Automotive News - March 3, 2008 - 41
MARCH 3, 2008 • 41 10 cool dealership technologies found at NADA Ralph Kisiel email@example.com SAN FRANCISCO — Thousands of dealers roamed the exhibition floors here at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Exposition, looking for everything from software to carwash equipment. Computer services, Internet services and customer relationship software vendors accounted for about a third of the 700 vendor booths spread out in three halls of the Moscone Center. It’s an open marketplace of technology that will help dealers keep their customers and sell more vehicles. Here are some cool technologies that I found while walking the halls. 3 1 General Motors dealers around the world are going to appreciate the simplicity of GM GlobalConnect, GM’s new dealer portal that will consolidate six existing dealer Web sites. For GM dealers in the United States, GM GlobalConnect will replace the GM DealerWorld Web site. GM GlobalConnect is so intuitive, it should require little or no training to quickly find the messages that are most important to each person’s role in the dealership. GlobalConnect also includes brand information and a bevy of forms, user guides and training manuals. GM will switch its dealers to GM GlobalConnect by year end. Lost a car on your lot? No need to search for it on foot. BrightLot’s radio-frequency-based vehicle inventory management system helps dealers find a vehicle that was not returned to its proper parking spot after a customer test drive. With BrightLot, vehicles are tagged and parked. The tags emit radio frequencies that are picked up and tracked by outdoor units typically placed on light poles. Dealers view a graphic depiction of vehicles on their lots from a Web site. Because the receivers are solar-powered, there’s no need to rip up asphalt to install wiring. The product goes on sale in May. NeoSynergy’s Best Deals advertising application, available through AOL Autos, allows dealers to advertise their best deals and special pricing on new vehicles. This is for vehicles that the dealers need to move — say, cars and trucks that have been on the lot too long. These are actual prices, not suggested retail prices. While Best Deals is limited at the moment to AOL, NeoSynergy is talking with additional Web portals. 5 More than 200 dealerships are now allowing customers to electronically negotiate the sales price of a new or used vehicle by using LIVEoffer and eNegotiate from Skoots Inc. For the dealership, it’s all automated. A consumer can use this to negotiate without human interaction. Dealers establish a hidden floor price on their vehicles in stock. Want to see it in action? The Checkered Flag automotive group in Virginia Beach, Va., calls it “Make My Deal” and features the option at www.checkeredflag.com. JOE WILSSENS Dave Waco, sales chief of MOC Products Co., right, demonstrates the MOC1 Solutions Tablet to Paul Morgan, CFO of Park Place Motorcars of Dallas. 8 4 2 SilentSalesPro combines a software program with a low-tech acrylic flier holder that attaches to the side window of a vehicle. This is designed to provide vehicle information in an entertaining way to customers who drop by after hours to peruse vehicles on the lot. Dealers use SilentSalesPro software to create and print resumes on each car they want to feature on the lot at night. Vehicle history is presented in a resume format. For example: “Qualifications — I work cheap; my gas mileage is 28 city/31 highway.” A section at the bottom of the resume allows the dealer to customize or choose an incentive, such as “5 percent off with this coupon” or “free oil changes” to entice the customer to return when the store is open. 6 ADP Dealer Services is listening to dealer feedback on its Service Appointment Self Check-in. It’s designed to make it easier for a dealership’s service customers to check in their vehicle at the service bay and be on their way. No more waiting in lines to fill out papers. The self-check-in would be done at a kiosk. The customer types in the vehicle’s problem. The kiosk’s software then asks for the vehicle’s mileage. Based on the mileage, the system will recommend specials and maintenance that is due. The customer must take the order to the service desk and provide the car keys. With MOC1 Solutions’ Wireless Service Advisor, a service adviser can write the repair order with the customer at his or her vehicle using a Tablet PC. The adviser scans the vehicle identification number or license plate number to access customer and vehicle data. The adviser can note pre-existing damage on the vehicle, which is pictured on the tablet. The repair order can be e-mailed to the customer, so there’s no waiting for a paper order to print. The coolest feature arms the adviser with 30-second videos of common services, such as a radiator coolant flush. 10 9 AutoMotion spices up any dealership’s Web site with video test drives and video of the dealership’s operations. Videos tend to keep visitors on the dealership’s Web site longer. AutoMotion Online is a plug-in that instantly provides video content to the dealership site. A demonstration can be viewed at www.automotionweb.com. Human Resources Management from Reynolds and Reynolds Co. may not sound like much, but users of the Reynolds ERA dealership management system will find this cool. Human Resources Management is one of the core applications of the ERA system, but navigating through its employee-related information functions is laborious and outdated. Reynolds has given this core application a point-and-click user interface with drop-down menus — essentially a Microsoft Windows look and feel. This interface will replace the so-called green screen of the existing application. It should be available in June. 7 TestFirst Hiring from Reynolds and Reynolds Co. gives dealers the opportunity to test job applicants before calling them for interviews. It’s an easy way to filter scores of applicants. This personality assessment helps dealers determine whether an applicant is a good fit for their organization or a particular job. The applicant takes the hourlong test, customized for the dealership, on the TestFirst Web site. The site is dealership-branded, so the applicant thinks he or she is on the dealership’s Web site. JOE WILSSENS Ben Anderson, president of AutoMotion, shows dealers how video test drives can keep customers on their Web site longer.