AutoTrader Acquires VinSolutions


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AutoTrader Acquires VinSolutions

  1. 1. Ralph PagliaAutomotive Digital Marketing Professional CommunityADM serves Car Dealers, Automotive Marketing Pros and Internet Sales Managers Showroom My ADM Page* Send Invitations Member Directory* ADM Links* ISM Networks* EVENTS Calendar* Discussion FORUM BLOGS* PHOTOS* VIDEO* Recommended Links* Page Directory* Help Wanted Admin All ADM Discussions My ADM Discussions Your ADM Settings Tweet Add Options▼ Agrees to Acquire VinSolutions Posted by Ralph Paglia on May 19, 2011 at 5:34am in SUPPLIERS - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Change) View ADM Discussions
  2. 2. Agrees to Acquire VinSolutions- SOURCE -ATLANTA and OVERLAND PARK, Kan., May 18, 2011 – has signed a definitive agreement topurchase VinSolutions, a leading provider of end-to-end solution platforms for dealers including Customer RelationshipManagement (CRM), Internet Lead Management (ILM) , inventory management tools, dealer websites, sales managementand desking tools, social media and direct targeted marketing campaign tools. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Thetransaction is expected to close by mid-June.VinSolutions will operate as a subsidiary of, and the two companies will collaborate on methods of infusingvalue into both companies and all of their customers, which will primarily be in the areas of product development, operationsand sales."We are thrilled to acquire VinSolutions and add it to our best-in-class portfolio of dealer software solutions companies," President and CEO Chip Perry. "Over the last few years, the online marketing and dealer software solutionsspace has continued to grow and thrive which has been important to dealers success, but at the same time it has becomeincreasingly challenging and cumbersome. VinSolutions will further ramp up our dealer solutions product suite to providedealers with a simpler, more functional one-stop-shop solution of Internet marketing software tools accessible by the dealerthrough a single sign-on tool.""VinSolutions is a strong complement to our existing dealer software companies, and a priority for us will be to ensure thescalability of VinSolutions software & customer support, and to execute on plans for how VinSolutions will integrate withvAuto, HomeNet and CDMdata to create an even more powerful suite of Internet marketing and sales related softwaresolutions for dealers," Perry added."Our team is very excited to join forces with because we are both passionate about helping dealers use theinternet and innovative technology to grow their business," said Mike Dullea, CEO of "Together we willstrive to constantly improve how we serve our dealers and how we help them attract, serve and retain their customers."Because and VinSolutions are both committed to the interests of all auto dealers, its software tools will beoffered on a flexible a-la-carte and no long-term contract basis, and dealers will have the flexibility to work with their othersoftware vendors. This is consistent with AutoTrader.coms consultative sales approach to help dealers succeed. A furtherpriority for will be to work to promote open platforms and integration across its software solutions and otherdealer software tools. We also will establish policies that provide dealer-friendly data ownership rights to protect dealersconfidential customer data."I am a big believer in VinSolutions value proposition for the industry," said Dale Pollak, Founder of vAuto. "VinSolutions isserious about providing dealers with tools that enable them to manage their business effectively and successfully, and thisacquisition demonstrates that is committed to investing in the dealer software solutions business to benefitcustomers and the industry as a whole."
  3. 3. Consistent with AutoTrader.coms approach to other acquisitions over the past year, VinSolutions will maintain its currentmanagement team led by CEO Mike Dullea and CTO Matt Watson who will continue to help propel the companys growth inthe future. VinSolutions will maintain its headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas.The Presidio Group, LLC, through its subsidiary Presidio Merchant Partners LLC, acted as exclusive financial advisor toVinSolutions.About AutoTrader.comAtlanta-based, created in 1997, is the Internets ultimate automotive marketplace and consumer informationwebsite. aggregates in a single location millions of new cars, used carsand certified pre-owned cars fromthousands of auto dealers and private sellers and is a leading online resource for auto dealers, individuals and manufacturers toadvertise and market their vehicles to in-market shoppers. The company also provides a robust suite of software tools fordealers and manufacturers to help them manage and market their vehicle inventory and display advertising on the continues to grow key business metrics, including revenue, profitability and site traffic. Today, attracts more than 15 million unique monthly visitors who utilize the site to review descriptions, photos andvideos of vehicles for sale; research and compare vehicles; review pricing and specials; and read auto-related content likebuying and selling tips and editorial coverage of major auto shows and automotive trends. operates twoother auto marketing brands, and also owns used vehiclemanagement software company vAuto, Kelley Blue Book ( and HomeNet Automotive, a leading provider of onlineinventory management and merchandising solutions for the automotive retail industry. is a majority-ownedsubsidiary of Cox Enterprises. Providence Equity Partners is a 25 percent owner of the company and Kleiner PerkinsCaufield & Byers is also an investor. For more information, please VinSolutions ( has the leading "Dealership Marketing System" that helps retailers attract, sell and retain more customersprofitably. was recognized as the 33rd fastest growing software company on the Inc 500 and the companyhas received multiple accolades in the industry including the Automotive Website Award for best digital marketing platformand the