Dealerships

Dealers continue to face wholesale challenge of finding clean, affordable units

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - 

Perhaps not as difficult as finding that needle in the proverbial haystack, Black Book’s latest anecdotes from the lanes again described how dealers are having difficulties finding clean vehicles at the auction without completely depleting their floorplan funds.

Before getting into bidding activities, this week’s edition of Black Book Market Insights showed how prices aren’t softening like how dealers typically experience during the summer.

“The used-car market stays strong with mainstream car brand values depreciating at a low rate for this time of the year,” said Anil Goyal, executive vice president of operations at Black Book.

Volume-weighted, Black Book reported that overall car segment values decreased by 0.27 percent last week. In comparison, the values had decreased at a higher rate of 0.34 percent per week during the previous four weeks.

Among car segments, editors noticed sporty cars showed a seasonal lift in values last week, rising 0.24 percent or $37.

Again volume-weighted, Black Book determined overall truck segment values — including pickups, SUVs and vans — softened by 0.34 percent last week. In comparison, the values had declined at a lower rate of 0.26 percent per week during the previous four weeks.

Within truck segments, editors found that full-size vans and full-size luxury crossover/SUVs decreased the most last week, dipping by 0.66 or $101 and 0.62 percent or $204, respectively.

Be it a car or a truck, dealers are having trouble finding units that do not need a significant amount of reconditioning at a price that fits their particular store retail model. Here’s a sampling of what Black Book noticed at nearly 60 sales nationwide:

— From Indiana: “Business is good and dealers are holding onto their trade-ins. Nicer vehicles are scarce as are trucks.”

— From Wisconsin: “Active bidding and selling in most lanes even as dealers complain about high prices.”

— From Florida: “The older cars continue to struggle, but buyers are paying premium prices for cleaner and newer vehicles.”

— From Texas: “Our consignment has been low which has kept the values up. Bidding is quite good on most vehicles.”

— From Michigan: “Some trucks have seen a price rise during the last couple of weeks, which is unusual for our market in July.”

HyreCar and DriveItAway partner to present dealers with mobility as a service option

LOS ANGELES - 

Dealers now have another option to put their inventory to work more than just having those vehicles sit idly on the blacktop.

On Tuesday, HyreCar and DriveItAway announced a strategic partnership, allowing automotive retailers across the United States to access a collaborative turnkey solution to generate additional revenue through mobility as a service and shared mobility/subscriptions.

The companies say the mobility as a service market is expected to grow in the U.S. to a $358.35 billion market by 2025, from $38.6 billion in 2017. The HyreCar-DriveItAway partnership allows DriveItAway affiliated franchised and independent dealers to immediately list their vehicles on the HyreCar platform, extending a new opportunity to dealers in 34 states plus Washington, D.C.

“Our program offers the best of everything, today, for a car dealer,” DriveItAway chief executive officer John Possumato said. “By providing a new, easily managed shared mobility department, our dealers are preparing for the ‘mobility as a service’ future which will allow a quick and efficient way to create new scalable revenue streams.

“Most importantly, we are also introducing a new customer base for the store for vehicles sales and fixed operations,” Possumato continued. As a ‘path to ownership’ to our driver customers, we are enabling new buyers to the store, not ‘poaching’ current prospects in the market.”

DriveItAway has positioned itself as a provider in dealership-focused shared mobility solutions. Possumato, through DriveItAway conceived and created the “Lyft Your Down Payment” program and the “Drive For Your Down Payment” program, where dealers can implement a rental program for ridesharing drivers who want to raise money to buy a vehicle.

These programs can create a “path to ownership” which, in turn, can lead to more vehicle sales and more fixed operations revenue for the store. Possumato discussed the program during an episode of the Auto Remarketing Podcast available at the bottom of this page.

“This partnership underscores our mission to building roads to financial freedom,” said Joe Furnari, chief executive officer of HyreCar. “We are focused on creating strategic alliances that expand our supply of vehicles, which will provide us with the infrastructure to scale.

“We are excited to become the franchise solution for vehicle suppliers who want to tap into the growing mobility industry,” Furnari added.

Automotive retailers and remarketers interested in shared mobility services can learn more at www.hyrecar.com/driveitaway.

Possumato went on to say, “HyreCar recognized the vital demand for carsharing for ridesharing, and DriveItAway was the first company to recognize that automotive retailers, and the facilities and skills they have in place, are a critical part of shared mobility of the future.

“Over the last few months, we have been overwhelmed with dealer interest in our program all over the U.S. This partnership is a natural fit to enable all dealers throughout the nation to quickly onboard with a seamless turnkey solution,” he said.

