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Timonium, MD -- July 13, 2015-- Helion Automotive Technologies, a leading provider of IT solutions for auto dealers, announced today it has helped Texas-based John Eagle Auto Group add $1 million to their bottom line with a new videoconferencing system and data network. John Eagle Auto Group has ten stores in the Dallas and Houston areas, where managers and associates use Cisco TelePresence® Technology and Mobile HD Video Conferencing to reduce travel time and expenses and connect face-to-face with colleagues.
"Our videoconference meetings are like being there in person and when all the managers and partners get together it's like having a mini 20-Goup," said Rene Isip, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of John Eagle Auto Group. "Participants make suggestions to solve problems and try new processes, which has helped generate additional revenue."
The majority of the auto group's savings comes from reduced travel time and costs. Traffic in both Houston and Dallas is congested, and it often takes hours to commute between stores in the same city, let alone the half day or more that it takes to drive or fly between Dallas and Houston. "Meetings are a necessary part of business; we need to connect with all of our GMs, partners and managers on a regular basis," said Duffy Cummings, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of John Eagle Auto Group. "Videoconferencing eliminates the need to travel between stores."
Helion Technologies has been a partner with John Eagle Auto Group for six years, managing the auto group's IT infrastructure. In 2014 Helion upgraded and combined the auto group's three networks into one, increasing data throughput more than 1,000 times. Prior to the network upgrade, John Eagle paid an average $62,300 per month to several different vendors. The new, streamlined network costs $25,000 per month, an approximate 60 percent reduction in cost.
The increased data throughput allowed John Eagle Auto Group to upgrade their outdated videoconferencing system, and on Helion's recommendation they chose Cisco's High Definition (HD) Telepresence system.
"The ability to upgrade to HD video was a huge driving factor," said Cummings. In late 2014 Helion Technologies installed Telepresence along with large video screens in each of the ten conference rooms at John Eagle's dealerships.
A Telepresence meeting is initiated by simply pushing a button and choosing a contact or group of contacts to connect with. Participants in meetings are displayed in a tile pattern on the large video screens, and the camera automatically zooms in on whomever is speaking. "When a person speaks that person's tile is enlarged and displays in the middle of the screen with everyone else's tiles all around it, like the Brady Bunch," said Cummings.
The Telepresence system offers a completely immersive experience. "It's nothing like a phone call," said Isip. "I can see what the associates are wearing to ensure they're up to our dress code, and I can see the expressions and reactions on their faces. I use the system just about every day, not just for meetings but also one-on-one calls. It strengthens rapport and you get to know people better, as if you're working in the same location."
The managers at John Eagle Auto Group also use Telepresence for:
Monthly finance meetings. This call involves more than 60 sales and finance managers, GMs and partners; with an agenda that reviews numbers, policies, incentives and more. "It's our most important meeting and we could never do this on a conference call," said Cummings. "With that many people, you know some of them would just hit mute and continue to work while others are speaking. With Telepresence, they have to pay attention."
Taking all of the managers out of their dealerships for a day is not a viable option either. "The cost of flying everyone to one location is one thing, but even more costly are the lost opportunities. For every day that a manager is out of the store, that's probably three or four sales or deals that don't get done," said Cummings.
Weekly service meetings. This call involves service managers, used car managers, partners and GMs; with an agenda that reviews numbers, opportunities, advertising, goals and other issues.
"Telepresence is a great tool for solving problems," said Isip. "If a manager at one location has a difficult situation, other managers can chime in and talk about how they solved that problem."
"Another benefit of this meeting is it brings accountability," said Cummings. "Every month the service managers announce three goals or things they're going to work on next month, and they make that commitment in front of everyone. Then the next month we'll discuss those goals on the call."
Trainings. John Eagle Auto Group recently used Telepresence to roll out its new healthcare program. Without Telepresence, Cummings says they would have had to travel to each individual store to explain the new plan in person. "It would have taken three or four days and a lot more paperwork," he said. With Telepresence, they instantly connected all the HR managers, controllers and partners, and completed the rollout training in two hours.
Remote Meetings. One of the greatest advantages of the Telepresence system is that meetings can be accessed remotely from a desktop computer, laptop or even an iPad. All that's required is launching an app.
"When I was in Mexico, I was on the beach with my iPad and I was able to sit in on an important call," said Isip. "It's that ability to be present and communicate, no matter where I am, that's worth a lot to me."
Since Telepresence was launched, Cummings estimates that John Eagle Auto Group has added $1 million to its bottom line. The ROI has been achieved primarily through:
"Telepresence is a cost-effective way to communicate for meetings that require big decisions with many stakeholders," said Isip. "It's also great for individual meetings, giving you that one-on-one experience that a phone call can't duplicate. It's like being in the same room; the only thing you can't do is shake hands."
Helion Automotive Technologies was formed in 1997 with the goal of bringing strong Information Technology strategies and leadership to businesses of all sizes. Helion offers dealerships short term IT fixes for what they need now, and long-term IT solutions for what lies ahead. Helion has provided IT solutions for dealerships across the country for more than a decade. When it comes to dealer IT systems, the company has been there-done that better than anyone else and is there to help.
Helion can make sure any dealership’s IT systems are well managed and provide solutions for any IT headaches. Helion is not just any tech company; it is the tech company for auto dealers. It’s all they do.