Owen Moon is the CEO and Co-Founder of Fixed Ops Digital, an automotive service solutions company focused on driving more service-focused traffic to a dealership’s website while giving service customers a better online experience.
Over the past 20 years, Owen has helped dealerships sell more cars and drive more service revenue with traditional and digital marketing strategies. He’s been a speaker at automotive industry events like Digital Dealer, Innovative Dealer Summit, and the Fixed Ops Conference. Owen is also a content contributor for publications like Auto Success and Modern Dealership.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Owen Moon, the CEO and Co-Founder of Fixed Ops Digital, talks about how he got started in the automotive industry
- How Owen pioneered fixed ops strategies in dealerships
- Creating an environment with a successful service department
- Why should dealerships identify their competitors?
- The impact that COVID-19 has had on fixed ops strategies in dealerships
- Owen shares his predictions for the future of the automotive industry
In this episode…
Showcasing your services is an important part of bringing traffic to your dealership. If you don’t call attention to your service offers online, your customers will quickly move on to another service center that will meet their needs.
Owen Moon, the CEO and Co-Founder of Fixed Ops Digital, knows that dealerships see better results when they focus on their service department. So, how do you do this?
Join Ilana Shabtay in this episode of Inside Auto Podcast as she sits down with Owen Moon, the CEO and Co-Founder of Fixed Ops Digital. Owen shares his career journey and what he’s learned from working with car dealerships over the past 20 years. He also discusses how he pioneered fixed ops strategies in the automotive space, shares his advice for dealerships and their service departments, and talks about what the automotive industry can expect for 2021.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Owen Moon on LinkedIn
- Fixed Ops Digital
- Kevin Kulma on LinkedIn
- Digital Dealer
- Ilana Shabtay on LinkedIn
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.
Visit their website at www.autoleadstar.com to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.
Welcome to Inside Auto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to in and out of the automotive industry.
Ilana Shabtay 0:14
Ilana Shabtay here host of Inside Auto Podcast where we interview top entrepreneurs, GMs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. Before we introduce today’s guest, which is a dear friend this episode is sponsored by AutoLeadStar. AutoLeadStar is pioneering marketing automation in the automotive industry with sophisticated machine learning that future proofs dealerships marketing operations. I’m excited to welcome Owen Moon. He is CEO of Fixed Ops Digital, a service solutions company focused on driving more focused service focused traffic to a dealerships website and also giving service customers a better experience online. Owen also regularly writes for automotive publications and speaks at automotive events. I’ve heard him speak many times. He’s a true innovator in this in this space and definitely pioneered search digital for service specifically. So Owen, thank you so much for joining us today.
Owen Moon 1:12
Oh, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Ilana Shabtay 1:13
Yeah, I’m so excited. Usually I see you three, four times a year, we were just talking about this. And this, this is the only time we get to see you this year.
Owen Moon 1:21
Yeah, we we seem to bump into each other at the at the conferences, stuff. So we’re talking before we started, it’s definitely been a, an interesting year and a lot of challenges. When you’re used to getting in front of, you know, dealerships at conferences, summits, things like that. So
Ilana Shabtay 1:37
yeah, for sure. I see someone who speaks all the time. I mean, I just I can’t believe you’re probably missing that and craving some, some workshops. You
Owen Moon 1:46
know, it’s been different because I’m, I’m the kind of guy that likes to tweak my presentation, like hours before just to, you know, go through it, see if there’s anything I’m thinking I maybe heard that day or, or that I can, you know, kind of in involve into the conversation. And some of the presentations I’ve done lately have been pre recorded. So, you know, I end up cutting them to three weeks in advance, and then watching them get played at the conference during that day. So yeah, definitely been a little different for for myself, and I’m sure for other speakers that are used to, you know, talking in front of dealerships at at these different conferences. So
Ilana Shabtay 2:22
yeah, there’s definitely some truth to that. And also being able to pull in from things that were just said at the conference. That’s a huge value that we don’t necessarily get these days.
Owen Moon 2:30
Yeah, I love I’m a student as well. And I love getting in front of an audience or speakers that I highly respect and that I feel like, you know, can really teach me, you know, how to be better in my space and help my dealerships as I move forward. So definitely missing that as well. So,
Ilana Shabtay 2:47
yeah, for sure. And on that note, tell us about your journey. How did you get started in automotive?