DealerStrip offers listing site catering to dealers and consumers

WILMINGTON, Del. - 

Now consumers and dealerships can shop for vehicles on the same website that claims to already have more than 4 million vehicles in its pipeline.

Along with offering a virtual-reality experience for consumers, DealerStrip.com said it also can provide wholesale offers to dealers to facilitate trade among stores and unload old inventory.

Site officials also highlighted that dealers can post want ads for particular vehicles they need for inventory. DealerStrip added there is no cost per lead or increasing monthly rates when a dealer’s closing ratio rises.

The platform includes a sales and marketing suite that can nurture and convert prospects through direct messaging, email marketing, and analytics.

Dealers do not need to upload their inventories. Instead, DealerStrip said it syncs with their websites.

“This saves an immense amount of time, allowing dealers to focus on more important things,” the site said.

And DealerStrip thinks this part might be best. Dealers can list an unlimited number of vehicles for retail sale for $350 a month.

“DealerStrip’s built-in sales and marketing suite ensure that dealers will be equipped with all of the necessary sales tools to efficiently close more deals as a result of one-click email marketing and analytics that show deficiencies in their sales process,” the site said.

“The intuitive interface streamlines the buying and selling processes while giving the knowledge, experience and technology to dealers whom otherwise are not provided with the sales and marketing tools or know-how to efficiently compete in their market using technology that minimizes human labor but maximizes their pipeline,” DealerStrip went on to say.

For more details, go to DealerStrip.com or watch the video available here or at the top of this page.

GM approves more ad packages from Naked Lime Marketing

KETTERING, Ohio - 

Franchised dealerships that include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac in their portfolio now have an enhanced advertising option.

Naked Lime Marketing (NLM) recently announced that both its email and direct mail targeted marketing services are now approved for the General Motors (GM) iMR program, an expansion of the digital marketing company’s previous participation in the program.

The iMR program provides matching co-op funds that dealerships can utilize for marketing and advertising.

NLM’s targeted sales and service emails can provide dealers with branded communications that can be delivered effectively to any consumer device.

For direct mail campaigns, NLM’s database can reduce invalid or duplicate addresses to maximize efficiency and return on investment (ROI) for dealers.

“All of us at Naked Lime take it as a point of pride to be included in the GM iMR program,” said Chris Walsh, vice president and general manager of Naked Lime Marketing.

“While we already offer multiple iMR-eligible products and services, we’re especially excited about the opportunity targeted marketing provides dealers in delivering improved results,” Walsh continued,

“As a preferred turnkey provider for GM iMR match funds, Naked Lime’s targeted marketing services are now more accessible to dealers looking to present their customers with relevant, timely messages that encourage action,” Walsh added.

The inclusion of targeted marketing email and direct mail in the iMR program rounds out a full suite of marketing and advertising services available to dealers. NLM stressed the addition can enable cohesive and consistent messaging as well as robust first-party data to use for targeting.

NLM services that have previously been approved for participation in the GM iMR program include:

— Social media marketing
— Search engine optimization (SEO)
— Digital advertising
— Dealer-branded e-newsletters
— XtreamService

For more information about NLM’s GM iMR offerings, go to this website.

Lithia hires first chief tech and innovation officer

MEDFORD, Ore.  - 

Lithia Motors announced its first-ever chief technology and innovation officer on Monday, appointing former Massage Envy franchising executive George Hines to the role.

Hines, who was chief innovation officer for the wellness brand before joining Lithia, has experience in similar innovation and tech positions throughout retail, ecommerce, hospitality and live event marketing.

His tech career began with Ernst & Young and Deloitte Consulting.

“We’re excited to have George’s digital expertise to improve our customer and team member experiences, drive innovation and expand our revenue base,” Lithia president and chief executive officer Bryan DeBoer said in a news release.

He added: “This is an exciting time for our company and the automotive industry. George's ability to deliver customer experiences online and by leveraging a nationwide network of locations will complement our existing strengths and accelerate innovation.

“With the second largest owned vehicle inventory in the nation and service and delivery infrastructure that touches over 80 percent of the country, we look forward to his influence in further unlocking our potential,” DeBoer said.

 

FTC checks 94 dealerships in 7 states for revised Buyers Guide

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

Remember when your teacher told you to put all books and materials away because a pop quiz was coming? The Federal Trade Commission sort of did the same thing recently to dealerships.

The FTC, working jointly with 12 partner agencies in seven states, conducted the first compliance sweep of dealerships since the amended Used Car Rule took effect earlier this year.

Under the amended rule, the regulator reiterated that dealers must display a revised window sticker called a “Buyers Guide,” which contains warranty and other important information for consumers, on each used vehicle they offer for sale.

