LOS ANGELES — CarsDirect.com's newly redesigned Used Car Channel is an ideal avenue for subprime dealerships and other independent dealers to retail their older inventory, according to Josh Evans, vice president of dealer relations.

After nine months in development, officials unveiled several modifications to CarsDirect.com in mid-March specifically tailored to boost used-vehicle sales for dealers, Evans noted. 

Included in the revamping of the company's Used Car Channel is the ability for dealers to post their entire used-car inventory with unlimited photos and video of each vehicle, Evans added. He also said that the other features of the enhancement are comprehensive inventory tracking and benchmarking tools at a cost starting at $500 per month. 

Evans said this redesign not only benefits franchised dealerships that want to list their late-model used inventory but can also help independent dealers who feature predominantly older units.

"Our Used Car Channel allows dealers to truly grow their target audience by providing access to the valuable CarsDirect community at an affordable price," noted Bob Brisco, president and chief executive officer of Internet Brands, which is the parent company of CarsDirect.com.

At the same time, CarsDirect.com's enhanced Used Car Channel was designed to allow consumers to search through more than 1 million vehicles on the basis of criteria such as year, price, mileage, color, fuel economy and a host of other factors, as well as the more traditional means by make and model, Evans pointed out. He added that 7 million unique users visit CarsDirect.com per month.

"Our redesigned Used Car Channel is a perfect site for dealers who aggressively and successfully market their older vehicles with higher mileage that cost under $12,000, or even under $10,000," Evans said.

"Not everyone entering the used-car buying process knows right away that they are looking for a 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier, let's say, which is the type of vehicle dealers have most of on their lots," he explained. "But these customers do know that they are looking for a four-door sedan under $10,000 that has heated seats. Our site allows the potential customer to start there, and then fine-tune their search as they get more specific.

"We think that positions us uniquely to not only help these consumers but also ultimately the dealership that has these type vehicles in their used inventory," Evans said.

Internet Can Boost Subprime Sales

Evans said subprime dealers should not discount the power and pervasiveness of the Internet to promote and retail their vehicles. Dealers need to find as many valid ways to get as many people as possible searching through their inventory, he added, and the Internet is one of the best means to increase the number of eyeballs surveying those units.

"Unfortunately, many subprime and buy-here, pay-here dealers have the perception that Internet users are not their customers," Evans explained. "But our research shows that we have a huge community of people who are really looking for units under $10,000 on the Internet.

"And so those dealerships that venture out and do some creative experimenting and list their cars online and remain committed to it, whether it be on CarsDirect.com or on other similar Web sites, including our direct competitors, will enjoy a lot of success online," Evans noted.

"We believe that all of these type Web sites are underserved by independent and BHPH dealers that offer these vehicles at good prices," he went on to say. "They should be doing more marketing via the Internet.

"I would encourage subprime dealers to try us and, to be honest, also our competitors, especially when you compare our costs to that of advertising via more traditional means," he added. "We all have very reasonably priced packages with support and other tools geared to help each dealership succeed online."

Evans highlighted the fact that CarsDirect requires only a 60-day commitment, which should give a dealership enough time to see how advertising online can help boost leads and eventually sales.

"Since our cost for dealers is $500 a month, we're talking about $1,000 to try some online advertising with us. This is a much cheaper and more efficient means for dealers who want to commit to it," he commented.

At the same time, Evans said CarsDirect sells specific subprime leads in the form of a credit application, which he said are promoted at several locations on its Web site, including its Used Car Channel but not exclusively in that location.

"We think these are great leads for a dealer, because these are customers who know coming into the shopping experience they are credit-challenged but they are entering the process by first being willing to fill out a credit application that we send to a dealer," Evans explained. "The fact that you can buy a lead that is in the form of a credit application takes the process to a whole different level."

CarsDirect Enforces Ethical Standards

Furthermore, another amenity CarsDirect.com created with this enhancement is what the company named a "Buyer's Bill of Rights." This list is what officials described as a foundation for how consumers should be treated.

"We believe that used-car buyers have a right to a competitive price, freedom from gouging and haggling, upfront full-disclosure of fees, fair trade-in pricing, accurate explanation of credit status, fair lending rates and fees and exceptional customer service," Evans explained.

Dealers who agree with these stipulations will be marked with an exclusive "Trusted Dealer" logo, according to Evans.

This endorsement provides shoppers with "added peace of mind and helps dealers by reducing consumer mistrust," Evans noted.

"One of Internet Brands' non-automotive Web sites, called Loan.com, has had a lot of success with this ‘Trusted Lender' brand, and it was a home run in terms of immediate positive consumer feedback," he explained. "So we decided to transfer this concept to our Used Car Channel.

"We're building a community of CarsDirect users who trust us because we are sending them to dealers who we know will provide a great car-buying experience. As a result, these customers will stay with us for their next car and will recommend us to their friends," Evans noted.

"The customer then is happy, we're happy, and the dealer is happy," he concluded.

For more information, visit CarsDirect.com or call Josh Evans at (800) 431-2500, ext. 4200.