Industry News & Trends

Edmunds TMV vs TrueCar – Dealers, wake up!

As you know or if you’re not already aware, Edmunds.com is going direct to dealers. They’re cutting out the middle man (AutoUSA, Dealix and Autobytel) and coming after our business with a newly hired sales team.

edmunds vs TrueCar pricing analysisDealers, WE/YOU have a very important choice to make that WILL help determine change (good or bad) to our industry. Keep in mind, Edmunds.com has never been one to treat the dealer fairly.

I’ve been watching this for a while, and it’s not rocket science, but follow me…

A few years ago, Zag is re-selling leads to dealers per lead basis. Zag changes their subscription model and starts charging dealers on a per sold basis.

“So I don’t pay unless I sell a car?” – nope. That is music to a dealer’s ears!

However, in order to determine what to charge you, Zag needs access to your DMS in order to match-up customer sold data (dare they say “transactional data to the dealer”) with the leads they’ve sent you over the last few months.

Dealers don’t think twice about signing up for the new Zag subscription model. But not thinking twice is the potential issue. You just signed an agreement allowing a 3rd party company to proudly scrub your DMS for YOUR transactional data! Only to use this data to power a CONSUMER facing price analysis tool – TrueCar!

TrueCar Inc. is an automotive solutions provider focused on changing how cars are sold by providing a significantly better customer experience while helping qualified dealer partners to gain incremental market share and reduce costs. TrueCar.com is a transparent, visual publisher of new car transaction data.

How much more transparency does our business need? Perhaps this is nothing more than the evolution of our business.

I’ve spoken to several higher-ups at TrueCar and trust me, this is a determined company. They “want to change the way cars are sold and bought”. Yeah, we’ve heard this before, but this time we dealers need to listen and pay attention.

The challenge; how does TrueCar turn TrueCar to be a household brand?

Let’s review the top visited online automotive research sites …

Edmunds Most Visit Site

In order for TrueCar to become a household name, they need a platform to brand themselves. Edmunds.com fits the bill.

Before I go any further, allow me to inform you the following is pure speculation on my part… 😉

TrueCar’s people speak to Edmunds people about a possible synergy between the two. They consider a deal UNTIL Edmunds.com say “Whoooaa – wait a second, we already have a TrueCar piece and it’s over a decade old”. TMV – True Market Value.

For sure you haven’t forgotten about TMV have you?

Edmunds.com quickly figures out exactly what they need to do. Sell direct to the dealers. And in return suckering dealers into allowing them to pull their transactional data.

edmunds.com Dealer Contract for DMS Polling

Click here for a copy of the Edmunds.com Dealer Agreement For Dealers.

TrueCar already claims to have over 40% of all transactional data In the United States. Dealers allowed this to happen due to our ignorance and oversight.

Are you going to allow Edmunds.com to have YOUR data as well?

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    Anthony Stanley
  • June 14, 2011
Jeff, Great story!  I don't understand why dealerships feel the need to pay someone to help them give aaway gross profit.
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    Danielmorgan
  • June 14, 2011
I think its a Double-edged sword. Edmunds is one of the top vehicle research sites and normally has good to decent leads but yet they pull all our data to "help" the customers get a great buy and open up that lovely can of worms.....
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    Devlon
  • June 14, 2011
I looked into the Zag deal because they run the USAA's buying service.  They charge $300 a car you sell and most of the dealers are pricing their vehicles way below invoice.  Something here doesn't make sense.
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    Joe Webb
  • June 15, 2011
Great article, Jeff.  It makes you realize how all of this consolidation of companies and product offerings also means consolidation of data.  Vendors recognize that the more a consumer utilizes their system, it requires the dealers to follow suit.  In this instance, as you pointed out, it is a detriment to dealers for this to happen - AND THEY CAN ONLY DO IT WITH OUR HELP.  

Way to point out another obstacle for dealers to overcome in the online battle of transparency vs. profit.
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    Stan Sher
  • June 15, 2011
Oh my god..,I have been questioning many dealers that I work with or have worked with about why they would sign up. Their exact response is always "we sell an extra 10 to 20 cars per month with it it". They don't consider that the leads they are getting for the most part are a waste of time for bdc departments to handle because the price is non negotiable. More times then none the leads they send are from 50 miles away. So the customer takes the price and buys it locally. Talk about a vendor scamming dealers. Dealers listen to the fact that they pay if the car gets sold and no one ever tells them how it hurts them. When I tell them they don't listen either.
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Great explanation Alex.

There has to be so many people (dealers) who have no idea this is happening to them & what it means to them as well.

Also, can you expand on how the people at TrueCar intend to make this "change" from the service they provide? (and I want your interpretation, not their fluff answer, I know your explanation will be sans garbage!)

  • Anonymous
  • June 15, 2011
Dealers that sell for a loss on the front end make it up in F&I.
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Jeff,  what is the reference to PureCars in the article "PureCar already claims to have over 40% of all transactional data In the United States." How does that play into this?  
 
 
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Dealers, beware the EDMUNDS CASH trap. 

Edmunds is a research site, NOT a purchase decision site. Shoppers here are just beginning their MULTI-MONTH journey. 

What if you get a lead from edmunds on a Nissan Juke ('cuz it's cute) and 4 months you sell her a Chevy Cobalt from your Presidents day sale in the local paper.

On paid services like edmunds, the offer of "pay us only if you sell" is what we want to hear,  but buyer beware, look deeper!  You're NOT paying for an up, you've created an open door for an outside party to scour through your records and ADD MORE DOLLARS to your ad costs PVR.

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In other words... "how great is this lead?"

Ask Edmunds to limit the payout time to 2 weeks.  NOT.

Ask edmunds to limit it to a test drive based on the vehicle chosen. NOT.

Ask edmunds to de-dupe itself if the vehicle purchased did not match the  edmunds up.  NOT.

Ask edmunds to de-dupe itself if the buyer sent in another lead from another site that was newer than the edmunds lead. NOT.

Ask edmunds to de-dupe itself if the buyer sent in another lead from another site that created a test drive (a physical visit). NOT.


Dealer beware this model.
Consumers are everywhere, there are shopping sites everywhere, buy into this model and your ad costs PVR can explode.
  • Anonymous
  • June 15, 2011
I'm not so sure about this. We already tell all ZAG partners what our price is (USAA, etc) what's wrong with one more? (Truecar.com)

I put a lead in myself from truecar's website to track the process. going to get more data. Has anyone else seen any real numerical flaws here?
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 15, 2011
Yes this is typical, however as the "laws" tighten this too faces challenge.
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    Jhobbs
  • June 15, 2011
I have the Edmunds contract sitting on my desk for both stores.... I not going to sign do not think it is worth $3,000 for a 15 miles radius around the stores.....Then they want me to sign paper that i declined it sorry not doing that either.... 
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    Joe Webb
  • June 15, 2011
Joe - you ROCK.  IF (and that's a big i"if") those were the terms of agreement, I think we'd all see the value in it.  Even if we know that they won't allow such stipulations, I think we should go ahead and try by asking for them.


Why should they be rewarded for business any different than how an Internet Manager or BDC person is paid?  If a customer comes in and purchases a vehicle 1 month after the salesperson last spoke to the customer, do they get credit?  No.  Nor should the lead provider.

If a BDC person leaves a couple of voice mail messages and the customer walks in 3 weeks later and purchases a car, do we reward the BDC person?  No.  So why would we reward the lead provider?
I understand the flaw to my argument is that follow-up takes time, but we do such a poor job of sourcing on our showroom floors in the first place, I think some more reasonable, proven sourcing programs must be put in place first before we pay Edmunds per sale.

