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Autotrader, Cars.com or KBB?

Discussion in 'Marketing Gripes' started by ryanabbott, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. ryanabbott

    ryanabbott New Member

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    Here's the problem that I am running in to now. Cars.com and Autotrader do almost nothing (trackable) for us at all. The problem is we spend $50k each for these per year. (4 stores). KBB wants our business and we can go all in with them for a price we could be okay with. Does anyone think we would really be shooting ourself in the foot by getting rid of Cars.com and Autotrader? I am seriously thinking of going this route. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
  2. ddavis

    ddavis Well-Known Member

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    AutoTrader and Cars works, for me, every time. It's display advertising just, like the newspaper, with a separate page for each new and used car. Click on one of your cars on the website. Is this the way you would present it in the newspaper? If they are well described, with great pictures and competitively priced, why wouldn't it work? When a customer sorts by model and price, are your vehicles near the top?

    I've used KBB and it is not going to generate many leads.
    2 people like this.
  3. JoePistell

    JoePistell Super Moderator

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    50,000 Dollar Question:
    How important is Cars and AT the car shopper? You'd think IF Cars.com and AT.com are important to the shopper, we all would hear a lot more chatter about it on the sales floor.

    I'll ask it another way... The Ultimate Test!

    If you silently discontinued AT and Cars:

    • Would your sales reps ever know? Not mine.
    • Would your managers ever know? Not mine.
    • Would your Dealer Principal ever know? Yes.
    vAuto shows us that AT and Cars can sell iron. But, does it work if your NOT a committed velocity dealer?
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  4. ddavis

    ddavis Well-Known Member

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    Joe, what is working for the people that are not velocity minded dealers? Who is crushing it without that mindset?

    If you silently discontinued AT and Cars:
    • Would your sales reps ever know? Not mine.
    • Would your managers ever know? Not mine.
    • Would your Dealer Principal ever know? Yes Those reps and managers are like a nest full of baby birds with their beaks in the air ...feed me ..feed me ...feed me!
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  5. yagoparamo

    yagoparamo Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't that also depend on each market? I'm sure that vAuto hasn't penetrated yet every area. Same goes for how Cars, Autotrader, KBB, etc will work. That goes even more for Cars.com where they have different network affiliations on each market therefore different advertisement budgets going to promote the site.

    But ddavis answers is as good as it gets: If ATC and Cars didn't cut it... KBB will not do better than them. ROI may be better if they charge little and provide good leads, but volume of leads will not be there.

    I checked Craigslist for your area auburn cars & trucks - by dealer classifieds - craigslist and it will not work either (very little traffic). I don't know if there is a big metro are close to you that you may try instead.

    But reversing things, Joe's note is very important to understand nowadays: Almost nothing digital pencils if you just try to analize ROI based on $$$ Vs. calls or even what you track.
  6. lightnup

    lightnup New Member

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    Looked up Fox dealerships 100 mile radius of Auburn, NY. on AutoTrader.com. Don't know if these are your stores or not. 102 of 279 Fox used cars (36%) have no sellers comments, no inducement for shoppers to consider YOUR car vs. those with compelling pertinent comments. All are in Featured listings when it appears that you have many, many aggressive neighboring dealers with inventory in Premium listings who get seen first. All the New cars are down in the freebie Standard section with little branding. This is like putting your V6 Mustang up against a GT or Boss and wondering why you're not winning any races.

