PAL Business Services (Podcast)
Jeremy Louisos, Senior Vice President and Kevin Lombardi, VP of Business Development at Preowned Auto Logistics talk with John Maher about PAL’s business services. They explain how PAL helps dealerships ship vehicles more effectively, and they also talk about the logistical guidance and customer service PAL provides to its business clients.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. And I’m here today with Jeremy Louisos, Senior Vice President and Kevin Lombardi, VP of Business Development at Preowned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. Today, our topic is PAL business services. Jeremy and Kevin, welcome.
Jeremy Louisos: Hey John, thanks for having us.
Kevin Lombardi: Greetings.
What Services Does PAL Provide for Businesses?
John: So tell me a little bit more about what services PAL provides for businesses.
Jeremy: Yeah. So I mean, traditionally, what we’ve looked at is really anything that the dealer needs to do or any sort of business. It’s mostly been dealerships for us, but any business that needs to move a vehicle that can’t be driven… that’s the place where we jump in. So that’s included dealer purchases, dealers getting vehicles that they’re buying so they can sell them at their dealership, sending their trade-ins to the auction, swapping with other dealerships, and delivering customer cars.
Traditionally, those are the four areas of service, but now that technology is really infused itself in our industry, we break it down a little bit differently. So the big focus right now is that we have dealerships and digital options, another business in the auto industry, really working on sourcing inventory, getting those vehicles, right? If you go by the dealership lots these days you’re going to see a pretty empty piece of real estate.
So all of these folks that are selling vehicles in the auto industry now are trying to get vehicles to their locations so they can sell them. So sourcing that inventory is one of the big focuses for us. Online purchases, right? So those very same options, those very same dealerships that are trying to move maybe into a digital space. And then the purely digital sellers of vehicles. Those fully online digital platforms are selling to customers all over the country. It’s decentralized now, and now they need those vehicles delivered with the same type of showroom experience and customer care that they would get at the dealership with some we’ve been doing for 20 years.
And then finally, lastly, and most exciting to the technology conversation is the auto transportation data piece. There’s a lot of value in being able to connect with these platforms that these businesses are using and pass information like how much it’s going to cost to move a vehicle. This is when it’s going to be done. Allowing them to generate orders in our system through an API automation, and then passing those statuses back to the dealerships and giving them a portal to view all that information. So really exciting new services from inventory sourcing, online purchases, and then the data that kind of keeps that whole logistics solutions ecosystem going around.
How Does PAL Help Dealerships Source Inventory?
John: Okay. So why don’t we talk about each one of those in a little bit more depth. And we’ll start with the dealerships or auction sites, sourcing inventory. Maybe tell me a little bit more about sourcing inventory and what you mean by that and how it is that you guys intercede and help with that.
Kevin: So historically we would speak to the dealership and solicit our transportation services. They had a system in place historically of buying from auctions and swapping with other dealerships as their inventory required, or to help their customers to find vehicles that satisfy them. So today it’s difficult to acquire vehicles. So we’re offering our data and our ability to search further beyond their traditional access points to acquire vehicles. And that includes private purchases.
I would never have thought about it when I started 10 years ago, that they would be looking through Craigslist and private party sites to find vehicles to recondition and resell. So we’re assisting in all those areas as a transportation company in trying to kind of instruct and consult to our dealership clients that they’re not limited to their region or immediate territory. They can go far beyond those states and those regions.
Jeremy: Yeah. Exactly. These dealerships maybe had a few different sources for getting these vehicles. Maybe it was a local auction. Maybe they were wholesaling from some other dealerships in the area. Now they really need to look anywhere in the country or even beyond sometimes to try to find new sources. And so helping connect those dots from a transportation and logistics solutions perspective is something that we’ve been doing a ton of these days.
Kevin: And additionally, a dealership doesn’t have to limit itself to its local customers. Through online purchasing opportunities, they can sell to customers all over the country because inventory is that depleted. So our additional sales value to our customer is, hey, leverage what we do. We can transport anywhere in the country door to door. Offer another service to your customer. We call that the final mile. We can get that card delivered to your door. And we help dealerships compete with the CarMax’s and Carvana’s of the world. And that could be done no matter what your size.
How Do You Find Vehicles for Dealerships?
John: And how is it that you actually find all those vehicles for a dealership? Do you make databases of all the vehicles that are available from all these different sources so that then you can share that information with the dealership?
Kevin: That’s a great question. And we’re realizing the value of our own data based on the inquiries that we’ve received recently. We understand what cars come from where. So if a Toyota store wants to know where their vehicles are, we have access to that data. The next generation is going to be electric vehicles. We only have data going back to 2017 on the transportation data of electric vehicles. So those vehicles are going to start to get traded in. So when we find us shipping those vehicles, we’re going to have even more valuable data for them to understand a whole new market. I think, in some cases by 2035, you’re only going to be able to purchase an electric vehicle.