We've all seen the instance where a customer walks in with a newspaper tucked under their arm, salesperson logs them into the CRM as "Newspaper" for the advertising source, and sells them a car, just for the CRM to trigger an alert that the customer has been going back and forth with an ISM for 2 months.  Which source, may I ask, contributed most to them coming in?  - And there is the bugaboo for opening up a third-party provider for making that decision for you (and in their favor, most-likely).
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Jeff - great post! and Joe Pistell your observations are spot on. In an effort to garner more "quality" leads, dealers are often tempted to sign up for these things, and have no idea what the ramifications are. The Internet Manager goes to the GM or owner and says "we have an opportunity to get these great leads and only pay for the ones that buy".  No more questions asked...
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 15, 2011
Smart decision. I did the same. As Joe points out above, I believe you would be adding to your PVR.

Edmunds is a research site. I'll give Cars.com and AutoTrader my money first. Plus they have never asked for my transactional data.

Cars.com and AT should jump on this so when a dealer threatens to drop one of the 2 to transition over to Edmunds.com, they can educate the dealer on the agreement with Edmunds and what it means to the industry.
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    Patrick
  • June 15, 2011
The problem is that these customer member programs are not going to go away.  Customers are always looking for a special deal.  Zag goes after these large organizations like USAA, the NRA, Geico, the Hartford, Bank of America, etc. and says "Hey, put a member program on your site and we'll run it for you" (maybe even pay them to have it up there) and these organizations are just not saying no. So you can lose direct access to these customers or pick up a crucial (to the small-midsize dealer) 10-15 deals a month and still make money if done properly. 

The best way to fix the problem if you are going to stick with Zag is to collude with the other dealers on the program in your area and agree with the GMs or ISMs not to price below invoice.  Unfortunately, in my area, one stubborn (and stupid) manager at another dealership wouldn't jump on board and so a race to the bottom began.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 15, 2011
" Unfortunately, in my area, one stubborn (and stupid) manager at another dealership wouldn't jump on board and so a race to the bottom began."

Patrick, that's usually the issue only take one to ruin it. One slow month and agreements and handshakes fade away.

Having a buying program isn't the issue. It's the scrapping of our data and being used for consumer consumption - that's the issue (or not).

If I had I owned a local sub shop or a local electronic store, like hell would I allow a company to look at every single transaction and post my average profits for each product on my front door before entering into the store.
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    Guest
  • June 15, 2011


I questioned the DMS access and this is the message I got from them:
“Participating Dealers” for our consumers, not people who
just want to “get leads” and continue the old dissatisfactory practices with
them. It would be disingenuous of us to provide TMV and related transactional
data to consumers and then display “participating dealers”, and the closest as
“Premier Dealers”, who are not really participating in the process. These are
the information points that consumers come to Edmunds.com for. It has been
proven by our large group partners and individual dealers where we piloted this
program to be a better experience for the consumer and dealers sell more car to
them (and at higher grosses I might add).


 


The match back component of this data is very helpful for us
to determine and do our best to be sure the dealer is realizing the ROI we
believe he should be, and as we may have set forth in setting expectations with
the dealer. The information can be key in advising on Best Practices. Also,
this market intelligence can be helpful in “closing the sales loop” from the
factory advertising being sent to drive traffic to the Dealer Locator pages.

After reading this I told them no thanks. They are nuts...


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    Anonymous
  • June 15, 2011
A race to the bottom is exactly what's happening, and ironically it fosters behavior in some that makes the problem these guys claim they're trying to solve even worse. 

How many of you have heard stories of customers being lured in by insane ZAG pricing only to find that the price didn't include "mandatory" add-on products?  And how often has ZAG done anything about it?

As for making it up in F&I, about half of the ZAG customers come in with pre-approved financing from their member program.
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    Garnett Wilson
  • June 15, 2011
Car dealers have always and will always live in a 30-day world. Even the dealer groups live this way, so no one is going to forgo the Edmunds or USAA Zag leads just to stand up to an onerous data contract. They will all cave (they always do) for fear that their competitors will sign up and get those leads. 

Nice job Jeff, but dealers are expert marksmen when it comes to shooting themselves in the foot. (No offense, it's true.) 
  • Anonymous
  • June 15, 2011
Jeff,

As always I love that your site is an open forum for people to share their opinions. 

Since you and I have spoken over the past year you know that I actually launched and ran their first pilot market for the direct program so there are a few things that I can clarify on here. 

Before I do that let me say this...I respect anyone's opinion so this isn't a pissing match. I want to only fill in some things that were possibly misunderstood in regard to this Direct Program.

And I will say - I'm still helping them on a Contract Basis by meeting with dealers to break down what the program means in their market. I tell you this so there's no misconception that you think an Edmunds person is 'sneaking on here' to argue their value. I do see the value, I do contract work for them and will continue to because, as you'll see below, I think it's a good program for consumer and dealer alike.

First - Almost every OEM was participating in this program and that means many dealers were on it and getting clients from Edmunds, they just didn't know it. From the dealers I've met with who were able to track it (certain OEM had that ability) - they were excited to jump in direct.

Second - It's exhausting when people whine about not holding gross anymore. Edmunds didn't do it to you and neither did anyone else. Usually we can't hold gross because we got lazy, rely on our CRM and every other tool we've purchased, to do the work for us rather than making sure our staff knows how to sell the benefits of the store, the product and themselves. I know a Chevy Buick GMC dealer in the Middle TN area who averages over $3K per copy on their NEW vehicle sales (across the board so not just edmunds customers).

AND BEFORE YOU ASK - yes, I'm that skeptic who had him pull it up in the DMS and prove that he wasn't completely full of crap.

Third - Joe W, I wasn't a fan of Edmunds either in my dozen years on the retail side. I really didn't care for any site that told a consumer about the things I held so dear (Invoice) and I really didn't appreciate them telling a consumer how to come and do battle with me. That said, this new direct program is created to actually make the transaction smoother for the consumer AND the dealer - and YES - Edmunds still does and always will care more about the consumer than they do about you or me BUT let me explain how this is actually better for the dealer than the previous setup where you got Edmunds people thru the OEM or your Tier 2 (ABT, AUSA, DEALIX).

DMS Polling - The biggest gripe a lot of folks have is that TMV is causing them to give away gross because it tells the consumer they should buy the car super cheap. That data currently had come from limited sales transaction data that is shared by the DMV or manufacturer and Edmunds receives only a small portion of that info as the above sources send it over. By getting true transaction data it will help 'right' the TMV so that the pricing suggested by Edmunds is consistent with what dealers actually have been selling the vehicles for. This concept (assuming it works) will make the transaction easier on consumer and dealer because you will be comfortable with the deal, they will too, and it will go faster as well allowing you the time to serve more customers. 

TMV Misconception and Edmunds Pricing - Anthony mentioned that he didn't understand why you would 'pay someone to help you give away gross'. If that's the case you'd drop all your advertisers because if I'm a betting man you're not advertising retail prices now are you? We as dealers are the main reason that profit is low because rather than learning to sell we all advertise ridiculous prices to entice the consumer then we whine about why we make no money. TMV doesn't say buy for invoice, it says 'buy for what the DEALER has been selling it for in this region.' If you don't like that number, learn to hold gross and the number will go up.

