DSES 2015: DrivingSales Innovation Cup Application Deadline Fast Approaching

If you’re a vendor with a bright idea that will help dealerships win at business, the Innovation Cup is for you. We realize there are hundreds of vendors working hard to provide dealerships with products and services that allow them to sell more cars and service more vehicles, which is why the contest was created. We would like to reward the most innovative idea of the year and by providing a platform for dealers to vote on who had the most innovative product/service. The Innovation Cup allows vendors to stand infront of the most progessive dealers in the country and compete head-to-head for the Innovation Cup. The DrivingSales Innovation Cup contest is held during a DSES general session and uncovers the Most Innovative Solution of the Year. Five automotive vendors finalists are invited on stage to present their solution/product and compete head-to-head with each other. A panel of on-stage dealer judges reviews each solution with the competitors, then determines the winner of the... Read Post

Award Winning Author & Harvard Business School Faculty Member to Speak at DSES 2015

We're very excited to annouce our first of many renown speakers for this year's DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES). It's hard to believe this is our 7th DSES and we have some exciting speakers to announce in the coming weeks and months. We invite all automotive retail professionals to join us at the Bellagio, Las Vegas Oct. 18-20 for the most progessive event in the industry.

The most progressive dealers gather to connect and collaborate on the most innovative trends and formulate their business plans for the following year at DSES. Attendees are armed with profit-building strategies and leave prepared with actionable goals to drive their success.

Come hear and meet the author of the book that Forbes called “perhaps the best sales book ever," and nominee for the Marketing Book of the Year. Harvard Business School faculty member Frank Cespedes will share lessons from his award-winning book Aligning Strategy and Sales, guiding you to identify the gaps between your business s Read Post

DrivingSales Founder, Jared Hamilton, To Share Exclusive Research In DSES 2014 Keynote

Seating just got even more limited at the DrivingSales Executive Summit 2014 and here's why: Founder & CEO, Jared Hamilton, will present: Prepare your Dealership for the Next Chapter in Automotive Retailing: Competing on Customer Experience. This keynote is a preview of findings from DrivingSales proprietary research on customer experience (CX) and car buying.

This revolutionary research is a multi-year research investment and a deep exploration of all touch points in the purchase process with interviews from thousands of car shoppers and buyers. Attendees will hear emerging findings first and exclusively only at DSES.

Jared will share never-before-seen info and allow dealers to learn and understand how...

· CX is impacting sales

· Your organization can prepare for the changes in the new customer-driven market

· To optimize your people and processes to excel at customer experience

Access to this CX data won’t be available again until 2015 so be sure to register Read Post

Announcing DSES 2014 Breakout Speakers

Our line-up of breakout speakers is the largest it has ever been (33 speakers) offering you even more choices to hone in on what your store needs to improve upon. The speakers were selected by a large group of the most progressive dealers from a very competitive field of applications and just like in years past, these speakers comprise some of the industry’s most innovative dealer executives and thought leaders. Read Post

Are Manufacturers Making An Uber Mistake?

By now you’ve heard of the ride sharing company, Uber. You know the taxi-that’s-not-a-taxi, that’s part app, part convenient, and part hipster mustache. Like seemingly every other Silicon Valley backed start up, they also want to take your dealership away.

According to a recent interview published by the Wall Street Journal, Uber’s bullish CEO, Travis Kalanick, repeatedly states that Uber’s mission is to “make car ownership a thing of the past.” Granted, that’s a strong statement. At the same time, however, he does have a point. Let’s face it: if a car sits still longer than it moves, it takes up space that can be especially expensive when owners live in congested cities. Some investors agree, and based on raised capital, and according to Kalanick, Uber is worth around $18 billion dollars. 

There are a lot of elements that make Uber unique. Besides making everything you hate about getting a taxi much easier with a handy app, it adds a much more human Read Post

(Video) Auto Loans: The Next Subprime Crisis?

