How Dealer-FX is Helping Dealers Drive Growth and Retention with These Unique Solutions

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On today’s show, we’re so pleased to welcome Bill Lucchini, the new CEO of Dealer-FX Group, a leading service operations solutions platform. In this segment, Bill and Jim discuss how Dealer-FX solutions can help dealers drive growth, their new partnership with Kia Motors and much more. So be sure to drop by their booth #545C at this year’s NADA Show to find out more. 

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Jim Fitzpatrick: Hi, everyone. Jim Fitzpatrick with CBT News. Thanks so much for joining us today. Today, we’re very happy to have with us, Mr. Bill Lucchini, who is the new CEO of Dealer-FX Group. Thank you for joining us today, Bill.

Bill Lucchini: Hey, I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. You’re calling in from Toronto, which is a great city.

Bill Lucchini: Yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s even more beautiful in the summer. Winter is a little tough, but we’re getting through.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Well, let’s jump right in here. You were named CEO after having served as the COO of the company for the past six months. Tell us about that transition.

Bill Lucchini: Yeah. It’s been really smooth. It’s a great way to join the company. When I was talking to them in 2019 about possibly coming here, first of all, I was really excited about the opportunity. With all that’s going on in the automotive space, it just seems like a fantastic place to be.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure.

Bill Lucchini: The other thing is, to be able to come into a company and run operations for a while. Spent a lot of time with Gary Kalk, the former CEO founder, he’s a great guy, and have him impart his wisdom before taking the reins. It’s just a really mature and smooth way to take over a company, and I just couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. We’re coming up on NADA here, 2020. You’ve got a theme called Power of One. What’s that all about?

Bill Lucchini: Yeah. The Power of One is something that I think reflects the current situational market. Today, you walk into a dealer and so many times, you’ll see that they have one vendor for one solution, another vendor for another solution.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Bill Lucchini: They end up with 10 or 15 different pieces of technology, different people to call when there’s a problem.

Jim Fitzpatrick: 20 different dashboards.

Bill Lucchini: Exactly. They can be so stressful. They’re just trying to solve a problem.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Bill Lucchini: For us, we’ve built a platform from the ground up. It’s a single platform. It takes a customer all the way from scheduling an appointment to check in, to inspection of their car, and back to remarketing and coming in the next time. It’s one solution all the way through.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.

Bill Lucchini: That’s part of the Power of One.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Bill Lucchini: But the other thing is, we spend so much time on the relationship with the dealer and the relationship with the OEM, and trying to make that all work together with one goal in mind, making that dealer successful.

Jim Fitzpatrick: As we settle into 2020 here, and it looks like we’re off to a decent start, how do the Dealer-FX solutions help dealers drive growth, efficiency, retention, which is always a hot topic. As you know, retaining those customers from sales. We still suffer from a 30% retention rate for the cars that we sell, to see them back in the service drive. For a multitude of different reasons, I’m sure. How does Dealer-FX help in those areas?

Bill Lucchini: Yeah, you hit on it. In 2020, we’re thinking about three real things. We’re thinking about driving growth in the dealership. How do you get those people in there? First off, you talked about a 30% drop-off rate between selling a car and getting them into service. That’s just crazy.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is.

Bill Lucchini: Selling a car is not easy. It’s competitive. You work really hard, you make a very thin profit margin, then you let them get away.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Bill Lucchini: There’s so much profit to be had on the service side of the house, that taking that 30% down to 20%, down to 10%, can have a huge impact on a dealership.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Bill Lucchini: Driving growth in that way, driving growth in terms of our ability to help mine your data and understand people who have missed service appointments. People who have declined maintenance that they didn’t take care of, those sorts of things, we can help grow that service line business overall.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I couldn’t agree more. Hey, so what’s new for NADA? I know you guys are always launching new products and you are on the cutting edge of things for fixed ops. What new?

Bill Lucchini: Yeah. We’ve got some exciting stuff to talk about. We’re launching stuff all the time, but we’ve queued up a few things, particularly for NADA. We talked about that 30% drop-off between sales and service. One of the very simple things you can do is take the process, really analyze it, and figure out how to make that bridge from a new car sale, all the way into service.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Bill Lucchini: We’re launching a product to address that very thing. What we’re doing NADA is, we want to get people coming over, want to get them in our program. We’re doing it in beta. So the great thing is, you can come over here and you can get in the product for free in the beta. You can see the benefits of us mapping out that complete process of getting that customer signed in, doing the delivery inspection, and setting that first service appointment before they even walk out of the dealership on a new car sale.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Hey, talk to us a little bit about your newly approved partnership with Kia Motors of America. That’s pretty big.

