and are successful online for it to be true.

Sometimes ROI attribution and accountability can be a scary proposition, especially in a changing world.

Maybe go back to the “good old days” and bring back the newspaper “rivers of gold”, that will fix it.


10 Things to Drive Chileautos Further


carsales launched the new Soloautos website in September (9 Things Moving Soloautos in Mexico) and today carsales is very happy to have released the new Chileautos.cl website.

Both sites will benefit from the same features but the Chileautos deploy signifies some significant economies of scale in the LatAm region, none the least was the speed in which the website was integrated following the successful deploy of Soloautos last month.
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Here’s 10 things we’ve implemented into Chileautos that we think will give the business a kick along:

1. New logo. Chileautos is our second international brand to adopt the carsales “swish” making it instantly recognizable as a carsales brand. We’ve kept the Chileautos red and blue in the logo and have added the lock up “El portal No 1 de vehiculos”.

2. New website. Now much cleaner, stronger action points throughout the site with larger vehicle photos. Along with the new logo, the new website signals to OEMs in particular that Chileautos is a destination point for not only used cars but for new cars as well.
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3. Ryvuss search. carsales‘ proprietary search platform has been integrated into the new website giving Chileautos best in class search and search navigation capabilities.

4. New Cars. Chileautos is clearly Chile’s number 1 automotive vertical portal with a very strong reputation in used cars. Now Chileautos has information and photos available on every new car available for sale in Chile which is an exciting proposition for car buyers, dealers and OEMs.

5. New sell pages. Cleaner and clearer process to point sellers to the selling package that is right for them.
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6. Autologia integration. Autologia is our editorial brand which we acquired some months ago and have now integrated tightly into Soloautos and now Chileautos, tailored to the Chilean market. This is a great result for all car buyers, researchers and enthusiasts visiting Chileautos.

7. Better SEO structures. This is a very important piece of the new website so that we do not lose any domain authority that Chileautos has built up over the years. SEO helps consumers find the right information in the Chileautos when searching for cars in Google Chile – remember Google is for searching, Chileautos is for finding.

8. Move into AWS. By moving Chileautos into the cloud we immediately get an uplift in scalability, reliability, disaster recovery options and response times, not to mention carsales management and support with the website now sitting next to all carsales other online assets.
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9. New display advertising options. The new Chileautos website enables us to offer OEM’s, dealers, finance companies, insurance companies and the like more targeted, integrated advertising options that compliments the inventory and editorial focus of the site.

10. Back end integration. Not only does the new website integrate seamlessly with the existing Chileautos dealer control panel, it also integrates into the carsales Autogate system. This enables Chileautos to provide an increased level of service to existing dealers using existing tools and also gives Chileautos the opportunity to leverage from Autogate’s proven lead management features.

This is just the start of things to come and it is certainly an exciting time for Chileautos and Chileans looking to buy and sell cars!


No Online Third Party Marketplaces


Online third party marketplaces like carsales, Webmotors, Soloautos, Chileautos and Encar play an important role in connecting car buyers and sellers.

For car buyers they provide choice and information in the one place when looking for their next car.

For car sellers they enable their inventory to be put in front of millions of buyers and compete on equal footing to other sellers no matter the size.

Now, let’s imagine an online world with no online automotive third party marketplaces. How would sellers get their cars seen by buyers and how would buyers find the right car for them?

Dealers would have to rely on their own website to advertise their cars to sell. Yes the vast majority have their own website today but it is a totally different cost and investment conversation if they had to rely on their own website to attract buyers.
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The massive investments and efforts third party marketplaces make to get the right car for the right buyer would be the domain of the dealer. Just like the old days when a dealer had to get a spot with good through traffic on a main road, smaller dealers would be up against it again.

The search engine giant(s) and those who have created business around it (i.e. SEM, SEO “experts”) would love it if dealers had to rely on how their website ranked in search, organically or paid.

Car buyers are buying new cars whether they be new or used – have you ever heard someone show you their “new used car”, they always buy a new car it’s just some are used – and third party marketplaces are the only place where new and used are presented equally.

This is an important part of today’s online world that I think is overlooked by most. Buyers come to third party marketplaces to narrow their car search so by mixing new and used together the buyer’s comparison set is broadened, bringing in cars they probably didn’t know yet could afford and/or were available.
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Advertising in print still wouldn’t be viable so investing in the dealer website at a level far exceeding today would have to be the way forward.

I’m not even sure what private sellers would do. I guess they’d have to advertise in the newspapers per pre-Internet and rely on the publisher to list everything online that they have offline, a throw back to the News Limited and Fairfax 1990’s business plans. Maybe the publications like the Trading Post would still have currency?

