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Bernie Brenner of TRUECar publishes book that Chip Perry calls the "quintessential guide to Business Development." CARFAX strategies also revealed..

TRUECAR Co-Founder publishes book: The “quintessential guide to BD” and reveals details on CARFAX’s business practices… What is business development? Ask this question to almost any executive, and you’ll receive varying, ambiguous, and elaborated answers that border complete “gobbledygook.” Even in B-school academia, the definition of “business development” is equally inconsistent and confusing. However, finally, a sensible definition of business development is explained in a new book dubbed The Sumo Advantage by Bernie Brenner(www.linkedin.com/in/berniebrenner), a co-founder of TrueCar, and a well-known automotive marketing veteran. Bernie explains business development(“BD”) as a tool to harness the power of a “Sumo” to springboard another firm’s growth – that is, strategically partnering with an existing industry heavyweight to achieve mutual growth. He explains, in extensive detail, the roa... Read Post

The Differential Advantages that made Cobalt the "Elephant" of Automotive Digital Marketing…

  If there’s one thing I that learned from NADA’s Dealer Academy, it's that technology cannot replace the sales effectiveness of strong and embedded processes within a dealership. While I’m generally quick to buy into the benefits of new technology, my background in management consulting compels me to first analyze the “business case” of every possible decision.  Technology can lead to a sustainable competitive advantage in certain industries, but in the franchised and territorially restricted auto franchise sector, technology is only a tool. When I decided to switch digital solution providers last year, technology was just one aspect of my decision. I concluded that Cobalt could handle virtually every aspect of my group’s digital marketing initiative - SEM, Behavioral, SEO, Website, Mobile, Social, and E-mail Marketing – therefore also providing brand consistency. In addition, Cobalt promised enterprise level “inte... Read Post

Using a Cheeseburger to help explain Cobalt as “Holistic”…

Cobalt is a “holistic” solution provider - they provide all the fundamental and critical components for a dealership to market and transact online, but they also allow customization and integration when a dealer requires it. What is “holistic?” In layman’s terms, imagine a dealer’s digital marketing platform as a cheeseburger.  Cobalt’s role is to provide the bun, burger, cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, pickles, and meat – then cook the burger at various temperatures – and put it on a plate to be served. Essentially, everything that is needed to deliver a delicious burger (or “a successful digital marketing solution”), Cobalt provides and does it well(no pun intended).  But even though Cobalt cooks a great and fulfilling burger, some dealers have unique tastes, and may add mustard, onions, and a whole wheat bun. Thus, the dealers that prefer specific additions for theirs burgers (or are told by “exp... Read Post

Sleepless in Seattle? One week at Cobalt’s Headquarters…

As a recent convert of Cobalt (at least for now), I decided to fly to Seattle to learn more about the company that is playing the leading role in my store’s marketing efforts. In addition to working side-by-side with my account team, I’m also hoping (if they permit me to do so), to test out their newest products and technologies – with the actual product managers that oversaw their development. Read Post

Mercedes-Benz’s Secret Weapon: Lior Arussy

Stephen Cannon, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, believes he needs to further differentiate the Mercedes-Benz brand. He plans to accomplish his lofty goal by elevating the customer experience of his retail customers to a new level. As he explained in Automotive News, "the need to deliver an exceptional, truly differentiating customer experience has never been greater.” But how is Cannon attempting to redefine the luxury experience in the already established luxury market? The answer is a consultant from New Jersey; who is described by many as world’s #1 customer experience expert. Lior Arussy, a former executive of HP, travels the world consulting for some of the world’s largest companies (FedEx, Citigroup, HSBC, Royal Caribbean, etc..). In 2011, Lior’s company, Strativity, was hired to lead Mercedes-Benz’s customer experience initiative. After analyzing thousands of employee engagement surveys submitted by Mercedes-Benz dealer employees, Strativit... Read Post

Opinion: As R.L. Polk considers a sale, CARFAX still faces major challenges.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMER: This article is based on the opinions of the author and nothing contained herein should be construed as a matter of fact. At least from my perspective, it seems 2013 is proving to be a difficult year for the folks at CARFAX. After years of being the nation’s top VHR provider, the company is facing serious challenges. Since I began blogging about CAFAX, there have been major developments. These developments include a controversial Automotive News story, a potential anti-trust lawsuit seeking treble damages, and a 20/20 investigative report that nationally portrayed CARFAX’s reports as misleading. But wait! There’s more! CARFAX’s parent, RL Polk, announced the company is for sale!   Last year, I published near 10 pages of material outlining what I felt was wrong with CARFAX’s business model. However, I’m going to keep this post short by just providing my opinions and insights of some of the more recent developments: 20/2... Read Post

Doom & Gloom? Self-Driving Cars and Dealership Valuations…



Dealers should consider the effects of self-driving technology in their 10 to 15 year plans.

Five years ago, the self-driving car seemed like something limited to an episode of the Jetsons. But then Google changed history, and built an autonomous car that proved safer and more reliable than its human controlled counterpart. Then in 2011, Google began convincing legislatures in Nevada, Florida, and California to allow Google’s autonomous cars to roam without a driver.

Depending on regulations, analysts predict the self-driving car will populate US roads within the next 12 to 20 years. While the self-driving car will bring society innumerable benefits, dealers may find that self-driving technology will disrupt the entire retail automotive sector.

But what about America’s passion to drive?
It seems the passion is fading among the next wave of buyers. According to Time Magazine*, in the next 10 years, 40% of new cars sold will be sold to Gen Y consumers. Gen Y consumers al Read Post

UPDATED (1/2/13): OPINION: CARFAX’s Policies are Bad for the Dealer, OEM, Consumer, and Competition: 8 Recommendations to Fix It

 Note: If you would like AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, or your Franchise’s Manufacturer to end their CARFAX exclusivity agreements and allow dealer’s the right to choose a VHR provider, then please sign a petition for change: www.FreeTheDealer.org REQUIRED DISCLAIMER: This article is based on the opinions of the author and nothing contained herein should be construed as a matter of fact. Consumers and OEMs have made VHRs mandatory…. In today’s transparent shopping environment, the “best practice” of providing a car shopper with a vehicle history report has become a mandatory requirement in most dealerships. While Vehicle History Reports (aka “VHRs”) are subject to material omissions and cannot replace the assurance of a thorough physical inspection, the reports serve as a relevant selling tool in the retail dealership environment - and as a buying tool in the wholesale market. Nearly ... Read Post

OPINION: CARFAX is extorting my dealership...

Last month, after an extensive comparison of nearly 6,000 VINs, BMW of North America concluded that AutoCheck’s Vehicle History Reports were just as reliable as CARFAX reports. Finally, after years of only supporting CARFAX, BMW’s mandate for Dealers to use CarFax for Certified BMWs was over.  This meant, that as a BMW Dealer, I could now choose either CarFax or Experian’s Service (AutoCheck) as my vehicle history report provider. So why would I want to change? The answer is simple. Last month, I paid CARFAX $2,575.49 to provide unlimited Vehicle History Reports for my dealership. In comparison, as part of a discount agreement with BMW, AutoCheck offers their version of the same service for $1098/month – a savings of over 50% per month - and at a price that was guaranteed for at least 1 year. Suffice it to say, I was delighted by the potential savings! So, I immediately contacted my CARFAX rep with an ultimatum – I demanded that CARFAX either ... Read Post