    One more thing: Are you asking EVERY walk-in whether they have looked online (you know they have) and, if so, on what site(s)? If 70% - 80% of Internet shoppers walk in without calling or emailing first, just counting trackables is only measuring 20% - 30% of a site's effectiveness, whether it's your site, ATC, cars.com or any other site. You are probably getting lot more showroom activity from cars.com and ATC than you think.
  7. ryanabbott

    ryanabbott New Member

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    This, to me is the key. With the $100K combined that we pay them, I need to decide if this money would be best used elsewhere... For some reason I don't think our sales would dip at all if we dropped them. I'm just scared to make the wrong decision.
  8. ryanabbott

    ryanabbott New Member

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    This is the most accurate answer that I could have received. In regards to the comments, we just hired an outside source to write them for us and they are in process. I do agree with you that walk in traffic does find us via AT. But, are those same people finding us elsewhere as well? With Autotrader I have come to see that you get out of it what you put in. We are buried to the bottom of the listings b/c we only pay $1,075 or so a month. We aren't a partner or Alpha or whatever plan they sell because it would cost us like 5K a store a month. I know that you have to spend money to make money but that's a pretty penny. My decision this year is to go all in or pull out. With what we are paying them now I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze.
  9. tonybell

    tonybell New Member

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    I gave AutoTrader the boot 60 days ago, same thing, they claimed that 80% of the "internet business" they sent in was floor traffic. I only see a couple of cars.com leads and they are hit or miss at best. I've seen no decrease in internet traffic, and had one of our best months, (Nov.) 107 units at $1700 per copy. As far as making the wrong decision I'm sticking my 40k per year in SEO, PPC, and mobile sites.
    As far as putting in comments on every car, and doing this and that like AT wants you to do, I have many other things to do, so...do you hire someone to ensure that every car has the preferred 34 pictures, and comments? Add that to the $3057.00 per month they charge and do you really believe that 80% of AT web users turn off the computer and drive right to the store? I've been doing this for 15 years and as stated above customers and salespeople will tell you if the customer seen the car on AT.
  10. ryanabbott

    ryanabbott New Member

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    This is where I think I'm headed. It would be nice to have unlimited funds and spend it on unlimited vendors but that's just not the case. I have to pick and choose the smartest places to work with.
  11. jscole86

    jscole86 Member

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    There is also another angle that needs to be considered. Most customers that do research online have multiple sources they utilize. Some studies say up to 18 sources-- anywhere from your dealer sites, to OEM sites, to ATC/Cars.com, to blogs, review sites, etc.

    When you look at where to focus your digital marketing online, remember to keep in mind how your customers are searching and discovering you... and that doesn't just include the last referring site. I just read a good article that Brian Pasch wrote and it dives in a little deeper and talks about Assisted Conversions and specifically how ATC may be the introduction of your dealership, but not the final referring source.
    1 person likes this.
  12. ddavis

    ddavis Well-Known Member

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    I have watched competitors switch to this strategy against my old store. They are spending a fortune on PPC and getting their butts kicked.

    Using display advertising takes a lot of work and you have to know what you are doing. That said, cancelling them might be your best option.
  13. GHouseman

    GHouseman New Member

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    I have found the only way any 3rd party websites work is if 1) you use Vauto to be sure you are priced competitave and 2) Your managers know how to use Vauto. Most of the time it's #2 that is the weekness. The all SEO game also plays a large part.
  14. mciweb

    mciweb New Member

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    It seems like AT & Cars.com have skyrocketed their prices, particularly since newspaper advertising has plummeted. Could be a case of diminishing returns. Still, when consumers are looking for a used vehicle, they go to the site(s) where they can comparison shop for the best car at the best price. In my area, that means Autotrader.com or Cars.com.

    Here are some fundamental reasons why a dealership's advertising efforts may be failing: Lack of immediate response to prospects phone calls or emails; Lack of a competitive price; Bad or missing photographs. Buyers are impatient. If they don't get an immediate response from you, they will start calling or emailing your competition. All else being equal, shoppers will give preference to vehicles with good pics - bad or missing pics indicate in the mind of the shopper that you're trying to hide the condition of the vehicle. If you don't have a price, they will either be irritated that the price is excluded, or they will assume the price is too high.

    Regarding KBB, they're still thought of as a automotive pricing site, not a shopping site.

