Dealerships

Car-value strength reflects approaching spring market

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - 

Black Book continues to see sprouts of the spring selling season germinate.

On this heels of updating its Used Vehicle Retention Index for January, this week’s Black Book Market Insights report showed some possible early signs of the spring selling season, with cars showing lower depreciation than trucks.

“It was a good week for mainstream car segments as tax season buying has begun with strong sales being reported at the auctions,” said Anil Goyal, executive vice president of operations at Black Book.

Volume-weighted, editors indicated that overall car segment values declined by 0.34 percent last week. In comparison, the market values for cars had decreased on average by 0.64 percent per week in the previous four weeks.

Among cars, Black Book noticed midsize car segment performed the best with values remaining nearly flat.

Again volume-weighted, editors determined overall truck segment values — including pickups, SUVs and vans — decreased by 0.50 percent last week, same as the average decrease of 0.50 percent per week in the previous four weeks.

Within the truck space, Black Book mentioned the full-size crossover/SUV segment performed the worst with values declining by 1.13 percent last week.

As Goyal referenced, dealers are starting to see retail activity improve, resulting in the need to go to the wholesale market to acquire necessary inventory.

In Indiana, Black Book’s lane watcher reported, “Higher quality vehicles continue to do well in all price ranges. Retail in our area has picked up a bit, which bodes well for a market climb.”

Another report out of the Midwest included similar themes as a Black Book representative shared, “The market is starting to make a positive move a little bit earlier than normal and should remain strong for quite a while.”

And in Pennsylvania, dealer also are seeing vehicles roll over the curb. Black Book’s auction attendee mentioned, “Several dealers indicated that business picked up last week, and judging by the quantity of buyers in the lanes and online this week I would have to agree.”

Moving to the South, Black Book’s other two reports from the lanes share more details about the approach of spring-market conditions.

From Florida: “Dealers were more aggressively trying to purchase inventory, but they were careful not to overpay.”

From Georgia: “We had a good sale today with a lot of activity in the lanes. Vehicles under around $12,000 were in the highest demand.”

Update on the specialty markets

As they do on a monthly basis, Black Book editors shared their assessment of the specialty markets. Here is the latest rundown:

—Collectible Cars: Black Book emphasized that January is considered a bellwether month for the collectible car industry, and “this year did not disappoint.”

Editors added, “Mecum got the ball rolling with nearly $100 million in total sales in Kissimmee, and the usual Arizona players kicked in nearly $250 million more.”

—Recreational Vehicles: Black Book reported RV values at auction, both motorized and towable, were stable last month, with changes of less than 2 percent.

—Powersports: Editors explained February brings a “mixed bag” to values in the powersports market.

After last month’s above average market performance for this time of year, Black Book noted only the cruiser and snowmobile segments exhibit gains for a second consecutive month.

—Heavy Duty: Editors mentioned the word in January that there was a shortage of trucks available to haul freight apparently caused an already volatile value trend to take an upward swing resulting in strong wholesale values.

—Medium Duty: Overall, Black Book noted the medium duty market stabilized during the last couple of months of 2017, and that trend continues for the first part of 2018.

DealersLink lands more than 100 new dealer members in 5 states

BROOMFIELD, Colo. - 

DealersLink, a provider of automotive systems integration and networking technology, announced that it has recently expanded its geographic reach after signing more than 100 new dealer members recently in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Among the new clients are the following dealerships:

—Susan Schein Automotive, Pelham, Ala.

—Greg Orr Cadillac, Hot Springs, Ark.

—Ross Ford Toyota, Wynne, Ark.

—Rhodes Chevrolet, Van Buren, Ark.

—Steve Jones Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Wynne, Ark.

DealersLink created the concept of a dealer-to-dealer vehicle marketplace in the United States, wherein its members pay only a monthly fee and never any per-unit buy or sell fees. The company also offers dealership tools such as a mobile VIN scanner, retail analytics, new-car pricing tool with OEM incentives, live market pricing, inventory management and photo management. 

Last year, DealersLink estimated it saved its customers more than $21 million collectively, including $8.8 million in auction fees, $7.6 million in reconditioning costs , and $5 million in lot-ready-time expenses.

From its base near Denver, the company has continued its expansion into the West Coast, Midwest and Southwest regions, and this development represents the latest step in an eventual nationwide rollout of DealersLink services.

“The South is a great market for used vehicles, and we are extremely pleased that dealers in this region will soon be realizing substantial savings from using our Marketplace and services,” DealersLink chief executive officer Mike Goicoechea said. “The fact that our company was founded by and for auto dealership veterans also seems to resonate with many of our new clients. 

