The UK-based CitNOW, a personal video presentation service dedicated to the automotive sector, is a series of simple-to-use apps which offer car dealerships worldwide the opportunity to run their business more profitably.
CitNOW was started in the UK. It has have offices in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. There are over 3,000 dealers in the UK, smaller numbers in other countries like Italy 140, Spain 75, and France 50.
Outside of Europe it has distributors in South Africa and pilot activity in Japan and China. The comapny is starting offices in Australia, in the US and Canada. “They will be a combination of either having a company presence there with people working for us or using a distribution model,” Andrew Howells, Founder and Chairman, told AutoParts Asia. “India is not on our radar at present but it will all depend on the business available there; if there is a business case, we will do it,” he said.
“CitNOW is about enabling a car dealer to use video to help with the process of selling and verification. It is predicated mostly on personal video presentations; what we do as a company is to enable the dealer by providing applications with the hardware support and training that goes with it to make him more successful in terms of financial outcomes and customer satisfaction,” Howells said.
Part of the company’s success is the integrations it does with the third party companies. In the workshop environment, for the UK market, there are a lot of vehicle health checks. CitNOW works with software providers that have a vehicle health check system thus making the process of communication with the dealer’s customer simple and easy to do. In the sales environment it is integrated with the finance information that will help the salesman in his selling effort.
Universally, consumers lack trust in dealers. There is a legacy issue that dealers are dealers. But a personal video delivers transparency to the consumer. A customer leaves his car in the workshop and he will get a video on all the work that is done on his vehicle; this enhances his confidence in the dealer. The technicians shoot the video; each technician is expected to make a one minute video on the work that he has done on the vehicle. This is sent to the service supervisor and the customer who can then hold discussions on any issue to be sorted out.
CitNOW is an application that sits on the iPod, iPhone or Android device for which it needs broadband in place. After the shoot it sends the video to the server where it is packaged and sits on a landing page that is personalised for that customer. It has the data’s branding, the technician’s and service advisor’s name that are all pre-populated into the landing page where the video plays. It uploads and sends a text message to the customer’s phone or e-mail address.
The file will be very small. “It’s streamed live from the server so it is like a YouTube video. The e-mail link connects you to the video. It depends on the bandwidth you have, 3G, 4G or broadband; we have responsive designs for all, whether a mobile, tablet or laptop. We play the best quality video we can to suit your environment. About 70 percent of all our videos are viewed on a mobile device. We sell it as a package to the dealers for a monthly fee, like the SAAS (Software as a Service). We talk to the manufacturers to evolve programmes to suit their needs. Nissan, UK has mandated the company across their network for both workshop and sales,” Howells said. CitNOW works for both multi-brand and single brand service centre. The price will vary accordingly. In the multi-brand they could make a selection from the drop-down.
Importance Of Brand
From a sales perspective the brand is being used to sell both new cars and used cars. “You can select the new car and model; the landing page would reflect what you would see on their approved website. It’s just reciprocity – if I do something for you that is a benefit to you without your asking, then you are slightly obliged to me. It works everywhere – Japan, Singapore, Australia. The customer need not come to the dealership; he gets all the information in advance with just a phone call, a personal presentation from sales”, Howells said. CitNOW is not a magic bullet but helps in bringing the customer to the showroom. It adds value to the relationship so that the sales process can happen online. “We try to give the customer an experience he likes so that he is encouraged to take the next step. We have seen countless examples of customers going past different dealers across the country to go to the guy who did the video,” he said.
CitNOW can enhance the customer experience by bring about 25 percent increase in sales and 40-50 percent increase in red work conversion (rectifying anything illegal in the vehicle) in workshops. There is also amber work (work to be done in three months) and green work (preventive maintenance). It is easy for the sales person to use. He can start by recording personal video on the app. By pressing the ‘send’ key, a brand- approved email is sent with a link to a well-designed web page where the customer can watch the video. When the video is watched, the sales person receives a notification to call the customer. Managers can also access dashboard reporting to see the performance of one sales person or a whole group.
Howells said that a UK BMW Mini team used reporting to track their five dealerships over 12 months. They made 13,225 sales videos and saw a 25 percent increase in car sales over the previous year.