page contents Automotive Thought Leadership: Ralph Paglia: November 2012 My title page contents

Friday, November 30, 2012

Power Ford: Why I Love The Auto Industry - Darin Wade Becomes Newest Ford Dealer


I am on a plane headed back to Phoenix after working with Darin Wade, John Fachko, Joe Watts and many other automotive professionals at the new Power Ford of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Words cannot describe the excitement of seeing a good friend and respected colleague like Darin Wade actually go from being one of the best General Managers in the business to an honest to goodness DEALER PRINCIPAL!

However, after just 48 hours at his new dealership, interviewing employees non stop, I can sincerely say that Darin and his crew have a lot of work to do... Of course, if the former Bob Turner Ford Country dealership had been kept up to date in process and tools, Darin probably would not have had the opportunity to buy it. The store is as if you took a time machine to 1999 and plucked a new Ford dealership and transported the facility and people to 2012... It looks brand new because the facility was taken care of, but one example of the store's frozen in time status is that their limited internet access is of dial up bandwidth, unable to load images, video or animation. Sales people have no access to FMCdealer.com tools and apps because there are no PC's for them and the phone system is a 1980's style PBX with those quaint biz phones with lots of push buttons like you see in movies set in the 70s and 80's.

The three best thing I found while assessing Power Ford's situation from a BDC implementation perspective were:

1. PEOPLE - Power Ford has a surplus of friendly, eager to learn and committed to the team's success people on board. Rather than the usual anxiety I see in a store shortly after a new owner buys it, these auto pros are looking forward to new and vibrant leadership and they WANT the dealership to succeed!

2. CRM System - the dealership has a Reynolds ERA system and installed Contact Management from Reynolds and Reynolds. Everybody has an opinion, an mine is that there is no better combination of DMS and CRM system for a dealership to use as a foundation for Digital Marketing and Business Development success than ERA and Contact Management. After more 11 years of being deployed to over 3,000 dealers, CM has a robust set of automation, configurable schedules and work flow process triggers, combined the most robust DMS integration in the industry to be so far ahead of anything else in the market as to represent a competitive advantage IF CONFIGURED AND USED PROPERLY.

3. FACILITY and LOCATION - a huge corner property at Montano and Renaissance just off the I25 Interstate in the affluent and fast growing north west part of ABQ, the facility is the larger version of the Ford 2000 design motif with plenty of display space and many thousands of square feet for operations. The meeting room looks like a Stanford University lecture hall for 120 people. I may try to convince Darin to let ADM hold dealer training seminars in his learning center, it is that nice! we even found an ideal location for the new BDC.

AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com/profiles/blogs/why-i-love-auto-industry-darin-wade-becomes-ford-dealer

Visit Power Ford online at http://PowerFordNM.com.

[Sent from Ralph Paglia's iPhone]

http://RalphPaglia.com
http://LinkedIn.com/in/RPaglia
http://Twitter.com/RalphPaglia
http://Facebook.com/RPaglia
http://GPlusRalph.com
http://Slideshare.net/RalphPaglia

Power Ford: Why I Love The Auto Industry - Darin Wade Becomes Newest Ford Dealer

I am on a plane headed back to Phoenix after working with Darin Wade, John Fachko, Joe Watts and many other automotive professionals at the new Power Ford of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Words cannot describe the excitement of seeing a good friend and respected colleague like Darin Wade actually go from being one of the best General Managers in the business to an honest to goodness DEALER PRINCIPAL! 

However, after just 48 hours at his new dealership, interviewing employees non stop, I can sincerely say that Darin and his crew have a lot of work to do... Of course, if the former Bob Turner Ford Country dealership had been kept up to date in process and tools, Darin probably would not have had the opportunity to buy it. The store is as if you took a time machine to 1999 and plucked a new Ford dealership and transported the facility and people to 2012... It looks brand new because the facility was taken care of, but one example of the store's frozen in time status is that their limited internet access is of dial up bandwidth, unable to load images, video or animation. Sales peoe have no access to FMCdealer.com tools and apps because there are no PC's for them and the phone system is a 1980's style PBX with those quaint biz phones with lots of push buttons like you see in movies set in the 70s and 80's.

The three best thing I found while assessing Power Ford's situation from a BDC implementation perspective were:

1. PEOPLE - Power Ford has a surplus of friendly, eager to learn and committed to the team's success people on board. Rather than the usual anxiety I see in a store shortly after a new owner buys it, these auto pros are looking forward to new and vibrant leadership and they WANT the dealership to succeed!

2. CRM System - the dealership has a Reynolds ERA system and installed Contact Management from Reynolds and Reynolds. Everybody has an opinion, an mine is that there is no better combination of DMS and CRM system for a dealership to use as a foundation for Digital Marketing and Business Development success than ERA and Contact Management. After more 11 years of being deployed to over 3,000 dealers, CM has a robust set of automation, configurable schedules and work flow process triggers, combined the most robust DMS integration in the industry to be so far ahead of anything else in the market as to represent a competitive advantage IF CONFIGURED AND USED PROPERLY.

