CEO: Online customers are now the real experts
Andy Alderson has been in the motor trade since 1992, and has been bringing new technology to the industry since it began.
As part of a two-person car dealership, Alderson spotted an unmissable national incentive offered on 275 cars, and knew he could sell them all by branching out beyond his showroom.
Taking a chance online, he set up a website and was pleased to see all 275 cars sold.
The success would lead Alderson to set up Autorama in 2004 as a used vehicle retailer, before moving into B2B leasing of commercial vehicles in 2007.
As CEO and founder of the vehicle leasing brands Autorama and Vanarama, he now on a mission to make the vehicle leasing process as easy as buying from Amazon.
“[Customers] don't judge us just on our peer group and other car dealers. They judge us against Amazon and ASOS. They want convenience and they are time poor,” he told BusinessCloud.
Alderson’s approach is built on the observation that brands are no longer the final authority on price or product information, instead it’s the customer.
“When consumers are buying big ticket items they become the expert while they are in the buying process,” he explained.
“On average a customer’s watching 14 hours of video reviews before they step foot in the showroom or talk to us, which means that they are generally better informed than us,” he said.
“So our mentality is, let's give the customer as much information as they need to make a decision, and create as much content as we can, and then just give them the best price and slickest experience.”
The approach requires new tech to speed up both the administration and the research involved in the complicated process of leasing a vehicle.
“What we do is almost like an online concierge service. We've got integration with our system, the dealer’s systems, and the customer does it in one place.”
In the last 18 months the firm has brought in a CTO to help with the increasingly complex processes needed to make things seem simple.
When a customer inputs their details, its systems search databases for stock availability and analyze its panel of lenders for the best price.
Once in process, it uses automation again to remove all unnecessary emails between staff and customers, and populates documents from the firm, to the leasing company and finally to the customer.
“Automation helps us use humans better, to get the best service but also improve the experience for customer,” he said.
But Alderson said the company has even bigger plans for tech-enabled speed reductions.
It is in the process of rolling out an automated credit check, and automated ID verification as part of the process.
“A customer can take a photograph of a driving license and our software will read the driving license and take that information into a soft search. It will then tell the customer if they are eligible to lease in about 30 seconds,” he explained.
Automation will also be used for an automatic competitor analysis and stock availability checks – ensuring the cheapest prices really are the cheapest.
“You’ve got to keep focusing on customer service,” he said.
“People haven’t got the time to come to a showroom. Everything we're doing is geared towards that change.”