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Brent Albrecht VOTY 2019
2019 Vendors of the Year Interviews Reputation Management

Brent Albrecht with Friendemic

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Kelly Kleinman:
Today’s podcast is brought to you by Max Digital. We created the path to purchase approach to deliver a fair, transparent and flexible on the channel experience and help dealers to transition to that future in a way that’s right for them and their teams. And by Drive Centric offering a simple yet powerful interface that anyone can use, its intuitive design makes it simple for salespeople to do their job, and that’s to sell. Go Live With Drive. Tell Steve Roessler. DealershipNews sent you. And now here’s our podcast.

Kelly Kleinman:
Hello, this is Kelly Kleinman, and you’re listening to the DealershipNews.com podcast where we spotlight the Who is happening in the automotive industry. It’s footsoldiers, visionaries, GMs, Owners, Service Managers, and Industry Vendors alike. Our guest today is the V.P. of Biz Dev for one of the leading companies in the auto dealership world geared to keeping your online rep. Golden and they do a great job. Friendemic specializes in online reputation tools for many of the world’s largest automotive brands, retail level dealer groups, individual dealerships and retail businesses nationwide. We have with us Brent Albreicht, the V.P. of Biz Dev. Welcome to our podcast.

Brent Albreicht:
Thanks, Kelly. Appreciate you having me on today.

Kelly Kleinman:
Yeah, kind of a frenetic opening, but I like it. We’ve been doing it forever. I see you’re from Chicago.

Brent Albreicht:
Yeah, well, I live in the suburbs, but OK.

Kelly Kleinman:
Cubs or White Sox,.

Brent Albreicht:
Oh Cubs for sure.

Kelly Kleinman:
Ok.

Brent Albreicht:
Disappointing year this year, though.

Kelly Kleinman:
You know, I don’t know if you checked out my profile, but I’m a Chicago Cub Scout team coach.

Brent Albreicht:
Oh. Oh, no, I didn’t. That’s awesome.

Kelly Kleinman:
I’m done after this year, has my kids got a college gig? But it’s been fun. So it’s, I think, five seasons. I’m from Cleveland originally. But yeah, the Cubs were a little disappointing this year. But there’s always next year.

Brent Albreicht:
Always, yeah. Always next year. New manager, new players. We’ll see what happens.

Kelly Kleinman:
Well, I like asking each of our guests how they got into the automotive industry. What’s your back story. Did you just wake up one day and there you were setting up a booth, the Digital Dealer. What was your. What’s your story?

Brent Albreicht:
So, you know, I actually started way, way, way back when in newspaper and worked with, you know, a handful of auto dealers back in the day. So, you know, for a Chicago Sun-Times group, do a newspaper ads. But but really the experience specifically dedicated auto didn’t start to about nine years ago. I was doing marketing consulting for different clients and came upon a new client, Social Dealer who is just launching a company doing social media reputation. They needed someone to build a web site, help them get marketing started, you know, and lead their marketing efforts. And I started out as as a as a contract position. And we hit it off like I thought their company was fascinating. And I just really loved everything they were doing. And that’s how I got in the auto and then really been into auto and specifically, you know, social media reputation field ever since. So I said, you know, nine plus years now.

Kelly Kleinman:
Sure, sure. I know those people very well. Kelly Holcomb. You know, Social Dealing. Whole crew. Now, imagine you’re in an elevator and you’re in that elevator with the president of GM. I did a 30 second elevator pitch. Then we’re gonna dig a little bit deeper. But give me 30 seconds and I’m keep keep him wanting more.

Brent Albreicht:
Ok.

Brent Albreicht:
Now, an upright I mean, we saw a little more direct to dealers than to OEMs, but the main product I hit him up with is, you know, we actually track the reputation of every franchise dealer in the country. So something like 18,000 franchise dealers are in our system. And while GM might have a good handle on how all of their dealers are doing on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc., knowing just how you’re doing in a vacuum doesn’t tell you a lot what you need to know. How do how do they compare to Ford dealers, Toyota dealers and everything else? And that’s the data they don’t have. And we do. And we can supply it and in a few different formats and data in terms of a platform and scorecards to really show him how they compare and stand up to the other brands out there,.

