YOUR CONNECTION TO ONTARIO’S USED CAR INDUSTRY
THE ONTARIO UCDA
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1
THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE USED CAR DEALERS ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO
PLUS DEALER PROFILE: ARYA FINE MOTORS /18
WRITING VEHICLE DESCRIPTIONS THAT SELL /11
IMPROVING YOUR DEALERSHIP’S MARKETING ROI /26 WINTER 2021
W I N T H E U LT I M AT E
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DETAILS : See Official Rules and complete details at siriusxm.ca/UCDA. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER TO WIN. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Void where prohibited. (One prize to be awarded. Approximate Retail Value of Prize: $3,000). Enter by enrolling or being enrolled in the SiriusXM Canada Pre Owned Program by April 9th, 2021. Open to residents of Canada who are at least 21 years of age who represent automotive dealerships and who are authorized to enter the dealership into SiriusXM Canada Pre Owned program. © 2021 Sirius XM Canada Inc. “SiriusXM”, the SiriusXM logo, channel names and logos are trademarks of Sirius XM Radio Inc. and are used under license. All rights reserved.
THE ONTARIO UCDA
IN THIS ISSUE
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1
Winter 2021 USED CAR DEALERS ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO 230 Norseman Street, Toronto, ON M8Z 2R4 Tel: 416.231.2600 Toll Free: 1.800.268.2598 email@example.com
FEATURED STORIES Writing Vehicle Descriptions That Sell By Angela West
ucda.org Publication Mail Agreement #41890516
How To Advertise, Promote, Spread The Word, Market Your Service Department By Joanne Walmsley
is published by Laservision Graphics Ltd. four times a year.
130 Industry Street, Unit 36, North York, ON M6M 5G3
Improving Your Dealership’s Marketing ROI
EDITOR Gina Monaco Tel: 1.647.344.9300 or 1.289.456.4617 firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING SALES Direct: 416.360.0797 Office: 647.344.9300
by Angela West
26 UCDA’s Charitable Giving Committee
Does Charity Begin At Home?
05 07 09 10 14 16 18 29 34
The Driver’s Seat Warren Barnard
Editor’s Note Gina Monaco
Member’s Corner Bob Pierce
The Law Matters Jim Hamilton
Trends Chris Chase
Tech Talk Angela West
Dealer Profile Ronda Payne
The Common Lawyer Justin M. Jakublak
Old Car Detective Bill Sherk
CONTRIBUTORS Chris Chase, Ronda Payne, Bill Sherk, Angela West, Joanne Walmsley If you are interested in having your personal opinion heard, contact the editor at email@example.com
The publisher of The Ontario Dealer reserves the right to turn down any advertising or content submitted to it. The Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario and the publisher accept no responsibility for claims or statements made by advertisers in this publication or by the independent authors of articles appearing in this publication. All statements and opinions appearing in this publication are those of the writers themselves and are not to be construed as reflecting the position or endorsement of the Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario or the publisher.
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 3
MORE THAN $1 MILLION IN DEALER LOYALTY REBATES GENERATED FOR UCDA MEMBERS IN 2020.
THE DRIVER’S SEAT What a welcome to 2021! after what was, by any standards, a challenging 2020. State of Emergency aside, the industry has entered 2021 with a cautious optimism, but also with real apprehension as to what may yet be coming as COVID-19 variants continue to spread.
By Warren Barnard, Executive Director, UCDA
AS I WRITE THIS COLUMN IN JANUARY,
Ontario has just been put into a State of Emergency by the Provincial government. Everyone is subject to a Stay at Home order, though unlike the first lockdown in April, dealers are still able to operate by appointment only.
We have begun the year in the second lockdown the industry has seen since the COVID-19 pandemic started, with the first coming in April. Unlike the first time, dealers have been deemed essential to Ontario’s economy and have been permitted to stay open by appointment only. It remains to be seen if this will put any sort of significant dent in the high COVID-19 numbers. It also remains to be seen how the industry will fare
Somewhere down the road, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, with at least two brands of vaccines now being distributed. The $64,000 question is how long will it take to vaccinate enough of the population to have a meaningful effect. So how hard was the industry hit by the pandemic in 2020 and how will it fare this year?
ARTICLES TO CHECK OUT IN THIS ISSUE OF THE DEALER 1. Let Your Listings Shine vehicle descriptions that work. 2. How To Market Your Service Department Your service department can and should be one of your best sources of revenue. Find out how to attract more service customers. 3. Improve Your ROI. Car dealerships streamline their operations and invest in marketing campaigns, all in the hopes of increasing leads, sales, and more service appointments. We look at different strategies that dealers can use that will help their bottom line.
Working with our friends at Desrosiers Automotive Consultants, the UCDA would like to find out. We’ve begun surveying UCDA Members on what the effects have been in their sales, revenue and overall operations in 2020, and what Members see happening in 2021.
Hope you enjoy this issue. I always love to hear from readers. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll make the results of the surveys available to members as we receive the results.
So stay Healthy and Safe and we can all come through this thing together for a better 2021! ■
Speaking of Operations, that’s the theme for this issue of The Ontario Dealer. Here are a few of the stories we have for you that I think you’ll find interesting.
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 5
Need practical solutions to help you stay compliant with the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act? OMVIC's best practices offer practical tips to help dealers comply with the law. Visit omvic.ca and access our best practices to:
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verify customer identification protect customer personal information advertise inventory on salespersons' personal social media disclose mileage leverage stock numbers value trade-ins
Learn how you can put best practices into action today. Book a FREE webinar with us at: email@example.com
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EDITOR’S NOTE A variety of financing solutions will attract millennial buyers that this would increase the use of ride-sharing and public transportation, much to the disappointment of car dealers. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. In Ontario, a survey of millennials conducted by Deloitte Canada for the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) found the pandemic has affected millennials and their desire to purchase a vehicle.
By Gina Monaco, Editor
OUT OF THE ASHES, something good is
yet to come.
This cohort, because of COVID, have been rethinking vehicle ownership – a full 56 per cent of them are planning on purchasing a vehicle sooner than they originally planned. And because of their youth, and job security the way it is, or isn’t, millennials are concerned about costs, which will drive them towards the used car market.
The pandemic has certainly altered the way many of live, work and play, with many of these changes becoming permanent solutions. The Guardian newspaper recently wrote about the Top 20 Predictions for the Next Decade. The number one prediction was universal work from home policies and stated that, “remote work due to Covid-19 has exposed the inadequacies of compulsory office attendance; now that people are working from home, it will never go back to the way it used to be; geographical requirements around talent acquisitions will loosen or expand beyond urban centers.”
•• Environmentally responsible car ownership: A majority of millennials expect to drive an alternative-fuel vehicle within five years and are willing to pay more for it. Their car remains parked for short-distance commutes, opting instead for cycling, walking, or public transportation. Vehicle use is limited but still necessary.
This alone is enough to have a huge impact of lifestyles. You would think
•• P urchases are personal: One-third of millennials want a car that stands out,
and 48% want a car that reflects their personality. That’s obviously different for each buyer, but conformity is not in their DNA. •• T hey want instant gratification: Availability -- millennials aren’t willing to wait for their vehicle. They’ll keep looking until someone has the model they want. •• T hey’re tech-savvy. No surprise here. They want cars that are connected and well-equipped with advanced tech as long as it’s reliable. Affordability will still be an issue, and this may be a clarion call for dealers. Offering a variety of financing solutions will certainly help smaller dealers attract this market. ■
A few years ago, Deloitte researched this demographic and found a number of features this group considers when deciding on a vehicle. Here are a few:
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 7
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BENEFITS TO UCDA MEMBERS With our partner-enabled 3D secure technology solutions, Global Payments can provide seamless e-commerce options help your dealership accept digital payments. ► Secure e-commerce and online transactions
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Global Payments and the Global Payments logo are trademarks of Global Payments Inc. and may not be copied, imitated, or used, in whole or in part, without prior written consent. All other trademarks, registered trademarks, product names, and logos identified or mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners. Payment processing and pricing approvals provided by Global Payments Direct, Inc. Terminals & terminal services provided by Global Payments Canada GP. All offers are valid on approved credit.
MEMBER’S CORNER A Major Change to Dealer Lending Contracts with the Big Banks The agreements between the banks and dealers have been amended to put more and more responsibility of the verification requirements on the Business Managers and the dealerships. Next ... along comes paperless, touchless “digital electronic” contracts, very little eye to eye contact with the customer ... especially in 2020 with the Covid-19 lock downs.
By Bob Pierce Member Services Director THE MAJOR LENDERS have fixed their
loss problem as result of identity theft and fraud.....they have down loaded the problem to you. It is estimated that Canadian banks and credit unions are losing tens of millions of dollars in bad loans submitted by car dealers across Canada. In the old days business managers were required to obtain picture ID, void checks, proof of income, and proof of residence to determine the credit worthiness of the customer. The “paper” was sent to the lender and the lender would approve or deny the loan. That required the lenders to have people and processes in place to deal with the hundreds of thousands of applications every month...costing them millions. Over time all that has changed. The auto industry needed instant approvals over the internet, and responsibility for verification of identity started to change.
