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Dealership Newsmaker Q&A Mike Williams

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 09:00
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Black Book is a leading provider of pricing information for automotive dealers and customers. Recently, the company released the results of a survey on mobile computing used by dealers and remarketers who make wholesale and retail inventory procurement decisions. According to the results, 69 percent of industry professionals use a smartphone, while 20 percent use a smartphone and tablet.

Aftermarket Business World spoke to Mike Williams, vice president of mobile and direct sales at Black Book, about the survey.

What do you think was the most interesting or surprising thing about the survey results?

The most interesting thing to me was that, as fast as dealers move to adopt new technology, I was surprised that we didn't see more adoption of tablets along with the phones. They are using multiple platforms, but most of them are using phones and desktops instead of tablets.

According to the survey, 64 percent of respondents said they were more profitable as a result of using mobile technology. What contributes to that profitability?

One is basic efficiency. In the wholesale auction environment, the more efficient you can be the more chance you have at getting a car. Average run time of a car through a lane is 37 seconds. If you spend 20 seconds trying to scan a car and get information, then somebody has already bough it by the time you make your decision. Getting used inventory has been a challenge, so that helps them get more inventory.

The second thing is reach. It used to be you'd look at a 200 or 300-mile bubble to acquire inventory. Now you can still make a profit on vehicles from father away, even factoring in transportation costs. A good example is a major wholesaler who had four-wheel-drive Jeeps in Hawaii. They would typically ship them to Los Angeles, and take a tremendous loss. They started to market them on the East Coast, and sold them all.

What are some emerging applications for mobile technology at dealerships?

You can tie things together from different areas of the dealership. You can take in a trade and have it posted and sell it all in a few steps. The sales person can take in the trade, take pictures, log the car in and have it on the website in a few minutes for sale, while they are still sending it into the shop to be readied. That's pretty wild.

Is VIN scanning still valuable?

That's a great example of evolution in mobile. A few months ago we supplemented our VIN scanning capability with run lists at the auctions, so you don't have to physically scan the car. Scanning has become so mainstream that it's more inefficient to fight your way to the car to do the scan now. Having the data is more efficient than interacting with the actual vehicle.

It's still convenient for one-on-one interactions, though. I'm looking forward to the future where you can take an image of the vehicle and get the data. There have been some great strides in that technology.

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