So as those purchasing requirements move through the years, we have the original data on the movement of those vehicles. We even did a kind of a recent data evaluation on what states have shipped the heaviest cars. Okay. Now think about the value of that. So when we transport vehicles, weight and distribution are critical and we have that data. Because that’ll affect insurance, that’ll affect the size of the carrier. What can and cannot be moved, how it’s moved. And this data continues to evolve.
How Can PAL Help Dealerships With Online Car Purchases?
John: All right. Let’s move to the next thing, which is online purchases. Tell me a little bit more about how things have changed in recent years with online purchases of vehicles and again, where you guys can step in and help assist in terms of, especially with your business customers and dealerships, trying to buy cars online.
Kevin: Sure. So today, consumers are far more educated than they ever were. We have the internet. Through Google search, you can find the type of car, reviews on the car, how much the car costs relatively. Well, now you’re not limited to regions to which to buy your car. Since inventory is so low, it’s not unlikely for somebody to find a used car specifically, or a year and a make that they want to buy. And now they can reach out anywhere in the country to find a car. And of course, the value to us is that we provide the shipping. And with our advanced tools, we can provide current real time costs and real time ETA’s.
Jeremy: One of the things we saw throughout the pandemic, this is something that we saw coming a few years down the road, is that there was going to be a move to online purchases. That things were going to be more decentralized and folks would be less locked into their region when making the purchase of their vehicle.
I think COVID really sped that process up. What we predicted was going to happen in maybe two to five years happened in a few months. And so now we’re living in this world where the online retail platforms are very much alive and well. Several consumers are using different versions of this, and it works really well. It’s a great way.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. Our customers that are still doing the brick and mortar sales experience, they have a service that is traditional that a lot of people still like. But for folks ready to jump online, it works great provided that you can get the vehicle to where it needs to be. And that’s really where we’re proud to step in.
When it comes to delivering a retail experience for these clients, we’ve been doing this for our entire career as logistics solution providers. And it kind of, in some ways, feels as though our moment has arrived. Hey, the thing that we do really well is now something that everybody’s asking for. Can you deliver this vehicle professionally? Can you communicate with the customer, set expectations, make sure it’s going to get there when you told your customer it’s going to get there, kind of giving an experience that’s maybe been lacking in this industry. We are able to provide that for folks now that are ready to jump online and buy a car.
How Does PAL Help Dealerships With Transportation So They Can Sell Vehicles Online?
John: Right. So is that really the biggest benefit that you have in terms of online car purchases that maybe dealerships were hesitant to jump online and sell their cars online because of that final piece, like you said, that delivering the car to the customer, that they just didn’t know how that was going to work. Or they couldn’t trust that the delivery was going to happen in a timely manner, that it was going to happen in a professional manner.
And so they just kind of didn’t want to deal with this whole online thing. But now that they’ve been somewhat forced to in order to stay in business and to keep selling cars and to open up their market to so many more people across the country. Now they really need to have that solution and be able to trust that it’s going to work and that it’s going to be cost effective for their customers. And that’s where you really come in.
Jeremy: I think that was certainly one of the reasons that folks were hesitant at first. There are a lot of different cases, right? There are some folks that just say, “hey, this is the way we’ve always done it. Maybe this online thing is kind of a fad.” Like you said, it’s caught up to everyone, and whatever their hesitancy was, they’ve realized, this is a place that I need to be.
And when they start to take their first steps onto that path and they’re like, oh yeah, we got to actually deliver this car to somebody. Someone across the country just bought this thing. And they’re calling maybe their local tow company who’s like, you want me to go where? Or they find someone online and they realize that not everybody does this. And this is something that we’ve specialized in for quite some time.
So we’re really happy to partner with these retailers, explain to them what that process is. And really, I think the biggest piece of value, next to the technology bit, is how we can help with customer experience. We want to integrate with their systems and make this a fluid experience for their customers or for their internal teams that are facilitating these moves. But then we also don’t want those customers to have to become the support department for a whole logistics experience or for the vehicle delivery. When those customers have questions, you really can’t pass that customer to too many companies. That’s something that we pride ourselves on, customer service and technology. That customer service comes first. We’ve been doing this… well, I think if we combine our experience, we get to a pretty high number of years doing this.
And being able to have those conversations, to answer questions, to set expectations, to guide someone that’s new to the auto transport process, all the way to their final amount of delivery is of huge value.