Owen Moon 2:53
Oh, yeah, it’s a kind of a different journey, I think, than most people that have, you know, kind of come into the advertising space. This year marked my 20th year working with car dealerships. So I was super excited. 20th year 2020 supposed to be this great year, and in a lot of cases for us has been very good. But definitely, you know, different than what we’re used to. When I started, I actually came out of college, I thought I was going to get into like stockbroker or financial planning. And I had a double major marketing was my other, I guess, love. And I ended up my accident running into an ad agency that was 100% automotive, and I didn’t know anything about the automotive space. But we had a program where we would help dealerships set up subprime departments, and it was very new at that time. Nobody had really done it. So we brought the advertising. We brought the the banks, you know, what banks were, were sort of specializing in the subprime customer. And then we help dealerships with the inventory, because it was a specific type of inventory, that type of thing. So I unlike a lot of people that when they come in advertising, maybe they start working at a radio station or newspaper or TV station, at least 20 years ago, that was the case. I actually got a pretty good on the job training, being in dealerships 90 days at a time. And it was great. Yeah, I mean, for me, it was it was a very, very good experience. And I was able to kind of use that experience as I catapulted into starting my own agency back in the early 2000s. And then as I’ve moved into digital, you know, over the last 10 years here, you know, that type of thing. So
Ilana Shabtay 4:38
yeah, Wow, that sounds like a great experience. And everyone who’s in automotive technologies dream is to just spend time in a dealership and figure out where what their biggest pain points are, so you can make the best technology so I’m sure that that’s helped you. And you’ve and I mentioned this when I was introducing you, but you really pioneered fixed ops digital in this space. Now everyone seems to be doing it which Sure, yeah. So what what’s that? Like? how did how did that come about?
Owen Moon 5:05
Um, you know, it was actually kind of out of out of by accident, I mean, had a lot of dealerships that were asking us for a fixed ops strategies, you know, they, they were kind of seeing that, you know, email marketing and direct mail, although still can be effective. In a lot of cases, it was continually to see a decrease in ROI. And so, we were seeing a lot of things happening on the, on the sales side, where, you know, there was companies coming in that were showcasing software or strategies on how to help customers buy vehicles, you know, using different methods, right. So if you, if you are just showcasing a price, you know, customers rarely, rarely buy a vehicle for cash, right? So they, they want to finance they want to lease. And so showing customers different options, was was always kind of the new thing that was coming out, you know, mid 2017, early 2017. So I had a lot of dealers asking me, hey, can Is there a way that we could kind of utilize some of that strategy and do it more towards the service side, we want to be able to showcase, you know, more services, we want to be able to show, you know, dealers, or customers what those services are, and why they’re important. And what I saw was just a lot of websites really lacked that and didn’t have that information on their website. So we, we put together a program and started kind of rolling it out to, you know, pi, some of our legacy clients, people that I’ve been working with for many years, and you know, really fine tuned it before we went mainstream with it. And it’s been, it’s been a great experience. You know, it was a lot of fun to see at work, but also is a lot of fun kind of being the, the the pioneer, right? being the guy that was out talking fixed Ops, I remember 2018, we had a booth at Digital Dealer. And that was right next to us. Oh, I think you’re right, we’re like either cross or right cross.
Ilana Shabtay 7:05
Owen Moon 7:07
Yeah, we were packed and everybody come over. No, you guys doing and I’m like, I think we’re just different. And I had people go on, I’ve never seen a fixed ops company here. And, you know, that type of thing. But, you know, it’s been good. It’s been for us, it’s been a lot of fun. Obviously, you know, as we moved into 2020, I think fixed ops is going to was going to be a big part of dealership strategies anyways, and then with COVID and and with kind of the environment we’re in. It’s it’s just skyrocketed that business, right, with pickup and delivery and, and people hanging on to their cars longer. I think I read an article and did a little information, information video on one of my presentations about the average vehicle on the roads about 12 years old. So there is no doubt that dealerships need to embrace their service department if they haven’t already done it. And they need to find new ways to reach those customers. And, you know, unfortunately, we brought ourselves a little bit of competition, we’ve got people out there that are actually, you know, kind of, kind of copying us, you know, word for word, almost, you know, like what we’re doing and that type of thing. But, you know, I think that since we’ve got a three year headstart on a lot of a lot of vendors and a lot of different companies, you know, we we, we feel like, you know, we’re sort of paving the way for some new stuff that we’re working on right now. And, you know, that’ll get it was kind of set us apart and, and continue to see our growth and, and, you know, our place in the space. So very excited for 2021. Yeah, 2020 as fast as possible. Yes.
