Industry Events

Digital Dealer 10 Review with Kevin Frye – #DD10

You did not attend Digital Dealer 10?

What kind of Jackwagon, Mamby Pamby are you?
As only the infamous R. Lee Ermey “The Gunny” could scream, Digital Dealer 10 in Orlando was a lot of fun, with great presentations, multiple vendors with useful products for the industry, and of course lots of networking and after-hours entertainment. Many thanks to Blackbook for bringing in R. Lee Ermey to their booth. I had to share with the Gunny that I never forgot the welcoming words from my Drill Instructor many years back – “Your heart may belong to Jesus, but your ass belongs to me!”

image of Kevin Frye and R Lee ErmeyGetting a bone-crushing handshake from the Gunny…. Kevin Frye and R. Lee Ermey

I actually arrived early this year to attend the VinSolutions Dealer Advisory Board. We had 40 dealerships on the board to discuss pressing issues and challenges within the industry. It took no more than 5 minutes for a huge debate to break out regarding how dealers felt about social media (more on that later), and while there were many differences of opinion on various issues, I learned quite a bit.

This was a very impressive event, where Vin was really working to get dealers’ input on where they could improve – that says a lot for this organization. Many thanks to the entire VinSolutions team for this great event and for their hospitality.

image of Kendall Billman and Patti GlaspyThe Website Wizards at VinSolutions – Kendall Billman and Patti Glaspy

I left the VinSolutions Dealer Advisory Board to moderate a roundtable on Tuesday morning for the start of Digital Dealer 10 in sunny Orlando. There was a huge, packed room of dealers who wanted to talk to others and learn how to become better. I must share first, a big thanks to Maria Burkel at Dealer Communications who went the extra mile to make sure the moderators were organized and prepared to run a smooth event. I had a full table of folks who were full of questions, such as “Do you work leads with a BDC or with your sales reps?”, “Is it better to dealership have live chat that you handle yourself or should you outsource your live chat?”, “What type of pay plan do you have in place for your people?”, and much more. I think you could have gone all day with just the roundtable portion! The best part of this kickoff session is that dealers can meet other dealers and swap business cards, and have some networking connections before things really get started.

Image of Roundtable Picture DD10Digital Dealer 10 Roundtable Attendees Eager to Learn!

In my best Blazing Saddles accent – “I don’t need no stinking projector!”
For my first session, I attended Tim Jenning’s YouTube Video Walk around presentation. I knew Tim was good, but wow, a presentation about YouTube without video? All kidding aside, there were some technical difficulties in the beginning (no Internet) but Tim worked like a pro around them, and shared how he used YouTube videos to encourage his shoppers to “Get off the mouse and get out of the house”. I liked how he shared that folks can brand themselves with the videos to prevent being skated, while building up a following as the “Video Guy” at their local dealership. Tim encouraged participants to utilize a great tool called Jing that allows you to take a picture or make a short video of what you are doing on your computer monitor. When you get the same question over and over again on the phone from folks at your dealership asking how to change their password, upload their videos, etc, why not make a short walk-through video that you can email them? Visit Jing to learn how.

Next, I presented on “Likes or Links – Which One Stinks, and Why Social Media is BS”. Wow, I used to think that the subjects of politics and religion should be avoided as they are controversial, but Social Media should be on that list as well, as there was a full house, and not everyone agreed with me… Since I was selling nothing and had nothing to lose, I spent some time sharing what the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family has learned across the last 3-4 years with our social media efforts, and where we are looking for future success. Simply put, Facebook “likes” look to be the new links of the future, along with Tweets, and more, as the search engines are indexing the social media sites heavily as they look for the personal endorsements that help them serve up relevant results. Our social media efforts have shifted to embrace that, and you can see some of the integration we have completed with the search engines by looking at our Cincinnati New and Used Cars website portal (lol – another great SEO effort, now don’t forget to go to the bottom of the page and click on the Facebook Like button!). I have to be honest, I still feel like a rookie with this speaking thing, but I want to thank Joe Webb for helping me (congrats on your new baby Joe!), as well as a shout-out to Shaun Raines, who gave me the courage to go out on a limb and share my Navy “giving experience” video. I hope that everyone found the information I shared useful, and for the vendors I aggravated by calling “BS”, sorry…

