Integrating cultures may take longer, but Schwartz told Automotive News that the company has several advantages on that front. Cox Automotive is integrating strong companies that it purchased, which he said is easier than combining a strong company and weak one. Each of the brands at Cox has an entrepreneurial culture and thrives on innovation, he said.
It helps that at several of the acquired units, the founder has stayed on under new Cox management, including vAuto's Dale Pollak, Dealer.com's Rick Gibbs, Dealertrack's Mark O'Neil and ALG's Raj Sundaram.
The company has reduced employee stress by saying there will be no layoffs. If there are duplicate jobs, "We'll find you a new one," he said, perhaps filling one of Cox Automotive's 1,000 current open positions.
Schwartz has urged employees in various locations to hold "Cox Automotive Nights" to get to know each other. That might be a pizza party at a Manheim auction location, where representatives of each brand stand up and give a five-minute presentation on what that brand does.
Sales is one area in which Cox is still charting its integration route.
Cox Automotive has 3,200 employees, about 10 percent of its work force, in some form of sales. "We don't need seven people showing up at a dealership and taking their time," Schwartz said.
No salesperson can be "Superman or Superwoman" and know every product offered by every brand, he said, "but they should know their customers and know what we've got."
Cox is still working out how to handle that. Should a team of two or three salespeople call on a dealership? Should there be one account manager for larger dealership groups, working with a support team?
The answers aren't final, but Schwartz knows that dealers want a simpler connection to Cox. When Cox Automotive was formed as a division by the combining of Manheim and Autotrader, he recalled, he sat down with one of the company's dealer advisory groups and asked, "How can I get you to be more profitable?"
A dealer, weary of having to log in repeatedly to his various Cox accounts, responded: "Could you get me a single sign-on?"