The holidays are upon us, and like most companies, we are putting a bow on the year– reflecting on our successes and challenges so that we can be an even better collective organization in the years to come. One thing that rang true in this reflection was how impactful our partnerships have been and how grateful we are for each and every one. So in honor of our 500+ dealer partners across the U.S. and now Canada, we wanted to share a bit of the secret sauce– 5 ways that dealers have contributed and how they have shaped Roadster into who we are today.
Truth be told, Roadster wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for local dealers who had the vision of what our platform could become.
When Roadster started in 2014, our founding team had little experience in retail automotive. What they saw was a customer journey ripe for modernization. They set out to learn the ropes by purchasing a small car brokerage in Northern California and began to automate the process of selling direct to consumers. It was the Bay Area dealers that came to us with vision and passion for utilizing our buying platform through their own websites, that led Roadster to pivot into the SaaS company we are today. We are extremely grateful to everyone who sat around that table, especially the Price Simms group, who dove in head first and beta tested the platform, providing feedback each week to make it better and better.
And while we have since shed our broker origins (and hired a plethora of employees with deep retail expertise), we will never forget that without our history, we wouldn’t be offering modern and consumer-centric tools to the automotive industry at large. It is this experience, in addition to our collective backgrounds outside of automotive, that make our transparent and easy to use commerce solutions so innovative and robust.
We have learned the ropes from countless observations and conversations with our dealer partners helping us understand the challenges dealerships face every single day.
What we have learned above all else is that it is extremely hard to run a dealership. Those that do have been at it for decades and are experts at what it takes to be successful. From determining inventory mixes, to marketing efforts, real estate prices, pricing models, people management and service bays— there are so many moving pieces. We try not to take it for granted or waste anyone’s time, but the time we spend in-store is invaluable.
One of the biggest “ahas” we had very early on was seeing how our tools could be even more impactful if used by dealership personnel in addition to consumers.
How did we get so ahead of the curve here? When we spent time on-site with our dealerships we experienced first hand how sales agents began to rely on the Roadster platform for information. What we had done and didn’t realize at first, was give consumers access to information that salespeople didn’t have access to themselves — things like incentives and rebates, robust build data on each VIN, the ability to create and share their own deal sheets, a means to respond dynamically to inbound leads, etc. It was a proud moment when we realized the level of efficiency we could provide with just the tools we had already built, let alone other areas of inefficiencies we could help solve by doubling down in-store.
This fundamentally changed our thinking and made us realize that to support the growing consumer expectations to shop online, we needed to give our dealer partners tools to streamline the in-store experience. Omnichannel quickly became a necessity. Saving time for the dealership personnel translated into saving time for their customers— manifesting in higher CSI and a positive impact to the bottom line with improved efficiency. What is interesting in hindsight is how hungry our dealer network was for us to take this route — asking for tools to welcome customers, look up their online activity, do a needs assessment, assess their trade ins, and now even streamline the desking process. We could not satiate this passion to go deeper and keep the customer with the salesperson fast enough. This is now where the heart and soul of our company is focused and we continue to work with progressive dealers across the country to streamline the entire sales process across online and in-store activities.
Our dealer partners love us. And I am not just saying that to toot our own horn. I have never worked for a company where customers are willing to speak out on our behalf to this degree— whether that is speaking to other dealers as references, to OEMs, Dealer 20 groups, and even the media itself. No one has to do that for a company and the fact that we have so many incredible and respected partners willing to do this for us warms our hearts. It has been instrumental in our growth trajectory and is playing a huge role in helping us become approved providers for OEMs such as Audi, Hyundai, Lexus… and more to come in the new year. It is incredible how many love letters we get from dealers around the country. To our dealer partners who do this— we want you to know that those emails get circulated across the company and it is what fuels us to work 10x harder on your behalf — both from a product and support level. (Heart emoji here).
This may sound sappy, but we truly have created life long friends in this industry. Friends push each other forward, tell it like it is (the good and the bad), and generally and truly care for each other’s well being. This extends beyond our dealer partners, to the entire ecosystem. We take every call with people in the industry, not because we have to, but because we want to. It is one thing to be a catalyst for change, and another thing to make it happen. It takes an army of like minded people to execute. We are proud to call these folks part of the Roadster family and are excited to see what the future holds as it certainly looks bright!
It is hard to capture all of the ways people have helped us over the past several years, but we hope this gave you a little glimpse. We are so grateful to everyone who has stood by us over the past few years and wish each of you a very prosperous holiday and a happy New Year!