Industry News & Trends

The iPad article – why the hell not?

We’re jumping on the iPad bandwagon at DealerRefresh.  Why?  Well….why the hell not?  Why does a dog….anyway.  We’re on it, so now we’re going to have an article on it.  So there!

Jeff and I are still waiting on our 3G iPads to show up, but I’m too much of a geek to wait.  I picked up a WiFi one to tie me over.

Now that the early adopters have had theirs for a few days I’m reading a few things that are “de-ethered”.  The first one is from one of our friends at HomeNet:  Arnold Tijerina’s iPad reviewBrian Pasch’s iPad video explains his opinion on how the right apps will make sales more personal with the iPad.  And Joe Pistell is asking if the iPad is a gamechanger on the DealerRefresh forums.

Here’s my take:

The iPad now ranks amongst those products that I lived perfectly well without, but once it was invented I can’t live without it.  Some of the other things in that category are power windows, smart keys, online banking, and the Gillette Mach 5 razor (okay, I’m stretching a little).  But I can certainly say the iPad is better than I thought it would be!

Reading: It excels in reading applications.  iBooks, Newspapers, and just about any app that was designed to be read is incredible.  Sorry Kindle, I think you’ve just been assassinated.

Apps in General: apps are the future.  I’m absolutely convinced of that now.  They’re one thing on the iPhone and Droid, but they’re a whole ‘nother thing on the iPad.  It isn’t just the screen real estate; it is the new enginuity that is being applied to a fresh device.  I foresee things being developed for the iPad that will, later, find their way to the iPhone.  There are some clever new twists to some great old apps.

Interaction: I’m going to bunch email and Internet browsing here because they’re the same old tools, but refreshed in a new way.  That new way is simply “touch”.  I didn’t realize it till I was on my third day of iPad ownership, but touching websites and emails is a very surreal experience (you’re right, I haven’t had a pysch eval in a while).  It gives me the feeling that I’m more in touch with the emails I write and the websites I visit.  I am assuming this feeling comes from adding another sense to something that has mostly only applied one human sense:  sight.  Now the web and emails POP from using touch and sight.  I can’t really say much more about that – you’ll just have to try it for yourself.

How I’ve been using the iPad: In the morning I read the USA Today, Associated Press, and New York Times.  Hop into Twitterriffic for the iPad and then get to my moderating job on Before getting into work stuff, I finish up by checking out the latest stuff on the DealerRefresh forums.  Until I come home, the iPad serves mostly as a web browser and email client with occasional instant messenger use.  After work, and whatever else was happening that evening, it comes back out to serve as a book.

Battery life: out of the box, it took me 2 days to get the battery down to 47% and you can imagine how much usage it got those first two days.  On regular days (of course everyone and their brother has to give the iPad a try in the office) I have about 60% life left by the time I put it down to get some sleep.  Even though I have not scientifically tested it, I think it has the advertised battery life in a real world scenario.  Thank you for not BSing us here Apple.

WiFi vs. 3G: there have been quite a few times I have been wanting to use the iPad when a WiFi connection was not around.  Many of the apps require an Internet connection, so I’ve got to say 3G is the way to go.  I thought that I would be able to grab everything I wanted when I was within a WiFi spot, but I thought wrong.

Bad stuff: no Flash is a little bit of a pain.  It isn’t the end of the world, but there are quite a few Flash elements still in the wild.  Some apps are very buggy.  The Wall Street Journal has been an absolute pain – it no longer exists on my iPad.  I have had some connection issues.  The connection issue that occasionally comes up is the only thing that I feel is truly a problem with the device.  It is sporadic, but when it happens it is annoying.  I have faith that Apple will get it sorted out soon.


What about using it at work? It wouldn’t be kosher to write a DealerRefresh article without relating it to the car business, so here we go.

Does your IT Department bottle-neck your dealership’s bandwidth with a whole bunch of job-justifying security crap?  Is your CRM company getting tired of having to troubleshoot your IT department?  Do you want to get your dealership into social media, but your boss won’t let you?  There’s an iPad for that. Yeah, I know, that was cheesy. There’s also an iPhone and iPod Touch for that too.  And now that there are 3 devices and the Apple App store is cranking hard, I see some of our vendors creating apps.

I can also see some very proactive dealers cutting hardware costs by using iPads or iPod Touches instead of clunky computers or ThinClients with huge servers.  In many cases, most of the sales staff already owns one of these devices, so there could be only bandwidth costs to the dealers if they allow employees to use their own device (no worries about an employee breaking or losing it either).

At the end of the day, these Apple, Google, or Blackberry mobile devices are only as good as the apps that are written for them.  So, Automotive Technology Vendors – untie our cords and make us some apps!

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
I've been thinking about ways that we can use the iPad in our dealer right out of the box. One of the handiest things I've thought of is to capture customer testimonials. We have a couple dealers on Presto which seems to be a perfect fit on the iPad. For a couple of our other dealers I'm working on a small web form so that they too can capture customer testimonials so we can use them for SEO value on our sites/ micro-sites.