That Boston Bean is a Speaking Machine…
Chris Fousek was packing the house with his presentation “Travel the Road to the Internet Sale”. I had strongly encouraged Kevin Gordon and Nick Williams of the Jim Pattison Group in Canada to attend this session as they were working on their workflows and processes on how to work an Internet lead. Who better to learn from than the master, Chris Fousek. Chris mapped out the road from Internet lead to sale, while sharing how to build rapport, get the appointment, stay off price, and build value so that you will ultimately win the sale. Great job Chris!

image of Jim Tijerina,  April Rain and Kevin GordonJim Bell, Arnold Tijerina, April Rain, and Kevin Gordon

Well, Davey Jones and the Monkees may be believers, but I am still cynical…
The first general session was “The Role of Independent Internet Leads: How progressive dealers are driving true ROI from their Internet operations. David Kain and Steve Stauning shared a lot of great data on lead providers and ROI from several dealerships, and how they were using a mix of lead providers and tools to drive profits for their organizations. Where I differ is in regard to third party leads. In my humble opinion, TRUE ROI is measured when you also take into account the cost of labor for working your leads, hence my cynicism with someone who claims great returns with these leads. Wow, I know I can ignite a firestorm with this statement, but that is the nature of my personality. If you are nice, perhaps I will write on this subject in more detail later…

Drinks are on the house!
Well not exactly, drinks were on Team Velocity, Tier10 Marketing, Car-Mercial and CallRevu at the opening meet and greet appetizers and cocktails as the exhibit hall opened. I had a great time meeting up with old friends while meeting new ones as well. I always spend my first exhibit hall visit taking the time to talk with our established vendor partners, such as DealerRater. Chip Grueter flew his own plane down with the DealerRater crew to setup their booth, while also taking the time to entertain their clients. Sounds like Chip is a great pilot, though Heather thinks the flight could have been smoother… After enjoying a few drinks with both dealers and vendors, it was time to eat…

Proctor Honda and Acura joins Jeff Wyler Buick GMC
The Proctor Honda and Acura Group joins Paul Rini, GM of Jeff Wyler Florence Buick GMC

Big Brother is Watching…
Everyone always wants to know about the “word on the street”, and what the buzz is about. For me, the biggest difference at this conference was the shift in who was attending. I saw a significant increase in how many dealer principals and General Managers attended with their folks who handle eCommerce and all things Internet. This included myself and Alex Jefferson, and I also saw several competing dealer principals in our market. When I think back to the earliest conferences, I remember that some of the biggest challenges facing the attendees (mostly Internet managers) were getting their GM’s and owners to understand the importance of the Internet and our market, and how to get their support. Now, I am seeing that our owners and GMs’ are taking an active role in learning about and supporting our eCommerce efforts. With that in mind, I expect to see continued growth for the Digital Dealer conferences in the future. And btw, I had a great dinner with one of my Dealer Principals and GMs that night, where we had a great conversation about what we were learning at the conference, and how we could become better when we returned.

The work never ends…
Some of the best networking takes place “after-hours”, and I met several of my great friends poolside at the Rosen Shingle. I had a great time talking with Mike Roscoe as well as Rich Lucy with Courtesy Chevrolet, both of whom are outspoken and keep me on my toes. Mike shared with me his support of embracing speakers that have different views and opinions on some of our biggest challenges today – and I support him. Yes, I know there were some issues with some prior speakers not being at this current conference. Regarding this “Pink Elephant in the room” for several – I can say that I truly desire for all speakers to be present, and I hope that any differences can be resolved, because it would benefit all dealership attendees. On a side note, I have to share that Mike’s team setup a first-class event with the Rosen Shingle. When I was in the exhibit hall, I was constantly being asked if I wanted an appetizer, and if I set down a plate or glass, it was immediately picked up, and when I presented, there was someone there to greet me, setup my laptop and audio, and more – Wow! Many thanks Mike! And if I can go out on a limb and be a peace-maker, I hope that we can see Brian in the near future…

image of Kevin Frye and Mike Roscoe
With Mike Roscoe and Rich Lucy – I hope to see Rich speak at a future DD event!

