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The Top Video Marketing Practices for Dealerships

Russell Hill

Russell Hill is a Managing Partner at FixedOPS Marketing, a full-service fixed ops agency for dealerships that specializes in increasing service visits while boosting revenue through video. He began his career working as a Buick salesman in 1985 and worked his way from Leasing Manager at Toyota of Richardson to General Sales Manager at Midway Nissan & Mitsubishi. After over 10 years of sales experience for the automotive industry, Russell decided to pivot and join the vendor side.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • How Russell Hill started working in the automotive industry

  • How Russell helps dealerships drive store traffic through video marketing

  • Russell explains how his business has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

  • The biggest challenges dealerships face with fixed ops marketing

  • Russell's thoughts on servicing electric vehicles (EVs)

  • Russell's advice for optimizing your website

In this episode…

As the economy continues to recover and more people take their cars out to go to work, spend time with family, or go on road trips, the number of cars driving into dealerships for servicing has skyrocketed. What does this mean? Simple: if dealerships take advantage of this increased demand, they stand a big chance of increasing their revenue.

With growing video consumption among many consumers, it is important that dealerships deliver engaging video content to share with their audience. According to Russell Hill, the Managing Partner at FixedOPS Marketing, dealerships should use video to share news, educate their audience, and talk about their products.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay is joined by Russell Hill, a Managing Partner at FixedOPS Marketing, to find out how Russell leverages video marketing to help dealerships drive more traffic to their website. They discuss how fixed ops services were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, servicing electric vehicles (EVs), and how to optimize your website for conversions.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics

Visit their website at to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you'd want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay 0:14

Ilana Shabtay here. I'm the host of Ilana Shabtay, where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. And before we introduce today's guest, this episode is sponsored by The AutoLeadStar platform is built on a technology so powerful, it allows you to market, sell, and service cars as you would in the real world online and at scale, making one to one matches between shoppers and inventory. AutoLeadStar is the only platform that is powered by scale, speed, and specificity to change the way dealers do marketing today. Today, we have a very special guest, thank you so much for joining us. Our guest is Russell Hill. Welcome to the show Russell.

Russell Hill 0:55

Appreciate it. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Ilana Shabtay 0:57

Yeah, we're excited to hit it off today. Well, before we start our questions, and before we get into some of your expertise in the industry. I'll give you a quick intro here. Russell is managing partner at FixedOPS Marketing, a new technology company specializing in increasing service visits while increasing revenue per our Oh, through video, which is super exciting. We haven't spoken too much about video on this podcast. So I'm excited to hear more about that. And Russell began his career working as a salesman at Tyson Buick in 1985. He eventually made his way up to GM at competition Chrysler Jeep. And then he decided to leave retail and come to the vendor side. So he made his way all the way to FixedOPS Marketing where he is today. Thank you so much, again for joining us. We do like to start this podcast although we did hear about your journey in automotive, we always like to hear how people end up ended up in automotive what what made you you know, start working in retail automotive back in? Nice. That's

Russell Hill 1:56

a good question. No, that's good question. So it all started in 1968. Probably before you were born, right? But anyway, no, it started in 1968 when Hot Wheels came out. And I fell in love with Hot Wheels. I fell in love with cars. They've always been my passion. The automotive space has always been my passion when I got in in 1985. And, you know, I was very fortunate. I was able to get out and you know, become a vendor. So now I'm on the outside looking instead on the inside looking out. So it's been a great journey. Love it.

Ilana Shabtay 2:30

Yeah. And it gives you two different perspectives. So every time someone who's done retail and vendor, I always feel like they have so much more perspective. I've never been in the retail side of automotive. But I can only imagine. It's funny, Hot Wheels. This is like a big hot topic in my house right now. Because my two year old son really wants Hot Wheels. And we're still big. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, it's honestly, it's like the best car toy you can get. So we should probably give him. But anyway, that's that's a really nice story. And that's different than most the other ones that we've heard. So thanks for sharing that. And now you focus. Tell us a little bit about FixedOPS Marketing. I'd love to hear how you're incorporating video specifically. Start with that. And then I'd love to also hear some of the challenges that you're seeing on the fixed ops with your as it pertains to dealer marketing today.

