Live Replay of ActivEngage x CBT News @ NADA 2024

Written By Ted Rubin


Jim Fitzpatrick: Hey everyone, Jim Fitzpatrick at the 2024 NADA convention and I am joined by Ted Rubin, the founder and CEO of Active Engage, a company that is really making great things happen for dealers. So Ted, thank you so much for stopping by the stage.

Ted Rubin: We appreciate you having me here. Sure, sure. It’s great to be here. It’s great to have another year where we’re finally back.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know, I know. And it’s a little different being live right now than versus being in the studio, which is where we usually catch you.

Ted Rubin: I’m very nervous if you can’t tell. I’m shivering. *laughs*

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, don’t be nervous. Everything we’re talking about, you know so well. And there’s so much to talk about actually with ActivEngage. Talk to us about some of the features that are new.

Ted Rubin: Well, I mean, let me tell you what’s going on a little bit at NADA. So we just had Carol speak the other day the digital natives and so her session was really well attended and it was a really great session and I think we’ve talked about it a little bit before where you know really engaging this new large group of people these digital these people who grew up not buying a car the way that the way that I grew up

Jim Fitzpatrick: Exactly or me!

Ted Rubin: but the way that you’re online and you’re working through things and you want to be able to do a lot of it on your own and the research is extensive sure so you know there’s a lot to interacting with that… and so she spoke about that fairly extensively and how we help with that. Right, right. Eric is speaking later today, our CRO, and he’s speaking about the Flip2txt piece. OK. And I think that that’s going to be a super powerful piece for our customers. So for the dealers, because we talked a little bit about that when you’re in the studio last time.

Jim Fitzpatrick: tell them a little bit about what that’s all about. The Flip2Txt piece!

Ted Rubin: I think, is this spectacular piece to alleviate all of the stress on your receptionist. And on the phone lines that you have at the store because you can have two to three receptionists and I know when we first started testing this out, the goal was to try to be able to handle the volume of calls coming into a dealership.

Ted Rubin: If you’re between 7:30 and 9:30 in the morning, you know It doesn’t matter how many lines you have,  25 lines sets you have. Yyou’re just gonna hit the ceiling at some point.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right!

Ted Rubin: There’s just so many people trying to make appointments

Jim Fitzpatrick: No question about it!

Ted Rubin: For you to offer your customers an option during the phone call to say, hey, you know “We’re very busy at this moment, but we can answer your questions live with a live person and we can do it through text.” So if you want to flip this phone call instead of waiting for an operator to ultimately transfer you, you can talk to your live person.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I do it all the time. Delta Airlines, whoever it might be, you know, I’m like no problem. And you know, sure enough, they take care of all my problems.

Ted Rubin: And that’s it. It’s about having really well-trained people that have access to the systems in the dealership to know how to make appointments, how to talk through sales, how to talk about vehicle information and other things like that and get the customer not just so that they can produce a lead, but get them to where they can get certain things accomplished in the same way that they would if they were calling in. So I think that that’s going to be a huge piece and we were in pilot for a long time and it had great success and it really alleviates a huge amount of stress on the dealership.

Ted Rubin: You get a lot more in, goes into the CRM and as well, you know, it can save you money. It can’t just, you know, actually get you more money, which it absolutely will, because now you’re answering everything. But it saves you money because you don’t have to have as many people trying to answer the phone.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right, that’s right, that’s right.

Ted Rubin: And everything that, now every call that comes in essentially becomes a lead that gets connected to that customer record. It’s a beautiful thing. So now you know exactly what’s going on with that customer, how many times they’ve called in. That’s right. What their conversation was, not just, hey, here’s a number they called. But this is what they called about. I know they called in at 730 in the morning, but it was because they wanted to know about sales. Or I know that, you know, they called in at 6 o’clock on a Saturday and it wasn’t about sales. They were trying to make an appointment for Monday.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, yeah. You know that kind of stuff. And as you know, dealers for, you know, the last century have been challenged in this area. They spend a gazillion dollars trying to get that phone to ring or the computer to click or what have you. And lo and behold, most dealers, and you know who I’m talking about here and or what I’m talking about with regard to listening in on those calls coming in.. That are never.