3. FACILITY and LOCATION - a huge corner property at Montano and Renaissance just off the I25 Interstate in the affluent and fast growing north west part of ABQ, the facility is the larger version of the Ford 2000 design motif with plenty of display space and many thousands of square feet for operations. The meeting room looks like a Stanford University lecture hall for 120 people. I may try to convince Darin to let ADM hold dealer training seminars in his learning center, it is that nice! we even found an ideal location for the new BDC.

http://www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com/profiles/blogs/why-i-love-auto-industry-darin-wade-becomes-ford-dealer 

Visit Power Ford online at http://PowerFordNM.com

A Promise Made Should Always Be Kept - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

A Promise Made Should Always Be Kept - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

A Promise Made Should Always Be Kept

A Promise Made Should Always Be Kept

My office here at home faces the street and across the road I see two men building a home that is every bit 5000 square feet. Everyday no matter what the weather may be, the men brave the cold and the rain to accomplish the task of building the home. Yesterday I walked over to speak to the men to ask them why they braved the elements day in and day out to finish the home. They both just laughed and said that they had made a promise to the owners that they would be in the home by Christmas and once they give their word and make a promise there was nothing not the cold, not the rain, nor the snow that could keep them from breaking it.

I thought to myself, “What a powerful message these men have to teach us all.” The power of a promise kept is not only thought provoking but simply powerful in itself. What an unbelievably simple yet powerful message that these two men can teach us all when it comes down to running our business. No matter what business we run, a small mom and pop store or a multi-million dollar dealer group, couldn’t we all learn or build upon the powerful message of a promise kept?

If you own a dealership or manage a dealership have you ever sat back and simply observed to see if the promises that you are making to your customers are being kept? If you are not keeping your promises, maybe its time to figure out why, because promises matter to your customers. If your dealership or business does not deliver on the promise that you made, your business will not matter to them anymore. This reigns true no matter what your business may be and more importantly, with our social media crazed life that we now lead, lashing out online about the broken promises that your business made will have instant ramifications to the credibility of your dealership or business.
 
There is no time like the present to take the necessary steps to make sure that your business is keeping their promises, because if you do not the consequences can be so severe that no reputation management company can help with. So if there is one lesson I have learned this week its how powerful your promise can be to your customer and how keeping your promises can help with every facet of your business.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dealership Vendors "Free Live Chat Software" For Your Website - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Dealership Vendors "Free Live Chat Software" For Your Website - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Fellow Dealership Vendors - Would you like the best Live Chat Software for your own website for free? No Problem, just contact me, and I will get you started.

There is no obligation at all to do business with us, just wanting you to see and use what we have created.

This will be our top level Enterprise version with no user limits and at absolutely no cost!

Why? I want you to see what we have created and be wowed. I also want you to have live chat available on your website to see what it will do for your business. If you want to sell more, provide instant support for your prospective and current clients, and grow your business, take advantage of my offer!


Note: This offer is for free use of our new advanced live chat software on dealership vendor websites, and cannot be used to provide support on dealership websites.
We also have many other offers that will surprise you. Third party ad site vendors should contact me to discuss our free auto dealer chat software offer available to all third party ad sites.

We also have an Always-Free version available for dealers.
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President & CEO
ChatLead.com, Inc.
CarChat24
shereef@carchat24.com
Mobile:  727-432-7777 
Fax: 800-430-1535
Toll Free:  (800) 510-7567  ext 701
www.CarChat24.com
"Helping car dealers sell more!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What is Your Dealership's Strategy for Pricing Vehicles? - Automotive Marketing Professionals

What is Your Dealership's Strategy for Pricing Vehicles? - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community




VIDEO: Greg Coleman describes how his Toyota and Lexus dealerships have been proactive on pricing transparency as a consistent strategy around building value on what the dealership provides car buyers. His guidance is sound and the results are strong... Great message delivered by somebody who has done it and seen the results. Use the link provided to watch this video and please leave a comment for Greg...

Suzuki Pulls Plug on U.S. Auto Sales: Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Ensures Dealers and Suppliers Feel Pain - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Suzuki Pulls Plug on U.S. Auto Sales: Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Ensures Dealers and Suppliers Feel Pain - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Suzuki says it plans to sell its remaining inventory through its dealers.


Scott Pitman, whose Suzuki of Wichita (Kan.) store is Suzuki's largest U.S. dealership, said he was "in a state of shock" after learning this evening that the brand planned to exit the United States.

