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March 27, 2017

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Frankenstein is still alive

Frankenstein is still alive and well and making lots of money!

The first Frankenstein horror movie was released on March 18, 1910. Most of us do not remember that date as we were not yet born. But the story has stayed with us and has caused many of us to look behind us when in a dark spot and fear the appearance of the monster. What was so scary about the poor guy was not necessarily that he was so big and so unattractive, but that his “parts” did not fit and did not “go together”. And, that when parts do not fit they cause a lot of problems when used together.

I doubt that few of us think of software technology as a “Frankenstein” but when you think of the analogy, it actually fits many of the products available to us in the automotive marketplace as “working tools”. This is greatly manifested in some of the projects that some manufacturers offer their dealers as they put together products of many companies and force the dealership to use them as one tool. No consideration is given in these instances to the fact that the products were not necessarily planned to work together, nor to how does one train the final user on two separate products with two separate cultures. Least of all is the consideration given to the cost inherent to the end user when these separate products are sold. As one has to pay the cost to each vendor separately, of course the OEM is not the one footing the bill as they are not the final user. A Frankenstein of software indeed! And we all know how Frankie faired in the end. He did not marry and live happily ever after. Of course there is CO-OP money, but has anyone actually measured the damage done to the department when doing and undoing one of these “Frankies”, and if that CO-OP money really does cover that cost?

Yesterday, I was presenting to a colleague, who has requested to remain unnamed, but is an insightful executive in the automotive retail market place. We were discussing other products available, and he indicated that some were “Frankenstein” to which I laughed totally missing his point, as I thought he meant they were monsters both in price and functionality. He then asked if I realized what he meant, that not only the tool is not workable but the reason is because the parts do not fit, as they were not designed for one body!

This analogy was so adept that the picture of “Parts that Do Not Fit”, has stayed with me and I decided to write this blog. . I am not sure where this will go, but at least might cause you to laugh and reconsider the Frankenstein you are about to install!

February 23, 2017

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It’s no small feat to be a dealer today!

It’s no small feat to be a dealer today!

You face the following issues

  • Customer distrust especially with millennial
  • Online reputation management difficult
  • Search result page 1 strong placement hard to get
  • CRM: delivery short of potential (internet lead management)
  • Websites: boring, static, disparate, value delivery sub-optimal to millennial
  • How to improve results in fixed operations and digitalize; without incurring huge cost!

No way to truly connect with customer and stop mass migration to cheaper options when the car goes out of warranty.

Wow, it becomes a daunting task to run a dealership and manage customer base and manage some six or seven disparate vendors that address the above mentioned issues. Not to mention the cost of each and every vendor. Add to that the cost of time spent first managing to find the right vendor for these products and, second, the expenditure of time at your dealership installing and training. It’s enough to make you run for the hills. Add to all of that this issue with CDK and R&R who are forcing all vendors to either go bankrupt or pay through the roof to serve “their” dealer as though all their client dealerships along with their data belong to them. And of course now the dealer has to pay for all this HUGE “interface” cost just to please those two DMS providers or go to court.

So, here is a solution to a great deal of these problems and it is autoWALL. This tool single handedly addresses all the above functionalities needed. autoWALL requires one single interface payment, one install and one set of training. Do you not owe it to yourself to just at least explore the possibilities this tool opens to you and your company? For how long do you hang with this abusive expensive old technology software that are part of your headache and make your life difficult? You owe no one anything but you do owe your customers, yourself and your employees a better system for communication, customer management and many other services you need. Click here to read about autoWALL and autoWALL APP. You have nothing to lose.

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February 7, 2017

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How does techWALL improve service department productivity?

How does techWALL improve service department productivity?

techWALL has shown great promise in increasing lines per repair order both amongst high line and other types of vehicles.  Most customers choose repairs most “visible” to them.  Repairs such as recommended manufacturer repairs or items those are visibly wrong.  But there are usually many issues that can only be diagnosed by a technician with in-depth knowledge. These issues might not seem so pressing at the time and might lead to further more expensive repairs if done later or might just simply be dangerous such as brakes that are worn thin but are not manifesting themselves as problematic.  The high line results are truly impressive as they approach 30% increase in lines per RO.  In other vehicles, although, still impressive the percentage increase is reduced to about 11-13%.  This discrepancy might be due to the fact that highline customers have more expendable income to accept other needed repairs than others.  Remember 60% of customers struggle to pay a $500 repair bill.  But even for these people, if a timely repair ends in spending less in the future, it is certainly worth it and a great service.

