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Shawn Ryder

Shawn Ryder Director, Automotive Works with OEMs and Dealers to Automate, Inform and Engage

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Does Your DMS offer Automated Marketing?

A great Dealer Management System is a thing of beauty. It keeps your customers, vehicles, parts and sales data meticulously organized so you can find information when you need it. These DMS functions are essential, yet a DMS can provide so much more. Software is now available on the automotive market that can transform a DMS from a system to manage information into a complete automotive customer communication solution.


A DMS that also offers automation software can help dealerships save time, money and effort while also improving the entire customer experience and customer service. Such a DMS would be in high demand and would bring in additional revenue. You already provide the tools necessary to run an efficient dealership, so why not complete your offering with automated marketing and communication tools that will actually help dealerships grow by increasing current customers' satisfaction rates and gaining new customers?

DMSs can benefit from the addition of automation software, and stay ahead of the competition. Offer more to dealerships by allowing them to provide more to their automotive customers.

What Does Automation Software Offer?

The automation software that is now available provides dealerships with the marketing and communication tools they need to succeed. The software can automatically contact customers when their vehicle is ready to be picked up, send out well-timed customer satisfaction surveys, remind customers of their service appointment date and time through prompt text messages and much more.

Automation software integrates with the DMS in order to pull relevant customer information and important dates from the system. The software uses that data to reach out to customers automatically, to save time and effort on the part of the dealership staff. Each customer is contacted based on their individual needs and preferences. Without adding to the staff workload, the level of personal customer service is increased.

How Would it be Used?

Let's look at some examples of how the automation software would actually be connecting with dealership customers. 

Email: The automated solution could send a personalized email campaign to a customer who is interested in purchasing a vehicle. The customer selects the type of vehicle they want, their price range, preferred color and so on. 

They would then automatically receive an email information package with pictures and details of their preferred vehicle (within their selected price range), how many are in stock at their local dealership, the colors and any other information they requested.

Text Message: If a customer leaves their vehicle at the shop for maintenance, they would receive an automated text message letting them know when their vehicle is ready to be picked up. Customers can also receive appointment reminders through text messaging so they do not miss their service appointment.

Text messaging is also useful for personalized promotions. For example, the automated software reads that a customer purchased their vehicle three months ago today. It sends out a text message such as “Hi Jane, it has been three months since you purchased your vehicle and it is time for your first oil change. Book your appointment today and receive 20% off your service!”

Fax: Fax is useful not only for sending important documents to customers but also for advertising special sales and seasonal promotions.

Voice: Automated voice messages can be used for sending timely service appointment reminders to customers. It can also be used to send special promotions to customers who do not have internet access.

Facebook: Social media is a powerful force. It allows you to reach a much wider audience, as current customers can quickly and easily share social media information with their friends. You can schedule automatic updates to your Facebook page to post special sales, pictures, customer stories and testimonials to Facebook.

Facebook is also great for promoting contests and getting customers engaged with exciting events at your dealership.

Twitter: Twitter has the same potential as Facebook in the sense that information can be easily shared with many people. You can easily automate your Twitter feed.

Twitter is all about short messages, so you can post links to stories, pictures and so on. Twitter is also an effective way to run contests in order to get customers excited.

Survey: Customer surveys are one of the simplest and most efficient ways of gaining relevant information and feedback about your business and your services. Customers can automatically receive a survey a day or two after they visit the dealership for an appointment.

Signup Form: A customer can enter their data into a signup form to receive a newsletter, vehicle information package, phone call or email from a salesperson and much more. Their data is automatically stored and organized in the system so it can be used immediately.

How Do We Put it in Place?

Adding automation software to your current DMS solution is not difficult. The technology is already built and is frequently updated based on customer requirements. You can be up and running with your new tools in place almost immediately.

When you integrate automation software into your DMS solution, there is no need to deal with multiple providers. All the communication and marketing tools mentioned above are available in an all-in-one solution. Simple for you and efficient for your dealership customers.

Anything Else I Need to Know?

Adding automation software to your existing Dealer Management System is an effective way of growing your business and adding to your revenue. Integrating the software is simple and quick, and an automated solution allows you to offer unique communication tools to your dealerships that they have never had access to.

