Putting Our Customers First
March 16, 2017
"Dealers own their data; DealerVault helps them stay in control" - Steve Cottrell
There’s a saying that guides our Authenticom and DealerVault team in everything we do: “We can only grow our business by helping you grow yours first!”
It might sound simple, but this philosophy has helped us grow to serve more than 15,000 automotive retailers and nearly 500 third-party vendors since we founded Authenticom back in 2002. This philosophy has never been more important than it is today. When many other organizations are looking to line their pockets on the backs of their dealership customers, we put our customers first every time.
Philosophy Born of Customer Service
Our customer first attitude stems from my 13 years on the front lines in dealerships. Working first as a salesman then F&I, onto a used car manager and GSM among other positions. Before sophisticated CRM systems were adopted by most car dealerships, I had my own analog CRM system – several shoeboxes full of 3×5 index cards with hand scrawled data and notes about people and their families that where my customers. I knew their birthdays, their spouses’ names and their kids’ names. I knew what they liked, their dislikes, where they worked and what they did for fun. I reached out to them on a regular basis and made our business relationship a personal relationship first.
Understanding who they were and how they lived their lives made for better relationships and it made me better at anticipating their transportation needs. Ultimately, it helped me sell my friends the right cars or trucks for their individual needs – a true win-win for everyone.
As I transitioned from dealer to consultant to Internet entrepreneur, I kept this customer first mantra at the core of everything my companies did. While working as EVP of sales at Autoweb.com, I became deeply concerned with the quality and authenticity of the Internet leads sent to our dealer customers. One of our major initiatives was to develop the industry’s first lead-scrubbing tool that could identify false Internet leads. It was an excellent way to protect dealers, make our service more valuable, all the while engendering confidence and trust from our customers.
The lead verification experience led to a larger epiphany –first that the automotive industry as a whole was way behind the times when it came to technology and then later, that there is an entire world of automotive data that needed to be authenticated and protected. It led to the formation of Authenticom in 2002 and ultimately to DealerVault in 2013.
Data Security Ownership
Why is data security ownership important?
Authenticom, Inc. has quickly grown into the leading data security company in the automotive retailing industry. Our innovative product, DealerVault, is the first cloud-based system allowing automotive retailers control over how their customer data is stored and used. Most important, it provides low-cost, highly reliable data security and is an alternative to current automotive retail dealership management system providers, who often charge an exorbitant fee to third-party vendors each time a dealer wants to access their own customer data.
Our team knew there was a better, more customer-focused way to provide this service to dealers across the country. DealerVault offers a market driven approach that allows automotive retailers to control their own data and keep their costs down. We offer standardized pricing of $25 per month for a single reoccurring nightly data feed or $50 per month for two or more nightly data feeds.
Think about any other type of technology costs, as the technology becomes more ubiquitous, costs should come down. For example, my first cell phone was carried in a backpack and required two antennas on the roof of my car. It was not portable beyond my vehicle and at that time, charges were about $2,000 a month. Now, because of technological advancement, cell phones have become a must have item, pocket portable and offered at a fraction of the cost.
It should be that way with data security, too. But, today’s DMS providers are making a land grab for what we like to call the “Dealership Data Goldmine.” Several industry analysts anticipate DMS providers to charge as much as $2 billion for data access in just two years. This equates to more than $100,000 in additional annual costs per franchised dealer. That’s the equivalent of cell phone prices increasing to about $20,000 per month instead of down like innovation and competition have dictated – and it certainly flies in the face of the customer-first philosophy deeply rooted in our DNA at Authenticom.
We believe dealers own their data. We believe it’s up to customer-first companies like ourselves to provide innovation, foster fair competition and ultimately protect the Automotive industries’ best interests.