Effectively Identify and Quantify Missed Opportunities in Your Service Drive – Lawson Owen, Proactive Dealer Solutions

Proactive Dealer Solutions

In this interview with Lawson Owen, managing partner at Proactive Dealer Solutions, Jim and Lawson discuss how they bring a proactive approach to your service drive. They leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning in their call recording platform to learn your environment and establish where your call failure rate is, and when that call failure occurs. They are then able to identify every single person in the dealership that’s handling the calls, and over a period of time and a volume of calls, they can create a profile of each individual. Watch the full interview to learn more…


Jim Fitzpatrick:             Hi, everyone. Jim Fitzpatrick with CBT News. Thanks so much for joining me today. Today, we’re excited to have with us Mr. Lawson Owen, who’s the managing partner at Proactive Dealer Solutions. Thank you for joining us on the show.

Lawson Owen:              Appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah. For some of the dealers, the few dealers out there that may not know what Proactive Dealer Solutions is all about, tell us how you help dealers.

Lawson Owen:              Sure. We specialize in the setup and the implementation of business development centers, whether it be for sales or for service. And over the past few years, our model has kind of shifted. Years ago, it was much more labor intensive. Send in a performance coach or a trainer, work hands-on. But over the past couple of years, we’ve really created some tech-enabled services and products that help a dealer to effectively identify and quantify not only where the opportunity is but sometimes, more importantly, where the lost opportunity is.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah, yeah, true.

Lawson Owen:              So by leveraging technology, it makes the products and services much more affordable and also much more actionable for the management team or the reps. And so our model has shifted. As we were talking, we work with about 1,200 dealers throughout North America.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Jeez, that’s a lot. It’s a big footprint.

Lawson Owen:              Yeah. And we’re physically onsite with about 400 a month. So we’re out there in the marketplace, and over the years we’ve learned what works, what doesn’t work. And at the end of the day, it really comes down to a series of best practices, fundamental processes that if we can get the daily discipline of implementation and execution, then an organization is going to see significant improvement, again, whether it’s on the sales or the service side of the house.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Right. Your company helps the dealers in both areas, because there’s some companies out there that just really focus on sales and maybe leave the service to someone else, but you do it all.

Lawson Owen:              No. We actually prefer to start with service when possible.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Oh, really? Okay, okay.

Lawson Owen:              Oh, absolutely, yeah. You can, very short order, within 90 to 120 days, significantly impact the service environment. A lot of service drives are underperforming, they’re not hitting the scheduled capacity. And so we really bring a proactive approach to the service drive where you look at maintenance retention, seasonal promotions, recalls, warranties, whatever it might be. So the reactionary is usually pretty well in hand. It’s the proactive component that is missing.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That’s exactly right. So you’re big on outbound as well as incoming.

Lawson Owen:              Sure. When I started the company with Proactive Dealer Solutions as a young salesman, it was drilled into my head, what are you doing when you’re not physically with a customer?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Exactly.

Lawson Owen:              And that’s really the-

Jim Fitzpatrick:             It’s all too often the answer is nothing.

Lawson Owen:              Right. And so that’s what we try to bring to our partners, to the dealership, is a proactive component that oftentimes is either missing or been overlooked. Certainly on the service side. Very reactionary side of the house, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah, it really is. We’re waiting for the phone to ring to see how we can help the customer. And if we’re helping a customer, now we’re even more trouble because we’re going to put that person on hold or the person’s going to go into never-never land, and they get upset, and the service writer gets upset, and it just is a disaster all the way around, isn’t it?

Lawson Owen:              100% agree. Even in this digital world, this digital market, everybody’s spending time online researching and clicking and those types of things, the phone is still a critical component of who we are and what we do. And regrettably, oftentimes, whether it be sales or service, that tool is overlooked and neglected, and our people don’t have the skill sets necessary to really deliver the type of customer service that the market is expecting.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             We hear so much about artificial intelligence, and we interact with it every day. You’re not making an airline reservation or calling on your credit card or whatever without touching this. Right?

Lawson Owen:              Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Talk to us a little bit about artificial intelligence and machine learning and the role that it’s playing in business today.

