Tag Archive | "digital retailing"

AutoGravity Names New CEO, CTO


IRVINE, Calif. — AutoGravity named replacements for its chief executive and chief technology officer (CTO), who reportedly left about two months ago.

Alex Mallmann, who most recently served as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Auto Finance China, replaces AutoGravity’s co-founder and CEO Andy Hinrichs, who left in May, according to the Orange County Business Journal. The fintech firm also announced that Jason Bonifay will replace Sheng Wang, who reportedly left two weeks after Hinrichs’s departure.

A company spokesman only confirmed Hinrichs has left the company, but offered no further details. The former chief executive lists himself as a fintech entrepreneur and digital executive on his LinkedIn page, which notes that his time as head of AutoGravity ended in May 2018.

“Alex has the unique ability to translate vision and strategy into world-class execution, which enables a compelling consumer experience,” said Benedikt Schell, chief experience officer and member of the Daimler Financial Services AG’s board of management. “With millions of users embracing AutoGravity, the company has paved unprecedented digital roads in the industry. Under Alex’s leadership, adoption of AutoGravity’s award-winning technology is expected to accelerate exponentially.”

Schell also serves as chairman of AutoGravity’s board of directors.

The new appointments come as the startup hit a new milestone, reaching two million users in less than two years since its initial launch. According to the company, the milestone represents more than $2 billion in financing requests.

The company also claims to have partnered with more than 2,200 dealerships across the U.S. and more than 20 of the nation’s largest banks and captive lenders, including Hyundai Finance, Mercedes-Benz Financial Service, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., TD Auto Finance, US Bank, and Volkswagen Credit

Hinrich was coming off a nearly 20-year career with Daimler Financial Services when he and AutoGravity COO Nicholas Stellman, another Daimler Financial Services veteran, founded the fintech firm with the backing of Daimler AG in October 2015. The first version of the firm’s tool was silently released in early 2016. It allows shoppers to secure vehicle financing or a lease on their mobile device before visiting a dealership.

In July 2017, the fintech firm announced that VW Credit made a $30 million equity investment in the company. Earlier that year, Daimler announced it was investing a “double-digit million euro amount” into AutoGravity.

This past March, the company earned the Orange County Business Journal’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. Hinrichs also received Automotive News’ All-Star Award in 2017 and the publication’s 2018 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. AutoGravity also took home the grand prize in F&I and Showroom’s F&I Digital Media Awards at last year’s Industry Summit, and was named Entrepreneurial Company of the Year in May 2017 by Frost & Sullivan.

Wang, whose LinkedIn page notes that she left the company this month, was one of five honored in May at the Orange County Business Journal’s 24th annual Women of the Year awards. She joined the company in March 2016 as head of product and was named CTO this past December.

Mallmann was appointed as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Auto Finance China in 2014. He began his career in 1998 with Mercedes-Benz in Brazil and held several senior management and managing director positions in the American and Europe, including president and CEO for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services in Spain and Portugal.

“I’m extremely excited to join the AutoGravity team and further revolutionize the digital car-buying experience for customers,” he stated in the company’s press release. “The company is full of amazingly talented people, market-leading technology, and unmatched momentum. With our focus on constantly exceeding the expectations of consumers, dealers, and lenders, AutoGravity will become the digital standard for car buying and financing.”

Bonifay joined the AutoGravity leadership team in May as vice president of engineering. He previously served as vice president of development for product and engineering at CDK Global. He also spent five years as vice president of software engineering at Bankruptcy Management Solutions. Before that, he served as CTO at Propero Software.

“AutoGravity has established a reputation as a leading innovator in the automotive industry. The opportunity to provide technical leadership and drive innovative solutions during this era of rapid growth is an exciting and welcome challenge for me,” he said. “I look forward to contributing to AutoGravity’s mission to revolutionize the digital car-buying experience.”

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CDK Global to Acquire ELEAD1ONE


HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. and ATLANTA — CDK Global Inc. today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire ELEAD1ONE. The value of the transaction, which was unanimously approved by CDK’s board of directors, was not disclosed.

The deal was first reported on Sunday by The Banks Report, which described the acquisition as checking off “several boxes for CDK while filling a big product hole — a viable integrated CRM platform with significant market share.” According to CDK’s press release, ELEAD1ONE works with approximately 4,000 auto dealership across North America.

