Published August 19, 2008
Volume 16, Number 8

CIMA Systems Helps Auto Dealers Build New Business
Hacienda Company Provides Software Solution for Strengthening Relationships Between Dealers,

Company president and CEO Gary Nixon, left, and the rest of
CIMA Systems’ Hacienda staff.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl
Special to NETWORK

Parts and service have become a significant profit center for auto dealers, and a new Hacienda tenant is marketing a software solution that maximizes these opportunities--while adding improved productivity and enhanced customer satisfaction to the mix.

The offering from CIMA Systems "combines data mining with interactive phone, email, and text messaging to automatically target, contact, and interact with current and potential customers, improving a wide range of business-critical sales, service and parts activities," according to President and CEO Gary Nixon.

Interfacing with a dealership's inhouse computer, the CIMA system logs in and pulls all the data needed for the next day's customer communications, which can range from a notice that a special-order part has arrived to a promotion tied to the anniversary of a vehicle purchase, or even a Happy Birthday greeting. The CIMA system enables dealers to follow up with customers on a granular level and implement new marketing campaigns with minimal delay. One of its highlights is the ability to communicate in a variety of media, via email, phone, or text message, depending on customer preference. Contact it is not just one way: whatever the format, recipients can follow a link, to schedule a service appointment, for example, that automates the entire transaction.

Some of these functions have been available independently as stand-alone services from individual vendors, but part of CIMA's innovation is integrating them all into a single, comprehensive package, for a flat—and lower--monthly fee. A CIMA installation typically saves dealerships "a lot of money while dramatically increasing employee productivity and customer satisfaction," Nixon says. Oftentimes, suppliers pick up a portion of the tab for the service since it helps sell more of their products to the dealership's customers.

Originally founded in San Francisco, in 2002, CIMA outgrew two previous offices in Pleasanton before moving into Hacienda Terraces in May.Right now the company has about 20 employees here at headquarters, an office in Dallas, and an expanding sales force out in the field. Its current customer roster includes the 15-plus northern California dealerships in the AutoNation network, America's largest automotive retailer, with many more well-known names to come. "We just signed Chrysler to private-label our product," relates Nixon, noting that former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca joined CIMA’s Advisory Board and became an investor.

While these lines of communications are very important in today's auto business, they represent just the early stages of CIMA's product pipeline. Soon, our vehicles will be talking to us, Nixon confides. Some aspects of this technology, known as telematics, already exist, like General Motors' OnStar system. Others are in development. "We are currently testing a device that enables us to pull diagnostic data directly from the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system and communicate the recommended service notification directly to the customer, allowing him to easily make a service appointment. This product also acts as an anti-theft device which allows 24/7 tracking as well as setting notification parameters such as vehicle speed, location, etc.,” Nixon reveals. 

For more information about CIMA, visit the website at www.cimasystems.net.


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