Patrick Sandone, President, Net Driven

FOLLOW THE LEADERS

This is a tran­scrip­tion of an extra­or­di­nary video inter­view with –

Patrick San­done
Net Dri­ven, Pres­i­dent
Scran­ton, PA

Auto­mo­tive Indus­try Tech­nol­ogy Breakthroughs:

Q. What is the most sig­nif­i­cant tech­nol­ogy break­through in Web site devel­op­ment for inde­pen­dent auto­mo­tive busi­nesses in the last 3 years?

A. “I really think that evo­lu­tion from hav­ing just a page or two talk­ing about the tires that you sell or repair ser­vices that you offer in mak­ing that into an full inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ence on par with what we have seen peo­ple do with new cars has really been a great leap for­ward. We see that that has helped pro­pel deal­ers to a lot of great suc­cess in terms of increas­ing their sales espe­cially in the fixed ops area where we focus.

The “break­through” may be the response to the tech­nol­ogy and that would really have to be around the under­stand­ing of how con­sumers shop for auto­mo­tive prod­ucts and ser­vices and how that really is very dif­fer­ent than how they would shop for regular.

When it comes to auto­mo­tive prod­ucts and ser­vices in most cases a trip to the deal­er­ship is required. You know, you are not going to have your new car put on a flatbed and sent to your house. You know, you need to have your tires put on; you need to have your breaks ser­vice done. So what that means is con­sumers are inter­act­ing with web­site tech­nol­ogy in a fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent way and that is called ROBO – research online buy offline.

What com­pa­nies like Net Dri­ven has done is while there are a lot of com­pa­nies out there that have used that con­cept to cre­ate web­sites that are very good at inter­act­ing with poten­tial cus­tomers and sell­ing them new cars, Net Dri­ven has taken that same approach.

We basi­cally applied that wis­dom to sell­ing things like used cars, wheels, tires, auto­mo­tive repair ser­vices and really cre­at­ing an inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ence for a con­sumer on a web­site that is going to get all of their ques­tions answered, allow them to do all of their research which is the “R” in ROBO and get them into a deal­ers show­room.

Small Deal­ers Com­pet­ing with Big Box Deal­ers & Retailers:

Q. How has pro­pri­etary web­site and Inter­net mar­ket­ing plat­forms for inde­pen­dent auto­mo­tive busi­nesses specif­i­cally enabled small auto retail­ing com­pa­nies to com­pete with big-box auto retailers?

A. “Net Dri­ven has cre­ated a plat­form which is built on a large team and a large research and devel­op­ment effort to cre­ate a solu­tion that was pre­vi­ously unavail­able to some of the smaller inde­pen­dent deal­ers. We have spent at this point prob­a­bly close to 15 mil­lion dol­lars devel­op­ing the tech­nol­ogy not to men­tion we have a large and grow­ing team of peo­ple here ser­vic­ing that technology.

What we saw was there was a real issue in smaller com­pa­nies com­pet­ing with some of the large national chains. The larger chains were doing new and used car sales or doing, tra­di­tional tire and auto­mo­tive ser­vice and repair where they were able to build out a big team, make large invest­ments in their inter­net tech­nol­ogy and there­for cre­ate a really robust sys­tem to com­pete online.

Smaller deal­er­ships, retail tire, and auto­mo­tive ser­vice cen­ters were just phys­i­cally unable to make those kinds of invest­ments or to focus their time. So basi­cally Net Dri­ven was founded to cre­ate a sys­tem that would allow on even play­ing field in the mar­ket place. This allowed com­pa­nies to make a small invest­ment in our tech­nol­ogy plat­form and gain world class tech­nol­ogy. We really believe that the tech­nol­ogy plat­form that we offer is bet­ter than what a lot of the large chains have built in-house. We have and we think that is really impor­tant in terms of keep­ing the play­ing field even for all of the par­tic­i­pants in the marketplace.”

Q. What is the future of Social Media for inde­pen­dent automotive businesses?

A. “Over­all social media is inter­est­ing in that it really allows peo­ple to con­nect online. So what it does at its core is not that com­pli­cated. It is cap­tur­ing the social inter­ac­tions that we were all hav­ing any­way and they were hap­pen­ing over the phone or through email. Now they are just basi­cally being cap­tured in a pub­lic way and there is a record of what is being talked about.

That is pow­er­ful because what it does is it opens up these pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions to a wider audi­ence and that is inter­est­ing to a lot of peo­ple. I think that is super pow­er­ful for the auto­mo­tive indus­try. I think the one leap that the auto­mo­tive indus­try need to make in that regard to just being com­fort­able, you know, in lift­ing the veil a lit­tle bit and show­ing all of the good and bad that does hap­pen in the dealership.

One of the biggest mis­nomers about social media is that it all has to be pos­i­tive. It really doesn’t. I don’t think that any­one believes that social media has to be all good. Actu­ally, I think for it to be good social media there has to be a cer­tain ele­ment of it that is neg­a­tive because that is what makes it real.

Nobody is 100 per­cent pos­i­tive about any­thing in the world. I think as they do make that move to cre­ate a more open and hon­est envi­ron­ment whether it is how peo­ple inter­act with the new car buy­ing process or how peo­ple inter­act with their ser­vice cen­ter I think they will find that peo­ple who are early to that game will build very large and engaged com­mu­ni­ties that will be really pow­er­ful for them in terms of build­ing their business.

It will be ugly at times, of course, at times because it will expose very pub­li­cally some of the weak­nesses but I think it will give the advan­tage of: num­ber one – address those prob­lems quickly but num­ber two — build­ing a trans­par­ent and trust build­ing com­mu­nity which ulti­mately will really help that build all of the aspects of their business.

I think that we are going to see a lot of open­ing of the kimono, so to speak, in a lot of deal­er­ships as they allow a lot of this infor­ma­tion to become pub­lic. I think they are going to be pleas­antly sur­prised that is going to open com­mu­ni­ca­tions process it will all be pos­i­tive. Dealers are going to see that it will build a lot of trust and peo­ple that are early to the game will large and engaged communities around their dealerships.”

Con­tact Infor­ma­tion for Net Dri­ven & Patrick Sandone.

NET DRIVEN CONTACT INFORMATION:

Valerie Burke
Direc­tor of Mar­ket­ing
Net Dri­ven
201 Lack­awanna Ave.
Scran­ton, PA 18503
877–860-2005 x 299
vburke@getnetdriven.com

Patrick San­done, Founder & Pres­i­dent
Net Dri­ven
psandone@getnetdriven.com

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