Mr. Pitman went on to say;
"I don't have my mind around the whole thing. I've only talked to dealers I haven't talked to the executive team yet, so I don't know all the details, We love the brand, and we've been big faithful supporters, and we're sad right now."
Pitman has been a Suzuki dealer since 2007, and reported selling 940 new Suzukis through the end of October, which is already more than his total new vehicle sales for all of 2011.

In addition to myself, many other Auto Industry Analysts and observers will universally point out that the company had trouble competing in the U.S. 
Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com said about Suzuki's withdrawal from the U.S. auto market and the bankruptcy filing:
“I don't think it's a big surprise given their lackluster sales performance of recent years.  They have have low margin, low-priced cars with small volume. That's far from the ideal combination... Over the long term it's hard to sustain a brand on such little volume when you don't have a healthy margin like exotic or specialty brands,” 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Putting Search and Social in their Place Below Content - Automotive Content Marketing

Putting Search and Social in their Place Below Content - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community


I would like to personally thank J.D. Rucker for making the point in his article that Content merits higher priority than "Tricks and Techniques" whose primary purpose is manipulation of SERP rank for website listings... For many years, as you know, I have lashed out at the prioritization of SEO "game the system" emphasis above that of creating and publishing good relevant content. I have repeatedly stated on stage, in articles and during one on one meetings with dealers that great Search Engine Marketing (including SEO) results should be an indirect effect caused by a substantial and relevant content creation, publishing and distribution system that leverages multiple digital channels.
What has been happening all too often is that Car Dealers and their marketing service providers have looked at marketing as if it was a bicycle with a rider peddling the bike down a road... Asking; "How do we get the bike to go faster?" Then, instead of focusing on the rider's ability to peddle faster, we have been trying to put a stick in between the spokes and drive the wheels at a faster rate... Then when we break a few spokes, such as when a dealership's website provider generates 269,000 indexed web pages, 99% of which are duplicated content, causing Google to push the dealer's primary website back to the SERP Page #11 when searching for that dealer by name, we cry foul! (there is a foul all right, but it is the smell of someone's idea to trick 5,000+ Google engineers with such silly nonsense!) 
Next Related Issue: I would like to point something out that has been a stunning realization when so people in dealerships and at social media service providers say to me "But Ralph, that is not scalable .." or "You gotta be kidding... That's too much work!"... What I am referring to is creating original content for a dealership rather than re-purposed content.  Too many dealers are investing budget and resources into a social media service provider who has published virtually the same content for dozens of other dealers before posting it on behalf of YOUR dealership (as if it were original)... Or, the dealer is put into a position of republishing press releases from their OEM brand, MotorTrend, Car and Driver or Road & Track vehicle road tests or some other republishing of something created for somebody else's business. Give me a break! It is simply not necessary and a false economy...
Any dealer or General Manager who lacks the ability, is too lazy, illiterate, unwilling to hire employees capable of writing a paragraph, or who does not have enough time to deal with creating ORIGINAL CONTENT can simply outsource their requests for original stories about their dealership, their local community, their people, customers, products, local charities or how Billy Bob hit 14 home runs in the last Little League game by opening up an account at http://www.textbroker.com/ . Then, for $.025 a word the dealership can get original, copyright registered and plagiarism checked articles written for them by writers with Master's Degrees, original content that THEY NOW OWN!  
Let's put this simple little value proposition into perspective; a 500 word article about the dealership's launching of a new QuickLube facility, featuring the benefits to local automotive consumers (with links and keywords used as specified), will cost $12.50 and the dealer owns exclusive rights to its use... Yup... ORIGINAL CONTENT!

Get Fresh Content and Articles with Textbroker®

Textbroker® is a car dealer's article writing service for unique and exclusively written content created to your specifications. Their fixed rates make cost planning for content marketing projects of all sizes simple.Place multiple orders for website localization and SEO quickly and easily with our unique interface. Whether you need a quick snippet for a website, a well-researched white paper on your newest hybrid model or a sharp press release about your dealership's new facility, our deep database of knowledgeable authors is exactly the right resource to quickly cater to your content creation needs. Dealers, get started now.

Unique content, customized to your needs.

Thousands of authors are waiting to write your dealership's articles, blog posts, event announcements, management showcases, product reviews, press releases and more.  TextBroker.com offers extensive services at an affordable rate. 

I have used TextBroker.com within several dealership marketing teams where our mission was to generate original unique content for many car dealership clients... Once you get the hang of it, then create your own group of authors who are knowledgeable about your dealership, the payoff is phenomenal! 