The compliance sweep was conducted between April and June in 20 cities nationwide. The FTC said inspectors found Buyers Guides on 70 percent of the more than 2,300 vehicles inspected, with almost half of those displaying the revised Buyers Guide.

Of the 94 dealerships inspected, officials found that 33 had the revised Buyers Guide on more than half of their vehicles, and 14 had revised Buyers Guides on all of their used vehicles.

Following the sweep, the FTC said it sent letters to each dealership detailing the results of the inspections and providing material to help them come into full compliance with the amended Rule.

Over the coming weeks, the regulator indicated that dealerships that were not displaying the revised Buyers Guide can expect follow-up inspections to ensure they have brought themselves into compliance with the amended rule.

Under the FTC Act, dealers who fail to comply face penalties of up to $41,484 per violation. State and local law enforcement agencies also enforce the recently amended rule.

Through this sweep, the FTC and its partners inspected dealerships in seven states:

— California: Burbank, North Hollywood, Richmond, San Bruno, San Jose, San Pablo and Van Nuys
— Florida: Jacksonville
— Illinois: Chicago
— New York: New York (Queens)
— Ohio: Brooklyn Heights, Cleveland, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights
— Texas: Arlington, Dallas and Grand Prairie
— Washington: Lakewood, Puyallup and Tacoma

To recap, back on Nov. 18, 2016, the FTC amended the Used Car Rule. Under the amended Rule, as of Jan. 28, dealers are required to display a revised Buyers Guide on all used vehicles they offer for sale. The revised Buyers Guide:

• Changes the description of an “As Is” sale

• Places boxes on the face of the Buyers Guide that dealers can check to indicate whether a vehicle is covered by a third-party warranty and whether a service contract may be available

• Provides a box that dealers can check to indicate that an unexpired manufacturer’s warranty applies

• Adds air bags and catalytic converters to the Buyers Guide’s list of major defects that may occur in used vehicles

• Adds a statement that directs consumers to obtain a vehicle history report and to check for open recalls

• Adds a statement, in Spanish, to the English-language Buyers Guide, advising Spanish-speaking consumers to ask for the Buyers Guide in Spanish if the dealer is conducting the sale in Spanish

• Provides a Spanish translation of the statement that dealers may use to obtain a consumer’s acknowledgement of receipt of the Buyers Guide

The FTC thanked the following partners for their assistance in the current compliance sweep, including:

— California Department of Motor Vehicles Inspection Division
— Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney
— Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
— Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney
— San Mateo County Office of the District Attorney
— Florida Bureau of Dealer Services
— Cuyahoga, Ohio, County Department of Consumer Affairs
— Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
— City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
— New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
— Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
— Washington State Office of the Attorney General

Ally and NAMAD honor rising dealer with inaugural Ally Sees Her Award

CHICAGO - 

Karmala Sutton discovered personal and professional inspiration at an early age; a foundation that's propelled her to wide-ranging successes inside and outside the dealership.

On Thursday, Ally Financial and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) honored Sutton, the dealer in training at Honda of Kenosha in Bristol, Wisc., with the first-ever Ally Sees Her Award during NAMAD’s 2018 Annual Membership Meeting in Chicago.

Officials highlighted Sutton received the award in recognition of her success as an auto retail leader, her dedication to giving back and her commitment to building the next-generation of minority dealers, who are underrepresented across the country.

“I’m humbled to be recognized for doing things that I'm passionate about,” Sutton said upon learning of the award. “I’m committed to the auto industry and look forward to working with NAMAD to help my peers succeed. Without giving back to improve the lives of others and make the communities where we live and work better, success is hollow.”

Inspired by the Association of National Advertisers #SeeHer campaign to elevate women in media and marketing, Ally created the award to recognize promising, young women leaders in the auto retail industry. 

As part of the award, Ally will make a $10,000 donation to the charity of Sutton's choice: CRU Agape Center, a Chicago based non-profit that works with local churches and community centers. Sutton has earmarked the funds to help the homeless and children in communities troubled by violence.

“Being from the Chicago area and having the NAMAD meeting here in Chicago this year, it made sense to have the donation make a difference here in the city, especially in the communities that need it most,” Sutton said.

Her dedication to giving back to the community can be traced back to values instilled in her by her church and a high school mission trip to Ghana with Opportunity International, a micro finance not-for-profit that helps economic development in poor areas throughout the world. During her college years, she became involved with Locks of Love, giving her time and even her own hair to the non-profit.

