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iMagic Lab, Dealer CRM | Martin Damato

Being in the automotive industry for some time now, nearly 8 years, I remembered back to the days when I first started. I was 20 years old, fresh out of college, trying to take over the world - one phone call at a time. The company I was with at the time, didn't have the luxury of having the finer things that other automotive companies had. We had a pad, paper, and IF our website company offered a FREE CRM, we had that too.   A few years went by, I saw myself begin to progressive and outgrow the store I was at, I was ready for a great challenge. I joined Pine Belt Automotive for a great opportunity and a chance to see my talents flourish with a company that was the top of their game. 


I can tell you from firsthand experience, a huge part in our success here is Dealer CRM | iMagicLab. And I can tell you why in one word.... Simplicity. Like many other dealerships in America, we still have managers, employees, and officers that have worked more time in the "old days" then they have in the "new days" and that's okay! The car business will always remain the same in which you still must execute the basics better than your competition in order the succeed month in and month out. What our CRM company does that brings us to another level, is adapt to OUR life, instead of us adapting to theirs. They are habit forming, they are easy, they do not complicate the situation, they do not try to do too much, they simply compliment our dealerships lifestyle and now has become a system in which we depend on. 

Now look, it did not start out like that all. There was a time where we as a dealer we just logging in deals. And then we eventually moved to deals and "should be a deal." Now, I can honestly say, we are at 95-98% every month. And listen, anyone who sits where and tells you they are at 100% and they never miss anything and any other talk like that is flat out lying. We are humans in a fast paced world, we are not perfect and will never be. DealerCRM did an unbelievable job with their updates and improvements to take an already great product and make it excellent. 


iMagicLab is a tool in which we lean on. It is a tool in which we need for our everyday business. It blends simplicity with necessity. It pays attention to detail, but not too much detail.  It will not consume you or overwhelm you. As an Internet Director, I can use and be successful with any CRM that you put in front of me, any Internet Director/Manager will be. Our learning curve is a lot sharper then everyone else in the dealership. It's the SALESMAN, the blood line of our dealership, that took the ball that is iMagicLab and ran with it. Why? Because it is not a second job for them. It complements the job that they already have. 


This blog entry is not intended to sell or promote in any manner. I just simply want to applaud Dealer CRM | iMagicLab, Ownership, Management, Support, and everyone else involved with the creation and every day activity of our system. 

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Having worked in the dealership for the last 15 years I have firsthand experience with all these things and then some. Immediately prior to joining iMagicLab I made a conscious decision to enter the vender world, just as I made a conscious decision to enter the retail auto industry so many years ago. It wasn’t happenstance, wasn’t “a job” but is a career fueled by a passion. It's amazing to me when talking with dealers how many times they don't expect me to understand these things simply because I’m a “CRM Vendor.” Here’s a fun list of some of the more common highlights your CRM vendor doesn’t know or understand.

1. How to load a navigation disk. – Okay some manufacturers are getting away from them but still how much of a PITA is this? Don’t get me started on setting up Bluetooth or a rolling code garage door opener…

2. Contracts in Transit and what it really means for the Dealership!! – Every Finance Manager just broke a sweat!

3. They don't know what to do when the Internet is down. - Do you even know where to start to type or hand-write a contract?  Do you know how to get used car values without using the internet? This leads us to... #4

4. They don't know how to appraise a trade. – Sure they may have tools that pull numbers from KBB and black book, but we all know that’s NOT "appraising."  To them recondition cost is just a magical number. I know that wad of gum stuck in the driver's side carpet is going to cost $65.00 and the cracked windshield will be $133.50. No tool is going to have that info on the fly!!

5. They don't realize what an early model trade can do to a cash position. – We had a great weekend, sold 28 cars with 10 early model trades and sales people were mad because I wholesaled them all. We couldn’t floor them and we needed to preserve our cash position.

6. They don't know how to sell a car. – Sure, they can rattle off a preprogrammed road to a sale but can they create their own? Based on your store, your market, your brand and your team? Do they know how to switch a customer from an F250 Crew to a used Malibu? 

6.5 They never stood on point. – Enough said…

It’s my opinion that the key to working with dealers and providing the level of service needed to facilitate positive and sustainable change is understanding their business. Helping dealers find the right solution that matches their needs is what makes this job amazing.  I understand more than most of my contemporaries that cookie cutter approaches simply don’t work.

