ELEAD1ONE, an AWA award winning CRM platform, has been chosen by FordDirect as the exclusive recommended CRM platform for Ford dealers in the United States.
The new partnership, announced on a recent webinar by FordDirect, will offer Ford dealers enhanced customer management services, mobile CRM, and customized desking tools. For example, ELEAD1ONE CRM will automate recall marketing based on the dealer’s customers that have open recalls on their vehicles.
Thirty Ford franchise dealers will be able to pilot the customized ELEAD1ONE platform in July with applications due in June. The four month pilot is scheduled to be completed by the end of September. This will give dealers the opportunity to give FordDirect feedback on the ELEAD1ONE platform before the national marketing starts.
The national rollout of the FordDirect CRM platform is scheduled to begin in October. To my knowledge, this is the first time an OEM has selected one CRM platform to be the recommendation technology to Ford franchise dealers. Details on co-op funding for the CRM platform were not available to include in this initial post.
The FordDirect CRM offering will include three different packages to choose from, with the first package supporting the current SalesPoint ILM from FordDirect. Ford dealers who like the SalesPoint ILM will not be forced off the platform. The mid-level and premium CRM packages will be differentiated by their feature set. For example, the premium offering will include real-time equity mining and recall integration.
A Big Announcement for Ford Dealers
ELEAD1ONE is a market leader in automotive CRM platforms. Their suite of dealer solutions is differentiated by their ownership of the largest dedicated call center for consumer engagement, customer service, and retention marketing in the automotive industry. PCG Consulting has recognized ELEAD1ONE with an AWA Award for automotive CRM excellence in 2014 and 2015 and their call center services in 2014.
The ELEAD1ONE call center, which I have visited, completes millions of phone calls a year and has an impressive quality assurance department. Trained agents can assist dealers with handling inbound phone calls, chats, lead form responses, as well as outbound calls for customer service, equity mining, and recall announcements.
The ELEAD1ONE CRM platform also has the most robust and stable API amongst major automotive CRM providers. The ELEAD1ONE platform was the first to embrace open data standards which also allowed some of their largest clients to integrate their CRM data into VistaDash. VistaDash is the automotive industry’s most comprehensive, single-login executive dashboard for sales and marketing data.
With an impressive technology platform matched with an integrated call center, it comes as no surprise that FordDirect picked the ELEAD1ONE CRM platform to satisfy the needs of small and large Ford dealers. It will be interesting to see if the final product provides the promised “value-added” features that were discussed and offered to dealers on the pilot.
The Warning Shot Over The Bow
It is easy to understand FordDirect’s decision to promote one CRM platform technology to their franchise dealers. The partnership can simplify “push” updates to dealers like recalls and incentives which can be directly used to automate phone call and email tasks to sales professionals. A single CRM platform also simplifies training and reporting on Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
This partnership could allow FordDirect to automate the collection of CRM data across the Ford franchise network, giving them information that has been previously elusive to their big data decision modeling software. Data sharing is very sensitive to Ford franchise owners, and likely to receive legal scrutiny from savvy dealers who are afraid of losing control of their new and used car customer data.
This announcement is also likely to escalate the courting of other OEMs to create a similar exclusive CRM partnership. Companies such as Dealertrack Technologies, VinSolutions, and DealerSocket will be watching this very closely. I spoke to one CRM Manager, who works at a competing OEM, about this announcement and they were cautious about the decision, but commented that “I will be watching this rollout very carefully.”
Today only a few OEMs have an exclusive website platform contract that requires all franchise dealers to use one technology base. Does this decision indicate that OEM certified/approved CRM platforms will be part of the next wave of technology consolidation? Yes, because the value of integrated customer shopping data is too valuable to automotive manufacturers and their marketing agencies.
Reducing Choice to Improve Data Mining Models
Limited choices in websites and CRM platforms will be the future for US franchise dealers. The value of consumer shopping data is enormous. Ford could have a first-to-market strategic advantage to completely track the customer journey across Tier 1,2,and 3 websites, mobile apps, and now CRM platforms.
It will be interesting to see how well ELEAD1ONE and Dealertrack Technologies get along, since the latter has the been the preferred website platform for Ford dealers with their acquisition of ClickMotive and Dealer.com.
As of now, Dealers will not be forced to switch to ELEAD1ONE CRM, but over time it will be interesting to see if this policy changes, which could impact the BDC departments of multi-brand dealer groups.
Ford seems to be a leader in completing a robust system to track consumer auto shopping behavior. Recently Ford dealers were encouraged to implement a new Cisco Meraki wireless network, which can see which vehicles consumers are looking at when using the dealer’s Wifi network. This information can be matched with other data to provide customized offers to consumers on and off the dealer’s lot.
The integration of customer shopping data, across the enterprise, will benefit the largest technology companies with nimble development teams that can deliver innovation to OEMs. This is a watershed moment in the US franchise dealer network.
A Waiting Game
Let’s see how clear the data sharing agreements are with Ford franchise dealers and FordDirect on this groundbreaking announcement. In the meantime, congratulations to the team at ELEAD1ONE for securing an agreement with FordDirect.
I reached out to ELEAD1ONE to get a quote about this new partnership, but the company was unable to comment at this time. I hope to be able to add to this story once the national roll-out begins in Q4.
Resources For Auto Dealers
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