Blast from the Past: Ralph Paglia goes to Christmas Party


The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have been shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true, I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God’s presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, your and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the moon “yes!’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised at the bone, and do what needs to be done.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments…

[Sent from Ralph Paglia's iPhone]

http://RalphPaglia.com
http://LinkedIn.com/in/RPaglia
http://Twitter.com/RalphPaglia
http://Facebook.com/RPaglia
http://GPlusRalph.com
http://Slideshare.net/RalphPaglia

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mobile Marketing; New Research Shows Major Car Buying Impact on Auto Shoppers - Infographic - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Mobile Marketing; New Research Shows Major Car Buying Impact on Auto Shoppers - Infographic - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

AUTOMOTIVE MARKETING STUDY REVEALS TWO DISTINCT MOBILE SEARCH PATTERNS AMONG CAR SHOPPERS AND SERVICE CUSTOMERS
Nielsen “Mobile Path-To-Purchase” Study Shows Mobile Auto Searchers Evenly Split Between Conversion and Research

NEW YORK and TORONTO – NOVEMBER 13, 2012 – xAd, a leading mobile-local advertising network, and Telmetrics, the top mobile call measurement provider, today released new Automotive category data from their ongoing xAd/Telmetrics Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study showing that even by category mobile usage can vary drastically based on user needs and intent. The category has a 51 percent conversion rate as it is comprised of buyers searching for auto parts and services and shoppers conducting new and used car research.

“Mobile Auto users present a diverse audience that advertisers must consider in their mobile ad strategies as the new/used auto shopper is doing a lot of research while the auto parts/service buyer has an immediate purchase need for maintenance or malfunction,” said Monica Ho, vice president of marketing of xAd Inc. “Advertisers that use these new insights correctly can improve their ad relevancy and performance while reducing ad waste by ensuring mobile ads are hitting the right audience with the right message.”

Targeting Mobile Auto User Profiles Key to Mobile Campaign Effectiveness
While mobile auto users generally skew Caucasian (68 percent), males (64 percent), with a household income of $50-100K (35 percent) an observation of actual mobile auto user behavior revealed four further subcategories of auto users – each with its own distinct auto needs, demographics and usage patterns:
• Auto Researchers – These users fit the typical auto user profile with slightly higher incomes ($75-100k). The majority of their mobile session is spent on search and general auto information and manufacturer sites.
 
• Deal Hunters – These non-Caucasian users with average incomes of $35-50k, also spend the majority of their time on general auto information sites and manufacturer sites.
 
• Circumstantial/Emergency Users - It is these typically Caucasian females who depend on quick access to Auto info via search and familiar brand properties.
 
• Gear Head – Also known as hobbyists, these users are typically African American males, ages 25-54 with an annual income of $100-150K.
 
xAd/Telmetrics Mobile Path-to-Purchase Auto Infographic & White Paper ( www.mobilepathtopurchase.com )

Mixed Purchase and Research Intent
Given the different types of mobile Auto searchers, there is a correlating effect on purchase intent with a fairly equal split among purchase and research activity. 51 percent of mobile Auto searchers report ultimately making a purchase with 49 percent looking to make a purchase within the day. Proximity, right fit and price are the most important factors in the ultimate purchase decision. Smartphone searchers demonstrate a more immediate need as 36 percent of smartphone users, compared with 25 percent of tablet searchers, were looking to make a decision immediately or within the hour.

Mobile Web Dominates vs. Apps
Of the 15 percent of mobile consumers conducting mobile Auto searches, less than one percent are using apps – likely because their occasional use of the category doesn’t demand the day-to-day benefits of app usage. Information-based mobile websites, like KBB.com, AutoTrader.com and others, are the most popular among mobile Auto searchers, reaching 8 percent of the mobile audience — higher than the combined reach of users going to auto manufacturer (4 percent) or auto parts sites (3 percent).

“Automotive mobile marketers should recognize Auto searchers’ preference for mobile websites over apps to reach mobile searchers that don’t know exactly what they are looking for and maximize and monetize mobile ad performance,” said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics. “Also, understanding the role of location – specifically the importance of local driving distance – is essential to harnessing the 65 percent undecided mobile Auto audience and their purchasing power.”

Additional highlights from the study include:
• Similar to other categories, smartphones are more consistently used for locating and contacting Auto-related businesses while tablets reign for research and finding pricing information.
 
• Location is key as 44 percent of Auto searchers looked up a business location or directions, 43 percent looked up pricing info or compared prices and 36 percent looked for a business phone number and/or called the business.
 
• Mobile Auto searchers reported that they are most likely to click on an Auto ad with a promotional offer or an ad that is targeted to what they are searching for.
 
• Mobile Auto searches gravitate toward familiar brands but only 35 percent knew exactly what they were looking for.
 
• Tablet users are much more familiar with the brand they want before conducting a search.
On Nov. 15 at 1:30 pm ET, xAd and Telmetrics hosted a webinar, along with speakers from Nielsen and Opus Research, on the Mobile Path-to-Purchase study including insights from all three vertical categories – Auto, Restaurants and Travel.

