Dale loves to hear from you…

295 comments

pollak dale Dale loves to hear from you...In addition to being a best-selling author on Used Car Sales in his book Velocity, Dale Pollak is the chairman and founder of vAuto, Inc., a company that provides retail automotive dealerships with a better way to appraise, manage and price their pre-owned vehicle inventory. In addition to serving as vAuto’s spokesperson, Dale is responsible for strategic planning and development.

Prior to vAuto, Pollak served as VP of Sales and Business Strategy at Digital Motorworks, the market leader in data integration and application development for OEMs, mega dealers and third party providers. Pollak helped build the company from inception to its successful acquisition by ADP in 2002.

Pollak received his B.S. in Business Administration from Indiana University and is a graduate of the General Motors Institute of Automotive Development. Pollak also earned a law degree from DePaul University’s College of Law, and is a four-time winner of the American Jurisprudence Award for top performance in his class.

Dale Pollak is one of the leading authorities on automotive dealership management strategies. Tap into Dale’s experience, insight and knowledge.

Need advice about your dealership’s inventory pricing management?

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Send your automotive/dealership related questions to Dale; all questions will be answered and discussed with the Velocity community

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Contact Dale: dpollak [at] vauto.com

  • Tim Moran

    Hi dale. Can I get 10 copies of overdrive?

  • Miguel Aranda

    Hi Dale , My name is Miguel I work at Sport Auto Center here in El Paso Texas I manage a small independent dealership we roughly carry about 60 cars and we turn right around half of them. I came across Vauto a while back and was extremely intrigued about it but I knew I did not have nor the credit, capital or resources to make it a feasible venture. This business has been very good to me I have been able to expand our inventory from 8 cars when I started to 60 I personally do they F&I and marketing and have slowly been hiring people to help me grow the business. I have always been really interested in strategic planning and efficient management of available resources I studied it in college and would love to integrate it into the business, I don’t know if you are familiar with our market here in El Paso but it is a tough one but its been really good to me and would like to know if Vauto has a way to work for us I am really intrigued to see if it is something that can set us apart from just any other dealer here. Is Vauto for a small independent dealer like myself like I said we stock right around 60 cars so I don’t know if it would be something we can afford or not what do you think ? will it work any market ?

  • Miguel,

    Thank you so much for your note. Yes, I do have some familiarity with the El Paso market, we do business with many dealers in and around the area. Also, a 60 vehicle inventory is not small, but really about average for vAuto clients. I totally respect the fact that you are thinking with a high degree of discipline regarding expenses and I appreciate the caution that you express in your message. There is no question that vAuto and Velocity Management will work for you, however it is not the software that will determine the outcome, but rather the execution of the Velocity strategy by you and your staff. To this end, I would advise the following. First, if you haven’t done so already, read my second and third books, Velocity 2.0, Paint, Pixels and Profitability, and Velocity Overdrive, respectively. Second, take a look at a demonstration from one of our product specialists. Third, feel free to reach out to me personally to answer any questions or concerns. Fourth, should you decide to sign on, let me know as I would like to have some degree of personal involvement with your launch and early experience. Again, thank you and please know that I’m here for you.

  • videocarsales.com

    Hi Dale,
    Thought this might be of interest to you…..
    videocarsales.com
    Coming soon
    VSN

  • David S. Prescott

    Dear Mr. Pollak, So glad you have all these wonderful ideas. Kindly contact me through LinkedIn to discuss my husband’s employment with VinSolutions.

  • Diane Boulanger-Prescott

    Dear Mr. Pollak,
    I am thrilled to read about all of your wonderful ideas. However, I would like to speak with you personally about my husband’s employment with Vin Solutions and matters that are not being resolved without having to involve our attorney, EEOC, and other state agencies. You have my information via Discus and LinkedIn. Diane Boulanger-Prescott

  • Tom

    Hey Dale,

    I am 24 years old, my father recently (1 1/2 years ago) purchased 1/4 of a used car dealership (110 car lot), after attending college, I decided to go work at my some what fathers dealership (he is a silent partner). Every since then I have literally became infatuated with the car business. Day and night, 6 to 7 days a week, 11 to 12 hours a day. I was doing some research on AutoTrader and came across vAuto, I am very familiar with vAtuo, we signed up with your company briefly, however it was to expensive. Anyways, I would like to learn more about the car business and was wondering how I could apply to general motors institute of automotive development, I googled it and had no luck. Is the school closed..?