“As we looked at how best to rapidly address the needs of dealers in today’s evolving marketplace, we determined that ELEAD1ONE’s centerpiece CRM offering a fully integrated suite of layered applications fit well with our diversified product offerings,” said Brian MacDonald, president and CEO of CDK Global. “In addition, ELEAD1ONE’s well-regarded customer service capabilities will complement our focus on delivering an outstanding experience to its dealer customers. We look forward to helping dealers deliver a great customer experience with our combined products and services.”

ELEAD1ONE’s automotive customer relationship management (CRM) software and call center solutions enable seamless interaction between sales, service and marketing operations to provide dealers with a customer acquisition and retention platform. According to The Banks Report, CDK is acquiring a company with annual revenue of more than $100 million.

“ELEAD1ONE dealers demand superior performance from the most advanced and integrated CRM software solution in the automotive industry,” said ELEAD1ONE Founder and CEO Hugh Hathcock. “Recognized as a clear industry leader, ELEAD1ONE has consistently developed and delivered powerful cutting-edge dealer solutions, combining CRM with our successful ELEAD1ONE Contact Center, and Fixed Ops platform.”

Judy Hathcock, founder and president of ELEAD1ONE, added, “Together with CDK, the integrated companies will leverage vast resources to continue to invest in state-of-the-art information technology, innovative software application development, and highly effective communication platforms that emphasize superior user experiences with significant measurable ROI and reporting. Together we remain dedicated to focusing on innovation, support, and delivering the highest quality technology, products, and services.”

According to The Banks Report, the deal was submitted to the Federal Trade Commission several days ago and should close within a month following a regulatory review. The FTC halted CDK Global’s acquisition of Auto/Mate this past March. The media out said it does not believe federal regulators will block this transaction.

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EFG Companies: Dealers Must Embrace Industry Paradigm Shift


DALLAS, Texas — Staffing and customer engagement models are the top issues impacting the future health of the retail automotive industry, EFG Companies President and CEO John Pappanastos said today.

The F&I product provider’s chief executive delivered his comments as part of a state of the industry address the company posted on its website. Pappanastos encourage dealership principals and senior managers to quickly address those issues or risk becoming a dinosaur in today’s rapidly changing consumer car-buying mode, noting that digital buying habits, millennial and Gen Z consumers, and women are forcing industry change.

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association’s 2017 Workforce Study, retail automotive suffered from a 43% turnover rate — up two points from 2016. Additionally, the automotive industry experienced an 88% attrition rate among female new hires, and a below average rate of millennial new hires when compared to other industries.

Pappanastos said many retail automotive businesses lack a comprehensive plan to become an employer of choice, and instead rely heavily on traditional “bell-to-bell” hours, commission-only payment plans, and limited training. He urged them to immediately develop a strategy for hiring, training, and promoting the best and brightest employees to operate in a world where consumers are demanding a more digital process with a better customer experience.

The executive noted that a single poor hiring decision in F&I can easily result in up to $75,000 in lost profit due to onboarding costs and lost production, adding that the retail automotive industry’s focus on daily operations also hampers leadership development and obscures the growth path for millennial hires who, as a group, require opportunities for promotion.

The F&I product executive also touched on recent research from Cox Automotive, which showed that 80% of consumers want to complete at least half of the car-buying process digitally. He also cited a 2018 Deloitte study showing that “dealers create a fragmented and inconsistent approach to the customer,” which leads to inefficient customer contact, inconsistent messaging, and ultimately failure to sell and build loyalty.

“While I realize change is difficult, dealership principals must incorporate greater consumer-facing digital platforms into their dealerships,” said Pappanastos, adding that hiring employees who are experts in online customer engagement and digital sales approaches represents one solution. “Failure to do so will result in lost revenue. We must remember the old adage of ‘meet the customer where they are.’ And today’s customer is clearly online.”

Pappanastos also encouraged dealerships not to lose sight of compliance. “Job skills are easy to assess. What’s difficult is finding candidates who have solid character,” the executive said. “During these tumultuous times, dealerships must maintain a high degree of integrated compliance. The resulting fines, and damage to reputation, can result in significant business loss due to very clear and public online postings and reviews.”