The U.S Subprime Housing crisis in the late 2000s dealt a huge blow to the national and world economy. Fast forward to 2014 and some are saying that a new subprime crisis is on it’s way, in the retail automotive industry.

The New York Times did an in depth piece on the potential for an auto industry loan crisis. They highlighted borrowers who couldn’t afford their loans, however, they also looked deeper into what may make individuals with bad credit continually take on car loans that they cannot afford. The piece claims that low credit borrowers are targeted and charged “legal loanshark” rates. However, these individuals weren’t forced to apply for loans, thus who’s at fault if they get approved?

One bankruptcy attorney who commented on the story revealed that his clients who had already filed for bankruptcy, been through foreclosure and repossession, still received auto loan applications in the mail.

The question for dealers out there is whether or not dealerships tha Read Post

(Video) Two Tech Startups Want To Cut Dealers Out Of the Used Car Business

Two Companies that want to cut car dealerships out of the used car business are Beepi and Carvana. Those organizations are hoping that customers will go online for their vehicle needs, bypassing traditional dealerships. Both offer home delivery and the ability for the customer to keep the vehicle for 7-10 days and return it no questions asked, if they change their mind. One of the main selling points for these companies is taking the price negotiation and hours at the dealership out of the car buying process. 
Read Post

(Video) What Can Car Dealers Learn From Billy Beane?

The Oakland A’s won 20 games in a row back in 2002. The credit for that amazing streak and the turnaround of a struggling team was given to their General Manager, Billy Beane.

The old problem was finding the right baseball player for the right price, on a cash-strapped ball club. For years, baseball scouts had evaluated players using time tested methods, including “gut feeling,” however Beane and his assistants used data in a way that is called “sabermetrics” to evaluate baseball talent. Essentially, undervalued major-league players were found by properly using data, and it translated to win column success that they could afford. Beane spoke about his experience at the DrivingSales Executive Summit back in 2012.

During his keynote, Beane said, “the numbers, the mathematics will work if you trust them and are disciplined. It was from that moment on that I knew that we were all in. That we had a better chance if we trusted completely numbers as opposed to our own guts."

Read Post

(Video) California Dealership Under Fire After Golf Tournament Leads To Lawsuit

It was supposed to be a picturesque day for a California-based Kia dealership. The sponsored a local Golf Tournament which would bring the community together and probably help their public image. However how did they go from that scenario to a public relations nightmare?

Folsom Lake Kia out of Folsom, CA sponsored a golf tournament that promised a attention-grabbing grand prize. A Kia K900 Sedan was parked on the course at what was, the end of the tournament won by  Chiropractor Alan Ross. He  sunk a hole-in-one at that Par 3. He posed for photos in and around the car with dealer principles, that’s when he found out that his prize was not this $66,000 vehicle but a $25,000 gift certificate.

Whomever at that dealership decided to park the vastly more expensive car in the green may have taken some heat, because the fallout has been a back and forth between Ross and the Dealership, with blame also being tossed at an insurance company, However as these often do, this has now turned Read Post

Pinterest or Instagram: Which Should Your Dealership Be Using?

As social media has become increasingly integrated into dealer marketing strategies, many have focused on the most common, and talked about, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. While these should all be a part of a dealer’s marketing, dealers may want to consider establishing profiles on two very popular sites: Pinterest and Instagram.

Both of these networks offer dealers opportunities to connect with consumers but which one is better? Let’s take a look at each platform.


Instagram is a visual platform designed for brief engagements. The premise is simple. Take a picture; share it with your friends. Users tend to spend less time on Instagram as it’s primarily a mobile platform. Its user base is well balanced between men and women and almost ¾ of its users are between the ages of 18-34. Dealers who use Instagram for marketing should focus on brand exposure. Content should be brand-driven and personal. Uploading pictures of inventory en masse won Read Post

Google Analytics Can Now Separate Brand And Non-Brand PPC Traffic

It's common for brand and non-brand search terms to perform very differently from each other, and most paid search teams analyze these sets of keywords separately.  Google has now added a feature to its Analytics to make this easier, providing the ability to automatically segment brand and non-brand, or generic, paid search terms into distinct channels.  The need to build custom segments or filter strings can now be a thing of the past. 