Information is available at: http://ht.ly/eHz1M.

About the Study
In early June 2012, Nielsen conducted an online survey of more than 1,500 smartphone and tablet users who reported that they had engaged in a Restaurant-, Travel- or Automotive-related mobile activity in the past 30 days. This information was then combined with data from Nielsen’s Smartphone Analytics Panel of 3,000 iPhone and 3,000 Android users to help develop and identify the mobile consumer journey and highlight the core points of engagement on mobile from the first research engagement on mobile to post-purchase behavior.

The three categories, Travel, Restaurant and Auto, were chosen as they rank among the top vertical markets projected to show major mobile growth over the next 3 to 5 years.

More details are available at www.mobilepathtopurchase.com

About xAd
Since 2009, xAd has grown to become one of the largest mobile advertising networks in the U.S. and the only one offering the ability to target ads using a combination of accurate location signal and search context. Across its network, xAd aggregates and manages billions of monthly ad impressions from which it derives the largest supply of location based advertising inventory in the market. For over a million national and local advertisers, xAd delivers targeted mobile location@scale.

xAd is based in New York City with several satellite offices across the U.S and Internationally. For more information, visit xAd.com.

About Telmetrics, Inc.
For more than 20 years, Telmetrics has been the call measurement industry leader. Telmetrics’ call tracking solutions, which are available in North America and across Europe, track the lead generation quality of local search advertising and pay per call programs for the leading brands in local search. This includes both publishers and agencies that serve millions of SMBs and national franchise locations across North America and Europe. With greater visibility into advertising performance across all media channels—digital, mobile, print and more—media publishers, agencies and advertisers can optimize the media mix for higher quality lead generation, resulting in increased revenues and a more complete picture of ROI across converging media. For more information, visit Telmetrics.com.

PRESS CONTACTS:
Allison+Partners Young & Associates

***********************************************************************
Question for ADM Members:
What are your opinions on what and how car dealers should be addressing the needs of smartphone enabled car shoppers using their mobile devices in the ways this research has revealed?

TrueCar.com Founder Reinvents Himself After Almost Killing His Company - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

TrueCar.com Founder Reinvents Himself After Almost Killing His Company - Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

TrueCar.com Founder Scott Painter Gets A Do-Over After Almost Killing His Company

TrueCar.com CEO Scott Painter
 
The ADM Professional Community was at the center of the storm a year ago when the retail auto industry joined together to both critique and reject the public facing TrueCar business model.  Since that time, numerous changes have been made at TrueCar in multiple areas.  I have previously published an article on ADM asking the industry to consider reevaluating TrueCar based on over a dozen significant changes to their business model which have each been designed to benefit car dealers and their customers.

One of the most striking of all changes at TrueCar has been the attitude, demeanor and statements made by Scott Painter relevant to the retail auto industry and car dealers.  I spent over an hour of one on one time in Scott Painter's office last July and was struck by his candor, willingness to acknowledge the mistakes and miscalculations he had made in the past. 

The following article was recently published by Forbes Magazine and offers some deep insights into the changes that have occurred within TrueCar and rare insights into the changes that have been made on a more personal level by Scott Painter:


Serial entrepreneur Scott Painter, founder of TrueCar.com, has spent much of his career trying to tell auto dealers how to run their business.

Written by Joann Muller, Forbes Staff
Over the past two decades, he has founded 37 companies, many of them auto-related, and has raised over $1.25 billion from investors who share his conviction that buying a car is a painful experience in need of an overhaul.

Few would argue with that assertion. But Painter’s latest attempt to disrupt automotive retailing by sharing transaction data over the Internet stoked enmity among thousands of car dealers, who complained that TrueCar’s marketing tactics had triggered a price war that was driving them out of business. Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the country’s largest dealer group, spoke for many when he blamed TrueCar for creating “a race to the bottom.”

Even Painter now sees that his original business model was unsustainable. “If 10 to 15 percent of cars are sold at a loss, it threatens the survival of the ecosystem,” he said. TrueCar’s business model is based on the simple premise that car pricing will find its own equilibrium in a free market that is transparent. But the system tended to favor car buyers by promoting the lowest price on the block, giving them leverage to go find an even better price. By running roughshod over the interests of its own network of car dealers, whose cooperation is critical to his success, Painter ended up nearly destroying the company he had spent seven years and $126 million building.

“It’s embarrassing,” says a chastened Painter, blaming his own “arrogance” for TrueCar’s near-collapse earlier this year, when one-third of its dealer network jumped ship, car sales plunged and it piled up $40 million in losses.

Now, after enlisting help from auto dealers, manufacturers and other industry leaders, Painter is relaunching TrueCar.com with a more conciliatory approach that he says balances the interests of dealers and consumers. A new dealer council provides ongoing advice, and new management with experience in both auto retailing and manufacturing were brought in to repair fractured relations with the industry.

