Industry News & Trends

Autobase gets bought by Dominion Enterprises.

Dominion Enterprises Acquires Autobase, Inc.

"Dominion Enterprises, a leading media and information services company, announced today that it has acquired Autobase, the leading supplier of auto dealership marketing and sales solutions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed."

Dominion also purchased InterActive Financial Marketing Group (a special finance lead generation and marketing company) based out of Virginia just last week. I guess since Dominion moved their headquaters to Norfolk VA, they figured they may as well buy someone around the corner from the new office.

In case you’re not aware, Dominion Enterprises (in the automotive sector) already owns:

Dealerskins – Dealer web design provider and the queen of Flash (BZ wears the kings hat).

Dealer Specialties – photo and video collection services, I’m sure we all know they are.

Just Automotive – direct marketing company for dealers

XiGroup – Another web design firm for dealers

Mailmark – Another direct marketer

SelectQu – A data integration software company for automotive related businesses

And now they have a full fledged CRM software to add to their repertoire. I personally have never been a huge fan of AutoBase CRM but I heard they have made some improvements since I saw it last. They did finally add some ILM features that I saw at NADA earlier this year (though again, not too impressed). However, one of the managers that I work with swears by it and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.

So where exactly is Dominion heading with all of these acquisitions?

Update: Read "Dominion Enterprises: The Unwieldy Conglomerate" for a little deeper history.

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    Lao Shi
  • June 13, 2007


Dominion Enterprises

Please if there is a CRM Player out there with an affordable system that will work for dealers let us know, we need a simple, user-friendly solution that will work.

Maybe someone does listen. Maybe this new venture will provide the solutions to make us all more effective. This market area is fertile for a company that is able to offer a simple, web based option that is cost effective for the dealers.

I have seen in a number of markets where there is a monopoly, oligopoly or the industry is dominated by a few big players then technology evolves and boom there are a number of companies come in and offer better solutions at affordable prices.

ADP “the archaic one” has had a dominant position for way too long and the company has been suffering with the “hardening of the arteries.” It is time for new fresh approaches as solutions.

I have used a number of LMT's (Lead Management Tools) over the past 6 years and none of them are the real answer. Maybe Dominion Enterprises or when Microsoft Auto Solutions, check out their web site if you have not done so, rolls out the new system in the next year or so we will see a system that is the answer.

The days are numbered for the companies providing poor, substandard, cookie cutter solutions at inflated prices or outdated service and we welcome the new breed of companies offering solutions.

It will soon be time to sell that stock in those old line companies’ folks and invest in the new resources as they come to market.



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<strong>Dominion Enterprises: The UnwieldyConglomerate</strong>

Scrolling through my RSS feeds this morning, I noticed on DealerRefresh that Dominion Enterprises acquired another company, definitely not surprising, but I think it’s interesting, in light of their recent history. I am not sure if anyone has ever d...
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I totally agree with Loa. It is time for companies to offer affordable solutions at reasonable prices to the dealer body. For too long many companies have sold into the ignorance of the market with flash and hype. Sad to say many dealers have paid for their education buying into all the hype. That being said, there are some great companies emerging with world class, truly integrated technology that really have the best interest of the dealer in mind.

PS: I think ADP and Rey Rey should be shaking in their boots watching Microsoft on the horizon. That should be very interesting to watch in the next couple of years.

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Sorry Lao for misspelling your name.
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xigroup makes some pretty decent dealer websites. One of our clients recently had one done through them. Its the most custom looking dealer website ive seen out of a larger company.
A
I don't know if I should be happy or sad with this news. I've been through too much pain with larger companies to feel this is a good move for AutoBase. The smaller companies are fantastic to deal with because everyone, within the organization, is excited about having a pivotal role. Once that small company is acquired by a larger one, these same excited employees find themselves amongst a sea of other employees and prohibitive policies. Their access to the head boss no longer exists, and their excitement eventually dwindles. I've personally seen this with:

AutoMark - acquired by Reynolds & Reynolds
Traver Technologies - acquired by ADP
AVV - acquired by AutoByTel
I can go on and on

AutoBase is a decent CRM, and their latest ILM tool looks like an improvement (but still not perfect). With this news, I worry over past experiences that AutoBase will become a stagnant tool. The big company acquirements seem to create a loss of innovation, elongated support response times, disconnects, and watered-down-underpaid staffs.

With that woe on the table, I must admit that I am not fully familiar with Dominion Enterprises. There is always the possibility they are the exception to the rule.
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    EJ
  • June 14, 2007
My experience with Dominion Enterprises doesn't lead me to believe they will integrate any of these companies into a more useful platform for dealers. They tend to let each company run itself, with little top down guidance.
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    Cliff
  • June 14, 2007
The comments regarding how little integration there is between Dominion's companies are insightful. Mitch Brooks confirmed that strategy will continue in an interview last night. He also confirmed Dominion is getting more aggressive with its acquisition strategy.

