Blog Index
What Do Women Want? Answering This Age-Old Question for Your Service Lane

What’s the best way to find out what women want when they go to have their vehicle serviced? Ask them. The answers can go a long way towards helping dealerships attract and retain more women in the service lane. That’s critical, because there are more women on the road today than men, and women increasingly call the shots when it comes to household purchases. Isn’t it in your best interest to cater to them?

Dealertrack sat down with Anne Fleming, president and chief executive officer of the women-focused dealer review website Women-Drivers.com, to share results of her company’s 2014 year-to-date survey results and tips for driving  more women into your service lane. 

Common Sense about Inventory Management

Inventory management systems should be about helping you maximize profit and minimize risk, car by car and store by store. That’s it. But the problem is that a achieving a goal like that can be a challenge. There are so many trendy, overly complex methods being promoted and sold, so many “better and new ways” that it’s hard to know what’s right.

Top 3 Questions Service Managers Should Ask

Smart dealers know that the Fixed Ops department is their best bet for steady, consistent revenue. Yet the majority of service departments are leaving major money on the table. Why is this happening? It’s a perfect storm of a lax inspection process, no accountability and a service-not-sales mentality. In a market where competition is up and ROI is shrinking, you can’t afford to have your service technicians missing opportunities or just picking low-hanging fruit – like brake and power steering flushes – instead of completing a thorough inspection and selling customers on services that they actually need.  Not only does this approach improve sales, it also improves customer loyalty and trust. Want to get more revenue out of your lanes? Make sure your Service Manager can answer a few questions. 

Dealertrack Experts to Speak at Industry Summit 2014 in Las Vegas

If you are heading to Las Vegas for the 2014 Industry Summit, be sure to catch Dealertrack’s experts - Pete Batten and Ronda Lewis - as they share their industry expertise with attendees during the following panel sessions on Tuesday, September 9th:

- Dealership Sales & Technology: Building the Fully Online Sales Process - 11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.   

- P&A Panel Session: eSignature, Forms Management and Systems Integration - 3:05 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.

Be sure to stop by the Dealertrack booth #311 at the Industry Summit (September 8-10) in the Paris Hotel Las Vegas to learn more about the most comprehensive set of dealer solutions available and ask for a free demo.

See you at the show!

Protect Your Dealership Data

Do you know who has access to your data? And, what they’re doing with it?

Needless to say, these are the questions on the minds of a lot of people lately. If you’re a dealer principal or a manager, it should be on your mind, as well – in terms of dealership data.

When it comes to valuable customer information and data, you need to take real steps to protect it. And, your dealer management system (DMS) is an often-overlooked asset in your quest to protect your data and profits.

Compliance Issues Facing Dealers Today - Free Webinar

On Wednesday, August 20th at 2:00PM ET/11:00AM PT, Dealertrack Associate General Counsel Randy Henrick will review the top F&I compliance issues facing automotive dealers today, along with examples of how Dealertrack can help dealers manage their compliance requirements.  Topics include:

•             Disparate Impact Credit Discrimination

•             Dealer Advertising & Deceptive Ad Practices

•             Sales of Aftermarket Products

•             Unfair, Deceptive, and Abusive Practices

•             Tools to help your dealership maintain compliance

This webinar will conclude with a live Q&A session.

Click here to register!

3 Ways the “Profit Per Day” Metric For Used Cars Helps Dealers Sell More

Used car inventory management can be confusing. Heck, it is confusing – even for the most grizzled veterans in the retail business. No one has all the answers, and there is no crystal ball. No magic potion. What works is to understand your market and your store, work hard and pay attention to the details. 

The bottom line is this: PPD (Profit-per-Day) works because it helps dealers quickly see which cars sell and which ones don’t, compared to the market and based on specific dealership information. This helps dealers optimize their own inventory mix and pricing strategies.  Anything that does that would seem to work quite well – for lots of ways and reasons.

