Cox Automotive’s Dealer Software Solutions Brands Publish Playbooks as Auto Retail Begins to Rebound
Three Tactical Guides to Help Accelerate Digital Adoption Across Marketing, Sales, and Service
Consumers are beginning to re-engage with dealerships. Dealers are re-opening their doors, and there are indications the industry is rebounding. The latest Cox Automotive analysis shows new auto sales in May finished down 30.2 percent from May 2019 but showed an increase of 57 percent from April 2020. Used cars sales in late May were down approximately 20 percent from year-earlier levels, an improvement from late April when the sales pace for used vehicles was down more than 40 percent.
If there is a silver lining to the downturn, it is that savvy dealerships have led the way in re-imagining automotive retail, adopting strategies and techniques that will continue to benefit their businesses into the future. To help document best practices moving forward, Cox Automotive’s Dealer Software Solutions portfolio (Dealer.com, Dealertrack DMS, VinSolutions, and Xtime) has developed three playbooks to help dealers tackle their biggest challenges in this digital-first world: generating demand and selling and servicing vehicles safely and cost effectively.
“Our initial response was to quickly disseminate as much information as we could to help our clients be resilient during the crisis,” said Lori Wittman, senior vice president of Dealer Software Solutions, Cox Automotive. “Across the Cox Automotive Dealer Software Solutions brands, we launched webinars, tutorials, blogs, podcasts, and emails. Now these playbooks, we’re taking the next step toward helping dealers reimagine their businesses by adopting digital tools to meet consumer demand.”
The four Cox Automotive Dealer Software Solution brands took a collective step forward in interviewing hundreds of dealers to better understand both the technology and process changes dealers are undergoing. Wittman says dealers want these tools to ‘work better together’ – collaborating across platforms and business units align the information to how dealers run their businesses.
The playbooks are a first step in an enterprise initiative called the One Dealer Experience. Designed to connect with clients in a more coordinated effort, the change includes cross-training Performance Management and Client Support teams to give dealers one ‘go to’ expert on-call to help optimize workflows across platforms used in both variable and fixed operations.
The playbooks go step-by-step and address key dealership roles to demonstrate how to implement digital tools and build proficient processes to support dealers in three key areas where success has never been more crucial: Moving Marketing Forward, Reimagining The Road to The Sale, and Moving Fixed Operations Forward.
“With challenges come opportunities. Dealers told us they need training and updated processes for digital marketing and retailing and help to manage all of the change,” said Wayne Pastore, vice president of dealer marketing operations and general manager of Dealer.com. “The Moving Marketing Forward playbook addresses those needs as dealers return to business and accelerate digital retailing for car shoppers.”
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Digital adoption in the service lane has allowed for an exceptional service experience with minimal physical interactions through Self Check-In, Online Approvals and Online Payments and Valet Pick-up or Drop off options. Online Approvals, an included feature of Xtime Inspect that enables service advisors to electronically share additional service recommendations (ASRs) with consumers on their computer or smartphone, allowed Xtime dealers a $4.4 million aggregate increase in additional service revenue from March 2020 to May 2020. Utilization of Online Approvals was up 10% in May compared to March 2020. Consumer replies to the ASRs and the total dollars approved by consumers through the feature were both up almost 18 percent over the same time period, despite total volume of Repair Orders and Repair Orders with Additional Service Recommendations (ASRs) being down by one percent from March to May 2020. (Source: Analysis of 1700 Xtime Spectrum INSPECT dealerships)
Tracy Fred, vice president of CRM sales and service operations and general manager of VinSolutions and Xtime, explains, “Dealers demonstrated great resiliency in the face of adversity providing a safer, superior customer experience. The Sales and Fixed Ops playbooks can help put digital transformation into overdrive with strategies and tactics dealers can act on immediately.”
“We had a solid April and May,” said dealer John Burford, Dealer Principal at Jack Burford Chevrolet in Richmond, KY. “I attribute our performance during this downturn to three things: our dealership team’s willingness to embrace change, use technology and take care of our customers no matter the circumstances. And Cox Automotive’s Dealer Software Solutions team has been right there whenever we need them.”