Monday, Feb. 11, 2008, 07:00 PM UPDATED 11:59 AMBy Nick Zulovich
LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. — The National Auto Dealers Association's annual convention proved to be an extremely busy announcement time for DealerTrack.
The company unveiled a new partnership with JMsolutions, enhancements to its InventoryPro solution, red flag compliance assistance, hitting a new finance source record, in addition to several new initiatives with its Arkona subsidiary.
DealerTrack, JMsolutions Partner
Starting with JMsolutions, DealerTrack said its new partnership with the company will allow integration between DealerTrack's SalesMaker desking solution and JMsolutions' DealerUps customer relationship management tool.
Ultimately, this deal is designed to benefit customers of both companies by enabling them to seamlessly transfer deal data between DealerUps and SalesMaker without re-entering it, streamlining dealer workflows and enhancing productivity, officials highlighted.
"We are very pleased to announce this agreement with JMsolutions, which underscores our strong commitment to an 'open' environment that supports dealers' technology needs," explained Mark O'Neil, chairman and chief executive officer of DealerTrack.
"Although we compete with JMsolutions in some areas, we know that dealers using SalesMaker stand to realize significant efficiency gains by integrating with DealerUps, one of the industry's leading CRM solutions, which ultimately will enhance the appeal of SalesMaker in the marketplace," he continued.
Offering an overview, DealerTrack said its SalesMaker is a desking and special finance system that enables dealers to quickly structure the most profitable retail, lease and special finance deals and identify the best vehicles for customers.
Meanwhile, JMsolutions' DealerUps CRM solution can enable dealers to track all current and prospective customers, capture lost opportunities and provide a single view of customers and prospects.
By tracking key business metrics, dealers are able to convert more leads into prospects and more prospects into appointments, as well as increase closing ratios and receive better returns on their marketing efforts, officials described.
DealerUps is part of JMsolutions' new CMX Customer Management suite that provides dealers with tailored CRM solutions and sales process improvement applications.
"Enabling our DealerUps customers to integrate easily and seamlessly with DealerTrack's SalesMaker is a win-win for both companies and our dealer customers," said Scott Barrett, president of JMsolutions.
"Dealers will see concrete benefits in terms of improved workflow and usability between our two market-leading systems. In connection with this agreement, we also have selected DealerTrack's SalesMaker as a preferred full-functioned desking solution for our customers and plan to promote it aggressively alongside our own products," he added.
InventoryPro Adds Access to Carfax Reports
In addition to its partnership with JMsolutions, DealerTrack also announced the expansion of its InventoryPro inventory management solution.
Carfax-subscribing dealers using DealerTrack's InventoryPro and BookOut solutions will now have integrated, one-click access to Carfax Vehicle History Reports, according to the company.
"We are very pleased to begin providing integrated access to Carfax Vehicle History Reports," said 'Neil. "We believe our summary report format will be particularly valuable and unique in the industry, allowing dealers to see at a glance how many owners a car has had.
"Typically, single-owner vehicles sell significantly faster and at a premium to cars that have had multiple owners, which can help dealers improve their inventory turns and profitability," he pointed out.
Larry Gamache, communications director for Carfax, explained, "Carfax 1-Owner cars are the most sought-after vehicles on the market today. Studies show that used-car shoppers will pay up to 15 percent more for a car Carfax identifies as having only one owner.
"This unique enhancement to DealerTrack's solutions helps our customers ensure they stock the right vehicles in their inventory and make more money on each sale," he commented.
InventoryPro Introduces Inventory Exchange
DealerTrack also indicated that it is launching an inventory exchange that offers dealers real-time, online access to inventory and auction data from Manheim auctions.
The integration of this functionality into InventoryPro is designed to allow dealers the opportunity to better manage their inventory needs from a single, central location. Moreover, it can enable them to be more prepared at auctions, with detailed listings of vehicles they want to purchase.
InventoryPro Gains Dashboard View
Furthermore, DealerTrack said it is upgrading the InventoryPro user interface to provide a new dashboard view with an inventory performance summary and the capability to quickly drill down into various aspects of inventory performance.
Basically, InventoryPro can help dealers turn their inventory faster and improve profitability by recommending specific vehicles to buy or sell, based on an analysis of each dealer's sales history, the company indicated.
The solution also provides dealers with tools to appraise and book-out their inventory, allowing them to identify and quantify positive and negative equity in inventory. Additionally, dealers can also identify inventory age by type and value.
O'Neil reported, "With these enhancements, we believe that InventoryPro provides exceptional functionality and integrated online connectivity. It is an economical solution with analytical tools driven by cold, hard facts to help dealers leverage their valuable knowledge and instincts about their local markets."
Red Flags Compliance Help
Continuing its slew of announcements, the company also launched DealerTrack RedFlags, which is a new solution to help dealers support their identity theft prevention programs and comply with the Federal Trade Commission's recently issued red flags rule.
DealerTrack RedFlags is designed to enhance what is already offered via the company's Exact ID OFAC and identity verification product.
RedFlags will be offered as part of DealerTrack's DealWatch solutions, according to officials.
DealerTrack also announced a new Web site, thecomplianceguide.com, in addition to the release of the third annual edition of its hard-copy Compliance Guide.
"With our new RedFlags solution and these groundbreaking free resources for dealers, we have further strengthened our leadership position in the compliance arena and clearly offer the industry's most comprehensive suite of compliance resources and solutions," indicated O'Neil.
"We are excited to provide information to assist dealers in the development of their mandatory 'Red Flags' programs, as well as an enhanced solution to automate as much of the identity verification process as possible," he continued.
