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Carology Event

Treat Your Digital Dealership Like Your Physical Dealership: 2017 Carology Event Highlights


In February, autoTRADER hosted their third annual Carology event at the Toronto Convention Centre. Dealer Principals and Managers from all over Canada gathered to absorb information shared by four key speakers about current market trends in the auto industry. The theme of the event was digital marketing. It was a great opportunity to learn what’s working and what’s not as well as what dealers should be focusing on in this ever evolving digital landscape. We jumped at the chance to learn about current trends in the auto industry so Diya (owner at That Car Place), Kal (Sales Manager) and I (Dean, Marketing Manager) attended the event. Below is a summary of what was discussed, the tips and tricks dealers can implement into their digital marketing strategy as well as my two cents where appropriate. Enjoy!

“The Carology event really came about three years ago and it was a result of our increased insight around how consumers shop.” Roger Dunbar – Vice President of Marketing at autoTrader

The event kicked off with the introduction of Roger Dunbar, Vice President of Marketing at autoTRADER. Roger highlighted the fact that autoTRADER sees how users shop nowadays, with most of their time spent online. “We see the various journeys’ car shoppers take from beginning to end as well as which dealers WIN and LOSE when it comes to how they interact with customers throughout their journey”. He goes on by emphasizing that times have changed and it’s gotten more difficult and more complicated within the digital world. He suggests dealers need to dial back, see what’s working and what’s not and then do their best to make sense of all the data. He follows up by stating “We need to make it simpler”.

Enter Dean [D]:

I’ve always been a big fan of the saying, “Less is more [LIM]” and have incorporated this to a lot of the decisions I’ve made in my time as a Marketing/Website Manager. I couldn’t agree more with Roger that we (dealers) need to make things simpler, especially when it comes to website design and layout. The digital world is expanding at a rapid pace, so how can we simplify and understand what’s happening when things are changing so quickly? Applying a LIM mentality is a great place to start when overhauling your website (if that needs to be done). When I’m making changes to a website I ask the following questions:

  • Q1: How many pages do we have on our website and how relevant are they? Asked in a different way, how many visits is each page receiving?

  • A: Delete the pages that aren’t offering any value to consumers.

  • Q2: What are we including on each Vehicle Display Page [VDP]? Is there too much information or not enough?

  • A: This goes back to relevancy and applying the LIM mentality. Keep what’s relevant and important on the VDP. Discard any information that’s not offering a benefit to the consumer.

Apple logo

Think of Apple. They are king when it comes to merging rapidly advancing technology with simplicity and keeping their products user friendly. It’s no surprise that the majority of people have iPhones in their pockets and it’s the popular choice among mobile devices. It’s due to how they utilize simplicity in their design and have masterfully implemented a LIM methodology into everything they do. They eliminated the earphone jack for headphones in the iPhone 7 for crying out loud. Some people don’t agree with the changes they’ve made but Apple leads the way in change and consumers do follow. Clear out the clutter throughout your digital dealership (i.e. website) and you will find users spending more time on each page because you’ve kept what’s relevant. Applying LIM to your website will provide an improved user friendly experience.


The second speaker, Kevin Coombs (Director of Marketing Intelligence at autoTRADER) is probably best described as a wizard with statistics. Kevin discussed how dealers can look at data and in turn use it to make smart decisions.

He starts his presentation by mentioning that AutoTRADER sees an average of 14 million visits in a month. That is a lot of data. He continues by explaining the consumer’s journey in purchasing a vehicle, “Most dealers assume that consumers shop in a very linear way. Meaning they start in the exploring stage followed by the gathering stage then by visiting the dealerships stage and finally ending the cycle by purchasing the vehicle. In reality, that’s not true. It’s not so much of a funnel but a journey”. He goes on by adding, “Consumers flip back and forth between these stages. 67% of consumers switch back from the gathering stage back to the exploring stage and restart the cycle all over again. Consumers change their mind and switch back and forth all the time. The reason is because of uncertainty. Consumers are open to changing their minds. They want the right tools online to assist in their search. They also want selection and volume so they can compare and analyze current trends. They’re using mobile and desktop devices to research so dealers need to be sure that their cross-device presence is up-to-date as this is extremely important”. He starts his presentation by mentioning that AutoTRADER sees an average of 14 million visits in a month. That is a lot of data. He continues by explaining the consumer’s journey in purchasing a vehicle, “Most dealers assume that consumers shop in a very linear way. Meaning they start in the exploring stage followed by the gathering stage then by visiting the dealerships stage and finally ending the cycle by purchasing the vehicle. In reality, that’s not true. It’s not so much of a funnel but a journey”. He goes on by adding, “Consumers flip back and forth between these stages. 67% of consumers switch back from the gathering stage back to the exploring stage and restart the cycle all over again. Consumers change their mind and switch back and forth all the time. The reason is because of uncertainty. Consumers are open to changing their minds. They want the right tools online to assist in their search. They also want selection and volume so they can compare and analyze current trends. They’re using mobile and desktop devices to research so dealers need to be sure that their cross-device presence is up-to-date as this is extremely important”.

  • 2/3 of people will just show up at a dealership unannounced and

  • Vehicles with higher VDP views have a greater chance of selling

“People engage more with digital ads that have more context and transparency. Giving consumers what they want is good for business. The question is what do consumers want?” Kevin Coombs – Director of Marketing Intelligence at autoTRADER

Enter Dean [D]:

I couldn’t agree more with what Kevin brought to the table and would like to elaborate on the importance of this quote:

“Treat your digital dealership like your physical dealership” – Kevin Coombs – Director of Marketing Intelligence at autoTRADER.

