I wanted to share a couple of notes during this short holiday week:
First, nearly two-thirds of vehicle transactions in June were at least partially digital, according to franchised dealers surveyed for Cox Automotive's third-quarter Dealer Sentiment Index, released this week.
In the bulk of those June transactions, 51 percent, the customer handled at least some portion of the purchase online, according to data from Jonathan Smoke, Cox's chief economist. Eleven percent were completely digital. Smoke said the survey didn't specify what constituted a completely digital transaction — states generally still require wet signatures to complete a purchase, for example — but added that dealers likely interpreted a completely digital transaction as one in which most of the process is handled online.
The survey's findings come in the wake of franchised dealers this spring accelerating their shift toward digital retailing, particularly in states that prohibited showrooms from opening to limit the spread of COVID-19.
"To do it completely digital requires quite a bit of automation, especially in the back office and the [finance and insurance] process, so we don't see a substantial change in the percentage that are fully digital," Smoke told me. "But we do see them trying to automate pieces of the process, especially enhancing the communication that they do with clients. And so I think consumers are responding to that."
Second, dealership technology company DealerSocket named Tony Graham to lead its Auto/Mate dealership management system business. Graham, who had been a vice president at CDK Global before he retired last year, joined DealerSocket in late August following the retirement of former Auto/Mate CEO Mike Esposito in July.
DealerSocket is now more than six months into its integration of Auto/Mate, which it acquired in February.
Graham, 57, who is executive vice president and general manager of the Auto/Mate division, told me he intends to grow the business by building upon Auto/Mate's commitment to customer service.
"I look at it from the standpoint of the opportunity that's in front of us," he said. "The opportunity to take the pieces, take the foundation that's been put in place on the Auto/Mate side, but also equally the foundation on the DealerSocket side, and just bring my experience to that."