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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to Google - What Can Your 9-Year-Old Do?

Today is Google's 9th anniversary. Even though they've only been around for a short time, Google is one of those companies that has changed the world already. They are a perfect example of what success and innovation can accomplish. When Google products aren't accessible all hell breaks loose. No ads to click on, no videos to watch on YouTube, no way to see your appointments for the day on Google Calendar, and you can't even read our blog with your Google Reader. Oh yeah, and you'll have to use another search engine like Yahoo! or MSN to find that recipe for bread pudding you like so much. What's the real difference between Google and your auto dealership? The world would come to a screeching halt if you were closed for a day, right?

You probably only have a few revenue streams like wholesale and retail sales, parts, service, detailing, etc. Google has so many things going on it's hard to keep track at times, and a lot of these generate significant revenue for them. They have billions of "inventory units" (pages indexed), and they do business on a global scale. How about your little dealership in Anytown, USA?

I believe there is no reason a car dealer can't change the world as Google has. I'm sure that comment will elicit a chuckle from several readers, but I really believe it. The problem lies in the fact that car dealers are inherently "old school". Sure there are a few that are ahead of the curve, but it's common knowledge that most have the mentality that change is bad, especially when things have worked for 100 years. Would the world survive if Google wasn't around? Sure. Does Google make life easier for everyone? You bet.

The auto industry needs to have a few people step up with some forward-thinking ideas. So many dealers and vendors are concerned with money from current opportunities above all else, but sometimes a focus on making the industry better is the logical first step. If you can accomplish the successful deployment of a new product or business model, the money will fall into place. Just ask anyone that has been with Google for 9 years.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Which Classified Website Works Best to Sell Cars?

I wrote a post a while back which chronicled my experiment to determine if Autotrader.com or Craigs List would work better to sell a budget car. Craigs List generated more leads than Autotrader, but ultimately I ended up dumping the car on eBay after 6 months. The experiment was informative for me (and hopefully our readers), but it did leave some questions behind. The biggest question I have is that I'm curious if my instinct is correct in assuming Craigs List will do better for the lower budget cars. I've decided to tackle this question through Autotrader vs. Craigs List, Round 2.

This time around I've included a few other classified sites to look at the broader picture. The sites the vehicle will be listed on include:

Google Base
A Dealership Website

The vehicle is a more desirable vehicle than the last one, and in the "sweet spot" as far as pricing (between $5k and $10k). For this experiment I've purchased a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. After a couple hundred in parts to fix a couple minor details, sales tax, registration costs, etc., I'm into the thing for about $6000. More than what a dealer would have paid, yes, but I'm a private party so I think I did fairly well.

Vehicle Details:
Total Cost Basis: $6000
108k miles
4.0 Liter, 6 cylinder
4 wheel drive
Fully loaded with all options except sunroof
Brand new tires

I'm listing the selling price at $7850 to start. Sure it's a little high, but if I don't need to sell it quickly, why not start there? Worst case scenario I don't get any action and have to drop the price. I'll be updating this post periodically, so be sure to check back and see....

Which Classified Website Works Best to Sell Cars

See the next post in this series about
Which Classified Site Works Best to Sell Cars #2

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fantasy Auto Dealership Contest

A little "off-the-wall" post from the right side of my brain:

Football season is finally upon us, and for thousands of people including myself that means fantasy football. In case you're not familiar, fantasy football is a competition among individuals who choose NFL players for their team, and earn points based on the performance of those players each week. Each week you go up against other team managers in your league. At the end of the season, the person who has the most wins is crowned the season winner.

Football is the most popular, but if you like hockey, baseball, golf, Nascar, etc. you can join leagues in any of those categories. I got to thinking the other day...there are fantasy sports leagues for so many different categories. Why limit it to just sports? Wouldn't it be great to have a fantasy car dealership competition? I mean, most car dealers and salespeople are highly competitive.

The way I see it, this could be done one of two ways. First, from the principal's perspective. So many salespeople think running a dealership is as easy as selling the cars. A competition among these aspiring dealers would be fun. Something that took into account all of the day to day operations that normally aren't thought about by the employees.

The other way that would probably be more interesting is a head-to-head matchup where points were given for number of deals, net profit, back end earnings, etc.

So how would all of this be done? I have no clue, but I think it would be entertaining and popular with the number of auto sales reps across the country. Maybe have a draft, and instead of drafting individual players like football, each person would draft a particular make/model. Each participant could submit deals for the week which outlined all of the metrics, and the points drawn from that. For example, say there are 20 dealers in the league. Dealer A has "Chevy Malibu" as one vehicle on their team and is going against Dealer B who has "Ford Focus" on their team. All league members would submit their sales for the week, and averages would be tallied for all deals including Malibus and Focuses. Dealer A would earn points based on those Malibu deals. Same for Dealer B with the Focus deals. When the points for all makes/models on the teams are added up, one team wins and one loses for the week.

Something like this would be good to gauge what other dealers are doing on gross, plus it would help build encouragement to/from one another. "C'mon Dealer A, push a few more of those F-150's out the door this week and help me beat Dealer C!" It would certainly provoke a lot of trash-talking among colleagues, and that's half the fun of fantasy sports.

If anyone has ideas or decides to put something together, I'd love to hear about it! Jeff Kershner at Dealer Refresh seems to have enough time to run 26 blogs, keep up with 18 social networking sites, and still run the internet dept. at MB of Hagerstown, maybe he'd like to take on one more project?