I recently wrote a blog post titled, How To Get 1+ Million Impressions in 58 Days Using Google AdWords - Real Life Case Study and within the post I shared an email that I sent to my coworkers which supports exactly what Kevin stated. I reinforced this statement by contrasting the difference over a 58 day period between the numbers of people who visited our physical dealership to our digital dealership (i.e. website). The numbers might shock you! In 58 days, roughly 300 people visited That Car Place. Compare that to 3,590 people who visited our digital dealership and that is quite the massive difference. There are way more eyeballs on your digital dealership than physical dealership, so make sure you’re spending time ensuring everything is performing optimally. Also, those numbers are just from the campaigns, that's not including visitors from organic search results and social media sites as well. The importance of this statement can’t be stressed enough. If you’re not focusing on improving your website, you’re missing out on capturing a lot of potential business.

The third speaker was a gentleman by the name of Dave Winslow and he is the Chief Strategy Officer for Universe Group. He specializes in identifying rapid growth markets and applying radical approaches to create scalable and approachable strategies. He fired off tons of helpful tips and tricks for dealers and here are some key points emphasized in his presentation:

  1. Digital marketing is the dominant channel…Industries are increasingly shifting their focus online and that’s where dealers should be focusing

  2. Simplify your dealership marketing

  3. Make the process of buying a car as easy as possible

  4. Don’t lose sight of the consumer. They spend a lot of time researching so clear out the clutter and focus on improving their experience

  5. Consistency in branding is important, it’s your identity. Ensure using the same logo everywhere

  6. Make sure you’re setup on Google Maps as well as other map search engines. It’s FREE and assists in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Incorporate this into your digital strategy

  7. Setup Remarketing advertising

  8. Display advertising is important. Depending on your goals, cast as wide or narrow a net as you want

  9. Social media allows dealerships to be authentic. Don’t blast your product but instead showcase some of the unique features/functionalities. Take the opportunity to visually story tell your dealership to consumers

  10. On content creation, be creative in coming up with ways to share content through social media

  11. Remember that more VDP’s equals moving metal off the lot. Pay attention to it

  12. React to the data and don’t get overwhelmed

  13. Implement Slack, this FREE service dramatically reduces the amount of email within a dealership

  14. Implement Hootsuite into your social media plan. This is a simple platform that’s FREE and schedules future posts for various social media accounts. Save time

  15. Utilize Google Analytics

  16. Simplify your digital landscape by having fewer partners to work with. Build strategic relationships and focus on your brand first

  17. Make sure your staff is friendly. Negative reviews are just a finger print away. It’s essential to provide a positive experience

“This is the second biggest purchase people are going to make. Outside of a home purchase, a vehicle is the second largest big ticket item. We need to be more consultative and friendlier so that they walk away and feel satisfied with their purchase.” Dave Winslow – Chief Strategy Officer at Universe Group.

Enter Dean [D]:

Dave included a wealth of information in his talk so be sure to read those bullet points again. Here are a couple of points I’d like to highlight. First, simplifying the process of buying a car is extremely important. Make it simple stupid! From the dealers perspective I find this notion gets lost all too often and quite easily because there’s too many steps involved in the buying process. Car shopping has changed drastically since the rise of the internet and technology and so should your dealer’s process. Make it as simple as possible and remove any unnecessary steps. I go into more detail on how to buy a vehicle in today’s market place HERE. Second, I go into more depth about utilizing display advertising and utilizing Google Analytics HERE.

I have utilized Hootsuite for over two years and have found it to be extremely effective and time saving. If you’re not using it, check it out. We’re also about to explore SLACK and are excited to see the results. Thanks Dave for suggesting this.

The final speaker was Scot Eisenfelder, the Founder & President of Empiritas. At Empiritas, Scot and his team work with clients to realize their potential and not merely outperform the previous year. They have a vision about where each clients untapped potential lies and understand the internal challenges in realizing change. He has first-hand experience of how to fight the digital marketing battle in an ever increasing competitive auto landscape. He spoke about several important ideas that dealers should focus on, including:

Dealers should replace this commonly said statement, “Let me explain how we do things here at our dealership!” with “Hey, let me understand where you are in the shopping process and what you’d like to do next”. The former is said more but the latter is a better approach. Scot Eisenfelder – Founder and President of Empiritas.

  1. Use technology to bring customers in and deliver an experience that’s worth remembering and share worthy

  2. Experiences customers have outside of automotive are important. Dealers need to think of how they can be different and deliver on that experience

  3. The role of media has changed…Broadcast media is dying, digital is the way

  4. Most dealerships look at each transaction as a single ROI rather than a relationship. To highlight this point, think of this example: If you took your partner out for the first time to dinner, did that pay off for you or was it over a lifetime that you received the real ROI? Valuable relationships take time. Don’t rush the consumer

  5. Consumers want a seamless process that informs and empowers them

  6. Embrace digital and understand each channels role. Not all channels are designed to drive a sale. You can use different channels to direct consumers to other mediums (i.e. using traditional media to drive traffic to your website)

  7. Dealerships websites are the dealers DIGITAL STOREFRONT

  8. Dealers need to be as fanatic about our digital storefront appearance as the physical storefront appearance

  9. Digital is about being transparent and open. Don’t fake it. If a customer can find what they’re looking for, let them find what they’re interested in on your website. Don’t force customers away from your website. Be the source they want to go to

  10. Align your instore and digital experience

  11. Go find yourself a 16 year old mentor. They see the world differently and it’s important to get outside of your store and look at the layout of your store through the consumer’s perspective

“10X more people are going to visit your digital store compared to your physical store.” Scot Eisenfelder – Founder and President of Empiritas.
Enter Dean [D]:

Scot had a lot of valuable points and I’d like to build on a couple of them. First, the fact that 10X the amount of people are visiting dealers websites compared to their physical store is a point that should not get pushed aside. As mentioned in my other blog post How to Get 1+ Million Impressions in 58 Days... we are receiving nearly 12X the amount of online visitors compared to people physically showing up to our store. That number has since grown and will continue to do so as digital keeps increasing. Second, the importance of being transparent and open with consumers as they’re going through the buying cycle. It’s a win-win for you and the customer when the information their looking for is on your website.