Russell Hill 3:21

Sure, sure. Yeah, thank you. So my partner and I, we had another technology company, and we decided to leave that a lot of different reasons why you learn a lot about you know, partnerships, and you know, etc, etc. So we put this idea together that what is the next big thing, what is the next big thing not, unbeknownst to us, not even knowing like nobody did that COVID was coming on the scene. So we started this company called FixedOPS Marketing. And what we wanted to do is we believe that with all the research that we did, by 2022, that over 80% of all consumer consumption would be video based. Now the variable side of things on websites, which is where our stuff resides is on websites, does a phenomenal job. But what pales in comparison from the downturn in a way to COVID just really bring it to the forefront as to how essential service really is. Well, you know, it's everything changed with COVID. And so how customers interact. And what we wanted to do is we don't want to drive necessarily more traffic to the dealerships, because they're overwhelmed right now. What we want to do is help them create additional lines for for our Oh for the traffic that's already coming into the store, and we do that through video content. So we created these very aesthetically pleasing video coupons that with all different categories, repairs, diagnostics, brakes, tires, alignments, etc. And what we were all about is delivering the right content the right message at the right time and making it easy for the consumer to convert the way they want to convert to text, email, phone call, printing, forms, etc. And one of the reasons is The whole backdrop of how we even design this product is win. Because I am from the vendor, I mean, the retail space. Three things that come to mind when you're sitting down with anybody a dealership, here's all they care about, what is it? What does it do? And what's in it for me? And if you can solve it and you know, if you hit we solve two fundamental challenges that every dealership has, I don't care if it's fixed, or the variable side is they don't have any time and automation. And we solve both of those problems because our platform runs 20 473 65.

Ilana Shabtay 5:33

And that's one of the most important things that dealer is he right now. Now, is this something that you put on the website? Is this something that they can trigger from the CRM Tell me a little bit more about where these videos live?

Russell Hill 5:43

So all of our stuff resides on the website. So if you go to here's what you find today, when you go to any dealerships website, I don't even have to look, I already know what's there. Because I've been in the space ever since, you know, I was in retail when websites came onto the scene back in the mid 90s. So here's what you have when you go to service parts and accessories. Now, keep in mind that on any dealership websites, most of the time, you have a specialist content page in the top level navigation. That's for all for the dealerships, profit centers are located new news and parts and service. So our stuff resides there. We also have a standalone top level nav for service and parts coupons that nobody's ever had before. Prior to our company. Here's what you had no specials at all, because somebody has to manage it. Right? everybody's busy wearing multiple hats, another username and password they have to remember, and they're not managed yet to you have a static image. He can't do anything with customers can't do anything with static image. So the exit rates go through the roof with that kind of stuff. Or maybe you have a handful of specials not much information on they're not very enticing. Some of them still have a picture of scissors cutting out a coupon? I mean, come on. Come on. Everybody's on these today. Right? Yes. Oh, yeah. That cracks me up. Yeah. And and beyond that the you might be able to print, or maybe even schedule service or some some website platforms that have a texting feature that pales in comparison to what our stuff does. But regardless, what we're all about is, once again, when they get to our stuff, and they see it, they're locked in to the aesthetics and the fact that everyone I'm having you do like what you said short podcast. These are short little videos that help dealerships for every franchise dealership in the United States Anyway, there are 16 non franchise entities that are all jockeying for that same business. They know dealerships have been sleeping at the wheel on the service parts and accessory side. So I don't care if it's Pep Boys, Firestone, Goodyear, Jiffy Lube, you know, you name it, that they're, they're out there, they're all over the place. And so what we are all about, is do automation and time, and our average store actually converts at 20%, which most people don't even track that kind of stuff. But we're we just want to pull all the dealerships out of the 20th century and pull them into the 21st century with our by revolutionising the way that people interact with service parts and accessory coupons. pretty much it.

Ilana Shabtay 8:12

I think what you said in the beginning of this topic is also really important to touch on because you mentioned that you give the shopper the opportunity to convert that the way that they want to convert email, text print. And that's it critical to dealer strategy today. And I don't know if we talked about that enough, because there are some people that are going to want to print a coupon still, and there are some people that are going to want to get it texted to them. So I think when we talk about, you know, conversion optimization, and making sure that dealers are are honing into the latest technology, and the automation also becomes about customer centric marketing. So I really love that you. You mentioned that I think that's a huge, huge factor into a dealer success online.

Russell Hill 8:52

Thank you. Yeah, it's awesome, awesome stuff. Our number one conversion tool is texting.