Facebook Marketplace isn’t even the answer. How many of you want to sell your car to a “friend” really?

Online third party automotive marketplaces are a natural fit in the same way a Google is for search in navigating in today’s connected world.


Do You Know Your Online Reputation?


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carsales‘ core business model is around connecting sellers and buyers; we do an excellent job of doing this.

Once we have connected the seller and buyer, we provide tools and education around the best practices to make a sale. Here is an example of where post connecting the seller and buyer, somethings are out of our control.

We had a dealer who was questioning the quality of leads sent to him and subsequently what they were paying.

It’s always an interesting conversation because it’s not like leads are vetted for quality and the “good ones” sent to certain dealers yet we have dealers who sell a car from every 4 leads and dealers who sell a car every 9-10 leads. This dealer was in the latter bucket.
20160530_OnlineReputationGoogle
I decided to look a little further into the dealership to connect a few dots. Before I looked into the way they handle the leads (response time, etc) and I didn’t know if he had his own website so the first thing I did was a Google search.

On page 1 of the Google results was something that went someway to explaining things for me. The result description high up in the Google result list showed 1 star out of 5 from 12 from a user review site. Hmmm.

I clicked on the link to read the user reviews; they weren’t good reading (or maybe they were, depending on your need).
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So picture this:

  1. You are a car buyer on carsales, you select a car you are interested in and submit an enquiry.
  2. An email is immediately sent to you with the dealer name and details.
  3. You go to Google to find the dealer website.
  4. Put in your face is a user review ranking of 1 star (out of 5) and a click away is 11 extremely negative reviews.

When the dealer contacts you about your enquiry what do you do?
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It doesn’t matter how many leads carsales sends to this dealer or how little or much is charged; the dealer is going to struggle to convert some of the leads based on their online reputation.

In today’s connected world negative reviews are a click away so it is vital for businesses to first know what their online reputation looks like and then ensure they do something about it.

As I said, it’s always an interesting conversation.


Sales History Should Not Set Retail Pricing


Selling anything at retail seems like a pretty uncomplicated business doesn’t it? You acquire the product for a price and sell it for another price with the difference being your profit, right? Yes sort of. What about all the overheads involved in making that sale?

One of the overheads commonly forgotten is the daily cost of holding the stock. Some years ago I was with a car dealer as we were trying to promote our newly created LiveMarket product which gives the dealer a look at the competitive position of each of their used vehicles for sale using live market data.

“Paul this is a great product but….”


Once I was finished showing the product, the dealer to me “Paul this is a great product but you see that Landcruiser out there, I’m going to make $5,000 profit on it whether I sell it tomorrow or in 5 weeks time so I don’t need this”. I bet a lot of car dealers, or retailers of any sort for that matter, would think the same.
20160411_CarDealer
His logic was that he didn’t have to alter the sell price based on the competitive market because eventually someone would come and pay that price. He had history to prove it. What he wasn’t factoring in was that that $5,000 profit he might get tomorrow wasn’t really worth $5,000 in 5 weeks time. What he also wasn’t counting on is the new Internet age where buyers have as much information and in most cases, more information than the seller (i.e. competitive information at their fingertips).

What if he could sell 4 of those Landcruisers at half the profit on each unit in that same 5 week period ($10,000 vs $5,000)? Which would he rather? It didn’t take long for the penny to drop.

The premise is that by using competitive live market data to buy and sell ensures you are in touch with the market at all times and not buying or selling using sales history or “your gut”. Pricing to sell promotes velocity and helps to ensure your holding costs don’t eat into your profits.


4 Data Driven Lessons



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LiveMarket brings a live market view to new and used vehicle management for car dealers to make smarter decisions when buying and selling cars.

The beauty of LiveMarket from a demo perspective is that the data is the dealer’s actual data and it is live; no canned demo data setup to prove a point.

I was with a used car manager of a franchised dealership showing carsales’ LiveMarket product a little while ago. As I dug a little into his inventory in LiveMarket I found an interesting stat. He was only selling from 60% of his inventory, the other 40% were all well over 180 days old.

…other 20 were just a drag on net profit…

So as far as the dealer principle (business owner) was concerned, the monthly units sold, gross and turn were coming from 50 used vehicles when in fact it was coming from just 30. The other 20 were just a drag on net profit as their holding costs keep stacking up.

“why would I change it and risk not making targets?”

I focused on this as I saw it as an opportunity for the used car manager to improve his business (and his standing in the business) by pricing to the market to improve velocity (sell from the entire inventory) and ultimately improve overall gross. I was wrong.

“I’m consistently meeting my sales and gross targets with the stock mix I have now, why would I change it and risk not making targets?”. Fair point.

