Dealerships

KAR acquires remaining interest in TradeRev

CARMEL, Ind. - 

TradeRev now is completely part of the KAR Auction Services family of companies.

KAR announced on Tuesday morning that it has acquired the remaining interest in Nth Gen Software, better known as TradeRev, which is a mobile app and desktop solution that facilitates real-time dealer-to-dealer vehicle auctions.

KAR purchased a 50-percent stake in TradeRev in 2014 and acquired the remaining interest for $50 million in cash and an additional $75 million over the next four years contingent on certain terms and conditions including TradeRev performance.

Company officials highlighted that TradeRev brings mobile and digital technology to KAR’s portfolio of 250 whole car and salvage auctions, floorplan financing solutions and other ancillary and related services.

KAR explained that it will further integrate those capabilities into TradeRev to expand its digital business and strengthen its share in the dealer-to-dealer market representing more than 10 million annual transactions.

“The digital revolution in remarketing has begun, and the acquisition of TradeRev ensures that KAR will maintain its strong leadership position in the mobile app and online auction space,” KAR chairman and chief executive officer Jim Hallett said.

“As a former dealer, I believe TradeRev is the most powerful and innovative mobile app for dealers on the market,” Hallett continued. “By injecting TradeRev with the full force of KAR’s technology, data, financing and service offerings, we plan to accelerate growth across North America and around the globe.”

The acquisition also triggered a variety of executive personnel changes.

KAR indicated TradeRev will be led by Becca Polak, who for the last 10 years has served as KAR’s executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. As president of TradeRev, she will focus on diversifying TradeRev’s product and service offerings and expanding TradeRev’s market footprint.

The company added Polak will also be promoted to the position of chief legal officer and secretary for KAR where she will retain oversight responsibility for KAR’s enterprise legal and corporate communications functions.

“This is a transformative moment for dealers, as KAR and TradeRev combine to deliver a more convenient, efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional auction sales,” Polak said.

“The speed and ease of TradeRev’s mobile app is already fueling sales for thousands of dealers in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom,” she continued. “Over the next several months, we’ll continue expanding into new markets and begin leveraging KAR’s data analytical capabilities to enhance the TradeRev buying and selling experience.”

TradeRev was launched in 2009 by CEO and co-founder Mark Endras along with co-founders Wade Chia, Jae Pak and James Tani, all of whom will retain leadership roles at TradeRev.

Endras will remain a member of the TradeRev senior leadership team reporting to Polak and will focus on enhancing TradeRev’s in-app experience and product development pipeline.

Endras will also take on the role of chief innovation officer for KAR reporting to Tom Fisher, KAR’s chief information officer. In this capacity, Endras will focus on advancing KAR’s innovation agenda and establishing new KAR innovation lab centers in Toronto, Chicago and Carmel, Ind.

“KAR has an incredible entrepreneurial culture and a proven track record of fostering disruptive innovation across their businesses,” Endras said.

“By applying a start-up philosophy to KAR’s development pipeline, we’ll be able to deploy new solutions more quickly than ever before,” he went on to say. “I look forward to delivering the next generation of innovative remarketing technology, products and services to KAR’s global customer-base.”

TradeRev has approximately 200 employees across office locations in Toronto, Chicago and Carmel, Ind., and field staff located in markets across the U.S. and Canada.

TradeRev offers dealers what it contends is fast, convenient access to high quality trade-in and commercial consignment inventory before it reaches wholesale physical auctions. The TradeRev mobile app can mimic the physical auction setting, enabling dealers to launch and participate in live, one-hour auctions directly from their smartphone, tablet or desktop.

Winning TradeRev bidders can complete the entire transaction within the app, including optional inspection, title and arbitration services and financing and transportation through KAR’s AFC and CarsArrive brands.

“I am thrilled for KAR, TradeRev and all of our employees,” Polak said. “Today marks a significant milestone in the digitization of vehicle remarketing and the beginning of a bright new era of innovation for our company. I am honored and humbled to lead TradeRev and this incredible team into the future.”

