Industry Events

Nada 2007 Review

Nada_nyny

Most of convention was basically regurgitation of 2006. Only a few new items worth mentioning as far as I’m concerned, of course I’m only looking out for CRM/BDC and internet marketing related vendors.

Last year the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) booths (ADTraffic and ClickMotive) were rock’n. This year they seemed to be a little on the dry side every time I walked by. I think most dealers have played in the SEM game and have gotten burned or they were not seeing an ROI that made sense. This could be caused by some SEM vendors sending the customer to the dealers home page on their website and then not having anyway of tracking the conversion. PLUS, many of your website vendors have jumped on the SEM bandwagon and are offering their own SEM services.

eLead was showing off a few new additions to their CRM including a new service department module for their evolution CRM product. I sat through a demo and was initially impressed. Now if they could only get some real reports for their evolution CRM (which I hear they are working on)!

AutoBase finally introduced an ILM feature (I guess that’s what you would call it) for their CRM. Nothing over impressive but if you’re an Internet Sales Manager using Autobase CRM, I’m sure this will be a nice addition. It might sway those dealers using a separate ILM tool to just use AutoBase; saving the dealer a few dollars in the monthly budget.

I received the WORSE old school sales pitch from a gentlemen at @utorevenue.com. I’m not going to knock the product since it was never demonstrated to me; rather I had to sit through this brutal sales pitch. At one point I asked “what measures do you take to stay on the email white lists?” The answer that was given would have been great for someone that didn’t know any better but it was too obvious to me that he wasn’t sure how to answer the question though did a great job covering up his answer with smoke. That was a turn off.

Nada_dealersocket

DealerSocket introduced what looked to be like and impressive desking tool. I’ve always been impressed with what this CRM looks like it can do. I’d be interested in hearing from some dealers using it everyday.

AutoMart’s has a nice new clean layout from the consumers end. They have a chat service for you to speak with your potential customers. We need someone to give AutoTrader some more competition. Will AutoMart be the one to do this?

I stopped by the cars.com booth for a sales pitch and demo. I’ve never used cars.com so I can’t comment on their services or how well of an ad source it is. They were really touting their new car leads as being the best in the business. The sales guy was pitching their exclusive “scrubbing” software; AuthentiCom Validation. It’s supposed to accurately validate the consumers name, address and phone numbers. Hummm..I’ve head that one before!!

Nada_microsoft

The Microsoft booth was a busy booth. It took 20 minutes of waiting around just to speak with someone in order to get a demo from one of the several companies offering products based on the MS DMS platform. I was impressed, more then what I thought I would be. After seeing some of the products and what they have to offer, I think there might be a shakedown in the DMS business sooner then what some thought.

Nada_ebay

eBay was keeping busy, pushing their new eBay local listings. I can’t confirm this, but I over heard someone saying they were signing up dealers left and right. I have mixed emotions about eBay local. I’ve been on the local program for a few months now as a beta dealer and haven’t been doing too hot with it. I’ve sold a few cars but have yet to really make any money off the sales. eBay can be a tough avenue for dealers to market themselves so I can’t wait to see how eBay furthers this local program. I’ll be writing more about my experience with the eBay Local program after I get some more solid statistics for myself.

Homenet introduced their new handheld inventory module “pocketIOL”; giving you portable instant access to your inventory. I was playing around with it and was quite impressed. I’ve seen and used a few of these hand held inventory devices in the past only to find most are buggy and just don’t work. This could be a great solution for larger dealers especially. Special thanks to Jesse and Ryan over there at Homenet for the awesome hospitality.

Higher Gear introduced a new Desking solution for their CRM. From what I saw..it seemed somewhat robust and full of features. However, I wasn’t too impressed with the payments and pricing worksheet presentation.

Nada_amyauto_1

The craziest vendor I ran across was Amyauto.com. Who comes up with of this stuff? “Welcome to the Future”? It’s another one of those creepy looking avatars that’s supposed to “enhance the customer experience, increase loyalty and improve revenues for higher profit”. WHAT?? Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh, but I’ve never been a fan of using avatars to replace the sales professional. Who knows, maybe I’m totally wrong and Amy will be the next BIG thing.

AutoTrader was introducing their 2007 product. Now you get to add multiple photos of your dealership and upload your video commercials…Wheeewhoo. I bet they want another $1,000 for that. I’m sure my rep will be calling me soon trying to pitch it.

