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Why I Quit my 25 Year GM Job: My Exciting New Adventure into Online Deal Creation

How can it be possible that I would leave a job I LOVE after 25 years?


The fact is that I have always liked to be ahead of the curve and today’s customers are rewarding evolving dealerships that offer true Online Deal Creation with real perfect payment – where all that is left is the test drive. Don’t believe this can be done? Well, I am convinced that it can – and the results prove it. In fact, after 35 years, I have decided to leave the world of automotive retail to join my wife, Kim Orr, and her team, to build our automotive industry marketing/branding company, DealerSuccess, into a tech heavyweight. Kim and her team spent the last year launching CloudEngage, an extraordinary geo-technology product. We have now ramped up to launch Virtual Deal, an online deal creator for the consumer that uses an innovative perfect payment DMS-integrated technology.


For the last 25 years I have worked at Dick Hannah Dealerships, most of the time as a GM for the Honda store. While working as GM, I also served on the creative team with DealerPeak to totally re-create and re-brand their Online Deal Creation tool for my Honda store. I fell in love with the product and decided to leave automotive retail so as to further develop this tool (now Virtual Deal) for use in auto dealerships. I now work with my team at DealerSuccess to offer consulting and other revolutionary products that are meaningful to both dealerships and consumers.


At Dick Hannah, my team and I spent a great amount of time and energy researching technologies that we felt had the potential of helping our dealerships gain market share. Through implementation, accountability and analysis of results, we determined whether a product was worthy and, if it was, we improved our processes. We never stopped looking. By combining this process with an open-mind, a willingness to take risks and, by paying attention to consumer trends, together we built Dick Hannah Dealerships into one of the largest in the Northwest.


Over the years, I’ve seen our industry transform. If you’ve been around awhile, my guess is you know what I’m talking about. Technological advances have taken us from no websites, to rich, content-filled ones that allow consumers to virtually stroll through our inventory from home in their pajamas. Consumers don’t have to back their car up to the phone to get an appraisal on their vehicle any longer – they can do it through our websites, all on their own, without our help.


I’ve travelled the country sharing my findings with other dealers, attempting to help them become more successful. My speaking engagements have changed over time. As new trends and technologies became more prominent in our industry, my presentations have included topics such as transparency, online reviews and new technologies. I have seen, as I’m sure you have too, that the retail processes we’ve all employed over many years is increasingly moving online. Piece by piece. Bit by bit.


Consumers are now used to shopping from their home or office for just about everything you can imagine – including cars. Amazon didn’t become the behemoth it was because it made the buying process more difficult. They did it because they made it so simple. Then they made it fast. Today’s consumer is busy. They don’t have time to spend the whole day at a dealership. They’re also tired of the traditional vehicle sales process. Enabling consumers to buy a car in their pajamas, from start to finish, is where our industry is headed.


Is this possible? And, if so, will dealers embrace it? Or will some allow fear to creep in and prevent them from evolving? I get it. I’ve been there. I know all of the questions. Will I lose profit on the front-end or the back-end? Can I really work an entire deal online? Can a deal really be finalized – payment perfect – online so that all that remains is the test drive? How does this benefit my dealership?


Here’s the deal: I’m so convinced that online deal creation is a game-changer; our industries next evolution; that I have resigned as a general manager at one of the greatest dealer groups in this nation.


Through my research, studying live dealerships, and with actual implementation of Virtual Deal on the Dick Hannah Honda website, I am 100 percent convinced that this technology produces spectacular results -- I have never seen a conversion tool dominate like Virtual Deal.

I am thrilled to be able to join the team of DealerSuccess full-time as CEO-Spokesperson and will dedicate myself to sharing Virtual Deal across the nation. Virtual Deal can facilitate an entire automotive sales transaction online.

Views: 936

Tags: automotive, cloud, consumers, creation, deal, dealerships, dealersuccess, dick, engage, evolve, More…hannah, joe, management, online, orr, sales, virtual


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Comment by Joe Orr on August 6, 2015 at 6:21am

Thank you all for sharing the vision pertaining to this critical shift in our industry. I am finding out that the easy part was the vision and creation. Now we must follow through with our dealer partners that join us and share our success maps, daily accountability and quick to see results. We must instill new success habits and introduce a new consumer relationship that will be refreshing, profitable and overdue. Lots and lots to do. We are truly excited to be a part of it.

Comment by Tarry Shebesta on August 5, 2015 at 11:49am

The first thousand or so dealers that effectively deploy this capability, market it properly and execute the business processes that make it work for consumers, will enjoy a significant competitive advantage.

Great point Ralph and not only have we, as a dealer and financing company, experienced this but our dealers have also. Using the product you also offer as a vendor gives you the ability to lead the industry.

DealerTrack and others like them will always be followers. People who dream up ideas will not last (CarWoo). Experience in the current market will prevail.

You ain't seen nothin yet. 


Comment by Jim Kristoff on August 4, 2015 at 12:29pm

Great looking technology for the ever changing world we live in! Good luck to you and your company moving forward Joe! No doubt you will have great success!! I started selling cars back in the early 1980's.....lord knows this is much needed in our industry!

Comment by Tim J. Pyle on August 3, 2015 at 10:25pm

Thanks Joe for this timely and progressive thinking and  insight into consumers car shopping behavior in our rapidly changing industry. I applaud your strong conviction in your beliefs demonstrated by your career move. Your timing could not be better and I agree with Ralph's comments on the early adopters will be greatly rewarded for their ability to embrace change and flow with it! I am sure you are familiar with the AutoTrader industry study released earleir this year that also validates where the future of car shopping is headed Best of Luck & success with your new company!

Comment by Joe Orr on August 3, 2015 at 5:43pm

Thank you Ralph. I agree and have experienced the analytical advantage by offering Virtual Deal on our Dick Hannah Honda site for the last few months. The stats are really compelling. 96% close rate once they show. Unbelievable. Wish I could say it was all the Virtual Deal technology but I really think the lid to an overfilled jar has simply been lifted. The consumers are loving the easy button. See you in Vegas. I am talking at both DSES and Digital Dealer. 1st 2 are on me..:)

Comment by Ralph Paglia on August 3, 2015 at 4:24pm

Joe, I have been a proponent of car dealers leveraging online transactional technology since working on the Lithia L2 project in 2004... It is satisfying to see a dealer operational superstar such as yourself buy into the promise of marketing technology that allows consumers to complete all, or some of the buying process online.  The first thousand or so dealers that effectively deploy this capability, market it properly and execute the business processes that make it work for consumers, will enjoy a significant competitive advantage.

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