Bill Lucchini: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. We’ve been working with them now for a couple of months. I really like those guys. Everything we’ve seen from Kia so far, this is a forward thinking organization. They have a deep understanding of where this market’s going. Talking to the dealers, it’s similar. I was at a dealer Thursday last week, a Kia dealer. The service manager had just come in, new. He had taken over the service lane processes. He was all in. He wanted to be texting customers, he wanted to be getting MPIs done on every car.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure.

Bill Lucchini: Everything that you should do to run a real professional service lane. It’s a guy who understands technology and really wants to adopt. I think that’s sort of typical. That’s prototypical of a Kia dealership.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Bill Lucchini: They’re just ready for this kind of solution.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure.

Bill Lucchini: We’ve been really signing up quite a few Kia dealerships in December and January.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s great.

Bill Lucchini: I’m super optimistic about the partnership.

Jim Fitzpatrick: For sure. I’m sure that you’re going to find that you’ll have as many dealer groups have now, not just one store, but they’ve got 5 or 10 or 15 stores. Your program will probably be introduced in some cases through the Kia franchise that they have, only to find out that dealer now wants it in all of his stores or her stores. Right?

Bill Lucchini: That’s right. Dealer groups have been a big part of our strategy. Frankly, as we see consolidation in the market, it’s increasingly becoming important.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Bill Lucchini: We’re excited about Kia. We also have partnerships with several other OEMs. So when a dealer group comes to the table and they say… Hey, we’ve got these nine stores or we’ve got these 25 stores… We will have data feeds for many of their stores, backend OEM integrations will be ready to go. Not that you can’t use our tool quite successfully, even if we don’t have a partnership. But when you do have those things, it just makes it even that much more valuable.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah. There’s no question. Your tools are focused obviously, on helping the dealer and the service drive run a much more efficient setup. But however, they’re very customer focused. This almost sounds more like a customer experience program than it does a dealer program. I think it really garners the respect of sides, right?

Bill Lucchini: Yeah. It’s interesting. Jim, when you think about it, we actually have three customers here. We’ve got to make sure that that car owner has a fantastic experience. Because if they don’t have a fantastic experience, they complain to their dealership, dealership’s upset, then they’re upset with us.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Bill Lucchini: We have to make sure that dealership is succeeding. Right? Because if that dealership’s not succeeding, the OEM’s not happy.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Bill Lucchini: Because frankly, what’s in it for the OEM, is if they get their dealer network to really be successful… If they’re going to create better experiences for their end customers, they create better retention, higher parts sales, all of the things an OEM wants out of this.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Bill Lucchini: So we have to understand the OEM’s goals, the dealer’s goals and the customer’s goals, and make sure that the tool is trying navigate that three-way partnership. It gets back to the Power of One, right?

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Bill Lucchini: One goal. We’ve got to make this all work, right? Together.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Keep it simple.

Bill Lucchini: Yeah.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yep. Where can our viewers find Dealer-FX if they want to pre-book a demo at NADA?

Bill Lucchini: Yeah. We’d love them to come to Dealer-FX.com/NADA.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Bill Lucchini: Pre-book a demo. If you’re a little bit of a procrastinator, come by the booth and we’ll do our best to help you out on the fly on the day.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure.

Bill Lucchini: We’re right in the center area, in 545C, so right as you walk in.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. We’ll show that information on the screen as we’re talking. For dealers that are out there that want to take their service department and their fixed ops bottom line to the next level, and really focus on customer service at the same time, you owe it to yourself to make it out to Dealer-FX. They’ve got a lot of great programs.

Jim Fitzpatrick: In anticipation of this interview today, we spoke to a couple of their clients. They all gave a thumbs-up and said it’s the real deal. But you got to see it. Take 15… How long would a dealer be at your booth for, Bill? 30 minutes? An hour, maybe?

Bill Lucchini: Look, we could give you the basics in 15 minutes. You want to get deep, we’ll answer any question you have.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Bill Lucchini: If we do it in 30 minutes, I bet you’re out of questions.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s the name of the game. Dealers are… Obviously, they want to make a lot of visits to different booths and such. But I would put this on your list to stop by Dealer-FX, get the story. Bill, will you be there as well?

Bill Lucchini: I will. I’ll be happy to meet with anybody who wants to talk Dealer-FX. I’m excited about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Great.

Bill Lucchini: I think I can get you excited about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. It’s not just Kia dealers, by the way. It’s every make and model.

Bill Lucchini: Right.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Do yourself a favor and get out to the booth. Booth 545C. Bill, I want to thank you so much for joining us here on CBT News. This information is great for our viewers and our dealers, and hope to see out at NADA for another talk.

Bill Lucchini: Yeah, I look forward to it. It was a pleasure talking with you, Jim. And thanks for the opportunity to talk to people about Dealer-FX.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thanks, appreciate it.

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