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Digital Retailing Trends, Video Marketing Strategies, and the Importance of a Strong Dealership Culture – Kevin Frye, Jeff Wyler Automotive Family

On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Kevin Frye, eCommerce Director for Jeff Wyler Automotive Family, one of the top 50 dealer groups in the nation. In this segment, Jim and Kevin discuss major trends in digital retailing, what dealers need to know about video marketing, and the importance of building a strong dealership culture. 


Jim Fitzpatrick: Hi, everyone. I’m Jim Fitzpatrick. Thanks so much for joining me on another edition of CBT News. We are so happy to have with us Mr. Kevin Frye. I know you know that name because there isn’t an event out there that he hasn’t been a speaker at or been a part of. He’s been certainly a big part of the industry. He’s certainly the eCommerce director for Jeff Wyler Automotive Group. He’s been there for a while. Nobody knows the marketing business in the automotive sector as well as Kevin Frye. Welcome into the show, Kevin.

Kevin Frye: Oh, thank you so much. I’m glad to be with you today.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. Talk to us about some of the trends that you see in now digital retailing as we know it where customers want a complete seamless experience from the time they jump on your website, to taking delivery of that vehicle on your website, and then having the car delivered right to their front door, a true digital retailing experience. Where are we in that, and what’s the future look like?

Kevin Frye: I think we’re in the transitional stage, but I’m trying to get dealers excited about this. Let me explain why. Most dealers are threatened by digital retailing and the idea of buying a car 100% online. Recently one of the things we did is we brought consumers into our internal studio and we asked them a series of questions. One of them was, “Do you want a digital retailing tool on our site where you can complete some or most of the car buying process online?” We also asked them, “Do you want to buy 100% online?” The answers are intriguing because we found that 95% of them want to have a digital retailing tool available, but the same 95% don’t want to buy 100% online.

Kevin Frye: That is great news because what we’re seeing is they still want to come into the dealership to test drive, which means dealers have a tremendous role in the future for digital retailing, more than they can imagine. Not only that, we have the ability to not only build value at the test drive, presenting the F&I menu, but now we can also sell convenience at a premium, which is great news in a compressing margins market.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Those margins are compressing by the minute, right? There’s not a whole lot of money to be made on the front end of a new car these days, is there?

Kevin Frye: That is true, and that’s why we’re excited about this as an opportunity where we can hold some more gross in these deals.

Jim Fitzpatrick: We hear a lot more about using video in automotive marketing from a dealer perspective and from the dealer side. Talk to us about that.

Kevin Frye: One of the things I share with dealers is that when you’re on the marketing side, the sharpest tool in your toolbox hands down is video. The challenge however is this. It’s where the video is being consumed. The days of just relying on network TV and the morning news are long past. We have younger people that are getting smart TVs. They have no cable, no satellite, don’t watch network. We have older people that are disconnecting at a greater rate. That means my recommendation, a mix of OTT, and then you’re going to complement that with some cable, satellite, or network TV. But the best place to go is going to be YouTube.

Jim Fitzpatrick: For those dealers that don’t know what OTT is, tell them that.

Kevin Frye: OTT, simply put, is over the top. It’s essentially the sets involved with your video. I guess the simplest example I would give you this. It’s internet TV. You go to Best Buy, you buy a smart TV, and they have apps on there. The biggest one would be Roku. The user is going to click on Roku, and that’s how they’re going to view ESPN or HGTV. OTT allows you to deliver your message, an unskippable commercial, to those people whether it’s on their smart TV, their laptop, or their phone.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s huge, right? More and more people are just using their mobile device to consume their favorite shows and such, right? So, you need to be there.

Kevin Frye: Look no further than your kids.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Kevin Frye: I’m telling you what, my kids watch zero network TV, but if they’re on their TVs, they’re just connected.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s funny because now we see the pendulum swinging back with regard to video and commercials and stuff because for the last 5, or 6, or maybe 10 years, we’ve told dealers, “What are you doing in TV? What are you doing running your commercials? That’s so not the way it is. You’ve got to be in PaperClick, and you’ve got to be in social, and you’ve got to be paid content. You’ve got to be out there.” Now we’re asking these dealers to come back into the video and running their commercials, just in a different space, right?

Kevin Frye: That’s correct. The other thing I encourage is that today’s consumer is really a short attention time span. One of the most effective thing a dealers can do is utilize the six-second bumpers on YouTube. Where they get caught up and confused is like, “Well, how do I get a message in six seconds?” My answer is this. Break your message into smaller components because I have news. The same questions that shoppers had 25 plus years ago are still being asked today. How much for my trade? How much per month? Can you get me approved? There’s three simple effective messages that you can break down in a small segment that’ll work great on YouTube TrueView.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Let’s talk a little bit about culture. You guys have done a phenomenal job of building a great culture at Jeff Wyler Automotive Group. I know that a lot of that has to bleed into the digital side of things, not just the human element, but when somebody comes into the dealership and they’re greeted by one of your greatest associates, but also online, right? Talk to us about building a culture that has to be fluid enough to be able to transcend the internet and into the people’s minds when they’re dealing online.