PRICING ON EDMUNDS SITE FOR PARTICIPATING DEALERS - Unlike EVERY other major Ad Vendor you buy ads from right now, the Edmunds listings actually PREVENT a price war. Perhaps nobody who's complaining has taken the time to look at the structure but here is fact:

AutoTrader.com sorts inventory by what? Whomever pays the most, then by price. If you want to be competitive with New Cars you have to list a price that will yank the consumers eyes from everyone else so you can get them on your car. Roughly translated - you have to be in a price war.

Cars.com sorts inventory by what? Price. See above concept.

Do you even know how Edmunds sorts? I'll make it simple. One dealer in each location is the 'Premier' dealer. You will NEVER see two Premier dealers in the same DMA for the same Make. It's designed to put the local dealer 1st on the list and then it sorts by geography.

What about pricing? ALL CARS ARE LISTED AT MSRP. Why would Edmunds do that if they're trying to cost dealers gross? Great question - they aren't trying to cost us gross, they're trying to create a better buying experience for the customers. 

By using that model it only sets the dealer apart in two ways: 

1. If you're participating, you get branded as the premier dealer in your area on Edmunds.com and in your area you're always top of list in inventory, RFQ and Find a dealer. 

2. The ratings and reviews will make a dealer stand out as one who a consumer should or shouldn't choose. NOTE: I know that not everyone likes ratings and reviews but the reality is this, even taco Bell has them and usually the dealers who don't want them have a reason - they treat customers poorly.

Fourth - Joe P you are correct when you say consumers don't go to Edmunds to buy a car, they go there to do research. This is one of the biggest benefits to dealers that do business with them because you don't get a bunch of tire kickers on the site who are emailing and bothering you way before they're ready to purchase a vehicle. Once they get to the end of the research cycle, they come across a list of dealers who they can choose from and by the time they make it there they're further down the purchase funnel than most. 

Finally to my main man Stan Sher - Brother, most of the Edmunds consumers that contact a dealer aren't 50 miles away if the dealer sets up the proper radius, that's just like anything else. The problem is that most dealers want to reach out 100 miles to play in someone else's playground then they gripe about getting leads from too far away. It's like advertising that you serve bad credit then complaining about all the bad credit that comes in. Use your head when you set it up and you end up with good results right? (But I know you know that already so I'm preaching to the choir on that one)

Ultimately gang, this isn't a 'high volume pay per lead program'. This is a low funnel (by the time they contact you), lower volume, high quality buyer program. Instead of sorting through 100 people to find 3-10 good ones you sort through 20 or 30 to find the 3-10 good ones.

I personally opted in to help with this when it was a pilot because I saw value in it, even though I wasn't an Edmunds fan. I really saw it as a better way to connect with new car buyers. I opted to continue to help because they've refined it more and made it even better.

At the end of the day there are a few truths that transcend all of our opinions:

1. Edmunds isn't going away and consumers are going to be on there
2. When they get to the point of finishing research they will either see you if you participate or they will see your competitor of you don't. It isn't rocket science.

As with any advertiser we as dealers can just say no if we don't see the value in a program but I can say with complete and total confidence that I've recommended it to my friends locally in the business and Edmunds doesn't write me any bigger check if they're on or not.

I'd say Edmunds is trying the best way they know how to make it 'safe' for you as a dealer since UNLIKE THE OTHER GUYS WHO LIST YOUR INVENTORY they are: Month to month with a 30 day out.

Edmunds knows it works and they're not holding anyone's feet to the fire. I'd say, before you crucify the program verbally, check it out so you can speak from experience versus speculation. I've talked to dealers from Middle TN to Miami to NJ to LA and of those that are on board the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Hope that answered a few questions but if you have more please reach out to me at my personal email and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Helping the best get better,
Mat Koenig
Founder
AutosalestrainingTV
[email protected]
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    Tchappell
  • June 15, 2011
I work for Edmunds with dealers in the south - When I survey customers who submitted a lead through Edmunds.com, I find that most of them purchase vehicles! Edmunds.com can absolutely be a PURCHASE DECISION site.
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Mat, your explanation is a great example of what you were always capable of. You make your old boss proud. 
The Readers Digest version would be to simply say "game theory." Dealers act in their own individual best interest and are incapable of forming any meaningful collective bargaining team. The result is that all dealers are forced to make these decisions in their own best interest or financially underperform relative to their true potential. This is why most of the Ivy League talent coming into the industry to capitalize on its inefficiencies -- generally by minimizing them -- are coming in on the vendor side, not the retailer side. Advantage is generally found in the portion of the production or distribution chain with the fewest competitors.
Joe's points are spot on. The marginal cost per vehicle is greater than the stated cost per vehicle for these services. One must account for cannibalization and waste in any algorithm comparing the value of various traffic-now advertising campaigns. 
The right decision is not the same for all dealers, but the right way to do the math necessary to make that decision generally is the same. No matter how hard I try, most dealers refuse to do the math or align themselves with a trusted person who can do it for them. This is why over $1Billion per year in dealer dollars are wasted on bad advertising decisions or poor advertising execution. That is where thousands of individual, self-serving dealers can make a difference for themselves and the industry, by properly crunching the numbers and acting accordingly.
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    Rebersole
  • June 15, 2011
Ok.  It's time to take off the gloves and speak the absolute truth about these organizations:

Zag and True Car:  Remember, they were started by former CarsDirect folks--Scott Painter and Mark Miller.  When they were at CarsDirect, the company had a well deserved reputation for advertising phantom cars, and when they received and order, literally  beating up dealers to sell them below any reasonable price.  They purchased a bunch of vehicle, put them in storage and advertised the below market value prices to drive down the price and put the dealers on the defensive.  After they left, more level heads took over at CarDirect, and they became very dealer friendly.

Edmunds:  No matter if the send quality leads or not, this site is anti-dealer.  Go read their advise for yourself:  http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/confessions-of-a-car-salesman.html; http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/confessions-from-the-dealership-service-department.html; http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/confessions-of-an-auto-finance-manager.html.

These people purposely frame the dealer as the enemy.  It should not matter how "great" their leads are, in my opinion, dealers are feeding the souce who bits their hands.  

Both of these companies are "Pro-consumer" but they are really anti-dealer.  Both have in their contracts the right to rifle a dealers DMS for their own use.  Both are trying to fool dealers.  When I spoke with an Edmunds Sales Director, he said "we have a partnership (AT.com) that touches 80% of the dealers and gets us 30% of the revenue.  We are now going to touch 30% of the dealers and get 80% more revenue.  

