Mike Dececco is the Vice President of Business Development at Fullpath. He is an automotive technology veteran and entrepreneur, and was an early employee at Dealer.com, where he helped build the business into a billion-dollar company holding management positions in sales, marketing, and business development. Mike is a strategic thinker, skilled presenter, and trusted leader with a deep knowledge of automotive industry software on both the retail and wholesale sides of the business.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- How Mike Dececco joined the automotive industry
- Common challenges dealerships face with online marketing
- What excites Mike about working at Fullpath?
- The future of the automotive industry
- The need for an open API marketplace
- Mike’s hopes and dreams for the automotive industry
In this episode…
What can dealerships do to streamline their business processes? How can dealerships provide uniform customer experiences?
To develop efficient business processes and serve customers better, it is essential for dealerships to leverage the power of technology. Finding the right mix of technology is crucial to driving sales, improving business communication, and creating a more engaging business environment for both employees and customers.
In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay interviews Mike Dececco, the VP of Business Development at Fullpath, about how to leverage technology to streamline business processes. They also discuss common challenges dealerships face with online marketing, the need for an open API marketplace and unified data sources, and Mike’s predictions for the automotive industry.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Fullpath (formerly AutoLeadStar)
- Ilana Shabtay on LinkedIn
- Mike Dececco on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Fullpath (formerly AutoLeadStar).
Fullpath is the automotive industry’s leading customer data and experience platform (CDXP).
Fullpath enables dealers to turn their first-party data into lifelong customers by unifying siloed data sources and leveraging that data to create exceptional, hyper-personalized customer experiences.
To learn more, visit www.fullpath.com
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 0:13
Ilana Shabtay here, host of the InsideAuto Podcast 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 Fullpath.com. Fullpath is automotive’s leading customer data and experience platform, CDXP. We enable dealers to turn their first-party data into lifelong customers by unifying siloed data sources and leveraging the data to create exceptional, hyper-personalized customer experiences. To learn more, visit fullpath.com. Today we’re welcoming Mike Dececco. How are you?
Mike Dececco 0:49
Hey, how’s it going?
Ilana Shabtay 0:50
Good. Our new VP of Business Development at Fullpath. That had to happen. From Vermont.
Mike Dececco 0:58
Yes, from Vermont, the Green Mountain State love it up here.
Ilana Shabtay 1:02
Well, Mike is an automotive technology veteran and entrepreneur, a very early employee dealer.com, who helped build it into a billion dollar company holding management positions in sales, marketing and business development, strategic thinker, skilled presenter and trusted leader with a deep knowledge of automotive industry software on the retail and wholesale sides of the business. So super seasoned, very experienced. We’re obviously excited for him to be joining our team. Today. He’s going to talk a little bit about himself what he’s going to be doing for us, things he’s been seeing in automotive. So I’m excited for the conversation. And thank you again for joining.
Mike Dececco 1:37
Of course. Yeah, I’m excited to be here.
Ilana Shabtay 1:40
So Mike, on this podcast, we like to first learn about how people stumbled into automotive. So what’s your story? How did you stumble your way into this industry that we can’t seem to get out of any of us can’t get we just
Mike Dececco 1:51
so true. Like, like, once you get stuck, it’s impossible leave and not for you know, it’s not like you really want to get out. But because it’s so interesting, right? Like the dynamics of automotive are really unique. I got sucked into this, I had to pay back student loans. I have a degree in forensic osteology. So I wanted to be like a wrens ik scientist. And I had to pay back my student loans. So I got a job selling cars. And the rest is kind of history. I was the only person at the dealership that knew anything about how to use a computer or anything like that. And so it all kind of snowballed into this career in automotive and technology really interesting.
Ilana Shabtay 2:25
And was that also in Vermont?
Mike Dececco 2:28
No, I started my career in the Albany, New York area. And I worked for like a Volkswagen dealership. And then I, I was approached by autotrader.com. In the very early days when they were launching really interesting, right? They came in and said, Is there anybody you know, do you guys want to advertise on autotrader, and this was in like, the late 90s, in the mid to late 90s. And the dealer was like, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. So they ended up talking to me, and I was the only guy that knew anything about internet or computers or anything. And they said, so do you want to come work for us? And I said, Okay, and so I left the dealership and got kind of sucked into the SAS. World. Yeah, is interesting. And I went back to the dealer after that. So I ran into the Leos, who owned a large group in the New York area. And they needed somebody to run their internet operations. And you know, it was kind of the burgeoning, hey, we need our own website, we need to do our own internet marketing, we need to dedicate resources to handling internet customers. You want to come work with us. And so I went flip flop back to the dealer side and spent about six years with them building out a whole operation around what do we do with the internet as a car dealer? So really kind of those early days, it was interesting. Do you
Ilana Shabtay 3:42
see obviously we’ve evolved as an industry? Do you see similar challenges just in a different form these days?
