Bill Wittenmyer Discusses Elead’s Brand Refresh, New Partnerships, and The Need to Re-vamp Your CRM

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On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome back Bill Wittenmyer, Vice President of Sales, Layered Apps and Competitive Accounts for elead, a well-known CRM solutions company in the retail automotive space. In this segment, Jim and Bill discuss the ins and outs of elead’s brand refresh, what they are exhibiting at NADA 2020, and the developments surrounding their partnership with FordDirect. So be sure to stop by their booth #3014C to learn more.

bill wittenmyerVIDEO TRANSCRIPT: 

Jim Fitzpatrick: Hi, everyone. Jim Fitzpatrick with CBT News. Thanks so much for joining me on another edition. Today we got a special guest in the house here, Mr. Bill Wittenmyer. Billy the Kid, as you know him. He’s vice president of sales, layered apps and competitive accounts for the number one, the one and only, Elead. So thank you so much, Bill, for joining us on the show.

Bill Wittenmyer: Oh, it’s always great to be on, Jim. Good to see you, appreciate you having me on.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. So let’s kind of jump right in here. You guys have been making some big waves out there with the new Elead brand and kind of a refreshment of the whole brand as we’ve known it and making it better. Talk to us a little bit about that. Why now and what are some of the changes?

Bill Wittenmyer: Well, we really thought it was great timing, and it was the right time from our perspective after acquisition with CDK. And CDK Global’s been so great during the acquisition. We looked at it and made the decision that it was the right time to come out with a refresh, a rebrand. We wanted to do a couple of things with it, Jim. We wanted to have a look back and kind of a nod to the past and the history and the great tradition that Elead had been for the 30-plus years. And then we also wanted to look forward with more of a modernization and being more innovative. And I think we really accomplished that with the logos and the look. Our marketing team just did a fantastic job in a very short period of time going through the entire process. And it was really exciting to do that and roll it out.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Boy, that’s exactly right. It looks phenomenal, and we got a lot of good feedback on it from some of the dealers that we’ve spoken to as well. What stayed the same?

Bill Wittenmyer: It feels like a lot of things. There’s going to be a lot of familiar faces. When we talk about NADA a little bit later on, I think that’s a big thing, huge retention. As I mentioned, the CDK acquisition, it could not have gone any better, and certainly could have gone a lot worse. And I think you and I talked about that at the time of the acquisition, that it felt that way. And it’s really executed. What’s happened is we’ve grown, massive retention on the employees, and particularly in all the key leadership areas. You add in that we’ve done massive investments in resources. And that’s not just resources in terms of what are you doing in dev and what are you doing in R&D, but boots on the ground.

Bill Wittenmyer: A lot of the things that made us very successful, we just amplified that. And that amplification was going to be adding more account managers on the field and on the ground, more performance managers, more support teams. All those things that I felt like were really key to us, being fast, flexible, friendly, fun. I think, all those things, what we did is we just amplified them. And that’s been a really great testament, not only to all the folks at Elead, but also CDK Global and their support.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Keeping all of those employees onboard, very impressive. Also having the power of CDK to make the process and the products even that much better, right.

Bill Wittenmyer: Yeah, and it wasn’t even just retaining employees. Because any time you go through any kind of transition like that it can be a little nervous or anxious for people, but the teams did a great job. The leadership did a great job. CDK Global did a great job. But you know what? Our clients, our partners, really did the best job. Not only did they stay, we had tremendous growth last year, through the last 15 months of the acquisition. It was just really an exciting time, and we’re really looking forward to as we go into the future.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. What can dealers expect? Talk to us a little bit about that.

Bill Wittenmyer: Yeah, I think a lot of it’s going to be, “Hey, it’s not your dad’s old Elead,” like they used to say about a Buick, right. We’re certainly a lot more modern, a lot more innovative. Certainly with the support and the resources and backed by CDK Global has been a tremendous help. There’s a lot of really cool things that we’re going to see upcoming as we get to NADA, and a lot of roll outs that way. But I think it’s going to be… Again, as I mentioned earlier, it’s really amplifying all those great things that got us to where we were. And now having the resources to be able to continue to do that and grow along with our great clients and partners.

Jim Fitzpatrick: And talk to us a little bit about the… I guess the new branding will be really a new booth, basically, at NADA this year.

