The back half of 2014 is shaping up to be a banner year for DealerSocket. The California-based software company has a number of products coming down the pipe for North American car dealers, franchised and independent alike.
Chief among the current highlights from the CRM gurus are recent additions to the service component of the business that include a revamped, reskinned and responsive customer portal, the incorporation of factory-recommended maintenance and the recent partnership with My Dealer Lot that is yielding some interesting upgrades.
“We have probably the most advanced sales CRM tool,” explains Sam Rizek, director of sales and business development for Canada. “Now, we are developing the service side. We’re really excited about the end of this year and into 2015. By the middle of next year, we should be able to go into dealerships running multiple systems for desking, service appointments, sales and phone call tracking with our one complete solution.”
First up is the new customer portal. The solution is now responsive meaning customers booking via a desktop, smartphone or tablet are all greeted with the same functionality and appearance, he says.
DealerSocket has also incorporated the OEM recommended maintenance for the customer to see.
“When a customer goes on to the dealer portal and they want to book an appointment, they’ll plug in vehicle info and mileage and the system will tell them what they are due for,” he explained. “Dealers can take it to the next level by adding their own recommended service packages likes a bronze, silver and gold.”
The factory recommended functionality is also incorporated internally so if a service advisor or BDC is making calls to schedule service customers, they can enquire about mileage and know automatically what they are due for.
Rizek says adding recommended maintenance for every OEM has been an arduous process that has took about two years to develop. It will launch for Canadian customers in August.
Perhaps most outside of its software confines has been DealerSocket’s partnership with My Dealer Lot. The U.S.-based company is a leader in the application of radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies for personalized customer service, increased sales, process control, asset tracking and inventory management.
The web-based applications are designed to leverage the power of RFID specifically for retail automotive. Current customers include some of the leading U.S. dealer groups across the country.
Where DealerSocket fits in is through a combination of its existing push notification capabilities.
“Dealerships can place an inexpensive RF chip into the customers car and, thanks to some unobtrusive antennas by the dealership driveway, the service advisor or sales person will be automatically notified when the customer drives into the dealership,” he says. “You’ll have an automatic pop-up notification in DealerSocket letting the service advisor who is here and what they are here for.”
While stores can also use the technology to easily track and locate all of their vehicles, the real strength for fixed ops rests with the ability of the service advisor to greet the customer by name as they are getting out of their car.
“Customers will be amazed,” he exclaims.
That program is in pilot now several U.S. dealerships currently equipped with My Dealer Lot technology. Executives confirm the program will cross the border soon.
Christian Hamaoka, DealerSocket’s executive sales manager for Canada, says the move from CRM into different realms was a logical step for the company. The fact that business has been growing in Canada and the U.S. has only served to confirm the direction DealerSocket has taken is the right one.
“Things are really picking up this year. Customers are constantly looking for desking tools and they are asking about our equity tools a lot as well. I think more dealers than ever are focused on web leads and I think there is a big shift as far as dealers learning to send the right leads to the right sales people,” he says.
“For instance, if I have a guy that can accessorize five out of every 10 truck deals, he should get every truck lead. Our tool is able to split them up like that.”
Hamaoka adds the big push in service this year shows the growth potential in the space.
The company has tripled the number of developers working on the service product showing just how big of a focus it is for DealerSocket. Future products hinted at during a July interview suggest a larger integration is in the future.
“We know of one GTA dealer group currently using separate products for desking, service management, sales management and inbound call management from four different software companies,” Rizek says. “By 2015, we’ll be able to go to a group like that and do everything with DealerSocket.”
DealerSocket says its technologies are used in roughly 4,000 American dealerships now and close to 400 rooftops in Canada.