Why You Should Implement a Digital Retailing Strategy in Your Dealership Now – Mo Zahabi, Cox Automotive

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Recently, the CBT Automotive Network was on-location at NADA 2020 in sunny Las Vegas where host Jim Fitzpatrick spoke with Mo Zahabi, Senior Director of Product Consulting for VinSolutions, Dealer.com, and Digital Retailing.

digital marketingVIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Jim Fitzpatrick: Mo thank you so much for joining us here on CBT News.

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely. Appreciate you having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, yeah. You having a good show?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely, good show.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: A lot of traffic. A lot of people here asking good questions.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Absolutely. And you are, let me remind my viewers here, Senior Director of Product Consulting for VinSolutions, Dealer.com, and Digital Retailing. That is a mouthful right there you, you must be a very busy man.

Mo Zahabi: I’m a little bit busy. There’s a little bit to do.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. Every time I walk by the the Cox Automotive row right there, it’s like the convention is really happening there, and everybody else is just around it, right?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s like a whole street block to itself.

Mo Zahabi: It is. It is.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Good show though.

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely good turnout.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s a good vibe that I think the dealers that we’re talking to are saying, this might be one of the best shows and everybody seems, the dealers seem to be in the buying mode, and also making changes in their dealership, gearing up for 2020. Have you found that to be the case?

Mo Zahabi: Seems to be that way. I mean, they’re asking better questions-

Jim Fitzpatrick: yeah.

Mo Zahabi: – more understanding about the technology that’s available out there.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure.

Mo Zahabi: A lot of good engagement.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: Yes, that’s a good show right there.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Let’s talk a little bit about that. What enhancements, and integrations, and new features are Cox Automotive, Digital Retailing debuting at the show?

Mo Zahabi: We’re actually releasing a bunch of different integrations. We’ve listened to our dealers, and we realized there were some shortcomings in the different products that we had.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Mo Zahabi: First off we had a problem with duplications, and I think a lot of the different providers have that, lead comes in, there’s not good transparency to it.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: Customer updates the lead, it creates a duplicate in the system. First off, we went ahead, we handled that, there’s a lot more transparency.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Mo Zahabi: The lead does not create a duplicate.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Mo Zahabi: Pure visibility to all the updates that have been made. The other part of that was just the overall workflow lead would come in, you have to recreate it in the desking tool.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: Hand enter in everything which can create errors, slows the process down. Right now we can actually see the accelerate lead that comes in, click one button, go to the lead, so we’re on the same page as the customer-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Nice.

Mo Zahabi: – and then one more button, you’re right into desking with the deal.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Really?

Mo Zahabi: Really streamlined a lot of what we were trying to accomplish-

Jim Fitzpatrick: yeah.

Mo Zahabi: – and I think that the overall result there is we have a happier customer in the long run.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Mo Zahabi: I’m not talking about our customer, I’m talking about the dealership’s customer.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah the consumer, the end user, right? The car buyer. Everybody’s talking about how much time it takes to buy a car. That’s kind of been the angst out there among consumers for quite some time, and this kind of lends to that in a big way, doesn’t it?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: I think that’s one of the biggest frustrations, even myself, I made the comment yesterday that I get a little irritated when I walk behind somebody slow in a hallway. We want to make sure that we kind of speed these things up because time is relevant in all these situations.

Jim Fitzpatrick: For sure, for sure. And customers, because they know and they’ve heard, and also based on the last car buying experience, oh my God, it’s a Saturday, it’s going to take me five hours to buy this car, so they already come in with their fists up, right, and kind of an angry situation. This kind of can help to diffuse that. Right?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely. I mean we’ve got to recognize that other industries that kind of set the standard, and it’s kind of trickled its way into automotive.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: You have things like Amazon, click, buy now, have it tomorrow sitting in your doorstep, or same day delivery, customers now want that same experience from automotive.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know, I know.

Mo Zahabi: And we’ve really got to listen to them.