    I started reading your books, seemed very interesting, looking forward to finishing them. Do you have any more suggestions on how I would be able to educate myself.

    Excuse my grammar, I am typing this on my phone.

    Thank you.

  • Tom,

    Thanks for your note, and I really appreciate your passion for the business. As you may know, part of my formal education was attending the General Motors Institute. I’m not sure whether the program still exists, and/or the process for application or admission. I think that this question can best be answered by a representative of General Motors. I would encourage you to pursue your desire for a more formal automotive education. I would also recommend the NADA Dealer Academy. I have the privilege of participating in this program, and find it to be excellent. You can obtain more information by contacting NADA in McLean, Virginia. Stay true to your passion and stay in touch.

  • Tom

    Mr. Pollak,

    Thank you for the
    feedback, it means a lot coming from someone with your experience.
    Unfortunately, I tried attending NADA Dealer Academy; however it is required
    for me to be sponsored by a new car dealer. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Tom,

    Perhaps you should check into Northwood College in Midland, MI as they also have a very high-quality and reputable automotive program.

    Thanks again

  • Michael Emmert

    Hello Dale,
    I have been a long time vAuto advocate and have read all of your books. I am a Chevrolet and Buick dealer in a small Oregon bedroom community outside of Portland. I am writing you because I have concerns regarding the most recent wholesale market changes, particularly within the last several weeks. There is a serious disconnect between used vehicle wholesale prices and the actual retail market level. Watching cars wholesale for more money than comparable retail ones is creating even more challenges when offering documentation during negotiation. As a franchised new vehicle dealer, I am seeing in many cases little difference between ’13 model used vehicles and brand new ones. As a destination store, this presents significant operational challenges. It would appear to me that the market is shaking out excess retailers. I do need more inventory, but I also need to generate a return on investment. What strategies would you recommend moving forward? Thank you for your help.

  • Michael,

    Thank you so much for your note, and I completely understand your concern. There are a couple things that should be understood.

    First, every year we see a significant spike in wholesale value in the first and second quarter over the fourth quarter of the prior year. Given this condition, many retailers are reducing inventory that was bought in the fourth quarter of last year that is now aged and under a high degree of scrutiny. Consequently, these dealers are looking just to get out. Theoretically, the values of both the wholesale and retail markets move in tandem, however there are periods such as now when they are not in alignment, hence your frustration.

    The second point to be noted is that this quarter is bringing unusually high wholesale prices. Just this morning, I read an article where Tom Webb, Manheim’s Chief Economist noted a significant jump in wholesale value this year over last. He attributes it, in part, to a high number of tax refunds processed and issued by the government in late January/early February.

    So what should you do? I believe the answer has two parts. First, do not buy inventory just for the sake of having cars to sell. If you can’t make some money after acquisition, fees, transportation and reconditioning, there’s no point in pulling the trigger. The fact that you are aware of the difference in the wholesale/retail value of comparable vehicles gives me assurance that you are in tune with this thinking. The second point of the answer may be less obvious. The reality is that you probably need to adjust your thinking downward in terms of what is an acceptable spread between your cost to market and the appropriate price to market. The unfortunate reality is that margins in our business are compressing and you are going to have to get adjusted to making profit with less spread between wholesale and retail values. So how does this work? Well, I can offer three recommendations:

    1. Measure and analyze the efficiency of each and every vehicle acquisition whether at auction or on trade. This is best accomplished by tracking the acquisition cost to market (exclusive of pack and reconditioning) for each and every buyer/appraiser. You will find that some buyers/appraisers demonstrate an ability to purchase vehicles consistently at a lower cost to market than others. You must identify, coach and train those who do not present the requisite ability, or ultimately restrict their ability to acquire vehicles on your behalf. You simply cannot afford buyers/appraisers that consistently overvalue vehicles.

