The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode 487 · 7 months ago

Napoleon Rumteen: How Tekion Is Increasing Efficiency For Dealers And Car Shoppers


Car shoppers are looking for more ways to research and purchase vehicles, but that doesn't mean they want to do the entire process online (yet.) The car business is a people business, which means that in this day in age, it's more important than ever to understand people.

Napoleon Rumteen is the Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at Tekion; a modern cloud-based DMS that is on a mission to streamline dealer operations across the entire dealership.

What we discuss in this episode:

  • It's a challenge for dealerships to source various inter-department problems and then figure out how to connect them together with the variety of vendors required.
  • The average dealership utilizes 15 - 20 different platforms in order to operate their business, most of which are siloed and not able to effectively communicate with one another.
  • The car business is a people business. That doesn't necessarily mean that ti will require the same level of human touch as it currently does, but it will require that we understand people.
  • The market is telling us how they want to transact on vehicles and it's our job to meet that demand.
  • In order to do so efficiently, dealers need systems that can speak to one another and maintain a pure flow of data.
  • When connected technologies can speak in real-time, then you can have machine learning. With machine learning, you can have systems that correct themselves instantly to meet the consumer's behaviors, which is required for a fully online transaction.
  • We're at a place in the automotive community where we can facilitate true Artificial Intelligence
  • One of the best places for dealerships to start preparing for a more connected ecosystem is internal with their inter-departmental communication process. By utilizing systems like Slack or Discord, dealers can have a communication network that allows each person in the dealership to have quick access to the information they need when they need it. In so doing, they are able to provide a more efficient customer experience.
  • Listen for even more insights from this episode.

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Thanks, Napoleon Rumteen

If you enjoyed this conversation with Napoleon Rumteen, please let them know by clicking on the links below and sending a message.

The car business is rapidly changing and modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo and together we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealership and life in the retail automotive industry. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed to help you grow. This is the dealer playbook. This should come as no surprise, but the retail automotive industry has a longstanding love hate relationship with technology. We love what the possibilities are by leveraging tech to advance and streamline the sale, but hate that there are still so many glaring issues that cause undue friction in the buying process and in dealership operations. New providers bring new solutions, but also, historically, of created more silos, with some dealerships needing to utilize upwards of, I think, fifteen to twenty different vendors in order to accomplish particular day to day tasks. Joining me today is Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at Tech Yon Napoleon rum team. His experience in automotive on both the dealer and supplier side of the industry provides a unique perspective on how to properly integrate technology in a more connected and efficient way. Napoleon, thank you so much for joining me here on the dealer playbook podcast. Thank you, Michael. Excited to be here. Thanks for having me, and feel free to call me Napo for short, not Bo. Okay, did it now? Is there? Is there an accent that I should have properly pronounced? I hate getting people's name they're wrong, I tell everybody you said it perfectly right. Okay, perfect, I love it. Now we've had we and I asked that because, you know, being a global show, we've had guests from all over the world and you know I'm not afraid to stand on stage in front of Twentyzero people. I'm I'm afraid of getting people's names wrong. It actually keeps me and and a funny story before we get into it. I remember. So, of course a lot of people know Gary Vyner Chuck and I had them on the show early on, around episode ten. We're now up around five hundred or something like that, and I pronounced the guy's name wrong and ever since then I've got a complex and I'm like no, I got to get it, but I'll call you NAPO and and I'm glad I at least said it. All good, all right, people know me. Buy Napoleon and not bos just a little more casual and less formal. I mean, you've got to know that's an amazing name right. Thank you, Father's name passed on to me. It's exciting. And my first sales job I work for a company called Dessert of the month club. So when I would do cold calling as a late teen, people would ask, well, what desert of the month are you or which month of the of the year are using the bullion cake? So that's what I love it. I'm excited to have you on, in particular about the topic that we're going to dive into today and and partially because this is a very timely conversation. I'm right now, as of record, at the time of recording this, I am an active car shop of shopper in an environment that is a little bit foreign to me. I am a laydown usually when I'm surrounded by a network of dealers I know, I basically can call any of them I like. It's kind of the benefits of being in the business, right, and I can say that one and four days later it's in my driveway. I'm in a bit of a different, unique situation because I'm looking for a vehicle for someone else in a different market and I'm I'm not super thrilled with how the journey has gone so far. I'm feeling very, what's the word whelmed? Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed, just kind of like I'm just whelmed and and I've been talking a little bit about it on linked in, but I think the the the...

