Transforming the Customer Experience in the Service Drive

2014 was a big year for AutoPoint, and Managing Director Rich Holland says the company is on track for an even bigger 2015. BY CAROL WHITE

AutoPoint, a company recognized as a leader in revenue and retention solutions for auto dealership service departments, went through some pretty significant changes last year. 2014 was, in a word, transformative, said Rich Holland, managing director.

The company rebranded from MPi, consolidated all of its offices into one location in South Jordan, Utah, and was acquired by parent company Solera – all changes that will help the company continue to drive profits for its dealer clients, according to Holland.

New Name

MPi and AutoPoint came together as sister companies about five years ago and were merged when Solera purchased them last year. “MPi was largely identified with the multipoint inspection, which is just a sliver of what we do in the broader platform,” said Holland. “The name AutoPoint really enables us to effectively communicate what our solution strategy is. We adopted that name and rebranded it.” And that strategy, in a nutshell, is to be a full-service provider in the fixed operations space and help its dealer clients be more competitive.

Retention and Revenues

Unlike other areas of a dealership such as F&I or accounting, implementing solutions to increase revenue and retention in fixed ops is still a fairly new concept. “It’s a change in process, it’s a change in service philosophy, and so we’re still in an evangelist phase there,” said Holland. “But we think by fully utilizing the platform, dealers will be able to enhance the retention of the motorist and elevate their reputation as a service provider – and that’s a reward for the dealership.”

AutoPoint’s dealer clients are benefiting from it and have experienced a significant uptick in revenue and profitability, said Holland, adding that his company offers a guaranteed 400 percent return on investment. “It’s impressive,” he said of the guaranteed results, “and we don’t have any trouble delivering on that.”

So is this a solution from which only struggling service departments can benefit? Not necessarily, said Holland, who has encountered several service managers who can barely keep up with their current workload. The platform’s digital process streamlines the workflow making it easier to move a vehicle through the repair process. “We’re able to find about 20 percent of untapped capacity in the dealership that thinks its running at full throttle,” he explained. “Without having to add more brick and mortar, stalls or technicians, they are actually able to utilize our platform to sell about 20 percent more capacity than what they think they previously had.”

AutoPoint’s dealer clients are able to get those kinds of results by offering its customers a smooth, stress-free service experience that is open and transparent. “We think there’s been a long-standing challenge where dealerships have struggled to effectively communicate with the motorist the needs of the vehicle in a way that’s cognitive, credible and convenient for the motorist. We’re trying to demystify that,” said Holland.

With the vast majority of today’s consumers being digitally savvy, communicating with them in that medium is crucial when it comes to informing them about repair needs and helping them understand repair work. Using a digital platform from the moment a customer walks through the door enables service advisors to deliver a more informative evaluation of their customers’ vehicle needs. Then communicating, through a unique URL delivered via email or text message, allows them to interactively make repair decisions about current and future repair work that needs to be done. Being able to clearly show and communicate what repair work is being recommended – and why – helps to foster validity and trust with the customer.

“We strive to make it as an intuitive of a solution as possible for the technicians,” said Holland. AutoPoint’s solution allows technicians to access a world of information such as previously declined repairs, open recalls, outstanding warranty work, previous repairs that have been published and OEM specifications. “We try to empower the technician by leveraging data-rich resources to help them be more knowledgeable.”

New Headquarters

In an effort to be more synergistic, AutoPoint consolidated all five of its offices into a centralized campus in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Part of the company’s new 40,000-square-foot facility houses the Solera Institute of Automotive Excellence, which offers leadership training for service advisors, managers and directors. Its state-of-the-art classroom seats 55 and includes three projection screens and a laptop computer at each desk enabling interactive learning.

In addition to training offered at the new headquarters, AutoPoint employs a team of consultants, many of whom have held senior leadership positions within dealerships, who visit their dealer clients and host onsite training for all service personnel.

Growth and Global Expansion

 AutoPoint had its largest growth and most profitable year in history this past year, expanding the number of rooftops it serves by about 25 percent. Holland estimates that AutoPoint clients generated more than $6 billion in total value of recommendations made by AutoPoint technicians with $3 billion in sales made by AutoPoint advisors.

With the aid of its parent company, AutoPoint has its eyes on global expansion. The Solera management team has an enormous commitment to the service, maintenance and repair sector, and has indicated it will invest a $1 billion between now and 2020, said Holland. “That will be a big benefit for our customers as new technologies are made available to them, and help them be more competitive and, frankly, a better service provider to the motorist.”

The focus for this fiscal year will be bringing new solutions to market and perfecting them here nationally before preparing for global distribution. From there, the company plans to capitalize on Solera’s market presence it currently has in 73 countries.

“We have ambitions to be the demanded partner and continue our leadership in market penetration and in innovation and all the other categories that we pride ourselves on,” said Holland, “but at the same time beginning to share the same platform worldwide. There are a billion cars on the roads globally. All of them need this.

Holland believes that the industry is reaching a tipping point where this technology – which up until now has mostly been a ‘want’ – is going to have to be adopted in order for a store to be competitive and really maximize the opportunity of a service visitor. “We think it’s that transformative of a solution for a dealer.”