When the concept was new, ride sharing was perceived by some automotive dealers to be a competitive threat. But not anymore.
Lyft and Uber now are considered business-partner allies that can help dealers satisfy customer needs efficiently and profitably by transporting both customers and parts to and from dealerships, says Elena Ciccotelli, automotive partnerships director at Lyft, during a virtual panel discussion, “Retailing Post-Covid – A New Way to Do Business.”
The panel session was part of the Focus: Future Dealer conference held during Automotive Tech Week, hosted by WardsAuto’s parent company Informa. The five-day confab that ended Friday incorporated live content at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI.
Seeing other opportunities on the horizon, Ciccotelli (pictured below, left) says Lyft now is working on many new large-scale partnerships within the automotive retail industry.
Also on the panel, Andrew DiFeo, general manager of Hyundai of St. Augustine (FL), notes how today’s inventory-challenged market has impacted customer fixed-operations transport.
DiFeo says the system has “evolved” from manufacturers endorsing new inventory for loaner cars, to certified pre-owned units, to general used vehicles, to now warranty reimbursement for Lyft rides to better serve customer needs.
The fixed-ops transport theme carried over to the second panel, “Facing Down the Disruptors: How to Compete and Win Against New Retail Challengers.”
Anthony Monteiro, chief operating officer of on-demand vehicle delivery platform Draiver, says companies such as Carvana and Vroom have accelerated customer expectations for both digital sales and door-to-door delivery, both for fixed ops and sales.
While dealerships for decades have relied on porters and car runners, Monteiro says forward-thinking dealers are working with companies like his to coordinate volume deliveries with their own and outside personnel, while “upping the game” for timeliness and professionalism.
Draiver and other similar services also can help alleviate the used-vehicle inventory shortage by coordinating transport of vehicles purchased from the “driveway” that may be many miles away.
Over-the-air vehicle technology updates also provide opportunities for dealership fixed ops, says Bill Cariss, president and CEO of Holman Strategic Ventures.
The emerging OTA world could enable technicians to identify and diagnose a problem remotely and have the parts ready for a vehicle service appointment, boosting a dealer’s efficiency and net income, Cariss says.
Lots of questions surround the proposed new recurring revenue of OTA subscriptions for vehicle upgrades: How is that revenue shared with the dealer? Will customers be willing to pay for additional services monthly?
Still, Cariss says the cost savings and value-added make OTA service diagnostics extremely attractive.
John F. Possumato is an attorney and founder and CEO of DriveItAway, which creates platforms and applications enabling automotive retailers to offer new app-enabled mobility options, including remote rental and rent-to-purchase. He moderated and spoke on panels during Focus: Future Dealer.