The Bank agreements were changing but they still require in person contacts, copies from original picture ID’s and contracts signed in the dealership. In my last article I said that “the lenders were in no hurry to change this requirement on the dealerships”... I was wrong. A number of major lenders have changed their dealer agreements and one recently sent out an addendum to the agreement “that allows electronic signatures on lending agreements”. Why are they allowing this now? Because verification is no longer their job. They have no role in credit verification, they don’t want to see picture ID’s, employment info, residence details, etc because the Dealer is totally responsible for “any and all of the bank's losses”.... Total and absolute recourse back to the dealer. I recently became involved with a member that received a demand for more than $30,000, from a lender because a loan written in early 2017 went into default in early 2020. The customer’s bank account was closed, the car could not be found and the customer is gone. The bank says their losses are more than $30k and here is what they said in their correspondence with the dealer.
“The dealership failed their fiduciary duty owed to the bank as an agent of facilitating financing agreements in accordance with the dealer finance contact and consider this to be grounds for recovering the loss for the amount of $32,886.58.” This is a major turning point In discussions with the bank's account manager the dealer was told that the bank sent out an email a couple of months ago advising that the bank has amended its dealer agreement and now will accept electronic signatures on bank contracts... that was news to the dealer. The account manager then tried to confirm that the email was sent to the dealer....she was not able to confirm it. I consider this a major decision by the bank and a significant problem for dealers. Now, if you choose to, you don’t have to meet the customer....Until delivery at their home. The entire sales process can be done on-line. The lenders have effectively “downloaded” the entire verification process to you and your people. Dealers “by contract”, have a fiduciary duty to the banks as their “agent” to make sure the person is who they say the are and that they will pay their loan , and if they are not and they don’t ... You will. For what it’s worth, you need to read your bank contracts. You need to fully understand your legal obligations under these revised agreements, and then you need to decide if you are going to accept them. ■
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 9
THE LAW MATTERS Does ‘X’ Mark The Spot? On the same page of the contract as the purchaser’s signature and next to it, a statement in accordance with subsection (3) in 12 point bold font, except for the heading which shall be in 14 point bold font.
Sales Final Please review the entire contract, including all attached statements, before signing. This contract is final and binding once you have signed it unless the motor vehicle dealer has failed to comply with certain legal obligations.
By Jim Hamilton Legal Services Director OVER HUNDREDS OF YEARS , contract law has developed to require a signature, seal or other mark to signify to all parties to a contract the solemn and binding nature of the deal they were making. It says ‘open your eyes, this is serious business now, don’t do it unless you really mean it’ and so on.
Is it really necessary? Maybe not in all contexts, for example, where the contracting parties know what they are doing, are very sophisticated or the matter is routine, but even then, old habits are hard to break. We like signatures. In Ontario, for example, while dealers are considered expert enough to have binding agreements without the need for an original signature on their wholesale bills of sale, the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) clearly requires one when doing a deal with a consumer on a retail contract. It says,
10 | THE ONTARIO DEALER
asked by dealers who are dealing with buyers all over the country (and even all over the world) if scanned signatures, or faxed or emailed ones are “good enough”. They are. The broad definition of the term “electronic signature” in the Electronic Commerce Legislation is helpful. The definition would include a scanned “traditional” signature on most agreements sent by email or other similar means.
www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/00e17 But unlike the law, the world at large moves forward at its own swift pace. The English Court of Chancery in 1871 would not have had to pause to consider “electronic commerce”, the internet or virtual currencies. We have no such luxury in the 21st Century, and the law has to catch up. More and more now there is a developing tendency to recognize electronic transactions that are entered into other than through the old-fashioned pen and paper method. For example, the British Columbia Court of Appeal recently found that the negotiation of an agreement by an exchange of emails resulted in a legally binding agreement even though no formal contract was signed. Also, legislation enabling electronic transactions is now in place in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario (the “Electronic Commerce Act”), as well as in other provinces, that facilitates entering into transactions by non-traditional means. So what if a signature is required by legislation, as the MVDA here in Ontario requires on retail bills of sale? I am often
“electronic signature” means electronic information that a person creates or adopts in order to sign a document and that is in, attached to or associated with the document
Many of you will be familiar with on-line contracts that have a little box that says something to the effect that by checking the box or marking with an “X” the purchaser agrees to be bound to the contract. The wording of the definition, as you can see, is broad enough to cover even that. The MVDA is not quite so progressive, however, and still speaks of “signature”. We still want to see a representation of the purchaser’s signature on the contract of sale or lease for new and used vehicles in Ontario whether or not it is scanned, faxed, emailed or done with a goose feather quill pen and iron gall ink on a traditional paper contract.
"SUCCESS IS WHEN YOUR SIGNATURE BECOMES AN AUTOGRAPH." Abdul Kalam, Indian Statesman
LET YOUR LISTINGS SHINE:
WRITING VEHICLE DESCRIPTIONS THAT SELL By Angela West
IN THE AUTOMOTIVE WORLD, vehicle
listings are everything. They tell car buyers exactly what they need to know about a vehicle, including details about the interior and exterior, imperfections, historical information, options, and so much more. According to Google, 92% of car buyers research online before they make a decision about what vehicle they’re going to purchase, watching videos, looking at photos, and perhaps most importantly, carefully reading listings. Vehicle listings can make or break a buyer’s decision to proceed with a certain dealership or a specific vehicle
- compelling writing can be enough to sway them in your direction, while a poorly written or lifeless description can push buyers away and make them reconsider their options. Buyers are visiting fewer dealerships and spending more of their time online, with much of this research time spent combing through vehicle descriptions. With vehicle listings being so important in an increasingly digital industry, why are so many businesses doing the bare minimum when publishing new listings? Too often, vehicle listings are dull, lifeless, and don’t do anything to sell the vehicle besides offering a list of
features and specs. Vehicle listings, like real estate listings, are an extremely important sales tool that offers buyers perspective into how a major purchase will benefit their lifestyle. Listings should be viewed by all dealerships as a way to communicate to buyers why they need a vehicle and why they should buy it from your business. With the industry currently booming and becoming more competitive than ever, now is the time for dealerships across the province to get serious about writing vehicle listings that work to sell cars and attract new eyes to your website.
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 11
VEHICLE DESCRIPTIONS | ANGELA WEST Tell a story with your listings A compelling listing needs to be much more than a long list of specs and features - it doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should do a great deal more to communicate to buyers why they need this vehicle and what it’s going to do to change their lives. Listing features and specs has its place, but should never make up the brunt of your listing. Write about what makes a vehicle special, the benefits it’s going to offer a buyer, even about how prestigious or storied a certain make, model, or manufacturer are. Using emotion can do the same thing, whether it’s writing about how safe or efficient a vehicle is, or how it’s the perfect choice for families, long roadtrips, city driving, business use, or any other specific use. Employing emotion in your listings can go a long way in capturing the attention of a reader, helping them better relate to the subject of the listing, and can even create a fear of missing out or making the wrong choice. These elements go above and beyond simply listing off features, sending readers on a journey that captures their imagination, educates them about the major purchase they’re considering, and lets them know how their decision will improve their lifestyle. Know your buyers In order to tell an effective story, you also need to know who your buyers are and what vehicles are ideal to their lifestyle. Creating customer profiles can help you write perfect vehicle listings, giving you a better sense of which types of customers will be looking at certain
12 | THE ONTARIO DEALER
vehicles, and what they’re looking for in a vehicle. Knowing your target audience will help you craft custom vehicle listings for every type of car on your lot, whether it’s family-oriented, leisure-focused, or something meant for casual city driving. Pay attention to what kind of customers you interact with on a daily basis and write descriptions for people like them - listings targeted to a specific type of buyer will feel more personal and go a long way in connecting with a reader. In order to capture the attention of a reader, you need to be able to understand what drives a buyer to choose a certain vehicle, what matters most to them in terms of features, specs, and options, what kind of lifestyle they lead, and how the vehicle will match this lifestyle. Be honest and transparent Today’s customer expects a fully transparent experience, especially when shopping around for a major purchase. Being completely honest and transparent about the history of a vehicle is critical, and can go a long way in earning trust with your customers. Customers want to feel confident in their purchasing decisions, and your transparency will make them feel like there are no surprises waiting for them once they drive the vehicle off the lot. If you fail to disclose anything about the vehicle’s history, chances are it will be discovered by savvy customers and you’re guaranteed to lose their business. Services which disclose the
full history of a vehicle have become commonplace, and consumers know how to use them - it’s in your best interests to disclose absolutely everything you know about a vehicle's history and any imperfections that might exist within it. Not only will you lose that customer’s business if you fail to disclose information, but your reputation can take an unnecessary hit if the story makes its way onto social media or the customer review section of your Google My Business or Facebook page. It’s a much better idea to be honest about a vehicle’s history and potentially scare away gun-shy customers than it would be to alienate past, present, and future customers and damage your business’s hard-earned reputation. Research keywords and put them to good use If your dealership relies on attracting the attention of local buyers, using SEO to your advantage is critical. Research specific keywords relating to vehicles you’re writing about and use them in the description wherever possible without cramming them in. Keywords will give you a sense of what buyers are searching for when looking for similar vehicles to the ones you’re listing, allowing you to hit those same points and increase the chances of the listing being discovered by local prospective buyers. This will ensure that local users searching for similar vehicles will see your website and listings before your competitors. While used vehicle listings typically have a limited shelf life on your website, putting in the appropriate time to research and integrate keywords can have a massive benefit. Don’t spend too much time trying to force them into your description, but use them wherever you can without ruining the flow of your writing.