NIADA names Ituran USA a National Corporate Partner

ARLINGTON, Texas - 

GPS solutions provider Ituran USA has become a bronze-level National Corporate Partner, the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association announced Friday. 

Ituran is a long-term partner that began supporting NIADA shortly after launching services in the U.S., according to the company.

"Ituran is a global leader in the vehicle GPS tracking industry and an innovative technology developer of BHPH operator asset protection/risk mitigation solutions," NIADA senior vice president of member services Scott Lilja said in a news release. "Its solutions for the BHPH space help ensure our members' ability to track and secure their hard-earned assets in a cost-effective, efficient and effective way."

NIADA said that Itura recently introduced software integrations designed to increase productivity for collectors and managers with several national DMS providers.

"Earning recognition as an NIADA National Corporate Partner adds to our portfolio of national and state trade organizations we support through memberships and sponsorships," Ituran chief executive Ariad Sommer said. "We are extremely pleased that after careful scrutiny, NIADA found Ituran places a high value on helping automotive financiers mitigate risk and operate efficient, profitable businesses. It's a value we share closely with NIADA."

Ituran is currently offering free YETI gifts to some NIADA members who sign up for its products and services.

Members are eligible for a YETI cup with orders of at least 25 units; a YETI cup and hat with orders of at least 50 units; and a free YETI cooler with orders of 100 units or more, according to NIADA.

Truck and SUV demand heats up as spring selling season nears

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - 

Black Book’s latest wholesale price data and anecdotes from the lanes offered vivid details about what’s happening when clean trucks and SUVs roll over the block.

This week’s Black Book Market Insights report also indicated overall values are holding up well as the industry approaches the spring selling season.

“Lower mileage trucks and SUVs continue to be in demand. We are seeing consignors holding out for more money on their units to drive up prices," said Anil Goyal, senior vice president of automotive valuation and analytics at Black Book.

Black Book’s volume-weighted data showed overall car segment values decreased by 0.58 percent last week, better than the average weekly decrease of 0.69 percent in values over the previous four weeks.

Editors determined the midsize car segment performed the best, decreasing the least in value; just $10 or 0.13 percent. Meanwhile on the opposite end of the spectrum, they spotted sizeable declines for luxury cars ($163 or 0.93 percent), prestige luxury cars ($172 or 0.54 percent) and premium sporty cars ($247 or 0.63 percent).

Turning next to volume-weighted truck data, Black Book reported that overall truck segment values — including pickups, SUVs, and vans — decreased by 0.46 percent last week, slightly better than the average weekly decrease of 0.52 percent in values noticed during the previous four weeks.

Editors found that compact van segment performed the worst, decreasing the most in value among all the truck segments at $152 or 1.89 percent.

As Goyal references, the talk in the lanes is about how dealers are craning their necks at the sale if a gently used truck or SUV is being consigned.

Beginning in Massachusetts, Black Book’s observer said, “Overall the money was pretty good. Trucks, crossovers, and full-size SUVs all sold well.”

Over in Pennsylvania, the grip of winter is leaving a mark as the Black Book lane watcher shared, “New-car sales are still slow with the bad weather being a factor. Improving weather and a robust tax season will be welcome.”

In another cold-weather location — Michigan — sale activity seemed to be much warmer than the temperature outside as Black Book’s representative stated, “Michigan dealers are stocking up on inventory but out of state buyers are making a lot of the on-line purchases due to the high demand in their market.”

Sliding South to the Sunshine State, Black Book’s report out of Florida indicated, “Buyers at the auction are purchasing only what they need. They are mainly looking for trucks and SUVs with good miles."

Finally, like the price of fuel, the higher costs when the hammer fell in California took more out of dealers’ pockets and floor plan as Black Book noted, “Not enough quality vehicles available to meet the demand, so prices remain high.”

Former Alabama, current Falcons football star opening 2 franchised dealerships

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - 

Undoubtedly, Julio Jones likely would rather be preparing to play in the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

But since his team lost in the NFL playoffs to the Philadelphia Eagles, which did advance to Super Bowl LII this coming Sunday in Minneapolis, Jones will instead be in the town where he enjoyed great college success for the grand opening of franchised dealerships bearing his name.

On Tuesday, Jones will be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he played football for the University of Alabama earning a national championship and All-American honors for the opening of Julio Jones Kia and Julio Jones Mazda. The dealerships are located at 4301 Greensboro Ave. in Tuscaloosa.

Jones has partnered with a team of professionals to oversee the dealerships while he continues his football career. These dealerships will be managed by the Carriage Automotive Group of Gainesville, Ga.

