New Year, New Challenges and New Results

I have always found the transition from December to January to be interesting; two very different months offering unique contrasts for the retail automotive marketplace.

December offers a chance to make our final push to the goal, time to plan and strategize for the coming year, and time to reflect on the year that is ending.

January, on the other hand, is full of promise being a new year, and the first chance to set the pace. They are kind of definitive in their nature, one an ending and one a beginning.

Football is built around these two months with teams bringing themselves to a fighting climax in December; while in January, the survivors hit the ground running as it offers hope for the Super Bowl of achievement.

Recently, I attended the Digital Dealer conference and shortly after, AuSM’s Used Car Week —two unique conferences offering different perspectives on ways to improve our retail and wholesale sales, offering tools and information to help dealers achieve better results.

Like December and January, they are very different conferences.

Digital Dealer focuses on all things digital, like CRM, digital marketing, online tools, auto auctions and much more. Meanwhile, Used Car Week, as you probably know, focuses on certified pre-owned current trends and best practices, remarketing information, trends, strategies and more.

Both are fantastic conferences to attend and a must-attend on my list each year.

One auction segment that was noticeable at Digital Dealer was dealer-to-dealer auctions and trading networks.

Auctions like Auto Flipr, DealersLink and Dealers Forum, have in the past been localized and fairly small in vehicle offerings; that is quickly changing.

At Digital Dealer, I had a chance to look closer at Dealer Match and their recent entry into this auction segment.

Dealer Match offers a large searchable selection of vehicles and a 100-percent no-questions-asked buyback guarantee. And like other dealer-to-dealer auction sites, they offer a lower cost of purchase by offering a monthly subscription fee instead of the higher cost of a per-unit buy fee normally associated with traditional auctions.

The Dealer Match inventory is certainly an auction to look into in 2013. Another major player in this market is DealersLink, which offers a rapidly expanding inventory and a wide array of tools, including inventory management and search reports. It is a nicely designed site that is easy to navigate.

Another up and coming auction to check out is Dealers Forum. Their recent expansion into Arizona and soon Texas offers a good inventory mix. Dealers Forum offers a credible dealer rating system, and fast direct access for buyers and sellers to communicate via text though the website.

These Dealer to Dealer auction sites, and others in the marketplace, are definitely viable sources to consider adding as part of your auction channel selection for the new year.

Other useful planning and strategy information came from Used Car Week. A hot topic was the continued increase in sales of certified pre-owned vehicle sales — or “Certain Profit Opportunity” vehicles as I think of them — with new program enhancements and marketing from companies like Ford, Honda, General Motors, Volkswagen and others.

Rick Wainschel from offered valuable new survey and analytic information for any dealer, general manager or general sales manager looking to improve their CPO sales.

The information he and others provided would be crucial in planning and communicating to sales and management teams the current desire of customers wants and needs in CPO.

For example, New-vehicle customers are 62 percent more likely to purchase a CPO vehicle. Do your salespeople know it and show it?

New-vehicle customers and previous CPO customers are 67 percent to 69 percent more likely to pay a premium price when purchasing a CPO vehicle. Does your sales strategy incorporate this information?

I look forward to downloading more of what I saw and learned at Digital Dealer and Used Car Week over the next few columns.

While I don't know who will win Super Bowl XLVII, I do know every team will be executing the plans they have prepared and doing the best to achieve the critical results needed to win.

If those teams were automobile dealers like us, they would be seriously evaluating ways to find additional sources of high-turn inventory; inventory that has been already reconditioned like vehicles you would find on dealer-to-dealer auctions.

Like the great warriors of the gridiron, every strategy and tool must be considered when it comes to our new year of the automobile business. As for the Super Bowl, I am betting Atlanta! Till next month, see you in the lens of the lanes.

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