    2. You must diligently work on an on-going basis to reduce your cost of reconditioning. Don’t be confused between what you charge a vehicle for reconditioning and its actual true cost. I’m talking about reducing the actual true cost as there is much opportunity for most dealerships to improve their margin by sourcing less expensive parts and applying the most efficient available labor.

    3. You must also work diligently to reduce the amount of negotiation in your sales process. The best dealerships today are averaging less than $300 in negotiation for their retail sales. Like tracking your buyers/appraisers acquisition efficiency, you must do the same for each and every sales consultant. Once again, you will find a treasure-trove of lost profit by carefully scrutinizing, coaching and training your sales personnel.

    Keep in mind that today’s equity is tomorrow’s profit. None of us can control the wholesale or retail market, but we all have the ability to manage the three above referenced areas of dealership operations. Finally, the most important strategy of all is to turn ‘em fast, put as many people through the F&I process as possible, and vehicles through the internal reconditioning process. These strategies will certainly help you cope with the challenging margin environment.

  • jmstockton

    Hi Dale, apologies if this has been asked before but do you have plans to bring vAuto to the UK in the future and if so will it be aimed at helping franchise dealers or independents and supermarket operations.

    Regards – a franchise dealer General Manager

  • JM,

    Thanks so much. No plans presently for UK automotive. Thanks.

  • Hi Dale,

    I am in the process of writing a business plan for my used car dealership to raise additional working capitol. I found a formula for calculating future sales and I wanted to see this looks correct or if you had a better suggestion.

    Sales = Average Inventory x Turnover / (100% – GM%)

    Also, I wanted to verify that the correct way to calculate turnover is 365 / average number of days to sell?

    Thank You, Erik

  • Erik,

    Can you please provide me of some examples of how your formula would work?

    Thanks

  • Erik,

    Thanks so much. Can you give me some examples?

  • Keith Fetz

    Hi Dale…My apologies if you have previously covered this but I was wondering your thoughts on OVE, Open Lane, Dealer Match, etc. and how they are evolving? I’m interested in weather you feel these are sustainable channels for dealers to invest resources in?

  • Keith,

    Thanks so much for your note. You touch on something for which I have strong feelings. I think that the much of the wholesale market is going on-line as opposed to in lanes. Accordingly, products like those that you mention are all trying to figure out the best way to serve the dealers, and ultimately win the battle for their hearts and minds. I think that they all have potential to effectively serve dealers, but still have opportunity for improvement. Regardless of their current state, I definitely think that it is worth the effort to learn these systems as they will provide you with access to ever-growing inventory. Over time, the use of such digital systems to source used vehicles will become a requirement for effective stocking. I would be very receptive to your or anyone else’s thoughts as to how these systems can grow and evolve to better serve the dealers’ needs. Again, thanks for the great question.

  • PappaSierra

    Dale – what do you think about using vAuto in a BHPH operation?

  • Hi Dale,

    Here are the examples you asked for.

    Sales = Average Inventory x Turnover / (100% – GM%)

    $512,402 = $25,000 x 15.7 / (100% – 23.4%)
    Inventory Turnover = 365 / average # of days to sell inventory
    15.7 = 365 days / 23.2 days

    I am using these formulas to help project future sales based on stats (inventory turnover & gm%) I have tracked over the past three years for my dealership. Do these formulas look correct or do you have a better way to calculate projections?

    Thanks, Erik

  • I think that vAuto would be of limited value. A true BHPH operation is more about the money business rather than the car business. It generally doesn’t operate based on principles of a rational market. I think vAuto’s appraisal system might have some limited value and its Provisioning system could help you source some inventory, but beyond that, not so much.