Google Analytics makes assumptions about which keywords are brand terms based on such factors as click-through rate, text string and domain name and buckets them in the Brand Paid Search channel.  All non-brand terms are grouped under the Generic Paid Search channel.

The new feature is very easy to use.  "Manage Brand Terms" is now found under Channel Settings within the Admin tab, allowing users to manage the list of keywords to be included in the Brand Paid Search Channel.  Advertisers can review the terms that Google identifies as brand Read Post

Google Officially Announces Its In-Car Interface: "Android Auto"

As expected in this previous blog posting, Google has officially unveiled its phone-based in-car interface. The system will run off of motorists’ Android phones, thus a non-permanent, “projected” system. This jump into the phone based in-car interface market will be direct competition for Apple who already has “CarPlay,” a similar unit that runs in a vehicle dashboard off of an Apple device.

According to the official Google Blog, the new “Android Auto allows drivers to, “connect your Android phone to a car with “Android Auto,” and you’ll have what you need at your fingertips such as turn-by-turn navigation from Google Maps, your curated playlists and radio stations through Play Music (and) simple-to-use voice search.”

The push and design is meant to allow drivers to more safely navigate the road. As the official Google blog notes, the “Android Auto” system is theoretically, “far safer than fumbling around for your phone.”Between the increasing competit Read Post

(Video) Designated Dealership Marketer: A Step Ahead Of Your Competition?


Dealership marketing is a hot topic these days. The answer to the question of who handles that responsibility at your dealership can mean the ROI difference between success and failure in this important arena. 

Internet Sales Manager. General Sales Managers. BDC Directors. Even an outside Ad Agency. These are among the individuals and groups who end up handling marketing at automotive dealerships. However, does a great salesman make a great marketer? Does someone who can succeed in managing the dealership BDC help your online presence? The answer is hopefully. However another way that some dealers and dealer groups go is with a non-sales marketing professional. 

Madison Clement, the Digital Media Coordinator for the Trotman Automotive Group explained what her job duties are. She said, “Online Marketing. It could be anything from handling our Google Adwords account to making sure we have all the proper SEO for our websites, social media is involved. It really encompasses eve Read Post

Which Skills Are Most Important For Success In Future Marketing?


Econsultancy’s new Skills of the Modern Marketer Report shows that marketers are putting more value in “softer skills” than they have in the past, along with the traditional vertical expertise that has always been expected.

Senior level marketers devised a list of fifteen essential skills, which have been organized into three “top five skills lists” for marketing.  With the increased focus on soft skills, it became apparent that the three lists were necessary, with the separation being for “broad skills”, “vertical skills” and “soft skills”.

The research report also indicates a growing importance in specific vertical skills, in particular those that are related to content, mobile and social.  Several broad skills areas such as customer experience, content and data are considered to be growing requirements as well.

Overall, Econsultancy’s report contained the following results:

Those who were interviewed for the study commonly spoke of the need to combi Read Post

Showrooming: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

The new scary topic of the day is “showrooming.” For those of you not in the know, showrooming is the practice of shopping a competitor’s products online while standing in a retail store. Imagine a customer searching Amazon while at Best Buy, or perusing AutoTrader while waiting to have their car appraised. Now you get it. While this might instill panic at some car dealerships, other retailers have decided to embrace it.

Take for instance, Target. The retailing giant decided to conduct research on how its customer interacted with mobile. Target found that half of its 2 billion online visits come from mobile devices. Furthermore, the study found that 50 percent of consumers use mobile as their primary Internet access, while 75 percent use mobile for shopping. More importantly, 82 percent use their mobile phone in the store to conduct a search.