Kevin: And finally, so we talk about the dealership who are our customers, and their customers are mimicking the same behavior. So as dealerships become more comfortable selling cars online, consumers become more comfortable buying cars online. And I’ll give you a personal experience. I bought the same car or the upgraded model of the same car for 10 years from the same dealer.
I go every three years and three months and update my lease. Well in February my lease came up and there were no cars available. Well, here, lies an opportunity. I decided to go buy a car that I otherwise probably would have never purchased if this didn’t happen. I bought a car out of California through a Detroit auction and had it delivered to my house. I would’ve never dreamed of buying something online. Okay. But I was limited. So I had to make a decision. And I bought a fun car and I’m glad I did it. It arrived safely and the cost was very reasonable and we did it. So I have a personal experience about us transporting vehicles long distances.
How PAL Can Help With Logistics Management
John: Right. Absolutely. And like you said, just more and more people are doing that. Whether it’s somebody up in the north buying a car from Florida, maybe a classic car or something like that, that doesn’t have any damage from the salt and things like that on the road. Or there’s all kinds of reasons why somebody would purchase a car online these days and it’s just happening more and more. And more and more dealers just need to have somebody that they can rely on and trust.
Jeremy: Yeah, absolutely.
Kevin: Yeah. And finally, the data. So we find ourselves soliciting our services to a very unique customer. There are companies out there that value vehicles for a number of different reasons. And we have the capacity to present information and data where we can provide the cost of delivery for singles or multiples to different regions. Original equipment manufacturers, finance companies, leasing companies take on their trades. They want to maybe move those vehicles to a market where they can get the best price. Well, through a technical tool, we can provide the cost and the timeliness of that move that could help in the valuation of those vehicles for these very unique digital retailers.
Jeremy: Which really is part of that exciting new space for us. Traditionally, our business customers, as we discussed, were dealerships or the companies with the inventory that they were moving around. Now, we’re looking at customers and partnerships with other third party vendors within the auto transportation space.
Like Kevin mentioned a service that might provide valuations for vehicles or an inventory management system that maybe needs to provide recommendations for that dealership that’s managing 12 different regions and has to move inventory around and try to sell it in one market because it’s going to do a little bit better. Well, unless you have that all in cost, knowing how much it’s going to cost to get it to that market, you really don’t know if that’s the best deal.
And that’s a place where our data, what I like to call the best shipping rate, that’s the rate that’s going to get the thing moved for you in a timely manner. Right. We can provide that. We can provide the ETA. And then as I mentioned before, I think another piece of this is just supporting that experience. If there’s any questions we can handle those for you. And we have the technical ability to tie this into your existing platforms through API integrations or whatever other system you might use.
So we’ve had more of those conversations in the past year than we ever had in the past. Something we’ve thought a lot about, we’ve been excited to take on. We were ready for that moment. The industry wasn’t quite there and now we have people coming to us saying, Hey, so I need to figure out how much it’s going to cost to deliver this for a number of my customers that I’m providing this data for, or this management service for, can you help us out? Oh, by the way, can you help us move the thing afterwards? And can you let us know where the vehicle is in transit? And can you answer our customers’ questions if they have any? The answer is yes to all those.
Kevin: So very quickly we move from a transportation logistics company to a technology company that provides transportation and logistics management.
John: Yeah. And the main data that you’re talking about there is data like quotes on how much it’s going to cost to move a car from this place to this place. And then the timing of that as well, how quickly can it get there? And then, like you said, integrating that data into the management system, the dealer’s management system, so that all of that information is right in their own system. That’s what you’re able to provide now.
Jeremy: Yeah. The more seamless that is for the users, the better the experience is for everybody.
How Does PAL Provide Value to Business Clients?
John: All right. Any final thoughts on your PAL business services and where things go from here?
Kevin: Yeah. It’s a really exciting discussion and that’s all we’re doing now. When I started, I was really in charge of selling transportation services to dealerships. Now we’re having dialogue with really smart people on how to create solutions in an otherwise very complex and difficult industry. And we’re really at the forefront of solving these problems. That’s exciting.
Jeremy: Yeah. Building off that for me, I couldn’t agree more. Something that really gets me excited is really moving into that thought leadership space, being some of the first folks to consider some of these new challenges to meet the moment of the day and to have a voice that really adds value to the auto industry right now. It feels meaningful. And it’s something that I think gets us all fired up every day. So yeah, we’re excited to keep this rolling.
Contact PAL to Learn More About Its Business Services
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information. Jeremy and Kevin, thanks for speaking with me today.
Jeremy: Thanks, John.
Kevin: Thank you.
John: And for more information, you can visit the website at preownedautologistics.com. Or called (877) 542-1955.