Ted Rubin: *laughs* And all the training that goes into it!

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s unbelievable and so many times you’ll say this call wasn’t picked back up again by anybody, you know And you might to your point you might see the number you might say yeah that call came in But what happened right, you know, this takes away all of that.

Ted Rubin: That’s right You don’t even know if it’s a service or a sales call at this point So even if you were gonna follow up, you don’t know what you’re following up for. And so this actually solves a large quantity of problems in that particular area, so, you know, I think that both of those things are really big. We [also] released our new app. which is for the dealers, which is huge. I think we took, I think frankly that we had been a little behind on that app area because we really released as a full service, managed services in the beginning. So our focus wasn’t really there, but we have so many dealers now because we’re transferring into the stores for F&I, for other things, or there’s just some dealers who want to do it themselves, that we took the last three years and really massively changed the app. So it’s much more interactive.

Ted Rubin: You can do everything that you would need to in the app that basically you could do from the console. You can even ultimately get to video conferencing and other things if you needed to. It’s a huge, huge upgrade to what we’ve had before.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Switching gears a little bit, let’s talk about NADA. I walked around the show and ActivEngage is with Cox now, it’s General Motors, several digital retailing tools, new integration with Orbee. Talk to us about that. You guys are doing just phenomenal work.

Ted Rubin: Yeah, I’m really proud of all the partnerships that we’ve created. And I think it’s because of the quality of the conversations and the data that we collect and the motivation that we give to the customers. So we integrate with virtually every DR (digital retailing) system. Many of them, you know, more than a dozen of them. And all the, you know, the biggest ones that are out there in my opinion. And so we can carry people, you know, all the way from a conversation whether it’s Darwin or AccelerateMyDeal, which is Cox’s tool, or Roadster, or any of those, we can get them all the way through that process, through and help them in the Digital retailing.

Ted Rubin: So as it gets more dense, more important that the customer has even more support. Now it’s not just research. Now it’s actually a little bit of selling and a little bit of this is what this means, don’t be afraid of it, it’s okay to keep going. So we help with a lot of that kind of stuff. And because of
all these different companies that were integrated with the marketplaces, you know, like AutoTrader and KBB and other things like that.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, sure!

Ted Rubin: You know, we bring all that together so we can be on your website and we’re bringing in the data from the website. That’s a beautiful thing. We can be through your DR tool and we’re bringing all that data in through conversational commerce, right? So we’re actually identifying specifically what the likes and dislikes are for the customer, not just here’s a set of data.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, yeah.

Ted Rubin: And we’re doing it also from these marketplace sites as well. So you can actually start at a marketplace site and then if the customer hits your dealership, we know what we talked about the last time we can migrate the entire thing all the way through Digital Retailing. You know, it’s a very very big deal and and I think that the aggregate Value of all of that data not just for the conversation but for the next person at the dealership to take over that conversation

Jim Fitzpatrick: So important!

Ted Rubin:  It’s a very big deal because they know what the intention and motivation for the customers plus You know to work with a lot of these big companies the companies like CDK he leads We have a special integration with Fortellis and certainly all of the Cox products, General Motors, we do things with Southeast Toyota. So all these big companies, you know, our security is the best there is!

Jim Fitzpatrick: I know, I know. We talked about that when you were in. Just for us to meet up here! Hey, before I let you get out of here, talk to us about the booth. It’s at 6113 in the North Hall, right?!

Ted Rubin: That’s right. Okay, you always got something going on over there. It’s like this buzz of dealers going, we wanna know more. I’m glad you see that. It’s, yeah, we have a nice big booth. It’s really great. I really like how it looks and stuff like that. We’re anxiously waiting, so if you see the drool from the guys who are standing at the front line, it’s okay, we definitely want to be able to service all of our customers, which are the dealers, the OEMs.

Jim Fitzpatrick: So if you’re out here at the show, and we hope that you are out here, if you’re in the retail automotive industry, you should be out here! This is where all the solutions are. Check them out, ActivEngage at booth 6113 in the North Hall. Thank you so much, Ted, for stopping by, taking the time out of your schedule. I know you’re very busy and we really appreciate it. So check these guys out. Absolutely. Thanks.