Savvy consumers looking to buy a new ride routinely check auto manufacturer and dealer websites for pricing, news and information about models that interest them.
And when they do, quite often they'll be scrolling through a website built right here in Winnipeg by Glen Demetrioff's DMT Development Systems Group Inc.
"Our programs are online in 30 countries right now, in more than 20 languages," Demetrioff said. "We design the websites, for example, for Hyundai and Kia in the United States, Nissan in Europe, and Volvo and Renault worldwide. We have just launched a new media website in China for Volvo. And we're launching a new dealer website for Volkswagen Canada."
DMT also counts more than 600 auto dealers across Canada among its clients, encompassing brands such as Audi, Toyota, and Mitsubishi.
"First impressions online are very important for auto dealers," Demetrioff said. "We create those positive first impressions on both a national and global level.
"There are a lot of other IT vendors globally, but we stay focused on automotive because I used to work in the auto industry. I understand it."
Demetrioff began his working career in auto sales in 1990 at Woodhaven Lexus Toyota. Although he has no formal training in IT, he began dabbling in the emerging field in the mid-1990s.
"I started by writing some software at home to assist our sales team at Woodhaven," he said. "A couple of years later, I founded DMT with the objective to develop ways to use technology to empower people.
"At the dealership level, I was able to empower my sales reps to work their own deals so that they weren't having to go back and forth to the sales manager constantly."
Demetrioff's first major account was GE Capital, which commissioned DMT to create an auto-leasing program in 1999. That led to an approach from Volvo to come up with a program to help salespeople determine leasing and finance payments more efficiently on the showroom floor.
"Traditionally, sales reps would use calculators at their desks to work out financing details with their customers," Demetrioff said. "The first program we made revolutionized that system. We empowered sales reps with our new technology. No longer did they have to go to the sales manager to work out financing and payments. Our technology allowed them to figure out the financing and payment schedules within minutes, right there at their desk. To this day, we continue to be pioneers in innovation."
Demetrioff started DMT with a staff of four. It now employs 105, with it head office at the University of Manitoba's Smart Park. "It's a good location for us," Demetrioff said. "It gives us access to university talent and researchers."
DMT's newest product is its RAPID! Response program that improves dealer response to queries by would-be buyers.
When a consumer visits a manufacturer's website and requests a test drive from a local dealer, he expects a quick response. In Canada, a dealership is considered exceptional if it can respond to a lead within 45 minutes. The average response time is two to three hours.
You can lose a lot of leads with a slow response, Demetriff said.
"With RAPID! Response (which was 18 months in development), there is a 100-per-cent response rate within 30 minutes. We've accomplished this by using smartphones and Cloud technology. Our program can consolidate sales leads from numerous sources and deliver them right to a salesperson's desktop or personal smartphone for immediate assessment and action.
"Sales managers, in turn, can audit the salesperson's response for speed and quality, regardless of the device utilized to create the response. All information is provided in real time to monitor the lead response.
"It's the first system of its kind and is available to both auto manufacturers and individual dealers. We don't know of another system anywhere that can systematically distribute leads from multiple sources to individual salespeople, and then track the response in terms of speed and quality -- all in real time."
While Demetrioff said DMT will remain a Winnipeg-based operation, the company recently opened a sales office in Toronto and, last April, opened an office in Paris to better serve the European market. "This year, we are working to expand our operations in Europe," he said.
And Demetrioff added that DMT is just about ready to take on the Big Three North American manufacturers as well.