Pappanastos remarks during his state of the industry address focused on the future health of the retail automotive industry and sounded a wakeup call to dealership principals to quickly embrace changing consumer buying preferences. He also encouraged future millennial and Gen Z employees to seek out careers in retail automotive, noting that exciting changes and their opportunity to make industrywide impact.

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TD Auto Finance Joins AutoGravity Network


CHERRY HILL, N.J. — TD Auto Finance (TDAF), a subsidiary of TD Bank, is the latest auto finance source to join AutoGravity’s car-shopping and financing platform, the two companies announced this week.

Through the newly forged partnership, indirect financing offers through TDAF will be made available to qualified auto buyers using AutoGravity’s digital platform, which allows consumers to search for and finance their next vehicle from their desktop or mobile device.

“We realize the impact that cutting-edge technology will have for our current and prospective dealer partners,” said Andrew Stuart, president and CEO of TD Auto Finance U.S. “Given consumers’ desire for digital options, our partnership with AutoGravity positions us to reach car buyers right on their smartphones and will help to drive the next wave of innovation in our industry.”

According to AutoGravity, more than one million users, a majority of whom as millennials, have downloaded AutoGravity’s native iOS and Android apps and collectively requested more than $2 billion in vehicle financing in 2017. Recognizing the popularity of comprehensive digital options in auto financing today, TDAF will utilize AutoGravity technology to further its reach to this set of consumers.

The AutoGravity app connects ready-to-buy car shoppers with lenders and dealerships through a seamless digital platform. Consumers can choose any new or used car, browse local inventory, apply for financing and select from up to four personalized indirect auto finance offers. Consumers can then take their chosen offer to the dealership to purchase the vehicle they selected.

“AutoGravity is reinventing the car-buying and financing journey with game-changing technology that effortlessly connects consumers, dealers and lenders,” said AutoGravity founder and CEO Andy Hinrichs. “Our partnership with TDAF reinforces our commitment to empower car buyers with finance options from the most trusted lenders in the industry — lenders that embrace technology to offer a new level of service to digitally savvy car buyers and dealerships alike.”

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Clarivoy Appoints Jessica Ruth to VP Role


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Dealer marketing solutions provider Clarivoy announced it has hired Jessica Ruth, formerly digital program manager at Dominion Dealer Solutions, as vice president of product.

Commenting on the new hire, Clarivoy CEO Steve White said, “Jessica is a vital addition to our leadership team where she will lead product creation and management for all current and new products. These responsibilities are critical to achieving Clarivoy’s strategic goal: to provide dealers with a single complete view of how people buy cars and where to get their next sale.

“Her experience and background make her a perfect fit as VP of Product, where she will pioneer new product development, resulting in demonstrative revenue growth, increased market share and customer adoption,” White added.

Ruth brings more than 10 years of auto industry experience to Clarivoy, having successfully managed, launched and led large software development projects. She previously served as digital program manager at Dominion Dealer Solutions, where she created new processes, products and efficiencies that led to improved customer product delivery. She has also served in executive roles with DealerFire and DealerRefresh.

“As I considered my next opportunity, it was important for me to join an organization that is trustworthy, progressive and rooted in their industry objectives,” Ruth said. “Clarivoy’s mission of helping dealers as an unbiased third-party provider aligned with my personal beliefs and professional goals. They are truly a dealer partner whose only interest is helping dealers succeed. I’m extremely excited to join such a great team.”

Visit Clarivoy at Booth 763N at the 2018 NADA convention in Las Vegas.

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Chase Joins AutoFi’s Digital Retailing Platform


NEW YORK — Chase became the first national bank to join AutoFi’s digital retailing platform, the finance source announced today.

AutoFi is a fintech firm that offers a digital retailing platform that connects dealers with finance sources and buyers. Under the new partnership, Chase will deliver financing terms online through the AutoFi platform.

“AutoFi helps dealers provide a fast and easy digital car-buying experience that consumers want,” said Chase Auto Finance CEO Mark O’Donovan. “Our customers are our top priority — both dealers and car buyers. We want to provide them with the best financial experience whether they are in a dealership or online.”

AutoFi CEO Kevin Singerman added: “We are thrilled to partner with Chase. We share a common vision of using technology to deliver a delightful consumer purchase experience. Our partnership brings tremendous value to the dealer community leveraging the breadth of Chase’s full spectrum lending and automated capabilities to deliver a comprehensive digital retailing solution to dealers across the nation.”

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