    New cars are another matter - I don't think customers in general shop for new vehicles on AT or Cars.com.
  15. flosho

    flosho Member

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    Why is it so impossible to price the vehicles correctly that you have to rely on vAuto? If you do a fantastic job with the pictures and description and get your customers emotionally interested in their next vehicle purchase the price has less affect. Of course you cannot be way over priced or you will not get the opportunity to set the hook, but how many customers buy the cheapest car on the market?
  16. JoePistell

    JoePistell Super Moderator

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    Flosho,

    Ever goto a travel site and NOT sort by price?

    Low price creates visibility, then your merchandising work sets the hook.

    That's the bedrock of the vAuto game plan.
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  17. ddavis

    ddavis Well-Known Member

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    The majority of dealership internet departments are run by lazy people that don't know what they are doing. It is like most sales departments where 20% of the salespeople sell 80% of the cars. The statistics bear me out. Response times haven't improved. People still send in leads and never get a response or they ask specific questions that are never addressed.

    If you have a good Used Car Director, he is the only one, in the store, that works as hard as a good Internet Director. These jobs will fill your day. To be good, you have to know what you are doing and be willing to put in the effort. New Car Managers? Find a monkey and put a note in it's mouth.

    At my last store, we sold more new cars, over the internet. We were an Alpha/Premium dealer on AutoTrader and we had months where we led the entire market in new car VDPs. Not being Toyota, Honda, Ford or Chevrolet, this should never happen. I keep hearing that display advertising doesn't work for new cars. Keep thinking that.
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  18. Jerry Thibeau

    Jerry Thibeau New Member

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    Ryan,

    I already think you're shooting yourself in the foot, leg, chest and head. Since you're on the TrueCar program, you should cancel all other third party leads and let Mr. Painter supply you with leads. Once they displace Cars.com on Yahoo, which will happen in a few days, you're leads should skyrocket. Since you're dealership will become less profitable, I would probably start looking to cut expenses while you're at it. Your eMarketing director position would be the first job I would look to eliminate. Why pay you and TrueCar to generate the same leads.

    Sure your percentage of sales on TrueCar are probably small now, but give that some time. Like a Chia pet, give it nourishment and watch it grow. You think 50K a year is a lot, well wait until you're dealer is writing TrueCar a monthly check for 50K. That day is right around the corner.

    Using TrueCar is for the weak and lazy. Sorry for the bluntness, but I am not one to remain silent when I see a problem. Real eMkareting Directors find a way to generate their own leads. You have a legend working right around the corner from you. I am not saying there isn't a place for AutoTrader and Cars.com because I believe there is. Brian Pasch wrote a great article about this recently and it's a good read. AutoTrade and Cars.com offer a lot more value to dealers than TrueCar. IMHO, you're axing the wrong players.

    You're fueling a company that is going to drastically alter the automotive industry. TrueCar is like a drug dealer just starting out. They plan to expand their empire at your expense. They will leave a path of destruction as they grow.

    I would love to have a conference call with your owners and shed some light on all this.

    Get off the drug!
    Fox.jpg
    1 person likes this.
  19. ddavis

    ddavis Well-Known Member

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    Jerry, It's a side effect of estrogen.
  20. ryanabbott

    ryanabbott New Member

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    Thank you for your "expertise" on the subject Jerry. While I'm sure that you know everything about our Dealership and how you think it's a sinking ship b/c of our affiliation with TruCar, i'm afraid that's just not accurate. We have a great team of ownership here at Fox and we will know when the time is right to pull the plug. We started on TruCar before all this went down and we haven't jumped ship yet. We have a very strong F&I department and we gross very well on every TruCar deal. It's not always about front end money it's about total profit. If this discontinues then we we look to get off. Until then I see no reason to. I have no problem paying TruCar 50K a month if it brings us $332K a month in return.

    I guess I am not a "Real" eMarketing Director because we use TruCar. Lucky you don't pay my paycheck so I don't have to worry about what you think. I learn everyday at this job and I will continue to grow. Our dealerships do just fine, even with a "legend" just around the corner.

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