Ilana Shabtay 8:39
But you you mentioned growth, and you’re still growing, you guys just opened up an office even even with all of the mess of 2020. That’s incredible to see. So now your new office is in Chicago.
Owen Moon 8:50
Yeah, so our corporate headquarters is still in Denver. In fact, our offices is in downtown Denver, which has drastically changed since COVID. You know, as far as the the environment down there and stuff, so but we did open up a recent office in Chicago, and that’s where Kevin Kulma, our CEO and one of our co founders. He actually is from Chicago. So we actually have our performance team there. And then our production team is based out of Denver. So I have a small office in Sioux Falls, where I have a couple sales reps, but basically, it’s Chicago, and it’s Denver. And, you know, so I kind of bounce back between those two offices when I travelled now. And it’s been good we’ve, we’ve really felt like, with all the challenges that I see a lot of vendors having, or just what we’re having just in the automotive space, you know, directly. We couldn’t be happier with the with the growth that we’ve seen this year and kind of where we’re positioned as we move forward here and into next year and into the coming year. So
Ilana Shabtay 9:53
that’s great. And, and so talking about your product a little more, tell us what your most successful clients are doing. How are they made. And environment that’s creating a very successful service department and fixed ops for them specifically in digital, but anything that you want to share is helpful.
Owen Moon 10:10
Yeah, no, definitely, I’m definitely can can kind of touch on that a little bit more. One of the things that we really focused on early was trying to identify who your competitors are right, as a dealership, I think on the sales side, it’s no secret, you you’re competing against other like brands, if you’re in a bigger, you know, more Metro market, or, you know, off brands, people that are maybe considering a Ford F 150. And you shell, are you sell Chevy Silverados? Right. So, when we started to look at the service side, we really started to realize that our, our competitors are actually the independents, there is probably, you know, 20, 30 independent service centers within a 10 mile radius of every dealership, especially in the metro markets. And that’s not by accident. That’s, that’s a strategy for them, right? They, they want to steal your business, they want to take that tire business that that oil change business. And so one of the things that we really focused on early with our clients was just getting that information on the website, showcasing more services, you know, I think the old idea was, let’s do a $10 off an oil change or, you know, percentage off of a certain service, maybe because it’s seasonal, or even better, because, you know, it just decided that day that I want to put a special on on that service. Well, what’s what happens to all those other services that you offer every day, right? When a customer goes online, and they don’t see the information, it’s almost worse than having the wrong information in some ways, right. Because if you don’t have it online, customers think, well, maybe they don’t offer it, and now they’re moving on to somebody else. So that’s kind of what we started with, with early and that’s really what set us apart was just the ability to showcase more offers more services, and then have specific content behind them to really educate that customer, and give them reasons why they should get that service done. So that was sort of our, our, our base, and that was kind of like, you know, how we sort of started this, now we’ve moved into, you know, just really expanding our offerings, you know, getting into video, getting into digital marketing, where we’re helping dealerships with their Facebook ads, their their paid search, you know, we’re working on an analytics platform that will help really dive deep into certain KPIs that we’re able to then showcase, you know, and show customers, excuse me, show dealership customers, you know, what is working and what’s not. And then the last thing that we’ve really done in the last six months is dig a little deeper into their, their scheduling software, you know, like your x times your time highways, things like that. There’s a big correlation between drop off and and sort of what you’re showcasing on your website. So when we can help at our dealership sort of close that gap and become a lot more educated and and I guess, just even aware of what’s going on inside their department, we seem to be able to make better decisions and see better results. And, you know, that doesn’t come with software that doesn’t come with a kind of a blanket strategy that comes with with good people, and we’ve hired some very good digital strategists or performance managers, very experienced. People have come from other, you know, vendors in the industry, and have allowed us to really kind of go down that path with our dealerships and and help them and really be an asset to them and help grow their business.