...biggest contributor to this blase a feeling is how disconnected all of the different pieces of the puzzle are, from website to retailing options, to communication, to connectivity to, you know, maybe what's in stock or what's available versus what's coming. And so I'm kind of curious from your vantage point at techy on, I mean you guys have such a big view of the playing field with all of a you know, technology that you're developing. So I'm curious from your point of view, what are some of the friction points that you're seeing, that techy on is seeing, and some of them that you're just looking to eliminate all together? Sure, yeah, thank you and thanks again for having me excited to talk about this topic is I'm very passionate about it. I've been on the business since one thousand nine hundred and ninety three. Spent half of those years on the retail side and the other half on the software side. So in and I any time I try to find a solution for something, I think it's important to acknowledge the problems, like you just did. And traveling across the country I've got the good benefit of being able to see different operations and and some of the consistent challenges and problems that we see are tied to the fragmentation of technology. You know, you see disjointed systems. Even within a platform you'll see that. You know, it's hard to have information flowing. So someone at one end of a dealership has a challenge doing their job when the informations visible to another person. For example, service can't see what sales has, sales can see what service has. And we can go beyond that. I mean when I look at a connected dealership I look at it holistically. But aside from technology is being disjointed, it's the integration points, also lack of integration in many cases. You know that dealer riends tell me Gosh I try to source a problem and I've got to bring one vendor and then bring another vendor together and we got to gather around have a conversation finally source source that problem. Than when when data has to transfer from one entity to another, that stall, if you will, you know that overnight, push and pull. It stops a lot of good flow of information. It disrupts the ability to apply artificial intelligence, it creates a lack of visibility, and so that's causing a lot of frustration for dealers and dealers are always criticized of hey the need to embrace technology and evolve, and I kind of want to take some of these critics into a dealership and to your point, Fifteen, twenty different technologies people have to bolt on to try and run it operation, and in some cases it's a lot more. I want to take these people into a dealership and say, look at how many different technologies they're using, all the different PLOGINS, all the different Ui's, different entities they're working with and in many cases they're having to create a lot of work around, a lot of reporting that they've got invent on their own. Some dealers have been really creative and resourceful to try and run their operation and it's really time to have that end to end platform or seamless connectivity within the ecosystem. Even if there are other companies, multiple companies, working together, they've just got to really come together for the benefit of the dealer to make this a seamless, seamless operation for them to run day to day business. You talked about your own personal experience. I actually called my dealership that I bought a vehicle from and I bought an extended warrant. Team, and it's a small dealership, to the call, you know, and you phone tree went to the service advisor. Service advisor picks up and I asked him, you know, can you please let me know what's going on with my extended warranty? How much time do I have left? Because I wasn't going to go look up by service records. WHO's that time? I want, I want convenience. And he says, Oh, I can't, I can't see what warranty you bought. I said, but I bought it from your dealership.

The the service advisors like yeah, I don't have that visibility. Like wow, you don't have access to see these, like crazy, right. So he told me that so I laughed and he I had to get transferred to sales and I go to voicemail. Our later F and I department calls me back, but I had to go through all of this for my own car just to know what type of extended warranty I bought from that dealership to service at that dealership. So you can take it from that level and take it to a significantly larger challenges like software and hardware not being connected, among others, and those are the problems that need to be solved for dealers to truly have a connected experience and deliver to what the markets asking for. Now this is an interesting point right because we see a lot of debating going on with what you just said, in particular with what the market wants now. So you've got the debate of but do they really want it? Is it a narrative that's being pushed versus what percentage and where to? Where do things go? So I'm curious from your perspective, for those that perhaps think of techy on as the impending Skynet of automotive, do you, and this is your own opinion, perhaps not, or your own thoughts. I won't suggest that this is you know, techy on as a whole. Do you think that humans get removed from the buying process all together? Is that something that's feasible within the next what ten, fifteen, twenty years? So great question. I think this is a people business. I've always said it. Even though I'm with a technology company, it's still a people business. Now some people misunderstand that. They think, oh, people business means you've got to be able to be facetoface, look them in the eyes, firm handshake and feel for each other. My take is it's a people business. You have to understand people and sometimes even if that means working with them digitally, remotely and they don't want to come in or they don't want to be facetoface, you have to understand how people operate. It's it's funny because I'll draw on analogy. Years ago when when cable started really booming and all the war shows were, you know, giving awards, two shows on HBO and show time and they were just crushing it. Everybody was thinking, Oh, I got it's the end of Network television. Well, I mean look now you've got streaming services and the you know, network television still around. It's just people have access to more and variety of different ways to do it and I think from a car buying experience to service experience, dealers have to adapt to being to having multiple capabilities to be able to address different types of consumers. I don't think the people aspect is removed, but I think the way the market wants us to work with them is is something we have to pay attention to. Well, here's how I look at it. You know, you look at companies that are household that are common names, and not the new ones. But I'll name some of the new ones. But you look at Tesla, right, you look at TRUECR you look at car MACs, you look at the new ones with room and Carmana. I mean they didn't come out of nowhere the market, and then you can see how their stocks are doing as well and their valuations. You know this isn't just a dream. A market is telling us that this is how they want to be able to transact and do business and I think it's really important for especially new car franchise dealers working with Om's to be able to facilitate that. And it starts with having smart technology, and I do believe consumers nowadays they value convenience and speed over money, and so if you can make it easy, people will transact with you, and companies have shown it to work over and over again, and the dominos pizzas one of them, amazons another. We can keep going on and on. I know there's been plenty of conversation about this, but right now speed is power and it's the most sought afterthing. Convenience and make it...