Another aspect of improved productivity caused by techWALL is improving efficiency of the technician time.  techWALL not only streamlines communication with customer but also with other members of the service department team such as advisor and Parts employees.  As a rule technician spends three hours of an eight hour day either trying to communicate with advisor to attain authorization for a repair or travel to parts department to ascertain availability of a part.  All of this time spent is non productive and does not lead to one cent of revenue.  In fact this wasted time is very expensive, not only as technician is hourly paid but as he is one of the few employees of a dealership who directly contributes to revenue generation.  So, as you see this single tool not only makes lives of many, including the customer, easier but also generates a great deal of revenue all around a winning product.

January 20, 2017

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autoWALL makes relationship management easy

autoWALL makes relationship management easy

autoWALL makes relationship management easy as after each transaction customers are requested to complete a satisfaction survey, alerting the dealership to potential issues that can be resolved.

Make sure you book to visit us at #NADA100 January 26-29 2017 | New Orleans | Booth 5306 | http://bit.ly/1YjlkNc


Schedule an appointment with us at NADA here!

January 16, 2017

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Disruptors are innovators that adapt

Disruptors are innovators that adapt

Customers are keeping their cars longer – the average car on the road is 11 years old, and margins on sold vehicles are low and going down all the time. Dealers can either sink or adapt and swim. Disruptors are innovators that adapt to a changing market with solutions that fit their environment and Gratistech has a range of solutions that do just that!

Make sure you book to visit us at #NADA100 January 26-29 2017 | New Orleans | Booth 5306 | http://bit.ly/1SnQuim


Schedule an appointment with us at NADA here!

December 16, 2016

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A Case for Marketing the Dealership Brand

Good Grief, you think that website makes your customers feel special? Or is it all about you?

Customers are very perceptive!

Have you ever wondered why people buy cars from one dealership versus another? You might say the reason is simple, they like the products they sell. Well how about in metropolitan areas where there are multitude of dealers of the same brand? What makes one stand out in the eyes of the customer versus another? Have you heard the phrase “my mechanic” takes good care of me or “my salesman” takes good care of me? That is when an employee of a dealership has built a solid relationship with a customer who in turn responds to his calls or communications and better yet remains loyal to dealership for both sales and service.

There have been many attempts to circumvent the dealerships as they stand. Ford Motor in the eighties tried in Rochester NY and failed miserably and so did General Motors in other parts of the country. The final reason why people buy from anyone is that people buy from people. And especially from those who have shown longevity in business and in retaining the friendship. Although Uber is trying to change that mind set; still owning a car in this country is a mandate and a right to man or womanhood and a tremendous boost to one’s independence. So car ownership and car dealerships are here to stay. So, it is the “family” of the people of the dealership and its brand that is really selling and that is what needs be promoted. Especially if you are a dealer with multi brands it becomes even more imperative for you to promote your personal brand. Why should the customer buy from you than the guy down the street? What makes you stand out and what makes you special. Believe me, although your physical facility, is important, and so are your brands, they are not the main reason you are in business. So, celebrating that brand of the people of the dealership is every bit as important as the brand of cars that you sell.

How do you do this? It is not that difficult by truly first focusing the light on your customer and making him understand how valuable he is to you. And building a solid relationship, first, initiates with an element of trust. Why should this customer trust you to spend his hard earned money to buy a car from your dealership? And better yet why should he keep on trusting you to service his second largest investment in life, his automobile. The best way to garner that element of trust is to “listen” to what the customer has to say and make it easy for him to have a venue thru which he could express himself easily. And, by that I do not mean your dealership phone system. As, it is proven that unless someone knows your employees cell number they cannot reach that person as they do not listen to voice mail on dealership land lines.

autoWALL is a system that does exactly the above, each customer and all dealership members are members of the community through which they can communicate. Customer can express his beef easily and you can sell to them as well; because now that you listen they will listen too. On this WALL you can also inform them of not only your quality of service but the service you and your people provide to the community at large. You can celebrate your employees, their qualifications and how they serve the community in other forms. Again, remember buying and doing business is a “people” relationship business and cars are just a mere commodity.