Ilana Shabtay 13:45
Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of dealerships are missing this and need to, or doing it almost excuse my French half assed but they really need it. It’s a full full strategy. dealers need to be bought, and they need to understand that it is totally right, the mom and pops the independents. They’re taking the business away. I could say as a shopper, especially for service, I would be way way more likely to just type in and whatever comes in Google, then go to the dealership that I bought my car from and they really have to compete at the level that you’re talking about in order to get that business back.
Owen Moon 14:21
Well, it’s not just service, right? It’s it’s also part Oh, it’s fixed ops has so many profit centers, right, that that a lot of them get, you know, missed, you know, parts, tires, accessory, even collision and a lot of cases as dealerships are getting more involved in the collision side of the business. You know, you’ve got to be able to promote that you got to be able to show customers what sets you apart. And some of that comes with visibility, obviously online and in other areas, but it’s also what happens once they get to your website. I’ve seen too many times in my life, not even talking automotive where you know, I might be looking for something online. If I find something on Google, I click on it. And they don’t bring me to the place where I want to get the information and, and then I got to start over, and then I got to search. And more likely, I’m going to bounce out of there and go find somebody else that has that info. So we’re really creating that nice path that the consumer can, can take to to get the information that they’re looking for, with as few clicks as possible. Because service is no different than sales, the more clicks that you have to have a customer due to get somewhere, the greater your chances of having that customer bounce and go somewhere else. And so when it comes down to it, these are all things that we know, from a sales side, right, for all the years that I spent really focused on sales, obviously, that’s, you know, one of your guys’s core areas, but a lot of these service managers don’t, don’t get into that side of the business, you know, they’re working more on retention and, and ways to, you know, bring those customers back in that have been there in the past and, and what we’re really trying to do is show them, hey, we have a way that you can bring in new customers, because new service customers turn into new sales customers down the road. And so it’s just another great way to give your dealership exposure and, and bring them farther along the process.
Ilana Shabtay 16:12
Yeah. And back to your point about just googling and going to the first place that actually brings you to a relevant page. I’m guilty of that. I just got an oil change here in Miami and I did not go to a franchise dealership, I went to the first random place. I found that anyone I know. So I’m saying if you’re in South Florida and listening to this, you got to call Owen Moon, because you are not doing a good job. Yeah, shame on me for real. That’s that’ll be the last time I do that. And we touched a little bit on this. And maybe we can, I’ll combine my next two questions, I want to talk a bit about how COVID changed the face of the business. Specifically, when it comes to fixed stops, which I know more people are spending more time in their cars and potentially holding on to their cars longer. I think there’s also going to be more people that just own cars. So there’s going to be a bigger market for fixed ups. But what are your what what have you seen? And then what are your predictions for next quarter? And specifically q1? 2021?
Owen Moon 17:11
That’s a great question I get asked all the time. And I’ll tell you right now, one of the things that we did in the first I’d say 10 days, five to 10 days, somewhere right in there, maybe 10 days total five business days, when COVID hit was we pushed out about 200 pickup and delivery pages for our dealerships because we realized early that things were going to be slow for a while on the sales side as people were laying off employees. And just, you know, some of the states had closed down the sales side of the business for a while, but left the service side open. So we saw a big change in how customers were, I guess, connecting with dealerships, pickup and delivery, touchless experience, things like that. And one thing I said, and I’ve said this a couple times is the guys that were really close, seemed to have a good transition. And guys that had put it off and said I’ll get to it someday. And it just really that important, really struggled. And, to the point yeah, to the point where some even said, You know, I I’m just not going to go there. I don’t have the manpower, I don’t have the infrastructure. But the ones that did, you know, seem to do pretty good. And now what I’ve seen is that, you know, as you look towards 2021, and you’ve excuse me, q4 here, it actually is becoming a new norm for everybody. And I and I don’t see it, I see it not just in automotive, but also in, you know, doordash and some of these, you know, new technologies or new ways that people are connecting and getting their food delivered or, you know, getting there, you know, obviously you still got, you know, Amazon doing, you know, a lot of good things. And I think they’ve been you know, seen an uptick in, in business people that maybe weren’t using Amazon now have created accounts and are now using Amazon to ship things. So in the automotive industry, we always seem to be a little behind on other industries. But I think in a lot of cases, this sort of catapulted dealerships to have to be able to react to this new market. And if they don’t react, they’re going to die. And we know that and so, you know, as a company, we’re helping our dealerships face that challenge head on. And, and we’ve seen a change in how dealerships are going about it. And the results have been there. And so you know, we’re, we’re super, super fortunate to be able to sort of help dealerships through a pandemic like this, that nobody asked for, you know, so there’s no doubt that that has been challenging, but I feel like as people have now embraced it 2021 is going to be a lot better for for dealerships as they move forward. So
