Normalizing Dealer's Data

Normalizing Dealer's Data

By Sherif Jitan, CIO, Pearl Technology Holdings

Sherif Jitan, CIO, Pearl Technology Holdings

Automotive companies have lots of information but can’t use it effectively to drive business. Data is both difficult to access and needed by more applications. How do you examine the effective and proactive use of data—how to consolidate, integrate and use it to drive business.

“We have empowered the CRM to evolve from a simple customer data collection platform into a fully intelligent, revenue-driving marketing channel”

Dealerships and vendors in the automotive space have preached big data as a way to drive business. As many vendors quickly found out a dealer’s data can be a hodgepodge of information that follows no standards that is driving a dealer’s business. Hence vendors go to great efforts to clean the data on their end but never share the results outside their applications. Therefore, data exchange between vendors can easily go awry, such as a listing feed for a dealer’s internet pricing that’s mapped incorrectly across multiple vendors, chaos can ensue and company reputations can be harmed. Protection and ownership of that data is a point of contention in the industry today. Does the dealer own the data? Or does the vendor providing the technology own the data that the dealer is storing within its system?

At Pearl Technologies we’ve gone to great strides to normalize dealer’s data. The ultimate goal this year for Pearl is to find a way to streamline the online purchase of an automobile online and in the store. With so many moving parts we’ve taken it upon ourselves to build or integrate technologies that achieve this goal while standardizing all dealer’s data to be outputted the same. Our philosophy at Pearl is to be a consumer-centric, dealer-driven company that builds and implements the necessary technology for a dealer to be successful in today’s marketplace. Because individual dealerships do not necessarily have the financial and technological resources to build these IT systems themselves, 3rd parties like Pearl have emerged in the automotive industry as advocates and “accelerators” for progressive dealerships looking to evolve their businesses into the future.

For example, dealerships are no longer operating in a world where the “cold-call” is the go-to strategy for generating potential leads. Marketing automation platforms have proved to be a lucrative and cost-efficient method of both identifying and engaging prime sales opportunities for dealerships by leveraging customer credit profiles, OEM incentive eligibility, loan balances and estimated vehicle equity, just to give a few examples. The operational philosophy behind these automated systems is for dealers to only target the customers who are actually in a position to purchase or upgrade to a new vehicle, allowing them to cut back on traditional marketing spends such as commercials, print ads and radio spots that don’t necessarily resonate with their target audience. Pearl’s system (VehicleXchange) takes it a step further and allows a dealer to specifically identify their competitor’s customers in their market area by vehicle year, make, model and equity position, and market to them with personalized campaigns. Dealers that adopt business intelligence systems like these can generate exponentially more top-tier sales opportunities at a fraction of the cost and manpower associated with previous marketing strategies. The dealer can then rely on internal process and customer service to facilitate the opportunities created by their software systems.

The Innovative CRM

The proper use of a CRM for any company is a vital strategic component for long-term success and profitability. Any SaaS company or dealership in the automotive space must be diligent in maintaining and utilizing a clean and up-to-date customer information database to drive revenue and increase operational efficiency. When the wrong type of individual or team is tasked with managing the CRM, it can often be detrimental to the company’s operational success. Incomplete records or record duplication are often the chief byproducts of CRM misusage. When bad “data hygiene” is paired with an inefficient internal process, it can wreak havoc on any organization within both the sales and client management sides of the business.

At Pearl Technologies, we’ve innovated with numerous CRM vendors to make the capturing of user data easier and giving dealers more valuable “ammunition” to target a customer. With our VehicleXchange product we’ve innovated by making a dealer’s mobile device their primary method of input by scanning a customer driver’s license and vehicle VIN to ensure data accuracy. We then take that data and run it through Experian to get the customer’s credit score and payoff of their vehicle all with no impact on their credit. Now a dealer can judge a customer’s propensity to buy a new vehicle, because the dealer has the equity of their car and the customer’s credit score. This information is available at the tip of the dealer’s hand and can be fed into any CRM. Companies like CDK CRM who’ve opted to do a 2-way integration with us get the added benefit of seamless dataflow into their CRM and having their leads de-duped and funneled into their existing sales processes. As a result, dealers are seeing a new revenue stream that didn’t exist before by targeting customers that didn’t purchase from them, but they are able to approach them because they know what their credit score is and what equity they have in their vehicle. With all this data and integration, we’re able to give a dealer a precise target audience with all ROI data tracked and use that to recommend where they should spend their advertising dollars.

We have taken marketing to a whole new level by being more precise on our targets and using marketing dollars where it should be. Dealers no longer need to take a broad approach of blindly sending infinite mailers without understanding ROI and campaign performance. In essence, we have empowered the CRM to evolve from a simple customer data collection platform into a fully intelligent, revenue-driving marketing channel.

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