Jeff Hart, President and CEO, OneCommand

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1. Strategy and Company Mission.

At OneCommand we continue to provide a sophisticated Customer Marketing and Loyalty Automation Platform™ that utilizes leading edge technology and leverages our AutoIntelligence™ products and techniques.  This platform enables us to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right customer, through the right communication channel. We’ve been focused on developing the OneCommand platform and our AutoIntelligence™ solutions because they are really our secret sauce; our intellectual property.  So, that is our mission.

As for our basic strategy, first and foremost, we optimize our core offering to ensure dealers and/or OEMs receive impactful communication tools that lead to high response rates, increased sales and ROs, increased dollars spent per RO, lower marketing costs and enhanced owner loyalty.

Second, we pride ourselves on delivering creative, relevant, and best practice messaging. It’s not just about providing the dealers or OEMs with another communication tool – it is really about providing best practice messaging that enhances the relationship between the OEM/dealer and its prospects/customers. We spend a lot of time thinking about that because on one hand there are the communication tools and on the other hand there is the messaging that goes along with the tools.  They have to be optimized and synchronized to deliver the ultimate value.

Third, we think about how to expand the Platform to deliver best-in-class products and services that support the evolution of the relationship between the OEM, the dealer, and the consumer. So, if we think back to CallCommand (which is what the company was called initially), we started with voice, then we went to email, then we pulled in direct mail and text. So we are constantly asking ourselves, how do we extend the Platform and develop it, hence deepening the relationship between the dealer and consumer? We recently just announced a couple of new product offerings – one of them is called NewsletterConnect, which helps dealerships and OEMs stay in front of the customer each month, in turn enhancing the relationship with their customers.

Lastly, OneCommand is increasing our focus on our Client Support Team. I think this goes back to my core DNA that client service is paramount to any organization. We strive to deliver industry leading support to ensure that each product is fully utilized and tailored to meet the dealers or OEM’s specific needs. This approach takes the burden off the dealership, lowers their marketing costs, and drives better response rates in their Sales and Service Departments.

 

2. Marketing Objectives and Opportunities for 2013 & Beyond.

Well, it always starts with the client in mind.  It doesn’t do us any good to develop services, products, or processes if they don’t help our clients. So, our fundamental objective, whether it is marketing, product development, sales or service, it always starts with the client in mind.

Over the course of the last few years, we’ve been laser-focused on applying significant effort in understanding the needs of our customers. This has allowed us to really deliver a more scalable, high-quality product, along with services that have continuously increased our customer satisfaction. We’ve actually increased our customer satisfaction by over 300%. You’re probably asking, how does this tie into marketing? Well, understanding your client’s needs ultimately leads to higher retention rates, higher referrals, more references and renewals. To me that is a core fundamental for marketing.

Next, we are focused on simplifying our message. As a company sometimes we talk in our own language and what we really need to do is talk in the language our dealers and OEMs understand. We spend a lot of time thinking about the relevant voice that needs to deliver the real world message to our OEMs and dealers. Throughout our years of experience, we have gathered excellent campaign analytics, developed best practices and increased delivery optimization. The next step is helping dealers understand at a glance when, why and how they should communicate with customers, removing any uncertainty. Then we can truly communicate the value of our solutions, which will resonate with the dealer or OEM and show the real ROI that is meaningful.

Also, we know that we have to focus on building relationships and partnerships with the OEMs, dealer groups and dealers. It is not just about being a vendor. We want to be viewed as an extension of the team that really is in line with their business objectives. If we do not help them achieve their business objectives, then we can’t exist as an organization. We don’t want to be just another vendor; we want to be a true business partner.

Lastly, we have really buttoned up our recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes. We are aggressively recruiting and hiring top tier sales and client relations talent. When I joined the company in 2009 we completely reengineered this process because we realized that if we wanted to be world class, we had to have world class people. We go through a team interview process to ensure everybody we bring to the table can deliver value to our OEMs, dealer groups and dealers.

 

3. What is your assessment of the automotive market & the industry right now?

I think even though we have seen the average age of vehicles on the road increase, the industry is definitely coming back. In 2012 everybody was expecting that the industry would sell over 14 million vehicles; I think we will meet or exceed that estimate.  The OEMs are producing great products, the dealer network has weathered the storm and depending on the impact of the “Fiscal Cliff”, we may see a very strong 2013.

From our perspective, we see that the OEMs, dealer groups and dealers are focused on the most important asset, their customers. They’ve invested in solutions that enhance the relationship between the OEM and consumers, and between the dealers and consumers. That means building a healthy, friendly pipeline with prospects and nurturing them through the buying process. Then they really work to build those relationships to enhance the consumer’s service experience and get them to come back into the service drive – all the more extending customer loyalty.

We feel that the dealers have made a significant investment and are very laser-focused on their customer base, definitely more so than I saw in the past. It is really refreshing to see this customer-centered world hit the automotive sector. I am very impressed with what the OEMs have done with their products, and I am very impressed with the way the dealers talk about their customers, making sure they maintain a positive relationship and ultimately grow their market share. Everyone in the industry has done a wonderful job.

 

4. What do you consider OneCommand’s most significant accomplishments?

There are actually four accomplishments that come to mind.

First is CallCommand. OneCommand really helped foster and create an industry of customer loyalty using digital solutions to drive sales, owner loyalty, repeat purchase, etc. You know, I think about what this company was doing with technology before I joined and how it has really morphed, they laid a nice framework for us to deliver high value services to our dealers.

Second, we were very innovative and we have done wonderful things here at OneCommand. I am very proud of this organization for their quality focus, specifically around products and services. It is very strong and our market is recognizing it and reinforcing that our Platform is best in class. I am so proud of how the people here really take a lot of pride in what they do. When I left the energy space and was looking to see what was next for me, I was really wowed by OneCommand – the people and their willingness to fight for the auto industry when the market was difficult in 2008 and 2009, as well as their commitment to improve our products and services. So, I am very proud of the accomplishments that we have made here.

As an outcome of that second point, quality of products and services, we have been able to celebrate record growth with the number of dealers and OEMs who have signed up on our Platform. We actually have one OEM that has an 85% saturation of our solution into their dealerships. This is pretty phenomenal given that a number of years ago it was very difficult to get co-op dollars for a digital solution that enhances owner loyalty and sales driven tools.

OneCommand is also very much an innovator in technology. We continue to make huge investments in our technology and not just in the customer facing area. We are spending a very significant amount of money right now on the backend infrastructure. My philosophy is to always use tier-one technology. What we are trying to do is really ensure high availability, reliability, and scalability. These are primarily ‘unseen’ elements, but they’re so incredibly important.

Lastly, we are making significant investment to rethink and reengineer the client experience. We look at the Platform and processes that we have invested in over the years and try to figure out how can we simplify it and make it more intuitive, easier for the OEMs and dealers to use. They have their dealerships to run, right? They need to sell cars, they need to finance cars, they need to service vehicles, and they need to get parts. They don’t need to be bogged down by a system that is not intuitive and easy.  They need a platform and service organization that makes their job easier. We really want to spend more time understanding those requirements, making it easier for our clients to use our solution.  Some of that will be through services, and some of that will be through technology, but nonetheless we are really spending time trying to listen to our clients.

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