Ilana Shabtay 19:48
yeah, and I completely agree dealer tech adoption. Yes. COVID has become a catalyst for it, but a lot of dealers that were either in denial or too slow to make the change or it didn’t happen. And have the processes in place to really pick up quickly. You’re the ones that are just underperforming, which is unfortunate, but hopefully this is a wake up call, and the whole industry can just move toward more of a dealer tech. atmosphere. I mean, it’s just it’s like, at this point, there’s no, there’s no turning back. So if anything out of this is that,
Owen Moon 20:21
yeah, and we make it really easy, you know, one of the things that we know, we work with, you know, a lot of different layers at the dealership will work with the owner, the GM, the digital marketing director, a lot of times will get involved because they they’re obviously responsible for, you know, what goes on the website, things like that. But the really the, at the core, we’re working with that service manager, and that service manager doesn’t want to spend time looking at Google Analytics and, and digging into some of the the nerdy techie stuff, right, they want to help their customers, they want to work with their people, and they want to provide a good experience when that customer comes into the service line. So what we do is we make it really easy to work with us. So you know, we, we make sure that we provide really good information to them. And then we ask them to get on maybe once a month or once every other month, get on a call, just to kind of run through what we’ve been doing, and then show them kind of where we’re at the next 30, 60, 90 days, I think that’s one of the things that’s been a little bit more challenging on the sales side is that we seem to take a lot of our cues on what’s going on the month before, right? If we have a bad month, we turn around and we you know, cut our budget and, and that type of thing, or we change focus, depending on what inventory we have. In this case, I think we can look out a little farther, we can see what the OEMs are coming down the pipeline with, you know, from a corporate side, and make sure that we’re aligning our dealerships with those initiatives, and get out in front of it. And that’s been really great. Because, again, my service managers that we work with, they don’t want to spend hours on the phone going over information, they just want to Hey, what are you doing for me, this looks great. I’ve seen an uptick. Let’s continue on. And let’s go, you know, that kind of thing. So
Ilana Shabtay 22:03
yeah, and it’s also great to get different perspectives to while the service manager is giving you the everyday perspective, you also have the GM and the owner, and you can really build a strategy based off of that. That’s, that sounds like winning a winning dynamic. Absolutely. And you and you guys have your performance managers that are set up, you said in Chicago at this point, right. And they and they’re on every single account.
Owen Moon 22:29
Yeah, yes. So they, yeah, each each account gets assigned to a service manager, I mean, a performance manager. And we’ll invite everybody to our performance calls. Now, sometimes the owner will jump on, sometimes the digital marketing director will jump on. But we always make sure that that service manager is on every call that we do, because at the end of the day, that’s their department inside the business. And it’s sort of their business, right? They get a lot of these service managers, you get paid on gross, they get paid on bottom line revenue. And so they want to make sure that we’re doing our job, but they also want to be involved in you know, sort of the strategy, hey, these are some things I really want to go after this. What’s this, what I feel like sets me apart in the business. And I think that’s something that in some, in some technology, not all, but some technology gets missed, you know, people just want to flip a switch and turn it on and say, Hey, we’re, you know, we’re working for you. But at the end of the day, it’s it’s it’s a lot deeper. And I think that’s something that we really pride ourselves on is the the expertise and the ability to work in that one on one scenario with each of the dealerships that we are, are partnered with.
Ilana Shabtay 23:38
Totally awesome. Oh, and thank you so much for joining us today. I see you because, again, I’m so used to seeing you all the time. Really, really appreciate your time here with us today. And to our listeners, I’m sure you learned a ton from Owen Moon. If you liked this episode, please subscribe to Inside Auto Podcast. Thank you so much, Owen.
Owen Moon 23:58
Thank you. Appreciate you. Thanks for having me on. And maybe we’ll see you in 2021 as we get to a in person conference, so yeah, so I hope you
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