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Staying Ahead of Competition

Advanced technology helps Paragon Honda and Acura execute personalized and frictionless consumer experiences across every medium, from initial engagement to a final transaction.

Paragon Honda and Acura see a 133% increase in revenue using Team Velocity’s Retention Solution, Apollo Service.

In a time when customer retention has never been more critical, we sat down with Brian Benstock, vice president and general manager of Paragon Honda and Acura, to reflect on his success as he celebrates his 39th year in the industry. In the wake of COVID-19, Paragon achieved a 133% increase in revenue utilizing Team Velocity’s award-winning customer experience technology, Apollo. “2020 was the best year we have ever had, in the middle of a global pandemic. Team Velocity helped us achieve that,” says Benstock. 

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“The whole notion of having to come to a dealership for service is outdated. If a customer doesn’t want to set foot in the dealership, they shouldn’t have to,” says Benstock. “Our customers don’t have time to waste when buying or servicing their car. Technology has changed their expectations, so we have to change our approach and exceed those expectations.” 

“I replaced the most popular legacy service scheduling tool with one from Team Velocity that is fully integrated with my website and my DMS, includes personalized service coupons for every one of my customers, and offers the ability to pick-up and drop-off vehicles. Not to mention, the entire process can be completed in about 30 seconds or less from a mobile device. Team Velocity’s service products have made it drastically easier for my customers to schedule service, which has increased our online service appointments by five times and played a significant role in helping Paragon achieve 133% growth in revenue,” says Benstock.

In March 2021, after utilizing Team Velocity’s fully integrated service scheduling application, Paragon Honda saw over 2,900 total service appointments scheduled, 17% of which were made online alone. Piggy-backing off Paragon Honda’s success, Paragon Acura received over 1,100 total service appointments scheduled, 19% of which were fully made online. 

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To date, Paragon has seen a 12% increase in retention and a 50% higher gross profit from pickup and delivery customers. Repair orders have increased by an average of 220% from in-store vs. pickup for service. “The results are undeniable,” says Benstock. “It is unlike anything you have ever seen.”

Team Velocity’s service retention solution, Apollo Service, leverages the latest technology to make it fast and easy for customers to service their vehicles. One of its most notable features is touchless service scheduler that integrates with Google Voice, RedCap and Draiver to provide a service experience unlike any other. With a series of voice-assisted prompts, Paragon customers can use their mobile devices or Google Home to easily contact the dealership or schedule service appointments without any human intervention. With RedCap and Draiver integrations, Paragon provides an unrivaled level of convenience by offering touchless pickup and delivery options to their customers whether they are at home, in the office or on the way to run an errand.

Throughout his career, Benstock has become notorious for his disruptive approach to selling and servicing cars. Under his leadership, Benstock’s dealerships have received many accolades, often being a top-three dealership for new vehicle sales in the country, currently holding the title of No. 1 certified Honda and Acura dealer for 17 consecutive years and the No. 1 overall new and certified dealer in the country. 

The Paragon team does not achieve these goals single-handedly. Its success is due to the implementation of industry-leading technology, skilled staff members and strategic planning to prepare for any obstacle that might enter its path.

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“You never want to let a short-term situation dictate the long-term outcome,” Benstock says. “We took a look at where we thought the market was going to be last year. We understood with low interest rates, $1.7 trillion in savings that the U.S. economy has put away over the past 12 months and another $2 trillion in stimulus money, a lot of money would enter the market. We thought that would bode well for our industry, and it has. With that being said, we’re not immune to market fluctuations, and we’re not immune to chip shortages impacting inventory.”

Looking ahead at the dealership’s long-term goals, making sure inventory was available for customers was a priority, even in the face of the recent microchip shortage.

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“I can proudly say that the Paragon stores were prepared for what was coming,” explains Benstock. “We stocked up on cars from November through February. As of right now, we have one of the highest inventories for Honda and Acura in the marketplace. I say that not to brag, but I do think we’ve seen this movie before. We saw that our brothers and sisters at Toyota were running out of chips. It was only a question of time before it came here. We had a rather rough winter in New York, which made it a perfect time to buy cars! With that said, I do think for us around June and beginning of July, we’re going to be low on inventory, and we’re going to have to be very strategic in how we place and serve our advertising.”