VEHICLE DESCRIPTIONS | ANGELA WEST
Be creative - write like you sell Ultimately, a vehicle listing is a way to sell a product - it’s critical to remember this when crafting a listing. Simply writing out a bullet point list of features just isn’t “sexy” enough to resonate with any reader, especially if your competitors are doing their best to craft compelling descriptions. Write about what it feels like to be behind the wheel of a sports car, how efficient a car is and how advantageous that is in today’s world, or how safe the vehicle is for families and young drivers. Write vehicle descriptions like you would sell a vehicle to somebody in person. It’s very likely that you connect with buyers on an emotional level, telling them about how smooth the vehicle is, the upgrades that have been made to it, and the options available. Add a dash of humour or emotion to better connect with readers, and when appropriate, use testimonials or anecdotes to nail home how great a vehicle is. Doing the bare minimum is the worst thing you can do when trying to convince a customer to make a major purchase. Be creative in your approach to stand out from the noise and lend confidence to prospective
buyers. Be subtle in your delivery, but focus on making the sale above all. Always, always, always include a call to action One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not including a call to action in your vehicle listing. Your listings are a sales tool, and a call to action is how you close that potential sale. According to Unbounce, over 90% of the people reading your content will go on to read your call to action. This is your opportunity to offer a quick, catchy or witty call to action that compels a customer to take further action. These actions don't necessarily have to be immediately committing to a major purchase, either. It can mean getting in touch with your dealership to discuss their vehicle needs, price point, and preferences, and which of the vehicles on your lot might suit these needs, or even just signing up for an email newsletter to find out more about new arrivals to your lot, special promotions, new gadgets and accessories you want to show off, and other information about your dealership.
Not including a call to action means possibly missing out on major opportunities that could have stemmed from a compelling description once you’ve drawn in the reader and convinced them that a vehicle is necessary to improving their life in some way, a call to action is the little nudge they need to take the next step and either commit to making a purchase or getting in touch with a salesperson to discuss the decision further. Vehicle listings are an extremely effective way of selling to customers, giving them all the information they need to make a purchase decision, or at the very least, enough information to compel them to get in touch with your dealership and discuss the decision further. When writing listings, always go for creative and personalized copy over listing features and specs of the vehicle. Get to know your target audiences so you can write specifically for them, and remember to always be open and transparent in your descriptions - anything less can have major consequences. By putting in the appropriate effort, your vehicle descriptions can easily stand out from the crowd and give your dealership a major competitive advantage, capture the imagination of potential customers who will be more likely to connect with your brand and choose to do business with your dealership. ■
photosbypierce.com 130 Industry St., Unit 36, North York, ON M6M 5G3 e firstname.lastname@example.org www.photosbypierce.com
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 13
BY CHRIS CHASE
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF VEHICLE INFOTAINMENT WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT ,
high-tech interfaces in modern cars and trucks are here to stay. Infotainment systems, so named for the way they combine entertainment, communication and information functions into a single display surface, were conceived to reduce driver distraction as modern vehicles incorporated more features.
An August 2020 survey conducted by Consumer Reports projected that
14 | THE ONTARIO DEALER
nearly 99 per cent of new vehicles sold last year would come with a display screen housing an infotainment system. In less-expensive cars, that’s where your customers will look to pair their smartphones with the vehicle’s Bluetooth hands-free telephone system. Some later models also have smartphone mirroring systems that project a device’s basic functions onto the screen. In pricier and/or more luxurious models, the display also accesses an embedded navigation system, some climate controls, and various vehicle settings. You may already have noticed an increase in the number of usedvehicle shoppers who list a well-done infotainment system among their musthaves. As a used-vehicle dealer, you can add value to your clients’ shopping experience by ensuring you can answer questions about each vehicle’s infotainment system and demonstrate how to use its features.
Infotainment system design – and quality – vary widely Most infotainment systems are touchscreen-based, but others are controlled with a rotary dial on the console. In the minority are setups that use a trackpad or a mouse-like controller. Regardless of the features contained in any vehicle’s infotainment system, there is variety in terms of how intuitive different manufacturers’ setups are to use. And according to the industry analysts at J.D. Power, a poorly executed infotainment system can have a negative impact on a customer’s experience with the car or truck they buy from your dealership. In its 2020 Initial Quality Survey, J.D. Power concluded that infotainment systems were the cause of nearly a quarter of quality-related complaints consumers had about their vehicles.
TRENDS | CHRIS CHASE
Luxury cars don’t necessarily have better infotainment One common assumption is that the infotainment systems in luxury cars will be better or easier to use than those in lower-priced models, but welldone infotainment is easy to find at all price points. Among the better systems available in mainstream models are Chevrolet’s MyLink; the Uconnect setup found in affordable Jeep and Dodge models; Ford’s Sync 3; and the Hyundai BlueLink and Kia UVO systems. Meanwhile, the user-friendliness of the HondaLink system depends on the vehicle’s model year. Earlier versions have an all-touch interface that made it difficult to do something as simple as adjust the radio volume. Honda listened to consumer complaints and revised HondaLink with a physical volume knob, starting with the 2017 CR-V crossover and 2019 versions of the Civic compact car and Pilot SUV. If your customer is looking for an upscale model with a good infotainment interface, Audi and BMW have made their MMI and iDrive systems more intuitive in recent years – an impressive feat given the long list of vehicle functions they oversee. Notably, Audi and BMW both use a control dial on the centre console instead of relying on a touchscreen. By contrast, despite Japan’s reputation for high-quality electronic products, Lexus’s latest infotainment system is widely criticized for a laptop-like touchpad interface that is difficult
to use without taking your eyes off the road. This isn’t Lexus’s first infotainment failure, either. Before that, you navigated Lexus’s display screen with a mouse-type controller that was just as confusing. The AcuraLink and Infiniti InTouch systems are other examples of high-end infotainment interfaces that miss the mark by making common functions difficult to access without driver distraction. In later Infiniti models and some previous-generation Acura models, infotainment functions were split over two screens, which adds confusion. Where does infotainment go from here? In many late-model vehicles, it’s easier to excuse so-so embedded infotainment performance because many also offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. This function lets the user connect their device to the car and project its display and apps onto the vehicle’s screen. That way, they get familiar controls for easy access to telephone, music and navigation functions. In theory, the rise of these so-called smartphone mirroring systems would lead to pared-down embedded infotainment interfaces. In practice, automakers are keen to impress with slick-looking vehicle cabins built around ever-larger displays that help eliminate dashboards cluttered with buttons. It’s not hard for a car manufacturer to get carried away and design an infotainment system that turns off the very tech-savvy shoppers they’re hoping to attract.
That’s why Volvo’s Polestar EV brand opted to use Google’s Android Automotive operating system for the Polestar 2 electric SUV’s infotainment interface. The large screen looks a lot like an Android tablet or smartphone, and uses Google Maps for navigation, taking advantage of that application’s wide use among smartphone users. The difference here is that instead of mirroring your portable device, the Polestar 2’s Android infotainment system is fully self-contained, so you don’t need to connect a smartphone to use it. Google has also opened the Android Automotive platform to third-party developers, so users can download apps to their car’s infotainment system just as they would to a smartphone. Meanwhile, Apple is working on its own car model with a plan to begin selling it by around 2026. It would be a fully self-driving car requiring almost no input from its occupants other than to tell the vehicle where to take them. It’s no stretch to speculate the car’s controls would be based on software similar to that used in today’s iPhones. For now, however, an infotainment system’s purpose is to make it easier for the driver to pay attention to the task of driving while enjoying the high-tech creature comforts we’ve gotten used to. By keeping abreast of developments in vehicle infotainment systems, you can help your customers make an informed choice about the technology features in their next car, while generating repeat business and referrals that will help you grow your dealership. ■
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 15
TRENDS | CHRIS CHASE
TECH TALK HERE’S THE LATEST ON WHAT’S HAPPENING IN AUTOMOTIVE GADGETS AND APPS. By Angela West In this issue’s Tech Talk, we have a cautionary tale about using autopilot on self-driving cars, an affordable aftermarket device that gives your car true night vision, and Canadian online retailers to get your auto gadget fix.
Man Falls Asleep in Tesla and Breaks Speed Limit on Highway
Night Vision Now Available for Your Vehicle
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t fall asleep behind the wheel, but the self-driving feature on his Tesla made a 20-year-old Alberta man comfortable enough to do just that. The vehicle was then clocked doing 140 km/ hr on a rural Alberta highway with a 110 km/hr limit near Ponoka, Alberta. The arresting officer - who described himself as “speechless” - noted that both seats were in the full reclining position and the occupants appeared to be asleep.