-Chris Vitale is Vice President of Sales for iMagicLab and resides in Baltimore, Maryland which is where the company’s headquarters is located.

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Keith Latman and His iMagicLab Team Create Customer Relationship Management (CRM) "Think Tank" By Assembling Auto Industry Thought Leaders, Innovative Dealers, Experienced Development Team Catalysts and Extensive Resources to Craft the Future of Automotive CRM...


On Thursday June 13, 2013 in the early afternoon Sean V. Bradley and I left the DealerSynergy offices in Audubon, NJ and drove down to Baltimore to participate in an iMagicLab hosted event and meeting.  Sean and I had both received invitations without knowing about the other. I had been at DealerSynergy to record video clips for training sessions within the soon to be launched Automotive Digital Training Channel. Before anyone accuses Keith Latman of grandiose concepts, I will unashamedly describe what emerged at iMagicLab on Friday as a "CRM Think Tank" session...


The attendees were an impressive mix of advanced CRM "Success Story" car dealers, consultants, thought leaders and experienced CRM developers that had previously worked for iMagicLab competitors. Sean V. Bradley and i rarely get excited about the same things when it comes to dealer management software and applications, but in today's case we both saw Keith open the doors to a barn with an "I'll be damned if that ain't an actual Unicorn in there" look on our faces as what iMagicLab has created with their upcoming launch of CRMsuite revealed itself to our harshly critical inspection...

The founder of iMagicLab, Keith Latman and I have some colorful.. ahem, "history" going back a few years. When I spoke to him about it, he told me that knowing i would be closely looking for "flies in the ointment" is one of the reasons why he invited me... Wanted to get some seriously non-ass-kissing feedback from someone who knows CRM app development who would poke and jab at what he is getting ready to launch...

The reality of what happened during the iMagicLab CRM Think Tank discussions was that Joe Webb took enough carefully aimed shots at Keith Latman's assumptions and dealership work flows that I was able to focus my questions on identifying many of the incredible number of data sources, algorithms, and (for real) artificial intelligence capabilities feeding a series of dynamic real time action items to be executed by dealership employees. All of which is being served up in a modular GUI that will most certainly replace the overwhelming frustration created by typical (and dreaded) "Daily Work Plans", which define each user's core list of daily action items, and is generated by most of today's current crop of CRM systems...
I almost HATE to admit it, but Keith Latman and Chris Vitale got me more excited and eager to test drive the soon to be in limited release iMagicLab "CRMsuite" than I have been about any other CRM application in over ten years... At this point, getting me excited about the technical architecture of a CRM solution is nearly impossible, because our industry has been stuck in a CRM application rut for at least ten years!

What i saw on Friday was the iMagicLab team build out of a "CRMsuite" branded solution that delivers on Keith Latman's radical new big data driven approach and system design. Every aspect of CRMsuite has the potential (if it actually works as shown) to provide digitally competent dealership teams with customer engagement capabilities far beyond what any other auto industry CRM development team has ever attempted to do... I believe that the iMagicLab CRMsuite may be capable of enabling dealers to deploy a radical new approach to customer engagement and communication.

The core activity generating engine appears to be designed to predict a series of communications and customer contact most likely to result in a sale based on empirical analysis of the customer's information, activities and social signals. few observers may be willing to agree with me at this point, but i believe CRMsuite may trigger the equivalent of an arms race among automotive CRM developers and dealership suppliers.

The biggest caveat I sense are the questions around "can the iMagicLab team, led by Keith and his top managers sell, deliver, install and ramp dealers up on the CRMsuite at any significant levels of scale and dealer network penetration?"

I may be biased after 20 years of working on several CRM development, sales and implementation teams, but I see a lot of potential for dealer demand for CRMsuite to far exceed what the existing iMagicLab team has the ability to deliver and install... The limited sneak preview and deep architectural designs we saw at iMagicLab on Friday were THAT impressive!