Driving Sales Innovation Cup. VinSolutions "all-in-one" sales and service marketing system includes digital marketing,search marketing, online advertising, social media marketing tools, mobile marketing, websites, internet lead management,CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Sales force automation, Sales Management and Desking, Appraisal, Finance,Used Vehicle Marketing and Market Pricing, Inventory Management and Distribution, Hand held inventory marketing tools,window stickers, automated video tours, Loyalty Management and Targeted marketing with email, text, direct mail andtelemarketing services. The "Dealership Marketing System" has complete mobile integration and is accessible from any mobilephone that has access to the internet including blackberry, Google DROID and iPhone. VinSolutions Dealership MarketingSystem is installed by their strategic consulting team who specializes in retail strategy and process training for large dealergroups and individual dealerships. VinSolutions is certified by Honda, Acura, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Subaru, Nissan, Infiniti,Mazda, Saab, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Volvo, Hyundai and Audi and integrates with most DMS companies including ADP,R&R, AutoSoft and Arkona. VinSolutions also has alliances and integrations with Kelley Blue Book, CarFax, Autodata,RouteOne and DealerTrack. For more information visit Behind the Scenes Look at how VinSolutions may be Impacted as a Result of their Acquisition by AutoTrader
  4. 4. By now you have heard about and read about the announcement that they intend to acquire VinSolutions,and that the deal should close before the end of June, 2011... But, how will thiis impact VinSolutions as a company? A lothas been written about the acquisition since the announcement from the perspective of how it will impact dealers andAutoTrader. Lets take a look at what AutoTrader intends for VinSolutions after the close date from the perspectiveprovided by Dealer Magazines "Vendor Profile" page.Since the announcement of the AutoTrader acquisition, both management teams have confirmed that VinSolutions’ softwaretools will be offered on a flexible a-la-carte basis with no long-term contracts, and dealers will have the flexibility to work withtheir other software vendors since promotes open platforms and integration across its software solutions andother dealer software tools.Chip Perry, CEO of AutoTrader states “VinSolutions is a strong complement to our existing dealer software companies, anda priority for us will be to ensure the scalability of VinSolutions’ software and customer support and to execute on plans forhow VinSolutions will integrate with vAuto, HomeNet and CDMdata to create an even more powerful suite of Internetmarketing and sales related software solutions for dealers.”There are countless ways that these companies can share their resources and data to better serve their dealers and we willkeep dealers up to date on what is doing to leverage these synergies to help dealers. While most people inthe industry have heard of VinSolutions not everyone knows about everything they do so this article will give you an overviewof what the company does and how it got to where it is today.VinSolutions - The evolution of an Automotive Digital Marketing PowerhouseVinSolutions has evolved from a small inventory management company to the creators of the leading enterprise dealershipmarketing system in the automotive industry and the 33rd fastest growing software company in the United States according tothe Inc 500. It was only 3 years ago when VinSolutions released its all-in-one dealership marketing system and today it is amarket leader working with many of the best dealers in the industry and we wanted to share how they did it.Like many technology companies, VinSolutions was founded by entrepreneurs who knew there had to be a better way. Ledby Mike Dullea, CEO, the company experienced explosive growth over the last 3 years, growing more than 100% a year andsigning up over 75 new full solution dealerships in the month of April alone. But things were not always this easy, according toDullea. “In the early days we had too many months that we struggled to make payroll, but those are the times that challengedus and defined the character of our team,” said Dullea. “I knew we could make it as long as we stayed focused and payedattention to our dealers by constantly improving our technology to keep up with their needs.”“Dealers were complaining about working with too many tools that didn’t talk to each other,” said Dullea. The average dealerworks with 10-15 different companies who help them with their technology and Internet marketing and it can be challenging tomanage so many systems. “I was spending too much money with 15 different companies that did not integrate,” said ToddCrossley from Gary Crossley Ford, the #1 Ford retailer in the Kansas City Market. “Now I have one system that does
  5. 5. everything from managing my Internet marketing to desking to service in one tool that is easy for my team to use. We arespending less for one system that does more than the 15 it replaced.”VinSolutions’ “all-in-one” digital marketing system offers: search marketing, online advertising, social media marketing tools,websites, Internet lead management, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), sales force automation, sales managementand desking, appraisal, finance, used vehicle market pricing, inventory management and distribution, hand-held inventorymarketing tools, window stickers, automated video tours, targeted marketing with email, text, direct mail and telemarketingservices. VinSolutions’ Dealership Marketing System has complete mobile integration so dealers can access reports from anymobile phone that has access to the Internet including Blackberrys, Androids and iPhones. Currently VinSolutions is certifiedby all major OEMs and integrates with most DMS companies including certified integrations with ADP, R&R, AutoSoft andArkona. VinSolutions also has alliances and integrations with CARFAX, Autodata, RouteOne, DealerTrack, plus