December 2, 2016

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Going to NADA make the most of it II

Going to NADA make the most of it II

Don’t fall for the fancy placement or presentation. There is nothing new there.

So, you are going to NADA and you want to make the most of it. But before you go, you need to decide exactly the reason for making this trip. You could be going for the lovely sights of New Orleans but, I would presume, if that was the only reason, you could go at a less congested and overwhelming time. So, you are going because of NADA and that is, maybe, because you are seeking a special service and the best providers. All vendors have spent a lot of money to be present at this event but some far more than others. The reason, needless to say, is as some companies have far more wherewithal to drop cash than others. But the size of booth or its placement has nothing to do with quality of product. For that matter some of the biggest booths are owned by those with the oldest tools that have not changed in years. Those companies try to make as much “noise” as possible to assure voice of the little guy with exceptional tool is drowned. And, let me tell you, mostly they succeed. But just as in most other tools and services there are constantly new and better versions developed, so are in automotive especially technology sector. So, do yourself a favor by visiting the smaller booths with unknown names; they have got something to prove and you might find exactly what you need and at a far more competitive pricing.

So, go check out the 10X10 booths in the far corners and see what they have to offer first. Or for that matter make your lists starting with those “little guys” and then go to the big guys and then compare the options. You might be amazed at what you find.

November 16, 2016

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Going to NADA make the most of it.

Going to NADA make the most of it.

As a vendor who is and has been on both sides of the isle, both vendor and dealer, I see NADA as a daunting and exhausting but also exciting opportunity. This is where the “opportunity” and the seeker match. Be it dealership personnel seeking a product or service or a product or service seeking buyers and users, this is where they all meet. This convention, being as it is the only gathering of its kind, gets to be rather overpowering if you do not plan to visit whom you want to visit ahead of time. This is also where you want to separate wheat from the chaff, look for new trends, technologies or products. A lot of companies introduce new products during this gathering some of which are truly outstanding and some which, as they say,are not worth the time. Also, if not careful you might walk yourself to death literally as the halls are huge and much to see. So, I have a few tips to make your trip worthwhile learned from years of attending this event from both sides of the isle.

1- Study tools your dealership is using and see what the return on the investment on each is. This “return” is not necessarily money wise but also time wise. As we know in today’s world, time is money. Evaluating customer facing tools such as website becomes very important. Realize that the website of the millennium has morphed into something very different than the standard sites most OEM certified vendors sell.

2- You also need to evaluate these tools in user friendliness. I am sure, that you realize that in the millennium, most software technology is built so that it is intuitive. Meaning, most people doesn’t take courses for using Facebook for daily use. Your systems today should follow the same rule. So, don’t be so worried about switching gears that your people might have hard time learning or that the cost of training might be high. These could include CRM products and services. Is the CRM in its present form serving your company well?

3- Study tools and processes at your dealership that might be lacking but that customers value or would like to have. Essentially put yourself in the shoes of your customer. One type of product here could be an electronic vehicle health report that is interactive and communicated directly to the customer. This kind of tool assists in reduction of declined services and adds transparency and streamlines communication with customer which is all three pluses for your dealership.

4- Which department at your dealership could use a boost in productivity and what kind of tool can help you achieve this. For example online payment system in service department improves efficiency, reduces red tape and makes your customers much happier.
So, itemize these needs and score them as most important to least and then once NADA releases the list of vendors you can then choose which ones to visit. And, if you see this blog worthwhile, please come visit us at both 5306.

October 28, 2016

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It’s all about your intent

It’s all about your intent

It is well known that products and companies that prosper are those that first, truly provide a product that works and secondly, have the best of their clients at heart. It is also well known that you build a relationship that can be nurtured only if you truly communicate and let the other side know how important they are to you by investing time in their well being. Parents that raise successful children are those that not necessarily spend a great deal of time with their children but those that use the time spent in total focus of interacting with the child. So, the short and sweet of it is that all of us crave attention, not only from those closest to us but, from those with whom we have chosen to have a relationship. People we do business with are no different; we choose to work with them and we expect for them to focus on us when and if we are interacting with them. The other day I saw a little cartoon on the web that brought this point home more than ever. Two guys are talking and one says to the other that “you keep talking about this club you belong to and it is no more than a gym, so what is so special about the “club””.? And, the other guy says “nothing, except that the fact that I am member of their club makes me feel important”. Wow, how tremendously insightful, the club makes their customers feel as though they belong and that they are important.