  • Erik,

    I have a lot of doubt about any formula capable of projecting future sales of automobiles. There are so many factors that affect sales that I really wouldn’t know where to begin. Some of these factors are under your control, like what cars you choose to stock, how you price them, how you merchandise them, etc., and many other factors are outside your control. These things include your general local economy, interest rates, weather and the like. I think that the best indicator of future performance, in terms of volume, would be past performance given enough time/sample size. Do you think I’m missing something here? How do you think that your formula considers the type of factors that I’ve highlighted?

  • Dale,

    I agree that any one formula is insufficient to accurately project future sales. These formulas don’t take into account any of the variables that you mentioned.

    I have found success by primarily only purchasing cars in the top 5% in terms of condition and quality. For example; 1 owner car, garage kept, all service records, and well below average miles. Having the best or one the best quality cars in my market helps it rise to the top and stand out even if the other factors are not in its favor (interest, demand, market day supply, etc). Finding these kinds of cars can be a challenge and usually requires looking outside of the auction.

    I recently opened an account with Autotrader and tried out the trial offer for VAuto. I specialize in cars in the $4,000-$7,000 prince range and when I tried using VAuto I noticed that all of the data was for cars in the $7,000+ price range. Was this just a fluke or will the program not work for cars in my price range?

    Thank You, Erik

  • Dale,

    I am a very small used car dealer (average inventory 4-6 cars). I recently moved to a larger location (room for 10 cars). In the past, I outsourced my reconditioning and was fortunate to find a repair shop that was affordable, fast, and did quality work. I am planning on hiring my own mechanic. The numbers seem to make sense once I double my inventory and it should save me a lot of money and speed up the reconditioning process.

    However, I know there are always little things not accounted for that will bring about new costs and challenges once reconditioning is moved in-house. Other than the obvious challenges (finding the right employee, payroll expenses, upfront costs for tools and supplies, etc), is there anything else that I might be overlooking or potential downsides to moving reconditioning in-house?

    Thank You, Erik

  • Erik,

    I appreciate the fact that you acknowledge that there are a lot of ancillary and associated costs with any such decision. This demonstrates a healthy understanding of basic business. I’m not sure that there’s much that I can add other than ordinary employment costs, taxes, liability, insurance, etc. My rough rule of thumb on such expenses is that you need to add about 1/3 of the salary amount to cover these types of direct employment liabilities. My off-the-cuff reaction is that with an operation of your small size, I would refrain from committing yourself to fixed employment costs until it is absolutely, painfully obvious that they are necessary. Specifically, what advantage do you hope to achieve with an on-site reconditioning employee? Perhaps a good porter with some light-weight mechanical experience and skill might help you bridge the gap between a total outsource and in-house solution? Hiring people is a really large commitment.

  • Erik,

    vAuto will absolutely work for vehicles in your price range. Your challenge and frustration doesn’t lie with vAuto, rather with the fact that there just isn’t an abundance of such vehicles in the market.

  • Hi Dale,

    I originally considered a “porter” who could do minor repairs, detailing, & do various tasks. I started to reconsider and just hire a qualified mechanic. The reason I have been considering moving reconditioning in-house is for several reasons.

    1. My mechanic is located about 10 minutes from my office. It becomes time consuming picking up and dropping off cars. In addition to that, conflicting time schedules with my mobile detailer sometimes add an additional day to reconditioning time. My mechanic is quick, but he gets busy sometimes with other customer’s cars and the delays start adding up. It can sometimes be a full week before the car is done.

    I generally take photos and post the car before dropping it off for mechanical repairs to keep my inventory turn high, but I have missed out on sales due to the cars not being ready in time. I figure I could raise my turn rate from 14.5 to 15.7 by speeding up the reconditioning process. The increased sales from the higher turn rate would help offset the labor costs of the mechanic.

    2. My reconditioning costs have been climbing every year and now are averaging about $450 per car. About 60% of that total is labor and the remainder is parts. I am paying $85 for a full detail on a car, which makes the mechanical reconditioning about $365 per car. That means I am spending $219 per car in mechanical labor. If I am buying 4 cars a week, that comes out to $876 in labor costs. For that amount I could hire a qualified mechanic. I am thinking of paying a weekly salary instead of paying by the job. I figure about 5 hours per car for reconditioning, which leaves another 20 hours a week to handle other odd jobs for me. That would free up a lot of my time to focus on high value tasks (buying, selling, and marketing).