Advertising:  New Times, New Media, New Rules

Advertising the sale or financing of motor vehicles has become increasingly complicated with an aggressive Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the need to reach consumers (especially Millennials) through social media, which was never thought of when advertising laws and regulations were written.  It certainly makes a dealer’s life more complex.

The FTC has launched a new automotive program since the Dodd-Frank Act gave it streamlined authority to write regulations.  It has also become much more active in pursuing dealers for deceptive advertising under Section 5 of the FTC Act.  (Since 2012, the FTC has brought 16 cases against auto dealers for deceptive advertising.)  The FTC’s Head of its Bureau of Consumer Affairs said the FTC believes that deceptive dealer advertising is a “significant problem,” many automotive dealer investigations are “in the pipeline,” and that this is a “priority area” for the FTC.

FTC's Impact on Dealer Advertising - Free Webinar

On Thursday, July 24th, at 2:00PM ET/11:00AM PT, Dealertrak will host a free webinar on the impact of the FTC on dealer advertising.

During the webinar, Dealertrack Associate General Counsel Randy Henrick will talk about the FTC’s aggressive pursuit of dealers engaging in deceptive advertising activity, and will provide examples of deceptive advertising practices to avoid.

The webinar will conclude with a live Q&A session. You can register for the webinar by clicking the link below

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/468086120

Dealerships are NOT Created Equal

An interesting conversation has popped up in recent days regarding used vehicle inventory and the wisdom of relying too heavily on “Market Days Supply.” Some highly regarded experts consider it to be the single metric dealership managers should focus on when making decisions about stocking the used car lot.  It’s certainly something to consider, but in my experience, geographic location is not the most important elements – not by a long shot. 

The Terminal Effect of Velocity

Deciding between higher front end profits or faster turn times is the age-old best practice debate in the used car business. Some say, “Focusing too heavily on front end gross slows turn times and minimizes volume” (and it certainly can). Others claim that, “Focusing too heavily on turn only compresses front end margins” (and it certainly does). Most dealers have been leaning heavily toward fast turn (Velocity methodology) in recent years and, as result, the national average front end profit has dropped from nearly $2,000 per unit to about $1,200. Margins have been compressed largely due to what I call “Terminal Velocity.”

Gone in 60 Minutes. Demystifying the Online to In-Store Sales Process.

On Wednesday, July 16th, at 2:00 p.m. EDT/11:00 a.m. PDT, Dealertrack will be hosting a free webinar entitled “Gone in 60 Minutes. Demystifying the Online to In-Store Sales Process.”

During the webinar, attendees will learn how to construct a unified online to in-store shopping experience, and then transform their sales model to allow for a  consistent presentation of inventory, pricing, and financing options to shoppers online and in-store, while driving efficiency and profitability throughout the workflow.

This webinar will conclude with a live Q&A session where attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions about driving more profits from their websites into their showrooms.

To register for this webinar, go to:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/813112225

 

Wholesale Vehicle Acquisition: No FEE Inventory

The wholesale business for your vehicles can be a reliable revenue generator for your dealership.

Today, we discuss how you can acquire vehicles for no fee using existing resources and a bit of creativity.

By using proven acquisition, disposition, reporting and management strategies and techniques, and a bit of creativity, dealers can transform their wholesale businesses to deliver consistent, long-term bottom-line results.

 

Wholesale Vehicle Disposition: More Eyes = Higher Sale Prices

Improving the wholesale performance of your vehicle inventory can be the key to whether or not your dealership thrives in today’s marketplace.

With a little bit of knowledge about your business, the local market and vehicle disposition and acquisition, you can turn your wholesale business into a consistent six-figure revenue generator for your dealership or dealer group.

However, before ever jumping into the wholesale market and you begin disposing and acquiring vehicles, you’ll need to thoroughly understand your dealership’s ability to sell particular vehicles, the local market’s interest in and need for specific vehicles and the dealership’s plan for acquiring and selling the most sought-after and profitable vehicles.