Through her dealership, Sutton has led efforts to benefit Toys for Tots. She also has volunteered on NAMAD NextGen’s executive board for four years, serving as president for the last two years. NextGen helps prepare aspiring auto dealers to succeed in the industry.

Sutton has been an influential voice in NAMAD’s efforts to mobilize the sons and daughters of our current dealers and also shed a bright light on our current up and coming minority managers who will be our future dealers, according to NAMAD president Damon Lester.

“Her commitment to helping her peers become strong dealers who carry our industry into a bright future is an inspiration,” Lester said.

Sutton began her automotive career as a co-chair of the Northwood University Auto Show of the Palm Beaches while attending college. She graduated from Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 2010 with a bachelor’s in business administration and an associate degree in hospitality management.

After graduation, Sutton worked as a buyer for CarMax, where she honed her skills and found a love for the automotive retail industry. She then went to work at her family’s Honda of Kenosha dealership as the pre-owned manager. As the dealer in training, Sutton works beside her father, Nathaniel Sutton, owner of Sutton Auto Team, to understand the business. Sutton Auto Team has two additional dealerships in suburban Chicago.

“We’re excited to honor Karmala with the inaugural Ally Sees Her Award. She embodies the hard work, determination and leadership potential that this award was designed to recognize and we look forward to all she will accomplish in the years to come,” said Jacqueline Howard, senior director of corporate citizenship at Ally. “Her enthusiasm for giving back also makes her a beacon of caring in the community, which is fundamental to being a strong dealer.”

Howard added, “At Ally, our motto is ‘Do It Right,’ which means supporting dealers who are often the backbone of their communities and are helping move the industry forward. It also means promoting diversity and women in leadership. The more young women and girls see leaders like Karmala, the more they are empowered to rise to become leaders themselves.”

In addition to supporting Sutton's chosen charity, Ally will make an additional $5,000 available to charities selected by NAMAD members.

During the annual conference, Ally will give $100 gift cards to 50 NAMAD members, who can use the cards to make donations to the charities of their choice.

RedCap partners with Lyft, catering to service-drive customers

WESTLAKE, Texas - 

Now dealerships can help their customers get a “lift” from Lyft when they’re catering to their needs within the service drive.

RedCap Technologies, a Solera Holdings company and innovators of frictionless customer experiences that can enable OEMs and dealers to provide simple, easy and convenient means for consumers to service their vehicle, has partnered with Lyft to expand its dealership-wide mobility platform.

The new offering leverages RedCap's existing mobility platform and taps into Lyft's Concierge API platform in an effort to deliver a smooth and convenient experience for both dealers and customers.

Through this partnership, dealers can request Lyft rides for customers who are not able to get a loaner vehicle while their vehicle is being serviced, meaning customers no longer have to sit in a waiting room or wait for a shuttle van to return to their home or office.

Participating customers do not pay for the ride and do not need the Lyft app to get a ride from the dealership, according to a news release distributed this week.

The companies highlighted this integration continues the reinvention of customer experience and enables a seamless future for customers interacting with traditional automotive dealerships.

While convenience remains a top priority for customers in the automotive space, dealers are looking to retain a greater percentage of repair business by proactively offering services, like picking up and delivering vehicles for service, to effectively repair vehicles without customers having to ever leave their home or office.

For customers who prefer to visit their dealership for repair, the Lyft integration allows them to minimize the amount of time spent waiting if repairs take longer than estimated, which they often do.

Additionally, the experience is white labeled for the dealer, allowing their brand to align with a quick and positive customer experience.

“Time is a person’s most valuable commodity, keeping this in mind, we’ve got to deliver solutions that keep convenience as the top priority,” said David Zwick, managing director of RedCap.

“Creating a seamless experience is a major focus for OEMs and dealers. If we don’t develop these types of convenient solutions, customers will vote with their wallet and take their business elsewhere,” Zwick continued.

Offering this type of ideal repair experience can help dealers cater to the immediate delivery and customer service expectations of today.

“Technology has changed expectations, so we’ve changed our approach to meet and hopefully exceed those expectations,” Zwick said.

Ben Sternsmith, area vice president of Lyft Business, added, “We’re excited to partner with RedCap to expand alternative transportation options for dealerships and improve the user experience.

“By leveraging the platform, dealerships are able to minimize wait times and friction for customers, while simultaneously improving efficiencies for their business,” Sternsmith went on to say.

How independent dealer no longer loses track of cars

CHICAGO  - 

Camacho Auto Sales, an independent auto dealership with three used car operations serving the Palmdale and Lancaster, Calif., markets outside Los Angeles, reconditions 220 vehicles a month to keep its lots filled with fresh inventory that sells faster.