In a new $8 million national advertising campaign, bricks-and-mortar car dealers are portrayed as TrueCar’s “trusted partners” while the emphasis for consumers is getting a “fair price,” not necessarily the lowest one.

The site still publishes data about recent transactions but it no longer shares what the dealer paid for the car nor does it promote the cheapest price as the benchmark for other dealers to beat. Instead, it gives both network dealers and consumers enough information to strike what it calls “a fair deal” by letting them know what others recently paid for similarly-equipped new cars in their geographic area. Dealers pay $299 for every customer lead that results in a car sale.

Other car-buying websites like Edmunds.com and kbb.com share recent pricing data with consumers, but Painter says TrueCar’s figures are better because it shows actual transactions, rather than an average of recent sales. These transactions are posted on a bell curve, displaying the percentage of sales in four price ranges: below market, great, good, and above market. Both buyers and sellers then have the parameters to agree on a fair price, which Painter says typically settles in the lowest quartile of all transactions (the left side of the bell curve) compared to the lowest 6 percent of transactions before the change.

The ad campaign, which broke this week, marks a new beginning for TrueCar.com, which began in 2007 and grew quickly, doubling revenue every year. Although TrueCar.com is the public-facing business, about 80 percent of the company’s revenue comes from managing car-buying programs behind the scenes for affiliates such as AAA, Consumer Reports, American Express and military credit union USAA.

By the end of 2011, revenues were $76 million, TrueCar.com had turned profitable and, with 5,600 dealers in its network, it was selling 30,000 vehicles a month (2 percent of U.S. sales) through its website and the websites of its affiliates.

But trouble arrived in late 2011 as some dealer groups and regulators began to question the legality of TrueCar.com’s business model, suggesting it was acting as an illegal broker. Fearful of incurring fines, some dealers started bailing out of the TrueCar network. Others were angry about TrueCar’s marketing tactics, including an ad campaign that told buyers how much they could undercut the dealer’s price if they bought their car through TrueCar’s website.

The impact was devastating: the dealer network shrunk by one-third in the first three months of 2012 and vehicles sales through its TrueCar.com network plunged 80 percent, from over 13,000 per month at the end of 2011 to just 2,000 a month in June. Revenues from its core auto-buying programs also fell by one-third. On the precipice of death, Painter obtained an emergency bridge loan from existing investors, which include Capricorn Investment Group, GRP Partners and an affiliate of Guthy-Renker.

Then he spun into disaster control mode. In January he launched a series of meetings with dealers around the country to listen to their concerns. That resulted in creation of a dealer council comprised of 20 members representing 24 states, 35 brands and 281 franchises. In February he hired Pat Watson, a 39-year veteran of the South Carolina Dealers Association to keep the dialogue going. He also hired Larry Dominique, a former Nissan executive, to be a liaison with manufacturers.

To address regulatory concerns, TrueCar also made important changes to the way dealers quote prices on its website. Instead of offering prices relative to “dealer invoice,” they now promote guaranteed savings off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). In a few states, TrueCar had to move to a subscription-based business model instead of the $299-fee system to satisfy regulators. TrueCar also gave dealers powerful analytic tools so they can adjust prices according to changing market conditions to ensure they remain in the competitive “sweet spot” while protecting their profit margins.

The changes are working, says Painter. Dealers are returning. Over the past eight months, TrueCar has replaced more than 1,000 of the dealers it lost earlier in the year, ending the third quarter with 5,200 dealers. Vehicle sales have rebounded too. It’s back to selling 20,000 cars per month through TrueCar.com and the auto-buying program for affiliates is on track for record sales in the fourth quarter.
Remarkably, Painter is forecasting fiscal 2012 sales will be up 15 percent over 2011, and TrueCar.com will be cash flow positive again by the end of December.

Was it all a terrible dream? Sadly, no. It really did happen. But Painter no doubt learned a hard lesson about how difficult it is to force change in the auto industry.


About the Author:

Joann Muller, Forbes Staff
I write about the global auto industry
 
Source: www.Forbes.com

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tribute To My First Car: 1968 Plymouth Road Runner in light yellow


Plymouth Road Runner


History
1968-1980





Introduction: By 1968, muscle cars had moved away from their street slepper image and had become option loaded, luxury machines that only the well to do could afford. Plymouth decided that what was needed was a return to basics. Starting with the stripped pillared coupe version of the Belvedere, it created a new breed of muscle car that packed maximum excitement with a minimum price. Just like the old days.