Autobytel highlights corporate rebranding and name change

IRVINE, Calif. - 

Autobytel is evolving as a provider of digital automotive services to connect potential vehicle buyers and dealers by changing its name.

Effective next Monday, the company that started 22 years ago will be known as AutoWeb.

In connection with this name change, the company’s stock ticker symbol will change from “ABTL” to “AUTO” on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Trading under the new stock ticker symbol is anticipated to commence next Monday, too.

Autobytel president and chief executive officer Jeff Coats reflected on how the dynamics of reaching in-market shoppers has changed since the mid-1990s.

“When Autobytel was founded in 1995, the era of digital leads and clicks was in its infancy,” Coats said. “In fact, telephones and newspapers were still the primary source of communication between dealers and consumers.

"More than 20 years later, in a market dominated by the Internet, we’ve become a leader in the digital automotive landscape,” he continued. We believe the rebranding and name change to AutoWeb better aligns with our operations and corporate strategy, particularly as we look to further expand our Internet leads and clicks businesses.”

New RMS, Manheim co-listing tool gives dealers access to open-sale Nissan, Infiniti vehicles

ATLANTA - 

Announced Monday, RMS Automotive and Manheim has given independent U.S. dealers a new co-listing capability that provides access to all open sale vehicles listed on RPM, the Nissan and Infiniti digital sales platform powered by RMS Automotive.

The open sale inventory on RPM will be simultaneously listed on Manheim.com and OVE, Monday through Friday, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. (EDT).

With the new offering, both the exposure of the manufacturers’ inventory to Manheim’s digital buying audience is increased, and independent dealers have access to a larger selection of high-quality used vehicles.

Dealers can choose from inventory located nationwide across the Nissan and Infiniti dealer network, and can conveniently move the inventory with transportation options provided by Ready Logistics.

“Obtaining vehicles as cost- and time-efficiently as possible is the name of the game for dealers in today’s competitive used-car market,” Nick Peluso, president of Manheim Digital Marketplace and RMS Automotive said in a news release.

“By offering open sale listings to the largest base of online buyers on Manheim.com and OVE, we can offer dealers early access to thousands of sought-after, pre-auction Nissan and Infiniti vehicles,” he explained.

With this solution, open sale inventory found on the Nissan and Infiniti RPM platform is now included in dealers’ Manheim.com and OVE search results.

Using single sign-on authentication, Manheim and RMS Automotive directs dealers to Nissan and Infiniti’s private label website where they can evaluate, bid, buy and make offers.

“In addition to enabling buyers to access an unprecedented selection of inventory, this digital solution helps manufacturers’ like Nissan and Infiniti drive transaction speed and efficiency by offering the right vehicles to the right dealers at the right time,” Peluso added.

RMS Automotive said Nissan and Infiniti have conducted closed franchise sales and grounding returns on the RPM technology platform with the company since May of last year.

2 candidate traits dealers need to build solid workforce

CHICAGO - 

Many dealerships have a promotional moniker to distinguish itself in their market; for example touting the biggest selection of used vehicles.

Hireology chief executive officer and co-founder Adam Robinson recommended that stores also generate a local reputation that helps the rooftop generate quality “ups” who could be high-performing, long-term employees.

Robinson described the importance in light of how the firm collaborated with Cox Automotive on a study that showed stores have a 67-percent annual turnover rate among its sales teams, and the average cost of hiring a new dealership employee is $10,000.

“The very first step in establishing a talent-centric strategy for dealerships is a focus on their employment brand,” Robinson told Auto Remarketing during a phone conversation on Thursday. “If your consumer brand is the face of your company to your local market, your employment brand is what your local labor market thinks of you as an employer and a place to work. It’s the single most influencing factor in whether or not a dealership is going to be successful.

“Similar to a consumer brand, when your employer brand is strong, the dealer is going to get more people opting in to the process,” he continued. They’re going to get more people to take a look at the brand and decide that it’s for them versus just trolling the Internet looking for open jobs and slinging resumes all over the place with automated software, which happens these days.