vAuto andKelley Blue Book, both of which are also owned by had a lot of help keeping VinSolutions technology ahead of the curve because he has one of the most talenteddevelopment teams in the automotive industry, led by Matt Watson, VinSolutions’ co-founder and chief technology officer. “Ifyou can think it, Matt and his team can build it,” said Dullea. “With Matt and his team, we decided we wanted to build themost complete technology platform for dealers and dealership groups that has ever existed and we worked with ourcustomers to make it happen.”VinSolutions pioneered an unconventional product development process called UGPD, which stands for “User GeneratedProduct Development.” This process connects users directly with the programmers who review, prioritize and develop newfeatures in response to users’ requests. Every other Tuesday is Christmas morning for VinSolutions’ customers because that iswhen the new updates and features are released along with acknowledgements that recognize both the user who requested theenhancements and the developer who made them happen.“This process incentivizes customers to give input and our developers to respond quickly with innovative solutions,” saidWatson. “Everyone likes to see their work recognized so our developers love to constantly improve the system because theirefforts are publicly acknowledged by thousands of users who often praise programmers on industry blogs when they createsomething very cool.”As a result, VinSolutions’ customers and its team of developers have built the most comprehensive dealership marketingplatform that integrates all the technology a dealer needs in one platform rather than attempting to tie together a group ofdifferent applications acquired from different companies who built on different technology platforms. As VinSolutions built itsall-in-one system, dealers have signed up for one or all of its tools on a month-by-month basis with no contracts, so theycould leave whenever they wanted. From day one, VinSolutions did not feel they needed long term contracts to keep dealersretained as long as they did what they said they were going to do when they said they would do it. VinSolutions dealers get tovote on the performance of both the software and the company every month by simply paying their invoice. Currently, this no-contract solution touts over 90% retention among VinSolutions’ clients.As the company prepared to release its new all-in-one dealership marketing system, Dullea recruited the help of someautomotive veterans who have helped other companies grow. Dullea recruited Sean Stapleton as their Chief Sales Officer and
  6. 6. Kendall Billman to lead their web marketing initiatives. Stapleton is an industry veteran and was the EVP of sales at Who’sCalling where he helped create a new category of call monitoring and measurement.Billman helped develop Web platforms for both Third Coast Media (acquired by Reynolds and Reynolds) and AutoONEMedia, joined the team in 2009 and had complete control of developing a new Website Platform that offered dealers thebenefits of a combined solution. Billman’s efforts were recognized industry-wide as the new platform won several awards in2010 and the company is currently releasing a new version that promises to set a new standard for what dealers must have inthe future.Dullea also recruited Sean Wolfington to join VinSolutions as a mentor and advisor. “We brought Wolfington on boardbecause he helped lead some of the biggest digital marketing companies in the industry, (CyberCar & Automark, which R&Rbought in 2001 and BZResults, which ADP bought in 2006) and his experience and advice has been invaluable,” said Dullea.“Mike and Matt built a great team with talented guys like Kendall Billman and Sean Stapleton, the best salesperson in theindustry,” said Wolfington. “Dullea is a relentless leader who has built a fantastic team and Watson built an extraordinarytechnology platform.”VinSolutions recently won the DrivingSales award for their Website, Internet Lead Management Tool and their new VinLensproduct, a customer information application that lets dealers see who is on their site and what they are looking at so they candeliver custom messages and promotions based on what’s important to the customer.VinLens also lets the dealer see where the customer has been before visiting the website so they can track their advertisingbetter and tailor their approach to each customer based on the information they have seen. VinSolutions also took the topprize at the Automotive Website Awards when they were recognized for building the most complete digital marketing systemin the industry. Technology is moving fast, but it looks like VinSolutions has the right strategy to work with their dealers to runthe never-ending race to stay ahead of the curve. Now with’s resources, the company is poised to makeeven larger strides in the future.COMPANY SNAP SHOTVinSolutions’ all-in-one Dealership Marketing System helps dealers find, sell and keep more customers profitably byintegrating 14 components in one platform: 1. Dealer Websites 2. CRM & ILM 3. Digital Marketing 4. Direct Mail 5. Search Marketing 6. Social Media 7. Mobile Marketing 8. Salesforce Automation 9. Desking 10. Inventory 11. Used Vehicle Marketing & Pricing
  7. 7. 12. Service CRM 13. Online Service Scheduling 14. BDCVIN’s Dealership Marketing System is integrated with all Major DMS Providers, major Auctions, Used Vehicles Guides andManufacturer Incentive ProgramsVIN’s easy-to-use web-based system automates customer contact throughout the entire ownership cycle via email, text,voice and mail, and enterprise reports are sent directly to mobile phones so dealers can run their business from the palm oftheir hand.One of the reasons many of the largest dealers in the country have replaced multiple disjointed tools with VinSolutions’ LikeDealership Marketing System is because it offers an all-in-one system that has all the technology dealers need for less moneythan buying different tools from different companies. Add ReplyRalph Paglia
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