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The basis of any business is to reach customers to make a sale, and because of this, marketing is a priority for the Paragon dealerships.

“We’re in the market 12 months out of the year, every year; you don’t back off,” says Benstock. “I’m a part of two DAAs, one for Honda, one for Acura. I get to hear a lot of very smart dealers’ opinions about things, and the consensus right now is, ‘We should back off of the advertising.’ Certainly, as independent owners and operators, they have a right to do that.”

Benstock, on the other hand, ramped up his marketing efforts.

As part of Paragon’s increased marketing efforts dating back to February 2020, the decision was made to switch website providers to Team Velocity’s website product, Apollo Sites. This is the industry’s first transactional website built for a frictionless customer experience that includes a suite of transactional features geared toward sales, service and trades-ins, like one-touch service scheduling with built-in pickup and delivery, and more. “It is the only website that integrates directly with the DMS that pulls the information out. What that means for the customer is a better and more simple transaction every time,” says Benstock. “On top of that, we have the unique ability to see the customer’s entire shopping journey — every email they have opened, every ad they have clicked, every action they have taken on our website — on an individual basis and tie that back to a transaction. If that’s not ROI attribution, I don’t know what is.”

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With increased website and marketing efforts, Paragon saw website conversions skyrocket from 4% to 8%, resulting in 933 more sales leads year-over-year (196% increase). By harnessing the data goldmines within their DMS, Paragon was able to provide every customer with a unique and personalized Amazon Prime-like experience that translated directly to sales and service conversions.  

“I think this is the best time to keep your foot on the gas. It’s not just about selling cars; it’s about reaching a higher margin when you have 10 people who want one car.” Benstock goes on to discuss constantly staying up-to-date with their marketing. “We’re certainly keeping a message out there. I don’t want to go dark, especially in a digital landscape. When you go dark digitally, it takes a while for the algorithm to build back up. Why would you let that go to your competition?”

Advanced technology like Team Velocity’s Customer Experience Platform, Apollo, helps Paragon execute personalized and frictionless consumer experiences across every medium, from initial engagement to a final transaction. By homing in on Apollo’s dynamic and customized messaging, Paragon was able to continuously deliver the right message at the right time to the right customer during every stage of their purchasing funnel.

“We have about a million impressions a month. This then converts into 7,500 people who take a look at that ad specifically and click on it. And we have about 1,500 to 3,000 store visits as a direct result of that campaign,” says Benstock. “The cost per store visit is very inexpensive.”

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During the height of COVID-19, Paragon sought out a solution to increase revenue, service appointments and overall sales. Team Velocity’s service retention product, Apollo Service, increases service revenue and retention while driving service to sales transactions. As a legacy partner with Team Velocity, Paragon was one of the first dealerships to implement its new product, and the results were immediate. Customers who are due for service are identified and engaged with customized offers and coupons based on the exact services they are due for. Its built-in equity mining tool easily identifies service to sales upgrade opportunities, delivering relevant upgrade offers that drive conversions.

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The ability to analyze years of sales and service transactional data was the number-one reason Benstock chose to utilize Apollo for all of the dealership’s marketing services. “I think dealers who are continuing to do television advertising need to take a good, hard look. Is that the right direction to go? We abandoned that several years ago,” explains Benstock. “You have no idea how many people saw it, you have no idea how many people reacted to it and, most importantly, you have no idea how many people came and bought a car. It may make you feel good when you’re at home and you see your ad on TV, but is that driving results for the dealership? If we can’t measure it today, we’re going to stay away from it and not spend money. We’re looking for advertising that has attribution.”

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By implementing Apollo Service, Paragon was able to release a suite of integrated service campaigns through mail, email, search and social media, leading customers to an Amazon Prime-like website fully equipped with an integrated service scheduler, automated coupon management and recall information. 

In response to partnering with Team Velocity’s Apollo, Benstock says, “It’s a pleasure to be a part of this organization. It’s just one of those examples where Team Velocity took the right approach — a digital approach — in an area where very few dealers were participating at that time and put the right message in front of the right customer. Like a good partner, we aligned in our objectives. Sales’ job is to drive unit sales, and that drives all of our messaging.”

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For more information about Team Velocity and the Apollo Customer Experience Platform, visit teamvelocitymarketing.com/apollo.

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