While night vision systems have been available in higher-end cars for years now, the technology has not translated into an affordable aftermarket gadget you could plug into your 12-volt outlet and mount to your dash. Until now.
Tesla advises on its website that its autopilot feature does not make the vehicle autonomous and drivers should still actively supervise the road when autopilot mode is engaged.
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If you’re having a tough time seeing at night or just want better visibility in bad conditions, consider a Lanmodo Vast - 1080p Automotive Night Vision System, which can be installed in any age of vehicle. The driver views a screen mounted to the dash which allows you to view an HD full-colour image of the road which shows how the scene would look in daylight. Installation is simple and it can be mounted to the dash. The low-light imaging sets it apart from more expensive entrants to the category which employ infrared or laser technology.
TECH TALK | ANGELA WEST and other usual in-vehicle noises. Control all of the things you are used to with CarPlay or similar tech, such as music, adding to your to-do list, managing your calendar, making calls, and more. Canadian Places to Shop Online for Automotive Tech And the best part - you can take the Lanmodo setup with you when you buy your next car; just unmount it from the dash and unplug it from the 12-volt outlet. This is a must-have for any older drivers or those who do a lot of driving in rural areas. MSRP for the camera is $599 USD and it is available at lanmodo.com for shipment worldwide. As of press time, it is present but listed as unavailable on amazon.ca.
taking a virtual road trip with your family while you’re working from home to standard dashcam functionality such as recording what’s happening around your vehicle. The downside to the XirgoCam is that it does not come with the functionality of many high-end dashcams and a $20 USD per month subscription is required to keep it running. For example, it does not have a memory card slot. If you’re looking for a compact, high-end dashcam, consider one of the newer Garmin models. Find out more at owlcam.com. Amazon Echo Auto
XirgoCam: Security Device & Dash Cam All in One We’re at the point where we don’t list dash cams unless there is something truly special about them, simply because there are so many out there that do the same thing. The XirgoCam - formerly known as the Owl Car Cam stands out as a combination dash cam and in-car security device. Unlike other cams, it gives you visibility as to what is happening on the inside of your car as well as the outside.
As of May 2020, Canadians have been able to extend the functionality of Alexa outside of the home to their vehicles with Amazon Echo Auto - and it's this functionality that renders Apple CarPlay or Android Auto pretty much obsolete. At just $69.99 Canadian, the Echo Auto lets you do most of the things you can do with your Alexa home device in your car. This includes voice control enhanced with eight microphones that will detect your voice through air conditioning
Gear heads are stuck with online shopping in early 2021 for the most part to get their auto gadget fix. While Amazon is an obvious choice, here are a few Ontario and Canada-based retailers that offer online shopping if you want to localize your gear buys and cut Bezos out of the loop. Princess Auto
Princess Auto is a legendary chain for aftermarket parts and everything else automotive. Back in the “hard copy” days, every automotive enthusiast would peruse the Princess Auto catalogue with all the excitement of a kid combing through the old Sears “Christmas Wish” catalogue. Order online at princessauto.com. AutoEQ This online source for automotive parts and accessories has been selling handpicked products to Canadians online since 2008, and is one of North America’s fastest-growing sellers of automotive specialized products. Order online at autoeq.ca.
The 4G LTE access allows you to view everything that’s going on through the cam, so you can do everything from
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 17
DEALER PROFILE Arya Fine Motors By Ronda Payne A Specialization in Subaru for Commuters ALI HOUDI IS PRETTY PASSIONATE ABOUT SUBARUS. Sure, like most used-car dealers, he has
always had a love of cars and tinkering with them, but for Ali, it’s the Subaru brand that really gets his motor running.
“I believe that it’s the safest vehicle out there,” he says. “Because of the symmetrical all-wheel drive system, great fuel economy, reliability, great resale value and insurance rates and it is an excellent vehicle for the commuting market.” It was about 15 years ago that Ali joined Faraz Auto Sales in the sales department and within eight years he worked his way up to become the organization’s general manager. He then moved
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Arya Fine Motors Recognizing how important all-wheel drive can be in Ontario and other parts of the Canadian used car market, Ali is proud to be able to offer a year-round inventory of quality used Subaru vehicles at a range of price points. The needs of the commuting market for reliable, weather-worthy vehicles are where he has found his sweet spot.
on to be the general manager with Favorit Motors for two years before becoming the sales manager with Auto Planet Direct. He found his affinity for Subarus when he joined the franchise sector of the auto sales world as the sales manager with Willowdale Subaru and then had a stint with BMW Newmarket as the sales manager. Four years ago, he knew it was time to make a change where he could make use of the knowledge he’d gained and become an entrepreneur. He started formulating a used Subaru-specific dealership and in 2018 he opened the doors of Arya Fine Motors in North York at Dufferin and Steeles. “I decided to open something for myself,” he says. “And use my expertise in growing my own entrepreneurial business.” With a heated indoor showroom that showcases more than 60 vehicles, it’s easy for customers to explore the options available, ask questions and appreciate how great used cars can look all while staying warm in any kind of weather. Reconditioning a used vehicle is something Ali takes great pride in and his on-site shop services his inventory to ensure it is customerready. “Reconditioning the vehicle to our standards is something I really enjoy,”
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he says. “The challenge of acquiring the inventory then reconditioning it and turning it into a profit. We are able to turn a vehicle into something by reconditioning it.” While not an authorized Subaru dealer, inventory of used Subarus comes from off-lease, trade in or wholesale vehicles.
“Every customer that comes in must be treated like a guest coming into your home” Arya Fine Motors has the indoor showroom, a few cars outside, does sourcing for cars to meet specific customer requests and provides detailing for its own inventory as well as for customers. The auto shop is only for repairing acquired inventory. “We have a clean, well-lighted indoor showroom that specializes in Subaru,” he explains. “The majority of used car lots around me, they don’t specialize in any one brand. We are in an area where there are 200-plus used car dealerships. We have an unsurpassed knowledge of Subaru.”
“I believe in treating every customer that walks through the doors as a valued buyer. Every customer that comes in must be treated like a guest coming into your home,” he says. “Many of our customers are repeat buyers who will shop nowhere else but with us.” And for those who are as passionate about the Subaru brand as Ali, it makes sense that they would turn to Arya Fine Motors. To make the experience even more comfortable, he has created what is known as the Positive Lounge within the showroom. “I’ve brought the flavour of a new car operation into a used car operation and that’s what makes us unique,” he says. “In a used car dealership [a lounge] doesn’t exist. It’s a place for customers to wait with positive quotes all around on the walls. It’s brought a lot of reviews. A lot of people talk about our positive lounge.”
DEALER PROFILE | RONDA PAYNE
Along with the positive quotes, kids can watch cartoons, customers can grab a cup of coffee and there’s no rush or pressure. Including Ali, five people keep Arya Fine Motors hopping: his brother is the general manager and finance manager plus there is a sales associate, a detailer and a lot runner. Financing is provided on-site through the major banks for both those with good credit as well as those who need more flexible financing options. Understanding the financing is easy for customers because Ali has removed the need for haggling and negotiation. “We strongly believe in market value pricing,” he says. “My personal belief is that value exceeds price. By providing the right value, we bring the right experience. We take out the experience of negotiating. The market guidelines are available; and nowadays, all advertising platforms, they have an algorithm for the right retail value.” Of course his own awareness and experience with the Subaru market allows him to price cars fairly so that
customers always feel they are getting the car they want at a fair price from a dealer who knows the brand better than most others. Plus, because of that expertise in Subarus, the trade-in values for those selling vehicles is fair and represents current market trends. “We talk about features, advantages and benefits of the vehicles to understand what the [customer’s] needs are,” he says. “We definitely provide a test drive because I believe after driving the vehicle, you get the right experience and it helps you to eliminate the no haggle and no hassle policy that we have in place.” The one-price, no haggle, no hassle policy was established so that customers can focus on finding the right car for their needs. Those that want a Subaru know it’s unlikely to be the cheapest vehicle out there, but one that represents great value for their investment. Ali also knows that vehicles priced below market value usually have a reason for that cheap price be it unstated accidents, driving history or location history. That’s why he believes in providing competitive pricing everyone can feel good about.