    3. I could buy additional inventory that I would have previously not purchased due to higher outsourced reconditioning costs.

    I know hiring an employee is a large commitment, but I am at the point that I don’t see a way to grow any further with the way things are run now.

    Thank you for your input,
    Erik

  • Hi Dale,

    First off, thank you for taking the time to quickly answer our questions. I have been enjoying this website and found the information very helpful.

    I wanted to get your thoughts on what information to include in a used car advertisement. This past year I began including a lot more details and information in my advertisements. The following is presented with a screenshot and follows the photos of the car. I also briefly summarize the information in the body of the advertisement.

    1. Carfax report with price adjustment
    2. Kelly Blue Book fair market pricing report
    3. safety crash test ratings
    4. owner ratings
    5. auto expert review
    6. price comparison with similar cars for sale
    7. reliability ratings
    8. Yelp rating

    It is time consuming gathering all of the information (about 30 minutes per car), but I think it is worth it for the following reasons.

    1. The Carfax report with price adjustment, KBB fair market pricing, and price comparison of similar cars reflects your “documentation is the new negotiation” statement. I have been moving towards a no haggle price and this information has helped me document it to the customer with industry leading companies they respect and are familiar with. The price comparison quickly shows the customer that my prices are better than the competition. Instead of just pricing a car at $5,995, I may do $5,700 if the information is showing me that it is a realistic and fair price. Almost every dealer in my market prices there cars at $4999, $9,950, $14,995, etc. Personally, I think its a little suspicious and gimmicky if every car on the lot is priced in $1,000 increments. Consumers are smart and can see through the BS. I think most things that challenge the status quo can help set you apart from the competition.

    2. Saving the consumer time and making the car shopping process easier is always a good thing. In 2013, an Autotrader study showed that new car buyers who used the Internet in the shopping process reported spending 13.75 hours shopping for a vehicle. I figure by having lots of helpful information on my advertisement, it reduces the chances of a potential customer having to leave my advertisement to find the information somewhere else on the internet.

    Do you see any downsides to this philosophy? I only challenge I see is including all of these details without overwhelming the consumer. I have tried to make my craigslist advertisements easy to read. I including the domain to one of them. I would love your feedback.

    http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/ctd/4470766810.html

    Thanks, Erik

  • Erik,

    Sounds good!

  • Erik,

    Thanks so much. I personally think that your transparent and full disclosure approach is exactly what consumers are looking for. I would advise you to stay the course.

    One suggestion for you, however, while I try hard not to use my blog for commercial purposes, you should know that vAuto offers a product called KBB Price Advisor report. This tool allows you to click a button, and it automatically generates a report showing KBB’s fair price, consumer and expert reviews as well as reviews for your dealership. In other words, it will significantly reduce the amount of time that you’re currently spending in assembling much of the above referenced data. I just thought you should know.

    Thanks,

    Dale

  • Hi Dale,

    Over the past 5 months I have noticed a huge drop in the number of emails from potential Craigslist customers. Overall I am still getting a great response, but it seems that more people are calling instead of emailing. My only thought is that this seems to correspond with the recent changes Craigslist made to their listing format back in December. The changes were for the better and made it easier for the consumer and dealers.

    Have you heard similar reports from other dealers? I prefer calls over emails, so it has been nice. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks, Erik
    Auto Advantage

  • Erik,

    No. I honestly have not heard of any similar change in behavior from users in Craig’s List. I am, however, aware of their change in policy, but I don’t know if or how that would affect the nature of responses. Perhaps we can get some input from other readers.

    Thanks,

  • Hi Erik,

    You are exactly right, what you are seeing is reflected industry wide after December 3rd, 2013. Along with going from free to paid, Craigslist removed links and essentially any HTML element like embedded photos in ads. The list of what is not allowed can be found on Craigslist’s CTD page.

