J.D. Power and Associates Reports: AutoTrader.com and Cars.com Each Rank Highest in Satisfying Dealers With Online Vehicle Buying Services in Their Respective Segments
J.D. Power and Associates WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Aug. 19 — Among online buying services, AutoTrader.com ranks highest in satisfying dealers with new-vehicle leads, while Cars.com ranks highest in satisfying dealers with used-vehicle leads, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study(SM) released today.
The study, which measures dealer satisfaction with online buying services, ranks vehicle-lead providers in two segments: independent new-vehicle and independent used-vehicle. Within those segments, four factors measure overall dealer satisfaction with online lead providers: business generation; dealer support/service; competitiveness of fees; and transmission of leads. An additional factor, advertising, is also included in the independent used-vehicle lead segment.
AutoTrader.com ranks highest in dealer satisfaction with online new-vehicle lead providers for a second consecutive year, performing particularly well in the business generation, dealer support/service and transmission of leads factors. Following AutoTrader.com in the segment rankings and performing above industry average are Cars.com, Dealix and AutoUSA, respectively.
In the used-vehicle lead segment, Cars.com achieves high ratings from dealers in the areas of business generation and transmission of leads. AutoTrader.com follows Cars.com in the used-vehicle-lead segment rankings and performs well in the areas of dealer support/service and advertising.
“The strong performance of AutoTrader.com for two consecutive years is founded on its most notable strengths — the quality of leads and the amount of contact with the dealership — both of which are especially important to dealers,” said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates. “Cars.com has been steadily improving in the used-vehicle-lead segment rankings during the past two years, so it is not surprising that the service improves from its second-rank position in 2007 to earn the highest rank in 2008.”
The study finds that overall satisfaction in the used-vehicle lead segment has declined considerably in 2008, averaging 581 on a 1,000-point scale, compared with 613 in 2007. The decline is driven primarily by decreases in satisfaction within the business generation factor, specifically in the areas of the quality and quantity of leads.
The study also finds that the average number of online lead providers that dealers subscribe to has increased steadily in recent years — from 5.6 in 2006 to 6.8 in 2008. In addition, approximately one-half (53%) of dealers report subscribing to a lead notification program, which instantaneously alerts dealers to an incoming lead via cell phone voice or text messages. Dealers who subscribe to lead notification programs tend to have high levels of satisfaction with the services. Approximately two-thirds of subscribing dealers “completely agree” that lead notification programs work well and believe that they are worth participating in.
“As both new- and used-vehicle sales decline, it is now more important than ever for dealers to cast as wide a net as possible toward the limited supply of vehicle shoppers, which is one reason why dealers are increasing their use of online lead providers in the hopes of generating more traffic and sales for their dealerships,” said Osborn. “Also, dealers use vehicle lead notification systems to try to differentiate themselves from their competitors through faster lead response times. In this highly competitive industry, creating even a slight edge over other dealers is critical during a period of slow sales.”
The 2008 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study is based on 4,141 dealer evaluations of the online buying services they use. The study was fielded in April and May 2008.