It stands to reason that when people are looking for used Subarus, they come to Arya Fine Motors. Ali ensures that the operation’s inventory is available online through a variety of channels. He makes use of the company’s website as well as tools like Ontariocars.ca, Autotrader, CarGurus and Kijiji. The team also provides a mobile sales experience to help customers who are strapped for time. These professionals will contact customers to get to know their needs and help guide their purchasing decision before they ever come into the showroom. “Everything is online,” he says. “We focus on the commuting market, so through the advertising, we reach out to all of Ontario. We just sold to a firefighter in Windsor and he brought us a gold badge because he was so happy with the service we provided.” Ali is a strong believer in his 3 R factor. “I truly believe in retention, reputation and referral and that’s the 3 R factor,” he says. “One of the things that makes me really happy to hear is the positive experience with our staff, the satisfaction with our facility and the referral to other Subaru buyers.” ■
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 1 | 21
HOW TO ADVERTISE, PROMOTE, SPREAD THE WORD, MARKET YOUR SERVICE DEPARTMENT By Joanne Walmsley
DIGITAL MARKETING 101 WEBSITE MARKETING YOUR SERVICE DEPARTMENT can and
should be one of your best sources of revenue. Knowing how to market your service department is one of the best ways of keeping current customers and attracting new ones. And before shaking your head and saying to yourself, “I don’t know anything about marketing.” The truth is, although you may not have the expertise of someone trained in marketing, you likely have more marketing know how than you think. Simply put, marketing refers to activities a business engages in to promote their
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product(s) and/or services. So, billboard advertising, flyer advertising, customer loyalty programs, seasonal product sales and community involvement, can all be considered marketing activities and are all viable. There are many other activities however, that are not as effective as they once were. Remember snail mail postcards, for example? And remember the era when the yellow pages of the local telephone book were one of the only ways people would search for a local business, service or product? The fact is the ideas behind these marketing activities are still legitimate and worth using but the way those ideas were once delivered is what has changed dramatically. Yellow page ads have been largely replaced by online ads and websites that can be found in an online search. At the same time, website posts and emails have become an effective way of relaying the information that once
appeared on snail mail post cards. Websites and social media channels like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all platforms within the digital marketing world and are now the norm when it comes to marketing a business, product or service. While it can be overwhelming to consider where to start and in which direction to take your digital marketing efforts, experts agree it is ok to start small and grow both your online presence and your foray into using online tools to promote your services. Experts also agree it is imperative that you have a website. A Website or Clear Presence on Your Dealership’s Website is Essential If your dealership does not have a website it needs one! Or, if your
WEBSITE MARKETING | JOANNE WALMSLEY dealership has a website in which there are few to zero pages devoted to the service department - that needs to change immediately! Firstly, with little to no information about your service department on the website, customers will likely not know of your existence nor can the department benefit from the opportunity to use the website to market itself. Says industry consultant Jeff Clark, “Although the typical dealership makes most of its profits from parts and service, it still devotes just 3 percent of its online content to fixed operations. Dealerships need to have an online service offering that is at or near parity with their sales offering," he says. "That means explaining the features and benefits of the service department, what a particular service does, and why they're the right dealership to service your vehicle." 1 Expanding on the last point, features or benefits make your service department different from the rest? How does it stand above the rest? Brainstorming with colleagues to determine what makes your service department different, better, or above other service departments can be an interesting exercise. But, more importantly it can help identify strengths and weaknesses in your department, help you focus on the type of customers you want to retain, the kind of new customers you want to attract and the kind of content to include on your website. For instance:
▶▶ Is price matching offered?
▶▶ Does your department offer benefits that others do not?
may not contain a lot of information. But, it is a good idea to keep the pages current and work towards making them pages containing a lot of information customers are seeking.
▶▶ Does your service department specialize in a particular service or repair area or with specific vehicles?
Here are some suggestions for building a “go to” service department website.
▶▶ Does the department have a customer loyalty program?
If any of the above ideas or similar ideas are something you can include in your web page content it is recommended you do so. In the future you may also wish to put one or two of these ideas together and shorten them to create a tagline for use on your website, on social media platforms and on any paper products used in the service department. A tagline is a word or a few words that can be easily remembered and positively associated with a product, service, or company. In time, taglines can be a marketing tactic in and of themselves. To illustrate, here are some memorable taglines that are certain to ring familiar and will remind you of the product or company to which it is associated. ▶▶ “I’m Lovin’ It.” ▶▶ “Melts In Your Mouth Not In Your Hands.” ▶▶ “Like Nothing Else On Earth.” ▶▶ “Just Do It.” ▶▶ “The Happiest Place On Earth.” ▶▶ “Everywhere You Want To Be.” ▶▶ “It’s Finger-Lickin’ Good.” ▶▶ “M’m! M’m! Good!”
▶▶ Have you been in business for 10 years or longer?
▶▶ “The Ultimate Driving Machine."
▶▶ Are you family owned and operated?
If creating a tagline is not currently feasible, not to worry. Instead, focus on the ideas below to find out how your website can be used to effectively market your service department.
▶▶ Do you pride yourself in offering mechanics continual learning opportunities? ▶▶ Is personalized customer service part of your culture? ▶▶ Have the department or employees won awards or recognition? ▶▶ Do you offer any guarantees?
Website Content Initially, a website or website pages* devoted to the service department
In the beginning, the aim is to build a website that provides information of interest to current customers and one they will go to and use to book service appointments. ▶▶ Begin developing content that focuses on the basic services your department offers such as oil changes, brakes and tires. Briefly explain what each of these services include and be sure to include prices or a link to a current price page. ▶▶ Include website content to keep current service customers coming back. For example, offer them loyalty coupons and discounts and remind them of the quality of your shop's work. ▶▶ Remind customers of other amenities you provide such as free car washes, shuttles and loaner vehicles. ▶▶ Let these customers know you will buy their well-maintained used vehicle and sell them a new car or truck if that is of interest to them. ▶▶ Ensure there is provision for a customer to contact the service department via email or text with any questions or concerns they may have. ▶▶ Create an area on the website that allows customers to easily book a service appointment. This is extremely important in our digital world! After one to two months, your website should be free of any kinks and customers will be starting to use the online booking form. Now it is time to ramp up the site and start attracting new customers. ▶▶ Continue to post current specials and discount coupons on your website. Some might be for new customers only.
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WEBSITE MARKETING | JOANNE WALMSLEY ▶▶ Enlist the assistance of current customers to attract new customers by starting a customer referral program. Have current customers complete the referral form on your website and to increase the chances of success, ensure the referral program offers a reward for both the customer making the referral and the referee. ▶▶ Start a blog that offers car advice. A blog is discussion or informational content that current and potential customers can learn from. If the blog content you post on your website provides value to your customers it is likely they will re-visit again and again and they might even subscribe to your blog (which, by the way, is a great way to collect email addresses to build your customer database - but that is a topic for another time!) In blogs you can refer to specials, provide informational text about specific vehicles, create DIY instructions for simple car maintenance procedures, outline regular maintenance schedules, explain how regular maintenance improves vehicle performance, and compare various tire models or other parts. The ideas are almost endless! Explanatory videos are also a great way of capturing the attention of customers. Like a blog, videos that garner the most interest are those that provide a learning opportunity for the viewer. Plus, videos have the added benefit of providing useful information in a visual manner. A video showing worn brake
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pads and rotors illustrates why they need replacing far better than using only words. Likewise, showing how to change a tire in a video is far more effective than explaining the process in words alone. And, it is a bonus if you can include your service department and your employees in any videos you create. After three to four months, your website will likely be attracting more traffic. Now is the time to offer even greater value to your customers via your website and expand your digital footprint. ▶▶ Invite customers or field experts to write a guest blog. ▶▶ Create a full online parts store that allows retail customers to order, pay and arrange shipping for parts. ▶▶ Advertise aftermarket parts and accessories on your website letting customers know your service department can install them. Also make sure to outline any warranties offered that cover parts and/or installation. ▶▶ To continue increasing traffic to your website you will need to ensure your service department appears prominently on search engines like Google. To do this you will need to tailor your web content to include words or phrases that are popular and the ones most customers will use when searching for a service department. Oil changes, car batteries, and brake pads are good
examples of strong search engine words for automotive service departments. Using such words on websites is called "search engine optimization" (often abbreviated to SEO.) ▶▶ After determining the social media platforms of most interest to service department customers, create an account for at least two of them and begin posting to those platforms. There are various ways social media can be used to market your service department but, they are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, that creating a robust online presence with a strong website and consistent postings on at least two social media platforms will help make your service department competitive in the automotive service market. One last thought. After the website has been built and some content has been posted, what can be done to attract people to the site?
WEBSITE MARKETING | JOANNE WALMSLEY A “grand opening” or “launch” is often used to introduce a new product, company or service to the public. The same can be done for a new website. And, using a mix of old and new methods can be effective in launching it. ▶▶ Work with the dealership department to have the new website introduced. When the dealership emails notifications to customers have them include a reference to the service department's new site and draw attention to the convenience of online appointment booking. The notification could also include information about a contest that is running in support of launching the new site (see ideas below.) ▶▶ Promote the site launch within the dealership and service department waiting area via posters, informational cards and party decorations. The party decorations will prompt customers to ask why the decorations are in place which in turn will result in face-toface interaction with employees who can explain the reason. This will also provide an opportunity for the employee to hand out an informational card and/or refer the customer to one of the posters on display. But, there is no surer way to have people visit and then return again and again to a website than to run a contest that offers a fabulous prize. Consider these ideas: ▶▶ This one is simple. Have customers visit the website and enter their name and email information on a form housed on the website. To ensure return visits, allow contestants to enter once a day for or up to ‘x’ times a day for a certain amount of time. ▶▶ This is another simple contest idea. Each day during the run of the contest, have a word or picture of the day posted on the website. (To avoid any confusion or disputes, ensure there is a word on the picture that identifies said picture.)