The Dealer.com booth was busy during their demonstration speeches, they introduced their Sales360 product. I see they launched a new website as well and are offering complete Internet Marketing solutions for dealers. This company continues to improve and impress.

eBizAuto introduced a new Streaming Video product while going live with a fresh new website.

The most innovative product I ran across was Pick-n-Clickads.com. Pick-n-Clickads says you can FIRE YOUR AD AGENCY and bring it in-house using their software. I sat through a demo and was really  impressed. It was my favorite product at NADA this year. Within minutes you can build your own TV, Radio, Newspaper (Print), Direct Mail and Online ads. Of course some of the TV and Radio ads are “caned” material but you get the freedom to customize it for your dealer. I think it’s a slick product and could be a threat to some dealer advertising agencies.

BZ Results was there of course. I didn’t stop by.

JMSolutions was showing off their newly acquired DealerUp CRM.

DealerSkins
was there showing off their new Autobahn inventory product.

I’d like to give an honorable mention to a small company Attilanet Corporation for some impressive products like a DMS built on the Microsoft .net framework and some nice dealership websites with dedicated customer service to back them up.

I took notice to a lot of vendors missing on the convention floor. Cobalt, iMagicLabs, DealerOn, DealerImpact to mention a few. Many vendors have been opting out of spending the money for a booth on the convention floor while getting suites at local hotels and scheduling reservations for product demonstrations. I’m sure the ROI makes more sense this way.

Overall NADA 2007 was a decent display. Not a lot of new products but a lot of vendors working hard to improve and add to their existing. Many CRM’s vendors adding Desking solutions to their offerings; I think this will continue to be a trend. We’ll see where SEO and SEM takes us next year while keeping an eye on who can give some threat to the 300 lb gorilla AutoTrader.

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  • February 17, 2007
So true about Autotrader... their prices are quickly spiraling out of control.. even with our 'dealer group discount'. And on top of it, my rep is leaving the area so I'm gonna get some new schmuck to deal with. Fantastic. Sometimes I wonder if Autotrader is really worth it.
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    Jeff Kershner
  • February 17, 2007
I feel the same way Leroy. I'm constantly looking at what I'm spending with AutoTrader as a Partner Listing. As a smaller dealer, sometimes the ROI is just scrapping the surface of making sense. And believe me, I work AutoTrader for all it's worth including placing the Spotlight ads at the best opportune moments through out the month. I have been considering on dropping our Partner Listing and going back to the Premium listing and bumping my up number of spotlights. This would save me some money to invest in other area's of online marketing. Looking at my reports, I truly don't think It would effect my overall sales with Autotrader. Thanks for your comments Leory! -Jeff Kershner
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  • February 17, 2007
Ya, we've got the Partner listing too, and I just can't help but think it's money spent better elsewhere. For some reason I'm still hestitant to drop down a level, but I can't really figure out why.
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Nice review Jeff and it was great getting a chance to hang out a bit. Go Bears!

There seemed to be a good number of new pricing features on the floor this year. Maybe that is because it was on my radar, but many of the inventory and F&I providers were highlighting some sort of pricing convenience feature in their systems. I didn't really take good notes of who, but I do recall seeing a good bit of this in many booths.

eBay has done a good job with the PR of their new Local product and an even more impressive job coordinating their pilot program with all their certified providers. I have every confidence that eBay's new program will succeed because of how it is being approached.

I had the chance to speak with a gentleman at Autobase CRM about Microsoft and it seems that MS could have a beta product as early as this summer. This is definitely something to keep an eye out for.
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    Glenn Sanders
  • February 19, 2007
Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the, ah, forthright review of Amy Auto. ;-) That’s the great thing about the internet.

I understand how you feel about avatars. I've seen some that were really creepy. However, we are creating a new kind of avatar to make the online process more human and humane.

And we had a tremendous response at NADA, receiving hundreds of business cards, and had hundreds of people who scanned their badge in our gizmo and said they love Amy and the whole concept.

Many dealers want something fresh in their business, a way to reach out to more potential customers, and differentiate their website. They literally want to present a new "face" to the world.

Dealers' first request is to make it easier for people to find the info they want, with a responsive, friendly, intelligent interface. Eventually, dealers want consumers to be able to take the online purchase process as far as the consumer likes: info > comparison > customization > price > tax > insur., without having to talk with a pushy salesperson. (This is coming from dealers, not us.)