Look dealers, do what you will.  I just wonder if dealing with these folks is like buying asbestos.  It will protect you from fire.  (But the cancer that comes later does not make it worthwhile. 
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 16, 2011
Hummmm.
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    David Kain
  • June 16, 2011
Jeff this would be entertaining if it wasn't such a serious matter.  I appreciate the bright lights you are giving the subject.  Using a "PRE-SELLER" like Zag and Edmunds is somewhat like hiring someone to stand on the street in front of your dealership and greet your customers before they walk in your showroom with a message that they can get you a better deal than the guy who owns the cars and services them after the sale.  It seems kind of strange that this model is growing in popularity with dealers especially when they own the inventory and there are other methods to sell efficiently at better profit levels.  Some dealers are managing Zag and Edmunds with extreme skill and doing excellent with their sales and profit results so like all services...great dealerships can generally mold them into what is ultimately good for your dealership.  The Permission based DATA LEAK is the biggest concern because it gives complete strangers intimate access to the most important files in the dealership.  If a dealer feels they will use a dealership's most intimate data to the advantage of a dealer is risky.  It's not in their "nature" to do what is best for dealers.  Who owns the inventory?  The dealer does...which makes them the BOSS.  Dealers are smart people and have shown an uncanny ability to not only survive but to thrive in the most trying of times.  Just drive from town to town and see who serves on Bank Boards, who leads the United Way Campaigns and Chambers of Commerce and Hospital Boards.  Dealers!Most dealers are great, smart and capable business people. My family's dealership just celebrated their 50th anniversary as a Ford Dealer and this didn't happen by dumb luck. (well...maybe when I was operating the store). Manufacturers and Dealer Associations are paying close attention to both of these models as are State Attorney Generals and Motor Vehicle Boards so there are balancing mechanisms that will impact this regardless of the ambitions of the business owners at Zag and Edmunds.  They are simply pushing the envelope to their own advantage as many others have tried to do in the past.  The sky is not falling and Edmunds and Zag may make a difference in how consumers consider dealers and purchase some cars but it's a big market and there are a lot of shifts that will take place in the next 5 to 10 years that may make this just a blip on the radar.  I wasn't Googling 10 years ago and wasn't Facebooking 5 years ago and wasn't 4 Squaring a year ago.  I have a nice set of golf clubs I received from a company called CarOrder.com in 2000 who offered them in exchange for talking to them about selling their store for megabucks and spending their days playing golf.  Their online direct sales model was not quite what consumers were looking for.  When all is said and done Jeff's advice is critical for the benefit of all dealers.  Read every line of every agreement and make sure any service you use is one that fits your business needs.  If Zag and Edmunds fit your business needs then you should use them.  If their business models are bad and they hurt the very dealers they need to earn revenue to survive, then I feel like they will either fail or adjust their models to keep the "host" alive.  It's not smart for a parasite to kill the animal they are feeding from.  However, there are tales of misplaced trust that we should remind ourselves of from time to time...like the Scorpion and the Frog.  The famous line of the scorpion trying to get a ride across the river from the wary frog who countered with..."If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim" and in the end said as they reached their inevitable end "I could not help myself.  It is my nature".   Great work Jeff.  Keep the good guys aware and shine the spotlight on things that can potentially harm our collective business.  Let's hope in the end all parties can benefit and keep each other thriving.David
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"This is why most of the Ivy League talent coming into the industry to capitalize on its inefficiencies -- generally by minimizing them -- are coming in on the vendor side, not the retailer side."

This is exactly what's happening today, sad isn't it?

Well they're headed down the right path, just let em go. They want the consumer to view the dealer as the enemy, or they'd have no service to provide.

Keep your head buried in their useless tools, and demos and meetings and conferences and you'll just prolong it. Start listening and engaging and reaching out and blogging and the customers will show up because you made an effort.

The most important thing you can do for your business, is give people the indication your actually there in any possible way other than advertising.

I love that a big company can get put in there place with only a blog post, as Jeff has done right here.

It's coming, the blogs and the blog-nots, only this time having too much money might insinuate you were part of the problem and not the solution.
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    Guest
  • June 16, 2011
Ralph- were the links you posted at Edmunds live when yu made the post yesterday?  Because they're not live now.  Looking at the URLs, I do remember this series of articles, though.  Just curious if Edmunds has removed the pages since yesterday (and if I remember correctly, those articles were written years ago).  Interesting that they suddenly disappeared.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • June 16, 2011
That's would be very interesting.
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    Rebersole
  • June 16, 2011
Nope, they are still there.  See if this one works: 
 http://www.edmunds.com/confessions.htmlIt links to all of their articles.  Now don't get me wrong, I think this is a great consumer research site.  I just have a problem with the way articles like: "Confessions of a Car Salesman,"  "Confessions of an Auto Finance Manager," as well as others give a picture that feeds on the publics already poor perception of a very honorable industry.Now take that and add the data issue on top of it, I wonder why any dealer would think of doing business with either Edmunds or Zag.  I doubt that they will take these pages down.  This issue has been raised before with the only response by one of their leaders being "we are a consumer driven site.  With 13m visitors a month, we cater to the consumer."I question an organization that doesn't at least soften the tone of their so called exposes on dealers and then put their hand out to ask dealers to pay them, too.     
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    Rebersole
  • June 16, 2011
Hmm, this site cuts off the link.  Try this:

http://www.edmunds.com/confessions.html

J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 16, 2011
This issue has been raised before with the only response by one of their leaders being "we are a consumer driven site".

"we are a consumer driven site"
"we are a consumer driven site"
"we are a consumer driven site"
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  • R
    Rebersole
  • June 16, 2011
Yes, Jeff, and that is total BS.  It's what used to be called sensational journalism.  Now it's called the tabloids.  I wonder what it's like for an automotive research site to be paired with TMZ by their potential customers.  
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  • N
    Nissan Guys
  • June 16, 2011
Without the car dealer, many websites would not exist. The hefty fee's dealers are forced to pay up month after month just to show up online at the usual high traffic sites, is gradually seen as nothing more than an inflated cable bill. These companies would not have the money to have invested in the infrastructure and develop the technology which we see today - had us dealers refused to pay what they have demanded, and gotten. Just like the cell phone and cable companies who over-charge us all, we are the ones who built the towers and paid for it all. Now we are forced to belly up more each month to use what we essentially created.

Furthermore, websites like Autotrader, Cars, Edmunds, and so forth - have never made it public on their websites to the consumer, that the free quotes people send in, are in fact paid for by the participating dealer. It would be nice for these sites to make this known, so that possibly the quality of leads would go from crappy, to not so crappy.

And do we really need more "Confessions of a car salesman" from the biggest instigator - Edmunds - to further squash consumers trust of car dealers. They are quick to build your suspicion, and promote you to acquire SEVERAL quotes to obtain the most competitive price - or - they ought to come clean, and tell them we're really padding our pockets, and if your lead is junk, who cares, the dealer still pays.
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    Nissan Guys
  • June 17, 2011
I always feel websites like Edmunds.com kick dealers like us all to the ground, only to step on our hands harder when we try to push ourselves back up. I just may have to start a blog or and create a you tube video titled "What Edmunds.com doesn't want you to know about". Since they are a consumer driven site, and people generally hope to hear the TRUTH, I'm sure I can get a few million eyes on it. Perhaps Edmunds "confessions" could include a very visible positive spin on the dealer network which keeps them humming along financially.
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  • G
    Guy
  • June 17, 2011
Last number I got from Zag was that they had 4,500 dealers. If that is true there is no need complaining what's done is done. What I do not understand is why dealers will allow Zag to post your price and two others and not give any exclusivity. The bad part about that model is the dealer 50 miles away may beat your deal by 1 or 2 hundred and the customer in your backyard will drive. You never get a chance to sell the value of your store, your people, your service, the contributions you make in the local community etc. I can understand agreeing to a great price when they bring the customer to you but the online dealer vs dealer model puzzles me why a dealer would play.
J
  • J
    Jgiamalvo
  • June 17, 2011


Jeff,


 


Edmunds’ new
advertising program is neither pay-per-lead nor pay-per-sale.
 Pay-per-lead from a site like Edmunds misses the point. We have over
14 Million consumers a month who are researching the purchase of a new or used
car on the site, yet less than 1.5% of them actually submit a “lead” to a
dealer. The other 98.5% are using the site to decide where to buy, they are
just not sending leads, I mean, would you?  JD Power recently did a study
that showed that Edmunds has twice as many buyers using the site in the month
that they purchase as the average automotive research site (including Cars and
AutoTrader).  In addition, according to Comscore 64% of our audience is
not using any other 3rd party automotive research site (once you take out the
Million uniques we are directly sending to AutoTrader, its 58% otherwise).
 There is a reason that every OEM advertises to Edmunds' audience, and the
same reason applies to dealer advertising.