▶▶ The form the contestant completes on the website must include contact information, the date, and the word or picture of the day. All correct entries are then put in a random draw for prizes. ▶▶ This contest can be set up well ahead of time but may require more work on the back end. Include a modified roulette board on the website (editable wheel templates are available online.) On the wheel, includes a few spaces labelled “no prize” as well as a few spaces labelled with a service department offer - a free oil change or free windshield wiper installation for example. ▶▶ If a person wins a prize they must complete an online form with their contact information and a coupon for that prize will be emailed to them. To avoid one or two people winning multiple prizes either the IP address of the computer used by the winner will need to be blocked to stop them from entering again or a contest official will need to review all entries to prevent another prize being emailed to the individual. ▶▶ Like the idea above, this contest idea requires more preparation and work on the part of the individual keeping the website updated than other ideas. ▶▶ Remember the informational card suggested above? Create an informational card which goes beyond explaining the new website and its web address by including a contest component. Like raffle tickets, make an informational card that contains two parts. One half includes the contact information completed by the customer and a pre-printed number that falls within a pre-identified number range. The other half of the card includes information about the new service department website including the web address and the same number that is printed on the first half of the ticket. Customers holding cards are invited to visit the website each day over a certain time period to see if their number has
been posted on the website as the day’s winning number. (Online random number generators can be used to find daily winning numbers.) As mentioned at the outset of this article, you likely know more about marketing than you thought you did. Many marketing ideas from years ago continue to be used, but it is how those ideas are delivered that has changed dramatically. The world is now a digital one. With any ideas about how to best advertise, promote, spread the word, market an automotive service department, we must always consider how they can work in the digital space. NEXT TIME: DIGITAL MARKETING 101 USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO MARKET THE SERVICE DEPARTMENT EFFECTIVELY NOTES, CITATIONS AND SOURCES *For reading ease, the term website refers to both those pages on a dealership’s website that refer to the service department as well as for any website created solely for a service department and without any affiliation to a dealership’s website. 1 Clark, Jeff, President, DealerOn, Derwood, MD, //www.dealeron.com/ www.autonews.com/article/20170619/ RETAIL05/170619891/how-to-marketyour-service-department-online www.quickbooks.intuit.com/r/ marketing/7-tips-marketing-servicebusiness youtu.be/rUvVYsHgj0s www.indoormedia.com/blog/6marketing-ideas-for-auto-repairshops-to-keep-customers-comingback ■
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IMPROVING YOUR DEALERSHIP’S MARKETING ROI By Angela West
IT ’S NOT FEASIBLE FOR ANY BUSINESS
to pour money into marketing campaigns without any clear indication that it’s going to drive new leads, increase sales, and grow your dealership into a trusted brand within the automotive world, yet that’s exactly what businesses around the world do everyday. Your marketing efforts need to deliver a return on your investment in order to be worth the time and money put into them, bringing you new customers and getting your brand seen by fresh eyes. The ultimate goal of any business is to generate revenue, and your marketing campaigns are one of the key ways to accomplish this - if they aren’t working to help your business generate revenue, then they clearly aren’t worth it and a pivot is required. Your ROI can show you what works and what doesn’t, letting you make informed decisions on how your marketing budget is being spent. In order to improve your dealership’s ROI, you’ll need to be able to leverage data, set clear goals, test new approaches, and spend your money more wisely. The importance of data The automotive marketing landscape has changed dramatically since the introduction of social media and digital marketing, so relying on the same old tricks just won’t do anymore. The more
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you spend on marketing, the more you need to be able to measure the true ROI of your campaigns - after all, the goal is constant growth, not stagnation. Being able to see what’s working and what isn’t lets your marketing department adjust your spend to focus on only effective strategies that actually acquire customers, rather than firing blindly and suffering as a result. Without data, it’s impossible to know for sure what’s happening with your marketing campaigns. Before you go to work on creating strategies to improve your ROI, you need to understand how to make use of the data offered to you. Too many businesses don’t leverage data to its fullest extent, which is something you can’t afford to do. Ignoring the data available to you means being unable to pivot when campaigns aren’t delivering the goods, wasting your money on ineffective marketing channels that aren’t connecting with customers, generating leads, or growing your brand image. Invest in a DMS with a heavy focus on marketing analytics, which will allow you to better understand who your customers are, where they’re coming from, what their habits are, and how you might be able to better connect with them. Solutions like DealerTrack, Dominion Dealer Solutions, DealerSocket and Auto
Manager put heavy emphasis on digital marketing and analytics in addition to providing CRM features, allowing you to gather data about your campaigns and gain information that will allow your salespeople to sell smarter. Other tools used for marketing analytics like HubSpot, DashThis and SEMrush can help your marketing team track the performance of campaigns, include who’s looking at your website, how long they’re looking at it, what actions they’re taking (if any), where they came from, and more, letting you pivot when something just isn’t working or double down when aspects of your campaign are proving to be surprisingly successful. Measuring return on investment Measuring ROI can be complicated, but it can be simplified with the right approaches. You can use the basic approach of calculating the net return on your investment divided by the cost of your investment, but this might not be enough to successfully measure ROI on digital marketing campaigns that leverage several channels, nor will it be able to predict long-term ROI on a campaign. Thankfully, you can simplify the process a little by doing things like using UTM
MARKETING ROI | ANGELA WEST (Urchin Tracking Module) links in your campaigns, which will show you where users who click on links are coming from and what generated this lead. Every channel should have a unique UTM in order to get an accurate picture of where your customers are coming from and what campaign generated which leads. Using a CRM is another great way to measure and track your ROI, showing you where leads were generated from and when they were generated so you can get a better idea of which campaigns are generating new leads and follow their journey from a freshly generated lead to a new customer. If increasing leads or conversion rates is the primary goal of your marketing campaigns, this is a good way to qualify whether or not they’re working as intended. CRM’s are also useful for keeping track of how old leads are. Too many dealerships continue to use dead leads that have been passed down from senior staff members to junior salespeople, despite having no real value. Leads older than six months should be considered dead, with your CRM giving you an idea of which leads should try to be revived, and which should be thrown out altogether. Email campaigns are a solid way to revive dead leads, though they should never make up the primary target of your other marketing campaigns, as cold or dead leads will not generate any sort of meaningful ROI. Establish your marketing goals early When it comes to improving your dealership’s ROI, setting goals is a critical first step. You need to be able to identify exactly what your marketing campaign hopes to achieve. It could be getting your Facebook page more followers, improving brand recognition, leveraging local SEO to improve your Google My Business listing, bringing in 50 new leads, selling ten vehicles, or successfully launching a new line of gadgets or accessories - the important part is that you have a business goal in mind. When setting goals, remember that the goal should be SMART - Specific,
Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By using these parameters, it’ll be far easier to set realistic marketing goals and implement strategies that have been proven to work. It’ll also make it much easier for your team to measure the progress of your marketing efforts in relation to achieving your goal and ultimately ROI. Remember that the ROI will be different depending on the type of strategy or campaign you employ. For example, a content-heavy campaign will produce different results than a PPC or an SEO campaign. Focus on building trust and delivering valuable content In the digital era, customers are more selfreliant than ever before. They conduct their own research, consider options from a number of different businesses, read reviews from other customers, and watch product demonstrations before they make up their mind. In order for your business to get ahead, you need to be able to earn the trust of modern consumers and prove that your business is worthy of their time and hard-earned dollars. Your customers are seeking a personalized brand that they know they can connect with and which will continue to offer value to them. Making this easier for your customers by offering them valuable content and personalized experiences is an excellent way to improve ROI. Creating value and personal connections is the best way to earn loyal and repeat customers. Rather than spamming your years-old email list with email newsletters that continue nothing of value, create a content strategy that shows your audience exactly why they should choose your dealership over a competitor’s. Show them that your team is more experienced and knowledgeable about the vehicles on your lot than any other, that customers are consistently satisfied with their experience, that your service department offers quick
and reliable service, that your waiting room is comfortable and modern, and that your brand is easy to engage with online. This can be easily done through short video walkthroughs, photos on your Instagram account, blog posts on your website, customer testimonials, and landing pages. Creating valuable content greatly increases the chances that users will interact with your brand and its social media channels, visit your website, read your blogs, and watch your videos, ultimately driving action and greatly improving your marketing ROI. Remember to regularly conduct surveys to get a better feel for what your audience connects with, what isn’t working, and what they’d like to see more of. This information will help you develop more effective campaigns down the line, creating an even better opportunity to improve ROI. Know how to spot and seize opportunities After you’ve implemented marketing analytics into your marketing efforts, it’s important that you use these tools to help you and your team recognize when opportunities present themselves. If something works unexpectedly well, it’s on you to pivot and take advantage of this opportunity as best as you can. When something just doesn’t seem to be working, your team must be able to let go and switch focus. If used to its fullest potential, marketing data will open doors that never could have been seen without analytics, allowing you to make better informed decisions about which
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MARKETING ROI | ANGELA WEST campaigns you run with, which ones you abandon, and what strategies might be promising in the future. When leveraged properly, marketing analytics allow you to spot which channels are working to generate the most promising leads, identify which channels aren’t worth your time, create new customer profiles based on the type of users looking at your content, and better understand what your audience wants. If you don’t leverage the data available to you, you’ll never be able to understand why certain things work and other strategies don’t, meaning that you’ll be pouring money into ineffective campaigns that can’t possibly produce a return on your investment. Remember to test everything Once you understand how to leverage data and analytics, you should test all active marketing channels for ROI. No matter where you’re marketing, whether it's over the radio, on television, in newspapers, social media, Google Ads, or email, you need to measure these channels for several months. Conduct a test run on each of your active marketing channels, using the exact same spend on each one. At the end of your test, you’ll be able to see which channels have the highest ROI - anything that isn’t producing results should be abandoned immediately so your budget can be better spent on effective avenues, allowing you to reach further and target new audiences.
