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The Future of FUSE: Q&A with VP of Sales Tom Ryan

News and Insights February 16, 2022

By: FUSE
5 minute read

When it comes to the automotive industry, Tom Ryan has truly seen it all. 

As the Vice President of Sales at FUSE, he brings over 40 years of experience to dealers, customers, and everyone in between. 

Prior to joining FUSE, Ryan started his career at Walser Automotive Group, where he served as Director of Training for more than 30 years — experience that resulted in Ryan being a highly sought after trainer and dealership operations consultant. In 2008, he transitioned to Morrie’s Automotive Group, and in 2016, joined Ryan Adams Group. For the past twelve years, he has focused primarily on customer experience innovation, working with more than 300 dealerships and dealer groups throughout the United States and Canada.

Tom has been involved with the development of FUSE since its inception, and in January 2021, was named Vice President of Sales. 

In our recent sit down interview, Tom pulls back the curtain on new technologies that are providing the ultimate digital retail experience for dealerships and how FUSE is solving problems dealerships face in today’s digital-first world. 

Tom, you’ve been in the auto industry for a while. What do you make of the last 40+ years? And what themes are shaping the industry today?

The internet changed everything for customers and dealers. Once upon a time, the dealers were in ivory towers with a vise grip on the flow of information. The internet totally upended that. It not only gave customers access to endless insights and information. It gave them control. 

Flash forward to today, and nobody goes to the dealers for information anymore. The answers are all online. 

We’ve seen a number of disruptors in the auto space. Carvana is one, and even Amazon is now tangentially involved. Where does FUSE fit in?

FUSE was first invented as a cash register. It was built to streamline the checkout process of the car experience. 

Now, we didn’t set out to only digitize a few aspects of the experience. We aimed to expedite the entire car buying experience. 

On paper, it sounds like a pretty obvious solution, right? I mean, the travel industry has done it with Orbitz and Kayak. 

But no one has for the auto industry.

Not until now. Yeah. 

I was going to say, even though it looks simple on paper, it’s actually really difficult to execute in practice. Even Elon Musk doesn’t offer what FUSE delivers. 

He can get you to Mars, but he can’t do digital retail. Recently, I’ve had folks from a few companies call me up and say, “Our developers are totally tapped out. They simply can’t do it.” 

So they bought part of the API for FUSE. 

It’s that hard to develop?

Yeah. And I’m not trying to take a shot at Tesla here, but it amazes me that a company of that magnitude — with those kinds of resources — can’t get there. 

I mean, if you want to buy a Tesla, you do it online. Or you at least make an online reservation. But you still have to transact in the studio.

At FUSE, we’re enhancing the entire dealership experience — both online and in-person. 

Digital retail is simply an extension of the overall product. 

But dealerships don’t value the online experience? 

No, they do. They love it. The OEM — the manufacturers — they love digital retail.

And the dealerships that are working with you — they love FUSE. So can you tell me about the true appeal of FUSE?

Dealers have a healthy dose of skepticism. As well they should. 

When new products go to market, they hear people chanting, “XYZ Product does everything for you!” And it doesn’t. It’s way overhyped, and over time, dealers get burnt out by these false promises. 

FUSE actually does everything. 

For example, let’s say we’re processing a credit application. 

The FUSE platform submits the application, produces a decision, and presents the appropriate financial products. Then, it writes the contracts, handles the existing paperwork, enables electronic signatures, funds the deal, then pushes it right back into the DMS. 

That’s the equivalent of a four-minute mile. Nobody’s ever seen it in our industry before. 

Wow.

That’s exactly what the dealers who have seen FUSE in action are saying. “Wow.”

But they have to see it to believe it. And that’s what we’re really focusing on right now. 

Seeing is believing. Watch FUSE Transact in action now.

Quick detour here. In your view, how has the pandemic changed the business? 

Well, I think it’s forced everyone to rethink their business models. The pandemic has driven customers home and made us reevaluate processes that formerly relied on people showing up in-person.

You hear a lot of people claim, “customers are tired of retail. They hate retail.” I’m not sure that’s true. I think what customers dislike is bad retail. 

I mean, nobody gets tired of a great retail experience. The best companies — the Nordstroms, Apples, Lululemons, and Ritz Carltons of the world — they all provide premium products with top tier customer service. 

Nobody’s tired of that kind of retail. People will pay an arm and a leg for it. If you create a great experience, customers will show up for that. 

Can you tell me a bit about “single point of contact”? 

It’s essentially where one person oversees a process from beginning to end. For example, it might involve appointing a salesperson to also handle the financial intricacies of a project. 

When I was with the Ryan Adams Group (which has since been acquired by FUSE), we actively converted dealers to upfront pricing and single point of contact. 

It was a step in the right direction, but we needed more robust systems to support it. 

Ultimately, we learned that while streamlining services is good, it can still get messy in our industry. I mean, you can’t just appoint someone the “Single Point of Contact Czar” and expect everything to magically improve. 

You need certain technologies to unite the disparate silos in an efficient and reliable way.
It has to be automated. Just ask our CEO, Colton Ray. 

Without that underpinning technology, you end up with a lot of data entry duplication and reporting errors.

These technologies all speak different languages.

So FUSE is designed to not only translate this technological Tower of Babel, but to streamline it so they’re all talking to each other without interruption. 

Speaking of interruptions, let’s talk about supply chain setbacks. Can FUSE help dealers mitigate these ongoing problems?

Absolutely. 

If you’re a dealer, FUSE will pull from whichever company syndicates your inventory. So in other words, whatever is in stock is available to FUSE.

That means we can pull deals in real time. More importantly, we have the ability to search  a VIN and process the deal based on the factory program. 

So right now, there are a ton of dealer trades (and lots of incoming cars that may not exist in your DMS). Despite the chaos, FUSE has the ability to simply cut and paste from any source and continue to work the deal all the way to the end. 

So while we can’t necessarily fix the shortage, FUSE can help dealers pre-sell their inventory ahead of time and work the deal as if it is in stock. 

It’s just another way FUSE helps dealers go from ‘hello’ to signatures in under an hour.

Shift sales into high gear.

Experience the future of financing for yourself. Schedule a demo today.

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