On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome back Amy Hughes, Senior Director of Dealer Intelligence at Experian, a data intelligence powerhouse for the automotive industry. In this segment, Amy discusses the latest data-driven solutions from Experian and the exciting things they have rolling out at the upcoming NADA Show. Don’t forget to drop by their booth #929C.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Hi everyone, Jim Fitzpatrick with CBT News. Thanks so much for joining me today. Today we’re excited to have in our studio, Ms. Amy Hughes. She’s the Senior Director of Dealer Intelligence at Experian. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Amy Hughes: Thank you Jim, it’s a delight to be here as usual.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. That is a brand that everyone knows, Experian. It’s been around forever.
Amy Hughes: Yes.
Jim Fitzpatrick: When I was an F&I manager, umpteen years ago let’s say, Experian was my best friend, right?
Amy Hughes: Fantastic, I’m glad to hear it. Hopefully we’re still hearing the same thing today.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. So for some of the people that may not know Experian, because you guys are ever changing, and you’re on the front end of all things automotive, and changing with the times. And obviously, automotive’s been through a lot of changes. Kind of bring us up to speed, what’s the background of Experian today? What does it look like?
Amy Hughes: Absolutely. Experian has a really unique position within the automotive industry, because as we like to say, it really takes three things to sell a vehicle; a car, a consumer and credit.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.
Amy Hughes: And we’re the only primary source compiler of all of that data. And so, what’s been really fun at Experian Automotive, for me in the past two and a half years, is to take all of that intelligence and really dealer size it. Make it hyper-local, make it relevant to the dealer, and tell them what they can do with that information. And so, we have an entire team of field sales representatives who are working with dealers with our vehicle history solution, AutoCheck. But also with our newly launched product, the Automotive Intelligence Engine.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.
Amy Hughes: And they’re also there to help service their credit needs. So, it’s nice to have a face. And all of our dealers out there have a face, in their local market, that they can talk to and really learn how to put those three datasets together to grow their business.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. Can you drill down for us a little bit on what that dealer program’s about?
Amy Hughes: Yeah, sure. So the Automotive Intelligence Engine is really an opportunity for dealers to see their opportunity, near their store. Also reach the most profitable prospects near their store.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Who doesn’t want to do that?
Amy Hughes: Exactly!
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s fantastic.
Amy Hughes: Kind of hard to say no, right?
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.
Amy Hughes: And the way that we do that, is that we bring all of the datasets together to give them insights, the actual audiences to market to and whether that’s through your BDC or whether it’s through some sort of marketing strategy. And then we also measure the results live, realtime in the software. And so, they get a really solid sense of how’s it going, how do I position my dealership differently to more align with the consumers that are purchasing my specific model vehicles?
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.
Amy Hughes: And so the data is very telling. We also arm them with a performance manager, who helps them really refine their strategy. So let’s look at the entire media mix that your dealership is currently utilizing, let’s sift through those end market prospects that we see, and let’s make sure that you’re capturing all of that intelligence [crosstalk 00:03:13].
Jim Fitzpatrick: And that person from Experian is worth their weight in gold, to be that extra arm that the dealer needs to put that together, right?
Amy Hughes: Yeah, because dealers really don’t have time. I mean, we recognize that we’re a global data company, but inside the walls of a dealership, to crunch rows and columns is just not very realistic.
Jim Fitzpatrick: No, it’s not. No.
Amy Hughes: So yeah, using the performance manager and the insights, the audiences and the results, so that they can really bring to the forefront, here’s the top three things in the top three zip codes that you need to look into this month.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow, that’s incredible. It really makes the-
Amy Hughes: It’s not a salesperson either, you know? They’re Google Analytics certified, they’re actual data analysts.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow, that’s great.
Amy Hughes: And so not many dealers think, okay, I’ve got my CRM vendor, I’ve got my DMS vendor, who’s my data analyst, right?
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.
Amy Hughes: But that’s exactly what we offer.
Jim Fitzpatrick: But now that needs to be a chair at the table.
Amy Hughes: It does.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Especially as we get into so many different ways to market to our audiences, we can get in trouble if we’re not following the data, right?
Amy Hughes: Yeah, very much so. And I wouldn’t necessarily capture it as any sort of dire trouble, as much as lost opportunity, which no one really has the time for in a competitive landscape like we have.
