Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Mandi Fang and Tyler Anderson from Dealertrack DMS, at the 2020 NADA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandi is the Vice President while Tyler is the Director of Business Development.
Jim Fitzpatrick: All of the dealers that we are talking to here at CBT News and some of the other vendors here, and everyone was saying, “My God, this is like no other year. It’s been great.” Dealers are in the buying mode. They are excited about 2020, just coming off of a great year in 2019, this is the good stuff, right?
Mandi Fang: It’s been amazing. The traffic has been outstanding. The energy from both the dealers and our team members have been off the charts.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. Yeah. You guys at Cox Automotive, have all the answers for dealers. I’ve talked to so many of your counterparts at some of the other Cox companies and the solution’s blown me away. It’s amazing. I want to be a dealer again just so I can be a Cox Automotive client and go, “Here.” You have a solution for everything. It’s incredible.
Tyler Anderson: Thank you.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What are some of the key challenges dealers are faced with today that prevent them from optimizing their operational efficiency? Efficiency is obviously the key word out there right now, right?
Mandi Fang: You hit the nail on the head. Operational efficiency is a theme that we here have heard traditionally, and in here the show even more so, and there seems to be two main themes and one is consistently battling to get the kind of reporting and analytics tools that will help run their business more efficiently. There’s no secret, they’ve been challenged with margin compression, and so figuring out how to help them. Tyler will talk a little bit more about just managing their talent pool, not only from the recruiting side of things, but the entire life cycle.
Tyler Anderson: Yeah. So much of what we hear is they don’t want to put things in multiple systems. They want to have the different systems that they work with talk to each other and integrate and things like that. We’re constantly looking at ways to save them time and make it more efficient for their use.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. If you say the word dashboard to most dealers, they go, “Oh my God, don’t get me another dashboard.” They want it all centralized at one location, one click away, give me all the answers.
Tyler Anderson: Right.
Mandi Fang: That’s 100% right.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Exactly. Why does more data not always equate to better data?
Mandi Fang: I think you hit a point that most dealers are feeling is they have a dashboard for every tool and every solution, and that can really stand in the way of driving efficiencies because you’re constantly switching tools and trying to decide when the data’s not the same, where to look, what’s going to drive your business that day.
Tyler Anderson: I think dealers don’t have a lack of data, they have a ton of data. What they’re asking us for a lot of the time is just more actionable insights. They want us to help guide them on what’s most critical to manage their dealership operations. Don’t just inundate them with data, show them what they can change.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. Well they say analysis by paralysis or paralysis by analysis. It’s unbelievable. But it’s just coming you from every angle, and then every vendor that walks in the front door of a dealership says, “Hey, we’ve got some data for you and here’s how you pull it,” and it’s like, oh my gosh, if I hear that line one more time.
Tyler Anderson: It’s crazy.
Mandi Fang: I think you feel a lot of pressure to hire people to manage data.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. That’s a good point.
Mandi Fang: And that’s really hard in some cases.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. And especially when you’ve got to put two people on, that’s more headcount, to lower your efficiency. You’re like, well wait a minute, I just added on $100,000 to my bottom line and yet we’re going to save 30. That’s kind of crazy. So what solutions and services are Dealertrack, DMS unveiling here at the 2020 convention?
Mandi Fang: We feel like we have heard our customers. Everything that we do, we really do put the customers in the center of, and what we’ve unveiled here at the show are a couple of things and one is a new reporting tool. It’s easy to save reporting tool, we call it critical analytics for a reason, and the reason is we provide dashboards. So when the operators of the stores come in every day, they have one spot, they have one way to get exactly what they need to drive those actionable insights and do different kind of work that day.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right.
Tyler Anderson: Two of the other things that we’ve unveiled, one of them is a partnership with Hireology and Netchex for a payroll and HR integrated solution. What we found is traditionally payroll has been done by the DMS, but HR hasn’t always been done by the DMS. And so there’s often been desperate systems and they’ve had to input information in multiple places. We’ve got an integrated solution to handle both of those things. The other one is the managed network services through a partnership with Proton. This is to manage the dealerships’ IT infrastructure, and it’s becoming increasingly more important to the dealers that they have a fast, reliable network. Something that they can address cybersecurity concerns, but also the speed to run all these complex applications that we’re constantly throwing at them.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s right. You touched on cybersecurity, which is a hot issue for dealers right now, big and small, it doesn’t matter. If you get hacked, you’re in trouble in a big way.
Tyler Anderson: Totally.
Mandi Fang: And I think I’ve heard that more at this show than I have in previous years. Having Proton here with us has been a great advantage because you can have deep conversations and put those fears aside and let them focus on the solutions and the technology here that’ll drive their business. A lot of them deserve to just feel safe and secure in the partners they choose and the network that they have.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. That’s right. For sure. What message would you give to dealers as they look to drive greater efficiency across their operation in 2020?
Mandi Fang: I would say it’s time to change from status quo. There are so many– Right? We believe that we not only can provide the kind of partnership… Another theme that I hear, and Tyler and I were comparing notes earlier, dealers are frustrated with complicated integrations and paying excessive fees to do that.