    So with no funnel from Craigslist to your landing page, the call-to-action is all about your phone number. Using call tracking and extensions to specific vehicles is the #1 way to track the ROI of your Craigslist campaign.

  • alois haller

    hi dale my name is alois I have been a dealer both wholesale and retail for aprox 20 years and export before digital and internet as well and used to send pics and info with mail before the internet a few years back I developed a sales system wich would take the questioning and doubts of the condition out of the buyers mind and make then in a secure and dertermend buyer with only 2 question left in their mind wich is …is the item still available and where do I send the payment ……..
    after financial struggles in 09 …I picked the idea up again a few years ago and have a utube channel called………turn and sell I post videos of inventory for cars boats motorcycles and machinery in RUNNING condition unless u realy cant hear the engine …..I want to take the idea to the next level please look my my you tube channel turn and sell….or google ef147132 that’s how easy car buying can be in the future there are aprox 16 videos for cars boats or motorcyles running …
    thanks for your time and to the future
    sincerely alois haller

  • Steve Carroll

    Hi Dale –

    Curious if you can share any updates or information if genius labs is working on helping us dealers with speed to market and recon. Would love an integrated system with my vAuto inventory software and a system that integrates with alldata / Mitchell / etc for real time and real dollar estimates – track where my inventory is in the process ( doll up / mechanical / body shop / photos / etc ) and for how long – a digital MPI sheet for the shop to use – digitally approve or not items to do in recon

    In summary – a type of “vRecon” for my 180-200 units I push through our shop monthly

    I found a system that can do a lot of that but doesn’t integrate with vAuto .. Or anyone else for that matter .. for inventory uploads .. And if something in the works soon I’d rather wait for the best in class that you always come up with

    Thanks Dale
    Steve C

  • Steve,

    Thanks so much for your question. I consider the reconditioning process to be the last bastion of huge untapped dealer opportunity. To this end, I have followed closely the tools in the market that are available to assist dealers with more efficient and rapid reconditioning. There are definitely some good tools out there, one called Rapid Recon in particular. Moreover, I created a module within vAuto called Lifecycle Management.

    While I’m following this area of opportunity very closely, I’m not ready to make a commercial commitment as I think that two things need to happen.

    First, technology is rapidly developing that allows vehicles to be wirelessly tracked as they move around and through various physical points at a dealership. Technology in this area is developing so quickly that I hesitate to develop a system that relies on a particular technology that may very well be antiquated in a number of short months. Automation is definitely the key in this and every other solution as relying on manual dealer data entry is not commercially viable.

    The second development, which is occurring, is the growing recognition among dealers that they need to do something different in the area of improving the efficiency and speed of reconditioning. While there is definitely a growing number of dealers that understand this need, I question whether it is sufficiently large enough today to support a commercial endeavor. Good products like Rapid Recon have been out there for many, many years and still have little user adoption. This is not due to a deficiency in the product, but rather a lack of recognition among dealers of a need for such a product.

    One thing that you can be sure of is that when the technology and market is ready, we will be there. In the meantime, I will continue to closely follow technology and demands to ensure that our timing is appropriate. You are very wise in terms of your focus and attention in this area. Please continue to communicate and again, thank you for your thoughts.

  • Steve Carroll

    Dale – thank you for the feedback and update. Here may be another option / vender I found that seems to be able to help dealers with process and workflow management for recon….. Customized MPI sheets .. Paperless workflow and status changing .. Pictures for recon questions .. Lots of good process improvements .. Only wish it would integrate with vAuto and/or DMS

    http://www.autovitals.com/workflow-automation/

    http://www.autovitals.com/product/pbs/

    http://www.autovitals.com/product/eis/

    Please note I have not used system yet – wanted to wait to see if you had something in the works .. I’ll touch base after I install and get up and running

    Thanks again –
    -steve

  • Steve,

    Thanks so much. Please keep me informed.

