Jeremy Louisos, Senior Vice President of PreOwned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company based in Massachusetts, discusses the customer portal involved in dealership car shipping.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher And I’m here today with Jeremy Louisos, senior vice president at PreOwned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. Today, our topic is the customer portal with dealership car shipping. Welcome Jeremy.
Jeremy Louisos: Hey John, thanks for having me.
Car Shipping PAL Customer Portal for Dealerships
John: Absolutely. So Jeremy, when you ship cars for a dealership or an auction house maybe, you have a customer portal that the dealership can log into to get information about their shipments. Can you explain a little bit more about the customer portal?
Jeremy: Yeah, of course. So we call it the PAL portal, and it’s a way for, like you said, dealerships or really any business to log into our system. It turns out that we actually have a pretty good data set of vehicles that are in motion. A lot of these companies have their inventory on-site pretty dialed in with their inventory management systems, but we can uniquely offer the big picture view of all the vehicles coming and going, and for a lot of bigger organizations, that’s a tricky one. So it allows our customers to log right in and get some pretty powerful information about a huge part of their business they might not normally have visibility on.
John: Okay, so go into a little bit more detail about the benefits that having that customer portal provides to a dealership.
Jeremy: Yeah, of course. So it really all started, and I’ll give you a bit of a backstory to explain this. It started, we were getting a lot of customer inquiries, things like, “Hey, what’s the status of a shipment?” But even more specifically, or probably more often, “Hey, we have this vehicle. It’s not in my lot. I don’t know where it is. Do you know where the heck this vehicle is?” So we found that for us, initially trying to cut a communication challenge, we were just getting a lot of those inquiries, it was tying us up a bit, and we’re always glad to help customers, but we thought, “Hey, let’s just expose some of the data that we have.” We keep immaculate records of all the orders, all vehicles for all customers, where they’ve gone to, all the details there. Let’s just extend a little bit of that database and information to these customers.
And the first feature that really took off here was really simple. It was just a VIN lookup. So a VIN in our industry, a vehicle identification number, they’re able to pop in the last eight or the full 17 of this vehicle identification number and immediately get full records every time we’ve moved that vehicle and when it was moved to, where last, the whole bit. That’s where it started. And from there, we started adding lots of other information, like for folks that have multiple dealerships, multiple door locations, they could see all the vehicles coming and going by status, by store, just get all that information, and then that snowballed into us creating some custom reports and notifications. And it really became just, I think, a really potent tool, these dealerships that wanted that extra level of oversight and even some of the data analytics that they just weren’t getting anywhere else.
John: I find it funny that you said that the dealership would call you and say, “Where’s this car? I know we have this car in our dealership network somewhere, but I don’t know where it is.” It seems funny that you guys would have maybe a more advanced system of tracking where that car is located.
Jeremy: And I really don’t want to throw any shade at any of these dealerships. They’re great folks. They know what they’re doing. They’re competent and talented. But they have a lot on their plate. We’re able to answer that question. We feel the partnerships that work best are when we just plug PAL as the logistics department for their organization. We can really help quite a bit when it comes to that.
John: And so how does having the customer portal really set PreOwned Auto Logistics apart from other car shipping companies, when you look at other car shipping companies and the way that they’re dealing with dealerships and auction houses, does this customer portal really set you guys apart?
Jeremy: Yeah, it’s a great question. So we like to view it, and I really found it to be true as we’ve been out there speaking to lots of folks, we’re this great middle of the road fit. So I think when you’re dealing with smaller outfits, like the mom and pops, great folks, we partner with lots of those carriers. They’re pretty good at giving that personal touch. They really care about the business quite a bit. They’re dedicated, they’re experts on their small customer base, but they really don’t have the ability to extend some of those technology tools that some of the bigger companies are able to extend. And then when you go to the other end of the spectrum, you’re talking about these huge mega organizations, the largest of the folks in our industry, they have all the tech goodies, they have tons of stuff, but they really lack that personal touch. And really we’ve found that some of those technology solutions are actually fairly remedial, that they offer some of the basics. They have to appeal to a wide base of folks, and some of their tools are a little more general.
I think, where we fit, and this is a nice niche for us, we’re providing a pretty enterprise level solution for these companies, yet are small enough to really get that personal touch with dedicated reps all that kind of stuff. That we’re able to really balance both of those worlds. We care quite a bit about the customer. We have the data set. We also have the technology prowess to extend that dataset in the form of a customer portal out. And I think our portal is unique because we’ve really put a lot of specific tools in there for folks that we’ve been working very closely with that manage multiple stores or just really trying to get a better handle on their own store. So ours is pretty dialed in, it’s pretty personalized for folks that are running multiple stores and the feedback so far has been really good. So we’re proud of this and excited to extend it out even further.
Benefits of the PAL Customer Portal for Dealerships
John: How does it trickle down to the actual customers of the dealers who are buying the cars? Does the fact that that dealership is using this PAL portal yours to keep track of their inventory and their shipments of cars back and forth, does it mean something to the customer? Obviously the customer doesn’t know about the portal, but are they able to get a better selection of cars, get those cars faster if they want the car that they’re looking at, but they want in red and their dealership doesn’t have that. They’re able to get that car within a couple of days or a week or something like that because of the logistics that you guys are solving for the dealerships?
Jeremy: I think that’s an interesting point and it is true that we’re helping to optimize these folks. I think that we’re doing our job best when our customers hardly know we’re there. The vehicle appears when they want it, and they’re not really thinking about anything else, how it got there. That’s what we handle. We want to take all of that and just handle it behind the scenes and just deliver great customer experiences. So for the customer experience, it’s just, “The vehicle showed up. It’s what I wanted. I’m excited. This is great.” So it’s almost best when you don’t even notice that we’re there.
And how the portal and some of these technologies might help out in that experience is the more dialed in the dealerships are, the more easily they can organize the logistics, because they’re really just putting it over to us, we’re handling everything, and they can really focus on that customer experience that PreOwned then extends through the transportation cycle. So I think that the more partnered we are on data, the easier it is for the dealerships to connect with their logistics provider, the better they can perform and the better we can all provide those customer experiences that are just vital these days for maintaining excellence.
John: All right. That’s really great information, Jeremy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Jeremy: It was a pleasure. Thanks, John.
John: And for more information or to request a quote for your auto shipping needs, visit the website at preownedautologistics.com, or call (877) 542-1955.