Jim Fitzpatrick: What are some of the biggest pain points that you hear from dealers when it comes to using data?
Amy Hughes: The biggest pain point I think, is that it’s sort of data by fire hose. And we’ve really made a concerted effort to make sure that we’re wrapping all of the data in action, every single insight has some required action for a dealer, whether that is understanding what is the open recall on your inventory. There’s all sorts of insights within the Automotive Intelligence Engine.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure.
Amy Hughes: And so, being able to not just provide it in a digestible format, but to actually say, “And you should really do this now, and here’s why,” is really-
Jim Fitzpatrick: [crosstalk 00:05:18] Makes it idiot proof for a dealer, right?
Amy Hughes: It does. And that’s our service to the dealer, is to kind of sound that alarm and say, “We’re worried for you, if you don’t take these actions.”
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. For dealers today they’ve got to realize I think, if they don’t already, in many cases dealers have embraced this, but they’re in the data business as much as they are in the automotive industry, aren’t they?
Amy Hughes: Yeah. I don’t think the general dealer population would be comfortable with that, but they absolutely are.
Jim Fitzpatrick: They really are. I mean, if they do it right. If they let all of the data that they’ve got, and that they have access to go to work for them, they could take it to the next level in a very big way.
Amy Hughes: Well, and a lot of times, the mechanisms in their current technologies are not in place to show that to them right away. But through technology and realtime APIs and having the data at your fingertips, you can feel good about what the data’s doing for you.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. What steps should dealers take to create more data driven strategies?
Amy Hughes: Sure. So when you consider all of the data available from Experian and from your own vendor partners, what we’ve boiled it down to as four key areas that you should apply data… There are sort of four things; you need to use data to pinpoint the demand near your store. Again, rather than the spray and pray approach, let’s look at three key zip codes near your store that are going to bring high profitability. They’re going to service with you, they’re going to have a likelihood to buy from you again.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.
Amy Hughes: And so, that’s the pinpoint demand piece. The second is refining your strategy, right? Looking at all of the data to say, “Did this hit the mark of what we were trying to accomplish? Did this push my used car sales into more profitability?” For instance. And then the third is to reach your best prospects. We tend to consider in market shoppers anyone who’s touched one of the third party websites, for instance. You know, if they’ve shown any type of indicator, we want them, we all want all of them.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Of course, yes.
Amy Hughes: Right? And sometimes it’s a little too late, and sometimes you’ve invested a lot in chasing down that customer. And reality, if you had a little bit more of a proactive approach and you were actively seeking those best prospects, you’d be more profitable. And then the last which we’ve already talked about to some degree, is measuring the results. And that’s not just… Our recommendation is not just look at your own DMS data to do that, because that’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have to look at what’s sold in the market that you didn’t retain or achieve.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. And you have all of that data? I mean, when you come to the dealer and you meet with them, you’re laying all that whole picture out.
Amy Hughes: Absolutely. Yeah. One of my favorite sayings is, if we all have the data, let’s look at the data. If we all have opinions, just choose mine. Right? And I think we’re guilty of that a bit. [crosstalk 00:08:10]
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yes, yes. And I know dealers are guilty of that, in a big way. What should dealers expect at your booth this year at NADA? I know you guys always have exciting stuff going on, and whenever we pass by it’s like a million people are in there. Don’t not go because there’s a million people, but go because you’re going to learn a lot as a dealer.
Amy Hughes: If you’re tight on time, we will schedule your appointment ahead of time, which we totally understand. But yeah, I recently posted on LinkedIn a picture of our gorgeous booth and said, “Plan on spending a lot of time. Because we will sit with you and analyze your market, and then we will leave you better than we found you.”
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right.
Amy Hughes: With some tips and, you know, that doesn’t always involve ink on a contract. That just involves rolling up our sleeves with one of our performance managers and really kind of bring your toughest scratch your head questions, and we’re going to look at the data together and really leave the dealer with some sound advice.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. In anticipation of today’s interview with you, we called one of your dealers and they’ve got 17 dealerships. And I said, “Hey, tell me the real deal on this thing.”
Amy Hughes: Oh thank you, yeah.
