If you’re going to take a chance, take a chance on yourself.
If you see a problem that needs solving, solve it yourself.
It is always better to be the catalyst for change, than a consumer of the byproduct.
This is how Automotive Broadcasting Network became the nation’s leading automotive
digital signage network, providing quality programming in waiting areas and timely advertising in showrooms.
These tenets have driven the Automotive Broadcasting Network (ABN) to become the nation’s pre-eminent automotive digital signage provider. Delivering quality, family appropriate programming to service waiting areas and professional, timely messages in automotive showrooms is what they do, and they do it very well.
When I see something wrong within my industry and glaring in front of me, I’m the type of guy who wants to fix it.
– ABN founder Jerry Daniels
An automotive industry veteran, Daniels had tired of seeing soap operas and shock-television shows playing in dealerships’ service departments. He was also frustrated that ads from competing automobile manufacturers and service shops ran on waiting room TVs.
“It didn’t seem to make any sense that in the 21st century we couldn’t control the messaging,” Daniels said.
Not only do dealerships allow questionable content to be played in their service waiting areas, they do not take advantage of powerful opportunities to inform their waiting customers on the dealership’s latest product offerings. “We didn’t have a proactive, consistent, and non-threatening way to educate our customers about the products and services we could provide,” Daniels said.
With no solutions available, Daniels improved his industry by coming up with one of his own. “I concluded that if I ‘m frustrated by the current situation, then clearly there are dealers across the country who would be frustrated by it as well,” he said.
In 2007, to fulfill the need, Daniels resigned his post as executive vice president of one of the nation’s largest publicly traded automotive dealership groups, and, leaning on his 30 years of experience in automotive retail, formed ABN with a laser focus on using the latest technology to change the dealership environment and make it more engaging for the customer.
ABN partnered with CBS to offer fast paced, family-friendly entertainment content while at the same time building a robust internal production department that has created in excess of 20,000 animated spots for dealers to use on the TV’s in their showrooms.
“It’s hard to go from something that’s secure and pays you a good income to start a company from scratch that pays you zero for the first few years” Daniels said. In fact, he went three years without earning a paycheck as he and his team guided ABN through the recession. “We were able to survive the darkest days in the automotive industry and come out the other end pretty well,” he said. Tempered by previous entrepreneurial experience, he had launched a software company 15 years prior to forming ABN, Daniels knew that he and his team needed to persevere. “It’s not for the weak. You have to endure through the tough times.”
Endure they did. ABN now does business in 45 states and has installed their service in more than 700 dealer clients.
More than 25 percent of organizations consider “multichannel campaign management” a top priority as consumers seek information across mediums, according to a Digital Signage Today article. Automotive digital signage can bridge the gap between virtual and physical marketing platforms.
Digital signage also increases sales volume by an average of 31.8 percent, Digital Signage Today reported. ABN’s clients consistently credit the company for helping them to increase sales, such as by going from selling four or five cars a month out of the service department waiting area to 60 to 70 cars a month in the case of Superstition Springs Honda in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dealers have a captive audience with an average customer wait of 1 hour and 32 minutes in their service waiting area. ABN’s flagship product, DealerTV, uses this time wisely by creating sales and upsell opportunities through controlled programming. Dealers are provided with the benefit of experienced automotive market specialists to integrate their marketing campaign with ABN’s product offering.
Intimate knowledge of the automotive industry has been instrumental in the success of ABN. The initial leadership team had over 75 years of combined automotive experience. “Surround yourself with people who know your industry and understand it so that when they provide advice and counsel you can make the best decision possible,” Daniels said.
Daniels advises other entrepreneurs to also start with what they know when they are building companies. “That’s why I felt comfortable leaving a big company,” he said.
Another piece of advice: That entrepreneurs stay focused, which is a lesson he said he learned the hard way with his first company. “The good news is, you can do anything you want, The bad news is, you can do anything you want.”
Focusing on the purpose above profits is also key. “ABN wasn’t about the money. I knew the money would eventually would come,” Daniels said. “It was about the passion of changing the industry. It was about making a difference. When you have passion it will take you through the tough times.”
The risk Daniels took leaving his well-paying executive position to start ABN cannot be overstated, but his investment in himself has paid off. Even as ABN has grown, he has never lost sight of the original problem, improving the dealership customer experience while increasing dealership revenues, and has never grown tired of refining the solution.
By continuing to assemble the right mix of talent, and continuing to provide the vision that sets his company apart he is making the chance he took on himself pay off while improving the industry that cultivated his career and his passions.
Managing your assets
ABN founder Jerry Daniels offers the following tips for managing people and money, based on what he has learned through starting and growing the Automotive Broadcasting Network, as well as his previous experience launching a software firm.
Hire right. Change quickly. “You have to get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. The people who start with you may not be the people who take you to the promised land because some people have a tough time transitioning from a startup culture to more of a company culture.”
“You want to be loyal to your people but by the same token they have to be capable of contributing in both the early days when you’re jack-of-all trades and master of none, as well as when the company matures and you have to be more specialized.”
Raise enough. “Cash is king, cash is queen, cash is jack, cash is everything. Never let yourself run short on cash. When you’re thinking how much you’re going to need think again!”
Raise it soon. “Don’t ever get close to the proverbial “Wall” because it’s hard to raise funds. You don’t want to negotiate on scared money so make sure you’re raising money when you don’t need it rather than waiting until the last second thinking you’re going to get the big deal you’ve been working on.”