  • Timothy Philip

    dale,

    do you have a recommendation on any good online “vauto” buyers out there they may be looking to relocate to austin and work for our group, namely our first texas honda dealership?

    thanks for all you do!

    timothy.

  • I’m generally not in the business of recommending candidates or dealerships for employment purposes, but I happen to personally know Timothy, this dealership, their owners and staff and I have to say that this is truly a gem of an opportunity. This is one of the largest and most progressive Honda stores in Texas, with a new facility and a truly progressive approach to retailing. The employment environment is stable with most everyone long-term and tenured. The cherry on top is the chance to live in Austin, Texas, one of the coolest cities in America, and work for one of the most progressive dealers. I can honestly say that if I didn’t have a day job, I would be all over this one.

  • Richard

    Dale,

    I love your blog, thank you!

    What do you normally recommend to dealers who are looking for a way to certify their other-makes-and-models? We’re seeing a variety of OMM programs out there such as MOTOR TREND & NIADA; and of course there are dealers who create their own in-house certifications. But how would you advise a non-factory dealer to certify their vehicles in a way that’s competitive with the factory dealer up the road?

    Thank you,

    Richard

  • Richard

    Erik,

    Same thing happening over here. I’ve been listing on Craigslist since I’ve started working here (2011) and am seeing the same trend.

    Do you include a price within your listing?
    How often do you refresh?

  • Richard

    Kbb Price advisor does all of that work for you! Great product.

  • Richard,

    Thanks so much for your note and your question. I think that you’ve hit on an important subject. One thing that we know about every used car buyer is that they’re primarily concerned about two things: getting a bad deal and getting a bad car. With respect to the latter, our industry has wisely established best practices to include presentation of a vehicle history report early in the sales process. In addition, many quality dealers also back up their vehicles with assurances and extended warranties.

    Your question, however, is really one of branding. Specifically, how to best promote whatever assurances and promises are made to customers regarding vehicle quality and reliability. To this question, I think that there are at least two important considerations. First, whatever promises or assurances are inherent in the promoted brand, they must be backed up with the ability to deliver as promised. The quality of the third-party product behind the brand is critical in the long term to its success. I’m hesitant to make a recommendation on Motor Trend or any other similar product, because I’m not familiar with how well they are backed up and supported. I would recommend talking to other dealers using such brands to determine how reliable they are and actually standing behind their brand promise.

    The second consideration, unfortunately, is a difficult one. When it comes to selecting a brand partner, beyond their reliability, the question is how much do they spend and how effective they are at promoting their brand in your market. I would not pay a premium to get behind a third-party certification brand if they do not bring a fair amount of consumer recognition to the table. Motor Trend does obviously have a fairly high degree of consumer recognition, so a name like this one could possibly help. I don’t know if there are other similar recognizable brands, but this is something that I recommend you investigate aggressively prior to making a commitment.

    One thing to note, however, is that it is probably not Motor Trend itself that is standing behind the brand promise, but rather a third-party company that has licensed the use of their name. This brings me back to my first concern of the integrity and reliability of the company behind the brand that will be administering and paying claims. Hope this helps.

  • Dale I have exhausted every effort to get vAuto customer service to address an ongoing issue that several of your stellar vAuto dealers are dealing with. Case # 246155 has been open since June and the simple fix has been ignored by the development team. I have made call after call to customer service and am always met with the same response: It has been escalated and someone will call you back with an update. This call back has only happened once or twice in the multiple times I’ve called in to get some help. When the call back has occurred, it has been something of the nature of “They are supposed to be talking to the development team to make these changes”

    These are vAuto customers that are requesting this update that is extremely simple to accomplish but yet it has been met with nothing except lackadaisical customer service.

    Anything you could do to help would be greatly appreciate as I am a huge fan and regardless of the outcome will retain my beliefs that you have been at the forefront of evolving our industry for years…

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

  • Hi Richard,

    I have been using Craigslist since 2004 and I noticed the immediate difference after the December 2013 changes were rolled out.

