In 1990, as a new-car sales manager by day and an amateur computer geek by night, Glen Demetrioff wrote a piece of software that moved quoting monthly payments to the sales floor from the business manager’s office.
“We were leading the region in sales, against stores in Calgary and Edmonton,” he said of his time at Winnipeg’s Woodhaven Toyota (now called Birchwood Toyota). “The other stores wondered what we were doing, but I was just using Toyota Finance — the same tools they had — to put monthly payment figures onto the showroom floor.”
Today, Demetrioff is, in a sense, still selling cars, but it’s on a global scale.
In 1998, he took his selftaught computer skills and with his wife, Sharon, founded Winnipeg-based DMT Development Systems Group. While DMT began building websites — and continues to manage the media-relations sites of a number of automakers — the company is best known for Rapid Response, a suite of software tools that puts a new twist on online lead management, flash-distributing requests for information to a dealership’s entire sales force at once.
Rapid Response built DMT into a 250-employee global enterprise, with offices in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The product’s success is also why DMT changed its name in June to Rapid RTC, which stands for real-time communications.
“We’re still going to be DMT as a corporate entity,” said Steve Ambeau, vice-president of marketing. “But from a customer-facing standpoint, we’ll be Rapid RTC.”
Demetrioff said Rapid Response and DIGITAL! Interview work on any web platform, at either the dealership or automaker level.
DMT recently signed Subaru Canada as a client.
VETTING THE CUSTOMER
If a customer is browsing a dealer or automaker website and accepts an invitation to chat, the customer is directed first to DMT’s offices, where a concierge will quickly vet a request and then either provide the information, such as email addresses, or connect the customer with a sales person. In July, Rapid RTC partnered with Volkswagen UK to help the automaker’s dealer network generate sales leads.
“It’s about a minute to a minute-and-a-half,” to connect a customer, Demetrioff said.
When the request comes from an automaker’s site, that vetting includes letting the customer tell them which dealership to access. “We don’t want to be getting into a competitive situation between dealers, or suggesting which dealer to go to,” he said.
Once a customer is vetted, the dealer’s entire sales staff gets a notice on their smartphones.
At that point, it’s a jump ball: Whoever is the first to grab it gets the lead. Demetrioff said it avoids what has been an issue with leads that are sent to a sales manager’s inbox, where they may or may not be distributed.
“Every lead costs $50, $100 or $200, depending on the media used to drive that lead in, so there’s a real cost to lost leads,” he said. “And consumers are getting tired of coming into a dealership and not getting a proper customer experience, so this is meant to alleviate that.”
DMT is part of a growing industry called Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM), a segment populated by such entities as Bond Brand Loyalty, Trader Corp., Cox Automotive, RSR Global and Accu-Trade.
Automajers pay DMT a retainer while dealers pay only for traffic generated. Privately held by the Demetrioffs and Sageview Capital Corp., DMT does not disclose revenue figures.
Demetrioff steers away from proclaiming DMT to be the best or only provider of its services, nor does he quote sales figures to tout his products. He does say that DMT’s focus on managing the connection between online shoppers and dealers has allowed the company to grow.
‘INCH WIDE, MILE DEEP’
“I like to say we’re an inch wide and a mile deep,” he said.
Sean Claessen, executive vice-president, strategy and innovation, at Bond Brand Loyalty in Canada, said chat functionality is a key aspect of any dealer or automaker website; it helps reassure browsers they’re making the right choice in the brand, in the model they’ve chosen and in the dealership.
Claessen wouldn’t comment directly on what DMT, a competitor, is doing, but said he sees an evolution coming in how chat functions, moving from a session approach to one that allows customers to come and go from the chat as their availability changes. He said some customers will take three weeks to buy a car while others want to be driving away as soon as the delivery inspection is complete. Having a web function, as well as a dealership, that respects that difference is critical.
“Assuming consumers can maintain the conversation all in one sitting is the typical flaw,” he said. “There are many solutions available to dealers that presume this vehicle purchase is the most pressing thing for the consumer — as pressing as it would be for the dealer — and that’s just not true.”