 


As for the
pay-per-sale model, it sounds great since you only pay when you sell, but you
are relying on the company that is billing you to tell you what they
"sold" for you, which sounds like more than a little bit of a
conflict of interest to me.  In addition, as others have pointed out in
this thread, most programs that charge on a per-sale basis also create an
environment that either force dealers to sell cars at a loss, or to play the
games that cause sites like Edmunds to write things like "Confessions of a
Car Salesman".  That article ends with the following:


 


"Of all the advice
I've offered, I'd just like to stress that it's important to remember that
buying a car should benefit both you and the dealer. While I have focused
on deflecting the sales techniques in the dealership, I don't recommend
becoming overly defensive. If you deal fairlywith the car salesperson, and you
get the same in return, the transaction can be enjoyable — even exciting. It
really should be. So, I wish all of you a great shopping experience and many
years of driving pleasure in your new car."  


 


The entire article
is still on the Edmunds site, maybe this will work: http://bit.ly/gXMUdH




 


As far as Edmunds
"Suckering Dealers" into submitting transaction data to us as a
result of our new advertising program; we are clear in our pitch and in our
contract that we require transaction data to participate in our advertising
program.   Even before the new program, we have had over 40% of all
transactions being submitted to us from dealers that have elected to do so because
they want to ensure the accuracy of TMV.  As for our new program, we feel
that you have to participate to participate, meaning that if we are going to
promote your brand next to TMV you have a vested interest in ensuring the
accuracy of that value.  


 


TMV is the local
MEDIAN selling price of the vehicle in the market, meaning that 50% of
transactions occurred above, and 50% of transactions occurred below TMV.
 We may be off here and there, which is why we are always attempting to
increase the accuracy of that value by increasing the number of transactions we
use to calculate the value. As we commit to in the contract that you have
published, we do not sell, share, or publish the raw data to anyone else, nor
do we expose the  individual transactions
to consumers, including those that occurred so far below invoice that were
probably demos or loaners (unlike others), and despite your speculation, we
have never forgotten the fact that we created TMV over 10 years ago to provide
guidance to consumers to help empower them to get a fair deal.


 


I will invite any
dealer on this site to look over every one of your last weeks' transactions,
including all aspects of the deal, and compare it to the TMV price on Edmunds.com right now, and if we are not close to
your average, then maybe you should send us your transaction data. ;)

If anyone has any questions about the new product, feel free to contact me directly.


 
All the best,

 


Johnny G


Director, Dealer
Initiatives


Edmunds.com


N
  • N
    Nissan Guys
  • June 17, 2011
From the horses mouth:

We outsell 20 other dealers in our market and know EXACTLY what people pay for Nissan's and have so for 20 years. We know the RMV - that's "Real Market Value" - better in our market than Edmunds or TrueCar will ever think they know. Pulling numbers from the DMS is one thing, but can these websites be really trusted they are in fact sharing the REAL NUMBERS? We can't know! And we do not! The bottom line is they could care less about dealers, because they know dealers will pay up to be listed.

I truly feel within the next 3 years, a better research/pricing website paradigm will emerge, that is car dealer fueled, by honest dealers like you and I, who love their customers, and the product we are privileged to sell.

You will see vastly improved Lead generation that will make an edmunds free car quote form look like a stomped on piece of origami, lit with a blow torch.

1. A customer cannot buy a car from Edmunds.
2. Edmunds does not service nor do they warranty vehicles.

Why are they acting like they can or do?
J
  • J
    Jgiamalvo
  • June 17, 2011
Congratulations on all of your success. But FYI, billboards, newspapers, radio, TV, and mailers can't sell or service cars either. Guess I don't get your point. As I mentioned, MILLIONS shop on Edmunds.com and we CAN send them to you, so YOU can sell a car. I'll stand clear of the blow torch. Gheeze
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 17, 2011
Huh??
K
  • K
    KeithM
  • June 17, 2011
An excellent article Jeff, well writen and considered. A warning to independant  Australian dealers who may be releasing vital data directly to their competition thru certain relationships and JV's some Groups have with local Automotive Research and Online Advertising companies here!
J
Billboards, newspapers, radio, TV & mailers can't sell or service cars....?   What is your point on that? 
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  • P
    Patrick
  • June 17, 2011
While I agree with you the use of our data for consumer consumption is abominable, the reality is that these buying programs are not going away.  Each month, Zag is adding more and more of these organizations.  If we can't trust other dealers to not price below invoice on these programs, as you astutely pointed out, then we certainly cannot trust dealers to hold firm on not allowing Zag/Truecar to publish our DMS data while still allowing us to participate in their programs.  The two go hand in hand.

If we don't allow access to the DMS, we can't be on their program.  If we don't get on the program, some other dealer will.  Remember, we can't trust the other dealers to hold firm and not participate.  10-15 deals a month for a store that is doing 40-50 cars total is huge and has too much appeal to pass up.  If they don't get the data from us, they will  get it from another dealer's DMS.

I fully support what you are getting at here, but the Zag/Truecar buying programs are a behemoth that will only get bigger over time.  Close rates are 3 times that from manufacturer leads.  And if done right, they still make money.  The big stores dominating markets have too much market power to compete against directly.  Once a small store grows big enough, they can shed the Zag lead source, but until then it is one of the most powerful lead sources available.
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  • P
    Patrick
  • June 17, 2011
Their pre-approved financing is easy to beat.  We've been doing it for the last year.  USAA is not a threat to f&i $ and penetration.
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 17, 2011
Patrick, what's supports your theory "it is one of the most powerful lead sources available."

This is like saying Edmunds leads are the highest converting leads. This is simply NOT TRUE. I was privy to 3 years of lead scoring data bounces yp against registration data; edmunds leads were no better than any of the other popular automotive portal sites.

Dealers CAN find other avenues of marketing with a better ROI while NOT having to give up the keys to their kingdom.
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  • A
    Autodog
  • June 18, 2011
"I'd say Edmunds is trying the best way they know how to make it 'safe'
for you as a dealer since UNLIKE THE OTHER GUYS WHO LIST YOUR INVENTORY
they are: Month to month with a 30 day out."

You totally full of shit. Edmond's is not going to do any dealer any favors.They have been talking shit about how dealers suck for years.

"Edmunds doesn't write me any bigger check if they're on or not."
So you admit to being paid by those scum bags anyway.

Dealers stay away from Edmond's and don't pay attention to their paid spokes person Matty here!
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  • M
    Mat Koenig
  • June 18, 2011
Classy response and thanks for the adorable nickname. Apparently you are the one out of a few thousand who just realized both of those facts that I clearly stated.

They pay me.
Consumer is always #1.

However, they didn't know I was responding nor did I do it on their behalf and YES I believe the new program is more beneficial than the old one and has a 30 day safety net.

If you have any intelligent questions rumbling around in there is be happy to answer them thoughtfully but I believe I've used more energy than necessary to respond to your immature post.

Good luck in your career "dog"
M
  • M
    Mat Koenig
  • June 18, 2011
Interesting and disappointing Ralphie since you wanted to e part of this k owing full well all of the program details. I have to say my friend; I expected something more from someone I respect as much as yourself.
  • Anonymous
  • June 19, 2011
Dennis,

Thanks. I fully understand that all marketing isn't for everyone. My true belief after being on all sides of the fence is that this offers great value, especially for dealers who have good processes in place. 

