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AUSTRALIAN automotive consulting and solutions group, Fusion Business Solutions and its subsidiary software company, Op2ma, has further expanded its penetration into the important Chinese automotive retail and car finance market.

Op2ma will customise and deliver a bespoke version of its proprietary customer retention platform, Ri-gnr8 for the enormous Chinese market.

The company says it beat international rivals to supply Ford Automotive Finance (China) and its national dealer network with a range of consulting and technology services focused around retention. Ford Automotive Finance (China) is the wholly-owned finance subsidiary of Ford Motor Company and in other markets is known as Ford Credit.

The services will be delivered and supported from Op2ma’s office in Shanghai. All the software planning and development will be done in Op2ma’s head office in Adelaide.

Op2ma is already a leading independent F&I software vendor in Australia. It provides DMS-integrated F&I sales and management technology to many Australian leading dealer groups, financiers and insurers.

This latest offshore expansion with Op2ma is the company’s third major software project in China in the past six months.

Managing director Marc Brien said the recent deal was a “further affirmation of the company’s growing stature”.

“Ford Credit is a global leader in customer renewal management. Selecting our company – and our solution – over international competitors is a huge endorsement of our capability,” he said.

During 2017, Ford Automotive Finance (China) agreed to buy two solutions from Op2ma. First, a menu-driven F&I point-of-sale system for their dealers that helps them sell and manage F&I performance more effectively.

Commenting on the specifics of the Chinese market, Mr Brien told GoAuto News Premium: “F&I is still immature over there, but growing fast. Often sales people are doing the majority of the payment quoting, and the business manager handles all the administration and contracts.

“So we adapted our solution to provide a smartphone-friendly Chinese language version that allows the sales people to talk to the customer about the car and spec and put some pricing around it in terms of payments and then it goes to the business manager to finalise the rest.”

Also in 2017, Ford Automotive Finance purchased Ri-focus from Op2ma, a network management system that helps companies manage their field force and dealer network. Ri-focus is a solution totally dedicated to the automotive industry, unlike other generic global systems such as Salesforce.

Mr Brien said Ford Credit in Asia wanted a program that was tailored specifically to their business that could aggregate large data sets from many different systems to help improve productivity of the field force on the road.

“So the idea is that a dealer account manager is out on the road and has all this data all in the one place including contact visit reports, action plans, audits and a whole lot of other bespoke auto industry tools to allow a motor company or, in this case a financier, to run their field force more effectively. It also connects to the dealer F&I sales tool we provide as well.” Mr Brien said.

Explaining the recent deal announcement on Ri-gnr8, Mr Brien said that while generic CRM solutions are common in customer retention strategies, Ri-gnr8 is a “revolutionary retention solution” that uses predictive life cycle technology to identify the best time for a dealer re-sell to a previous customer.

The company says Ri-gnr8 remains the only solution in Australia that has been locally-designed for the Australian market and that the latest contract “is further proof of its effectiveness in all major automotive markets”.

Using advanced data-mining with over 80 search criteria, Ri-gnr8 monitors a dealer’s database daily and identifies opportunities through a sophisticated sales pipeline management tool.

It can provide greater insight and manage a vast and more complex array of finance and insurance products than a regular CRM system, including trade cycle management products.

The group’s Deal Scenario tools then “make it easy for dealers to manage the renewal process in a structured and positive way, increasing the chances of selling more vehicles”.

“They have some interesting parameters in China,” Mr Brien said. “By law they need 20 to 30 per cent deposits so you don’t get a lot of customers out of equity.

“So you don’t get a lot of flexibility when they are trying to remarket to a customer in terms of the right time to talk to someone. Do they wait the full five years or do they talk to them at  25 months or 32 months?  

“They needed something that could mine all their data and run testing campaigns in different markets so they could test what works and what did not work.

“So they needed a solution that gave them a lot of mining capability so they have about 80 fields they can mine and test a variety of campaigns and all the CRM that follows that up. But the main parts are the data mining and the targeting,” he said.

Fusion Business Solutions was founded by Mr Brien in 1999 as a training and consulting company. Op2ma was created as its software subsidiary in 2012.

The company also moved into market research, mystery shopping and CSI and operates lead-management programs from multi-lingual customer call centres in Adelaide following up customers for clients in Australia and Asia. The call centres are proving vital for car-makers wanting to set-up online purchasing and shopping centre displays.

Mr Brien said that setting up in China was a long process.

“China has strict rules for software companies with strict compliance under which none of the data can leave the country. The rules require a strong office presence in China. There is a strict capital commitment over two years and vendors need to pass various security filings and protocols,” he said.

By John Mellor

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