AutoSuccess: Going Virtual – Bringing The Dealership Experience Online in the Wake of the Coronavirus Outbreak

Most of American life has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Shift from Retailing Tools to a Transactional Platform

This Thursday, April 16th, I am hosting a webinar with Automotive News to discuss the future of digital retailing and its necessary evolution in the current customer experience landscape. At NADA, we launched our website platform, Apollo Sites. Since then, I have answered the questions below hundreds of times and thought it might be helpful to publish in advance of the Automotive News webinar.


Q: Why is Team Velocity adding primary websites to its Apollo platform?

A: Here are the top 5 reasons in no specific order:

  1. Most of our leadership team came from the automotive website space and carried lengthy non-competes. All our non-competes in the automotive website sector expired allowing us to re-enter the website space.
  2. Many clients asked us to integrate a primary website with a digital retailing application into Apollo using the same technology that generates and deploys all their other advertising. It’s a logical extension of Apollo and a space we know well having previously owned two of the largest privately held website companies.
  3. Our clients are focused on retention just as much as gaining new customers. They asked for a better-performing website that would provide relevant and personalized experiences for their current customers rather than treating existing customers the same as the public. They said, “integrate my DMS and make my website work like Amazon.” So that’s exactly what we did.
  4. A dealership’s website is the hub of their advertising efforts. Our clients need their ads on all other mediums – like Google, Bing, Facebook, YouTube, Email, Direct Mail, etc. – to identically match the sales and service offers on their website, 100% of the time. Dealers lose credibility and opportunities when their primary website is not a perfectly aligned extension of all their other advertising. So, we built a website platform that matches every offer, to the penny, on every single vehicle in stock, across every customer touchpoint, 24/7/365.
  5. Our clients are increasingly frustrated with the current mentality of most existing website providers. Significant traffic is driven to a dealer’s website, with the hope that the website will generate not just “leads” but an actual service or sales transaction. Unfortunately, many websites are solely focused on generating “forced” sales leads by requiring consumers to fill out a lead form just to get basic information. They also require expensive widgets and plug-ins, have poor performance ratings for speed and mobile friendliness, and can’t distinguish a current customer from a prospect. The “get e-price and unlock savings” is 20-year-old thinking and offers little in terms of useful information. We built a website that fulfills our vision: deliver a friction-less consumer experience, from the initial engagement to a final transaction. Using Apollo’s technology, we dynamically generate a personalized, customer-friendly, widget-free website that is highly rated, independently, for its performance. Our website platform is called, Apollo Sites.


Q: Do Apollo Sites have a digital retailing solution? If so, what’s different?

A: Yes. Apollo Sites has a digital retailing application called Transact. It’s unique from other digital retailing tools because it’s built natively into the entire website platform, making it easy for consumers to navigate. Our vision wasn’t to have just another digital retailing tool, but an entire transactional website platform. Transact is fast on mobile devices and uses the same UX as the website. Consumers never leave the dealership’s site and all the reporting is included in the analytics. Also, when current customers sign in, (using something as simple as their phone number or email), all their information is pre-populated, so they never waste time filling out forms, figuring out their trade value, equity, payoff, etc. Existing customers have a very fast and easy ability to complete another sales transaction with ‘one-touch’. This feature is critical for dealerships who have databases they need to retain. The existing digital retailing solutions are plug-ins to a dealer’s primary website with entirely different UX, reporting, etc. And, they treat every customer like the public. We think this is not only illogical but archaic by today’s standards.


Q: How about Service Scheduling? Does Apollo Site have that capability?

A: Yes. Apollo Sites was built with a complete service scheduling application that allows a customer to schedule service in about 45 seconds. Thus far, it’s generating 2-3x the number of online appointments as the leading providers in every implementation. An added benefit is that it automatically runs all service appointments through Apollo’s equity tools to alert the dealership when service customers are in a good position to upgrade, what specific upgrade options are available, and calculates to-the-penny payments for that particular customer. Everything is integrated, so there isn’t a need for any additional expensive equity mining software.


Q: Given the current challenges related to Covid-19, is there any technology to facilitate service and sales transactions outside the dealership?

A: Yes. Even prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, we were building virtual dealership applications to help our large metro dealers go to the customer versus the customer coming to them. What was once a nice benefit has now become a necessity. Every aspect of Apollo Sites allows customers to select options to have their vehicle picked up for service, sign up for test drives completed remotely, and, for vehicles purchased online, to have their new vehicle delivered offsite (if the dealership is capable). All of this is easily managed in Apollo’s appointment system or can be delivered to a dealership’s CRM.


Q: How are the OEMs reacting to the Apollo Sites?

A: Some of our best meetings have been with OEMs because this new technology solves many of the challenges they face. First, because the OEMs are hyper-focused on loyalty rates, the ability to offer existing owners a personalized, custom experience is ideal. Just a 1% gain or loss in retention is substantial for any OEM. Second, Apollo Sites creates a personal website for every customer, pre-establishing a “one to one” relationship. Dealers can immediately offer existing customers their best pricing without forcing a customer to “get e-price or unlock savings” on their website. OEMs love that feature, and some are starting to think about further personalizing incentives with this platform down to the customer level. Third, current website providers basically outsource Fixed Operations to 3rd parties. Service is an afterthought at best, but the OEMs all recognize the relationship between sales, retention and service. We built all service components into the website platform natively, with zero widgets required. Customers love how easy it is to schedule service, check their service history, get their own custom coupons, have their vehicle appraised while their car is in for service and the ability to check their vehicle’s value anytime. The first major OEM who reviewed the Apollo Sites website platform quickly added us to their list of approved providers, which was a very encouraging sign for our dealerships.


Q: What inspired the innovation behind Apollo Sites?