As you know about me Dennis, I'm a big believer that the best way to earn more sales is through follow up and prospecting but sadly most dealers are either to lazy or too ignorant to do both or either well. The best part about that comment is that the only folks it'll offend are the ones that are too lazy or too ignorant to do it.

Technology has made us lazy. Heck, I got asked to speak at an event which I'll leave unnamed, one of the folks on the phone said "what are you going to speak on exactly" and I said: "I'm going to GIVE dealers a 12 month training outline with topics, words and everything they need to grow their sales and profit. This 45 minute session will remind em of why then need it, then show em how to get it, then give the tools they need to get it done." 

The genius response was: "What's that do for you?"
I said: "What's it matter, It'll give me some publicity and I'll worry about me, this industry needs a jump start and if I can help, I'll get what's coming to me down the road."
The response: "I don't see it as a good revenue opportunity for you we need to focus on technology they need to buy for the dealerships...blah blah blah blah..."

We have gone from a: Let's have our people be the best, serve the best, present the best, listen the best, overcome objections the best, follow up the best, prospect the best business model to a "My crm is supposed to do this for me...my lead provider is supposed to do this for me...my advertisers is supposed to do this for me...."weak pathetic entitlement mentality.

In God knows how many years there is something that has never changed:

There is NO TOOL....and there is NO TECHNOLOGY...that will do your entire job for you. If you have salespeople on your sales floor they darn well better be able to serve the consumer better than anyone else or you will lose to someone who can. maybe not today, but tomorrow or the next day. And once you lose 'em to the better guy, they AREN'T coming back.

This Edmunds system is an opportunity, like anything else, to get in front of consumers.

I didn't like 'em when I was a dealer either so I get it but the fact of the matter is this. When I was a dealer I didn't care what I liked, I cared about what the consumer liked and THAT is where I put my stores names and guess what?

We crushed everyone in our DMA in EVERY make. So to me it's simple, cry about what you can't control or take the reigns on what you can :)

And thanks for being a hard ass all the time when I worked for ya, it's paying off well enough lol :)
  • Anonymous
  • June 19, 2011
The above post is me from my iPhone by the way, just didn't want it to come across as someone else.
J
Confessions of a Salesman from Edmunds...

"...every single time I get a dealer/manager on the phone, I hit them with my magic weapon....  'Edmunds is free, pay only for leads you sell'.  And, every time, the phone goes quiet for a moment and then the manager kicks everyone out of his office!   BAM!!!  FISH ON! I got him!!!   The concept is worded to perfection.  It preys on the busy multi-tasking manager and this NO PAY  promise plugs right into their reward system.  I love it!

I set the hook deeper... I walk the manager thru our giant audience stats and paint a picture were managers all over the USA are signing on & loving our FAIR system AND it's scaring the hell out of AutoTrader and Cars.com because of their UNFAIR rates.  Managers everywhere love the idea of dumping AutoTrader and Cars for our FAIR system, and it's only logical, as more & more dealers sign on with Edmunds, AT and Cars will have to adopt our FAIR billing system.

I race past the DMS stuff and I go for the close.

Cha' Ching.  Nuthin' to it. "

J
---BUYER BEWARE!---

Edmunds Pay per Sale is the ultimate "Trojan Horse". It's pretty to look at, but it's built to OWN YOU.


Read this post  "Who is making all the profits?"
http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/f40/who-making-all-profits-1778.html#post14201
Be scared..., be very scared.

You've been warned. The fox is in the chicken coop!
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  • P
    Patrick
  • June 20, 2011
Jeff,  I love your article and agree wholeheartedly with your main point regarding our data.  What I have been trying to say, and what I don't think you can grasp until you deal with these customers directly, is that buyers do not care about Edmunds the way they care about organizations of which they are a member.  People trust the NRA, the NEA, PenFed, and Consumer Reports to send them to a good place.   You would not believe the zealous loyalty people have to USAA - the lead source where the highest volume of Zag leads come from.  I have two years of lead data at my store which show that when these people show up, they close at nearly 3 times the rate of manufacturer leads that show. 

These customers are similar to manufacturer plan buyers.  If you were to look at USAA members who know about the USAA Buying Program, I would bet you over 3/4 of them buy from a USAA Recommended Dealer.  We're talking about 8 million proud members here who really like and trust their organization.  No comparison between these people and Edmunds.

Sure, there are other avenues of marketing with better potential ROI, but  most small stores lack the resources to leverage that kind of marketing.  It may not be a bad idea to make these avenues the focus of the next few Dealerrefresh articles.  You've got 4,500 dealers on Zag that need to be persuaded to get off of it.
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 21, 2011
Thanks for chiming in Patrick. And I agree that USAA members are very loyal. I've experienced this for myself. When a USAA customer arrives, they are in the market to buy, I won't argue that. I'm not in any way questioning the quality of the leads.

I'm not knocking USAA or the membership services. My point is, in order for dealers to play on this field, they are to give up private transactional data to Zag that us then then handed to the consumer.

Don't get me wrong, I believe the new car sales model needs adjustment. But if I had a dealer or any business, there is no way I would allow come company to have my private data. it's no ones business what I sell my product for and how much I make on each transaction. That's my business, my data - its that black and white.
E
  • E
    Eley Duke
  • June 21, 2011
Amen Unlce Joe!
J
  • J
    JQ
  • June 22, 2011
As a very small part of a fairly large group, I was shocked to learn that there was a DMS polling component to this deal (issue was never discussed at my humble level).  I mean, why would there be?  We're paying for a territory and for leads, right?  After reading through this for a few days, and seeing only one weak explanation as to WHY Edmunds describes this as a value to dealers, my question is still:  WHY?  Are we really that desperate for those leads.. especially these noted higher-funnel leads?  But aside from that....  If I was a dealer, or owner -- and I'm not, please don't misunderstand -- but if I was, I would probably realize that my database is a very, very valuable entity.  (Anybody disagree?).  So if someone comes to me with a deal where I'm going to PAY for a territory and leads, and I'm also going to GIVE them my precious data, at the very least (after I'm done scratching my head at the utter audacity of the proposal), I re-negotiate.  Again, I'm not an owner, but if I go to bat with the notion that MY DATA is more valuable that THEIR LEADS, perhaps I get a favorable outcome.  We have to remember that Edmunds has no magic wand -- there's lots of people on lots of sites, and frankly I've never heard of a consumer doing 100% of their research and shopping on Edmunds.  In other words -- if you're a good dealer, competitive, reasonable marketing mix -- you'll be found.  We're paying them, AND giving them our data... wow.  I don't think that's the type of negotiations that have kept the T3 space "strong."  Edmunds has to be laughing all the way to the bank!
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    Chris Olson
  • June 23, 2011
Shame on me.  I've signed up for both of these companies at one time or another over the years.  In my haste to get leads and sell cars I just glazed right over the boilerplate.  Needless to say we're done with both.

Reading through these posts has raised a couple thoughts.

1)  Who's auditing these companies to make sure they provide accurate data in the first place?  What's to keep TrueCar or Edmunds from juicing the numbers?
 
While it's a slightly different model, Costco and AAA's new online modules have done the same thing.  Month after month they keep telling us we have to come down on our pricing in order to get the requests, because, "...your competitor down the street is at $1100 back on altima, and you're only at $600 back."  One of these companies we caught with their hand in the cookie jar. 