Lawson Owen:              Sure. Within our product of CallerCX, we leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning, right? So for years we had been manually scoring inbound sales and service calls, so we had just a plethora of data and call analytics. I’m talking about millions and millions of minutes.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Wow. I can imagine.

Lawson Owen:              So what we did was we built out a call recording platform, leveraging all that data that we’ve been collecting for years, and we created a platform leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning where our technology will learn your environment. So what we do is we record every call coming into the dealership, we source every call so we know where it’s going. Parts, sales, service, status, callbacks, whatever it might be. We do it by line.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Wow.

Lawson Owen:              And so because we can source every call coming into the store, we can now establish your call failure rate, and where your call failure rate is, and when that call failure occurs. So with that initial information-

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That’s huge.

Lawson Owen:              … we can then create a profile of each individual that’s answering the call. Right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lawson Owen:              And so what we do is we leverage voice biometrics, which is kind of like a fingerprint. Everybody’s voice is unique and distinct.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That is crazy.

Lawson Owen:              Yeah, it’s pretty cool actually. So we’re able to identify every single person in the dealership that’s handling the calls, and over a period of time and a volume of calls, we create a profile of that individual. And so our telephony product, and this is what makes us unique or different in the marketplace, is coupled with an online training university. And based off of that profile, we have coaching alerts, which creates a unique learning path for each individual. Now, beyond that, what we do is-

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Wow.

Lawson Owen:              Jim handles an inbound sales call. Jim doesn’t get an appointment, doesn’t ask for an appointment. The system in real time evaluates that call and then sends an alert to a sales manager or a service manager that says, “Jim just handled” … It’s less than six minutes. “Jim just handled a call and didn’t get an appointment.”

Lawson Owen:              So we work from a very, very simple premise: if we have a higher level of awareness, right, from a management perspective, and if I can get my managers to participate or engage at a higher rate, we’ll transact at a higher rate. But all of that is driven around, again, the consumer and the customer experience. If we can make it quicker and easier, condense time for them to do business with us, then we’re going to have a customer for life. And that’s what this system allows us to do, is to not only bring a level of accountability but, more importantly, a level of awareness and actioning from a management perspective, simultaneously developing and training our people. I’m sure you would probably agree there isn’t enough training in the average dealership.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Oh, there’s no question about it.

Lawson Owen:              And there’s a lot of reasons for that, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah.

Lawson Owen:              We may not have time, we may not have the expertise, but our system will identify who has the issues, the struggles, the challenges, and then create a unique learning path for that individual.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Wow.

Lawson Owen:              So that’s why our system is so impactful and so … I mean, we’ve gone a long way in a very, very short order with our product.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             I would imagine. Where was that when I was a dealer?

Lawson Owen:              Exactly.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             I want to go back now.

Lawson Owen:              Sure.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             No. And dealers need this kind of technology today, right? I mean, it’s not something that they have the luxury of doing without. They’ve got to address this area of the dealership and pay attention to these technologies that are available.

Lawson Owen:              And there’s a lot of different technologies that are out there, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Sure.

Lawson Owen:              I mean, obviously, we feel ours is the most comprehensive. Right? And there’s a-

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah, let’s talk about that.

Lawson Owen:              Sure.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             How do you position yourself differently from, say, like a CallRevu or a Car Wars or something like that?

Lawson Owen:              Sure. All great products. Right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lawson Owen:              I think a lot of the call recording companies that are out there, a lot of the technology is antiquated, right? And a lot of it is, for lack of a better word, is like first gen, right? So it’s date and time, it’s chronological, and it’s by phone number. And you’ve probably seen this or heard about this where a lot of managers will be sitting down and listening to recorded calls.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yes.

Lawson Owen:              So they’ll just go through call after call after call.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That’s right.

Lawson Owen:              Well, that’s like a manager doing $5-an-hour work, right? I want you doing $5,000-an-hour work. So what our system does is, because of the real-time alerts, the real-time awareness that we bring, managers don’t have to sit down and waste time going through these calls. We’re going to make you aware of the calls that you need to be made aware of.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             The AI already did it for you.