Here, in the first of two posts on wholesale profits, we offer a few tips on getting more eyes on your vehicles for achieving maximum profits for your dealership.

Aftermarket Selling – The New Focus of the CFPB

The automotive retail market has been under the federal microscope for some time now….with no end in sight.

Federal agencies are focusing in on a range of issues within the automotive retail market.  Everything from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issuing guidance on credit discrimination in the indirect automotive financing market to the Federal Trade Commission’s Operation Steer Clear initiative against deceptive automotive financing advertising seems directed at automotive dealers in one form or another.

And now, the CFPB appears to be expanding its scrutiny of automotive dealers and lenders to the sale of aftermarket products.  It’s no secret that the CFPB does not think aftermarket products provide value to consumers.  It is also questionable which aftermarket products the CFPB can assert jurisdiction over although it is apparent that they believe any financed aftermarket product is fair game.

The Best Kept Secret to Inventory Success: The Individualized Vehicle Plan

In the early days, as dealers, we were taught that all vehicles in inventory should be stocked, bucketed, spiffed and priced, and when it hits the ripe old age of 60 or 90 days old, the vehicle should be sent to auction or sold cheap only to have the same process repeated over and over again.   

The problem?   We took wholesale losses and didn’t grow our volume quickly enough in our fast moving high probability sales, as we were weighted down with the “wrong stuff” or unsellable vehicles.

How do we GROW sales and profit while reducing risk?   The answer is IVP.

The “Individualized Vehicle Plan” or IVP looks at your inventory differently.

 

Capture More Sales from Your Website This Summer

The automotive industry is on pace for record sales this year with new vehicle sales predicted to reach more than 16 million, and this spring, visits to dealership websites are also up dramatically from last year.   

With this swift uptick of automotive shoppers visiting more dealership websites, we are seeing more and more dealers making investments in uniting and streamlining their online to in-store sales workflow. For many dealers across the country, Digital Retailing website tools are proving to be the answer for transforming their online/in-store sales process, improving customer engagement and overall CSI performance, and increasing lead-to-sales conversions.

Implementing dealer-controlled Digital Retailing tools on your website today can help position your dealership well for this summer selling season, and give you a clear competitive advantage in moving past basic website lead generation and onto real-time deal generation.

3 Step Plan for DMS Conversion

As a dealer, I am sure that you’ll agree: a dealer management system (DMS) conversion can be an intimidating and difficult process.

However, the potential to cut monthly costs, boost efficiency and streamline workflow for your dealership can far outweigh any upfront inconveniences resulting from a DMS conversion.

In an article titled “How to Find the Right DMS” in the May issue of Auto Dealer Monthly, I explore the three critical elements you need to look at when selecting your next DMS.

Putting a Priority on Customer Service – Dealer Spotlight

When it comes to customers, Florida-based dealer Earl Stewart is the epitome of customer service.

Earl began his career in 1968 selling cars at his father’s Pontiac dealership. Today, he owns the highly successful Earl Stewart Toyota in the small town of Lake Park, Fla., just north of West Palm Beach. His accolades run a mile deep: member of the Toyota President’s Cabinet four times (an honor awarded to only 12 dealerships a year), 12-time winner of Toyota’s President’s Award, member of Toyota’s Board of Governors for four consecutive years, and largest volume car dealer in his market.

Earl talks with Dealertrack about his key to success. In short? He’s really, really nice to his customers. 

Online Pricing and Credit Transparency: Where Do Top Dealers Stand? – Dealer Video

While some shoppers still prefer to visit the dealership in person to receive specific pricing and financing options, a growing number of consumers now expect to find accurate payment and pricing information on a dealer’s website.

Dealers are quickly adapting to meet consumer expectations by offering these shoppers a flexible online to offline shopping experience. Dealers are now offering more tools on their website that can give buyers the option to complete more of the buying process online.

Watch this video and learn how top dealers have successfully implemented Digital Retailing tools on their website to stay competitive and create a more valuable shopping experience for their buyers.