It don’t matter how late you drink, you better be up early and ready to think…
Despite the best efforts of several to “keep the man down” and fill me up with various drinks, I was up early and ready to go, though I felt bad for Tanesha White who was next to me early that morning while I was sweating out 5 miles on the treadmill, ouch! The morning began with breakfast and networking of course, and I learned about perhaps the strangest product I have seen at Digital Dealer. I met Kathleen Eymann with ClimateClean, a company dedicated to reducing and eliminating and greenhouse gases. What if, when you bought a car, you could buy carbon credits that would offset the emissions from your purchased vehicle? That’s right, now there is a place you can do that. I suppose there might be a few F&I guys that might want to try this as a gross builder, but I am unsure. Some buyers might be angry as they disagree with Global Warming, etc, but on the other hand, there are others who are trying to be as earth-friendly as they can. If your dealership wants to be lean, mean, and Green, this might be something to look into.

What the hell do you know?
Well, I guess I don’t know a lot, so I attended the general session “What you Thought You Knew about Online Car Shoppers”, lead by Larry Bruce, and with a panel including Jason Ezell and Kendall Billman. There was an extensive amount of data shared on over 4 million in – market shoppers and their behavior across a 6 month period. With almost 70% of your shoppers starting at the search engines, I walked away feeling that the majority of my efforts should focus on where my customers are going, and that means having a great organic search presence, along with a superb Google Local places listing, as well as a good performing SEM strategy. Kind of falls in line with “setting your priorities” that I shared in my presentation about social media…

image of Nick Williams Digital Dealer 10
Nick Williams of the Jim Pattison Group and Friends

Rub a dub dub – time for some grub – and business!
Thanks to and AutoAlert for hosting lunch in the exhibit hall, where I tried to learn about some of the new things available. Clickmotive was featuring their new QR code tool for dealerships, which when combined with a simple printer, allows you to quickly create a QR code sticker unique to each vehicle on your lot, so that your shoppers can learn about the vehicle from their mobile phone even if your sales rep is not present. Of course, I think the greater value lies in having a sales rep with a smart phone at the car that scans the QR code for the customer and shares that info with them – great! was talking about the integration of their new Dealer Reviews feature. I spent some time with that is looking to be the new “practical system”, which allows dealers to attract Internet car buyers and then share information with them securely online. Per all of the folks at the exhibit hall, don’t get mad at me, but I was just not seeing anything that was really getting me excited. Is that bad? No – as there were a large presence of vendors with tools that are needed by dealers who were attending, and were able to get the info they needed at one location, while having their peers present to ask what they thought about various services and products.

Aw shucks, we are one big happy family…
That’s right, we might fight a lot here on DealerRefresh, but ultimately we are one big happy family. How do I know? As we have rookie presenters speak at the Digital Dealer conferences, who is sitting in the front row? Look at the picture below and you will see just some of the folks sitting in the front row for Alex Jefferson’s first ever speaking event at Digital Dealer, along with seasoned pro Jerry Thibeau presenting “Dealer 3.0 Cheat Sheet”. Great job to both Alex and Jerry, who really engaged the audience with some on the spot, live phone call mystery shops.

