Welcome to DealerRefresh Forums!

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking thelink above. You may have to Register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Should We Drop AutoTrader?

Discussion in '3rd Party Leads and Automotive Classifieds Website' started by Jason L. Laughlin, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Jason L. Laughlin

    Jason L. Laughlin Noob

    First Name:
    Jason
    Company:
    Langs Chevrolet
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Posts
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey everybody, we're considering dropping AutoTrader from our list of vendors. We've been a long time AutoTrader customer, but we have not seen the performance we'd like to for the type of money we're spending with them.

    Our Used Cars Manager strongly supports keeping them, but we're not all of the same opinion. His salespeople have done a terrible job of marking advertising sources, so according to our CRM, we're only selling about 5 vehicles a month off of it.

    Has anyone else dropped AutoTrader recently? If so, how has that affected your used car sales?
  2. ddavis

    ddavis Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Doug
    Company:
    Retired
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Posts
    1,464
    Likes Received:
    465
    Location:
    Arlington, Texas
    Jason, I have seen more people returning to AutoTrader, lately. There were some similar threads, to this one, about a year ago.

    I'm going to be on the side of your Used Car Manager. I've always done well with AutoTrader. I have had issues with salespeople properly sourcing their customers, also. I made a point of trying to meet people at delivery and did that myself. I found that much of my website traffic was coming from the display sites: AutoTrader and Cars.com.

    Dataium (Big Data) did a study on Cars.com (should apply equally to AutoTrader) that is a good read: click here.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. yagoparamo

    yagoparamo Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Yago
    Company:
    PGIAUTO.COM
    Twitter:
    yagoparamo
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,601
    Likes Received:
    366
    Location:
    Seattle
    Jason,

    Try lowering the package before you totally cancel. Sometimes things need little fine tuning, find your ROI, not just cut a possible good revenue source.
  4. Jason L. Laughlin

    Jason L. Laughlin Noob

    First Name:
    Jason
    Company:
    Langs Chevrolet
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Posts
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Doug, thanks for that information. I will check into those older posts on this matter. Personally, I understand the value of the third party marketplaces, but it's hard to sell my GM on the fact they're working when none of our numbers reflect that.

    We were thinking about having a "How Did You Hear About Us?" card for our customers to fill out. What do you think about that idea?
  5. jakewirth

    jakewirth Noob

    First Name:
    Jake
    Company:
    DealerCRM | iMagicLab
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Posts
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jason,

    Earlier this year Chip Perry from AutoTrader mentioned 60% of folks walk in without submitting a lead after finding a vehicle on AutoTrader. I remember countless customers showing up with print-outs of the vehicles they saw on AutoTrader who had not submitted an lead through the site.

    You may want to try a month where all of the salespeople buy-in to asking each customer how they heard about the vehicle or dealership. Let them know you will be canceling AutoTrader if enough traffic is being generated and hopefully this will motivate them to take the process seriously. Also try having the desk managers ask the salesperson for the advertising source that brought the customer in prior to giving out payment figures.

    How much are you spending per month and what is your average total net gross (after subtracting the AutoTrader cost)?

    Best of luck,

    Jake Wirth
  6. Robby Wilson

    Robby Wilson Noob

    First Name:
    Robby
    Company:
    AutoFerret
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Posts
    6
    Likes Received:
    1
    I am in agreement with ddavis on this one based upon that data I have been exposed to. When I look at the LSPR from our clients, the overwhelming majority do quite well with AutoTrader (and Cars.com).

    The problem could be the manner in which those leads are worked, and perhaps not the fault of the lead provider. I am not saying that it is a bad idea at all to trim some fat from your marketing budget, but you might want to weigh all possible factors before coming to a decision.
  7. Stefan

    Stefan Refresher

    First Name:
    Stefan
    Company:
    USA
    Twitter:
    stefanprecup
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Posts
    176
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Reno NV
    Personally, I think this decision should be made based of the size and type of market you are in and not on how many leads we get every month.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. MikeHaeg

    MikeHaeg Getting Refreshed

    First Name:
    Mike
    Company:
    Century Interactive
    Twitter:
    centinteractive
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Posts
    52
    Likes Received:
    10
    Hey Jason,

    Personally, I'd start with trying to quickly clean up the lead sourcing. To me, your post reads "My guys don't accurately mark leads so we're not sure how well AutoTrader performs so we might as well cut."

    With that said, I would take into account Yago's mindset as well. If you're definitely going to do something, cut back and get really good at fine tuning / execution / reporting. Then reevaluate.
  9. jscole86

    jscole86 Getting Refreshed

    First Name:
    Josh
    Company:
    Huebner Chevrolet Subaru
    Twitter:
    jscole86
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2011
    Posts
    79
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    I agree with Mike... Make sure your guys and gals are sourcing phone calls correctly too.. Autotrader provides call tracking/recording that you can access from the reporting section... Hop in there and check to make sure they are being handled well and being entered into your CRM... Phone calls and email leads and chat leads are the only 100% guaranteed trackable channels.