Whether that's good for the industry is for you guys to decide.

<a href="http://wardsdealer.com/latest/dominion_acquisition_autobase/" rel="nofollow">
http://wardsdealer.com/latest/dominion_acquisition_autobase/</a>

I know, it's a little self-serving posting a link to an article I wrote....
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 14, 2007
Thanks for the link Cliff and thanks for stopping in to comment!!
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    EJ
  • June 14, 2007
Interestingly, JM Solutions and DME Holdings just announced a partnership to create a marketing company for dealers. The company will integrate the direct marketing products of DME with the analytics of JM Solutions. Here is the press release: http://www.autoremarketing.com/ar/news/story.html?id=6490.
Very different way to operate than DE.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 15, 2007
Thanks for the heads up EJ!! Was not aware of that partnership. -Jeff
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  • J
  • June 15, 2007
EJ is correct. I have yet to see Dominion/Trader do anything with any of their acquisitions. Like management used to tell me during my tenure there, the easiest way to take care of competitors eating into opportunities/marketshare is to buy them out. Once they buy them out they let the newly acquired company continue almost as if nothing happened. See boats.com, xigroup, homes.com, etc. They have been like this for years, but it seems like they're getting more agressive with it lately. Heard it from a Dominion employee/manager/friend today that they just acquired another dealership web development company and are doing away with some of their vehicle web services division. Haven't been able to find any published info yet on that though.
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I have to agree woth most of you.
Most of these great-smaller-companies are better than larger ones because of the team of people that started amd grew up with them. Once the mergers are done, they leave as the new corporate mentality settles and the new people that comes in can't be as efficient.
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    DM
  • June 19, 2007
I have been doing some intensive research about Dominion Enterprises since I am considering a corporate management position with the company. I am a bit dismayed about the turnover rate at the company that has been discussed here. Although the position I am considering is not a programmer position, it is still a red flag for me. Any advice? It seems the company is making efforts to aggregate some of their divisions and get all functions in the same place and also are re-designing their websites. Any advice?
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  • J
  • June 21, 2007
DM,

I'd be happy to discuss Dominion with you if you would like any insight via one person's opinions. I won't give any advice in terms of whether or not you should make a move there, but I can shed some light on some things that may not be visible on the surface. I worked there for a few years and still have several of my closest friends in a range of departments - cust. service, programming, dealer sales, national accounts, management - the whole gamut. By no means am I a disgruntled former employee, actually I'm thankful for my time there, but I don't hold anything back when it comes to my opinions on DE, good or bad. Feel free to get in touch with me through higherturnover.com ([email protected]). I also gave my $.02 at http://autoventures.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/dominion-enterprises-the-internet-conglomerate/
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Interesting read Jake - thanks for linking it. We used to be an AutoBase dealergroup, and have entertained ideas of moving back to them, but this news has me concerned. Despite Dominion's track record of leaving acquired companies alone, it seems they leave things alone too much. I've already mentioned my large corporation buying small corporation woes.
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    Bat In Hand
  • June 29, 2007
I am curious to know if Autobase has direct mail capabilities or will have with the merger. Let me know please
J
It puzzles me that these large companies buy these products, but most often the only integration they do is done by their marketing departments. They always end up being the same stand alone products that don't talk to each other so where's the synergy to the dealer? Plus Autobase isn't even a web based platform so it would be next to impossible to integrate with their other divisions.
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I can promise you that we will be much faster and more responsive to market demands with Dominion then we were with a VC. A VC's primary interest is quarterly top and bottom line. Dominion is interested in long term growth with a focus on innovation and customer satisfaction. We will definitely be leveraging all of our sister companies from a technology point of view. For the last 18 years we pioneered CRM for Auto Dealers... stay tuned... the best is yet to come.
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Back in 2002 DM was interested in buying my company but we weren't in the market to sell. ProResponse has been around since 1998 (before anyone ever heard of CRM) in the car and RV arena. We also have clients in Canada and Mexico.
The three main problems with CRM are:
1. Too expensive.
2. Lack of adoption by the users.
3. Way too complex for most sales reps and managers.
It seems that everyone tried to "outbellandwhistle" the next company with functions that no one ever used. Car guys are not programmers and never will be. It has to be simple or it won't get used.
Somewhere the "Customer" got lost in Customer Relationship Management. It's all about following up and getting the right message to the right customer at the right time.
Any CRM initiative should be easy enough to track and market to Internet leads, Phone ups, Floor Traffic, Sold/Leased and Service customers with minimal involvement from dealer personell. Make it easy, show them results and you will have their business forever!
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    Jeff, Internet Sales Mgr.
  • December 19, 2011
Autobase was, is, and forever will be antiquated and useless.  Avoid this horrible software AND the antiquated equipment that comes with it.  It was forced upon me by a new GM who only knew Autobase.  The fact that we had to DOWNGRADE Windows 7 from the 64 bit version to the 32 bit version should have been his first clue that his decision was stupid. 
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