Protect Your Dealership Data

Do you know who has access to your data? And, what they’re doing with it?

Needless to say, these are the questions on the minds of a lot of people lately. If you’re a dealer principal or a manager, it should be on your mind, as well – in terms of dealership data.

When it comes to valuable customer information and data, you need to take real steps to protect it. And, your dealer management system (DMS) is an often-overlooked asset in your quest to protect your data and profits.

Advertising: New Times, New Media, New Rules

Advertising the sale or financing of motor vehicles has become increasingly complicated with an aggressive Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the need to reach consumers (especially Millennials) through social media, which was never thought of when advertising laws and regulations were written.  It certainly makes a dealer’s life more complex.

The FTC has launched a new automotive program since the Dodd-Frank Act gave it streamlined authority to write regulations.  It has also become much more active in pursuing dealers for deceptive advertising under Section 5 of the FTC Act.  (Since 2012, the FTC has brought 16 cases against auto dealers for deceptive advertising.)  The FTC’s Head of its Bureau of Consumer Affairs said the FTC believes that deceptive dealer advertising is a “significant problem,” many automotive dealer investigations are “in the pipeline,” and that this is a “priority area” for the FTC.

Aftermarket Selling – The New Focus of the CFPB

The automotive retail market has been under the federal microscope for some time now….with no end in sight.

Federal agencies are focusing in on a range of issues within the automotive retail market.  Everything from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issuing guidance on credit discrimination in the indirect automotive financing market to the Federal Trade Commission’s Operation Steer Clear initiative against deceptive automotive financing advertising seems directed at automotive dealers in one form or another.

And now, the CFPB appears to be expanding its scrutiny of automotive dealers and lenders to the sale of aftermarket products.  It’s no secret that the CFPB does not think aftermarket products provide value to consumers.  It is also questionable which aftermarket products the CFPB can assert jurisdiction over although it is apparent that they believe any financed aftermarket product is fair game.

Capture More Sales from Your Website This Summer

The automotive industry is on pace for record sales this year with new vehicle sales predicted to reach more than 16 million, and this spring, visits to dealership websites are also up dramatically from last year.   

With this swift uptick of automotive shoppers visiting more dealership websites, we are seeing more and more dealers making investments in uniting and streamlining their online to in-store sales workflow. For many dealers across the country, Digital Retailing website tools are proving to be the answer for transforming their online/in-store sales process, improving customer engagement and overall CSI performance, and increasing lead-to-sales conversions.

Implementing dealer-controlled Digital Retailing tools on your website today can help position your dealership well for this summer selling season, and give you a clear competitive advantage in moving past basic website lead generation and onto real-time deal generation.

3 Step Plan for DMS Conversion

As a dealer, I am sure that you’ll agree: a dealer management system (DMS) conversion can be an intimidating and difficult process.

However, the potential to cut monthly costs, boost efficiency and streamline workflow for your dealership can far outweigh any upfront inconveniences resulting from a DMS conversion.

In an article titled “How to Find the Right DMS” in the May issue of Auto Dealer Monthly, I explore the three critical elements you need to look at when selecting your next DMS.

Putting a Priority on Customer Service – Dealer Spotlight

When it comes to customers, Florida-based dealer Earl Stewart is the epitome of customer service.

Earl began his career in 1968 selling cars at his father’s Pontiac dealership. Today, he owns the highly successful Earl Stewart Toyota in the small town of Lake Park, Fla., just north of West Palm Beach. His accolades run a mile deep: member of the Toyota President’s Cabinet four times (an honor awarded to only 12 dealerships a year), 12-time winner of Toyota’s President’s Award, member of Toyota’s Board of Governors for four consecutive years, and largest volume car dealer in his market.

Earl talks with Dealertrack about his key to success. In short? He’s really, really nice to his customers. 

Still Not Satisfied with Your Website Lead-to-Sales Conversion Rates? – Dealer Video

As dealers continue to invest more of their marketing dollars in digital, why are so many dealers still not satisfied with their website lead-to-sale conversion rates?

It’s simple; Digital Marketing is only half of a successful online marketing strategy.

Watch as top automotive dealers discuss the overall health of their dealership’s websites since adopting a Digital Retailing strategy and how a dealer-controlled online sales process helps them drive more website visitors further into their sales and F&I process.

Watch Now

Are You Leveraging Your DMS Data for Profits?

Your dealer management system (DMS) is the backbone of your dealership.

However, are you leveraging the data running through and stored on your DMS to drive maximum profits?

In the March issue of Auto Dealer Monthly, I discuss how you can use your DMS’s built-in reporting capabilities to efficiently manage inventory, sales, service and parts. Two key areas where the use of your DMS data and reporting can be invaluable to your dealership are: 

  • Inventory – Inventory reporting from your DMS allows you to monitor the costs associated with reconditioning vehicles, carrying aged inventory and wholesaling vehicles
  • Service and Parts – You can use your DMS data to analyze service technician efficiency and productivity reports to effectively manage your service business for profits.

In my article, I show how several dealerships, including the Gunn Automotive Group, the Heller Automotive Group and the Todd Wenzel Automotive Group, are using their DMS data to improve their businesses. Mining the data in your DMS can help your sales team better prospect for potential buyers and source in-demand used vehicles, and improve your service team’s ability to target customers with service and maintenance reminders and offerings relevant to the individual and their vehicles.  In addition, this mining can help improve overall customer communications, which can pay off for your dealership for years to come.


An Industry First: Online Rate Justification Forms for Dealers

Last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued guidance on credit discrimination in the indirect automotive finance market, putting dealerships and lenders on notice about potential audits and punishments. In response, Dealertrack recommended that dealers adopt and implement an Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) Fair Lending Policy, including complete documentation of any deviation from a dealer’s buy rate markup policy.

To help dealership develop a fair lending policy and better defend themselves in credit discrimination audits, Dealertrack made an Exception Rate Justification Form available to its Compliance solution subscribers last year. Today, for the first time, this form is available online to its subscribers.