You don’t have to buy those customers back by marketing to them across other channels after they’ve left. Your website can be an informative hub that offers relevant and beneficial information. Ensure it’s easy to navigate and user friendly. This will only add to the overall online experience by offering consumers relevant information and making it seamless.

In closing, here’s a summary video of the event. We had a tremendous time learning the current trends and what to expect in the near future. Remember to stay current, dive into digital if you haven’t already and have some fun doing it. The opportunities out there are endless in today’s marketplace so take advantage of the tools available and learn as much as you can.

[36 seconds in and you’ll see yours truly] ##

This article was written by Dean.

Was this post helpful? When it comes to digital marketing, what have you discovered that works best and what doesn’t? Which dealers are doing their digital marketing right? What makes them stand out?

Add to the discussion by sharing your thoughts on digital marketing in 2017. Also, if you have any questions relating to anything mentioned above please share in the comments below.

How to Get 1+ Million Impressions in 58 Days Using Google AdWords - Real Life Case Study

Tell me, I forget.

Show me, I remember.

Involve me, I understand.

Chinese Proverb

I have spent five years in the automotive industry and specialized in website management, digital marketing, social media and sales. In that short amount of time I've seen a drastic amount of change within the digital marketing landscape. The world of digital marketing is vastly expanding and one must stay up-to-date with trends otherwise you'll get left behind. It is worth mentioning that staying current with advancing technology will save the company you work for money (changes can occur in-house as opposed to hiring companies), time (changes can take place in real-time instead of waiting on outside companies response times) and be self-empowering (valuable skills are learned when trying and failing yourself as opposed to others failing).

My journey began back in October of 2012 where I started in sales and ended up landing a position later that year as the Internet Sales Coordinator while working at Waverley Chrysler. Throughout 2013 to 2016 it was awarded the number one dealership in volume sales for new vehicle delivery within the Prairies. My responsibilities included managing their websites, inventory and internet team as well as oversaw their social media accounts and digital marketing. I learned a lot while on the job and gained insight into various aspects within the digital world. Managing a website was new to me and so was everything else.

Skip forward to September of 2016 and I found myself working as the Marketing Manager at That Car Place. A month into the position I initiated my first ever Google AdWords campaign and was excited to take on a new challenge and see how it all worked. Our goal was to increase traffic to our website and in turn sell more vehicles. I was going to work with our website provider Carpages.ca on creating two separate landing pages. Both geared towards receiving more online credit applications, one page was targeting consumers with good credit scores while the other was going to target customers with bad credit scores.

I had zero idea on how to actually implement a Google AdWords campaign although I did have a strong understanding of how it worked. Google AdWords is an advertising service for businesses wanting to display ads on Google and its advertising network. The Google Network is basically leased advertising space that the majority of websites have. Websites offer this space to Google so companies can advertise on it. Sites like The New York Times, Tripadvisor and thousands of others all have dedicated space that are part of the Google Network. The ad service is largely focused on keywords. Businesses set an advertising budget and only pay when people click on their ads.

We started off our first campaign on October 1st. Only 58 days later we had hit 1,037,899 Impressions, 3,590 Interactions, a Conversion Rate of .35% and spent only $1,459.86.

Impressions

As Austin Powers famously said, "Whoopty Doo...But what does it all mean Bazel"?

Well I'll tell you Austin, I'll tell you.

Groovy

First, let's take a peak at the email I sent my co-workers on that exciting day.

Subject: 1+ MILLION IMPRESSIONS IN 58 DAYS - GOOGLE ADWORDS RESULTS!

Date: 11/28/16 9:45 am

To: That Car Place Staff

Good Morning,

Here's some great news to kick off the beginning of the week: We hit 1+ Million Impressions in our Google AdWords Campaigns and we only started Oct 1, 2016 (58 Days ago). That's averaging 17,241 impressions PER DAY!

But Dean...What is an impression? Well, an impression is counted each time your ad is shown on a search result page or other site on the Google Network. Each time your ad appears on Google or the Google Network, it's counted as one impression.

This is one important stat and a milestone number to hit in that amount of time!!! Another and arguably more important stat is how many Clicks we received. A Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement. It is commonly used to measure the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website as well as the effectiveness of campaigns.

We received 3,590 Clicks! This number might seem tiny in comparison to the number of impressions we received but look at it this way. How many people physically visited our dealership over the last 58 days? Kyle and Robert logged 92 customers each since Oct 1 plus there's Kal's contacts and these don't include the tire kickers so let's round-up and say between the three of them they each saw 100 people since Oct 1st. That's 300 people who physically visited That Car Place. Well, 3,590 physical people visited our DIGITAL dealership (i.e. our website) and that's JUST from the campaigns. That's not including other visitors from organic search results and social media sites as well.

Pretty cool eh!!!

This of course is only part of the puzzle. We are driving more people to our digital dealership then every before and what happens next is equally and if not more important. Once they're physically at the store, getting them into the vehicle they're looking for and can afford is the end goal.

Let's keep working together as a team and we will increase the number of cars we sell while still offering the amazing customer service that we have been recognized for.

Have a great day!

P.S. See the screenshot attached in the email.