1968 Plymouth Road Runner





Comments: In 1968, Plymouth decided that muscle cars had gotten too far from their original purpose: cheap (and very fast) thrills. The company paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers to affix a certain cartoon bird onto its new vehicle, which was based on a stripped Belvedere pillared coupe body, and the Road Runner was born. The standard engine was MOPAR's tried and true 383 cid powerplant, which was treated to the heads, manifolds, camshafts, valve springs, and crankcase windage tray from the race ready 440 Magnum. The result: 335bhp and 425lb-ft. This was coupled with numerous other performance features including beefed up suspensions, manual transmissions, brakes, tires. The interior was basic: a no nonsense bench seat and no carpeting - just rubber floor mats. The main attration was a base price of $2896. For those who wanted a little bit extra, there was one engine option; for $714 Plymouth would slide in a 426 Hemi. Although the Hemi clashed with the budget based principle of the Road Runner, 1/4 mile times in the low 13s needed no apologies. A hardtop coupe and functional hood vents were added mid year during 1968. A horn that went "beep-beep" complimented the road runner decals (in gray due to time constraints) that were standard on all Road Runners. Plymouth originally estimated that it would sell 2,500 vehicles in 1968; it actually sold 45,000 copies. The 1968 Road Runner is perhaps the second most significant muscle car to the 1964 Pontiac GTO as it shifted the market back to its bang for the buck roots.

Production:
2D Pillared Coupe: 29,240
2D Hardtop Coupe: 15,359

Engines:
383 V8 335 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 425 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.

Performance:
383/335: 0-60 in 7.1 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.0 sec @ 96mph.
426/425: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.55 sec @ 105mph.


 

1969 Plymouth Road Runner





Comments: Due to the success of the 1968 Road Runner, Plymouth decided to expand the choices. A convertible was added to the existing hardtop and pillared coupe body styles and bucket seats were added as options. The Road Runner decals were now in color. Joining the existing 383 and 426 cid engines were a choice of 440 cid V8s, a four barrel version rated at 375 bhp, and a triple-two barrel 440 cid V8. Known as the "440 + 6", this engine provided Hemi-like acceleration for about half the price. Included with the 440+6 engine were simple, black wheels, a flat black fiberglass lift-off hood, and a large, functional hood scoop. Similar to the hood scoop found on the Dodge Super Bee, this was one of the most efficient MOPAR hood scoops. Of course, the 440+6 still wasn't a Hemi, which continued to dominate just about everything else one could race against. Buyers rewarded Plymouth's decision by snatching up 82,109 copies.

Production:
2D Pillared Coupe: 33,743
2D Hardtop Coupe: 48,549
Convertible: 2,218

Engines:
383 V8 335 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 425 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
440 V8 375 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
440+6 V8 390 bhp @ 4700 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.

Performance:
426/425: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.55 sec @ 105mph.




1970 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: The Road Runner received fresh new front and rear styling for 1970. The "Six Pack" hood was dropped, but all Road Runners were now available with an optional Air Grabber Hood. This consisted of a under the dash switch which would open a power operated trap door on the hood, revealing a shark cartoon with the words "Air Grabber." Just what you need to psyche out the competition at the stoplight. The "Air Grabber" would automatically close when the engine was turned off, to keep out the elements. The engine choices remained the same, although the Hemi went from solid to hydraulic lifters for improved durability and the standard four speed manual became an option as a strengthened three speed manual was made standard.

Production:
2D Pillared Coupe: 15,716
2D Hardtop Coupe: 24,944
Convertible: 824

Engines:
383 V8 335 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 425 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
440 V8 375 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
440+6 V8 390 bhp @ 4700 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.

Performance:
383/335: 0-60 in 7.1 sec, 1/4 mile in 15.0 sec @ 96 mph.
426/425: 0-60 in 5.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.49 sec @ 105 mph.



1971 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: 1971 saw the beginning of the end of the era of muscle cars. In just its fourth year, the Road Runner saw its performance bent engines fall victim to tightening government regulations on emissions and fuel economy. The standard 383cid powerplant dropped 35 bhp while the 440 engines both lost 5 bhp. The 426 Hemi stayed fast at 425 bhp. This would be the last year for the Hemi as it too would fall victim to the increased standards. Both the 2 Door Pillared Coupe and the Convertible body styles were dropped, leaving only the 2 Door Hardtop as the sole offering.

Production:
2D Hardtop Coupe: 14,218

Engines:
383 V8 300 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 410 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
426 Hemi V8 425 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm.
440 V8 370 bhp @ 4600 rpm, 480lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.
440+6 V8 385 bhp @ 4700 rpm, 490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.

Performance:
N/A




1972 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: The Road Runner received a redesigned rear bumper and side markers along with electronic ignition, 60 series tires, and a rear sway bar. The front bumper now had two vertical slots for the bumper jack and the Road Runner received a new grille. Due to increasing emission standards, the 383 V8 and the 426 Hemi were dropped. A new 400 cid V8 was introduced, rated at 255 bhp. The GTX was now available as an option on the Road Runner and came only with the 440 engine.