Jones isn’t the only individual with ties to the Alabama football program who dabbles in the franchised dealership business. In fact, Alabama football coach Nick Saban owns a couple of luxury brand stores in Birmingham, Ala.

In fact, success in football and moving metal prompted the National Automobile Dealers Association to make Saban one of the keynote speakers at this year’s convention.

 

 

Study: Dealership online lead response time often falls short

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - 

Digital Air Strike’s Mystery Shop Study released Thursday found that more often than not dealers could be losing leads because of the poor and slow responses inquiring shoppers receive online.

When it comes to responding to internet shoppers, more than 18 percent of the stores never responded to shoppers, only 16 percent responded within 15 minutes and the overall average is more than 24 hours, according to the study.

Digital Air Strike said Internet shoppers who receive a response within 10 minutes are three times more likely to visit a dealership.

The average amount of leads submitted when a dealership is closed is at 40 percent, and dealers can be missing out on customers doing research during their off-time at odd hours.

Furthermore, the study also took a look at how brands respond to online shoppers compared to their competition.

Digital Air Strike contacted dealers with a specific vehicle request including questions that required specific answers.

The brands whose dealers most often answered the questions with the specific vehicle information within 15 minutes, include: Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Mercedes, Ford, BMW, General Motors and Honda, respectively. 

  • Fiat Chrysler: 34%
  • Toyota: 20%
  • Mercedes: 18%
  • Ford: 17%
  • BMW: 16%
  • General Motors: 15%
  • Honda: 13%

Additionally, the Mystery Shop study also examined what is available for customers when they visit a dealership.

The study found that only 25 percent of dealerships provide pre-owned vehicle options, though 42 percent of customers who inquire about a new vehicle end up buying used, according to Digital Air Strike.

The company suggests that 85 percent of dealerships should consider adding pre-owned vehicles to their inventory.

The Mystery Shop study was conducted with more than 1,500 U.S. automotive dealerships that received leads submitted over four months via dealers’ websites and through Facebook’s Messenger app.

J.D. Power delves into F&I space with suite of protection products

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

Now franchised dealers have another way to leverage the J.D. Power brand recognition; this time in the finance office.

On Tuesday, J.D. Power launched what the company dubbed the J.D. Power Automotive Protection Products for new-vehicle buyers. These F&I products are available now at an expanding network of franchised dealerships across the country.

“The finance and insurance market is fragmented and is often perceived negatively by consumers,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of U.S. automotive retail practice for J.D. Power.

“J.D. Power has an obligation to stand up for the consumer in everything that we do,” Sutton continued. “These products carry our name because the terms and conditions have been adjusted, as well as the selling process. Customer satisfaction, both immediate and long term, is the goal. 

“The confidence inspired by our brand is something we believe will help lead new-car dealers to more sales of these important products and more satisfaction with the dealer-customer relationship in the long term. This will result in a win-win for consumers buying new cars and for dealerships selling these products,” Sutton added.

J.D. Power Automotive Protection Products include extended service warranties, tire protection, surface protection, GAP, key replacement, lifetime warranty, dent and ding, maintenance, high tech coverage and windshield protection as an add-on.

J.D. Power emphasized that it will provide participating dealers with rigorous training programs and business management support through a proprietary CARE Selling process designed with sales agency partner Bill Holcomb to drive sales during the final steps of purchase while promoting customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

“CARE Selling has been developed to address evolving customer needs and expectations,” Holcomb said. “Our process, coupled with customized products, has documented success.”

Consumers also will be surveyed after each claims process to ensure an exceptional customer experience commensurate with the J.D. Power brand name.

To learn more about J.D. Power Automotive Protection Products, visit www.jdpprotect.com or call (850) 376-2482.

6 suggestions to help dealers in Italy build confidence with female customers

PADUA, Italy - 

Looks like dealers in Italy are struggling to gain the confidence of their female customers, just like some dealers in the United States.

And the potential remedies could help stores on both continents.

According to a study conducted by CDK Global in North America, 43 percent of women in Italy do not trust dealerships.

The research carried out by CDK Global revealed that many women feel uncomfortable when they are looking for a vehicle to buy, precisely because they are women. Analysts at CDK Global scrubbed 64,000 reviews, finding that 43 percent of women do not trust the automotive industry and often describe their buying experience at dealerships in a completely different way than men.

The study found that the reviews and the language used by the customers contain valuable information to understand what is appreciated or not in their experience within the dealerships. The words “stressed,” “confused,” “disregarded,” and “intimidated” were among the top ten most used by women, and many of them, especially in sales and service reviews, said they felt “insecure” or “stupid.”