Cheers,
Glenn Sanders
__________________
Offc: 650-964-4112
Cell: 650-996-9904
[email protected]

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Out of all of the dealers we have, ive never heard anything but complaints about cars.com
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Jeff,
Always a good read! I especially liked your overview of NADA 2007. "It was like I was there"! ha,ha.

All this talk about Autotrader.com. I have been a big believer of "featured listings". About 1/2 the cost of premium listings. If you actually put search criteria that an actual car shopper would use (example Mercedes-Benz C230 in a 25 mile radius), Your featured listing will still show on the first page of listings. You can use the $1,000 you save monthly on Dealix or another lead provider. Just some thoughts from an old-school ISM.
-Pete
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    Jeff Kershner
  • February 24, 2007
<p>Peter, it's about time you join in on some DealerRefresh comments. <br />
<br />
I'm in line with your thinking. I’ve been considering dropping back down to the
featured listings. <br />
<br />
From 2005, working the (lesser) Premium package, to 2006 working the Partner
package, my accredited <b>AutoTrader</b> sales increased <b>ONLY 1.4</b> vehicles
a month. Was this due to being a Premium partner or due to having a larger
selection of used car inventory in 2006? <br />
<br />
Thinking about this, I dug a little deeper and compared JUST my Pre-Owned
Mercedes vehicles sold from 2005 to 2006. I did this because we are a Partner
with ONLY Mercedes-Benz, this means my non Mercedes vehicles are listed in the
Premium displays and not the Partner (top) displays. I recorded a <b>.3%</b>
(basically none) increase in Mercedes Pre-Owned sales on the 2006 Partner
package over using the 2005 Premium package. <br />
<br />
So what about my Non-Mercedes-Benz? From 2005 to 2006 my increase in AutoTrader
accredited sales increased .45. I looked at this for the simple fact that maybe
my Partner Mercedes listings helped filter customers into our Non-Mercedes
inventory. <b>This obviously was not the case.</b><br />
<br />
I also tracked the average gross of our Pre-Owned Mercedes-Benz over Non
Mercedes-Benz AutoTrader accredited sales. My Pre-Owned Mercedes sales gross
averaged $200.00 over my Non Mercedes sales gross. An increase, but not a huge
one. <br />
<br />
So..according to my reports, spending another $1,000 or so more for the Partner
Listings is not making much sense. <br />
<br />
AutoTrader would be quick to argue this due to the fact that you get a Banner Ad
with the Partner and not the Premium. How valuable is that banner ad, especially
when dealers and consumer have to deal with
<a href="http://www.dealerrefresh.com/my_weblog/2006/12/dan_marino_loos.html" rel="nofollow">
stuff like this</a>? I track my banner ad CTR (click through rate) every month
and if I were paying just 200.00 per month for my banner ad on AutoTrader, I
would be averaging around <b>$3.77 per click</b> (Ouch!). I believe that the
banner ad has some branding value to it but I’m not sure what price tag you
place on it and there really is no way of tacking it unless you are sending the
customer to your dealer website from your banner ad and you are able to track
the conversion form there.<br />
<br />
If I’m not mistaken the Partner package also allows you more then <b>9 photos</b>
and this could be a benefit that gives you a slight advantage over other
dealers, though most dealers paying for the Partner listings still only display
9 photos or less. I would always use this as an excuse to get a customers email
address. “Mr. Smith, share with me your email address, I have 15 more photos of
this car I can send you.” Then send them a link to the photos on your website.
<br />
<br />
Now AutoTrader is offering their
<a href="http://www.dealerrefresh.com/my_weblog/2007/02/2007_autotrader.html" rel="nofollow">
2007 products</a> and I’m sure they have all new pricing to go along. I know it
seems like I’m hard on AutoTrader but I guess when you’re one of the “Big Guys”
everyone has their eyes on you. Overall my ROI makes total sense with AutoTrader
and I’m not looking to drop them unless they price themselves so far out of the
market, though that seems to be their trend, especially for smaller dealers like
mine. </p>
<p>(I might make this into a separate posting)<br />
<br /></p>
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    Daniel Hayes
  • March 12, 2007
I agree about your comment on Clickmotive. Dry, Dry, Dry...
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Jeff,

Thanks for taking the time to stop by our booth and giving us the honorable mention. Good review of the show. You've got a great working knowledge of the Internet. The question you asked the "gentleman" from @utorevenue.com makes that very clear. Thanks again, and keep in touch.

-Blake
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