2021 reaffirmed that the strength of the local car dealer is the winning model. Now, in 2022, it’s time for car dealers to take control of their data, their customer experience, and their customers.
On this edition of Inside Automotive, Jim Fitzpatrick sits down with Brian Benstock, Partner GM and Vice President of Paragon Honda and Acura. We’re also joined by Alex Vetter, President and CEO of Cars.com.
Data is critical, adds Benstock. Better data awareness will lead to better decisions and outcomes for car dealers. Benstock’s challenge for Vetter now is to find out how car dealers can go transactional on Cars.com. Vetter says that when Benstock approached him eight months ago about this need, the Cars.com team was working on closing its acquisition of CreditIQ, to move customers further down the funnel. Cars.com then began moving customers down to Benstock and the dealership with full credit approvals through his specific lenders. Cars.com’s aim, is to give power back to the car dealers by means of innovative technology.
|Related: CARS acquires CreditIQ Automotive Fintech Platform, enabling instant financing for consumers, dealers and lenders|
Cars.com data has also revealed that consumers are widening their search radiuses more than ever before. Record profitability brought on by supply does not mean it’s time to withdraw your marketing spend. The best way to get margin, says Benstock, is to have ten people who want one car. Car dealers need to optimize putting their inventory in places where they can be found and avoid gimmicky race-to-the-bottoms.
They also need to optimize their inventory acquisition and management. In addition to CreditIQ, Cars.com is launching an integration to help car dealers acquire more inventory directly from the public. Consumers often have a car to sell when they look to buy a new one. While there are other services doing similar things, Cars.com emphasizes the importance of the local dealer. Instead of being an intermediary between consumers and dealers, Cars.com builds its technology around being a conduit for smooth processes and transactions. Benstock agrees with this idea. He says he wants to limit the amount intermediaries and simplify the tech stack for his team.
In fact, there are many third-party aggregators that withhold customer data to generate leads and possibly raise rates. Cars.com is a platform that enables your data to stand on its own merit and generate value on behalf of the participants.
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