Monetizing the Connected Car

Monetizing the Connected Car: A Panel Discussion

IMG_6862-1At the annual TU-Automotive Detroit conference, one question took center stage: Can telematics really drive a profit? Our panel, “Monetizing the Connected Car,” brought together four industry experts to answer just that.

Moderated by Xtime Vice President of Product Marketing Chris Ice, the panel featured Michael Deitz, Senior Group Manager of Connected Car and Owner Marketing at Hyundai Motor America; Wade Hubbard, Vice President of Fixed Operations at Group 1 Automotive; Cameron Coursey, AT&T’s Vice President of Product Development for the company’s Internet of Things solution; and Roger Lanctot, Associate Director for the Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics.

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All four panelists agreed: Telematics is absolutely a profitable endeavor. But when targeting customers, the focus should be on what the system can do, not on technical specifics. As Lanctot explained, separate monthly subscriptions and highly technical language distract from what telematics brings to the table. “What sells the car is really offering solutions,” said Deitz. “It’s about solving problems for the customer, and doing it in a way that is cost-effective for them.”
The need for cost-effective problem solving makes a dealership’s service department an especially well-placed application for telematics. When service departments use telematics to provide objective insight into a vehicle’s needs, they see an increased likelihood that customers will service their vehicles in a timely manner. This allows dealers to deliver outstanding service and win customer loyalty. According to Hubbard, “Telematics is changing the dynamic of a workshop.”

Telematics-enabled service delivers serious benefits for participating dealers. As Hubbard reported, parts and service accounted for 11% of Group 1 Automotive’s 2014 revenue, and 40% of its gross profit. Parts and service are a major part of a dealership’s bottom line, and savvy dealers will use telematics to maximize their capacity.

Dealers and OEMs aren’t the only ones to benefit from connected cars. Telecommunications companies have an unparalleled opportunity to integrate their services into consumer vehicles, especially when taking advantage of the “upgrade envy” currently dominating the mobile market.

“We should be thinking about upgrading the capabilities of vehicles over time so they can take advantage of the latest technologies, the latest operating systems, the latest applications, the latest radio functionality,” Coursey said. “If we can find a way to do that, that would satisfy the automotive manufacturers, the customers and the whole ecosystem.”

Though the panelists brought widely different perspectives to the table, all four agreed that telematics is no passing fad. Perhaps Hubbard summed it up best, saying telematics “is relevant, and it’s relevant in a big way.”

Best Practices for the Modern Service Department

Xtime was a finalist for the Best Telematics Service Provider Award, presented at the TU-Automotive Awards Ceremony on June 2. Last year, Xtime’s ServiceTelematics solution was awarded Best Automotive Application at the same event.


Xtime SVP of Sales, Marketing & Managed Services Jim Roche.

Best Practices for the Modern Service Department

The 1970s and 1980s were good for some things, but dealer waiting rooms and service drives were not among them. Buyer behavior has changed drastically, which means that customer service expectations have evolved along with them. Gone are the days of stale coffee in Styrofoam cups and back-dated fishing magazines in the dealer lobby, endless paperwork for service advisors to fill out and keeping drivers in the dark about their vehicles’ service needs.

According to a recent JD Power study, 40% of car buyers indicated that a dealer’s service lane is the gateway to retention. The following are some best practices for keeping today’s customers in the loyalty loop.

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  • Focus on the driver’s needs, not yours.
    When you put the safety of the driver and the health of the car first, you begin to build a lasting customer relationship.
  • Teach—don’t just show.
    Educating the driver on the importance of routine and timely maintenance will help him or her see the value of the service you provide.
  • Get the car fixed correctly the first time.
    People are busy and don’t have the time to get a problem addressed more than once. The good news is that, on average, dealers fix vehicles right the first time, 93% of the time.1
  • Be prompt.
    Giving the driver access to the service advisor within the first two minutes of his or her arrival will strengthen your reputation as a customer-centric business.
  • Be timely.
    Always aim to have the car back to the driver when you said you would. Building in more time when you quote the appointment allows an extra buffer of time without any unwelcome waiting periods for the driver or having to rush the service advisors.