"We have been continuously monitoring the development of the new rules since they were first proposed in 2005. Our development of DealerTrack RedFlags was driven in large part by our dialogue with the dealer community since the introduction of DealWatch and ExactID two years ago," O'Neil explained.
Explaining the product, DealerTrack said RedFlags cross-checks a customer's information against numerous databases to help make an assessment as to whether he may be using a false identity.
It assigns a score to the customer and gives reasons for the score, so the dealer can quickly spot potential problems and make informed decisions.
The solution also checks each customer against the watch list maintained by the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control, executives noted.
"A free 60-day trial of DealerTrack RedFlags will be offered to dealers using the DealerTrack platform to show them how it can become a key component of their red flags program required by the new FTC rule," officials reported.
"Subscribers to DealerTrack's DealWatch will have unlimited access to RedFlags with no additional transaction fees. DealWatch, which is fully integrated with the DealerTrack network, is a comprehensive compliance solution that helps dealers protect themselves with electronic signature capture, encryption and storage of sensitive customer documents and robust reporting of dealership activity to help prevent mistakes and costly litigation," executives highlighted.
As for the company's new compliance Web site, officials said it is designed to provide an online complement to DealerTrack's Compliance Guide, which was first published two years ago and has been enhanced and expanded in the new edition.
The site will also include podcasts on important industry trends, pre-recorded Webinars on red flags and other relevant topics and articles from leading compliance experts.
"Our new Web site, thecomplianceguide.com, is the first and only comprehensive compliance resource that is free and online for dealers," O'Neil announced. "We are ideally positioned and fully committed to maintaining our leadership role in supporting dealers as they strive to navigate the increasingly complex web of federal and state laws and regulatory mandates."
DealerTrack Announces 500th Financing Source
The number of active financing sources connected to the DealerTrack's network has now reached 500, and the cumulative number of credit applications processed has hit 200 million, executives announced.
"These are truly historic milestones for DealerTrack," said O'Neil. "We were among the industry pioneers in 2001 when the concept of a multi-lender online credit application system was still relatively new, and while we were certainly optimistic, our dramatic growth since then has exceeded our expectations.
"Today, many smaller financing sources that want to grow their automotive business are told by dealers that one of the most important steps they can take is to join the DealerTrack network," he pointed out.
David Trinder, senior vice president of network solutions at DealerTrack, went on to say, "We are very pleased to connect the 500th active financing source to our network. Our growth has been tremendous, including the most recent addition of another 25 lenders in less than a month.
"We expect that the number will continue to grow given our very substantial pipeline of prospective financing sources. The processing of our 200 millionth credit application highlights the large volume of transactions flowing through our network, and lenders increasingly want their fair share of this business," he noted.
Arkona, a subsidiary of DealerTrack, also got in on the action by announcing that it will now be marketing KEYper Systems products.
KEYper Systems, located in Harrisburg, N.C., is a provider of key storage and management solutions.
The North Carolina-based company's products can help dealers organize and track the keys to vehicles on their lots, ultimately reducing expenses due to lost keys and generally enhancing security and productivity, executives explained.
With KEYper Systems' automotive software, DealerTrack's Arkona DMS users can download vehicle information such as vehicle make, model, year, color and stock information from the DMS to the key system inventory.
"We are delighted to leverage our marketing efforts by partnering with DealerTrack," said Bob Conder, president/CEO of KEYper Systems. "With its competitive pricing and open access, the Arkona DMS platform is very well-positioned for future growth, which can only benefit KEYper as its only integrated key management provider."
O'Neil added, "DealerTrack's philosophy is to continually evolve and improve the Arkona DMS solution by adding functionality and features through relationships such as this one with KEYper Systems.
"We recognize the need for KEYper's solutions in the dealer marketplace. Our management, sales and support teams are committed to marketing and selling a comprehensive key management solution that will meet the needs of our dealer clients," he related.
Arkona Becomes Preferred Provider for Payless
Finally, DealerTrack announced that Payless Car Sales has selected its Arkona DMS as the preferred provider for its national used-car franchise system.
Payless currently has 54 dealerships stretching coast-to-coast from Wilmington, N.C., to Bakersfield, Calif.
Effective immediately, Payless indicated that it is "strongly recommending" that its franchisees, which currently use DMS systems from a number of other providers, switch to the DealerTrack Arkona DMS as soon as existing agreements with other providers expire.
In addition, new Payless franchisees will be asked to do the same.
Officials explained that, "Once universal usage of the DealerTrack Arkona DMS system is completed, the operational efficiencies and additional managerial control brought about will significantly enhance Payless' ability to continue its cross-country expansion."
O'Neil said, "We are excited that Payless Car Sales, the equivalent of a sizable dealer group, has endorsed the DealerTrack Arkona DMS as its preferred partner for DMS solutions.
"We look forward to working with Payless' franchisees across the country to help them realize greater efficiencies as well as the benefits of our competitive pricing and the open access our DMS provides to other vendors," O'Neil continued.
Meanwhile, Mike Harley, president and chief operating officer of Payless Car Sales, added, "We believe that the DealerTrack Web-based Arkona DMS, their integrated CRM platform and business development initiatives, coupled with our leading-edge Internet strategy, will provide Payless dealers with the tools they need to maintain a competitive advantage in their respective markets.
"At Payless, we used the power of our systems 'economies of scale' operations to provide our franchise dealers with the best products and services available, at price points normally reserved for only the largest of operations. We are delighted to have DealerTrack as our new 'preferred partner' and to endorse the use of their DMS system to our growing dealer base," he concluded.