Production:
2D Hardtop: 7,628

Engines:
340 V8 240 bhp. (SAE Net)
400 V8 255 bhp. (SAE Net)
440 V8 280 bhp. (SAE Net)
440+6 V8 330 bhp.(SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


1973 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: .

Production: 17,400
GTX: 117

Engines:
318 V8 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
340 V8 240 bhp. (SAE Net)
400 V8 255 bhp. (SAE Net)
440 V8 280 bhp. (SAE Net)
440+6 V8 330 bhp.(SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A




1974 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: There would be little changes for the Road Runner for 1974, the last year of the original generation and the last year as a true performance car.

Production: 9,600


Engines:
318 V8 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 245 bhp. (SAE Net)
400 V8 255 bhp. (SAE Net)
440 V8 280 bhp. (SAE Net)
440+6 V8 330 bhp.(SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A




1975 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: For 1975, the Road Runner was moved to the Fury platform. This would be the only year that the Road Runner was based on this platform.

Production: ?


Engines:
?

Performance:
N/A




1976 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: For 1976, the Road Runner was moved to the new Volare platform, which had replaced the popular Valiant. Although available with either a two barrel 318 or 360 engine, the Road Runner was now truly just a trim package on an economy car.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 170 bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A


 

1977 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: The 1977 Plymouth Road Runner saw the first use of an on-board engine computer, the Lean Burn system, which managed a 4 barrel electronic feedback carbureator on the 360 engine.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A




1978 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: There were no significant changes for 1978.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A



1979 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: 1979 saw the introduction of an optional 4-barrel carb for the 318 engine.

Production: Approximately 1,000


Engines:
318 V8 (2 bbl) 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
318 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A




1980 Plymouth Road Runner



Comments: 1980 was the last year for both the Volare and the Road Runner.

Production: ?


Engines:
318 V8 (2 bbl) 150 bhp. (SAE Net)
318 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (2 bbl) 170 bhp. (SAE Net)
360 V8 (4 bbl) ??? bhp. (SAE Net)

Performance:
N/A

Musclecarclub.com - Plymouth Road Runner - History



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Translation: Business and Consumer Generated Content Combined with Search Advertising is a Car Dealer's Marketing Power-play in 2013


Mobile, Blogs and Customer Reviews Top Digital Marketing Action Items in 2012


Friday, November 16, 2012

Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

Google AdSense Publisher News for November

Mobile will continue to be one of the big trends in 2013, with more and more users accessing websites from their mobile devices. With this in mind, optimizing your site and ads for mobile will become increasingly important. Not only should your site be optimized for mobile, but your ads should too. In our Tip of the Month we'll share some best practices around mobile ads, which formats to use, and where to place them. You'll also find information about:
Optimizing, from the perspective of other publishers
Get more out of your performance reports
Verifying your Google+ page
Creating high quality websites
Kind regards,

Sophie
The Google AdSense team


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Tip of the Month

Optimize your mobile performance with AdSense

It's now easier than ever to monetize your mobile site as we offer high-end mobile ad code directly in your account. As a best practice, we recommend using the 320x50 mobile header or the 300x250 medium rectangle. Have a look at the graphic below to get an idea of how these ad formats can be placed visibly within your mobile site's layout:



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Updates

Get more out of your performance reports

We’ve recently made some usability and visual enhancements to your AdSense performance reports to help you interpret the data in your account. You’ll be able to select from different graph types for a number of your reports, and also add an “Events” overlay to the standard timeline graph, which will help you understand how changes you’ve made have affected performance.

For additional insights, we recommend linking your AdSense account with a new or existing Analytics account with our improved linking process. We’ve also created an easy-to-use dashboard to show you relevant information at a glance, so you can get started with your AdSense data in Analytics immediately.


Verify your +page to help gain visibility

Do you manage a Google+ page for your website? Be sure to add the Google+ badge to your site’s pages and then once you’ve gained a significant following, request verification. Verified +pages that are popular and engaging may appear on the right side of relevantGoogle.com search results, for users that are logged in. Please note that to be eligible, the +page needs to be active with regularly-updated content and have built a significant following. For more information, visit theAdSense blog.


Success Stories

Publishers share their optimization tips

We recently hosted a Hangout with AdSense publishers who discussed testing colors for their ads. It's a simple change, but one that could impact your revenue. Listen to their story, try this tip for yourself and follow our English AdSense +page to hear more optimization suggestions.




Program Policies

Top tips for creating high quality sites

The goal of the Google Display Network is to provide valuable content for our users and advertisers. Previously, we've shared some tips with you on creating high quality sites. Building on this, we've now shared more informationabout which types of sites and pages are best suited for monetization.



More about AdSense:

Inside AdSense Blog
AdSense Google+ Page
AdSense Forum
AdSense on YouTube

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