Ilana Shabtay 8:57

Yeah, I figured the nominal. Oh, yeah, it's coming. Yeah, that's super easy. And now, how do you think or tell us a little bit about how COVID has impacted? Well, you started just a few months before COVID so your business strategy is basically COVID But yeah, as COVID helped you pivot the strategy or helped you help dealers pivot their strategy?

Russell Hill 9:20

Well, it's been an interesting journey. So we rolled out our first product, we got four products now, but we rolled out our first product on January 7, last year, you know, one month before COVID you know, really started creeping into things. And then you know, I think it was in February maybe first part of March and like it's full blown. I mean, everybody's freaking out. vendors are crying the blues dealerships don't know what to do. You know, there was a you know, everybody went to extremes right? Yeah, they didn't know how to handle this. Well, things you know, leveled out a little bit in March and April and people started to figure it out. Yes, sales departments. The antimicrobial wipe downs and sprain and and people pickup and delivery, remote, less contactless pay all these things so dealerships adapted pretty quick. But you know, I'd say at the end of February, maybe through March, you know, we were kind of freaking out, too. We got a lot of money through people that believed in me and my partner to build this platform out, which is just based on an idea. And we rolled it out. And then this happens. Well, at the end of April 1 of May, our company started exploding. And we've been exploding Ever since then, now, things have been a little flat. Last couple months, we're still closing business, not like we were before, because dealerships are overwhelmed. Now you got people as the state's opened up throughout driving some road trips, and all those types of things that have been cooked up for over a year, with dealerships right now on the service side, and probably on the sales side, because of chips, shortages, and inventory, etc. And that's all whacked out of control. But service departments are overwhelmed. They don't have enough technicians. They don't have enough visors, some places you can't eat major markets, you can't even stop in for oil change that day, probably because they're overwhelmed. They're like, so

Ilana Shabtay 11:06

out some of the metro areas. It's really it's really, yeah,

Russell Hill 11:09

yeah, yeah. And so when I get somebody's attention, they get it when I show him our stuff, they because 75% of all traffic nationally, that rolls into dealership every single day is for all changes. Okay? And so they we start talking until they see the product. Oh, Russell, your stuff is beautiful. Love it. But we don't need any more oil changes. I said, I know. I know. That's why I'm that's why I wanted to demonstrate this proxy. There's another Did you I love your stuff, maybe later on. But right now we can't even keep up with the way I know. I know. But how about getting additional lines for the traffic that's already coming in your store? They get it? That's that's what we do. We haven't created additional lines.

Ilana Shabtay 11:49

That's great. Yeah. And now is a great time to be in service. Because no matter what, everyone's going to be servicing their cars now more than ever, like you mentioned, because people are just taking their cars and driving. Yeah. So so I think that's a it's actually great. It ended up being great timing, although maybe last year. That way. All right. Now, because you're in this because you're in this side of the business. I also would love to know if you've seen if you can share with us any any of like, the biggest challenges you see, when it comes to marketing, fixed ops, or the biggest mistakes, challenges is a nicer way to save the mistakes that you see dealers make when it comes to marketing. They're fixed up.

Russell Hill 12:29

So that's a great question. There's probably a lot of different thoughts on that. But there's because of COVID, because Lacan, and because, I mean, maybe another lockdown looming service departments or what service departments are responsible for paying all the bills, everybody thinks the money is made in sales, it's really made in service. So the challenges in the future, the shift is, what the defection rate at 36 months after people buy cars is astronomical. So it's retaining those customers and keeping them coming into the service department. For essential services. It's not about just selling them something, it's about recommended maintenance recommended maintenance, if you do recommended maintenance on vehicles, repairs cost you a lot less money overall, if you do not follow the recommended guidelines and routinely May your view, maintain your vehicle and bring it in for its you know, essential services, then it's going to cost you more in the long run. So there's there's a shift and thinking and changing. In addition to that, you got a lot of people that are retiring out of the market master technicians and stuff like that. So then we have the millennials and we got the Gen Xers and wires. And a way to cultivate and nurture those people, particularly women, in my opinion, is a big push into the service. side of things for and the money is astronomical, if you think about it. Most people that go to college, get a degree come out devil, heavily debt laden 92%, my numbers may be off one or two percentage point, but I'm really close. They don't even work in the chosen field. They just got a degree in coming out of school heavily debt Laden. So this is a tremendous opportunity for young men and women to come into the industry and make 55 to $120,000 a year to start. So there's a this is the paradigm shift that's taking place.