Bill Wittenmyer: Yeah, that’s a big one. Huge booth this year, we’re right next door to CDK and Fortellis. So we’ve got a really good-sized Elead booth with the new branding dedicated to the Elead products. Not only CRM, but also all the other layered apps that we have. And we’re really pushing that agnostic aspect. We’re for everyone. We’re the CRM for every man and woman, as I like to say. It’s still not a CRM out of the box, right. We want to be that client that kind of circles around your processes inside the store and try to better suit that. And that continues with open APIs as well. That’s been a huge addition with the Fortellis platform in being able for us to not only continue the great integrations that we’ve had with so many partners, but now open and expand that even further.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Give us a little quick review of some of the products and enhancements and why dealers would benefit by meeting with you out at NADA.

Bill Wittenmyer: Yeah, I appreciate that. You never want to let all the cats out of the bag, right. You want to have a couple of surprises for Christmas morning. A couple of things, we’re going to be looking at our connected store and Deal Builder, which is our digital retail application, a real separator in the industry from the standpoint that it truly is a single ecosystem, from the online shopping and buying experience, all the way through to inside the store. We’ve got some great enhancements there. I think one of the big ones is going to be something that a lot of dealers expected, which is a greater marriage between CDK and Elead. And what I mean by that as an example, we have an enhanced integration now, and this is big, we’re going from 150 fields that we originally had integration points to over 800. I mean, you literally have a seamless connection between CDK, DMS, and Elead now, greater than anything else that’s out there between a lot of the vendors, which is a huge advantage. And you’d expect that, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Bill Wittenmyer: That was one of the things that we needed to work on and move forward. A couple of other ones, Audience Builder, which is going to be a part of our different data-query system, up to 60 different filters. I think every dealer in the world wants to be able to use and matriculate their data in the way that they want to. And that’s a great platform that we’re going to be rolling out at NADA. I’ll give you one last glimpse. I think another big one is going to be Advance Self Service Workflows. Every dealership has their own kind of creative way that they want to do follow-up, and they want to do other things. There’s a lot of things that our dealers have been asking for. We’re really happy about rolling that out at NADA. There’s a whole list of others.

Bill Wittenmyer: I forgot what the number was, but it was something like 50 or 60 different enhancements and products that we’re rolling out at NADA. And what a great venue, right. We’ll be in Vegas. We’ve got a brand-new booth with the brand-new look and feel, and we’re super excited about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. You guys have got something going on, or you’ve had something going on with FordDirect. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Bill Wittenmyer: Yeah, really excited about the relationship with FordDirect. We’ve been the FordDirect CRM and CRM Pro for the last few years. And we just recently signed an extension with FordDirect. Couldn’t be more excited and pleased with the relationship. They’ve been a great partner with us. They’ve provided some really great, exclusive integrations for their Ford and Lincoln dealers. And that’s a huge benefit to a Ford and Lincoln dealer as well, right. Not only do you have those exclusive integrations, they can save you a tremendous amount of time. A really aggressive and special price point for those dealers as well. I just couldn’t be happier about signing that extension with them just a few weeks ago.

Bill Wittenmyer: There’s a lot more innovation rolling out. FordDirect is an extremely innovative company. They do a great job, obviously, inside the Ford Blue Oval house with their Lincoln and Ford dealers. Just the things that they’re rolling out and we’re rolling out together, we couldn’t be more excited about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: For dealers that are going to NADA this year, do yourself a favor and make it by to say hello to Bill Wittenmyer. And also find out more about the products that they are offering this year, and that they’re rolling out because you can do yourself a huge favor and your dealership a huge favor by listening to what’s going on at Elead, along with CDK, obviously, two powerhouses in the retail auto industry. I think, together, you make a great partner for dealers that are out there that need to also squeeze every single ounce of dollars that they can out of a deal and be as efficient as they can, right, with their partners on the showroom floor, in the service center, in every area of the dealership. And you guys have done such a great job with that over the years. So dealers-

Bill Wittenmyer: Yeah. Thanks, Jim-

Jim Fitzpatrick: … make it out to the-

Bill Wittenmyer: … totally agree.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. Make it out to the Elead booth, take a look at the new branding, talk to Bill and his team. I know that you will be amazed when you walk out of there. Bill Wittenmyer, thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. This has been-

Bill Wittenmyer: Jim, thanks-

Jim Fitzpatrick: … a great news.

Bill Wittenmyer: … so much for having me on.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. We’ll see you in a couple of weeks.

Bill Wittenmyer: I can’t wait to see you out in Vegas, safe travels. and I know you have a really busy schedule, so I’ll try to just see you for two seconds because I know the big man’s got a lot of people to go see.

Jim Fitzpatrick: All right, man. Good seeing you. Thanks so much.

Bill Wittenmyer: Likewise, Jim.

Jim Fitzpatrick: All right, bye-bye.

CBT Automotive Network. The number one most-watched network in retail automotive. This has been a JBF Business Media production.

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