“A strong employment brand is a like a filter in front of the process; almost like a magnet because it attracts the right people and repels the wrong people. That’s what you want,” Robinson added.

“Once you have those strong brand elements in place, you can take full advantage of a robust hiring process. That’s the recipe for success,” he went on to say.

Currently, Hireology is working with 2,000 dealers in the U.S. to help them assemble the best workforce possible. Robinson acknowledged dealerships “are struggling to hire and keep the right people,” as the study showed.

“The study confirmed what we’ve seen on the ground every single day,” he said.

Robinson described characteristics potential new employees should have as dealerships evaluate candidates for various store positions, stating that, “It’s not easy, but it’s also not complicated.” He began by noting great potential employees have to be customer-experience focused

“If you get intrinsic value from providing great service to others, and that can come through specific product knowledge of automobiles, it could come through a love of the product, it could come through the enjoyment of helping people, that’s really a prerequisite for a role in this environment,” Robinson said.

Robinson also mentioned that candidates also should demonstrate a desire to learn and grow during their dealership career.

“That really comes down to accountability,” he said. “People who are service oriented and … they believe destiny is in their own hands, that’s a fantastic combo.

“What we recommend to our dealers is that they’re screening for those elements for all roles in the store during the interview process. When they do, their hiring results and retention should both go up,” Robinson concluded.

Houston car shoppers bounce back; Florida cities see interest remain low

SAN FRANCISCO - 

While car shopper interest in Houston has just about fully recovered from a 21-percent decline in the three weeks after Hurricane Harvey first made landfall, shopping recovery has been slower in Florida’s cities following Hurricane Irma, according to new data from Jumpstart Automotive Media.

The company examined shopper interest trends three weeks after Hurricane Harvey and Irma and compared them to the three weeks before the storms.

In Florida, the largest decline is in Fort Myers and Naples. Car shopping in the cities has decreased by 43 percent three weeks after Irma hit.

In Tampa Bay, shopping is down 28 percent compared to the three weeks before the storm and down 25 percent in Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville.

Despite the overall decline in shopper interest in the wake of Irma, trucks have seen a rise in shopper interest led by midsize pickup trucks with a 21 percent gain in shopper interest, followed by heavy duty and one-ton pickup trucks with a 14 percent increase and full-size pickups with a 3-percent rise in interest compared to the three weeks before the storm.

In Houston, pickup trucks also represent a large share of shopper interest post-Hurricane Harvey, according to Jumpstart.

“Growth in interest for midsize pickup trucks in Houston and Miami (post hurricane) makes sense since these trucks are more compatible with an urban lifestyle, as well as offering the necessary comfort, space, versatility and features today’s shopper looks for,” Jumpstart senior analyst of strategic insights Colin Thomas said in a news release.

Three weeks post the storm, midsize pickup trucks, one-ton pickup trucks and full-size pickup trucks are up 26 percent, 11 percent and seven percent, respectively compared to three weeks before the storm.

Podcast: On-Site at NIADA National Policy Conference

CARY, N.C. - 

Nick made the trip to Washington, D.C., this week for NIADA’s National Policy Conference and connected with NIADA president David Andrews and Kathy Collins, who is the industry relations manager at CARFAX.

We discussed how independent dealers are faring this year and how the industry is handling thousands of vehicles damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Check out the conversations below.

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You can also listen to the latest episode in the window below. All episodes can be found on our Soundcloud page or by visiting www.autoremarketing.com/ar-podcast. Please complete our audience survey; we appreciate your feedback on the show!

AutoGravity tops $1 billion in requested financing

IRVINE, Calif. - 

Online auto financing platform AutoGravity reached a new threshold.

The company said on Wednesday that it has surpassed $1 billion in finance amounts requested on the AutoGravity platform.

Additionally, AutoGravity has announced the launch of real-time inventory for new and used vehicles from partner dealership groups across the nation. Shoppers can browse real vehicle inventory on dealership lots, find the specific model that's right for them and secure up to four finance offers in minutes on the AutoGravity smartphone app.

