Since online browsing became the go-to way most people now search for new or used cars, dealers have been spending money on listing sites to showcase their stock. But how sure can they be that it’s money well spent and that online leads convert into sales?
Conor Moran, founder of Eskimo Software, says making the correlation can be difficult because of the gap between people browsing online and the methods used by dealers to convert them into potential customers/sales.
“There is currently no lead management tool that automatically processes customer data from online inquiries,” he says. “It requires manual input and for this reason the data is often unreliable and during busy periods it may not be entered at all. Eskimo Lead Management helps dealerships manage, convert and analyse their online lead generation – basically we help them turn more leads into sales – while also giving them information about what they’re getting for their money from online advertising.
“When an inquiry arrives from an online publisher such as DoneDeal or Carzone or the dealership’s own website, Eskimo imports the customer data into the system and begins the conversion process for the salesperson assigned to that lead,” he adds. “It is a similar process for walk-in and phone-in as well. All customers are automatically saved on the system and sales managers have transparency as to where each lead is in the sales process.”
Moran had always wanted to start his own business and had tinkered around with a few possibilities in the past. He got the idea for Eskimo when chatting to a car dealer. Having heard about the problem he then spoke to other dealers to thrash out where the key pain points were.
He developed his prototype over a nine-month period (while still working fulltime) and began testing it with three dealerships in February 2017. The product was tweaked based on feedback and more features added. The company’s first paying customer came on board last year and there are now 22 dealerships using the service. There are about 1,150 car dealerships in the Republic and Moran plans to gain a strong foothold among them before moving into the UK towards the end of this year.
“There is a real lack of CRM offerings available to dealers that cover the customer journey before the sale,” he says. “There are products that are useful once the sale is made, but for that all important part from initial contact to sale completion Excel or pen and paper are often used.”
Moran is civil engineer with an MSc in computer science. He spent a number of years working as a software developer with both large multinationals and smaller teams developing B2B SaaS software for the financial services sector.
Eskimo Software was founded in 2016 and the company is based at DIT Hothouse where Moran is a graduate of the Enterprise Ireland-backed New Frontiers programme. Moran had the software skills to the develop the product himself and has contained startup costs at under €10,000. The company has been revenue generating since last July and plans to start hiring its first staff later this year. The revenue model is SaaS with an annual or monthly subscription based on the number of sites using the system.
The second strand to Eskimo’s bow is the collection and analysis of data from online platforms. “There is currently no system available that can give objective statistics on how many leads and also on how many sales are delivered from each online sales avenue,” Moran says. “At the moment dealers have no way of knowing if their spend with a platform is worthwhile without going through months of inquiry emails and customer spreadsheets, counting the leads delivered and compiling the data. With Eskimo, dealerships can easily see the return on their advertising and marketing investment.”