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committed Ally is to its strategy. "Ally has always been in the usedcar fnancing business, but I would say in the last two or three years, we really focused more on it," explains Jim Auttonberry, an Ally account executive. "We think it is a growth target for us, a growth opportunity. The used-car business has exploded, so we see it as a great opportunity, and Texas Direct Auto has given us a chance to prove that." Click and Order Williams and business partner Mike Welch founded Texas Direct Auto in 2002, after selling their software business and deciding their next entrepreneurial venture would be in the used-car business. Today, Texas Direct Auto is the largest independent dealership in the nation and the largest eBay Motors dealership in the world. Based in Stafford, Texas, the company stocks more than 2,000 units at all times, with sales topping $500 million annually. "The segue from the technology business to the car business isn't an obvious one, unless you think about what was going on in the timeframe — the emergence of e-commerce, eBay, affordable digital cameras, high-speed Internet," Williams says. Williams and Welch frst acquired a small warehouse and began going to auctions, buying cars, cleaning them up, taking digital photos, listing them online and doing the title work. Leveraging their love of cars and their e-commerce know-how, Williams and Welch saw their start-up business thrive. The business is headquartered in a highly automated, 400-square-foot facility — a one-of-a-kind, used-car selling factory of sorts. But it's the operation's digital storefront that really drives the business, with Texas Direct Auto retailing select, late-model units on eBay that are in high demand. These are typically one-owner or offlease vehicles, many of which are still under factory warranty. But what really drove the business was a decision Williams and Welch made fve years ago. "We decided to move away from our local banks and go over to Ally," Williams recalls. "From a growth perspective, we had tapped out the ability of our local banks to fnance us on the wholesale side." The business partners knew right away they made the right call when they realized their Ally rep spoke the same language. "We knew at Ally, their whole business is the car business, so when we talk about contracts in transit, it's not a confusing term for them," Williams says. "They understand that and they understand the capital needs of a car dealership like us." The two business partners were also impressed by their rep's acumen for technology-based solutions. They also appreciated that the Ally team was open-minded and enthusiastic about their creative approach to selling used cars — even though it was Blueprint Breakdown Ally's exclusive Blueprint for Dealer Growth program provides a personalized plan to help dealers understand and identify opportunities to increase revenues and proﬁts within their business. Blueprinting a Strategy: Ally Auto's sales team conducts face-to-face meetings with the dealer and key personnel to review the operation and to deﬁne future goals and potential opportunities. Growth Plan: Ally's goal is to improve how much the F&I ofﬁce makes and keeps, with participating dealers receiving a personalized revenue strategy to improve their dealership. Proﬁt Drivers: Ally offers a full suite of F&I products, as well as best-in-class trainers that take dealers and their employees through a detailed curriculum designed to help drive PVR. Sales and service department training also is included, as well as F&I presentation software.