Lawson Owen:              We’ve already scored the call, we already know who handled it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Amazing.

Lawson Owen:              So it’s three basic things: how many opportunities am I getting, who’s handling them, and what was the outcome of that customer interaction in real time? If we bring that sort of awareness to a management team with our alert tools, managers transact at a higher rate. I actually just got an update last night on the ride down. One of our partners has 85 alerts from a sales perspective, and they’ve triggered 17 sales from those alerts.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Jeez.

Lawson Owen:              And so the ROI is incredible. So what makes our product different is, is not only do we track, record, and identify the call failure rate, but more importantly, what we do is we make managers aware of those opportunities that need to be actioned or TO’ed from a management perspective. And then we couple that with the educational side of it. Well, we’re going to train and develop your people, so that they’re-

Jim Fitzpatrick:             So that it doesn’t happen again.

Lawson Owen:              … so they’re getting better. So we can mitigate those … And again, it all comes back to that customer experience. The average dealer closes five to seven percent of their inbound sales calls. Six to eight percent of their internet leads.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Wow.

Lawson Owen:              So if you think about it, let’s just use 10% as a round number, 90% of those outreaches didn’t transact. What was the customer experience. Right? If there’s a low customer experience, there’s going to be a direct reflection to your closing ratio.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             No question about it.

Lawson Owen:              And so that’s why everything we do starts from, one, being customer-centric, the customer experience, management awareness, management participation and engagement. And that’s what’s going to help us grow. And you can’t get better results if people don’t get better.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             And at the end of the day, which you started off by saying it’s all about the customer experience, which it should be.

Lawson Owen:              Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             I mean, the customer’s in charge right now in the car business. They’re in the driver’s seat. We don’t take good care of the customers, whether they call, click, or walk in, then we’re in trouble.

Lawson Owen:              Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             And technology like this is at the forefront. I mean, it really helps those dealers out there going, “No, no. There’s no longer a” … I didn’t want to say safety net because safety net is to say something’s going to fall through. The dealers don’t want you to make it right; they want you to get it right. And a system like this allows a dealer to do that, to not miss an opportunity right up front. Right?

Lawson Owen:              Absolutely. And now with technology and the affordability of technology, right? So if the average dealer was spending 50 to $75,000 a month in advertising, regardless of what model or vehicle you’re spending those monies on, doesn’t it make sense to have an accountability tool in place that can’t be manipulated by people? Right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             There’s no question.

Lawson Owen:              And beyond that, I just think that most managers have been taught, trained, and conditioned to only focus on the customer that’s belly to belly. Right? And for the 27 years I’ve been in the car business, that’s always been their focus. Well, I want to shift the focus because traffic is traffic is traffic. And again, I don’t think it’s that managers are lazy or don’t care; I just don’t think we have a product in place. And that’s why we built ours that makes managers aware in real time. And if they’re aware in real time, and they action and they engage, how can we not succeed at a higher rate?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That’s right. In addition to that, when you’ve got a sale, we were just talking about the accountability for the sales person, knowing that, “Wow, this is in the store. I better do right by this customer when I talk to them.” Right?

Lawson Owen:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jim Fitzpatrick:             The same thing now is going to happen with the sales management team because they know that if your system is in there, that they’re going to be held accountable with the dealer principal to go, “Hey, here’s the deal, here’s the reality.” And your sales managers aren’t responsive maybe in some other areas, and they were given the opportunity to be. Right?

Lawson Owen:              And I think that’s the whole purpose of technology, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Right.

Lawson Owen:              The technology in and of itself isn’t going to sell the customer. We’re in a-

Jim Fitzpatrick:             It’s just a tool.

Lawson Owen:              Yeah, exactly. We’re in digital retail, modern retail. To me, it’s retail.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That’s right.

Lawson Owen:              And so we have to have from a management … From the top down, right? Culturally, organizationally, we have to understand who we are, what our cultural beliefs are, and how we want to support our brand promise. Every time a dealer advertises, they’re creating a brand promise. And is there a continuity in messaging between the phone, between the internet and that floor traffic that is consistent with that brand promise? And that’s really what we try to do, is to understand the dealer, understand the environment, understand the goal and the objective, and then build the processes out to support that. Managers understanding that these tools are in place to give me a higher level of awareness, so I can action information in real time. It’s not meant to be a stick to beat people up. It’s a tool to enable you to move quicker. And that’s really what we have to do today. We’re all impatient. The consumer is, we are.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Oh, I know. I know.