There is nothing shatteringly amazing about this. The club makes their members feel special and wanted and any business owner can have that “club”. We as car dealers have a huge number of people that spend a great deal of money with us. Our top 33% customers generate 85% of our revenue. Would it not make them feel special if, first, they learned that you knew who they are and second, that you valued them enough to make them part of your community or club. The car dealer of today is inundated with businesses trying to make them irrelevant. It is the job of the dealer whether he wants to become as such. How do you keep from becoming yet another victim of times, make your customers fight for you. Make them want you there because you are a support system they cannot do without. Get to know who they are and let them know who you are and what you are about. How do you do this? Build your community, communicate through the community and allow the communication to be bidirectional. Not just you yelling at them when you are ready to sell something, but allow them to communicate when they “want” something and then react.

With autoWALL, we promote transparency and open lines of communication. That is most evident in the use of the techWALL and the vehicle health report, where a technician provides a status report on the health of the vehicle to the customer. Although you sell more service and reduce declined services and improve technician efficiency by using a system like this, none of these are the real impetus for installing it as those are again, all internally focused reasons. Meaning they make you more profitable and make your life easier. The main reason is because you make your customers feel special. It is not in the delivery of the VHR but, the fact that you are willing to spend the time and money and resources to install a project such as this where, at its heart is attention to the consumer. The question you want to ask yourself is can I survive without my customers. Well that is a silly question to ask as we all know the answer. So, do all you can to involve and take care of the customer and make them “truly” feel special. Believe me it will pay you at the end.

August 26, 2016

No Comments

A Case for Marketing the Dealership Brand

Good Grief, you think that website makes your customers feel special? Or is it all about you?

Customers are very perceptive!

Have you ever wondered why people buy cars from one dealership versus another? You might say the reason is simple, they like the products they sell. Well how about in metropolitan areas where there are multitude of dealers of the same brand? What makes one stand out in the eyes of the customer versus another? Have you heard the phrase “my mechanic” takes good care of me or “my salesman” takes good care of me? That is when an employee of a dealership has built a solid relationship with a customer who in turn responds to his calls or communications and better yet remains loyal to dealership for both sales and service.

There have been many attempts to circumvent the dealerships as they stand. Ford Motor in the eighties tried in Rochester NY and failed miserably and so did General Motors in other parts of the country. The final reason why people buy from anyone is that people buy from people. And especially from those who have shown longevity in business and in retaining the friendship. Although Uber is trying to change that mind set; still owning a car in this country is a mandate and a right to man or womanhood and a tremendous boost to one’s independence. So car ownership and car dealerships are here to stay. So, it is the “family” of the people of the dealership and its brand that is really selling and that is what needs be promoted. Especially if you are a dealer with multi brands it becomes even more imperative for you to promote your personal brand. Why should the customer buy from you than the guy down the street? What makes you stand out and what makes you special. Believe me, although your physical facility, is important, and so are your brands, they are not the main reason you are in business. So, celebrating that brand of the people of the dealership is every bit as important as the brand of cars that you sell.

How do you do this? It is not that difficult by truly first focusing the light on your customer and making him understand how valuable he is to you. And building a solid relationship, first, initiates with an element of trust. Why should this customer trust you to spend his hard earned money to buy a car from your dealership? And better yet why should he keep on trusting you to service his second largest investment in life, his automobile. The best way to garner that element of trust is to “listen” to what the customer has to say and make it easy for him to have a venue thru which he could express himself easily. And, by that I do not mean your dealership phone system. As, it is proven that unless someone knows your employees cell number they cannot reach that person as they do not listen to voice mail on dealership land lines.

autoWALL is a system that does exactly the above, each customer and all dealership members are members of the community through which they can communicate. Customer can express his beef easily and you can sell to them as well; because now that you listen they will listen too. On this WALL you can also inform them of not only your quality of service but the service you and your people provide to the community at large. You can celebrate your employees, their qualifications and how they serve the community in other forms. Again, remember buying and doing business is a “people” relationship business and cars are just a mere commodity.