Premium Partner with AutoTrader – Again!
Well I did it again. I signed up for another year as a Premium Partner with AutoTrader for their 2007 product.
I was tempted to drop down to the Featured Listings package or get rid of AutoTrader all together and shift my budget over to Cars.com. Not because AutoTrader doesn’t perform well for us, but due to the increase in pricing. We are a smaller dealer and I’m lucky to have 50 used cars on the lot at any given time. Once you take the monthly price and spread it out amongst all my used cars, I was already spending more then I like per car for advertising.
What keeps me going with AutoTrader is the positive ROI I’ve been able to track using the service. Even with the high cost per lead and advertising cost per car, the ROI makes total sense to continue on for another year. Though if they keep hiking their price, this may be my last signed contract.
My biggest complaint I have with AutoTrader is with the price increase each year, they try to sell me on the new “added features” that do nothing to sell me more cars. Like adding the ability to add more photos of your dealer for your dealership profile or the new “Reduced” icon that shows up when you change your pricing (being a Mercedes dealers I think it sort of cheapens the car).
The new Print Vehicle Brochure is a decent addition but the load time for the brochures can be horrendous for slower computers. They should allow the consumer the option for a full or mini brochure (cutting some of the photos and having the option omitting the Carfax).
The best part of the new 2007 product is the new Admin! (if it would only work, but I’ll touch on that later). Now when you log in, you get an inventory age report along with a list of your Top 10 New and Used vehicles. But there’s a problem with the Top 10 reports and something I have been complaining about for along time. The Top 10 reports shows how many times a particular vehicle has shown up in searches BUT it’s for the entire time the car has been in inventory. Obviously if I have a car in inventory for 3-4 months, it’s going to be higher on the list then say a car that’s been listed for only a week. AutoTrader needs to allow us to designate a time period for this report to have any real value.
The most impressive feature is the Market Comparison. While viewing your inventory list screen you get an overview of the average price of similar inventory listed on AutoTrader. This allows you to see how your vehicles compare to the competition. Of course these are just averages, but when you drill down to the vehicle specifics and click on the Market Comparison tab, you get a full list of your competitive inventory while allowing you to click and view the actual vehicle listing. This is something I do before spotlighting a car but I would have to search from the consumer side of AutoTrader. I can now stay inside of the AutoTrader admin, compare my inventory and pricing to the competition and then Spotlight, all from one screen.
Another gripe I have with AutoTrader is the deleting of inventory. If you make any change to a vehicle in the AutoTrader admin, it “locks” that vehicle into your inventory. You are then forced to manually delete the vehicle when it sells. I can see how this would be a huge pain for a larger dealer with more inventory. I don’t understand why they can’t build a rule that says if you make a change to vehicle and it “locks” into your inventory, it will delete if the vehicle is not in the feed from your DMS or inventory tool like Homenet or ebizautos after 2 or 3 updates.
Overall it looks as if AutoTrader actually put some thought into this new admin. BUT as I mentioned earlier; “if it would only work”. Unfortunately after only a few minutes playing around, I ran into several issues. I changed the price of several cars form the vehicle listing screen only to find when I did, it was deleting all the photos for that vehicle. I can’t seem to get our videos attached to the inventory to show up in the multimedia portion of the vehicle listing. When I choose what vehicles I want to show in the Dynamic Display, it doesn’t update and reverts back the original setting.
Hopefully by the time you read this, these issues will be taken care of. I know I’m always giving AutoTrader a rough time here on DealerRefresh but when you’re the Big Guy and you want to charge a premium price, I expect a premium product with premium service.
So another year on AutoTrader for me..we’ll see how this year totals up!!