Thursday, September 28, 2006

Where is the Community?

Last month I decided to partake in the automotive blog community by creating this blog for the automotive industry technology professional. At first, I thought there was a promising online community but in the past two weeks I have come to realize there is not much activity there for technology professionals in the automotive industry. By “technology professional” I mean those working for companies that provide technology solutions for the dealer market. This would include companies like mine, HomeNet, and those that HomeNet does business with. Go to their website to see examples of these companies.

Granted I have not done much in the way of advertising or soliciting this blog, rather I have been searching about for other online communities. Here is what I have discovered so far:

Edmunds InsideLine has a nice online community developed but it is geared more towards the automobile consumer and other car buffs. They also have a blog-forum community called CarSpace but again it is geared towards the car lovers and consumers.

Jeff Kershner’s DealerRefresh blog is by and far one of the most constructive and useful blogs. It is catered to the dealership ISM’s but much of what he produces is applicable to the industry players that work with the dealers. is one of the busiest blog sites I have come by within this industry but it is certainly geared towards vehicles and not the automotive professional in any way.

Then there are the two vBulletin forums, started recently by my colleague John DeGlavina, and which looks like it has been around a little while but as far as traffic and readership goes is minimal.

In addition to my new finds, I should comment on the following two industry sources that I frequent and find useful:

Dealer Magazine has a great collection of newsletters which although are geared primarily toward the franchise dealer they are relevant to the automotive professional.

AutoSuccess has a weekly newsletter but it seems a bit old school, e.g. no blog or RSS activity going on with it. The articles are great and are geared toward the sales and management professionals at dealerships.

So where is the community? Is it really this dry? If we are “technology” companies then why are those working in the companies not online interacting with one another to establish a sense of community? Does this stem back to something that plagues us as a nation which is that you can spend years living in the same complex or by the same neighbors and not get to know one another, while you have friends and networks all over the world often times with people you hardly ever see.

My call to you is that if you are a technology professional in this automotive industry, let me know what it is you seek. What sort of content or information will keep you coming back for more? What tools and resources do you use and need to get your job accomplished? What are your major hurdles and road blocks in your career?

I am going to start sharing with you the challenges and obstacles of my work. I will post my blogs on the two (1)(2) vBulletin forums that are out there and you can use whichever medium works best for you to help me help you generate this online community.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 Goes Live!

Be sure to check out the newly released This was created by one of my co-workers, John DeGlavina, to be a part of the slowly growing online automotive community. I will be posting entries to this forum that I also post to this blog.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ford to shrink US dealer base over 3 yrs

According to a Reuters article published on Monday, Ford has plans to shrink its dealer base to adjust for its shrinking market share, or as the article puts it, to "align distribution better with its current market share."

One factor in this retraction of market share could be from Americans turning away from SUV’s and more towards fuel-efficient vehicles. In fact, many auto makers are releasing "Crossover" vehicles, a style of which Ford lacks. Another factor could also be our shopping trends. Consumers, especially car buyers, like to buy from people they trust and we also like selection. Ford dealerships tend to be many and smaller relative to other franchises such as Honda, Toyota, and Chevrolet. This forces consumers to shop around more for a Ford dealer they trust and that has good selection whereas fewer dealerships with larger inventories have already won half the battle.

But how will this affect the franchise owners? How will Ford select who to keep running and who to shut down? Likely it will come down to who you know for the Principals more than anything. Sales volume will have some influence, but if Ford takes away a large producer then most of that business will just migrate to the store that has been kept alive.



Sunday, September 10, 2006

BDC, SDC…What’s the difference and which do you have?

David Hein of, or, has brought up a good point. Your Business Development Center, or BDC, is most likely really a Sales/Service/Satisfaction Development Center, or SDC. Theoretically, the BDC should concentrate on the internal and external processes of your business as it relates to the customers and the vendors as a whole, not just the sales conversion and lead management processes, etc. Maybe it is time for your dealership to expand by creating an SDC?

This is good stuff. If you think about it, the SDC would be a sub-set of the BDC and considering the many facets of sales and marketing opportunities within an automotive dealership, the SDC could have multiple responsiblities - lead management, demos and test drives, conversion, delivery, follow-up, service appointment scheduling, service drop-off, service pick-up, more follow-up, yada yada yada. The more thought and completeness put in to each of these activities of the car buyer then the more the dealership can take advantage of customer experience and loyalty.

What David explains as a typical experience at the service center is true. Americans today want McDonald’s-paced service with their car. We want the red carpet rolled out for us. It may not be realistic for the dealer to provide that for everyone, but if customers are like me and see a genuine effort put forth behind a thought-out and effective system then he or she will likely be impressed.

