Welcome to the DealerRefresh Dealer Forums!

Join Us- the first original online community for dealers and like minded professionals in the automotive industry. Exchange ideas, best practices, converse with some of the brightest individuals in the business. After or before you register, please take a moment read the Rules and Directions

  1. Stop being a LURKER - join our dealer community and get involved. Sign up and start a conversation.

Autotrader, Cars.com or KBB?

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

  1. ryanabbott

    ryanabbott Refresher

    First Name:
    Ryan
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Fox Dealerships of CNY
    Twitter Handle:
    foxdealerships
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Posts
    102
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Auburn, New York
    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 Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Doug
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Retired
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Posts
    1,469
    Likes Received:
    466
    Location:
    Arlington, Texas
    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.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. JoePistell

    JoePistell Uncle Joe

    First Name:
    Joe
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Dealer.com
    Twitter Handle:
    JoePistell
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Posts
    3,067
    Likes Received:
    918
    Location:
    Vermont
    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?
    • Like Like x 2
  4. ddavis

    ddavis Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Doug
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Retired
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Posts
    1,469
    Likes Received:
    466
    Location:
    Arlington, Texas
    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 Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Yago
    Dealer or Company Name:
    PGIAUTO.COM
    Twitter Handle:
    yagoparamo
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,680
    Likes Received:
    385
    Location:
    Seattle
    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 Noob

    First Name:
    Stanley
    Dealer or Company Name:
    .
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2009
    Posts
    15
    Likes Received:
    7
    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 Refresher

    First Name:
    Ryan
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Fox Dealerships of CNY
    Twitter Handle:
    foxdealerships
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Posts
    102
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Auburn, New York
    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 Refresher

    First Name:
    Ryan
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Fox Dealerships of CNY
    Twitter Handle:
    foxdealerships
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Posts
    102
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Auburn, New York
    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 Noob

    First Name:
    Tony
    Dealer or Company Name:
    O'Brien Auto Park
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    Posts
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    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 Refresher

    First Name:
    Ryan
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Fox Dealerships of CNY
    Twitter Handle:
    foxdealerships
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2011
    Posts
    102
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Auburn, New York
    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 Getting Refreshed

    First Name:
    Josh
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Huebner Chevrolet Subaru
    Twitter Handle:
    jscole86
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2011
    Posts
    79
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    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.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. ddavis

    ddavis Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Doug
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Retired
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Posts
    1,469
    Likes Received:
    466
    Location:
    Arlington, Texas
    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 Noob

    First Name:
    Guy
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Duncan Ford Lincoln Mazda
    Twitter Handle:
    gitsguy
    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Posts
    6
    Likes Received:
    1
    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 Noob

    First Name:
    David
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Market Concepts, Inc.
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2011
    Posts
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    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 Refresher

    First Name:
    Jason
    Dealer or Company Name:
    CMC
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Posts
    125
    Likes Received:
    5
    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?

Share This Page