Cheers :-)

Dean

Marketing Manager / Sales Executive

That Car Place

443 Exeter Rd.

London, Ontario N6E 2Z3

519-686-SALE (7253)

It was after this point in time that I started connecting some interesting dots. Have you ever heard this from a marketing company before, "Sign-up with us and we'll get you to the top spot on Google"? Well if you're a dealer principal or marketing manager than I'm guessing your answer would be something along the lines of way too often. There are tons of marketing companies out there all offering the same thing. The difference now was that they were pitching exactly what I was doing and I had real stats to compare them to. Seeing as this was my first time doing a Google AdWords campaign, I welcomed the challenge of being beat and was hoping these companies would do better than what we were doing in-house. Especially since they do this all the time. After all, how does one improve if not to have a benchmark to strive for and surpass. Alas, I was surprised to find out these companies results. So far, there's been four companies which I'll remain nameless that have failed to come anywhere close to offering the same results to what we've been able to achieve. First, let's take a look at our six months of stats which have been broken down monthly and includes display and search ads:

  • Impressions: 550,000+
  • Interaction Rate or Click-Through Rate: .40%
  • Conversions: 1500
  • Interactions: 2200+
  • Average Monthly Cost: $1250

And here's the breakdown of the 4 companies guaranteed results:

Company 1 - (Per Month):

  • 100,000 impressions for $1,000

Company 2 - (Per Month):

  • Package 1: $1800 (30% Mgmt. Fee or ONLY $1260 goes towards actual campaign) + $550 setup fee:

    • 20,833 impressions
    • 609-1016 conversions
  • Package 2: $3050

    • 41,666 impressions
    • 609-1016 conversions

Company 3 - (Per Month):

  • $2,000 - $3,000

    • 457 – 600 Interactions
    • 20 – 27 Conversions = Qualified Customers (5% of interactions – this stat is from Google).

Company 4 - (Per Month)

  • $1,000

    • 50,000 impressions and a .31% CTR (click-through rate) – Display Ads Only

“The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.” Carly Fiorina, former executive, president, and chair of Hewlett-Packard Co.

When comparing Impressions, Company 1 is the closest to us by guaranteeing only 1/5th of our results at nearly the same monthly cost (difference of only $250). When comparing Conversions, Company 3 is the worst compared to us by guaranteeing only 20 conversions for $2,000 which is dwarfed by the 1500 conversions at $1250 that we've generated. That's a staggering difference of cost and results. Anyways, you get the picture. To say that I was disappointed in the competition and pleased with our results is an understatement. "Was this normal?" I wanted to know if this was just a lucky break or could it be replicated.

“Things get done only if the data we gather can inform and inspire those in a position to make [a] difference.” Mike Schmoker, former school administrator, English teacher and football coach, author.

After 6 months of tweaking our campaigns, analyzing stats and having multiple conversations with other marketing companies it seemed we were doing exceptional on our Google AdWords campaigns. "Yipee, Yahoo!" With that said, there's still lots of room for growth and I am very much open to hearing what other companies have to offer. After-all, the marketplace is constantly changing and so should your campaigns.

"When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills." Chinese Proverb

I challenge dealers and other businesses to consider the options of whether or not to hire a digital marketing company as opposed to investing in training an employee. The answer depends on how much time and resources you have but my suggestion is if you can do it in-house, go that route. It's well worth the investment to have a team member within your business learn how to manage Google AdWords campaigns as the cost of one employee compared to hiring third-party marketing companies can save you THOUSANDS of dollars in advertising costs in the long run. Additionally, from an employee's stand-point it's definitely empowering and rewarding to see your results. Not to leave out the fact that you get to learn so many different lessons as well as obtain valuable skills. Google AdWords can be fun to learn and they have a great support system in place. Rest assured you won't be alone just clicking buttons on a screen at random. Google Support is an invaluable resource that will provide tips/tricks and guide you on improving your campaigns one step at a time.

One final thought I have in relation to analyzing stats is make sure your marketing plan and goals line up with your game plan. If your goal is to sell more vehicles (which it typically is in the auto industry) than make sure your marketing plan is set up for you to understand what's working and what isn't. Depending on what your goals are, you should be able to answer, "Is this assisting in selling more vehicles or not?". The answer for us to that question is, "Yes, absolutely it's helped!". However, if your Google AdWords campaign is strictly for branding purposes than perhaps just focusing on the number of impressions you are receiving is the most important stat, or if you're looking to get more people to submit credit applications so that you can convert them to a sale than you have to consider multiple factors. Impressions, conversions, landing page layout and the quality of information on that page are all important, as well as asking questions such as, "How many of the conversions are good vs. bad? What can we do to increase the amount of quality leads? Etc." As you can see, you can go back and forth and interpret stats all day long until the cows come home but make sure your goals are clear and line up with your marketing plan.

If you want to learn more about Google AdWords here's a list of helpful resources:

"Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway"

##

Thanks for reading this post :-)

Written by Dean

Was this article helpful? What's worked best for your business regarding your digital marketing efforts? Please share your experience in the comments section as well as suggestions on topics you would like me to write about. Thanks :-)

Licence Plates to be Denied to Drivers with Outstanding HTA Fines

The Ministry of Transportation has requested OMVIC share the following information:

Starting May 1st, 2017, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will deny the purchase, attachment, renewal or transfer of licence plates (or special/temporary permits) for drivers with unpaid fines related to driving offences, including those under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. Any outstanding fine will need to be paid at ServiceOntario before plate purchase/attachment/transfer/renewal.

Click here for a list of all ServiceOntario locations in London, Ontario.

This is similar to the process already in place to collect outstanding parking fines and unpaid highway tolls.

What Dealers Should Know

As it is common for dealers to facilitate the registration and licensing of vehicles for customers, dealers should know:

  • fines dating back to May 1, 2010 must be paid before a licence plate can be purchased, attached, transferred or renewed
  • the majority of unpaid fines are less than $500 but some are significantly higher
  • any customer with defaulted driver fines will also have a suspended driver’s licence
  • the fine amount and the ability to pay on behalf of customers will only be available to dealers if the customer's signature is on the paperwork provided for the transaction:
    • Application for Vehicle Registration, form SR-LV-006 (new vehicles)
    • vehicle permit (used vehicles)
  • if a dealer chooses to pay outstanding fines for a customer, the dealer will receive two receipts and, if the customer is eligible, a temporary driver's licence, which must be provided to the customer

More Information

For additional information related to these licensing changes contact Elizabeth Marles, Vehicle Programs Office, Ministry of Transportation, at 416-235-3433. More information about vehicle licensing can be found on the MTO or Service Ontario websites.