Tyler Anderson: Yeah. I think it’s really important for us to emphasize that we’re an open platform and we integrate with lots of third parties that the dealers want to use, but they also are looking to us for some guidance on best in class solutions. So that’s a big part of what we do with our strategic partner relationships is look for best in class solutions that we can deeply integrate into the DMS. We want to help save them time and save them effort and give them the solutions that really work the best.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, sure. Yeah. We knew that we were going to be talking to you guys here at convention, spoke to one of your clients that made the switch over recently and they said the reason they made the switch is the issues you just touched on, was because it was more of an open platform and you weren’t holding the dealer hostage for fees and all kinds of red tape in order to get everyone to talk to one another. That’s a big thing for dealers.
Tyler Anderson: I think it’s important. I mentioned the Hireology and Netchex partnership and we’re really proud of that integration that we built with them. We are going to allow our dealers that have other third party payroll solutions to stay with those solutions if they choose to. We think that when they see our new solution that’s integrated, they’re going to really want to move over because it’ll save them so much time and effort. But again, we want to keep that open option for them.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. What do you say to the dealer that says, “You know, I know I need to make a change and yes, they may have a better product based on what I’m hearing, but man, that transition over is just, it keeps me up at night, the thought of it.”
Mandi Fang: I think about what’s the cost to not make that change. Because I know, and I talked to dealers and I go onsite for the implementations. A dealer I was at last week, he said, “You know, I expected hard work. I expected it.” And I think that’s the key. If you know the expectation of what lies ahead you can plan for it. We are the people that can help you partner to get there. And he said, “It’s been worth it.” He said, “I know it’s going to continue to get better,” but he was right in the middle of it so I feel like it was a fresh perspective.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. This one dealer that I spoke to that had just recently migrated over, he said the reason that he did is because they’re in buying motion to acquire other dealerships. And he said, “I wanted to do it now while we have five instead of the day that we’ve got 15 or 25, and much easier for our management team and our culture and our employees to understand what it’s all about as we grow the chain.”
Tyler Anderson: Yep. Absolutely.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Have you found that to be the case with other stores?
Tyler Anderson: That has been pretty typical, and obviously it’s our job to make that transition as smooth as we can. It isn’t a very super simple transition, but at the same time our competitors want to make it sound as complex as possible because-
Jim Fitzpatrick: Do they? Yeah, imagine that. This is not something you want to take on.
Tyler Anderson: No, but it can be done. We do it all the time. And the dealers that make that transition find that it’s worth it.
Mandi Fang: And just maybe one more comment. I think one of the ways we look at that process is we’ve invested internally to provide the kind of expertise in certified project management to be able to hold their hand. Performance management has been a topic that’s largely known now in the industry, and Cox has done it well for many, many years. So not only being a technology partner, being a business partner to help them change along that course so it’s not doing the same thing over and over again. So we feel like that’s an advantage that we’ve brought to that process to make it more attractive.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, it’s huge. Plus you guys have boots on the ground, the specialists that are helping dealers right there live person type rather than call it in or click on, or we’re there as a help desk or what have you, which some of the other providers have. You all are, what does a dealer need? And then there’s a man or woman standing in front of them going, “I’m here to help.” That’s a huge thing for a dealer to hold their hand during the process.
Mandi Fang: It brings them a lot of comfort because change is hard and especially change of that magnitude. But it gives them such an opportunity to kind of start over, kind of clean the cupboards, if you will. So we love it for those reasons too.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. This particular deal said, “I was tired of listening to my managers who didn’t want to face the transition,” and he said, “After a while I just realized this is just noise. I own the dealership. I need to make the positive change. I know it’s got to be done. I’m going to stop listening to all the cry babies out there that go, no, no, no, this is the status quo. Don’t change it. We’re comfortable with this, and why do you want to change it?” He goes, “What am I doing? I’m letting them lead in a very important area of operating this dealership and also taking it into the 21st century.”
Mandi Fang: It’s so true.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. It really is.
Tyler Anderson: We’ve tried to make our DMS as simple as possible to learn from a new user perspective for that reason and that’s key.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. If you don’t have buy in, you’re in trouble.
Mandi Fang: From day one.
Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s no question about it. Yeah, no question. Well Mandi Fang and Tyler Anderson with Dealertrack DMS, thank you so much for joining us. I know you guys are busy as heck. So thanks for all the time that you gave us here at CBT News.
Mandi Fang: This has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Tyler Anderson: Thank you.
Jim Fitzpatrick: To dealers that have not made it out to the convention this year, checkout Dealertrack DMS. I know you’re going to like what you see. Obviously Cox Automotive Company, these guys know what they’re doing. This might be the year that you make the decision to change and step it up a bit in your dealerships, and nobody better out there than Dealertrack DMS to help you do just that. So it’s all about running a more efficient dealership today because we know margin compression. Heck, we’re not even making money now on used cars from what I hear. So that’s a scary notion, right?
Mandi Fang: –deals though.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. That’s right. Thanks so much for joining us.
Mandi Fang: Thank you so much.
Tyler Anderson: Thank you.