I must say, I'm sold on the idea of the iPad for both personal and business use!

I'm thinking of a sales tool for car dealers scaled for the iPad and menu buttons that are designed for the touch screen. Standard website menus can be hard to use when tapping quickly.

My thought is a website app for the iPad that integrates your CRM system, vAuto, KBB, IRM Websites, Videos, Brochures, Finance Calculator, Car Comparison data, etc.

The sales associate has one touch access to all relevant sales tools, reputation development tools, and product information in their hands.

With the iPad inserted into a standard leather portfolio notepad, this would get the interaction to happen alongside the customer and not behind a desk or in the backroom.

I'd like to work with some CRM vendors to make this happen because that's the missing piece for the base applications framework in place. We would need to work with vendors that have web based CRM tools so that the iPad can determine if the customer has been at the dealership in the past and show past notes.
So when does the PCG app launch Brian? Quite a few of those things could certainly fall solely under your umbrella.
@Brian Our CRM already works on the iPad and we have some dealers using it. Would love to talk to you about some of your ideas.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • April 15, 2010
Yeah, Alex just couldn't wait for our 3G iPads to arrive. Impatient one!

Not only have I had to hear about it but now I had to read about it (again).

We have one in route from Mercedes-Benz Finical with apparently an App that will allow the Finance manager to sit with the customer at the sales desk (or where ever). It might be the first actual dealer app for the ipad. I hope to write something up on it - maybe shoot a quick video on it as well. That's if it turns out to be hat they said it's supposed to be.

Thanks for the write-up Alex. I'm more excited than ever for ours to arrive. I'm glad we ordered the 3G!!
  • A
    Alex Snyder
  • April 16, 2010
Is Steve Jobs the Beatles of our day?

The Beatles were not liked by many people when they first came to the United States and they were especially disliked, by many, during their psychedelic period. But there is no denying the cultural changes they began from 1960 to 1966.

Steve Jobs (Apple) certainly can't sell out stadiums or play the guitar like George Harrison, but when they launch a new album (Apple Product) people line up at the stores. The iPod and iTunes certainly changed the way we get our music. The iPhone is pushing telecommunications away from simply being a phone call. And although the iPad, Mac Book lineup, iMac, Mac Pro, and OSX probably can't be called Sgt. Peppers standing on their own, today's forum is most definitely technology. And when it comes to technology, Apple may very well go down in history as revolutionizing (absolutely for pioneering) the way the next generation uses technology.
  • G
  • April 16, 2010
How are you with typing on the iPad? Are you a good typer on a regular keyboard as well for comparison? I think that would be the one thing I'd miss since I'm a quick typer on regular sized keyboards and blackberry ones.
I normally type 80-100 wpm. I can type very fast on the iPad, not quite as fast as normal.. but I was amazed at how well I could type on it. That is one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and get one. It works great for taking notes.

I'm working to create a full service iPad dashboard for car dealer staff with different features for sales associates, managers and GM's. I would love to get a test account on your web platform so I can format the integration ideas and then sit down with you with some examples in mind.

I love the idea of using Presto Reviews on an iPad because you can place an iPad in the service lounge or sales lounge where customers can post their reviews while in the building.

The number of reviews that you could capture in the store would be amazing. I'm doing an IRM seminar at Digital Dealer on Tuesday at 4:30 pm and I think I will add that to my presentation.
Speaking of notes Matt, the iPad finally converted me to use EverNote. I should have converted to that a long time ago.

If you aren't using this app yet (doesn't matter the platform: PC, Mac, Blackberry, iPhone, etc) you should give it a try. It is free.

My thoughts exactly. We're figuring out a time in the sales process where we can have the customer take a few minutes and fill out a review. Probably right before the Finance process but we're still working that out. Hopefully this will net a ton of reviews.

Best of luck at Digital Dealer.
  • M
    Mike Keesee
  • April 19, 2010
My iPad has not left my side at work or home. I wonder if I need iPad awareness meetings? I am forward thinking like all of you are and for some reason finding myself wondering how to implement the iPad in the sales process and how to get rid of workstations for sales reps. I feel that someone will be putting out a CRM APP soon. If the auto industry as a whole jumps all over this "game changer", then it's game over just like (IF) Verizon gets the iPhone.
@Mike We are right there with you! Our CRM already works on the iPad and we have dealers using it already!
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  • J
    Jonathan H
  • June 7, 2010
@ Matt;

How well does the CRM work with the Ipad? Is it the mobile version?
  • M
    Matt Watson
  • June 7, 2010

Our full version works on the iPad, not a special mobile version like we have for iPhone. Works great for salespeople to do their daily tasks.
  • V
    Vince Doyle
  • March 31, 2011
I've seen dealers using their smart phone apps to deiplay and run on iPad, but is anyone really using iPads in the showroom?
  • T
  • December 30, 2011
iPad demo for used car dealers