Group 1 Automotive Inc. is using technology to help its dealership staff sell more vehicles, increase service and parts business and streamline the F&I process.
"Our goal is to focus on how and what technology we can use to support our processes, control our assets, and make our empowered decision makers more objective and cost efficient," Group 1 CEO Earl Hesterberg said at the Automotive News World Congress.
For example, Group 1 in its dealerships is using computer software designed to improve its used vehicle business. The software allows Group 1 to: monitor real-time used-vehicle prices, measure the closing rate of its used-vehicle appraisals and link used-vehicle inventory across multiple locations.
"We are using this type of technology to standardize our processes, to leverage higher levels of performance and professionalism from our key people in the market and to give us the ability to hold them accountable for their performance," Hesterberg said.
Group 1 also is using technology to improve the marketing of its service departments. The technology has helped the company become more precise with the targeting and timing of its promotional offers. Dealership employees also encouraged to be more aggressive in obtaining customers' e-mail addresses, he said.
The result is that Group 1 is sending more than 200,000 service marketing e-mails each month.
"These e-mail communications have driven as much as $3.4 million incremental parts and service revenues in a single month," he said.
Hesterberg, a former Ford Motor Co. marketing vice president, joined Group 1 in April 2005.
Relying on technology in the F&I department also has helped dealers speed up transactions and improve accuracy, he said.
Group 1 has not yet released its full-year 2005 sales figures but Hesterberg said he expects last year's new and used retail vehicle sales to total about 200,000 units, up from 184,307 units in 2004.
In other remarks, Hesterberg said:
Group 1, which sold 117,971 new retail units in 2004, ranks No. 5 on Automotive News' list of the Top 100 Dealership Groups in the United States. In 2004, the publicly held company's 96 dealerships in the United States produced $5.4 billion in revenue.
You may e-mail Gail Kachadourian at [email protected]