...easy. MMM, that makes me think about one of the biggest friction points that I've encountered as a car buyer. Good credit. It doesn't really matter. We could argue it anyway. Good credit, bad credit, no crest. I'd probably all these sorts of things. As someone with really good credit, with good income, with taxes in order and all of the things. I still find friction in the finance office, the business office. I think part of it is presentation and how things are presented and at what stage of the journey. But I also see that as we try and connect, like you said, service and sales and understanding warranty and being able to have all of the data visible, do you think it's also going to require, in order to pull off a very convenient car purchase process, how difficult do you think it is to to bring in the whole finance layer with all of the different types of regulations that are out there? Is I'm going to require some third party backed kind of finance company to say hey, everybody's approved and it's so simple. Like I know we're kind of seeing that now, but what are your thoughts? How do we tie in that that final piece? Yeah, I would say, you know, taking a step further back. And it's funny because digital retail right now is a really key topic. I think everybody knew this thing was gaining a lot of momentum and of course covid just accelerated it right. So a digital retailing, but I think it's it's a it's a name that doesn't really indicate or what what the experience is. It's really digital shopping, because most people go on a website, they'll go ahead and look something up, they'll they'll calculate the payments because a consumer perspective. And I know there's the Omni channel aspect where you can pick up where you left off if you walked into a dealer shape with what we search you did online, which is wonderful. But the second you have that virtual handshake and the customer wants to get a vehicle. At that point there's a disconnect and it's no, it's not really digital retailing. It's it goes back to the traditional sense. Now you got double entry into the into the dusking tool, and then you're going to have to push that into fine and and the method of executing the deal goes the same way as it traditionally has in many cases. And one of the solutions that I'm keen on is that end to end transaction from when it consumer shops all the way going through and making sure that there's connected technologies. And I think when you can have connected technologies and it's real time you can have a machine learning because machine learning with if it's not real time, it can't really grow and work properly. But when you have machine learning that's correcting itself and making the right recommendations, you have technology that's smart enough they can execute a transaction and really help dealer personnel be able to take the transaction A to Z. You know a lot of a lot of models right now. You have your traditional sales and then desking and then finance and all the players that are involved. Some dolls. Now we're going to that single point of contact to execute A to Z. You know, I think some of these things are a lot more realistic now when you have technology doing the heavy lifting and trying to make it a little more error free and and dealers that are making a move towards the solution or having a lot more success. And from the F and I aspect of it, I I do think there's going to be third party players, but I think having it be more connected and more direct as is going to be the way to go. MMM, you know, this is why older generations despise younger, newer generations, because we just got it so much easier. They're sitting here going did not po just say? Technology does all the heavy lifting. What do you what do you mean? Look, you know, I can remember the first self propelled Lawn mower and how my grandparents felt about that. They're like, what do you mean? You don't have to push it? I mean my Italian about what do you mean? It moves itself? Is what good is that can? And I think they're just bitter because every generation innovates and comes...