Xtime University

Utilizing the latest technologies translates to a more modern and efficient service department. Xtime products help your dealership create and maintain loyal service customers, and our services are there to ensure Xtime’s platform meets your needs. That’s why we created Xtime University training and certification courses. With both virtual instructor-led and self-paced online learning formats, you and your team can get up to speed quickly through our intensive courses. Whatever your role—from Service Advisor to Scheduler to Call Center Manager—Xtime has you covered.

To access Xtime University, log into Xtime, click the ? or “Help” option and then Xtime University. Hosted webinars are offered online, Monday through Friday, starting at 6 a.m. Pacific Time / 9 a.m. Eastern Time.

Service Star


Prior to managing Buckeye Nissan, Chris Harris spent a number of years in the service drive. As such, he is well versed in how a good one should operate. We sat down with him to ask how Buckeye Nissan is successfully using Xtime’s Check-In 7 and Scheduling 7.

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What were your goals for implementing Xtime’s solutions at Buckeye Nissan?

Customers today expect businesses to stay on top of technology. From a dealer standpoint, there is a lot our customers can do on their own, from making appointments on their phones to having a smart car with telematics that tells them when they need service. In using Xtime, we wanted to make sure that our customers were as educated about their cars as possible while also being able to maximize our advisors’ time. Our customer loyalty was pretty high to begin with but we wanted to make that extra push towards being technologically savvy and making sure the Service Advisors got an equal number of customers on a daily basis. From a presentation standpoint, the customers liked seeing that we used a tablet from the moment they arrived until they checked out. This platform has helped us keep organized and better serve the customers and the guys in the service drive.

How has Check-In 7 helped Buckeye Nissan manage customers in the service drive?

This system helps us support all of our personnel from start to finish. The majority of our days are very busy in the service drive but Check-In 7 makes it run so much more smoothly than before. Xtime has definitely helped even out even the most hectic processes to allow us to focus on the customers more efficiently. From both a dollar standpoint and a customer service standpoint, this system helps us have really successful days even when it’s very busy.

Was there a learning curve with the new Xtime platform?

Getting Scheduling 7 and Check-In 7 up and running was a two-phased process. We spent time making sure that the system’s implementation was well thought out, so our transition to Xtime was pretty seamless. Once everyone at the dealer was fluent in the software, we loved it. I particularly enjoyed that our Service Advisors could just walk up to a car and give their full attention to the customer without having to focus on filling out paperwork and then rush the paperwork to the front desk. The whole platform is very intuitive so can’t see anyone having a big learning curve.

What feedback have you gotten from your colleagues and customers about Xtime?

Our personnel like how easy and convenient the system is to use and how easy it makes their jobs. Our Detail Manager especially likes how it allows the advisor to do car walk-arounds more easily with customers to show them damage discovered on the vehicles. This is key for upselling but more importantly builds trust with customers in that we can show them opportunities for improvement with their cars, which has allowed us to convert more damage repairs. Mostly, we like being able to do everything from the tablet.

This platform has changed the way we interact with customers. The greatest feedback we get from them is that they love being able to take ownership of their cars’ service needs with the scheduling system. They can make appointments in a time slot that is convenient to them, in a format that is convenient to them. It has also changed the way they view us as a service provider—customers will actually call us when they’re running late for an appointment, so they’re just as cognizant of trying to maintain a good relationship with us as we are with them.

What would you tell potential users of Xtime products?

From the onset, we don’t give our customers any reason to go anywhere else for service and Xtime supports this initiative. The biggest suggestion I can offer to a dealer considering Xtime is to use Check-In 7 and Scheduling 7 together, not just one or the other. It will help your service drive run better and give customers the tools they need to communicate with you, as well as help you stay competitive by handling heavy schedules and walk-ins more effectively.