Jim Fitzpatrick: “What’s the deal?” And he goes, last year he visited your location at NADA, your booth, and he said, “It changed our life in our dealership.” And we were like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool.” He’s a good friend of mine. He said, “I’m just shooting you straight,” and he said, “Don’t get me on CBT to give a testimonial, I’m not good on camera.” But really, it was a heartfelt testimonial from him that said, “It changed our marketing and our complete strategy and approach, just being introduced to what Experian had.”
Amy Hughes: That’s the best thing I could hear.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, it was pretty cool.
Amy Hughes: That’s great, that’s why we do what we do. And it makes working for Experian Automotive such a rewarding thing, because the integrity and the security that we sort of focus on as it relates to our data, is incredibly important. But it brings that credibility to bear for the relationships as well. And so, we have a tendency in the automotive industry to just give someone a try, right? I’ve heard that a million times. “I’ll give you a try.”
Jim Fitzpatrick: I used to do it myself.
Amy Hughes: Yeah!
Jim Fitzpatrick: “Let’s see what you’re made of!” You know?
Amy Hughes: And we really want to form partnerships with dealers that yield that type of response, so thank you for doing that. That’s really kind.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah no, it was great. If I were a client of yours, how often would I be able to meet with this field person that’s going to… What, is it a once every six months? Is it a monthly? What is it?
Amy Hughes: That’s a fair question, yeah. So our field representatives are there to serve all of the Experian products. And they will meet with you as often as that is needed.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.
Amy Hughes: Our performance managers, who are specifically analysts on the Automotive Intelligence Engine product are meeting with you at a minimum monthly.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.
Amy Hughes: But there are often times, especially if you have a new general manager coming into the store, where they will come out and do a debrief in your conference room.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, kind of an orientation of what you guys…
Amy Hughes: It’s really based on what your needs are, and where the data begs for the most amount of change.
Jim Fitzpatrick: But at least once a month?
Amy Hughes: At least once a month.
Jim Fitzpatrick: If I were a dealer, I could incorporate that plan on that to say, “This is my Experian meeting, my person’s going to come out, my performance manager, and show us where we stand, how far we’ve come, and where we’re headed.”
Amy Hughes: Absolutely.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s pretty cool, that’s a huge thing. Because as you know, there’s a lot of vendors that don’t do that. They kind of set it and forget it and go, “Hey, call us if you need us.”
Amy Hughes: For sure. Yeah. And some of the business models and some of the compressions of the margins in software that dealers have faced in the past have led them to a place where they’re like, “Ah, it’s that call again,” right? They’re just wearing me out, they want me to spend more money. And that’s definitely not what this is. If anything, it’s looking for places to draw your money in. It is a different experience for dealers, but yeah. I’m sure whomever the performance manager is from your dealer friend, is really neatly tied to their strategy, and that makes a huge difference.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I think it makes all the difference. I mean obviously it’s a great product and you guys provide incredible data points and what have you, but having that human element, somebody that knows it better than you do, that specialist if you will that comes in and goes, “Okay, let me put this in layman terms for you.” You know? “Here’s where you’re at, this is what we need to focus on, here are the lost opportunities if there are any.” That’s pretty cool.
Amy Hughes: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s a bit of an overused term now but, when you have high tech you have to have high touch. And so it’s been a real blessing to work alongside a lot of those analysts for many years, and they’re crucial to our [inaudible 00:12:40].
Jim Fitzpatrick: And it makes you look good.
Amy Hughes: They absolutely… Clearly! Clearly, I just got this great testimonial, so fantastic, thank you for that.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s great. Amy Hughes, Senior Director of Dealer Intelligence at Experian. Do yourself a favor dealers, and get to go see Amy at the NADA Convention coming up in just a couple of weeks. I don’t think you’re going to be sorry that you visited her. In fact, I think you’re probably going to call me and thank me that I pushed you to do that. So, dealers, [crosstalk 00:13:05] get out and see Amy Hughes, Senior Director of Dealer Intelligence at Experian. So thanks so much for joining us, and giving us this great information.
Amy Hughes: As always, thank you. It’s great to be here.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Thanks.
Speaker 1: CBT Automotive Network, the number one most watched network in retail automotive. This has been a JBF Business Media production.