Meet 3 Automotive Technology Professionals Leading the iMagicLab CRM Think Tank

Keith Latman | Chief Executive Officer


Tom Harsha | President of Auto Division


Chris Vitale | Vice President of Sales

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"How to Maximize your CRM"

I believe in holding my sales team accountable, and when I meet with my salespeople and go over what they are doing every day, I naturally tend to focus on their "planners". My dealership uses Car Research, while many of you use Compass, Higher Gear, Vin Solutions, or one of the other outstanding CRM's on the market today. I'm sure many of you are tired of your managers hounding you to "finish your tasks". The funny thing that I have noticed is that the tasks that tend to get the least amount of attention are the "orphan owners" that get randomly assigned to your account (based on your CRM of course) . It is these customers that I would like to address for a few moments.

One of the biggest problems in most dealerships today is that the average salesperson simply doesn't know all the tools that are available to them in the CRM. Yes, they might know how to enter and update a customers status, but that is about it. You wouldn't believe all the tools available to help you sell more cars and make a LOT more money. It would be the equivalent of buying a new Iphone and simply using it to make calls. How much would you be missing?

Most of your CRM's are tied into your Service Department, so if you do a little digging, you will find that somewhere in your customers information screen, usually under "Vehicle Information", you can find out everything you need to make a car deal. My salespeople could not believe that if the customer bought from our dealership, the CRM will show the remaining payments, interest rate, approximate payoff and approximate ACV or their trade! Do you think you could sell more cars if you had that information BEFORE you made that Orphan Owner call? You can actually search your dealerships files based on approximate equity, and then call these beautiful customers and let them know that they can upgrade their current vehicle for about what they are currently paying. Do you now see why the Orphan Owners in your planners are actually some of the hottest prospects you have been ignoring?

As Dr. Covey would say, you need a Paradigm Shift in your thinking. You need to see the CRM as the BEST TOOL YOU HAVE TO HELP YOU SELL CARS!. And if you don't understand how to use it, don't just rely on your friends limited knowledge (the proverbial blind leading the blind). There is usually a help line to call, a rep who can stop by, or how to videos on the site. In any case, there are tons of customers right at your fingertips that you have been ignoring for far too long.

Remember It's not about where you've been but where you are going. It only takes the courage to recognize it and TAKE ACTION NOW! OF course, when you realize how much business you have missed, it will make you sick.

Are you up for the challenge? I promise you it will be well worth it.

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Peter Martin Speaking At The Internet Sales 20 Group On "Permission Based Email Marketing & Data Mining" from Dealer Synergy on Vimeo.

Peter Martin, CEO of Cactus Sky, Speaking At The Internet Sales 20 Group On "Email Marketing & Data Mining"

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Meet The Founder
"Car guy," Howard Leavitt, has spent over 40 years establishing a strong reputation as one of the brightest and most accomplished retail managers on the U.S. automotive scene. And as founder/inventor of AutoRaptor, he has leveraged his genius in developing the perfect showroom tool that not only aces traditional CRMs, but actually gets used.

Quick Interview With the Founder of AutoRaptor CRM, Howard Leavitt At the CRM Convention

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What is AutoRaptor CRM?
A Powerful Tool for Any Dealership!
View our About AutoRaptor Slideshow

AutoRaptor CRM is a web-based Customer Relationship Management solution that offers a way to change how your salespeople relate to customers.

By nurturing a new philosophy on customer relations your dealership will make more sales and retain more customers.

Features include:  

AutoRaptor CRM enhances your dealership through:

  • Incredible ease of use
  • Accessibility from anywhere - web-based with mobile versions available
  • All-in-one convenience
  • Increase in sales!

Who Uses AutoRaptor CRM?

  • Any new or independent dealership with a commitment to an improved, results-driven sales process 
  • Dealerships that designate a champion to make sure the system gets used
  • Will you commit to leading your team to success?
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The Importance of Your Command Center (CRM) & How To Gather "Field Intel" (CRM Convention 2012 Presentation)
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Sean V. Bradley, CEO of Dealer Synergy is a Speaker at the CRM Convention, he will be speaking on Tuesday the 11th on "Unlocking the Secrets of your CRM"

You could stop at booth #309 to visit him or Karen Bradley

Sean V. Bradley & Karen Bradley At the 2012 CRM Convention in Las Vegas

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Sean V. Bradley is Training a HIGH LEVEL Automotive Internet Sales / BDC Director on "How to Identify LOST Opportunities" and how to EVOLVE her Employees

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