“It is already known that women are generally not comfortable at dealerships, but research highlights the real extent of the problem,” said Renato Dagostino, general manager of CDK Global Italia.

“In fact, women are increasingly influencing the purchase decisions of the car, which is why it is very important for dealers to make sure they offer women the right shopping experience,” Dagostino continued.

The reviews were divided by department (sales and service) and then further distinguished on the basis of the final judgment. The words most widely used by men and women indistinctly highlight that the most felt need in general is to receive a “fair” treatment from the dealership staff, who is “available” and able to make the customer “happy” at the end of the experience.

However, the results showed significant differences regarding the elements that influence the experience of men and women.

Men, in the reviews, focus much more on the product, while women focus in particular on the interaction with the dealership staff, which highlights the importance of rethinking the “customer experience” reserved for female customers.

For women, “understanding” was the most used in positive sales reviews, often along with other adjectives such as “kind” and “considerate.”

In both sales and service, women have noticed that the “smile” of staff (even those with whom they did not interact directly) contributed to creating a positive experience.

The experts of CDK Global were based on the evidence that emerged from this analysis to suggest the following advice to dealers, aimed at improving the experience of women in dealerships:

—Keep eye contact and smile: Help build a positive climate of trust and a lasting relationship.

—Find out what is important in a vehicle they are looking for: Positive reviews underline the ability to listen and the willingness to understand their specific needs.

—Give clear information: Explaining the various issues in a comprehensive way can eliminate any concerns or doubts of the customer, putting her at ease.

—Giving continuous and constant updates: Many positive reviews include the word “continuously” in relation to communications and interactions with the dealership.

—Offer a welcoming environment at the dealership because the details are important: Provide amenities such as clean bathrooms, WiFi in the waiting area, a children’s area, free drinks and a variety of reading materials.

—Create targeted advertising campaigns: Differentiate messages for women.

Researchers at CDK Global have found that many dealers are already on the right track and that this often positively surprises women who go to the dealership. The results show that dealers can seize the opportunity to stand out as companies that are particularly attentive and sensitive to female customers.

For more information on CDK Global in Italy, visit www.cdkglobal.it.

TagRail introduces digital auto retail platform

DUBLIN, Calif. - 

TagRail announced the general availability of its digital retail platform on Thursday.

The dealer-customizable and brandable online car-buying tool can help dealerships attract, engage and close more online shoppers via a near-total in-home shopping/buying experience, the company said.

“Our goal is to have the consumer complete about 90-95-percent of the transaction at home online and to have a frictionless delivery experience when he or she arrives at the dealership,” TagRail vice president of sales David Luce said in a news release.

In addition to pushing leads and order-pending opportunities to dealership’s CRM and finance platforms, the digital shopping solution can capture user activity to point dealerships to opportunities for improvement and analysis, according to TagRail.

Features that the new digital retail platform provides includes trade-in appraisal which uses guides from Black Book, Kelley Blue Book and NADA, along with accessories that offer dynamic and colorful product options.

“TagRail’s new Digital Retail Platform provides users penny-perfect payments by running a soft pull and providing users accurate VIN-specific warranty and aftermarket pricing, and accurate and current rebate information in an online platform providing great communications with the consumer and full disclosure. With the online in-store need the final trade appraisal, the goal is to deliver the vehicle in less than one hour,” said Luce.

Additionally, according to TagRail, dealers can easily customize the tool’s sequence of activities based on user behavior analysis or dealer preference.

LHM opens new Mercedes-Benz store in Utah

DRAPER, Utah - 

Larry H. Miller Dealerships announced the opening of its Mercedes-Benz of Draper dealership on Thursday.

The dealership was formerly named Mercedes-Benz of Lindon and recently relocated to a newly built 45,069-square-foot building on 5.5 acres of land in Draper, Utah.

Mercedes-Benz of Draper includes a 1,100-square-foot AMG Performance Center, with specially-trained AMG sales and service personnel, according to LHM.

“We’re thrilled for our customers to experience our new state-of-the-art dealership. From the beautiful design of the building, to the customer lounge, large private offices for customers to complete their vehicle purchase, and additional service bays, we look forward to continuing to deliver the same outstanding experience to which our customers have become accustomed,” Mercedes-Benz of Draper general manager Ray Gunn said in a news release.

An AutoHaus2-designed Mercedes-Benz showroom features automotive-grade finished steel columns, exposed steel structure, a full-height window wall, silver metal roof canopy and stainless steel accents.

Additionally, a fully-enclosed service drive has 22 bays and the showroom houses a customer lounge that includes a children’s area, refreshments and Wi-Fi, according to LHM.

The dealership is located at 11548 South Lone Peak Parkway.