    Also, before you cancel, a couple things I just found out recently... You can Co-Op portions of your autotrader and cars.com invoices (which you may already know)... They both have co-op specialists working in support that can help get you on the right path with what you need to do... Might help you recoup some of the expenses to justify keeping it. Hope that helps... I do understand your frustrations with their costs though!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner Founder Staff Member

    First Name:
    Jeff
    Company:
    DealerRefresh
    Twitter:
    dealerrefresh
    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Posts
    2,368
    Likes Received:
    478
    Location:
    Maryland
    Loaded question(s).

    Jason,

    When you say "we have not seen the performance we'd like to for the type of money we're spending with them"

    Can you elaborate?
    How are truly tracking and measuring the performance?

    Does your ATC rep review your market reports with you each month?
    • Like Like x 3
  11. Jason L. Laughlin

    Jason L. Laughlin Noob

    First Name:
    Jason
    Company:
    Langs Chevrolet
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Posts
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the input everybody! Any help is much appreciated.

    Jscole86, we are co-oping our AutoTrader and Cars.com accounts already, which made it a lot more affordable. I match the phone numbers in AutoTrader's back end tool to our CRM and typically see most of customers are not even entered into ProMax. I feel as though if the salespeople thought it was a half-way decent phone call, then they would at least put the customer into there so they don't get skated when the customer comes in.

    Jeff, based on the information in ProMax, on average we only sell 2-5 cars a month, on average, off of AutoTrader. That's not just e-mail leads, chats, and phone calls I get, but any where AutoTrader is marked as the advertising source. What do you feel is the most accurate way to measure the effectiveness of a lead source (besides sales, of course)? Also, I get an e-mail once a month with our figures from our rep, but I would only see him once every few months. That was a major gripe I had with them.
  12. dsayer76

    dsayer76 Noob

    First Name:
    Dan
    Company:
    Anderson Auto Group, LLC
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Posts
    14
    Likes Received:
    2
    Request that they do a Market Sourcing study for your store. It is free and I had them conduct one for each of our markets last year. They basically contact 90 days of your sold customers and survey them. It's conducted by a third party and we found it to be extremely eye opening in what our customers used for shopping and research. Broke out all media used and justified our AutoTrader spend. I will add that you need to make sure you are not paying more than $1 per VDP. Are you tracking that?
  13. ddavis

    ddavis Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Doug
    Company:
    Retired
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Posts
    1,464
    Likes Received:
    465
    Location:
    Arlington, Texas
    Jason, There are a lot of different opinions, on this, but if it were me: I noticed that you are a premium new car dealership on AutoTrader. Looking at your listings, you are not competitive with Voss and White Allen. If you are not going to be competitive, I would go to standard listings. That would reduce the bill but AutoTrader works for new, just like used.

    If you are going to push your new vehicles, this is not a description: Power Door Locks,Power Windows,Satellite Radio,MP3 Player,OnStar Communication System,Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS),Traction Control System,Air Conditioning,Cruise Control,Rear Window Defroster.....
    That is a VIN explosion that lists the same information as what is bulleted right above.

    As a premium dealer, you have your new car specials at no charge. If you don't know how to do the dynamic ads, get your rep to show you. It is time consuming but they worked for me.

    Are your phone calls sourced to AutoTrader? Are you able to monitor them?

    On your website, I was looking at your new car specials. You list a price but no MSRP. The customer can't tell if this is a good deal. I would have some lease payments, also. One says "Purchase Bonus Cash" but it doesn't say how much: click here.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. yagoparamo

    yagoparamo Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Yago
    Company:
    PGIAUTO.COM
    Twitter:
    yagoparamo
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,601
    Likes Received:
    366
    Location:
    Seattle
    Jason,

    I'm always very curious about numbers so I compile a lot of stuff and try to make sense of it so I'll share some data that may help you on this 3rd party site stuff.

    The data that we measured is from Craigslist but for the purpose of my analysis I think it works for any website generating leads.

    Recently we were able to track ad opens in CL (someone clicks open the ad) then click on the ad (so customer goes to website).

    V- views (an ad was clicked on and fully opened) C- Customer clicked on the ad and went to dealer's website L- lead (phone call or email. Only from the ad, we lose tracking once customer is on website or chats).

    [FONT=&quot]1. Dodge dealer large metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-76,358 C-5,349 L-240[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 14 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 22 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]2. Honda dealer large metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-70,719 C-3,172 L-119[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 22 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 27 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]3. Cadillac dealer outside metro[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-38,808 C-2,262 L-84[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 17 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 27 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]4. Independent outside metro[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-13,396 C-428 L-100[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 31 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 4 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]5. Independent in metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-73,472 C-2,786 L-117[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 26 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 24 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]6. Independent in metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-30,495 C-1,726 L-73[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 18 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 24 Views are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]7. Independent outside metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-8,822 C-521 L-47[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 17 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 11 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]8. Audi dealer outside metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-31,923 C-2,492 L-71[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 12 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 35 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]9. Toyota dealer in large metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-36,470 C-2,817 L-95[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 13 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 30 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]10. Independet dealer in metro area[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]V-17,312 C-1,328 L-132[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 13 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 10 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]OVERALL AVERAGE[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]V-397,775 C-22,881 L-1,078[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 17 Views are needed to generate 1 Click[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]on Avg, 21 Clicks are needed to generate 1 Lead[/FONT]


    Autotrader, Cars.com, etc numbers are probably very similar to these numbers. So take dealer #7 for example. If their closing ratio is 8% they may say that this website sucks because they sold 2-3 cars last month from it out of the leads they were able to measure. What about the almost 10,000 people that saw their ad, name, URL, etc that drove to the dealer or Google them a day later?