What would the dealer principle, the owner of the business, want though? If he could see the used car mix through the lens we were looking at I know what he’d want and so did the used car manager!

The decision was made though. LiveMarket wasn’t for him. He was happy meeting his goals and didn’t want “extra work”.

I learnt four lessons from this process:

1. Giving a more complete picture of a business through data isn’t for everyone.

2. As a business owner you need to have the data to be completely across your business.

3. As a business owner you need to ensure the people you employee and trust are driven to run the business as if it was their own with the same goals you have.

4. Data doesn’t lie so you need to ensure you are selling the dream to the right person in the business (i.e. the person who will benefit the most from the data).

I’m sure we’ve all been there before.


Great Lesson For A Startup – Realising The Real Value & Finding Your Core



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Sometimes a company’s real value is not what their core offering is. Here is the story of such company that I was involved with and was fortunate to find their niche.

In the mid 90’s there was a bit of a fad in the US automotive industry around touch screen kiosks to showcase new models and to show new and used cars they have for sale. This was particularly good for dealers with multiple sites and to place these kiosks at shopping Centres, etc. The downside with this was that they were cumbersome to update meaning as soon as they were updated they were out of date.

“it’s all about the data”

Two guys out of Austin, Texas built on the concept and made their kiosk offering Internet connected, dialing into the car dealer’s computer system to retrieve the inventory details so that no matter where the kiosks were located they were automatically updated daily. On top of this, it simultaneously gave the car dealer a seamless and integrated Internet strategy for their web site. This was cutting edge stuff in 1995 and Digital Motorworks Inc (DMI) was born.
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Their business model revolved around selling the Internet kiosk package to dealers, particularly targeting the big dealer groups who would pay monthly fees on a per kiosk and/or website basis. Not a bad model in theory especially considering there were over 20,000 car dealers in the US. By 1997 they were finding it difficult to get cut through at a dealer level “knocking on doors” and this was slowing growth (and affecting cash flow). They were doing it tough after such a promising start.

…the kiosk software was not their most valuable asset; it was in fact the software process and infrastructure they had created to automatically extract…

Through 1998 I was busy implementing the same business model for Reynolds in Australia and caught up with the DMI guys at the National Automobiles Dealers Association (NADA) conference early on in 1999. The change in their attitude from the last time I had met them was immediately noticeable and I quickly learnt why – “it’s all about the data”.

What they had discovered over the previous 18 months was that the kiosk software was not their most valuable asset; it was in fact the software process and infrastructure they had created to automatically extract the vehicle information from the dealer’s computer systems. So much so that they were no longer a touch screen kiosk provider and were now a data aggregation company! And it totally transformed the business.
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They signed a deal with cars.com to provide them with the vehicle data from all of their thousands of dealers on a nightly basis. They went from having to knock on dealer’s doors to make a ~$500 per month kiosk sale to having dealer orders emailed to them at recurring ~$100 per month – an immediate 5,000 dealers at $100 per month is a lot of touch screen kiosk sales in one hit!

Fast forward 20 years and DMI today extracts, normalises and aggregates vehicle, sales, customer, parts & service data from over 25,000 dealerships across North America for a range of different clients as a fully owned subsidiary of CDK Global (formally ADP Dealer Services).

Without realising their real value and making it their core offering, they certainly wouldn’t be around today selling touch screen kiosks.


I Love The Value Of Aggregated Data For Smart Business Decisions



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It is one thing to aggregate data. It is another to normalize, index, add depth and present in a way that save people and companies time and make money. Here’s an example of using aggregated data designed specifically to save its users time and make them money.

Some years ago I visited a car dealer to talk about our LiveMarket product. As we started to look at the product, he cut me off saying “all of this information is already available on carsales; every Monday morning I get my team together and we go through every one of our vehicles, see where it is positioned on carsales, adjust pricing if necessary, add comments, add photos and all that so we don’t need LiveMarket”.

I asked him how many people and how long this process takes him every Monday morning – “4-5 hours for 5 people” was the answer – No wonder they only do it once a week!
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By doing what they did each Monday morning, they had an obvious appreciation for competitive live market data so I showed him how LiveMarket can do exactly what they do every Monday (plus a whole lot more) in just 10 minutes, any day you want, any time you want for every one of your vehicles. He could see how each vehicle is positioned in the market using real time data and make real time changes to make selling easier and more profitable.

The penny dropped. Using LiveMarket to get an aggregated view of the competitive live market data has not only saved the dealer a lot of time, it has enabled them to sell better, increase velocity and be more profitable in the used car department.

I love the power and value of aggregated data for smart business decisions.