Mike Dececco 3:51
Absolutely. 100%, right. So before it was, oh, my gosh, we need a website. Oh, my gosh, we need to advertise to people online. This is where they’re spending their time. And now we’ve been through, you know, over a decade of that almost 20 years of that. And now we’ve collected all of this data, right? So that’s the beauty of kind of like moving your business to a digital kind of like online business, to support your brick and mortar operation is now you’re collecting all of this data you never had before about what’s going on inside your marketplace, and what’s going on inside your own databases. So that’s what got me interested in excited about Fullpath, right? It’s like, what do we do with all of this data that we’re collecting? And how do we take advantage of it? And that’s where the company was positioned really uniquely to take advantage of that. So got me excited. Yeah, and
Ilana Shabtay 4:33
it’s still been just really excited such a hot industry. Now you You joined flow path just a few weeks ago. Tell us a little bit about what excited excites you about footpath, what you’re looking forward to really impacting when it comes to the company in the business in the in the industry.
Mike Dececco 4:48
Yeah, so I think what gets me excited about Fullpath is that it’s a company that has discovered something really unique and is doing it in a really fantastic way. But I think we’re relatively undiscovered, right Though we’re kind of this like hidden gem that’s just starting to break into the industry at real scale. And that’s what’s really exciting to me. And I think that so I’m going to be working on our manufacturer relationships and partnerships with other tech companies to help bring more data sources and other areas of information that we can leverage our artificial intelligence to do an even better job than we already are for our dealers. So I’m gonna be used in those kind of two areas, which is really exciting to me, because that’s I spent a lot of firstname.lastname@example.org putting together those sorts of relationships. So I’m able to leverage that experience, which is really exciting.
Ilana Shabtay 5:33
Yeah. And we also, you know, work a few OEM programs now, but and we see the impact of that. So looking forward to expanding and to all the dealers listening, we’ll let you know, when we’re in touch with Graham. Yeah, wait to have you on topic. I don’t wait for it. And then I’d love to know a little bit about what it just like auto industry knowledge, right, since you really are an auto veteran here. What are some of your predictions for what’s going to happen in automotive, let’s say in the next 12 to 18 month? Yeah, interesting. Doesn’t have to be connected to like Fullpath or technology, although that that’s always great. But it could be anything that you that you think,
Mike Dececco 6:14
yeah, I think it’s gonna be interesting to see. We’re seeing like, CDP’s, you know, clearly what Fullpath CDP’s is, like a is a hot topic in automotive right now. But I think there’s some interesting challenges, right, you’ve got the challenges of hiring people, technicians, there’s all sorts of like, challenges, where dealers are trying to put the right people in the right seats. So interestingly enough, like the the technology is kind of getting ahead of a lot of what the dealers are able to backfill with processes. So now that we’ve got all of this really incredible technology that can message consumers at the right time with the right message and all this stuff, it’s really going to be about syncing. I think internally and introspectively. As a dealer, I’ve got all of these incredible tools that can drive a ton of really relevant business into my store, how do I handle that in the most effective way, so that it doesn’t fall through the cracks, right? Because as you’re expanding your reach, and really reaching out with data backed advertising campaigns and those sorts of things, you’re going to be putting a lot more top funnel stuff into your CRM, right? So that your your BDC is going to be really focused on handling a lot more lead volume than you are used to previously when you’re just kind of waiting for people to call. So how do we help dealers make their processes more efficient internally, and I think that that’s what’s gonna, we’re gonna see a lot of emphasis, probably from the manufacturers, they’re already doing a lot of these sorts of programs where you have to respond in a certain amount of time, or you have to your first response has to be really quality response, right, with the answering the questions that the customer asked, and those sorts of things. So as technology gets better, we’re going to start to see the dealers really doubling down on process to take advantage of those leads. That’s my opinion. Yeah,
Ilana Shabtay 8:00
that’s interesting. I think it’s also taking advantage and figuring out how to make the most of the technology, like technology’s not there necessarily to replace the people. It’s about people. It’s about technology, it’s about process of figuring out the mix of that, I think will be a huge challenge for the industry. But we’ll also, you know, I think I think they’ll, we’ll tackle it.
Mike Dececco 8:21
Yeah. Oh, yeah, we’ll get there. I think that, you know, there’s, there’s one thing that the automotive industry is is known for, and that is being scrappy. And whatever problems arise, they’re going to, they’re going to jump all over it. And if that’s opportunity, I mean, that’s what’s so exciting to talk to dealers about Fullpath, because I don’t think many dealers realize how much opportunity is locked up in these data sources that they’re using them. Right. So then when they see that it’s okay, well, how do I up my game as a dealer to take advantage that, right? So I think it’s a combination of data driven processes, so that your people are being as efficient as they possibly can be right? Calling the right people at the right time, because we’re going to be out there and others are going to be out there sending the right message to the customer at the right time to get them to engage. But then internally, how do you manage all of that to make sure that you’re not cherry picking leads or anything, but making sure that you’re driving that low funnel revenue into the store? And it begins with that, that big net approach of how do we reach as many people as we can with the right message at the right time, that’s going to trickle down into your really intensive buyers, and then having the right process inside the store to capture all that, and then we get this whole pin we’ll start it and you know, and then the money starts rolling in the dealers get really pumped?
