It’s no “Ozark”, but Auto Truck’s Remote Spec Reviews are a Hit

Even if you’re not watching the drama series “Ozark”, you’ve probably stumbled on its intriguing premise of a financial-advisor-turned-money-launderer anti-hero played by Jason Bateman. What you may not know, however, is that Bateman also works as a director and executive producer on what’s shaping up to be one of Netflix’s best-performing original series.

SPOILER ALERT: Sadly, I can’t reveal that ARI and Auto Truck Group have slated Jason to produce our virtual meetings. I can tell you how we share common “star” qualities with Mr. Bateman – loads of talent, ability to succeed in a variety of roles, open to trying new things, and a dedication to memorable experiences.

As the COVID-19 pandemic translated to open-ended travel shutdowns in the first quarter, we put these performance qualities to work hosting remote vehicle specification review meetings for our customers. This wasn’t Auto Truck’s Zoom debut– as we’ve used it in the past to overcome winter weather challenges– but it was definitely the right time to increase our web production value!

Same series, new plot twists

When shelter-in-place mandates and travel restrictions ramped up in mid-March, Auto Truck had a number of newly spec’d builds rapidly approaching the review step. Even when we have an approved spec design, budget, and parts list, we always want to confirm everything aligns with the customer’s expectations before forging ahead. This applies to simple changes to an existing spec, or building out a brand new specification. So we dusted off our webcams, confirmed our customers were on-board to give Zoom-based reviews a shot, and started planning.

The magic happens behind-the-scenes

If you faced a quick transition from the office to working from home, you can likely relate to the planning details required for hosting a successful web conference. Video and sound working? Check. Webcam positioned properly? All good. Agenda to help the conversation flow? Sent. Pants on? Let’s do this.

For a spec review where the customer’s vehicle is making its starring role debut, we must solve for more layers of celebrity-level complexity. While our builds don’t insist on sparkling water or model name stenciled on their trailer doors, it’s still our job to film all of their “best sides” for our client audiences.

Making Zoom magic happen for a specification review requires a trusted production crew. Here’s a rundown of how ARI and Auto Truck prepare for a meeting:

Over the last three months, we have received positive reviews from fleet customers on these spec “episodes.” They are pleased with the process, and how Zoom helps to focus on certain build elements one at a time. Working together, ARI, Auto Truck, and our customers can move our shared business forward in spite of pandemic challenges.

A permanent shift in programming?

Web conferencing has become a valuable channel for ARI and Auto Truck to continue using even as the United States and Canada start returning to more normalized conditions. But our people and customers agree that web conferencing is not a permanent replacement for the in-person experience. That sentiment goes deeper than wanting to tangibly interact with the vehicles in our facilities: it’s truly about the people and our relationships.

The most valuable part of the face-to-face spec review experience is the strengthening of our partnerships, followed closely by the “inspiration” factor. While we’re always excited to suggest ways for improving a spec, seeing that enhancement already incorporated into another company’s build helps inspire our customers to move forward with new ideas.

The future offers channel choices

As we’re able to return to in-person spec reviews, ARI and Auto Truck will continue using web conferencing whenever it can add value for our clients. For example, Zoom can be extremely useful in:

  • Reviewing minor and/or routine specification updates with longer-term accounts
  • Helping clients control their travel expenses, especially in the post-pandemic recovery phase
  • Expanding participation to include field personnel who would not typically attend in-person
  • Avoiding cancellations of time-sensitive meetings due to inclement weather

Thanks for tuning in for the latest episode of how the Holman family of businesses are putting our automotive competencies to work for fleet customers. Please remember that ARI and Auto Truck are here for you, and visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for the latest industry updates.