Camacho’s used car superstore at the Palmdale Auto Mall does reconditioning for the operation.

Vehicles sent out to sublets for some phases of that work often were forgotten or otherwise delayed. That lost time cost Camacho Auto Sales considerable financial loss.

Second-generation operator Gus Camacho says he’s now solved that problem — one that troubles many independent auto dealers, losing control and track of used-car inventory.

“Things were a mess,” says Camacho, who also owns the nearby Camacho Mitsubishi.

“We are talking here about thousands and thousands of dollars,” adds Camacho, who stepped into his father’s footsteps when the elder Camacho retired in 1996.

Anything that delays cars’ speed from acquisition to their sale erodes vehicle sales margin. Dealers have the most control over this time to line (T2L) during vehicle reconditioning. “Delay getting cars ready to be sold increases floorplan expense, ties up money in products not available for sale, and contributes to vehicle depreciation,” Camacho notes.

The core of this problem is lack of visibility. Without T2L recon workflow software to provide real-time insight into recon flow and sublet movements, inventory problems aren’t noticed until month-end inventory. Camacho says he rarely knew how long cars were at sublets or otherwise delayed unless he checked when repair orders on those vehicles were opened, too late to address the real problem.

Spot-on vehicle tracking

Rapid Recon’s step-tracking, accountability, and location tools keep cars moving through reconditioning.

“With Rapid Recon, we know exactly where our cars are — and how long a sublet is taking to get them back to us. If that time is unacceptable, we now have the data to discuss that problem with the sublet in objective ways,” Camacho notes.

Rapid Recon software automatically organizes the many steps, tasks, and people to recondition used cars quickly so dealers can generate more profit from them.  T2L automatic vehicle tracking and accountability provide real-time inventory location via QR Code and mobile tools.

The Camacho team routinely checks this software as an app on their mobile device. Notes appended to vehicle status also inform about where the vehicle is to go next in the recon process, who is responsible for those next steps, and time when vehicle will be sale-ready.

Dealers using Rapid Recon streamline recon processes, eliminate duplicate or otherwise wasteful steps and procedures, and typically reduce T2L from as much as two weeks to five to seven days or fewer. Every 2.5 days eliminated from T2L translates into one additional inventory turn, which means more used-car profit.

Schumer urges FTC to intensify Used Car Rule to weed out flooded vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 

Even with all of the clashes happening on Capitol Hill nowadays, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer over the weekend delivered a letter to the Federal Trade Commission to outline his significant concerns about what the New York lawmaker dubbed, “hurricane cars.”

As a storm currently brews off of the North Carolina coast and is predicted to drift out to sea, Schumer fears scores of vehicles damaged during previous hurricanes currently are in dealership inventory. Therefore, the powerful Senator wants the FTC to increase the regulatory capability of the Used Car Rule already in place in an effort to keep flooded vehicles from being retailed.

“While the FTC has been sounding the alarm on ‘hurricane cars,’ consumers are still at risk of being duped and burdened by a financial road of ruin if they unknowingly buy one,” Schumer said in a news release distributed on Sunday. “That’s why the FTC needs to drive forward with more than a consumer warning and hit the gas on a plan that uses the ‘Used Car Rule’ already on the books to ensure that the sticker slapped on every used car in a lot details a robust ‘flood check.’

“In many cases, ethical used car dealers are already performing this kind of check anyway, as part of the inspection process, and all we are saying today is that disclosure of this information should be one of the rules before these cars are able to hit the road,” he continued.

“Whether you’re a New Yorker looking to buy in New York, or a New Yorker looking on the internet for a car parked in another state, the risk of winding up in the driver’s seat of a ‘hurricane car’ is a headache at the least, but a real danger, too,” Schumer went on to say.

Schumer cited estimates of more than 600,000 vehicles being damaged during last year’s hurricane season, including the record-setting flooding in Texas stemming from Hurricane Harvey. Schumer said that in many cases “a ‘hurricane car’ can be ‘cleaned up’ for as little as $2,000 and then sold to an unsuspecting consumer.”

So the Senate Minority Leader made his case to Federal Trade Commission chairman Joseph Simmons in a five-paragraph letter.

“Given the uncertainty surrounding the quality of so many of these vehicles ravaged by flooding during past storms and new industry data showing used car sales are surging to their highest levels in five years, I respectively urge you to reevaluate the Used Car Rule and consider incorporating a flood check as part of the required disclosures included in the Buyers Guide offered on used cars, so that consumers know up-front when cars may have been impact by serious weather elements,” Schumer wrote.

“Incorporating a flood check is the right type of sound policy that could help consumers make educated vehicle purchases, and possibly save lives,” he added.

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