John Gilliss, owner and operator of Friendly Kia in New Port Richey, Fla, isn’t a dealer to waste money or good ideas. He is achieving both objectives by utilizing technologies that deliver fast return on investment while continuing to provide operational and sales improvements every day.
First, he said, he installed the Autosoft dealer management system in his dealership in 2004 when he acquired the then-six-year-old Isuzu and Kia dealership. Budgets were tight and seeking the most bang for his bucks, the Autosoft DMS best fit his needs, he said.
“The DMS for my new store had to be very affordable and it had to be robust,” he said. “I had seen $5,000 and up-a-month DMS charges from other DMS providers in the other dealerships I had managed prior to acquiring Friendly. With Autosoft we got a fully functional DMS for all accounting, service, parts, and F&I for running our Kia operation, a nearby used car operation, and our then-Isuzu dealership – at a monthly cost of what someone pays a month for a typical sedan.
“Unlike what I was also used to, our DMS cost has remained static all these years, paying monthly today what we paid the first month we signed up. Autosoft is still the best DMS deal in town,” Gilliss said. “Our users got up to speed on Autosoft fast, and help is always available by self-help tools, video training and live training. The company has always been very response to our needs.”
Second, Gilliss said, he recently installed strategic selling software from AutoAlert™ to mine the dealership’s database to identify existing customer profiles that make them hot prospects for sales calls. The AutoAlert software looks for the convergence of where ownership position, mileage, equity and other variances make the owner an ideal candidate for buying again soon, even that day. With AutoAlert in operation less than six months, Friendly Kia is already selling an additional 10 vehicles a month to existing customers, Gilliss said.
Proactive, strategic selling
The New Port Richey market is part of the larger metro Tampa area. Friendly Kia’s closest Kia competitors are, respectively, 15 miles to the south and 50 miles to the north. In this market is Hyundai’s number-one dealership, Hyundai of New Port Richey, which sells about 500 new and used vehicles a month. A nearby Toyota dealer retails about the same number of vehicles as the Hyundai store. Friendly Kia sells about 80 new units a month and up to 35 used.
Gilliss and Friendly Kia have ridden the Kia wave, from the brand’s troubled earlier era and lack of model diversity to recognition in 2004 as the state’s second-leading Kia retailer and into the brand’s hot market today.
To help his dealership maintain strong sales by creating sales opportunities internally, Gilliss said he turned to AutoAlert. “I heard of AutoAlert from another dealer, who said he had found this tool to help him identify hot prospects based on how much they still owed on their current vehicle, its mileage and its service history. I said that was impossible, but once I had learned more I called AutoAlert to find out if it interfaced with Autosoft, and I was up and running right way.”
With high-potential existing customers identified by AutoAlert, Friendly’s sales and BDC staff then contact these opportunities by phone using AutoAlert’s specially prepared and customized talk tracks.
AutoAlert gives dealers deep analytical insight into an existing customers’ current finance or lease situation, as well as into current OEM and dealer incentives, prevailing finance and lease rates, and local taxes. Using this information, a dealer using AutoAlert can usually move a customer into a new model for about the same monthly payment as they currently are paying.
Gilliss said AutoAlert’s well-crafted talk-tracks combined with this kind of customer insight helps even first-time sales associates sell and close deals fast.
Taking trades and selling in service
Gilliss noted that one particular Friendly Kia service advisor, formerly a sales associate there, is now using an AutoAlert app on his smartphone in the service lane. AutoAlert, through the Autosoft DMS’s service module, informs him every morning about customers coming in for service that day. Then, after completing a traditional walkaround and write up, the advisor uses the AutoAlert insight to make specific proposals to those service customers whose profiles make them likely to trade up and buy a new vehicle from the dealership, often that same day.
“We’re selling about new 10 vehicles a month with AutoAlert, of which about half originate from using AutoAlert in service, Gilliss noted. “In turn, we are taking in good trades, many one- and two-year-old vehicles, when their owners realize these offers solve their vehicle problems.
“What do I mean? Well, we’ve learned through AutoAlert that newer buyers can be excellent repeat buyers. Often, within a year or so from their initial purchase, their life situation has changed — a baby is due necessitating a move up into an SUV, or they would prefer a different color — and with AutoAlert we know who these buyers are. We can then reach out to them with genuine, informed offers to buy their car and put them in the vehicle they would prefer to drive for about their same monthly payment, something few owners of newer models ever think is possible. The customer gets a new car in a way they never dreamt possible, and we in turn a nice trade, a new sale and a retained and more loyal customer.”
More than 2,600 automobile dealerships and more than 40,000 individual users have benefited from added sales, profits, commissions and individualized support and training that come with each AutoAlert installation. Founded in 2002, AutoAlert, Inc. is the first and only company of its kind to offer dealership and enterprise wide business intelligence software, support and training.
For more information, contact Nathan Warner, Director of Marketing at 949-398-7008 or at Nathan@autoalert.com or visit www.autoalert.com