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5 minutes with... Keyloop chief executive Tom Kilroy

5 minutes with Tom Kilroy

In the latest in Automotive Management's (AM) 'Minutes With...' series of automotive retail supplier features, news and features editor Tom Sharpe caught-up with Keyloop chief executive Tom Kilroy.

You moved to Keyloop (formerly CDK International) from its new owner Francisco Partners. What’s your background?

I was with Francisco Partners (FP) for the past year as an operating partner. The partners are a group of about 25 people concentrating on doing deals, the operations of the companies FP owns and things they’re looking at buying. I’m also a board member at EG Software in the Nordics and I was COO of a software company here in the UK, doing software for banks and financial institutions, with a workforce of around 10,000 people. Uptime and reliability were everything, but around that core people want digital evolution and better data.

What was your involvement in the CDK International acquisition?

I was involved in the due diligence for the acquisition of CDK International at the start. I think we first got inquisitive last October and signed the deal in November. We meant it when we said we wanted to move quickly. Me joining the business was something that evolved over time.

Does FP have experience in automotive?

FP have companies that serve the auto sector, but this is their first purely automotive investment. They specialise in software investment. They have been around since 1999 and have done 300 acquisitions. They do really understand software and that gives you confidence in getting a tech company to perform to its best.

With so much change happening in automotive – including the possibility of greater OEM control through an agency franchise model – what attracted FP to the automotive sector?

There’s a tendency to say there is a lot of change going on, changes to distribution and how fast EV is coming along, but once you start to dig into that the reality is much more attractive. Franchisees are the last role in the distribution chain, that touch customers, and it’s a physical product. Even customers who would like to do things wholly online may still want to test drive a car and they’ll certainly want to have it serviced. Dealerships are a critical part of the industry landscape and I don’t think that will change. What I do think people want, however, is a more flexible experience and a more consistent one. I don’t think the move to the agency model should be worried about. We have relationships with around 60 OEMs from the work we already do, so what we want to be able to do is to do this together. It’s a symbiotic relationship. (Dealers and OEMs) need each other to succeed.

Keyloop moved quickly to acquire RAPID RTC and enquiryMAX. What is the growth strategy going forward?

In the past we’ve been seen as a dealer management system (DMS) provider but we want to expand on that, thinking about the value chain for our customers, from the parts store to the data analytics, that will help them understand their business better. We want to be open. We really want to be an enabler for dealers that might already be using other systems. We don’t see ourselves as revolutionaries. We want to continue that evolution and ensure that our technology continues to be relevant. I think we do see our strategy to build, to buy and to partner. It’s a question about which approach is best in each area. We’ve built models like Advanced Parts ourselves, but the reality was that we weren’t as strong in the showroom and we didn’t have any lead management capability. The goal would be to ensure that lead that starts in RAPID ends up in enquiryMAX and results in a sale managed via our DMS. We then want to take all that data and do far more effective lead attribution.

How much focus is on online car retail?

We’ve active partnership discussions going on. We understand that while some people want to buy online, others don’t. We need to be able to enable all the options. I think we need to strengthen our partnerships in analytics. It doesn’t make sense for us to build that capability because we won’t be able to do that as well (as some established players). We think there are many more applications we can bring to our clients. The DMS market is now fully penetrated.

What is the scale of Keyloop’s client base?

As Keyloop, we serve around 3,000 rooftops in the UK, RAPID has around 1,200 in the UK and enquiryMAX 970. Globally, we serve around 16,000 rooftops. We want to take RAPID and enquiryMAX elsewhere, to the Nordics and the Middle East.

And the capacity for revenue growth?

We’re around about the $350 million (£250m) revenue mark. We’re solidly profitable and we want to make sure we’re scalable. The way we organise our product teams is changing. We want to be organised around the areas where our customers are focused. We’ve around 600 people in development, around 250 of those based in Hyderabad.

What is the main focus for Keyloop now?

The main thing for me is we don’t become internally focused. The key thing is our customers and that the product roadmap is a collaboration with the industry. We want to be a product-led and market-led company.

KEYLOOP FACT FILE

HEADQUARTERS: HUNGERFORD; LEEDS (ENQUIRYMAX); WINNIPEG, CANADA (RAPID RTC)
CUSTOMER BASE: 16,000 ROOFTOPS
EMPLOYEES: 2,500
TURNOVER: $350M (£250M EST)

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