Lawson Owen:              And if we can move faster, condense time, we’re going to succeed quicker and at a faster rate.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             What sort of new technology or advancements are you working on that we’re going to be seeing coming out in 2020, because I know you guys are always on the cutting edge of things.

Lawson Owen:              Sure, absolutely. We’re going to stay within our wheelhouse, right? Within the speech analytics, right? We’re building out a digital assistant, which is going to be geared specifically, initially anyways, specifically to service. We honestly feel that somewhere between 50 to 60% of the inbound service calls can be handled through this digital assistant, which from a dealer’s perspective is going to ensure, one, that the calls are answered, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lawson Owen:              Which is critical. Two, they’re going to be handled properly. And three, that we’re going to be servicing the customer in the manner in which they’re becoming more and more accustomed to. So if we can handle 50 to 60% of the inbound service calls through this digital assistant, it’ll allow the dealer to not only enhance that customer experience, but also to reduce their staff counts.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah, that’s for sure.

Lawson Owen:              Right?

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Right.

Lawson Owen:              So if we can eliminate … The two-legged expense is always the greatest expense.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That’s right. That’s right.

Lawson Owen:              And if we can help a dealer mitigate that human factor, we’re going to have more consistency, the quality of the deliverable is going to go up, we’re going to have an expense in staff, but more importantly, we’re going to drive more people to the service drive, which is ultimately the goal or the objective. So we’re really, really excited about this digital assistant product that we’re creating.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah, I bet you are. For the dealers that are listening right now, you’ve got them on two things, increasing business and lowering costs, which is what it’s all about right now, right?

Lawson Owen:              You’re hitting on all eight.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Yeah, there’s no question about it. NADA is right around the corner. We’re going to be there in just a couple of weeks. Are there any specials or promotions or what have you that … Sometimes companies go out, and they’ll put on some kind of promotion for NADA if the dealers come by.

Lawson Owen:              Sure. Yeah, absolutely. So we’re going to be out at NADA, and our big push, because our CallerCX product is … It’s ready to go. I mean, it’s state of the art. It’s the most competitive and comprehensive product that’s out there. So what we’re offering up to anyone that’s listening or anybody that’s going to be attending the show and comes by our booth, is we are going to guarantee a savings of 25% against whatever their call recording product is right now.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             No kidding. Wow.

Lawson Owen:              So whatever you’re paying now, we’re going to give you- a product that is-

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Superior.

Lawson Owen:              … at a minimum as good, but more than likely superior. It’s going to have a more comprehensive solution because it’s tied into an online training university and coaching alerts, which is an individual learning path. Right? And we’re going to save you 25% against whatever you’re paying now.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             That’s a pretty strong offer.

Lawson Owen:              Yeah, we’re excited. And it’s had a huge impact for the vast majority of our partners. We’re in about 800 stores now, as we were saying, and our goal is to move that to about 1,520 in 2020.

Jim Fitzpatrick:             Okay. Okay. Lawson Owen, managing partner at Proactive Dealer Solutions. Dealers, do yourself a favor and get to his booth. 2020 is going to be a great year, another great year in the business, will be a little bit off from what 2019 brought us. But now’s the time. Fix the repairs now when business is good. Or repair, I should say, some of the problems when business is good. And you should start with your BDC. If you don’t have a BDC, get a BDC, get with Lawson, learn how to do that. If you’ve got a BDC and you want to see if yours is running at full efficiency and maybe there’s some other opportunities, get with Lawson and ask him for the free assessment and say, “Hey, let’s benchmark. Here’s where I’m at. This is what I’m currently doing. Could your company help me or not?” It’s as simple as that. You’ll probably be at his booth for 30 minutes, and you’ll get an ocean of information and knowledge. So do yourself that favor. Lawson, I want to thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. This has been very insightful, so thank you.

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