Social Media

App for dealerships expands marketing reach

July 14, 2011
Filed under Features

What’s the latest way to reach potential customers? Based on the growth of smart phones, targeting potential customers and longstanding customers via their mobile device is an ideal starting point.

One surefire way to keep your dealership within a smart phone’s reach of your store is with a new product from Specialty Mobile Apps. The business, along with Cycle Chex, is owned by Sparta Specialty Reports Inc. SMA’s app engine enables dealers to communicate with existing and future customers in ways never considered.

Dealers can use the app to promote sales and service, set maintenance appointments, send notices about special events and more. The fully customizable smart phone app allows dealers to show inventory, locations, news and virtually anything else that should get into a customer’s hand.

The cost for a dealership app is $1,995, with a $99 per month service fee.

“This segment of our business started when we built an app for Cycle Chex,” said SMA executive vice president, marketing Jeffrey Dobish. “A dealer can have his own stand-alone app built by a company that builds generic apps for anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 per platform — one for Apple, one for Android, one for Blackberry, etc.

“We’ve produced an app engine specifically built by dealers for the dealer industry. Instead of a dealer calling up a company that builds generic apps and then has to explain each one of the verticals, we’ve determined the top 20 to 30 different bells and whistles that need to be in a dealer app and combined them all and put them into an app engine.”

The app’s content management system, similar to a DMS, is the starting point for the dealer as he selects app options. And as Dobish, who has motorcycle dealership experience himself, says “Quite frankly, if you can upload a picture from your desktop, you’re what we call a Specialty Mobile App genius.”

Dobish is already providing interested dealers with training sessions that show the various benefits of the app. And connecting in the cloud is only going to grow over coming years, he says.

“Our research shows that eighty six percent of all phones that are sold today are considered smart phones,” Dobish said. “If your phone has access to the Internet, it’s a smart phone. Android is growing at a rate of 886 percent per year. There are 160,000 new Android smart phones being activated every day.”

And although Specialty Apps will update the app with the latest technology, the dealer’s monthly fee will remain $99 per month. (“When the latest or greatest device or platform comes out that we haven’t even heard of yet, dealers will get it on their app,” Dobish said.)

“It’s the most cost-effective and easy-to-use customer engagement tool on the market today,” Dobish added. “From sales and service to parts and accessories to sending out messages about retail or events, it synergizes every segment of your dealership.”

Its ease of use rates highly even with the technology-challeged.

“We’ve created something that’s turnkey for dealers,” said Tony Havens, president and CEO of Sparta Specialty Reports, Inc. “We’re uniquely positioned for the powersports dealer. The dealer can select which features to use on the app, from roadside assistance to new and preowned inventory.
“Trust me, if I can use it, it’s dummy-proof. It’s the most robust dealer app available, and I don’t see how anybody can beat it.”

Dealership apps from SMA are already available for free on the iTunes app store. Adventure Harley-Davidson in Dover, Ohio, was one of the first apps created by SMA. The store promotes itself on its app as “a full service dealership serving all your Ohio Harley motorcycle needs. We have assisted Harley enthusiasts and owners for more than 35 years. As an Ohio Harley-Davidson dealer, we have a huge selection of new and pre-owned bikes on display. We have over 38,500 sq. ft. of showroom, service and merchandise.”

The dealership’s website promotes the app with a link to it on the iTunes store.

Big 4 Cycle & Marine in Evansville, Ind., promotes itself on its app as “a leading ATV, personal watercraft, motorcycles and scooters and outdoor equipment dealer in Evansville, Indiana. Whether you’re looking for the latest new products from Aprilia, Can-Am, Piaggio, Sea-Doo, Suzuki, Triumph, Vespa, and KYMCO, or today’s best clothing and accessories – we’ve got it.”

An image of the dealership, a map of the location, hours and contact info greet the user on the “store” page, which offer buttons for inventory selection.

Dealers can create promotions to increase floor traffic and use the app to reach their target market. Slow days can turn for the better when using the app for special sales.

“A dealer could send a message to all of the app users that says ‘The first 10 customers to come in and show this message to us get a 10 percent discount on apparel,’ or something along those lines,” Dobish said. “It’s 10 people who might not have otherwise been in the dealership that day. You can push out as much data as you want to, for a single store or multiple stores. Whatever you want to do to engage your customers, the app can do it more quickly and more cost effectively than any other way.”

The Adventure Harley-Davidson app didn’t take long to go viral. Nearly 50 people had downloaded the app before it had been announced to the public.

“As the owner told me, it went ‘through the roof’ upon release,” Dobish said. “Other dealers have looked into getting their own app done elsewhere, but then saw the pricing and turned to us, because it’s an app made for dealers by dealers.

“Basically we’ve built the motor, and everyone can use the motor instead of having one built from scratch every time.”

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