    I do include a price on all my ads. I have been playing around with posting days and times, but usually post 1 or 2 times a week per car. I have done the research and seen the stats showing Sunday, Saturday, & Monday to be the best days to post in that order. On the weekends I like to post mid to late morning (9:30-10:30). During the week lunch time and early evening are supposed to get the best results.

    I would like to hear from other dealers about their experience with the best days and times to post. To me it seems like some weekends are just better than others. I can post on Saturday and Sunday and get almost no response. The next weekend comes around and my phone blows up without me posting at all.

    Erik

  • Dale,
    I wanted to make you aware of the ongoing issue that I have had with the “Vehicle Info” screen in vAuto. For whatever reason, vAuto seems to have difficulty when it comes to listing the correct option packages for Nissan vehicles. This is extremely frustrating because it seems that this information is available to every other vendor out there. Just to clarify, I am a firm believer in your system and I think that you provide a great product. That being said, it should concern you to know that someone that subscribes to your service is unable to market their vehicles properly because the correct option packages are not listed for our new Nissan inventory.

  • Gil,

    Thanks so much for your feedback. Nissan and Infiniti vehicles are different from most every other vehicle in the market to the extent that their VINs are not decodable to the same or even similar extent as most every other manufacturer. This fact creates some additional challenges for every automotive solution provider. Having said this, however, there is no reason or justification that our solution should be inferior to any other solution provider because we all license our feature and equipment data from the same few providers. Further, I am not aware of any other similar concern, but I will definitely look into it and get back with you as to my findings. As you know, we are extremely committed to providing the best possible product and service available. Again, thank you so much for bringing this situation to my attention as it is very important to me.

  • Larry Dorfman

    Dale,

    Thanks for suggesting that I post this response (which I originally sent directly to you) on your blog so that readers could have this information. Your answer is right on target and poses great questions about these programs in the
    market. I wanted to respond specifically to the questions you presented regarding the Motor Trend Certified program.

    I have run this response by Tyler Shulze, the VP of Motor Trend’s parent company and received his approval for this e mail and its content.

    We totally agree with you regarding the importance of a strong brand with a willingness to “stand behind the
    certification”. EasyCare was chosen by Motor Trend to help create and deliver the Motor Trend Certified program to the market, and the dealers on the program (almost all of whom are V-Auto Dealers) will tell you that they KNOW
    Motor Trend stands behind the program. The largest CPO dealer in the industry (by 2x over Paragon Honda) is Ricart Automotive (771 pre-owned in August and over 650 of those were Motor Trend Certified).
    Rick Ricart, as well as other Motor Trend Certified dealers like John Bommarito, Tom Gill and Steve Ewing will be happy to talk with anyone about the program and what it has done
    for them.

    To your point, Motor Trend Certified is more than a brand licensing. Consumers who purchase Motor Trend Certified
    vehicles can trust that Motor Trend stands behind the brand and that the dealers they purchase the vehicles from have been vetted for Motor Trend by EasyCare to deliver a quality, well backed vehicle as well as an exceptional buying and ownership experience.
    When it comes to advertising and supporting
    the brand Motor Trend and EasyCare have invested significantly in marketing and advertising nationally, as well as locally around the MTC dealerships. We have
    also just launched an entirely new digital marketing resource for dealers to increase their MTC footprint as Motortrend.com becomes partners with MSNAutos in the coming months. The partnership and the exclusive opportunity for MTC
    dealers to retarget and attract shoppers/buyers in their marketing off of this massive web resource will be an added value to dealers in the program.

    Motor Trend Certified is a partnership between Motor Trend, EasyCare and select dealers to want to deliver a very high
    quality “Other Makes and Models” Certified program to their customers who purchase non-core, pre-owned vehicles from them. These dealers get protected territories so that they have a true differentiation between themselves and
    others in their market area, and they have exclusive branding with the iconic Motor Trend magazine to allow their entire dealership to stand out from the crowd at the store an online.

    I hope this answers your questions about the MTC program.
    Thanks for all you do for the industry.