...up with something, and certainly now look at where we are. What do you mean they can do most of it themselves and they don't even have to leave their house. What do you I had to drive one of miles to do lism. You know what I mean, and so I think it's really interesting that that that's the case. But I also think it's kind of funny, and that's what it made me think of as you were as you were sharing that. I really am intrigued by something you said, though, in particular that that you can't really have machine learning until you have real time connected technologies. But you also said something in this vein that I think that I want to draw particular attention to, because up until now, it doesn't matter if you go to an ADA or whatever the the trade show is, everybody that's been been preaching artificial intelligence don't actually have artificial intelligence. They have programmatic kind of like week Ai. And what I mean by this is kind of like, if this, then that and I. and to your point, I think the large contributor of that is the fact that there's so many silos. This company wants to keep you blocked from that company because then maybe there's overlap and then you might lose the client, and so they create all of these silod ecosystems where, like you said, it's a push poll in the middle of the night, maybe three am. But that's precluding us, I you know, I want to draw attention of this for those listening. That's precluding us from being able to actually have true Ai, and so I really think that's interesting. So, from your perspective, in this ecosystem that you're working on, does this truly then open the door for us? I guess what I'm asking is, have we arrived of Van at a, at a place in automotive where there can be true ai, not weak ai? Yes, yes, definitely, and with the right technologies. And you know, I like telling stories and using examples. I think one it resonates better and too, I just I think it's much more relatable when it's set as a story. You know, we have dealers that we've seen and dealer friends of mine that are really bringing in an Amazon approach into their selling train experiences to consumers. Give an example on the server side, and by the way, I came up on the variable side of the business. I'm all sales oriented, but I've been geeking out on the server side of things so much more recently because it's there's a lot of fun stuff you could do there and including when you know the pressure I've always felt advisor service advisors have of between managing technicians and then processing the rows in the service lane and you know the traffic that's coming and going, and then at the same time they're being asked to sell right and they've got to go back and sell on declined services. And now, obviously dealers using BDC or other other methods. But if you can bring an Amazon like approach to where it is suggested selling to consumers, we're seeing tremendous success with dealers. I mean I've got a friend of mine in the Bay area that is absolutely crushing it doing this and it's funny. I mean if we take our own experiences, I'm sure you go on social media. I go on social media, and many others do. You know you will. You Click on something and then all of a sudden that ad gets served up to you multiple times. You're not annoyed, you keep seeing it and on one of these days, the fifth or six time, it's going to catch you in the right mood and you're going to click and you're going to buy and it just happens now manage if a service advisor asked for Your Business Five Times on the service drive, after the second time consumers going to say, well, stop, I don't need the pressure you're selling me. It's just the way people are wired and what they receive and what they're open to. And so when you can take a digital experience and put the onus...