Instead of making sure people could not get a signal inside its stores, Target did the complete opposite. Target partnered with Faceboo Read Post

Pinterest Adds Guided Search Functionality To The Web

Pinterest first introduced "Guided Search" in April, providing a new method for narrowing down what a user is searching for on mobile. The feature pops up related terms at the top of the screen once a user has entered a keyword search term. Now, the company has announced that Guided Search is making its way on to the web, along with some improvements to its functionality.

Guided Search was developed using Pinterest's understanding of the ways in which various search terms are linked together. When a user searches for the keyword "Plants", Pinterest will suggest other words to assist in finding relevant information, such as "potted" or "for shade". The additional keywords appear at the top of the webpage, where the user can click on one or more of the terms to filter their search.

Now that Guided Search has been launched on the web, the search bar has been placed very prominently on the website. Analysts are describing this change as making Pinterest feel more like a visual sea Read Post

(Video) Cobalt CEO, John Holt, To Retire

Nearly four years after the announcement that ADP would acquire Cobalt for $400 million in Cash, the company is seeing another major change, this time in leadership. John Holt, who founded Cobalt back on St. Patrick’s Day in 1995, has decided to retire.  Scott Mathews will replace John at the helm.

Holt spoke to DrivingSales CEO Jared Hamilton and announced his retirement decision. He explained that while he loves the company he built, it was time to focus on some personal goals outside the corporate world. “The real reason for retirement at this point is that there are some other things that I want to do while I’m on the planet and some of them involve things that are physically challenging and difficult. I don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.”

Some of those physically demanding activities are based abound two of Holt’s hobbies: rowing and mountain climbing. Speaking specifically about his hobby that takes him to new heights, Holt said that, “there are some b Read Post

Google Set To Launch Response to Apple's "Car Play?"

Apple’s" CarPlay" may soon have a chief competitor. Reports indicate that Google will launch a similar in-vehicle OS product at their annual developers’ conference. The in-vehicle operating system will likely be an android challenger to the “car play" system which allows users to use apps, make phone calls, text and more, all using “Siri” technology while behind the wheel of an automobile.

Reports also indicate that the new system is known behind closed doors at Google as, “Google Auto Link.” The system is expected to work in conjunction with drivers’ android phones, instead of being a system built into a vehicle. With competition in this arena heating up, one has to wonder what this will mean for the In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) market. Intel and Microsoft have worked with vehicle manufacturers on this technology, which may suddenly face competition from a different, non-permanent type of system.

The event during which the announcement will likely occur is sla Read Post

(Video) Tesla Releases Patents: Who Stands To Benefit?

Tesla Motors, the electric car company run by Elon Musk, made a huge announcement earlier this week, saying that they will allow other car manufacturers to use some of the technology that goes into their electric vehicles, all in the name of putting more electric cars on the road.

What Tesla is doing is opening the patents that protect their technology to other players in the market. In a blog post on the official company blog, Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk said,“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

Some are hailing Musk as a hero, others see this move as strange. However, his motivation behind this is clearly to get more electric vehicles on the Read Post

Smart Driving Assistant Comes To Android With Robust New Safety Features


Automatic is a smart driving assistant combining a small hardware device that plugs into your car with a mobile app that provides drivers with data about both their vehicle and their driving habits.  While this was previously only available as an iOS application, it is now available on Android with two new features including a "do not disturb" mode and Crash Alert functionality.

The Crash Alert feature is currently in beta and will go through a testing period on both iOS and Android.  The concept is to provide drivers with an integrated system such as OnStar provides in emergency assistance situations, while having the functionality bundled into a mobile application.  Crash Alert will allow Automatic to identify when you've been in a serious car accident and will automatically alert the local authorities with your location, even when you are unable to do this yourself.  Automatic will also contact your family and other loved ones to let them know that an accident has occurre Read Post

Brands Are Scoring Through Social Media Humor. Is it OK For Your Dealership?