Whether it’s your business to sell New cars or Used cars... it’s our business to keep all your insurance needs covered
Testing also applies to your campaigns and targeting. You’ll need to conduct extended tests of your campaigns and audiences being targeted by those campaigns. Once data has been collected, you’ll be left with a much better idea of what type of content is most effective as generating leads, increasing revenue, and improving your brand image, and which types of potential customers are most receptive to your content. Each and every element of your marketing strategy can benefit from simple, but thorough, testing. This will allow you to fine tune weaker elements of your content and targeting, ultimately resulting in far better refined marketing campaigns that will inevitably lead to improved ROI. Improving your dealership’s ROI isn’t always easy, but can pay off in spades when approached seriously and patiently. You’ll need to know what you’re looking for, how to leverage data in order to help you achieve higher ROI, establish clear and realistic goals early on, and create a strategy that focuses on delivering value and building personal connections. Once this has been done, keep your ear to the ground and leverage the data available to you so you can spot and seize opportunities as they arise. Testing things along the way will allow you to fine tune your marketing activities, including the type of content you’re offering and the types of customers you’re targeting. With enough patience, you’ll soon find that your marketing ROI is higher than ever before, and that your brand is on its way to becoming a major force in the industry. ■
28 | THE ONTARIO DEALER
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THE COMMON LAWYER New Year, New Challenges and New Opportunities
By Justin M. Jakubiak HAPPY NEW YEAR.
May 2021 bring new roads, new business and better times without delay. I am sure most of you are like me and ready to trade-in 2020 for a better year! On the one hand, the pandemic has been terrible on so many levels and particularly ruthless in that it has seemingly spared next to no one. On the positive side, it has forced many industries to radically shift business practices and to embrace technology much faster than would have otherwise been the case. The legal profession has historically been one of the slowest and most adverse to change. Pre-pandemic, almost every legal process was paper driven, and very few courtrooms had sufficient technology to allow for remote witnesses, let alone remote hearings. In the first
several months of the pandemic all of my hearings were adjourned and matters languished in the hope that the virus would be a short blip in time and things would return to "normal" in due course – as we know, that was wishful thinking. Behind the scenes, senior judges and lawyers across the province had to scramble to develop systems and processes to take advantage of the pandemic and move the legal industry into the next century. After months of no hearings or trials, most courts and tribunals are back and running at near normal capacity. In the last two months alone, I have had one virtual trial, and three virtual hearings before the Licence Appeal Tribunal. I now regularly communicate with clients via zoom – and even commission and witness legal documents remotely on a regular basis. Sadly, it has now become a strange occurrence when a client says they would like to meet me in person. The automotive industry has also radically shifted and been forced to adapt as a result of the pandemic. Just a year ago I was speaking to senior members of both OMVIC and the UCDA about their real concerns regarding the risks and downsides of online sales – that same conversation would be almost laughable today. Concerns about consumer harm and the importance of the physical car buying experience have been replaced by how do we keep such an important sector of our economy alive, while balancing consumer safety and the practical realities (and limitations) of online sales.
In the legal world, there was great debate over whether it would be possible to assess a witnesses' credibility over Zoom; it was assumed that this important pillar of advocacy could only be done in person. Nearly 12 months in and I am a convert – I actually find it easier over zoom as the witness is right there, in high definition. Every facial tick and bead of sweat is visible. In speaking with members of the automotive industry, I am hearing many similar stories about various virtual processes that were feared, but have since been embraced and seen to be better, more efficient and more consumer friendly. Whether we like them or not, online car sales and online dealerships are here to stay. Beginning in May 2020, registered dealers were given more opportunity and tools to sell or lease vehicles online. The processes put in place are not perfect and still need to be fine-tuned, but at least we are driving in the right direction. This article will provide some commentary on the various recent shifts in the industry, and share some tips on how to best navigate this new world. Immediate Concerns First, a word on the most recent provincial mandate in light of COVID-19.
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Under the new provincial stay-at-home order that came into effect on January 14, 2021, car dealerships are still considered essential. However, dealers may only operate between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. and must operate on an appointment only basis – no walk-ins! Test drives are still allowed, but only if they are no longer than 10 minutes in length. The 10-minute limit really bugs me, as I don't think there is a magic amount of minutes that COVID waits to infect someone. Also, how can anyone truly evaluate a car in 10 minutes – especially a used vehicle. It takes at least 15 to 20 minutes to adequately test out a vehicle at various speeds and in various sorts of traffic conditions. Finally, a maximum of two people only are permitted on a test drive, including the salesperson AND all the windows must be open at all times if the two people are not from the same household. This is not a Canadian winter friendly provision and prevents a consumer from truly experiencing a car, listening for rattles, little squeaks and hearing the sound of the engine – but certainly makes it more likely the test drive will be only 10 minutes long. This is a more extensive lockdown situation than we saw in the latter half of 2020, and I would not be surprised if it gets more dealers thinking about the prospect of beefing up their online sales and presence. Some dealers are uploading "test-drives" and detailed vehicle reviews to YouTube so that a consumer can get a feel for a vehicle from their living room couch. Consumer Attitudes are Changing In our current pandemic climate, online car sales are a safe and effective way for consumers to purchase vehicles. Do
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not expect that consumer demand for online car sales will lessen as pandemic restrictions and lockdowns ease. I think the pandemic will have the effect of training most of us to resort to the computer to complete most shopping – cars included. An OMVIC survey of consumers in collaboration with the Automobile Protection Association (APA) in August 2020 found that car shopping patterns are invariably changing. Consumers are more concerned for their health and safety when attending a dealership, more consumers were skipping a test drive, and some consumers listed remote paperwork as a component of a better buying process. OMVIC concluded that this consumer response meant that dealers should "embrace" online sales. Of course, and despite this shifting attitude among consumers, many consumers will still want the traditional in-person car buying experience at the end of the day. For some, this experience is irreplaceable. A Viable Business Model More and more dealers are opting to conduct their business entirely online, and many are seeing the advantages of this business model from both an economic and efficiency basis. Exclusively online dealerships do not have to pay for as many overhead expenses, which can translate into savings for both the dealer and the buyer. Online car sales also mean the vehicle can come to the consumer, not the other way around, creating a more consumer focused and potentially friendly experience. People typically feel comfortable in their own surroundings, and online sales capitalizes on this important consumer satisfaction piece. Apprehension from those in the industry about the risks of online sales should not dominate this discussion. Resistance to change is expected, but concerns about widespread illegality, breaches of OMVIC's Code of Ethics or an unfair market advantage over traditional dealers are not well-founded and have been proven to be mostly unsubstantiated
over the course of the pandemic and the increasing popularity of online sales. OMVIC is equipped to respond to the increasing move to online and has generally demonstrated its willingness to work with dealers to facilitate the trading of vehicles without undue restriction when consumers do not want to, or cannot, visit dealerships in person. That said, the online car sale business model fits uncomfortably within the current regulatory regime and hopefully new regulations and amendments will come soon to further smooth this digital transition. I and my legal colleagues are getting used to virtual and phone-in court proceedings rather than in-person proceedings. This shift is long overdue in Canada's legal world. The rapid modernization is helping clients save on legal fees and expediting the resolution of some matters, all while maintaining the same standards for lawyers in the discharge of their professional duties. The same benefits can accrue to the car sales industry if online car sales are welcomed and promoted by all members of the industry, including government. Requirements for online sales OMVIC has made it clear that online car dealerships are required to adhere to the same standards as traditional dealers. Specifically, OMVIC requires: •• A physical premises accessible by OMVIC staff and members of the public. •• Records storage at the registered premises (unless remote storage is approved). •• A sign at the premises, visible to the public. •• Compliance with all aspects of the MVDA, Code of Ethics, Standards of Business Practice, Consumer Protection Act and other applicable legislation. OMVIC further allows electronic signatures on contracts, remote testdrives, and the sale of vehicles to remote customers. Note, however, that
OMVIC places limits on the purpose of the test drive and none of the requirements pertaining to salespeople are relaxed. A remote test drive is only allowed if the dealer representative who provides the remote test drive is a registered salesperson and the test drive is offered solely for evaluating a vehicle’s performance, suitability and/or condition prior to purchase or lease.
voice matters and needs to be heard. Best practices need to be vetted and reviewed from the perspective of the "salesfloor" – wherever that salesfloor happens to be.
•• Once the consumer has decided to purchase the vehicle, do not rush the process when emailing the contract to the consumer for review.
