Autodata Solutions Inc.
Consider Autodata Solutions Inc. the automotive software specialists of North America.
“A leading provider of technology solutions to the automotive sector”, Autodata Solutions offers “content, research, and technology implementation” to automotive manufacturers, a technology that then allows the manufacturer to best market and retail its product effectively and profitably.
The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Chris Wedermann, Executive Vice-President, and Craig Jennings, Managing Business Partner, of Autodata Solutions in profiling the services of this unique enterprise. Founded in 1990, Autodata Solutions is primary to the automotive industry. It began with providing services to fleet organizations and automotive partners, to organize data (information, legal compliance, special offerings, interest rates, etc.) to provide the best possible solutions for customers and partners.
Over time, the company began to engage in more vast service, and has emerged as a full-scale, professional services firm. And while still primary to the automotive industry, Autodata Solutions’ goal remains to transform the complexities of automotive data into the best possible sales solutions.
“We have become extremely proficient in the automotive sales and marketing arena,” Jennings explained. “With managing automotive data, turning that complex legacy data into sales and marketing solutions is essentially how we have grown.”
North American customer base
In terms of customer base, No. 1 to Autodata Solutions are manufacturers and finance companies, with business ties to “essentially every manufacturer” in the United States and Canada. Fleet management, core to the company’s roots, is also a key customer base for Autodata Solutions. Fleet management companies work alongside larger corporations, supplying fleet vehicles.
Both client types have played a significant role in the growth achieved by Autodata Solutions, notably during the difficult times of the recession.
“It has been continuous, positive growth virtually every single year, even through the recent downturn,” Jennings said.
Jennings attributes the growth of Autodata Solutions to the company’s “laser-like focus” on the automotive sector—dedicated to that sector, and not becoming too diverse. As mentioned, Autodata Solutions has 20-plus years of experience in the industry and the company has effectively used this time not only to grow, but to learn the ins and outs of the automotive business, gaining its point of entry, and in learning customers’ problems.
“Specializing in automotive, we have a distinct advantage over any generalist who works in every single industry,” Jennings summarized.
In regard to the economic downturn, Jennings commented, “We continued to see growth…it certainly didn’t have any impact in terms of employees or revenues. It didn’t hurt us, but more importantly, it didn’t hurt our customers. We worked with our customers to find the most valued solutions during that time.”
Wedermann looked at other factors that helped Autodata Solutions dodge the effects of the recession.
“One of the factors that really helped us since 2008 was our focus on automotive,” Wedermann said. “Working exclusively with our customers in the automotive space, we’re involved in activities that are core to the sales of their success. If they want to sell product and promote vehicles, the kind of services and activities we do directly help them do that. These activities are so core to their success that they were really motivated, as were we, to continue working in those activities.”
Technology and how the buying public engages social media today has also played a key role when consumers consider what products to purchase. The automotive industry needs to be aware of how the product is engaged and presented in new technology avenues, and how the product appears in these channels.
As a whole, the biggest impact of Autodata Solutions’ technology is the transparency it provides to an industry like the automotive sector. Accordingly, this software has enabled the data, once held by the automotive manufacturers and the industry, to be exposed to the automotive consumer. As such, this data provides the consumer with more information in influencing their purchases, offering more choice to where and how to shop.
Such a tectonic shift within the automotive industry, today manufacturers now compete on product and service, rather than price.
“Dealerships today look to make little front end gross margin on new vehicle sales,”
Jennings summarized. “[Dealerships] are really looking to gain a customer, and our software helps them reach out to the customer and expose the data to that customer, to ultimately bring the customer into the dealership.”
The company being based in London, Ont. has also been another factor in the company’s success. Situated between the two major automotive hubs of the Greater Toronto Area, two hours east, and of Detroit, Mich., two hours west, more than 20 manufacturers are within Autodata Solutions’ home base.
Autodata Solutions has embraced interactive marketing, something that today has resulted positively on the company’s bottom line. Embracing technology as well, like the Internet, social media, and events, has also returned positive results. Embracing these technologies helps Autodata Solutions tell its story.