Social media by businesses can be a challenge. There are many opinions on how it should be done, what kind of content businesses should post and even the time of day that offers the best chances of reaching customers. Many big brands have taken a more light-hearted approach to social media. Following the announcement of Apple’s purchase of Beats, Denny’s restaurants tweeted out “BREAKING: Denny’s Buys Beets for $3 Billion, Makes Huge Salad.” We see example of these types of novel and clever exploitations of real-life events often. Consider Oreo’s famous tweet when the lights during Super Bowl in 2013 or the social media one-upmanship by auto manufacturers that occurred when Jimmy Fallon announced on The Tonight Show that he was in the market for a truck. Sometimes these tweets go viral and sometimes they fall flat. The common trait that all of these brands share, however, are dedicated full-time social media teams with creative designers. These brands have the resourc Read Post

Experian Report: Average Auto Buyer Payment: $474 per Month in Q1

A new report has indicated that Americans borrowed a record amount towards their auto loans during the first quarter of 2014. The average amount borrowed was around $474 dollars per month. The other statistic that jumps off the page is that 24.8 percent of auto loans as reported by Experian Automotive were between 6 and 7 years. That’s the highest ever amount of auto loans for that length according to this report. The data is based on 4.7 million loans between January and March of 2014.

It appears that consumers are more and more willing to take on larger amounts of debt so long as it’s spaced out over an amount of time that lowers the monthly payment. The average loan amount borrowed was just over $27,000 that number was around $24,000 just five years ago.

With buyers willing to put off larger loan amounts over more years to lower their monthly payments, many are turning to another option: leasing. Without a wide range of stats on leasing, the general consensus was that it wi Read Post

Tesla Vehicles Could Be On Sale In New Jersey As Soon As July 1st

A Bill before New Jersey lawmakers could allow Tesla to sell their electric cars in the Garden State. The NJ State Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee approved bill A3216 by a vote of 4-0. This piece of legislation requires further advancement in the legislature before it could go to the desk of Governor Chris Christie. This could happen as soon as July 1st, with the bill going into effect immediately. This bill would allow zero emissions vehicle manufactures to operate no more than 4 retail locations to sell directly to consumers in NJ. It also stipulates that the manufacturer operate at least one location for servicing those vehicles.

New Jersey is one of five states in the U.S. that currently bans the sale of Tesla vehicles, and their direct-to-consumer model. This method that has caused concern for auto dealers, including one organization in that state that wants to see Tesla adopt the dealership model. Jim Appleton who is the President of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Read Post

2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year: Jonathan Ord of DealerSocket

Just under a month after our exclusive story on DealerSocket taking on a new investment partner, the California-based business is making headlines once again. This time, it’s the CEO, Jonathan Ord, who has won the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Orange County region, in the Business-to-Business division.

In a press release on the DealerSocket website, Ord said that, “I want to thank my family and by family I mean all those that have touched my life and the life of DealerSocket. Life is about relationships and I cherish all those that have helped me and the people around me.”

The award for Ord comes from a pool of 80 other finalists. The panel of 14 Independent judges consisted of many past winners of the EY EOY award as well as regional CEOs and a Chapman Business School professor. 

In an interview with DrivingSales, Kim Letch, Program Director for EY's EOY award Orange County Region talked about the characteristics of those who win these awards. She exp Read Post

Does Google Envision Cars As A Communal Commodity?

It looks a bit like the "cozy coupe" that so many kids used to cruise their driveways during the 90s, but Google says that it could be the future. The latest version of the Self-Driving Car is nothing like the Lexus edition that we reported on previously. Gone are the steering wheel, brakes and much of the staples that many associate with a motorized vehicle. This one is all electric, having the same approximately one hundred-mile range as the Fiat 500e.

As you saw in the YouTube video, these vehicles are very unique. Google has said that an unnamed manufacturer will build 100 prototypes they that hope to integrate onto U.S. roadways. Rumors are that Roush Industries out of Detroit is just the company for this job. Nothing, however, has been officially confirmed, except Google reportedly saying that they would be built in the motor city area.

