Asbury Automotive Group CFO Craig Monaghan describes one of retailers' biggest opportunities as managing around the lifetime value of a customer. The Internet and ever-smarter smart phones are technologies that will help dealership groups get there.
“There's no reason why we can't, on an iPhone, tell a customer what the car they currently have is worth, show them what's in our inventory, put a price on what's in our inventory, potentially even help them understand what the financing costs would be for that car, in addition to servicing appointments,” Monaghan recently told a group of analysts. “There's so much in this area to come.”
Asbury is working on getting tools in place for its 80 stores to take advantage of that future. It has shifted much of its advertising spend from traditional print media to the Web, and the retailer continues to invest in and hire people for Web-based marketing initiatives. A common dealership management system for all its stores is a key initiative under way.
Another idea Monaghan is mulling: radio-frequency identification for its customers' cars.
“So when that customer pulls into the service drive, we know who they are,” he said. “We can go and greet the customer personally, understand what their history is with us, understand what might need to be done on that car.”
It's not here today. But it's a future Monaghan says he sees coming.