•• Consider implementing written cancellation periods on every contract, even though this is not required under the Motor Vehicle Dealer Act. This will give consumers some comfort in their purchase if they change their mind.
I suggest all dealers go a step further than the baseline requirements to ensure they are going above and beyond for their customers. Dealers should: •• Ensure all-in price advertising, if applicable, is accurate and that the consumer is not caught off guard by any additional fees at the time of sale.
All trading still must take place at the dealer's registered premises, or completely online. Unfortunately, this means that a dealer cannot take a purchase or lease contract (or any other related agreement) to a consumer's home for the consumer to sign (but oddly, a dealer can bring an iPad and permit the customer to sign documents through an online application). Physical execution of paper documents must occur at the dealership's premises. A dealer may email a contract to the consumer to print, sign, scan and email back to the dealer at the dealership.
•• Make websites user-friendly and navigable such that a consumer can achieve their desired purpose without delays or frustration.
This is where I truly think amendments to the legislation will greatly assist OMVIC and dealers alike – I encourage any dealer who has some experience with online sales and has ideas regarding improvement and best practices to get in touch with both OMVIC and the UCDA. As has become increasingly clear throughout the pandemic, the dealer's
•• Make themselves available to respond to consumer's questions and concerns immediately; as prompt and intentional customer service enhances the customer experience and their loyalty to your brand. Be sure to have candid and thorough discussions with buyers prior to any test drive and during negotiations.
•• Especially with "sight unseen" sales, provide ample and clear images of the vehicle inside and out, and organize disclosure in a way that is accessible for the consumer. •• Be patient with the consumer if they wish to take the car for a test drive and allow them to test the car's performance as well as all of its features.
Conclusion It is no secret that online car sales are here to stay. Dealerships and OMVIC need to work in tandem to ensure a positive car-buying experience for consumers, and to ensure that dealers operating online because of a pandemic, or otherwise, are not unduly hindered by restrictions that do not address health and safety and consumer harm generally. This juncture is an opportunity for OMVIC to purge arbitrary and limiting requirements for dealerships, and for the industry to embrace new methods of doing business that ultimately see more people purchasing the car in a way that works best for them. Transitioning to the online car sales world may seem daunting for those taking the leap out of interest – or out of necessity – but it will pay dividends for those who endeavour to meet and exceed the standards in place for traditional car sale models. I wish you the best as your business transitions and thrives in the coming year. ■
Strategy. Digital. Design. Production. thrillhousestudios.com
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UCDA’S CHARITABLE GIVING COMMITTEE
DOES CHARITY BEGIN AT HOME? By Jim Hamilton
WE’VE ALL HEARD THE OLD EXPRESSION, charity begins at home. It’s
meant to suggest your first responsibility is to your own family and loved ones. Do we really call what we do for our near and dear ones “charity”? I doubt it. Charity is, at the core of it, about selflessness; you are sharing the bounty that fate and the graces have seen fit to visit upon you with those less fortunate or able.
The UCDA’s Charitable Giving Committee has been making donations, on behalf of UCDA Members, to childhood cancer causes throughout Ontario for 5 years now. The organizations we support, as our Members well know, are those that seek, in a local and grass roots way, to make a difference to the families and those children who are engaged in life and death struggles with this horrible disease.
We have heard directly from families, through the wonderful charitable organizations we support, about the difference our Member’s contributions have made: •• Summer camps for kids with cancer; giving relief and joy to tired kids, as well as their Moms, Dads and siblings. •• Gift baskets in the holiday season that brighten the lives of not just the children fighting cancer, but their siblings who are also part of a journey none of them really wanted to be on. •• Hospital equipment and supplies so a child can be at home when the disease takes an upper hand and the family can be with them and see them through their final days with dignity and love, not in a cold hospital room. •• Modifications to a motor vehicle enabling a young girl to take her
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driving test despite amputations necessitated by the toll cancer took. •• A little girl who wrote us to say “thank you for paying for my fake eye, now I don’t have to go to the doctor’s as much.” •• The Mom who told us a harrowing story of her child, in treatment for cancer, who contracted chicken pox. This ordinary childhood ailment can be a killer when it affects children receiving cancer treatment due to their lowered immune defences. The situation meant the child, and the family, had to leave their temporary accommodations at Ronald McDonald House, as well as families who might have been in contact with them. Far from home with nowhere to stay, money was found to house all these people, as well as feed them, for the 21 days they had to self-isolate. We were able to help in a small way with some of these enormous costs.
DOES CHARITY BEGIN AT HOME? •• Adam (not is real name) is 17 months old. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Sadly, his treatments to date have been unable to keep him in remission. He has now relapsed and is taking part in a new drug study with the hope that this will achieve remission. His mom, Marie (not her real name), is now a single parent. Her partner struggled with the stress of a very sick child and left the family home. He provides no financial support. Coping on her own, Marie’s finances have been depleted, she is worried about losing her home and providing for her other two children, while remaining in Toronto Sick Kids Hospital with her youngest in hospital. The possibility of going to Toronto for the bone marrow transplant would be a positive development in Adam’s treatment, but a further drain on her precarious financial situation. On top of her usual bills, she has also been faced with hefty repairs to the vehicle that she relies on to get her back and forth. •• Because of our support, we were able to cover Marie’s car repairs, allowing her to safely get her son to treatments, and assist with her mortgage payment. •• Cancer treatments can have devasting effects on a child’s development. This little girl underwent aggressive
treatment for a tumour in her brain which caused damage. We helped her family purchase age appropriate, sensory enriched wooden puzzles which have sound effects to help compensate for limited vision, special utensils which will help Celina develop fine motor and self-sufficiency skills, a light panel which will take advantage of the vision she does have, a specially supportive chair and a variety of other appropriately stimulating equipment as well as a special carrier, appropriate for a child her size, which enables her parents to safely carry her. •• Another young man we helped through a UCDA grant was able to graduate high school with his peers and carry on with his studies thanks to the costs of the tutoring that has made this possible. •• Another family wrote to say, “We just wanted to express our gratitude for helping us get Celeste's wig! It was priceless to see Celeste's face when we found the wig she was looking for!!!” •• Another little girl we’ll call Georgia is a 4 year old who battled leukemia, but the fight left her with damage to her heart. She needed a wheelchair and while insurance covered some of the costs, it did not cover all of them. That is where UCDA Members were able to help and Georgia is on the road again!
We could go on and on with these stories, and they are all very real. The money UCDA Members have been able to donate, to date over $100,000, is a small drop in a very large ocean, but it is a help, as you can see. So, does charity begin at home? I don’t really think it does, but UCDA Members should know that, thanks to their generosity, it certainly ends at someone’s home … where it does the most good. Thank you, as always, for your support. ■
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THE OLD CAR DETECTIVE JOHN'S 1930 FORD COUPE John McNabb of Tory Hill, Ontario, drives a 2014 T 660 Kenworth transport truck all over the USA for Garry Mercer Trucking Inc. in Mississauga. John and his dad, Mac McNabb, love antique cars and John recently phoned to tell me he had just purchased a beautiful 1930 Model A Ford Standard Coupe in New York State and brought it home in the back of the truck he drives for a living. Last February, John saw an ad on Facebook for a 1930 Model A Ford
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By Bill Sherk
coupe for sale in Poughkeepsie, New York. He contacted the owner, Wayne Crookston, who wanted the car to go to a good home.
The original colour was dark blue and has now been changed to green, very close to Balsam Green, an original Model A Ford colour.
He told John the original owner was a woman in Hartford, Connecticut, who bought the car brand new in June of 1930. She was a school teacher and drove that car for the next 28 years, finally selling it in 1958 to Fred Williams, who lived nearby and owned the car for the next 60 years!
In 2018, Fred sold the car to Wayne Crookston, who two years later felt the need to downsize and put it up for sale.
Fred gave the car a frame-off restoration and replaced the original trunk with a rumble seat, a feature available in the Deluxe series.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed John’s attempt to buy the car and five transfers of money took place before the deal could go through. Finally, last August, John was able to travel to New York State where he was delivering some goods in his transport truck, and that became the perfect time to bring the car home from
Poughkeepsie, New York, to Ontario. John crossed the border into Canada on September 7, 2020. When John crossed into Ontario with the car, he brought it to Garry Mercer Trucking headquarters in Mississauga, where he crawled under the car to double-check everything. Two good friends, Steve Fox and his brother Craig, came from Barrie to Mississauga and assisted John in transporting his new Model A to his home at Tory Hill in Haliburton, where John parked it beside his dad’s almost identical 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe.
Same Model A coming out of garage in New York State.
After getting the car home, John and a friend took a 250-mile trip to Alliston and also to Gilford, where John’s dad operated his auto repair shop for thirty years. John’s Model A coupe on that trip ran like new. John gives special thanks to Garry Mercer for allowing him to bring his Model A Ford home inside the truck that John drives for Garry. We wish for John and his dad many years of happy motoring in their pair of 1930 Model A Fords! ■
John with thumbs up winching his new prize onto his transport truck.
Truck that John drives all over the U.S.
John at Garry Mercer Trucking in Mississauga after John checked underside of car. It’s just like new!
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