One reason I left the automotive internet research business in 2006 was the proliferation of online research by amateurs loaded with newfound data. Data has never been cheaper or more abundant, but turning data into useful information still requires care. Most industry publications are understaffed and are not in a position to weed out the garbage from the actual research findings dealers need to hear. The consequence is that even the most ridiculous hypothesis is supported by someone's tortured data.
Research based conclusions regarding retail marketing bounce back and forth like diet information. Just as consumers are baffled about whether things like chocolate, wine, and eggs are healthy in moderation or always to be avoided, dealers are left with lots of claims carrying little credibility.
It's hard to separate the facts from the fads. What percentage of shoppers really wants to negotiate price? Does this differ by market, buy vehicle segment, or by demographics? Do women prefer fixed pricing more than men do? Do they value warranties more? These are important questions that have been publicly trampled with conclusions backed by very questionable data and analysis.
Vendors have taken such a careless approach with data that the act of publishing non-sense has spilled over into some dealer conversations. Closing rate, or any other ratio, doesn't mean a thing unless both the numerator and denominator mean what you think they do. Averages don't accurately describe one-tailed distributions. Large sample sizes don't make up for sampling bias.
Regardless of intentions, some of what dealers are being fed is flat-out misinformation. Dealers need to be careful about how much weight they give to information from vendors who are not in the business of providing sound information. Vendors seeking credibility for their findings should provide greater transparency into their research methodology.