Kelly Kleinman:
Literally for every dealership, every new car dealership. Yes. Yeah. We don’t do it. We don’t the independents in there, but all the franchise data is in. And so I guess so we can say, you know, of all the dealerships that, you know, all the GM dealerships, how do they rank? And you can do it by region, by size. How do they rank to Chrysler stores? Toyota stores do. And that’s that’s the important data that most OEMs are missing right now.

Kelly Kleinman:
Is the data updated on a monthly basis?

Brent Albreicht:
When we do it for our clients, you know, we’re actually pulling, you know, updating hourly when we do OEM type reports generally. And we’ll do it at a at a monthly basis and some reporting we’ll do quarterly or semi-annually analysis depending on on what that OEM is looking for.

Kelly Kleinman:
I might have a proposition for you, after which.

Brent Albreicht:
OK, good. Good. I have quite an idea, actually. Well, let’s talk about some of your services and explain to us how it works for an auto dealership or any business for that matter. Let’s start with Reputation Accelerator.

Brent Albreicht:
So. And that. Yes. So that’s that’s, you know, reputation’s one of these products we’ve had had the longest and really it’s about helping a dealer you, you know, improve their reputation by having a process in place to ask every customer, you know, to to share their feedback on one of the review sites. You know, the reality is, if we just leave it to organic means of, you know, let customers write reviews when they feel like it. You know, the upset people, they’re more than happy to, you know, give you a bad review and complain, but the happy people don’t necessarily do that unless they’re nudged or urged along. And that’s what review and like process does, is it makes her every customer gets asked and they needed a more balanced reputation, more detail than that. Now now it’s become not just automating a process, but helping dealers ask for reviews at the point of sale, you know, using a mobile app where a salesperson can, within a matter of a few seconds say, Hey, Kelly, can I send you a link so you can share your feedback on your experience and then you get that you get that invite within the next couple of minutes. So those personal Real-Time invites are so much more impactful and deliver dramatically better results than an automated process can do by itself.

Kelly Kleinman:
Sure, sure. It’s so much more organic. So social media chatter, chitter-chatter, I guess we could call it commentary can definitely could get out of hand online and it could hurt a business’s reputation. So you have review response. Peel the banana for us on that service.

Brent Albreicht:
So it’s and it’s responding to a feeling. So responding to reviews on the public review sites, Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc. that’s that’s sort of the core. But you also want to pay attention to what’s being said on social media. As you hinted and respond to those comments and questions as well. You know, in a perfect world, you know, any complaints someone had, they’d submit you know, they’d write a review or contact you directly. Somebody may not bother to do that. They’ll just go to your Facebook page and they’ll write a complaint on some non-related post. Know, I mean, the first thing they see. And so you have to really be monitoring everything that’s being said about you, you know, like you said on the social channels as well as the reputation channels. And the key is responding quickly to everything. Make it a personalized response. But also, remember that you’re not just responding for the person that wrote the review or that wrote the comment. But for everybody else who comes along later and reads this. Right. And I see that you had a one star review. It’s not about that person. You know, hundreds or thousands of other people will see that once I review. They want to know as a business, how do you respond? And, you know, do you stand behind your customers and you try to fix the problem or do you just ignore it?

Kelly Kleinman:
You know that one-star review is not always a really accurate representation of how a company does business. We do. We just started our vendor review series and we’ve gotten a few of those. And I you know, sometimes somebody just gets upset and they just want to vent and it’s not necessarily fair. You could be a chemistry, it could be a personality conflict, who knows, but not an adequate reflection. So the question then would be how quickly is there a response and who levels that response? Is it staff from the dealership is it staff from Friendemic? How does it work?

Brent Albreicht:
You know, it depends. You know, the dealer to dealer, some dealers have the resources in-house to handle those responses themselves. If they do, I think that’s great. But the key is, you see, it has to be a dedicated person or team is doing those responses. Whereas a lot of times what you might see is, oh, like let’s just decided to the BDC manager, you know, who are already probably has Right. seven things to do on a given day. And here’s number eight is respond to all these reviews. And unfortunately, what you’ll see there is some week’s responses are, you know, they’re all done and they’re done quickly. And then other weeks, you only get close to a month. They’re really busy. All of a sudden, nothing gets responded to for a week. So you can do it in-house. You just have to have someone dedicated. So they have the time and it’s a priority for him to do it. And then we would just provide things like, I will send you alerts when new reviews come in. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re tracking all those review sites and I give you a platform so you can go. You know what I would call like a reputation console. You can go to one place. I can see all the reviews. I can track what’s been responded to, what hasn’t. And you need to make it easier for them to manage. Now, a lot of dealers and would say we don’t have someone in-house to do that. And then that’s where Friendemic can can jump in and help our teams or write a personal response. And we respond to every review in 24 hours. Weekends, Holidays, you name it.