One of the eyebrow-raising concepts that Google has hinted at is how they would like this self-driving car to change how vehicles are used. Read Post

(VIDEO) Dealership Friend or Foe: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

President Barack Obama: “America’s consumer watchdog!”

America’s Consumer Watchdog. What group is President Obama talking about, and how has the creation of that group become a vital concern for one component of the Retail Automotive Industry?

The group is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act back in 2010, the CFBP’s mission is “to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans.”

The mission sounds admirable, however what has the reality been? And how does this relate back to Auto Dealers? In 2013 this organization, which has been given great power in the U.S. financial industry, ordered Ally Bank to pay 98 Million in penalties for alleged disparate impact. The CFPB and Department of Justice found that Ally’s retail auto loan practices had negative financial consequences for 235,000 individuals, from 4 different racial groups, to the tune of 200-300 dollars over the course Read Post

Why Should Dealers Care about Google's Panda 4.0 Update?

Google provides the platform and we all play in their space. This was among the topics discussed in the article that we wrote about the Panda 4.0 update to the Google Search Algorithm. We provided a quick overview of the change, as well as winner and losers, however some of that information has changed. Let’s start with an update.

EBay, first seen as among the biggest losers to the latest Google update, was quite possibly unaffected by the change. An anonymous source, as reported by, has indicated that Ebay was rather levied with a manual penalty by Google. The online auction site faced what looked at first like an approximately 33% reduction in its organic traffic, seemingly overnight. The root cause was thought to be the Panda rollout, however, a source close to the situation says that it’s due to EBay having “category pages” created to bolster search results. This led to Google reportedly taking action against EBay.

Our last article also touched on that e Read Post

Fisker's New Billionaire Owner Will Spend Whatever It Takes To Succeed

In an exciting turn of events, Fisker Automotive has been picked up by a Chinese firm led by billionaire Lu Guanqui.  Wanxiang Group Corp. has taken over the company and intends to resume production of electric cars in both the United States and China.

Lu Guanqui promises to do whatever it takes to battle with "the world's most eminent electric car maker".  Fans of Tesla Motors are acutely aware of who he is referring to, and concerns from the Tesla camp over the competition are certainly valid.  Guanqui told Bloomberg at Wanxiang's headquarters in Hangzhou that, "I'll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles.  I'll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust."  These strong words may help the revitalized Fisker to succeed, along with the notable fact that Wanxiang has the unique advantage of buying the shell of an automaker that has already completed much of its developmental research.

Harry Chen, an automotive analyst with Gu Read Post

Google Releases Large Update To Their Search Algorithm: Panda 4.0

The update to the search algorithm is estimated, by SearchEnglineLand to affect around 7.5 percent of English language searches to a degree that’s noticeable. For perspective, the first Panda update affected a reported 11.8 percent of English searches. Since 2011, the other updates have only changed as much as 2.4% of English searches, making this change potentially three times as meaningful as Read Post

Tesla Beats Out Toyota as The Largest Automotive Employer in California

Just weeks after we reported that Toyota will be moving much of their North American operations from California to Texas, a new king of automotive employment in the “Golden State,” has arrived: Tesla. The Elon Musk-owned electric car company now employs over 6,000 individuals in California, topping Toyota, who has 5,300 employees in the state. This news comes even before the Toyota transition to Texas ahead of 2017.

Reports also indicate that Tesla will add 500 more jobs to that number in California by the end of 2014, meaning that they will end up being the 41st largest employer in the entire state, ahead of such companies as Boeing, Sony Pictures Entertainment and FX Networks Llc. Tesla’s influence in California could grow even greater if they decide to build one of their 5 billion-dollar “gigafactories” in a state that has an 8.5 percent corporate income tax rate. If the factory is built in California, it’s expected to add 6,500 more jobs. This increase would likely p Read Post