More than 750,000 shoppers have downloaded AutoGravity, collectively requesting more than $1 billion in financing. These users can now search inventory by car brand and model year as well as characteristics such as body type, drivetrain and color.

Shoppers can find their desired vehicle waiting for them on the showroom lot for the payment they want. With the unit selected and offers in hand, users can pick up their vehicle and drive off the lot with the confidence of knowing they have secured a “fair deal,” according to AutoGravity which has partnered closely with the largest dealer groups in the country to design a seamless process by which dealers can easily load inventory feeds, including vehicle details and pictures, to AutoGravity's secure platform.

“With over $1 billion in finance amount requested, AutoGravity is gaining momentum toward digitizing the car buying journey, and real-time inventory brings our award-winning technology to the next level,” said Andy Hinrichs, founder and chief executive of AutoGravity.

“We worked closely with our dealer partners, including some of America's largest dealer groups, to give car buyers access to the showroom right from their smartphones. AutoGravity technology has made that possible,” Hinrichs added.

3 benefits of California and Texas dealers leveraging Instamotor

SAN FRANCISCO - 

Online used-vehicle sales platform Instamotor announced on Wednesday that it will allow dealers and private sellers in California and Texas to list their available inventory for free on the company’s iOS, Android and web platforms.

By listing on Instamotor, dealers will get:

• Access to more than 100,000 serious car shoppers monthly

• Free inventory listings with viewership and engagement metrics

• Free vehicle history reports for each vehicle listed

Instamotor, which had previously been entirely peer-to-peer, made this decision after continuously receiving interest from dealers seeking relationships and opportunities with the marketplace. The company insisted dealers recognize that listing on Instamotor is an easy way to get additional exposure for their inventory from customers they may not otherwise be able to reach.

Unlike other free mobile marketplaces, Instamotor users are “serious buyers,” according to the company.

Looking ahead, the company will implement certain features to qualify buyers even further, giving sellers the opportunity to clearly identify and contact ready-to-buy shoppers.

“As a former dealer myself, I understand how valuable it is to gain exposure for available inventory through as many channels as possible, especially via mobile,” Instamotor co-founder and chief operating officer Val Gui said. “By listing on Instamotor, dealers will have the opportunity to make meaningful connections with more than 100,000 users on our marketplace.” 

Since its inception, Instamotor insisted that it has provided a safe and transparent way for used-vehicle sellers and buyers to transact. Each vehicle is screened to identify issues such as branded or salvage title, lemon history, odometer inconsistency, weather damage and more. All major issues are flagged on each listing so shoppers can be informed before making their decision.

Instamotor is currently available in the markets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas and Houston, with plans of expanding into additional markets in 2018.

“The way consumers are shopping for and purchasing cars is ever-changing, but we will continue to keep the experience on Instamotor a safe, and easy one,” said Gui.

Gui previously discussed with Auto Remarketing how the company to growth through initiatives like what it revealed on Wednesday.

Affinitiv marks first year with new exec team, end-to-end marketing solution

CHICAGO - 

Since combining four companies a year ago, provider of marketing and technology services Affinitiv announced Tuesday it has finalized its executive team and will soon introduce an integrated platform that offers dealers an end-to-end marketing solution.

Last year, the merging companies included DPS, Peak Performance, OneCommand and TimeHighway.com.

Additionally, since then, Affinitiv has also acquired WSA Solutions, a provider of wireless service-tablet software to auto dealer fixed ops departments.

Affinitiv’s new solution is designed to keep car buyers connected to their dealer up until their next purchase.

“We know your customers. We know what they like and what they respond to. We know where to find them and how to drive them to find you," Affinitiv executive chairman Scot Eisenfelder said in a news release. "Making the sale is just the beginning. Creating a connected customer for life requires a whole new approach.

"To increase customer retention, dealers need to get past using tactics like oil change coupons to draw in customers. Our platform helps dealers understand what works and doesn't work from a communications standpoint, to keep their customers engaged and committed," Eisenfelder continued.