Ilana Shabtay 14:22

Yeah, and I agree with that. And we should be I think better as an industry at attracting people right out of college right out of high school, people who are just motivated and want to learn quickly. That's exactly what we should be doing as an industry. And I think slowly we're realizing that and people are talking we are Yeah, I agree. Yeah, so that's gonna be interesting to relive, and what do you know about or are you preparing at all for EBS? I know that in the next 10 years, that's probably going to be what 50% if not more of the cars that dealers are going to be selling?

Russell Hill 14:56

Well, I don't know if the answer is yes, the short answer. I don't know if it'd be 50%. But it's coming along, it's coming. And so, you know, there's a misnomer out there that oh my god, we're you know, we're not going to we're not going to be able to service cars. Well, that's just not true. It's a, it's another paradigm shift. It's an educational thing. There's going to be plenty of money to be made on in service departments for TVs, electric vehicles are going to be huge. We're adapting and getting ready for that right now. Because they're obviously in the marketplace. So we're gonna have specialized landing pages and stuff like that. For those types. Those types of people are different types of buyers right now, too. So you got to cater to that type of service customer or buyer, etc.

Ilana Shabtay 15:44

Yeah, I think that's really important. Always cater to the to the audience. We I had someone on this podcast, his name is Matt Tedesco. He works for Shift Digital. And he did. He recently finished his MBA and he did his thesis on EBS. So a lot of the podcast be focused around what what it's going to look like with EBS. And he spoke a little bit about the service industry. And he said that, while there may be fewer service visits, the service visits are going to be more expensive. So in the end, I think the profit center for the dealer, well, as you mentioned, nothing's going to change, it's probably going to be the same, maybe fewer visits, but the revenue is still there, because it's going to be more expensive. So that's kind of his hypothesis. And we'll see. We'll see. I agree. Yeah, the great. I'm glad. Yeah, I'm excited for you V's to take over I think it will be I think it will be an interesting shift for us to live through.

Russell Hill 16:32

There's going to be here, it's not like gas vehicles are going to go away or anything like that. But yeah, it's gonna you know, next 20 years it we're talking a total change here. Yeah. And we need to start preparing today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, today.

Ilana Shabtay 16:48

Yeah. And I feel like a lot of OEMs are preparing for it. And a lot of new models are coming out. And I don't know if necessarily the dealerships are at that same pace. And and there's a lot of competition out there. So we really have to be prepared with Tesla and lucid and some of the others. So hopefully, the dealers listening Will my throttle, right? That's right. Anything else you want to share with our listeners today, you've been such a wealth of knowledge. So anything else that you can share? This would be a great way to end this podcast?

Russell Hill 17:18

No, I think, you know, maybe in closing, less is more on the websites, you know, my expertise is in marketing. And I don't care if it's on the variable side, or on the fixed side, it doesn't make any difference. Less is more. So if you have a lot of clutter on your websites, for example, in your top level navigation, you know, as people are clicking through there, and then you have these drop downs in the top level nav right? If you have more than seven or eight items in the top level nav, I see some that got 15 or 20 different things to click on. customers get agitated. Think about your own shopping habits. When you're looking for something, you got to find it in three clicks or less, because that fourth click exponentially your exit rates go up. So you need to serve up what the customers looking for. Make it engaging, enticing and easy for them to convert or do whatever it is they want to do. If you got more than seven or eight items in the drop down, it does creates tremendous amount of anxiety because you're looking for whatever it is you're looking for. And you get frustrated and you end up exiting. So these are ways that dealerships need to start thinking about the future, which starts today in marketing and making your website's attractive, engaging, enticing and informative.

Ilana Shabtay 18:30

Awesome. I think that's a very strong note for us to end on here. And I think it's extremely important for dealers to take that in. So Russell, thank you so much for joining us today. I loved the conversation. I think it's stuff that we don't always talk about. So thank you for bringing that content to us here on InsideAuto Podcast . And if you liked this episode, to our listeners, please tune in to InsideAuto Podcast. You can find us on all mainstream outlets. Spotify, Apple, I Heart Radio, you name it. We'll catch you next time. Thanks Russell again,

Outro 18:59

Thanks for listening to the InsideAuto Podcast . Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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