Jim Fitzpatrick: We do, there’s no question. I often talk about Carvana and Vroom on this show as you know, and for the reason that dealers need to listen to that, and what are some of the takeaways? Consumers are… they sold 176,000 used cars, people sitting on the comfort of their couch, and kind of scrolling through vehicles, and buying one, and up comes the truck and letting it out. The takeaway is the consumers are saying, we’ll take a shot with this new provider of used cars with no showroom basically, just to bypass that misery that might take place at a new car showroom, right?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: I think that dealers could take advantage of what Carvana is doing.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: I mean, Carvana is doing all the advertising for them. It’s just, hey, we do the same thing at our dealership and here’s how it works. Capitalizing on what they’re doing.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. That’s right. We should own that space. I mean, those cars came right out of the showrooms of new car franchise dealers in those markets. Right?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I don’t know why dealers are, I shouldn’t say the why they’re sitting back and letting it happen, but to some degree that’s what’s taking place. Right?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: They’re still doing business the old fashioned way in many cases and not stepping up. What would you tell dealers who are still skeptical about implementing digital retailing in their sales strategy?

Mo Zahabi: I’d say go ask the guy who said, I’m sure am glad I waited to put my website up. That’s kind of where that goes.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a great line.

Mo Zahabi: I think a lot of it’s more fear than anything, and really 15% of it’s technology, the other 85% is the people and the culture of the dealership.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: A lot of dealers think that this is a huge culture shift for them in the dealership-

Jim Fitzpatrick: sure.

Mo Zahabi: – it’s not, I think it’s a designation of a few people there in the store-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: – help fine tune the process, and then once it comes time to move on, it’s a lot easier to grasp for everybody else.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. What do you say to the dealer that just says, I believe we built a beautiful dealership, and I still think people want to come in and kick the tires, and meet the person and that this whole digital retailing is a trend and it’s not going to stay?

Mo Zahabi: I’d say 80% of consumers want to do at least one part of the process online.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Good point.

Mo Zahabi: We know that 90% say that they’ll never go all the way through the process because they want to touch and feel.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: I think digital retail is more about getting the customer to the spot where they’re ready to say, yes, I’ll come see you at your dealership.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: And if they have that Taj Mahal store, and that’s what they’re concerned about-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: – the point should be getting them there.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right, that’s right. Yeah, that’s a good point. And to your point, to be there for the customer at any level that they want to implement digital retailing, right? They might take it all the way to the end=.

Mo Zahabi: right.

Jim Fitzpatrick: – and then to your point, still come into the dealership for validation?

Mo Zahabi: I think that Carvana set that model of it’s all or nothing.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: With digital retail, that’s not how it works. It can be really reflective of the dealership and the personality of the dealership-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: – but also the customer base, because if we’re in rural Kansas, maybe your customer base isn’t ready for a start to finish.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a good point.

Mo Zahabi: Getting that credit app, or doing the trade appraisal, or figuring a payment online might be steps that you’d look at.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. Should dealers be concerned that they’re going to lose their F&I income if they get into digital retailing?

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely not, and we’ve seen that from 80% of the consumers that use our digital retailing platforms, there’s a spike in the backend profit, because we’re going out there and we’re educating these customers-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.

Mo Zahabi: – on what’s available to them, and you’ve got to think about it, when I go into the dealership, I spend three hours there on average, 90 minutes is acceptable by the customer.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: 90 minutes is what we spend on the F&I room. By educating these customers out front, I think it’s an easier pitch for F&I agents to say, hey, these are important because we can see through integration so on and so forth, the customer is already involved and engaged with those areas.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right. Yeah. It’s like when we put in menus in F&I, a long time ago and it was like, oh my gosh, we’re going to show every customer all the different features and put them in control. Low and behold, F&I profits went up.

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely. Money, money, money.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Exactly. Yeah. It’s incredible. What is the one digital retailing feature that dealers should watch in 2020 and beyond?

Mo Zahabi: I think it’s the adoption.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Mo Zahabi: It’s not really a feature, I think it’s the overall adoption of the process and how far the customer gets through the process-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.

Mo Zahabi: – is what you’re going to see more of this year. The thing right now is customers don’t know what to expect.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.

Mo Zahabi: How was your last digital retail experience? You didn’t have one.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Mo Zahabi: We’ve got to educate the customer on what’s available to them, and what this solves for them. The big thing, again, it’s time.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah.

Mo Zahabi: If I spent 10 minutes too long waiting for food at a restaurant that I normally go to, that impacts the experience-

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

Mo Zahabi: – and we’ve got to make more of a correlation between automotive and other experiences that customers are used to.

Jim Fitzpatrick: For sure. No question about it. Mo Zahabi, I want to thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. It’s always a pleasure having you on, and there’s a lot to learn from you, especially from your perspective, and Cox always has the solution. I want to thank you so much for joining us.

Mo Zahabi: Appreciate it. Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Continue to have a great show.

Mo Zahabi: Absolutely. Thanks.

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