That Car Place - Celebrating 20 Years in the Business

The birthplace of That Car Place started back in April of 1997 in London Ontario. The original location was at 370 Adelaide St. North at the corner of King St. and they had only three vehicles for sale. One of the three vehicles for sale belonged to Diya Rashmawi, the owner and the other two were for sale through consignment. Three years of rapid growth later, a larger location was needed and 443 Exeter Road became the new place for business. Diya has always had an abundance of determination, focus and constantly seeks out knowledge. This new space was sufficient for his vision of the future. Skip forward to 2017 and there are currently 250+ vehicles for sale. Dominating the used car market in London, That Car Place is now a leading used car dealership and is breaking records with customer service and social media presence. Behind every deal includes the best intentions possible with the highest integrity and ethics known in the industry.

When asked about the origins of That Car Place, Diya begins by stating, “The company was started on credit cards. I was opening up new credit cards so that I could pay the other ones off.” Diya began his career in the car industry well before April of 1997. His journey began back in 1990 when he graduated from the Automotive Technology program through Fanshawe College at the age of 20 and became one of the youngest licensed mechanics in Canada at the time. He goes on to say, “You needed roughly 6000 hours of labour experience and for most people it took four years…I did it in under two. Plus, you had to complete three years of schooling, which I did in 10 months. I obtained my mechanic license in 1991”. He goes on by adding, “Still today, I am constantly seeking higher education to better myself and others”. When asked how he completed the qualifications so quickly Diya chuckles and replies, “Business is always demanding so I use to put in 105 hour work weeks on a regular basis”. He goes on to say, “I was frequently visited by MTO instructors because they wanted to check in on me to make sure I knew what I was doing and truly putting in the hours. They couldn’t believe I was advancing as fast as I was.” Through time, they became good friends.

Diya goes on to explain, “In the beginning, I was the salesman, mechanic, detailer, book keeper, etc. and I did my best to provide the very best customer service. My number one priority since day one was always customer service and I believe we have stayed true to that core essence”. When asked what separates That Car Place from the other 275 registered dealerships currently operating in London, Diya calmly answers, “Looking after the customer by treating them right and standing behind our vehicles. We also do our best to build long term relationships so that we have repeat customers. They are the bread and butter to our business.” That Car Place also offers a No Pressure Sales Policy, No Administration Fees and there’s No Haggling. Additionally, they also utilize a third party pricing tool that analyzes their vehicles and prices them competitively in the marketplace.

That Car Place is celebrating its 20th year of business and has won many awards over the past four years including: Best Used Car Dealership presented by the London Free Press 2014-2017, Reader’s Choice Award 2014-2015, Top Choice Award 2015-2017, CHCH Gold Award 2016 and is a BBB Accredited Business.

Diya humbly goes on, “What was once a dream is now the norm and we are constantly growing.” His eyes light up as he responds to what his plans are for the future, “We want to reach new heights and go where no other independent dealership has gone before. I’m constantly learning and believe that continued education is extremely important. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. The industry changes so fast that you have to stay current and ahead of the curve, otherwise you get left behind. We’re currently in the process of building a brand new showroom that is going to be spectacular. I won’t go into too much detail now, but big things are coming.”

In 2006, Diya established That Auto Repair Place (the service department) and it was created out of frustration. When asked why he answers, “It was solely to control and ensure customer satisfaction was being kept in house. If somebody else did the work, I felt that I could not guarantee our customers the very best. Being a licensed mechanic, I knew that if the job was done under my watch we had the ability to look after our own clients before, during and after the delivery. That was our focus!” Diya adds, “I knew it was what I had to do to excel above the rest. It’s a simple process yet it’s probably the highest expense within the dealership so that’s why most dealers are driven away from it. We strive for perfection and now we have a great service company that has won awards. In 2015 and 2016, the London Free Press and Readers’ Choice presented us with the Best Auto Service which included the best place to get your oil changed and purchase tires from. I’m very proud of those achievements and am hungry for more”.

Just like there once was a time when you could get a vehicle for $29 - $189, That Car Place has grown from a three car dealership to over 250+ vehicles. Every year the business evolves as the landscape changes. Diya ends by saying, “Technology is rapidly increasing every year. Anyone wanting to stay in the game needs to make sure they keep up.” It seems that the sky is the limit for Diya and That Car Place. If you are in the market for a vehicle, be sure to check out their website www.thatcarplace.ca or explore any of their social media pages. Read their reviews on Google and come down to experience why they were voted number one. You are guaranteed to experience something different from any other used car dealership. With a variety of vehicles at highly competitive prices, it’s definitely worth a trip.

Did you enjoy this post? Tell us what you’d like us to Blog more about below.

Please let me know in the comments!  I’ll be reading them all.

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About the Author: Dean is currently the Marketing Manager at That Car Place in London, ON and has 5+ years in the auto industry (both on the West Coast and Prairies) specializing in digital marketing, sales, social media management and website development.

How to Buy a Vehicle: An Inside Look From Industry Experts on How You Can Save Money, Time & Headaches

Photo: http://bit.ly/2opcNxC

Next to buying a house, a vehicle is the largest purchase most people make. This article is broken down into multiple steps starting with tips on how to research a vehicle and determine what’s a good deal all the way to when you drive off the lot. There’s some juicy insight not regularly discussed in this article from industry experts that will save you money, time and future headaches. In addition, at the end of the post is a glossary which breaks down some industry jargon in simple to understand terms as well as a list of helpful websites to assist with your research and understanding of buying a vehicle. Without further ado, let’s begin!