In addition to Eisenfelder, on the heels of celebrating the company’s first anniversary, Affinitiv has brought aboard Adam Meier, Stan Megerdichian, Hans Bodine, Jillian Slagter, Karen Dillon and Kevin Winter to its executive team.

The executive team

Eisenfelder is a 25-plus year automotive market veteran, according to Affinitiv. Prior to Affinitiv, he held positions such as senior vice president strategy at AutoNation and senior VP of product management, strategy and marketing at Reynolds and Reynolds.

Meier has been appointed chief operating officer. He has nearly 12 years of experience as chief finance officer and as a board member at Brandmuscle where he led the acquisition of four companies.

As executive VP of OEM relations and strategy, Megerdichian will focus on bringing the latest technology solutions to current OEM partners, as well as forming new OEM relationships. Most recently, he was president and chief executive officer of Peak Performance Marketing Solutions, which he founded in 1991.

Bodine has been appointed executive VP of sales. Previously, at Cars.com, Affinitiv said he helped to build a successful team of experts over more than 18 years.

Slagter will serve as chief people officer. She brings 20 years of HR and recruiting experience to her new role. Most recently, she spent 11 years at Nielsen as vice president of HR.

Dillon has been appointed executive VP of service scheduling. She has over 30 years of experience in the auto industry in various sales, marketing and executive positions, according to Affinitiv. And in 1984, Dillon became president of TimeHighway.com.

Winter brings more than 15 years of experience both developing and managing automotive sales and service CRM programs for OEM clients to his new role as Affinitiv chief client officer. Most recently, he work for Epsilon where he served eight years. Prior to Epsilon, he also worked for R.L. Polk & Co, according to Affinitiv.

In the past year, Affinitiv said it has garnered preferred relationships with a dozen OEMs, including: BMW, Kia, Lexus, Chrysler, Volkswagen, MINI, GM, Porsche, Mitsubishi, Audi, Volvo and Maserati.

Nearly 200 dealers gathering for NIADA’s Capitol Hill event

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

One of the most important events hosted by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association starts today with a new name and the organization’s most ambitious goals ever.

A record number of independent dealers from across the nation are converging on the nation’s capital for the National Policy Conference and Day on Capitol Hill — formerly known as the National Leadership Conference — NIADA’s annual opportunity to meet face-to-face with legislators and regulators.

The event, which runs through Wednesday, was renamed this year to reflect its overriding mission — making the voice of the independent dealer and small business heard and represented in shaping the policies of the federal government.

As in the past, the highlight is Wednesday's Day on Capitol Hill, when more than 180 dealers and industry partners representing the national association and its various state affiliates will participate in more than 100 meetings with members of Congress or their staff, advocating for the industry in support of tax reform, reforming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and repealing the CFPB’s arbitration rule, and against a blanket ban on sales of recalled vehicles by independent dealers.

Both of those numbers will be the most ever for NIADA's Washington conference.

In addition, NIADA will present its inaugural Legislator of the Year award at a reception Tuesday night at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington D.C. Legislators expected to attend include Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas). Afterward, the PAC Cup will be awarded to the NIADA region that contributed the most to the NIADA Political Action Committee over the past year.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) will be the featured speaker for Wednesday’s Power Lunch during the Day on the Hill.

The conference also includes a series of regulatory briefings Tuesday, including updates from the CFPB, the Federal Trade Commission, the Small Business Administration and, for the first time, the White House.

D.J. Gribbin of the National Economic Council and deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn are the scheduled speakers from the White House.

“NIADA is engaged in the legislative and regulatory process at the federal level year round,” NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said. “That’s one of the association’s highest priorities. The National Policy Conference is the centerpiece of our efforts to serve as advocates for our members and the used vehicle industry.

“Four years ago, we felt it was important to come back to Washington D.C. and let independent dealers talk to legislators firsthand about who we are, what we do and what we represent. It’s very exciting to see this event grow, but we've only scratched the surface of its potential,” Jordan went on to say.