At some point they'll be competing to see who's site shows the lowest value.  Currently, TrueCar says a 2011 Toyota Prius II Average Paid is $24,993.  Edmunds TMV says $24,480.00.  I don't know what your customers are  saying in your local market, but $500 is a pretty substantial difference.  How long will it take for the newbie on the block to realize they need to take on the big dog, and jockey the pricing accordingly.

2)  Let's follow the logical conclusion of True Car and TMV.  The consumer sees the MSRP, the Invoice and the "TMV".  Let's say today the TMV is $500 over invoice.  How many of your internet customers are going to be good with paying that $500 over?  None, they're going to want to be somewhere under this number.  So 150 of these models are sold in your district this month, and the TMV adjusts.  Now you're $400 over next month.  Before you know it you're $500 under, and only picking up $100 of holdback....and so it goes.
 
If you're really looking for opportunities to sell cars check out companies like AutoRevenue and AutoAlert.  These companies are using our data for us, not against us. 
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 23, 2011
Thanks for adding your comment Chris.

These 2 companies could careless about the dealership. They've said it themselves in so many words.

I'm NOT against our industry changing. I'm not against edmunds and TrueCar (sorta), I am against how they are acquiring our data.
And it kills me that dealers are so clueless. Hence the reason for me writing this.

This is the dealers private data and shouldn't be shared with anyone, especially a company that's posting it for everyone to see and use.

Interesting you say "What's to keep TrueCar or Edmunds from juicing the numbers?". You're right, who's to stop them?
H
  • H
    Hoser
  • June 23, 2011
true car rocks.......just picked up a silverado at 1k under dealer cost.  didn't even invlve true car and made some calls myself seeing who wouldk match the price....you internet fellt guys hate me....LOL
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    Chris Olson
  • June 23, 2011
This question has caused us to review all of our existing agreements with vendors, and it's frightening what we're finding.

I'll never just glaze over the boilerplate again.  It's amazing what these guys slide under our noses, fully expecting us to do exactly what we've done...ignore it!!!!

Do I really need a 3 page contract to buy a vendors service?  I do if they're asking for the keys to the palace. 

Another question to ask is on KBB's "Fair Purchase Price".  I've gone over our CDM agreement and they state quite clearly, "CDM agrees to use the Sales Transaction Data only to match Sales Leads with transaction/purchase activity."  That's not to say somewhere else in the 4 pages of Ts and Cs that they don't have another use layed out. 

So this begs the question, where is KBB getting they're numbers from?  BTW, they have a Prius II listed in the middle of True Car and TMV at $24,766.00.
C
  • C
    Chris Olson
  • June 23, 2011
Found this on KBB after digging further, "The Fair Purchase Price is not a number influenced by dealers or manufacturers -- it is actual transaction data representing a range of what people actually paid for specific vehicles."

They don't, however, state where they harvest this data from, but I think we know.
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 23, 2011
Good for you Chris. That's the exact purpose of this article.

Dealers, double check your agreements. Audit your DMS polls bi-yearly.

If your going to allow your transactional data to be scrapped, know who's doing it and have an understanding on why and how's it's being used.

I just wish there was a way of making sure every dealer in the US was able to read this article.

So I ask everyone to please share, email and tweet it out.
  • Anonymous
  • June 25, 2011
I am sitting here reading all of these responses and I can't for the life of me figure out why you would let a third party, much less a third party like Edmunds have access to your DMS.  For a few internet leads.  Really?  How about this do marketing, prospecting, SEO, PPC if you need to and leave these parasites like edmunds, autotrader alone.
If you are a dealer go into your DMS and pull every deal from the internet and then compare that to deals from Radio, Direct Mail, referral, walk in and prospecting to see what your true ROI is.
Nice article Jeff.
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 28, 2011
And your trusted allied TrueCar vendor just posted this on their blog..

http://blog.truecar.com/2011/06/27/what-is-dealer-holdback/
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • June 28, 2011
And your trusted allied TrueCar vendor just posted this on their blog..

http://blog.truecar.com/2011/06/27/what-is-dealer-holdback/
J
  • J
    Jon Sherrell
  • June 28, 2011
We have 7 dealerships all on Zag and we do not let them have access to our database we do have to give them a custom report of sold units so they can match up customer info but that is all they get.  It is possible not to give them your transactional information and still get the leads.

As a standard practice we give NOBODY full access to our DMS it is way to risky and nobody should be allowing that to happen.

If dealers are doing that currently I urge you to STOP change the password and access to your DMS and tell Zag ( or any other provider) that your will give them a a custom report of only the sold info no transactional information and start protecting yourselves!!!

Jon Sherrell
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  • D
    Djackson01801
  • June 28, 2011
The best part of this program is what's coming down the pike. Remember folks, you are only paying for the New Car part of the program at this point. Used cars and CPO's are coming so get ready to dig into your pocketbooks because Edmunds wants it all. For those of you paying $3-4k a month for multiple stores, I have a suggestion - put one store on Edmunds and with the other, spend the $3-4k running a Pay Per Click campaign and compare them side by side. Get ready to send Edmunds your cancellation. Edmunds spends $1.5million a month on PPC to steal your customers from you and sell them back to you. Wake up! Edmunds gets a lot of traffic, there's no disputing that. They also have a bounce rate that hovers around 50%, please remind them of that once in a while.
J
  • J
    Jim Bell
  • June 28, 2011
Great insight Jeff. I've been approached several times by ZAG and still try to figure out how I will be coming out ahead with their leads. Chances are, I will have a lead from that customer anyway and they would want to double dip me and increase my cost per vehicle sold. I'm with you in saying I would give my money to cars and AT before them and they won't be digging into my DMS. Why should us dealers give Edmunds and truecar any more transparancy in this business.

When you look for a boat or an RV/camper, you won't find truecost, invoice pricing, or any rebates anywhere. Guess the car business is just different.
J
  • J
    Jesse
  • July 19, 2011
I believe it is actually in Zag's terms and conditions that you may not offer USAA customers financing if they've been pre-approved. Certainly a rule we won't be following. We do get two or three alright deals out of them per month. We get around 30 leads on average. Maybe it is just that not many dealers close to us are signed up with Zag. We set our pricing higher to account for the $300 fee. It's just a matter of getting someone willing to pay our price. 

The other factor is that the customer builds up the vehicle rather than picking one from our inventory. Rarely is that exact vehicle in stock so it's easy to work around "the quoted price." It has benefited me as the ISM but I do feel bad for our sales guys because they rarely make money on Zag customers.
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • July 19, 2011
Then drop the service and place the budget and resources into something higher producing.
B
  • B
    Brad
  • July 22, 2011
My 7 dealerships have been on the program for 90 days. ours is a flat fee and they do not have access to our dms. We were expecting double digit close, but it hasn't performed well for us at most stores (under 5%). Anywone else on the program with better results?
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • July 23, 2011
Brad, are you referring to Edmunds or Zag? Love to hear you answer.

If you are referring to Edmunds...

Edmunds leads are no better than the average 3rd party lead coming from AOL Auto, Yahoo Auto and several of the other auto-centric lead driven sites. This is something that I was asked to not talk about, being privy to years of (behind the scene) lead scoring data tied into transactional registration data.

Emunds leads are not going to close any higher and if they so it's not worth the percentage and ROI. Nor is it worth what they want from your DMS.

PLEASE - what company in their right mind would get into the antiquated lead business without having an alternative motive?? The Perpetual Contract for your transactional data!

I'm already hearing dealers are disappointed with the lead counts. Being over promised on the lead they were to receive VS the leads they are getting.
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    Myles Barbula
  • August 4, 2011


Dealers
can shoot themselves in the foot as much as they want, for God's sake at least
learn to use proper grammar and punctuation when arguing. You need one question
mark for one sentence and I hope you aren't yelling at everyone in your posts.



