At the recent 7th Digital Dealer Conference in Nashville, I got to spend quite a bit of time visiting the booths in the Expo Hall. Compared to NADA, where it is hard to spend time with the exhibitors, the Digital Dealer conference has booths and refreshments in the same hall. You can get shrimp and a beer and then enjoy visiting with the exhibitors. Two of the booths that caught my attention (in addition to being next to one of the best food stations) were eXtéresAUTO and ClearMechanic. Both of these exhibitors’ products were examples where seeing can be believing.
At ClearMechanic, they think dealerships need to visually sell to build trust and increase profitability. For example, a Buick owner was told that by his local repair shop that his car needed approximately $500 of repairs, including a coil spring replacement. The customer, skeptical of these claims and looking to save money, declined the repairs. But this customer was worried about his safety and that of his family, so he brought the car to his Buick dealership and asked for a second opinion. This dealership happened to have ClearMechanic, a web-based software tool that allows dealerships to “visually sell” repair jobs.
With ClearMechanic digital images of the customer’s vehicle actually show the need for repairs. When the technicians put the Buick up on the lift, they noticed a large crack in the rear left coil spring. The crack could only be seen when standing directly underneath the car with a flashlight. Using a camera supplied by ClearMechanic, the service advisor took a picture of the spring and e-mailed the customer a secure link to this image. He also used ClearMechanic’s software to provide a detailed online estimate of several additional recommended repairs, along with licensed video content about the need for the repairs. The customer believed what he saw and then used ClearMechanic to approve the repairs online.
Service advisors can still call the customers to see if they have any questions about the e-mail, but customers are generally cynical about these obvious “up sell” attempts from service advisors, which historically can have an approval rate of only 30%. ClearMechanic has been experiencing over 90% of approvals because customers believe what they see and thus both trust and profitability increases.
According to CEO Brad Simmons, “Because consumers expect a frustrating service experience, the transparency provided by ClearMechanic stuns them. The result has been improved sales and tremendous word-of-mouth for our dealership customers.” ClearMechanic interfaces every few minutes with most DMS systems like ADP and R+R, including a live interface with the newest DMS system, DealerStar.
Speaking of trust, in the next booth was eXtéresAUTO who designed SAM, a high-tech revolutionary suite of tools that is like adding a virtual super-employee to a dealership – constantly updating dealers on their online presence. For instance, with just a few clicks within their back-office dashboard, they can view their exact placement on all the major search engines for thousands of search phrases. And to back it up with third-party evidence, dealers can easily compare reports with live Google/Yahoo/Bing searches, so they can rest assured their reporting is accurate and complete. Additionally, every day SAM’s dealers can see what is being written about them online; across the customer review sites, online directories and consumer complaint sites – every day all reviews are delivered into their back-office, with reporting on where posted.
The SAM back-office tool also delivers every usage of a dealership’s name, URL or inventory online, so dealers can be alerted to possible online piracy issues. And because dealers are typically forced to look in different locations to understand where their site traffic is coming from, or their customers’ search habits, a dealer logging into SAM can view not only where their customers are coming from (URL, search engines or links), but how many there are, what pages they’re visiting, and exactly which search phrases they’re using. As importantly as seeing and understanding the data, dealers receive the training and tools to take action on the various issues.
The next Digital Dealer Conference will be in Orlando in April. Hopefully we’ll see more exciting ways to have your customers seeing and believing!