Kelly Kleinman:
Yeah, there’s nothing worse. Well, I won’t say there’s nothing worse. Probably getting no response is probably the worst scenario, but I prefer the individual response as opposed to a canned one. You know, sometimes you see the automated responses and those.

Brent Albreicht:
Oh, definitely.

Kelly Kleinman:
Hollow. Well, needless to say, car salesmen have had a reputation issue for some for some years now. I guess there’s a few shady practices out there still. How does Friendemic reputation management program clean up bad reviews and then prevent further ones down the road?

Brent Albreicht:
Yeah, it’s you know, it’s it’s ongoing education is, you know, again, I’m really taking care of your customers. Never gets old. So there’s a few things. One, you know, by having a reputation program in the dealership and, you know, tracking the reviews. And we hope that the dealers are involving employee. So you can see here’s here’s all these great reviews coming in, but really making every employee understand that, you know, the world is looking at these reviews. Right. Prospects. That’s one of the last things they do. Or they decide which dealership to buy from. Is check these reviews. So, you know, even those salespeople who used to do questionable practices are starting to realize that, you know, I want people to come in and ask for me and I want you know, I want walk ins at the dealership. We need to have a good reputation. So they’re starting to understand that, you know, in terms of helping them, you know, get rid of those bad reviews. You know, a lot of times, once the bad reviews posted you, there’s limited things you can get to to do to have it taken down. Now, sometimes it’ll violate the terms and conditions. You can dispute reviews and get some of them taken down. You know, next next step in that process is as part of a response. You know, encourage a customer to reach out.

Brent Albreicht:
And a lot of times, if you can fix the customer’s problems, like you said earlier, sometimes they’re just having a bad day or something, just set them off. And they wrote this bad review. If you take care of them, a lot of times they’ll change the rating or take it down. But but, you know, the the best thing to do is don’t get the bad review in the first place. And what we do is, you know, is have a system in place. We’re asking customers to give feedback and we qualify those people first and find out like if they weren’t happy, if they say they wouldn’t recommend this dealer, give them the opportunity right away to give private feedback. And what we’ve seen is if you give someone the chance to give private feedback, they can complain as long as they want. Someone from the dealership then reaches out to that person and tries to fix that problem. Most people don’t feel the need to go write a one star review on Google or Facebook because you already took care of them. They’re going to Google to complain because, you know, no one asked what they thought, you know. I mean, and no one asked about their experience. And I have to go complain somewhere. And that’s just an easy place to go. But asking for feedback early will prevent a lot of those.

Kelly Kleinman:
Yeah. Prevention is the best policy. Prevent that feedback on that. So you’ve got something called Content Fuel. And it’s it’s pretty unique in the industry. There’s probably some other folks out there who touch on a little bit. But but I it tickled my fancy. How does it work and why is it effective?

Brent Albreicht:
That, you know, when it comes to social posting, know, again, it’s one of those things kind of like we talked about with responding reviews a lot of times. Dealers don’t have people in house that are really have the time dedicated to plan out social content, get it posted across all the sites, optimize it for, you know, Twitter and Instagram and Facebook in the right format. And so then you tend to job it out to agencies. The problem with agencies is they’re not on site. That’s what they do. They’re kind of stuck with doing generic content. Or you can get, you know, OEM content delivered to you. But then again, it’s the same content, you know, across all dealers. So what we want the best content is local relevant content. We need to make it easy for dealers to capture their content and share it with whoever is posting it. Be it the marketing person at the dealership, someone at the group level or somebody at their agency. And that’s what content fuel does. You know, any person, any employee at the dealership can use the app. They can capture photos, videos, add captions. If it’s a customer photo or video, it’ll actually ask. Did the customer give permission for this to be used, so it tracks that? And all of that content goes into the content library. And so now, again, one thing you don’t want to do is just have every employee be able to post to your Facebook page if you’re a dealer. You need quality control. But in this case, they’re not all posting, they’re all collecting. It all goes into a content library to find the person doing the posting of all these videos and photos to pick from that are all local relevant. I can pick and choose and plan out content and that. And that’s what Content of Fuel allows them to do, is that it makes it very easy to collect content right from the phone and deliver it all into a central location.