Instead of taking time to contact customers manually for every service appointment, follow-up, special promotion, and parts or service notification, these processes can be automated. Automation allows dealerships to serve each customer individually, while saving staff time so they can focus on interacting with customers in other ways. Salespeople and service people will always be the crucial points for excellent customer service, yet they can offer a greater level of service through automated messages, without doing more work.

Shawn Ryder
Chris, thanks for your reply. Great to hear you are familiar with our solution - may I ask if you had an opportunity to look at the 360 aspect for building automated decisions? In terms of automated marketing - it is marketing. While many dealers do a good job with customer engagement through marketing, there are numerous dealers that can do a better job with sending marketing messages, customer follow-up, after sales relationships and transferring them to the service department. Wouldn't you agree? Also, while marketing is part of the solution - another very important part is customer communication using the channels available. We work with retailers to automate aspects for service customer status updates, special order parts, confirming appointments and of course surveying sales and service customers after the visits. For personal messages that is specifically what our system supports to ensure that communication is sent using the preferred mode of email, voice mail, SMS, etc. of the customer themselves. Then using the data available to customize the message specifically is set up using decisions nodes based on the fields and in turn custom the information provided to the reader. Should a dealer want to send out a seasonal tire special for example, have a template that offers the information but within the same email have a specific savings based on the customer history. They haven't been in for 4 months? Send a coupon. Declined a new battery? Send them information on the benefits of a new battery for the winter. A customer looking for a specific used vehicle? Send an email as soon as one arrives in inventory. Wouldn't this benefit the sales process for the customer? While you do a great job with your marketing, there are lots of dealers that can use solutions to streamline many processes, automatically.
Chris K Leslie
Shawn, I totally agree. We all have room for improvements. I totally get what you mean by streamlining processes. But that't not what your original post was suggesting. Your original post positions automation as the answer rather than a part of the solution. What dealers need most is to first understand the spaces and platforms that you mention. Develop specific sets of KPI's and design a systematic reporting structure before even thinking about marketing automation. With out those thing established and agreed upon first. A dealer is basically spitting in the wind.
Shawn Ryder
Thanks for the reply Chris. From your perspective what channel do dealers need the most understanding? Where is the biggest challenge / opportunity for them as of today? Also, from a a reporting structure what do you see as a way to track and provide the results? Thanks for the great discussion!
Chris K Leslie
Thanks for question Shawn I appreciate the discussion as well. I started writing an entire book of the things I do and realized that it would probably be better if I built a little ebook of all the things I do, tips and tricks and give it away at some point. But to answer your question... I would say that they need to understand what it is that sets them apart from any other dealership in town. When i say "stand out" I don't mean the same lazy answer of "well we are the number 1 dealership in this town and we've won this award that nobody cares about" The best place to get this info is by asking a dealerships best customers. They will tell you what they love about your dealership so much. I bet real american money that it isn't what a dealer may think it is. Once you realize what you are known for than you can start building your ideas and plans around those insights. If you are known for having a friendly staff and a nice, quiet lounge. You might want to leave the explosions and voice of the monster truck guy out of the next TV ad. A huge challenge I see in a lot of dealerships is the lack of communications between different parts of the front line. Meaning that the person running your CRM and email campaign should probably have the knowledge of the next TV campaigns promotion well in advance to prepare the proper inbound channels to make sure each point of contact is being tested, measured, adjusted and tested. We live in a world where everything can be measured to a certain degree. Each measure may be different but all are equally important to move the flow of the funnel. In most cases dealers set themselves up for failure by expecting each outgoing message the dealership makes to provide the same singular ROI. ROI's can be translated though and should be. They also need to decide what is the exact ROI they want. Do they want to look at everything as just providing leads or do they want to build community and be part of the solutions people are looking for? By identifying what you want to get out of the channels it will automatically eliminate the clutter and allow someone to focus on the exactly what they are going after. This can be measured by simply deciding what value the channel or platform has for you. If you want to sell cars on twitter you might find that twitter isn't really the best place for that and rather than wasting time trying to build it out. You can focus more on the places you see growth. I don't know if I answered your question as exact as I would have like to but it is a very good question that I am thinking I want to build on more and build out some materials to share. Thanks again Shawn

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