So what is your BDC doing? Is it concentrated on lead management and conversion or is it touching the outer reaches of the car owner experience? Post your comment today.

Source: Article


Remembering 9/11, 5th Anniversary

This entry is not going to be a long and winded recap or search for deep meaning of the 9/11 tragedy. There is one important message that I care to share plus I would like to make a simple kind gesture for those that suffered great loss from the event.

The Morning of: When news broke of the first tower being struck by an airplane I was at work and on the phone with my boss. Like probably most of us, my gut feeling was that this was no accident. After the second tower was struck I called my Grandma who lived in Queens at the time and told her to turn on the news. Her response was, "oh, that crazy city." She did not realize the impact of what was so obvious to me and I could not convince her to stay in the apartment for the day. My grandmother was born shortly after WWI and had seen a lot of terror and violence in her day, but this was new and extreme for me.

Aftermath: During the next several months my heart remained heavy and I couldn’t help but think that this was a wake-up call for the American people. In fact, I recall Alan Keyes suggesting it was God’s response to our widespread abortion tendencies as a nation. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. We can all search for meaning and question God’s reasoning for allowing such an act to occur, but the simplicity of it is this…

America today is a land of fornication.

In the Old Testament there are seemingly endless accounts of Israel, God’s chosen people, falling in and out of grace with God. During the times when Israel did fall, devastating things occurred both naturally and from surrounding peoples.

Things are no different today and I am grateful that I now see and understand this. I do not just mean that I logically understand what is in the Bible and recognize that history repeats itself. What I mean is that by God’s grace I can now see His hand in our lives.

For me, this is what 9/11 is about. It is about God carrying out His will on this earth which He created. It is about recognizing our sin and depravity and accepting God into our lives so that He can restore our faith in Him through Christ.

Please read the following Prayer of St. Francis, which I feel compliments the tragic necessity of 9/11.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

In closing I leave you with the following Scripture verse from Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

May God Almighty bless you and those who perished, and those who suffered great loss as a result of 9/11.

In Peace, Ryan G

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Edmunds to stop selling VIN data

Although I can not locate any official press releases or anything on this, word has it that Edmunds is getting out of the business of providing VIN data to vendors because it will be revving up its classifieds business and does not want to be providing its valuable VIN data to competitors. A shift like this can not be taken lightly.

For one, Edmunds is one of the few key players in the business of providing VIN data in the same league as Chrome & Polk, so pulling out will have significant impact on those that subscribe to such data. One such company affected will be AutoTrader, who subscribes to Edmunds VIN data and will now need to find an alternate provider as well as keep tabs on Edmunds now as a growing competitor.

If you have information or insight on this definitely post your comments. I am interested in knowing about other companies that will be affected. This includes companies that will now need to find another VIN data provider as well as companies that will now need to keep a closer eye on Edmunds Classifieds.

New rule on Electronic Data Recorders (EDR)

According to NHTSA, about 64 percent of model year 2005 cars were equipped with an Electronic Data Recorder (EDR), a device similar to "black boxes" used in commercial airliners that record data about what a car is doing in the moments just before and after a crash. I was not aware that these even existed but considering the amount of computer technology today in vehicles this is not surprising. In fact, I think it makes sense.

Apparently, the government thinks this information should be known by all consumers and by 2011 car companies will be required to include information about the EDR in the owner manuals. In addition to this, EDRs will collect a uniform set of data which can help investigators recreate crashes and determine causes.

An EDR does not record the voices of occupants but they do record things like speed, steering wheel movement, how hard the brakes are being pressed and the actual movement of the car itself. I think this is great and I think that EDRs should be designed for and used for legal accountability in accidents. But some will disagree.

What say you?

CNN Reference Article
More info about EDRs

Friday, September 08, 2006

Microsoft goes DMS...but how and why?

So Microsoft is officially entering the dealer management system (DMS) business. We have a year to go before its pilot program is launched, but what is the meat behind this story and how does it affect you?

It all starts with the Nellemann Group, a Danish-based automobile import and retail company of over 100 years. Infonizer, a fully owned subsidiary of Nellemann, is the IT company behind Microsoft's initiative into DMS-land. Infonizer is a Microsfot Certified Business Solutions Partner that utilizes Microsfot's Dynamics AX ERP solution, from which Microsoft's DMS will be produced.

What this means to me is that Microsoft is obviously thinking globally here. The automotive online retail business is solidifying in the U.S. in a big way, but what about Europe, Asia, and South America? ADP and R&R are making strides in this direction, but Microsoft, being Microsoft, could very well have a multi-continental solution that puts these two giants in the hot seat.

What are your initial thoughts about Microsoft enetering the DMS business? Post a comment now!!!

Related Links and Articles:
Read Computer World Article
Microsfot Dynamics AX
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