[quote style=”boxed”]Work tirelessly day and night for as long as you have to and make sure your product or service is the best on the market. [/quote]
Ryan Williams started in the car business as an intern for Lexus in 1995. He has held automotive internships every year in F&I, retail and at the manufacturer level and started selling cars full time in 1998 at a Toyota store in Western Pennsylvania.
Ryan resides in State College PA with his wife Shelly and his two children, Carter and Adyson. He enjoys running, cycling, sports and most of all spending time with his family.
Ryan is a true industry veteran who has a passion for the automotive industry and all it offers.
What are you working on right now?
We are working on integrating our platform into many F&I menu solutions as well as separating our product (Fidelis PPM) from our software platform. Our platform is positioned to be the only true PPM and retention gateway in our space. We are going to connect every dealer to their administrator and revolutionize the automotive pre paid maintenance world. We are in discussions with many OEM’s and several F&I administrators for a white label of our gateway. Super exciting for us.
Where did the idea for Fidelis PPM come from?
My partner Dan who is our co-founder had the idea with our other partner Paul birthed the idea when looking at the existing PPM solution they had at a dealership they worked at. Noticing the lack of substance and technology in their existing offering, Dan with his programming experience was able to see a vision and use his coding experience to develop our platform. After a three year beta test I joined the company without any accounts on the books and we took it to market in September 2009. Since then we have morphed from a product provider to using our solution as a gateway to connect dealers to their product administrators using our integration with their DMS. This product hasn’t ever been given any research or funding by product providers as it has been off the radar and a low volume product. Since GM and Toyota began offering free 2 year maintenance on all their cars. That has created a big buzz and started dealers asking us how they can have it!
How do you make money?
We charge a rooftop monthly licensing fee or a per contract administrative fee that ranges from $20 to $50 per contract that the dealer sells to the customer.
What does your typical day look like?
5 to 6 hours on the phone all day every day. Interspersed with webinars and meetings. I am driving production for our agents and setting up strategic partnerships, integrating their technology and ideas into ours with my partners.
I need about 10 more hours in each day! We sign up general agents to resell our product. They re-sell to franchised car dealers. We do go to meetings on their behalf, trade shows about every 4 months, sign strategic partnerships, train new agents, install new accounts, fly all over the country, improve our product with our in house developers.
How do you bring ideas to life?
With some feedback from customers or employees we make some changes. We also look at competition and where a process void may be then make changes accordingly. When we make the changes and enhancements we market that well on Twitter, Linkedin and PR web.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Integration. Our own development team builds our product and they have written our own custom API to integrate into any system. We have also partnered up with PEN, Providers Exchange Network to integrate into multiple other systems. We invested early on in technology when none of our competitors had. This is exciting to leverage at a time when API’s and integration are the keys to the kingdom.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The first one I ever had. Being a janitor for my father’s commercial janitorial company. He said, “here is your garbage can and toilet wand. Go clean the top floors of that bank downtown Denver and it better be perfect”. He also said if I quit or didn’t do a perfect job that I would be in massive trouble and be janitor the remainder of my life. He taught me to take pride in everything I do and do it well. Regardless of what it is be the best at it. And if you think you have it bad, like scrubbing toilets, it can still be much much worse. I learned to have pride in my work, work hard all day every day and entrepreneurship is amazing.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Spend more money on a real marketing strategy with a real marketing company much earlier.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Work tirelessly day and night for as long as you have to and make sure your product or service is the best on the market. Then spend a ton of money on great strategy, marketing and PR. Leverage every contact in your space and be a connector to get your world talking about you, in the right light.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Picking the wrong partners early on. Not vetting them or doing enough due diligence. Picking the wrong partners cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time, revenue and legal bills. Keep your eyes wide open.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Algorithms and data mining for any product within a database with a e sales solution. Customers all have buying signals built into what they own and buy. A small search engine in mountain view Ca sort of has this figured out. This can be applied to any retail segment. Auto parts, diapers, cars, furniture. Target, target, target. This is the reason the newspaper and billboard industries are dying on the vine. This idea will work for not only now but for a long time to come and become even more valuable. Big data has and will changed the way we look at advertising and marketing.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Reduce the divorce rate. No clue how…a strong family and family unit prove to produce happier, healthier, more prosperous and economically viable people. Divorce sucks and sucks the life out of our culture…still no clue on how to change it though!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Wikipedia, Google and Amazon web services. Their quirkiness and leadership among all classes of people and business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Drive by Daniel Pink. Dan will remind you that we can’t motivate people rather we need to lead and find out what motivates each person in our organization and cater to that..
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh 10 times a day..yes, out loud. That is how I stay sane.
Who is your hero, and why?
My dad…for too many reasons that I can write about. But a few good ones are: He is an amazing father, husband and his work ethic is un-paralleled. To me, having those three attributes, one can sleep well each night and rule the world with integrity and conviction and people will follow.
Did I go into the right industry and for the right reasons?
Did I marry the right woman?
That is more of a question for her, if she married the right man! But, she makes me feel luckier each and every day by the example she leads as a mother, nurse, wife and person. Her character is unmatched and envious. She is a true saint and I don’t deserve her for a second..
Fidelis PPM on LinkedIn:
Fidelis PPM on Twitter : @FidelisPPM
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.