...on that to sell to consumers and take the pressure off of the individual advisor so they can focus on processing, moving with speed, getting the customer in and out. There are technologies out there right now that facilitate this and drive better sales penetrations, better consumer experiences and and you'd be surprised what you can sell. And I'm not just talking about, you know, the service that the customer needs or the tires that are worn out, that those are no brainers, but I'm talking about stretching and selling those things in the corners of your parts department boutique that no one ever looks at right walks. By I mean as a little as that two bigger jobs you can sell through this Amazon like approach and suggested selling one of the things. Just one example. Yeah, and it's a perfect example of what I'd like to chat with you briefly. Next which is, I think you know, dealers here conversations like this and they say, well, that's great, an ADA's coming up and I'm going to get a lot of pitches and it all sounds great. But really the thing that I'm intrigued about is in order to pull off that Amazon like model, you need greater connectivity, which is the mission that you guys are really on and from what I'm understanding. But also it brings up something that we're seeing more and more dealers adopting. Like you said, for example Brian Kramer, who at his dealership Germaine, Toyota of Naples and Florida, have a paperless ecosystem. They've figured out a way to go paperless and and in so doing removing a lot of friction, but also speed to delivery, you know, goes through the roof. Well, Amazon has a paperless experience as well and and maybe dealers today aren't prepared to go fully to a digital transaction, but there are elements of the transaction. You know that that I'd love your take on. As far as going paperless, my question is what, what can dealer who's listening today in Doglick Nebraska. What can they do to go from their current, quickly approaching antiquated process to a paperless, digital, more connected process? Yeah, great question. So I think it's really depending a lot on technology right because you've got to digitize this. But I would say take a really good look at your processes. You know Brian Prays a very cutting edge and forward thinking dealer and you know I've heard him speak and I'm excited to see the paper less efforts that he's got going. I have another friend that's gone paperless and his service department and actually removed all printers. Kept one just in case, but removed all of them on a big palet. And so, yeah, there was a there was a pucker up effect with all my staff and I've put their some their mind that he's and I said Hey, look, worst get scenario, will bring it back if it doesn't work, and said Look, within four days we had this thing dail. So getting back to your question, I think you've got a really take inventory of your processes. I mean take take a really good look at your processes and examine him and say, okay, at this point, can we go to a digital deal jacket from the sale side of the operation? Can we make transactions, especially method of payment? Can we drive people more towards doing it digitally? Can we go ahead and, you know, make our multipoint inspections digital? So there's so many different areas of their operation. But if I had to give one piece of advice for dealers on how they can take a key step, I'm always looking at operational efficiency and I don't look at it as just reduction of costs. I also look at it as increasing productivity and you can only do that with good visibility and I would say but one of the best places to start is on your communication platform. You know, I always ask dealers do use anything like flack and some of them,... know, say no, they have some element of communication, maybe within the Service Department and external and internal, but just internal alone. Is there a platform that you use that can connect all the players together so that they can have communication that is stored and digital and actionable? I would say that's probably one of the best ways for them to get a get efficiency. But trying to go paperless bridal. Tell you you've got to look at this holistically, at every angle and every opportunity to be able to make those tweaks and adjustments. I had a dealer say, look, we get these arrows and we have the staff that complain about removing the staples because they've got to remove the staples to separate the papers and then they scan them to make them digital, and they're doing this manually and really taking a very long approach and spending all this money on paper in tone are regardless to end up being digital. I would say really take a look at your operations and at what points, and the more you can cluster a workflow with technologies that are connected or provided from the same provider, the more likely you are to get that to become a seamless experience. Gosh, it's like waking someone up to take a sleeping pill. What you just said like we take the time to fill out this piece of paper, staple it, unstaple it, put it in. It's it's like why, why are we doing this to ourselves? I love what you're saying about slack. In fact, you might be the first guest on the show and, by the way, I am a huge advocate for what what you just talked about with slack. For those that aren't familiar, slack as an instant messaging platform where you can have every member of your team in different channels. You could have a sales channel or maybe a variable channel, a fixed channel, a leadership channel, and invite all members of your team to the appropriate channel and keep communication going. I firmly believe, Napo, that when you it to today's standards, when you feel like you're overcommunicating, you're probably just barely communicating enough, and so I love the idea of Hey. The first step to going paperless or going digital is to actually bring your communications digitally, and there's a lot of platforms out there. For example, are our organization was using slack and then one of my team members who's, you know, a Gamer and enjoys he said, have you ever heard a discord? It's the exact same platform, but the marketing for it was different, and I said really, so we go over to discord. Sure enough, exact same thing. You can have voice channels, video channels, all these sorts of things and to the point of a connected environment, just that one move eliminated. Google meets eliminated zoom eliminated. You know this platform over here, text message it. Now, now it's not text message over here with some team members slack over here. Everything, uploading files, you name it is all happening in the same platform that I can have on my phone, on my desktop, laptop. It's all interconnected and and to your point, the operational efficiency of just that one move really improved our communication by tenfold, probably even more, and so I love that you're bringing that up. I imagine then techy on's using slack. Well, I'll sell you a techy on has a built in communication. I was going to say they am I talking about? They probably built so yeah, yeah, so imagine. I mean you take it one step further, right. So you mentioned in Uro that Ros highlighted. You can boom click from that chat trill into an Urrow, stock number, a deal number, and it's all stored on the clouds. So it's there infinitely to be able to retrieve. But you know, again, I like telling stories. You sell a pre own vehicle. The week later it might be in the shop for whatever reason. Now you've got a service advisor, a salesperson, sales manager, maybe the deals got a trade with a payoff and finance and in the business office and there's someone they're involved. You can create that channel of communication to your point, can bring...

...the right people in and and at that point be able to share whatever you want to share within and be able to site specific functions within the DMS platform. And that's my small pitch about our own communication. But other than all of it's you could take it to that level. Yeah, I absolutely love it. And now I'm curious. You know I'm I wish I could talk to you all day. I'm not going to do that to you because I've thoroughly enjoyed having you on the show today. But but now, of course, I'm curious, on the hinge of sharing a little bit about the capabilities of techy on, how can those listening get in touch with you to learn more? Oh, thank you for asking. Appreciate it well. So you definitely visit our website. You can email me even directly, Napo at Tech oncom and APO at Tech oncom. I'm happy to take an email from anyone who wants to reach out. We've gotten incredible knowledgeable team that can that really understands dealer operations and can answer any of all questions related to our platform, but also they can help provide solutions for their operation. Amazing. Thank you so much. It's been an absolute pleasure. Napoleon rum teen, Senior Vice President of commercial operations at techy on, thanks so much for joining me on the dealer playbook. Thanks for having a Michael. I'm Michael Sirillo and you've been listening to the dealer playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, please click the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now, leave a rating or review and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening.

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