Ilana Shabtay 9:44
Yeah, well, of course, I think it’s interesting because you’re talking a lot about like what the dealers need to do, which is, which is I to 100% agree with. And I think part of this process, though, is going to be like think about unifying data sources, right. So we have to think about how is that industry going to provide an infrastructure for dealers to be able to do that. Everyone’s talking about that right now as CDP’s. But we’re not seeing actual we’re not seeing real API documentation that is that is public and available for all of us to integrate. And you’re, you’re smiling now. So I want to know what you’re thinking. But you’ve been in the bizdev. Industry for Where do you think we’ll be as an industry? From the software perspective? Like, do you think we could actually be at a place within 12 months where we’re integrating 100%? You know, two way integrations, different software’s in the industry? Or do you think it’s going to take longer? Or do you think it’s just going to be, you know, software’s have to really own more of the process that they don’t have to integrate like, what’s where, where’s your head at when it comes,
Mike Dececco 10:43
I think it should be an open marketplace. And this but but this is kind of the dynamic of the industry that we’re in, right, we’ve got huge players that are creating essentially walled gardens, right? You have to use our services, our services only communicate with our services. And so what that does is essentially it just it just it sabotages or I guess you could say, like, sequesters the dealers share a wallet, right? Like, it’s like, I don’t want to give all my money to this one company, because they happen to integrate together, it’s not the best solution for me, right. So having all of these having open API’s across multiple sources of data is going to help the dealer get what they think is the best thing for them, as opposed to what the what the company thinks is the best thing for the dealer. And so I do think we’re going to see this, it’s going to be a sea change, where dealers are going to push more and more and more and more for choice. And understanding that, you know, interestingly enough, automotive is driven by, you know, a lot of dynamics, right, you’ve got the interplay of the dealers, and the manufacturers have their own hopes and dreams for a uniform customer experience, right? And then the dealer wants to own their own experience, right? I want my experience to be different from their experience. And so how do we create this, this open environment where a dealer can get all of the technology that they want, regardless of who provides it, and so that they can all integrate, and they can execute the process they want using the best technology? I think it’s coming, it’s coming. It’s not here yet. But we’re hearing more and more about companies opening up API’s and willingness to integrate, because it’s a finite market, right? There’s only you know, 18 19,000 car dealers in the US franchised car dealers. And when you get so many doing the same thing with the same company, it’s really difficult to innovate. So these players like Fullpath, and others come into the space and they’re disruptive, right? But what it does is it makes people realize, like, hey, there’s a better way we can do this, if we played together, imagine how well we could do if we all work together to give the dealer the best experience?
Ilana Shabtay 12:50
Yeah, I mean, I want to live in a world where it’s like an OEM requirement to be part of the to be part of like, a certified vendor, you have to have an open API, you have to speak to all the other vendors that we have in our program, like, Wouldn’t that
Mike Dececco 13:01
be amazing? Because then like, the dealer can just get what they want.
Ilana Shabtay 13:05
Yes, and then the dealer and there’s also incentive on the software side to actually create that that integration, meaning it I think, there, there needs to be a little bit more of a push not just from the dealer, unfortunately, just based on exactly what you said, it’s a complicated industry, there are multiple players. So you know, I think if there was some kind of other incentive for the software programs to actually open their API’s and maybe we would have a world where we can do that for our dealers. We obviously are open to it. So also any any software companies listening to this please bear with me. Tom, I agree that it’s it’s a it’s a really important like priority for the industry in order to be successful. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Awesome. Anything else that you want to tell our listeners here before we sign off it was so good to get to know you and what you’ve done for the industry and I can’t wait to see where you’re going. What you’re going to do for Fullpath as well. But anything any last thoughts either on you know, your first couple of weeks or your hopes and dreams for automotive? Anything want to share that?
Mike Dececco 14:08
hopes and dreams for automotive as I think I’m definitely an automotive software dork. Like I love the dorky complex problems of figuring out how to make this work for dealers. We’ve got interesting and exciting opportunity. We’re seeing this like new space of CDP’s and CX peas and it’s all like we’re living in automotive in in a really cool time. Most other verticals have really gone through this already, like an automotive is notoriously behind. So we had a really sound path to follow no pun intended there. But we really do if there’s there’s other industries that have absolutely mastered how to wrangle customer data from multiple sources and make it effective. Being on the forefront of that with Fullpath is really exciting because we’re actually Changing the way the industry operates. That’s cool. That’s what gets me going.
Ilana Shabtay 15:04
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for your time. And if you liked this episode, please tune in to insideautopodcast.com. Thanks, Mike. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it. Yeah, man. Looking forward to working with you. Likewise, be fun.
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