Jeff Kershner - Su-Lin-Jasicki - Chris-Fousek Digital Dealer 10Jeff Kershner, Su-Lin Jasicki, and Chris Fousek Showing their Support for Alex and Jerry

If content is King, then this review is very SEO friendly…
OK, I better start wrapping this up. I attended several other great sessions, including AJ Maida firing up the crowd about social media, Dennis Colome (VP of Sales & Marketing with eXteresAuto) talking about dramatic changes with the search engines (GREAT job using props and giveaways Dennis, very useful and well-polished presentation), and the very last presentation for me on the very last day – Bryan Armstrong, the “average car guy”, sharing some of his innovative marketing and management techniques to take the dealerships he has worked with to the top with eCommerce. While Bryan shared that this would be his first and last time speaking, I disagree, we want him back. Lots of fun, and lots of great ideas. I think you need to email Bryan about his pay plan ideas at [email protected] – and tell him he is great while you are at it.

image of Bryan Armstrong Digital Dealer 10
Bryan Armstrong – the “average car guy”….

Deep down, all dealers are scavengers…
Great job to Arnold Tijerina who setup the first-ever mobile scavenger hunt using SCVNGR. And what a great way to teach dealers at the same time how to use at tool like SCVNGR or 4Square to build excitement and business for your dealership. I expect to see Arnold on in the near future after all of these mobile phone pics of him…

As my friends in AC/DC say – Have a drink on me!
Many thanks to all of the vendors who entertained at this conference. There were great gatherings hosted by VinSolutions, Blackbook, ResponseLogix, Homenet, Jerry Thibeau and Phone Ninjas (thanks for the great dinner Jerry!), Unity Works, Dealix, and many more! It is hard to pick and choose as there are so many great events to attend. I spent the final night with my good friend Todd Smith who entertained at The Blue Martini with his ActivEngage crew. I was able to meet several of the great people at ActivEngage that I work with, including the lovely Kira Banks, as well as many more of my friends (though I am still angry at the DealerRater Crew and Tanesha White who laughed hysterically as I was drug onto the dance floor by someone who was attempting to actively engage me – you owe me!)

Survey Says! Another successful conference!
Digital Dealer continues to grow in both attendance and importance. It is a MUST for me in continuous training and especially in the Jeff Wyler’s efforts to lead in our markets. What do you do with that huge pile of notes you bring back from Digital Dealer? Get a big cup of coffee, sit down, and start entering all of the great ideas you got into your Microsoft Outlook as tasks. It keeps me busy for months to come. I look forward to seeing all of you in Vegas on October 5-7 for Digital Dealer 11!

Jerry Thibeau, Kevin Frye, Alex Jefferson Digital Dealer 10

As a former Naval officer I am driven to produce results & to lead people to reach their full abilit Aviation, outdoors, tennis, running, weighli...
Great insight Kevin. Would have loved to of heard your presentation. Since I'm also in the Cincinnati area perhaps we could discuss it over a cup of coffee.
Great detailed summary Kevin and I congratulate Mike and his team for a record breaking event. It's great to see the dealer community embracing education and the opportunity to network with their peers.
I REALLY look forward to your awesome summaries Kevin! The video hit me real hard, great message! Many thnx for your pics and note taking!

p.s. Has anyone EVER seen a bad pic of Alex? WTF, does the camera like him or what? hahaha... wish I was there, thnx again!
  • A
    Andrew DiFeo
  • April 27, 2011
Great recap as always, Kevin. Sorry I was not able to attend this year, look forward to seeing you in October!
Kevin, great recap and GREAT seminar. We got there early and it was already standing room only in a big room. Word has spread!
  • Anonymous
  • April 27, 2011
Kevin keep leading the way my friend. Great recap of DD10 and great job making us think in your session on Social Media.
  • A
    Alex Jefferson
  • April 27, 2011
Great write-up Kevin as well as a SPECTACULAR job speaking at your event. It was engaging and very informative.
I agree with Brian - It is great to see the Dealer community embracing education and he is one of pioneers in helping to educate Dealers.
@Joe - I don't know about that. If you look reeeeeeeeeaaaaal close you will see a slight crack in the lense of the camera of the pictures im in. LOL
  • S
  • April 27, 2011
High quality as always from you Frye. So glad you shared that video too! You're one a very few class acts in this business. Keep up the great work.