Kevin Frye: Well, I’m glad you bring that up because it’s easy to get disconnected when you focus on digital, digital, digital. The Wylers are very well know. They have a strong foundation that everything they do starts with this simple precept. It’s all about the people. That means our employees here internally as well as the consumers. If we focus on that, at the end of the day we’re going to win. The trick with our employees is having clear vision, clarity, giving them the tools, the technology they need to succeed. Then the video is actually a great element when you’re trying to reach out to your consumers. It allows you to personalize yourself versus just a traditional email.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a point that a lot of dealers overlook. They think car, price, payment, trade allowance, interest rate, as you were saying earlier, just keep shoving that down the consumer’s throat. Today’s consumer, especially millennials, they make up a big portion of the marketplace and will continue to make even a bigger splash out there. They want to know who they’re buying from. They want to know, is this a comfortable relationship before I dish over my $40,000, $50,000, or $60,000.

Kevin Frye: That’s correct, and one of the best places to connect on that is with social media. If I’m going to go back to the ’70s and ’80s, it was about connecting with your community, with sponsoring local sports and things like that. Now for us it’s really connecting via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We’re fortunate that David Wyler really excels at that, whether it’s a Facebook Live or some of the events we do offsite that we promote that we want to establish and communicate that we’re giving back to the community that gives so much to us.

Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s no better way to do that then with video and get that message out there.

Kevin Frye: Absolutely. In fact, we take video so seriously that we actually have an in-house studio. I have a production department that’s under my direction that we can make video right here on the spot whether it’s digital or for traditional TV.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s phenomenal. Then you do it right there for all of the different Jeff Wyler stores?

Kevin Frye: Absolutely, and it gives us a great advantage because, for example, if we have a change in rebate or incentive, we can literally shoot this afternoon and we can have it immediately online. Our only delay at the station is usually about 24-hour queue, but our competition typically is looking at waiting for days to get production, to shoot, to produce, and then getting queued to actually be on the air.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Nowadays production doesn’t cost all that much money. If you’ve got a Mac, and a few lights, and a green screen or what have you, then you’re in business, right?

Kevin Frye: That is true. We’re blessed with a great studio, but believe it or not, most of our equipment, even as we update it, is not prohibitive in cost. If you’ve been around doing this for a while, you literally would lease cameras and things like that because they were so expensive. Now you can buy secondhand aftermarket equipment very inexpensive.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Jeff Wyler Automotive Group is a Top 50 Dealer Group in the US. Recently you guys were named one of Ohio’s Top Workplaces By the Cincinnati Enquirer. What do you credit that success to?

Kevin Frye: I credit that to leadership at the very top. If you were to speak to Mr. Wyler or David Wyler, it goes back to that it’s all about the people. That is their number one priority. I think it’s important to emphasize too that as we’re bringing in the younger generation to work, they’re more focused on quality of life rather than chasing a dollar. That means that we need to adjust how we’re compensating people, rewarding people, while balancing that with the demands of a retail schedule.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s so true. That’s something that we talk about a lot here at CVT News is making the schedule much more livable. In fact, for those dealers out there that are trying to attract more females into their dealership, whether it be for managerial positions, or sales positions, or service writers, or what have you, that issue continues to come up that we can’t put in 50, 60, 70-hour work weeks. Many times running the family falls on the female unfortunately still in society, and they just say, “I can’t do that. I can put in 40 hours, maybe 45, but I can’t be here 12 hours a day, six days a week.”

Kevin Frye: You’re spot on. I want to emphasize we have not completely figured this out by any measure, but the reality is with our consumers, they’re shopping today 24/7.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Kevin Frye: The good news is with use of technology and digital retailing tools and whatnot, we can better accommodate the shopping patterns of our consumers while working to match that up with the flexibility of our employees that want to work to help them.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Well, Kevin Frye, eCommerce director of Jeff Wyler Automotive Group, I want to thank you so much for all the time that you’ve given us here today. You are certainly one of the leaders in automotive marketing, and I know a lot of dealers get a lot out of what you say. So, thanks again.

Kevin Frye: I enjoyed it. Thank you very much for having me.

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

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For over 10 years, CBT News has been informing and helping automotive retail professionals grow their businesses and thrive in their careers through an awarding-winning, on-demand streaming platform. With exclusive interviews featuring the biggest names in the industry, daily newscasts, up-to-date market data, and exclusive articles covering the latest trends, CBT News is your #1 source for auto industry news and content.

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