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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jim Bell

Jim Bell National Sales Executive

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Sneak Peek at Some Possible Autotrader Products

 

I had the opportunity to take part in a Focus Group for Autotrader that was facilitated by Morepace.  It consisted of 7 dealers from across the country and the topic was some new products that Autotrader is considering bringing to the marketplace.  The session lasted about an hour and a half and was interesting at best.

The first of the products introduced to us was called Deal Builder.  Deal Builder was a two part product that Autotrader is considering.  The first part consists of payments within the SRP and the VDP.  With their partnership with DealerTrack, they are able to pull rates and residuals through the banks that you as the dealer use.  There were a lot of mixed emotions with this product within the group.  With the product, you can select what vehicles you want to have payments and you set the backend reserve for the Finance office.  One of the big concerns was that we are so focused on inventory turn and pricing vehicles within the market and margins have come down over the years as so many dealers have taken the vAuto philosophy to heart and working their departments with that philosophy.  With adding financing payments and quoting rates within the VDP, it may cause a race to the bottom for financing rates.  This product is being looked at for both new and used vehicles.

 

I am thinking that they want to create more leads with this product with the DealerTrack credit application.  I brought up the concern of having the payments there and also the advertising that is on everyone’s VDP for a consumer to set up financing within Autotrader.   

On the plus side, for those dealers that use DealerTrack, it will tie right into your current backend for DealerTrack and will eliminate multiple inputting of information for a customer.  It will also generate a lead within the CRM that you are using. 

The second and third parts of the new products on the table are a part within Trade-In Marketplace.  This was a touchy subject with all of the dealers in the “room” as a most of them saw TIM as a product that is “oversold” within the market place.  The first part of the product was some new reporting that can be shared with a customer.  It is basically taking what we have with vAuto, PureCars, and other like products and putting all of the information out there for the consumer.  No one was too thrilled with this at all since a lot of us had some bad tastes in our mouths from the current product.

 

The second part of the product is a big improvement in my eyes.  They are considering taking away the ‘firm’ figure that the customer is getting and giving a range.  I consider it to be a lot like BlackBook Online and just take basic information from the customer on the vehicle and gives a range like BlackBook.  I think this is a huge enhancement as a lot of customers would get that ‘firm’ figure from TIM, and not be happy with it and contact with the customer from the dealership was low.  With having a range, it will only encourage a customer to come to the dealership and get a firm trade-in figure.  This is something that will be on the dealers’ website.  The one thing that I think that Autotrader will have a hard time with is staying competitive with the pricing to BlackBook, PureCars, etc. 

 

 

This is just a quick overview of everything that was discussed.  I will try to answer any questions that you all may have.

Jae Chang
Seems more and more is becoming consumer-centric which is not completely a bad thing but added challenges to the industry at the front lines. Race to the bottom is not a healthy model for any industry. Thanks Jim for sharing.
Jim Bell
You are right. They are I think trying to make it more and more transparent and consumer friendly, but this won't help and dealerships won't be able to hold profits in the back end like they are now when we are having to price cars competitively now. We count on Finance to make up for the losses that we have had on the front, and this will prohibit that.
Jeremy Alicandri
I'm not surprised to see AutoTrader copying components of TrueCar's model.
Eley Duke III
Jim, how do they determine what rate to quote. Are they taking the best offered bank rate or using captive rates on new? My concern is the backlash for the dealer when you have a customer come to the dealership saying "AutoTrader said I can get this vehicle for $XXX a month at 1.9%" and ends up they are a "get-me-done" at 8% needing $X,XXX down.
Jim Bell
The dealership will have total access to what is being offered and what rates you want to advertise within the backend of the product. It could be a race to the bottom as 2 different dealers have a similar vehicle and priced the same, but one advertises the rate lower than the other. Who would you go to? There is no reason that we should be advertising rates on our vehicles unless it is a supported program from the manufacturer. There will be appropriate disclaimers, but I'm still not digging it.

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