However
funny it might be to read through the majority of "reactions", it is
also a bit disheartening. Using things such as F&I ect... as a means to
make money, isn't exactly that honest of a business practice. I do don't go to
a grocery store and argue a price for groceries, I pay what is listed on the
shelf which in most cases is pretty fairly priced and in-line with all other stores
across the country. Nor do I pay the grocery store directly for the time the
items sat on the shelf. Come on, get real and move with the future, everything
is moving online and open to a consumer. People enjoy being lazy, but they also demand information and want it quickly, thus the internet.

Another request maybe, just maybe,
stop making annoying commercials on TV, most dealer's commercials can be made
by high school students in an intro video production class.

P.S.


I found
this post through Google, maybe they will get into cars one day? They enjoy
buying consumer research databases, fully opening them, and using the data for their
own profit advancement through advertisement and royalties. Them and Microsoft
of course. And they aren't all that forgiving of corporations when it comes to data mining and acquisition.
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    Brad
  • August 10, 2011
sorry, i was referring to Edmunds (though we were on zag at several stores). the lead count has been decent, but the closing ratio hasn't. as i said though, they havent' asked for any transactional data
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    Jeff Kershner
  • September 8, 2011
Read those contracts dealers! Look like EveryCarListed wants your
transactional data as well -
http://forum.dealerrefresh.com/f21/yet-another-perpetual-data-feed-contract-2024.html#post16459
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    Ddavis
  • November 1, 2011
Reading through this, literally made me nauseous.  I worked for one of the large groups and they don't allow anyone access to their DMS.  I seriously doubt that they have changed.  Blame the manufacturers.  They started all of this when they decided to provide invoicing to third partys.
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    Guest
  • December 7, 2011
I wish consumers could buy directly from the manufacturer.  Dealers charge too much for everything, especially maintenance and repairs.
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    ATCEXGIRL
  • January 30, 2012
Writing a response (kinda venting..sorry about that) to a few comments I've read. I worked for Autotrader.com for ten years. (Don't now) Edmunds was the third largest site to link into ATC, only second to Google and Yahoo. One down fall for Edmunds previous to 2012 was ATC fueled the used car search that was on their home page. Consumers would search for a vehicle many times mistakenly searching for a new car...but really were searching for a used. They were instantly sent to ATC (of course not realizing they were not on Edmunds anymore) Edmunds ended the Contract I believe some time last year around August. ATC results have gone down severely since then. From my experience with what dealers told me, ATC had a higher conversation rate when they were partnered with Edmunds. Many sourcing studies were done and Edmunds.com consistently sent used car sales to dealers...however ATC took the credit. It's my humble opinion that Edmunds is launching a direct sales team to get that used car revenue and TMV is really no different than ATC's partnership with V-Auto and the trade in center or KBB. ALL in one now, right? To all 3rd parties defense it has become virtually impossible to perfectly track where all your sales are directly coming from. Every major study is showing that around 71% of consumers have NO prior contact with the dealer before coming in to the dealership. That was in 2010. I saw a huge decrease in emails and phone calls in the last three years nationally by two thirds while maps to dealerships increased by the same. This backs up the studies that show there is less contact the dealer prior to the visit.



One major merchandising issue is the custom comments and 1-800 numbers in your ads. Many listings end up with three numbers including your sales people requesting a text to their cell etc. Tracking becomes impossible. (on a funny note...make up a sheet with logos of companies like Cars, ATC, etc and put one on the page on the top left that you don't use to advertise. (hopefully that's your local paper) Have your sales people/customer each circle where their customer said they came from online. I did this for one dealership and had a good laugh when 41 sales were attributed to some random company the dealer was not using nor had I even heard of.) Anyway, always amazes me when a dealer has his IT guy show conversion and they only base it on phone calls/emails. With that percentage being such a small amount of all sales it seems like an inaccurate way to determine where sales are coming from. I believe your data is being mined no matter who/what you are using. Including v-auto, auto trader, cars, etc. Your data has paved the way for 3rd parties to keep growing their business in other ways like this site...(found from google) and partnerships with companies like Reach Local, Yellow Pages.com etc... Not just from your dms. It's really no different then me being on match.com and my profile pic showing up on someone's cell in another state considering to sign on.



Merchandising is going to have the largest effect on sites working for you. Edmunds/ATC/Cars are all similar in results, they just show them to you differently and some of them rip you off. If you have started to take a look at your srp/vdp counts and are comparing results, keep in mind how srp's are based on showing up and things like how many vehics show up on the page can double the results. For instance ATC has like 25 vehics and Cars has like 50 per page. So automatically you would think that cars has more views if you were simply comparing srp's to srp's. The layout matters too. More info shows up on ATC's srp(custom comment) so less people are likely to click through to the vdp vs they almost have to on sites like edmunds and cars. So vdp's should be more. Keeping your vehicle facing the left side of the screen in a corner position where you can see the front two lights and the back rear light on driver's side is the most appealing to the consumer eye. A simple thin banner around your pic is better than trying to fit the car in front of your building sign. And a custom comment starting with why I would want your car vs the next one priced low...like LOW miles, THIRD seat, DVD, LEATHER, AWD, ONE owner, etc...will get you a VDP. VDP's are a virtual test drive. Make sure you have videos of your dealership and a great response to negative reviews.



There's a reason why ATC lowered all their prices including going from an A market to a C or D market in many large areas as of Feb 2010. ....it's because dealers were over paying for results that had gone down.(If you are still paying the same rate as you were previously to Feb 2010 and are not paying less I'd be angry and requesting a credit with results and pricing for the last two years) Sellers were allowed to sell you the new contract but there was about a $500 area where they could charge you more or less based on whatever they wanted to do. It felt like a lot of pressure for a sales person because if I was your rep and your partnership went from $6200 down to $4200 I had the option to take you to the new contract with a better product for less money but I would have to try to sell enough to another dealer to make up for the $2,000 loss in addition to meeting my quota. If I didn't sell enough to make up for the loss it would impact my income for three months. Having integrity really hurt my bank account and in the end resulted in a not meeting my standard because I had so many contracts I needed to lower the price on or else I would have felt like I was ripping off all my dealers who I consider my friends/family. With a standard of only $1200 a month to sell, one contract going down by $2,000 was very difficult to replace in a market that already saturated and over priced for the small dealers left to sell to. If I sold you alpha and it was $4,000 only 1/12th of the $4,000 would count towards meeting my standard, but if I lost the alpha from your dealership I would be negative $4,000 that month and that would be calculated into a three month rolling average for standard/pay. So basically sales reps were paid to over sell their dealers and pray to god not to lose your business or they couldn't pay their mortgage for three months.



I'm happy for Edmunds now that they parted. Glad I quit ATC before the parting because it was one of my selling points. Edmunds does send qualified buyers who have been researching what car they want for over two months on average. I saw the results while with ATC. Happy selling and much love. <3
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    ATCEXGIRL
  • January 30, 2012
and...as an advertising girl I have to make one little comment. When are dealers going to start bitching about the thousands their flooring is costing them for every day their inventory isn't moving rather than the couple of thousand they spent to get the sales? Just saying....
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Thanks for adding your comment Chris. These 2 companies can careless regarding the dealership. They've stated it themselves in numerous statement. I am NOT against our industry changing. I am not against edmunds and also TrueCar (sorta), I have always been against the way they are acquiring our information.
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