First, it is important to mention that a big chunk of repeat car buyers wait until it’s too late to buy. A lot of people start looking for a vehicle AFTER their current vehicle has broken down. They are forced into a situation of getting into something right away. Avoid this vulnerable position by being proactive and start looking in advance. Being prepared can save time, multiple headaches and money.

Chapter 1: How to Research and Determine What is A Good Deal!

Let’s start by exploring the answer to a commonly asked question, “What’s a good deal?” This is a tricky one to answer because it’s subjective and varies from person to person as well as from vehicle to vehicle but here are some tips on what to look for.

Start by looking around on websites like Auto Trader Kijiji and CarGurus to get an idea of what’s currently available and how much the vehicle/s you’re interested in cost. Once you’ve narrowed down your search and start comparing vehicles, make sure that you’re comparing the same TRIM model. The more features the trim includes, the higher the price. This can vary by thousands of dollars so make sure your comparing apples to apples.

Once you’ve found some apples to compare, start by considering the difference in kilometers or miles. Second, the vehicles history should be taken into reflection when determining why there could be a significant price difference between one another. Nowadays, it doesn’t take much damage to rack up thousands of dollars in repairs so if the vehicles Carproof is online, take a look at it. If it‘s not, call up the dealership and ask about the vehicle‘s history. Find out if there was any damage, the cost associated with each repair and determine whether or not to proceed.

Keep in mind that when browsing online, the ‘Best Price’ does not necessarily mean the ‘Best Deal’. Paying from a reputable dealer can save you money plus several annoyances if they stand behind their vehicles and offer reconditioning beyond just the minimum requirements. In addition, a larger independent dealership is likely to have more lenders because they’ve been in business longer and have built up relationships with multiple lenders over the years. This means that customers could obtain a lower interest rate car loan because the dealership can work with more lenders and have more options to choose from. Sometimes a dealership might have a cheaper priced vehicle compared to another dealership but fewer lenders to work with because they haven’t been in business for as long. This could result in your payments being higher.

Consider the dealer’s reputation by reading reviews on Google+, DealerRater, and Yelp. If there are multiple reviews of bad experiences from previous customers, take that into consideration on whether or not this dealer is worth visiting. Choose a dealer that cares about its reputation and online presence. Read the reviews critically by asking; does the customer have a valid point or are they just pointing fingers? Did the dealer reply? How was their response?

Before visiting any dealer, call and ask what additional fees are added into every deal and how much are they? This varies from $500-$1200 so a few phone calls ahead of time can save hundreds of dollars. It’s important to note that most dealers will not want to disclose their fees over the phone. They want you sitting down with a sales person first and will bring them up when ‘desking*’ a deal. Do you want to deal with a dealer that won’t disclose fees over the phone? What else could they be withholding until you’re sitting down in front of them? This is a control tactic widely used in the car industry.

Chapter 2: I Know What I Want…What’s Next?

After it’s been decided on which dealer/s to visit, decide whether or not to bring a family member, partner or friend with you and make sure they have your best interest in mind. Encourage them to ask questions you might not think of (like these) and provide a second opinion. They might also be willing to co-sign* if that’s what both of you agree on but do your best to be financially independent and not have a co-signer. Remember, if you don’t make those payments, the co-signer will be liable. If they choose not to make the payments as well then both credits will be damaged. Finally, having someone trustworthy by your side can also offer emotional support.

Sometimes however, the person you bring doesn’t understand the situation as to why you’re buying a vehicle and might forget that ultimately it’s not money coming out of their pocket but yours. Be sure to communicate your goal/s beforehand so there’s a mutual understanding of what the plan is.

If you can’t think of anyone to bring or would prefer to do this by yourself then go for it. Every so often, blocking out other’s opinions and going after what you want can be exactly what’s needed. With each vehicle you buy, notice any errors made and get better at asking the right questions before signing on the dotted line. Do your best and learn from your mistakes.

Before you visit a dealership, CLICK HERE... to print off as many copies of my recommended 9 Important Questions to Ask a Dealership.

  • What’s the process of buying a vehicle at this store?

    Note: Every dealer has their own way of doing business. Ask them to explain their step-by-step recommendation of how to buy a vehicle from them.

  • What additional fees are included in the purchase of every vehicle?

  • Is this vehicle Safetied and E-Tested? Is that included in the price?

  • Can I book a time for my mechanic to look at the vehicle?

  • If I finance this vehicle, is my loan Open-Ended?

  • Note: This means you can pay off the loan at any time with NO penalties or fees. Most dealers offer this. Stay away from a closed loan.

  • May we look through the Carproof together on this vehicle? Click here to see what’s in a report.

  • How do you recondition each vehicle?

  • What warranty is left on the vehicle (if any) and what are my options for extended warranty?

  • What would my interest rate, term and payments be for this vehicle?

    • Note 1: The interest rate you receive is largely based on your credit report. The only way a dealer can tell you what your interest rate and payment will be is by sending your credit application to the bank/lender and having them analyze it.
    • Note 2: Each time your credit report gets pulled, it decreases your score and every payment you make on time increases it. Click here to further Understand Your Credit before shopping at multiple dealerships requesting numerous credit checks in hopes of getting approved for a car loan.
Chapter 3: I’m at the Dealership, Now What?

I recently attended a conference hosted by AutoTrader at the Toronto Auto Show and one of the speakers mentioned that 66% of car buyers will just show up unannounced at a dealership. If you’re one of the 66%, then just walk up to the front desk receptionist and ask to speak to someone in sales. After the introductions have been made, jump straight into requesting a test ride of the vehicle/s you’re interested in.

