Smells Like Teen Spirit

An entrepreneurial 18-year-old son of an auto dealer is at it again. Cameron Johnson, founder and CEO of Zablo.com Inc., has launched a second web-based service for dealers. This one plugs into the Federal Trade Commission's new regulations against telemarketing calls. Zablo's Do-Not-Call List Manager sets up a dealership with an account that lets staffers flag phone numbers of customers who don't

An entrepreneurial 18-year-old son of an auto dealer is at it again.

Cameron Johnson, founder and CEO of Zablo.com Inc., has launched a second web-based service for dealers. This one plugs into the Federal Trade Commission's new regulations against telemarketing calls.

Zablo's Do-Not-Call List Manager sets up a dealership with an account that lets staffers flag phone numbers of customers who don't want to be on the store's call list.

Before dealership representatives make sales calls, they can enter customers' phone numbers on a website. The system tells if a customer appears on the dealership's company-specific do-not-call list. It will also search the federal don't-call registry.

“Our technology allows dealerships to protect themselves against government fines and helps the dealer establish a policy for complying with the national registry,” says Johnson.

Zablo introduced its first service for car dealers nearly two years ago: AutoCertificate popup coupons. The Roanoke,VA-firm claims about 100 automotive clients.

Johnson launched Zablo while working at his family's dealership, Magic City Ford in Roanoke.

He says, “The dealer principal is my dad, Bill Johnson. My great-grandfather started the dealership in 1938. So if I choose to follow in my dad's footsteps, I'll be fourth generation.”

He started working there in 2000 washing cars. He became the Internet manager in 2001. That's when he came up with the idea for AutoCertificate.

He's owned more than 10 businesses since he was nine years old. His initial enterprise was printing greeting cards with his first computer. At 15, he became an advisory board member of FutureKids, a Tokyo-based company. A biography of him was released in Japan in 2000.

He's given more than 50 speeches around the world and has been ranked among the nation's top young entrepreneurs. He's currently a college freshman at Virginia Tech.

What's the origin of the name Zablo?

“I wish I had a better answer. I hired a programmer who owned a small company called Zablo. I liked the name, thought it was creative, so I ended up purchasing it from him.”

Johnson put a team of programmers to work on developing Zablo's latest web-based dealership service after another company approached his father, trying to sell him something similar for $2,500 a year.

#8220;My dad asked me to look into it. I said, ‘Hey, there's no way this service is worth that!’ I told my dad to pass on it. He said, ‘Well, you better develop something better.’ So that's what we did.”

He contends his is twice as good and half as much.

Meanwhile, he says AutoCertificate is enhancing Internet sales for clients, including Jerry Reynolds, owner of Prestige Ford in Garland, TX.

Reynolds says, “AutoCertificate has provided us with ‘caller ID’ for our website, and it's generating an additional 400 leads a month.”

Says Johnson: “We're just blowing things out of the water.”

TAGS: Dealers Retail
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