Canadian Digital Dealer Conference – September 2013
September 20, 2013

The Automotive Business School of Canada is once again rubbing elbows with the Automotive Industry. This time it was at the Canadian Digital Dealer Conference at the Paramount Conference centre in Woodbridge Ontario. Approximately 20 ABSC Students attended, in which the Adesa Vehicle Auction Corporation and Trillium Automotive Dealers Association generously sponsored the conference fee. All the students that attended concurred that attending the conference was “a great learning experience.” Mike Anderson commented “the insight they give you is a lot of new information. Information you can’t get anywhere else. The outlook on new technology and the tools on the web is not something you think about. It really puts you in the seat of a dealer. As a student, we don’t think what a dealer has to go through. You have to worry about what the review said. If it is one star you need to fix it because it looks bad on your business.”

“It really puts you in the seat of a dealer. As a student, we don’t think what a dealer has to go through”

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Paul Potratz started the conference off with a bang as he immediately brought the energy into the building as he took the microphone. What was interesting was his breakdown of how to increase profitability in the dealership. This solution was simplified to three strategies, increase your price, increase the number of opportunities and/or increase the purchase frequency. Another great insight was his definition of marketing; “marketing is about finding your audience and serving their needs. You gain customer loyalty by matching the right individual with the right product.” Another quote that stuck was “great marketing is being different.” Paul also shared some fascinating statistics about customers online behaviour when looking for a new vehicle:

 

 

 

The typical car shopper browses between 18-22 websites on average

81% of customers are unaware they could purchase an extended warranty for new or used vehicle

49% of consumers browse more than 5 dealer websites, however on average they only show up to 1

The average consumer spends about 16 weeks researching before making a purchase

The idea of having an “internet price” is a new trend that is the most effective at attracting customers to the dealership

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“I can feel more confident knowing the future of the Industry.”

Next to speak was Chris Ice, who spoke about connectivity in new and future vehicles. Ideas such as insurance monitoring modules, crash recognition technology, vehicle infotainment, vehicle wifi, driver assistance and live navigation are now being integrated into vehicles. Companies such as GM and Hyundai are paving the way with phone applications that allows for connectivity to the vehicle, for example remote starting and better vehicle service information to the owner. This technology is established in the United States and will soon be coming to Canada. The students were impressed with the current and future technology both online and in the vehicles themselves. Kaspars expressed that “I can feel more confident knowing the future of the Industry.” Jesse, an international student from the United States added “the Canadian Automotive Industry is a lot different than the States, with lots of room to grow (digitally).”

“Our generation is so tech savvy that people get a vibe of the dealership just from the website.”

My favourite speaker was Amir Amirrezvani, who is an expert at web design and digital marketing. He had no problems saying “we suck as an industry” when pointing out that only 1.67% people who browse the dealership website actually purchase a vehicle (1.67% conversion rate). His solution to increase the conversion rate is to “test” your website either with dealership clients or using advanced software programs. Another great tip Amir shared was to make data forms simple and minimal for customers to input information into. He showed the audience side by side comparisons of projects he has worked on and the difference between the “before” and “after” was substantial. “Small things like colours, titles and the overall layout make a huge different in how long the customer stays on the website and if they take action.” The term in the industry is called “call to action” and Amir recommends only having a primary and secondary call to action on the webpage. What was interesting is Amir talked about the human brain and the different components that make us think and process our thoughts. With this knowledge he could tell us why it is so important to have pictures, video and “bite size” pieces of information otherwise the brain becomes overwhelmed or bored. The students enjoyed the presentation. Jon commented that “our generation is so tech savvy that people get a vibe of the dealership just from the website.”

“It is exciting to work with digital sales leads and internet marketing.”

Overall, the students recommended the conference and as Demi put it “take the opportunity!” Jason had a new appreciation for the companies that work in this digital industry every day and thinks the ABSC should put more “focus and more insight into the digital automotive industry.” These digital companies are looking to hire young, tech savvy grads, which is fantastic for our students with an interest in marketing. Mike Anderson is such a student as he noted “it is exciting to work with digital sales leads and internet marketing.” In closing the Automotive Business School of Canada would like to properly thank the Adesa Vehicle Auction Corporation and the Trillium Automotive Dealers Association for generously sponsoring our students for the event. Thank you to all the ABSC students that participated and we look forward to attending next year.

The Automotive Business School of Canada would like to properly thank the Adesa Vehicle Auction Corporation and the Trillium Automotive Dealers Association for generously sponsoring our students for the event.