Before you drive the car off the lot, walk around the exterior of the vehicle and look for any flaws (i.e. dings/scratches/etc.) and then test out the interior features. Take note of anything that isn’t working properly. If the sales person insists on going with you during the test ride then so be it but be sure to limit the amount of talking while driving. This is your opportunity to get a feel for the car and to listen how it handles the road. If they’re being a Chatty Cathy, kindly ask them for quiet so that you can listen to the sounds of the vehicle OR just say you have a headache and it needs to be quiet. This is your time! Listen to the sounds when accelerating/decelerating. How does it handle corners? Do you hear ticking, thumping, screeching or nothing at all? Just be present and take note of any unfamiliar sounds. After the test ride, ask any additional questions and then decide on whether to proceed or not.

Chapter 4: Test Ride Complete! What’s Next Captain?

Once you know which vehicle you want, it’s time to decide whether to finance or pay cash. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of both and let’s begin by discussing negotiating. Here is a good rule of thumb on where to start. Ask for 3-5% off the asking price (I.e. $10,000 vehicle x 5% = $500). That’s a reasonable amount to ask off the price and most dealers have that much of a margin. Of course, it depends on the dealership and sales person but this is a good place to start. Start at 5% and work your way down. Remember, be firm and reasonable!

Financing Pros

Arguably the biggest pro to financing is that it can help with your credit score. Coincidentally, it can also hurt your credit score and this entirely comes down to ensuring that your payments are made on time and regularly until the loans paid off. This shows the bank/lender that you’re responsible with money and will likely help you long term by securing larger loans in the future. Do you want to own a house down the road? Paying down your car loan is a great step to obtaining that goal.

Financing Cons

The main con of a car loan is that it’s a loan on a depreciating asset which means that most vehicles lose value quickly. Remember that any loan is money that needs to be paid back so pay it off ASAP. Another big problem is that people buy vehicles they want as opposed to what they need. They put themselves in stressful financial situations where they’re stretched so thin that they end up spending years trying to get out of a loan that they didn’t need to get into in the first place.

Financing Tips

If financing a vehicle is the only option, ensure it’s an Open-Ended Loan (meaning the loan can be paid off earlier than the duration of the loan with no penalty or fees). For example, say your loan is $10,000 and the term is six years or 72 months but you’re able to pay it off in two years. You can do so and not be dinged with having to pay any additional penalty or fees. Also, you won’t pay as much interest if you pay the loan off sooner.

Paying Cash Pros

On the flipside of the coin, paying cash is a great option because you don’t have a loan to pay off. You don’t owe anyone! Additionally, you have an option to negotiate on the price of the vehicle instead of the payment.

Paying Cash Con

The main con in paying cash is that you’re sacrificing the opportunity to build credit. In today’s day and age, credit is extremely important and one of the best ways in building GOOD credit is by having a car loan and PAYING IT OFF ON TIME. Another con is that money can’t be used for other things that you might want to use it for (like investing or to take a vacation). In the end though, it’s good to not have loans on depreciating assets such as vehicles so if you can pay cash, my recommendation is to do it.

Cash vs. Finance Summary

Keep in mind that buying a car today isn’t the same as how it was 20, 10 or even five years ago. The lender makes money off the interest of the loan, so whether you pay cash or finance, it’s the same from the dealers’ perspective. However, growing trends show that more people are choosing loans compared to paying cash and there are several reasons for this. First, a lot of people don’t have as much disposable cash lying around and it’s easier to get credit then to save money. Second, lenders offer incentives to dealers if customers accept loans through them. This “spiff” from lenders to dealers can range from $0-$1000. This can benefit the customer though and here’s an example of how this works. Say you want $500 off a vehicle and are going to finance it. The spiff on the loan the customer gets approved for makes the dealership $600. The customer gets $500 off the price of the vehicle and the dealership makes $100 profit. This is a Win-Win-Win scenario where everyone benefited. You got $500 off the vehicle. The dealer received $600 from the lender and paid $500 of that to you leaving themselves a profit of $100 and the lender gained a new customer.

In conclusion, building good credit is equally as important as not having a lot of debt. It’s clear that most of us are masters at accumulating debt and suck at paying it off. So, if you can pay cash, my advice is to do that. If you can’t and have to finance, that’s okay too. Just make sure you can afford the payments and pay it off as quickly as possible. Keep in mind though that the lenders do want to see “long term” repayments because it shows them you’re capable of making consistent payments on time over a period of time.

Chapter 5: Do I Really Need Car Loan Insurance?

That’s totally up to you. There are a lot of variables to consider like whether or not you’re trading in a vehicle or not and what your budget is. There can be unforeseen events that happen during the duration of a loan and unfortunately some typical instances that occur are; A vehicle gets written off due to an accident, divorce occurs or a sudden job loss. The hard truth is that the loan still needs to be paid off. Being in a really tight financial situation is stressful and could lead to several potential situations like Proposal*. Having poor payment history (i.e. missed payments) will affect your credit negatively and possibly lead to vehicle repossession. Plus if you have additional outstanding debt on top of a car loan, this could lead to bankruptcy*.

See what I mean! Do your best to live within your means, buy a vehicle that fits the budget and give yourself a buffer in case of emergencies.

Bear in mind, there are means of protecting yourself with insurance designed not to leave you in the above mentioned positions. Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) Insurance* and Walkaway Insurance* are excellent examples that could save you from bankruptcy or Proposal. My final advice regarding this question would be to consult with the Financial Business Manager and go over your options with them at the dealership.

Chapter 6: Should I Trade-In My Vehicle or Sell Privately?

One other wrench to throw into the equation is whether or not to trade in a vehicle. There are pros and cons to both. First, look here and here to get an idea of what your car is worth. Be sure to look at the Trade In and Average Asking Price on the Canadian Black Book (CBB) website and compare them with the Wholesale (same as Trade In) and Retail price (same as Average Asking Price) on the VMR Canada website. This will give you a range of what you could get if you sell privately or trade it in.

Trade-In Pros

Two main pros to trading in your vehicle are that it’s typically quicker than selling privately and there’s a tax savings benefit.