    I'm not inferring that Autotrader works or doesn't based on my numbers but that what we can measure is a small piece of what online advertising provides.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Jerry Thibeau

    Jerry Thibeau Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Jerry
    Company:
    Phone Ninjas
    Twitter:
    thephoneninja
    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Posts
    1,090
    Likes Received:
    315
    I've posted this before but here it is again.

    Here's what we are seeing or should I say hearing when salespeople take sales calls. We teach to ask for the lead source. As you can see, AutoTrader is number two on the list. Cars.com gets beat by Craigslist.

    2012-12-13_1759.jpg
  16. ddavis

    ddavis Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Doug
    Company:
    Retired
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Posts
    1,464
    Likes Received:
    465
    Location:
    Arlington, Texas
    Yago, can any of those Craigslist customers actually buy a car? :)

    Jerry, that graph is pretty much the same experience I had interviewing customers. Big Data is proving that a good percentage of your website traffic has already been to AutoTrader and Cars.
    One of my rep friends at AutoTrader told me that they are also doing Big Data Analysis.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  17. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner Founder Staff Member

    First Name:
    Jeff
    Company:
    DealerRefresh
    Twitter:
    dealerrefresh
    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Posts
    2,368
    Likes Received:
    478
    Location:
    Maryland
    Thanks for sharing that shirt again Jerry good stuff and Yago thanks for sharing your information and data around your craigslist performance.

    I believe this question gets asked here in the dealerrefresh forums once every 3 to 6 months.

    Lets all agree that before any dealership decides that they're going to cancel autotrader (or any listing service) they need to first be sure they're performing all the best merchandising practices.

    1. Do we have great multiple value building photos?
    2. Do we have descriptive value building comments for each car?
    3. Are we priced to market? (You're ATC rep can provide these reports as they are also available in your admin UI)
    4. Are we stocking the right inventory (inventory demand index)
    5. Are we taking full advantage of every feature provided in our ATC package?

    Basically, are you doing and are you able to do your part in what it takes to get the eyeballs on your inventory?

    If you can't answer 100% to each of these questions - then you have bigger questions to ask than whether not not you should be dropping AutoTrader.

    Jason, what's your answer to the above questions?
    • Like Like x 4
  18. yagoparamo

    yagoparamo Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Yago
    Company:
    PGIAUTO.COM
    Twitter:
    yagoparamo
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,601
    Likes Received:
    366
    Location:
    Seattle
    Well... I sold my 2006 Dodge Viper via Craigslist to an off market customer. Go figure.

    My point was geared towards the large amount of views (full click and open an ad) to get a click/call/email. We have dealers that get 100 leads and 70,000 views (look at #2). That is a large number of people seeing your name. Perhaps if you are a large TV dealer in the area once they know you have the car they just go to your website? I don't know but I know there is more than 100 leads with over 70,000 views. We recently started tracking unique's, that may give me better data in the future.
  19. dilliams

    dilliams Noob

    First Name:
    Dan
    Company:
    Emerling Chevrolet
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2012
    Posts
    5
    Likes Received:
    2
    We also dropped 'Trader a while back. My dealer was bent on making cuts to my online budget and I was forced to choose between cars.com and Autotrader. I went with cars because I find their site to be more useful and attractive to shoppers and found that I get a small but measureable result from them. BUT, had my arm not been twisted I would not have dropped 'Trader. I am a firm believer that, regardless of how hard you try to put each ad source in CRM, many customers still do not mention it. Plus, Autotrader still (unfortunately) offers huge name recognition to draw customers to your inventory Do you use an advertising questionnaire or have a basic set of interview questions to be sure each customer is at least asked?
    Also, those working the leads tend eventually take the leads for granted. Perhaps if faced with losing the tool, your Used Car Manager and his staff will use the tool more effectively, work each lead thoroughly, and record more info in CRM...
    • Like Like x 1
  20. JoePistell

    JoePistell Super Moderator

    First Name:
    Joe
    Company:
    Dealer.com
    Twitter:
    JoePistell
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Posts
    2,882
    Likes Received:
    850
    Location:
    Vermont
    Connecting a sale to a SINGLE ad source is madness.

    Google ThinkAuto 2011:
    -50% of all auto shoppers were in market 3 months or longer.
    -Typical Auto shopper visited 23 auto web sites prior to purchase.

    Take yourself off of AT or cars.com or CL and you'll sell less cars.
    • Like Like x 4

Share This Page