Kelly Kleinman:
Is there an SEO benefit to that content acquisition?

Brent Albreicht:
Absolutely. Yes. Well, no, not from the acquisition itself. But once you start posting all that. And again, I think, you know, we talk about reviews. You know, your reputation is more than just your review score.

Brent Albreicht:
And so posting happy customer photos goes a long way to add credibility to your dealership. Like that’s part of your reputation, too. So there’s absolutely a benefit in posting, you know, customer photos and other stuff on on Facebook, et cetera. But you’re right, there’s SEO value to that. All those posts, they get found. It’s just more links back to you, to your brand, to your Web site, etc..

Kelly Kleinman:
Why do you excel above the competition? We know there’s some good guys out there. You got Reputation.com, you’ve got Podium, you’ve got a little known but powerful player on the Social Ordeals. What sets Friendemic apart from the rest?

Brent Albreicht:
You know, we’ve been doing this a long time, which helps some of those are newer companies to the space and you’ll learn a lot by Friendemic’s been around almost 10 years now. But I think the thing that’s most unique, you know, if you think about like like a Podium or Reputation.com, again, good reputation solutions. However, that’s that’s basically all they do. And there’s video companies out there to capture videos and share them with prospects. And that’s all they do. Dealers already have you know, you talk to talk to a GM and they’ll tell you the 20 to 30 things you already have to log into. What he what he doesn’t need is a reputation solution that stand alone, a video solution that stands alone, a content capture solution that stands alone, you know what I mean. And our catalyst’s suite has Reputation Accelerator for managing reviews. It has Video Ignition to share videos for the sales and service team Content Fuel to capture content all in a single app. Now your sales team, your BDC team, they don’t need to learn three different softwares that don’t talk to each other. It’s a single software that I mean, that covers all of these bases. And that’s I think we are, at least as I know right now, the only vendor out there that has a one-stop solution that does all of these things. And again, for the price that you would normally pay for individual pieces of it, you know, I mean, if you bought them on their own separately.

Kelly Kleinman:
Last but not least, what does Friendemic have in store for us in 2020?

Brent Albreicht:
Really excited, and this is a little prior to 2020, we just completely redesigned the Catalyst’s Suite mobile app, it’s in you. Our teams are doing beta testing on it right now. So it’s I think we’re like, you know, 90+% there looking to either later this month or early December, get this launched with some of our clients. But just all the navigation system with new features on how dealers can capture testimonials or submit reviews. Right. The Cars.com. So really looking forward to that. The other thing we want to expand on is our are what we call our Do-it-yourself ads product. There’s a there’s a lot of your agencies out there that will manage Facebook ads for dealers. And then there’s a portion of dealers that want to manage it in-house. And what they’re finding is, though, it’s one thing to manage Facebook ads in-house, but they don’t have access to the Oracle data to do really targeting in-market buyers like they should. And a lot of times they can’t fake those inventory feeds to do dynamic ads. And so we’re providing, again, what we think is a very unique solution where I’ll provide you all the technology that you need to run Facebook ads on your own. I will give you access to Oracle data. I will create a dynamic inventory feed and update it every day so you can run that in a catalog ad and we target them. You’ll give you sort of all the tools to do ads yourself. And it’s just not a solution that’s been launched before we started it earlier this year and really going to expand it next year.

Kelly Kleinman:
That’s going to be another interview. That’s very interesting.

Brent Albreicht:
It’s a fascinating product. I think I just was no one else has done it. And the early dealers we have on it, they love it to death. And they’re running campaigns like crazy.

Kelly Kleinman:
Fantastic and it’s doing well.

Kelly Kleinman:
I I totally agree with the brand. I want to say thank you very much for joining us today on our podcast. Kelly here, DealershipNews.com. We just spoke to Brent Albreicht. He’s with Friendemic. We’ll talk to you soon.

Brent Albreicht:
Thanks, Kelly., appreciate you having me on.

Kelly Kleinman:
You bet. Take care. Everybody will see at the next one.

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