Trade-In Cons

The main con to trading in your vehicle is that you’ll usually get less money than selling it privately. Keep in mind the dealership will have to reinvest money to ensure the vehicle passes safety if they decide to resell it or they still need to make a profit through wholesaling it at auction.

Private Sale Pro

The main pro to selling it privately is you’ll normally get more money than trading it in.

Private Sale Cons

A couple of cons to selling your vehicle privately are that it takes time and you will most likely have to negotiate with multiple people. Seeing as negotiating is NOT high on peoples list of enjoyable things to do, they choose to trade-in their vehicle instead.

Every vehicle is unique so weigh the pros and cons for both options and decide what’s best.

Summary

To recap, if you can do these things in order, it should save you time, money and headaches.

  • Start looking in advance
  • Research online
  • Call around and ask about fees
  • If possible, bring someone with you along with a prepared list of questions
  • Decide to pay cash or finance
  • Find vehicle that fits budget
  • Negotiate
    • Tip: Start by asking 3-5% off the asking price
    • Note: Depends on vehicle/dealership/sales person
  • Discuss car loan insurance options and decide what’s best for you
  • Determine whether or not to include a trade in
  • Drive away in new vehicle

And that’s it! You have now walked through the trenches from A-Z on how to buy a vehicle. I hope you’ve found these tips/tricks and insights helpful.

Did you enjoy this post? Was it helpful? Any favourite parts, or things missing?  Do you have your own tips about buying a vehicle, negotiating, etc.?

Please let me know in the comments!  I’ll be reading them all.

About the Author: Dean Douglas is currently the Marketing Manager at That Car Place in London, ON and has 5+ years in the auto industry (both on the West Coast and Prairies) specializing in digital marketing, sales, social media management and website development.

About the Editors: Kal Idriss is currently the Sales Manager at That Car Place and has 5+ years in the auto industry in sales, management and finance. Anya Kisiel is currently the Finance Manager at That Car Place and has 5+ years in the auto industry in finance, sales and website development.

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Glossary

Desking a deal: This commonly used term in the car industry refers to when a sales person is working with their manager along with the customer to put the deal together. Also known as “putting pen to paper” this is when the sales person is writing up an offer on a vehicle with the customer to present to the manager.

Proposal: A consumer proposal is a formal, legally binding process that is administered by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). In this process, the LIT will work with you to develop a "proposal" - an offer to pay creditors a percentage of what is owed to them, or extend the time you have to pay off the debts, or both.

Co-Sign: To sign (a document) in order to guarantee a loan or other obligation.

Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding involving a person or business that is unable to repay outstanding debts.

Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) Insurance: A type of auto insurance that car owners can buy to protect themselves against losses that can arise when the amount of compensation received from a total loss does not fully cover the amount the insured owes on the vehicle's financing or lease agreement.

Walk Away Insurance: Is a series of smart, responsible, debt protection products that guard you against unexpected circumstances that can make it difficult to make the payments on your vehicle’s lease or loan.

Trade In: An item (such as an automobile) taken as payment or part payment for a purchase of another item.

Average Asking Price: Is a representative amount of a range of prices that is calculated by taking the sum of the values and dividing it by the number of prices being examined. For example, every day Canadian Black Book tracks thousands of vehicle listings and provides customers with the most up-to-date average asking price for similar vehicles.

Wholesale Price: The selling of a good (such as an automobile) to be retailed by someone else (such as a dealership). In this example, this would also be known as Trading In a vehicle.

Retail Price: The total price charged for a product sold to a customer, which includes the manufacturer's cost plus a retail markup.

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What's Happening at That Car Place!

Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario 7th Annual Golf Classic!

Along with the warm weather (finally)! Comes the 7th Annual Parkinson Golf Classic held at Fire Rock Golf and Country Club located just minutes from London in beautiful Komoka. The Classic takes place on Tuesday May 24th 2016, with a Shot gun start at 11am! For the 3rd year in a row That Car Place is proud to be one of the sponsors of this fantastic event in our community. That Car Place has donated two very special Hole in One prizes the 1st being a $5000.00 cash prize and the 2nd Free oil changes for One year!! Could you imagine sinking a hole in one and winning one of these fantastic prizes! At the end of this great day of golfing comes a buffet dinner and silent auction.

The Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario is a huge part of our community, helping people who are living with Parkinson’s. They help to ease the burden of this disease and help to find a cure through their amazing support services, informative education not only for those suffering but family and friends affected by this disease, as well as advocacy and research. Parkinson disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder which affects both motor and non-motor functions. Parkinson’s affects 100,000 Canadians currently. This is why community events such as the Golf Classic are so important to help raise awareness and help find a cure. Without events, fundraisers, donors, and volunteers The Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario wouldn’t be where it is today. All proceeds stay within the community, which is why That Car Place is so proud to be a sponsor of this event! Volunteers and supporters like Frank Callapari spend hours of time putting together and organizing events such as this. Without their time and dedication none of this would be possible!

That Car Place is focused on our community and making a difference. We don’t just sell fantastic cars we care about our community and are proud to sponsor the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario any way we can! Please come out and join That Car Place for a great day of Golf and fun while supporting this great cause! Here’s to a great event and raising a ton of awareness! We as a community can help to find a cure. For more information about the society or information on Parkinson’s please visit www.parkinsonsociety.ca Register online at http://parkinsongolfclassic2016.eventbrite.ca

Golf Classic
Golf Classic
Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario
Best of London

That Car Place is happy to announce the we were selected Best Used Car Dealership in London for 2014!

Best of London

That Car Place is happy to announce the we were once again selected Best Used Car Dealership in London for 2015!

Best of London

That Car Place is happy to announce the we were once again selected Best Used Car Dealership in London for 2016!

Thank you so much for all our supporting customers who we are here to serve first, with honesty and utmost integrity, your votes are most appreciated and we hope to continue serving you and your families now and in the future, THANK YOU 🙂