A: It’s just all new thinking. And RE-THINKING what we thought we knew. We were most inspired by the concept of Amazon Prime. Nothing in our industry, except perhaps Tesla and Carvana, have fully adapted to meet the consumer’s expectations. The current offerings lack the kind of thinking and features our clients expect from a website. And we are just getting started with this new integrated website platform. We are re-investing another $6M in 2020 to further improve the Apollo Sites website platform and plan to introduce many features that will be entirely new to our industry. We aim to set a new and very high standard of excellence for both consumer experience and for what dealerships should expect from their websites. Our focus is squarely on facilitating sales and service transactions for both existing and new customers.


Q: The evolution of Apollo to include websites seems like the final piece of the puzzle. Will there be another generation of Apollo?

A: The addition of Apollo Sites has certainly enhanced the entire Apollo platform but there will certainly be another evolution.


Here’s a hint on what we are working on next…

What if a dealer’s website, not their CRM, dynamically generated beautiful, relevant, image-based, follow-up automatically?  What if it was based solely on ALL the behavior and data collected on each customer and cross-referenced with the DMS? Just like Amazon, VRBO, etc., when customers complete a sales or service transaction, they automatically get new and relevant messaging. Our goal is to create a smart website that focuses on generating service and sales transactions, not just leads. Dealers have been in a stranglehold with outdated, text-based follow-up emails that don’t work well because ADF-XML technology is literally 20 years old. Yet, everyone still uses it. We consider it digital road-blocking and it kills progress. Think about it and stay tuned.


Want to learn more?

If you want to get a deeper dive on the changes we see coming, please join us with Automotive News on Thursday, April 16th at 2pm. You can register here.


‘Paycheck Protection Planner’ – Digital Portal Launched To Help Businesses Navigate, Secure Coronavirus Stimulus Loans

The Paycheck Protection Planner was created by American business owners who want to help

other small businesses get funding faster to save jobs.


NEW YORK, April 8, 2020 —, an independent resource portal that helps small businesses navigate the complex web of the federal stimulus funds available, so they can quickly secure the funds they need to cover payroll and keep their people employed, was launched this week. The digital portal offers free tools and resources to help businesses get fast funding through the stimulus program, which offers up to $10M of forgivable funds to cover overhead during the crisis.


Everything on the Portal is provided for free by a group of business owners who’ve already successfully navigated the web of coronavirus-related stimulus funding. The group felt compelled to share everything they learned with others facing the same unprecedented challenges they faced, to prevent mass layoffs that could overwhelm our government’s current capacity to manage effectively.


The Paycheck Protection Planner creators are not accountants, lawyers, or representatives of any government agency. They are business owners who want to help other employers at a critical time for all American businesses who want to keep their employees on payroll.


Paycheck Protection Planner Portal Highlights:

  • Multimedia tutorials of the stimulus program rules, with animated FAQ’s, fact sheets and action plans to help businesses secure fast funding.
  • The Corona Calculator— the first and only interactive calculator that automates the calculations to quickly determine how much stimulus money businesses are entitled to and what businesses need to do to get full forgiveness of the loans.
  • Corona Crisis Playbook, a comprehensive plan with over 30 guides and playbooks that provide best practices to help businesses survive during the crisis and thrive through the recovery. The playbook shares best practices for:
    • Acquiring and Conserving Capital
    • Crisis Planning
    • Fast Funding Strategies
    • Capital Management & Conservation
    • Crisis Communications
    • Human Resources
    • Facility Management
    • Operational Excellence in Crisis.

“The Paycheck Protection Planner was launched by business founders who wanted to help other founders make use of these government loans so they can keep as many employees on payroll for as long as possible,” said Sean Wolfington, chairman of the Wolfington Companies & CarSaver at Walmart, and one of the creators of the Paycheck Protection Planner portal.


“For these companies, the biggest challenge is timing since, as small businesses, they have neither the cash to float themselves through the crisis nor time to navigate the legislation and program rules to secure federal stimulus loans,” Wolfington continued.


“Business owners are on the front lines of this crisis. We’re not just seeing it, but feeling the direct impact of the devastation,” said Brian Benstock, general manager of New York-based Paragon Honda.


“The stimulus program is right on time, but it was hard to figure out at first. The Planner has been a critical tool in helping our business move fast to secure funding that makes it easier to keep our employees on payroll, and get everyone back to 100 percent as quickly as possible,” Benstock added.


“Small businesses are the heartbeat of the American economy and right now are hurting badly,” said Chad Collier, co-founder/CEO of CarSaver at Walmart. “With the Paycheck Protection Planner Portal we’re doing what we can to help make a difference, just like every small business owner in this country.”


“The Paycheck Protection Planner Portal gathers the best resources out there for businesses looking to cover their overhead and navigate this crisis,” said David Boice, co-founder/CEO of Team Velocity. “We’re doing everything we can to make it easier and faster for businesses to get funding so they can make payroll and support the families they serve. We will weather this storm and we will emerge stronger—just as we have so many times before in our nation’s history.”


About the Paycheck Protection Planner

The Paycheck Protection Planner is an independent portal, created to help businesses navigate the complex web of stimulus funds so they can quickly secure the maximum funding available to keep their doors open and employees on payroll.

The Paycheck Protection Planner’s portal provides free access to critical resources and tools, including Multi-Media Tutorials of program rules & loan terms, along with Animated FAQ’s, The Corona Calculator for determining max forgivable loan amounts, and the Corona Crisis Playbook, with over 30 Business Guides & Action Plans that provide best practices that help businesses survive during the crisis, and thriving through the crisis.


Visit for more information.


For more information, or to interview Brian Benstock, Sean Wolfington or others, please contact: