Tag Archive | "Cars.com"

Reputation Butler to Shake Up the Online Review Game

LAS VEGAS — Reputation Butler, a new online review monitoring service for auto dealers, launches today with a promise to shake up the online review game. After weeks of software creation and tweaking, the company is ready to open its virtual doors to dealerships everywhere.

The company’s directors say Reputation Butler tackles a problem that dealerships and auto retailers face almost daily: monitoring and keeping track of online consumer reviews on countless platforms.

“We know that online reviews are a big part of running a successful business these days, but properly monitoring them has been nearly impossible up until this point,” said Brian Lack, the company’s founder and an auto retail veteran. “We want to change that.”

Lack said the new service includes several innovative features designed to help change the way businesses and dealerships view online reviews for good. The list of features includes:

  • A convenient, all-in-one dashboard with a review feed to allow for evaluation of all reviews
  • The ability to incorporate multiple online review sites (including Yelp, Cars.com, DealerRater, Edmunds, SureCritic, The Yellow Pages, and more) to ensure widespread review monitoring
  • Intelligent statistics and reporting to analyze reviews and compare overall review analytics for one dealership location against another
  • A “Review Requester” feature designed to allow dealerships to solicit reviews from recent customers via sms or email, with a built-in feature that puts “thumbs-down” clickers in direct contact with a manager to prevent bad reviews from appearing online
  • A facility to add multiple users/teams to the Reputation Butler system to track reviews, plus a “trending list” in the dashboard showing keywords and phrases trending among all current online reviews
  • Different review monitoring packages (including a Gold Management Package and a Platinum Response Package) to serve the individual monitoring needs of each dealership

Lack said the scope and functionality of Reputation Butler will make it an invaluable resource for auto dealers across the nation. He noted that flexible monitoring packages will offer options for dealerships who may not need “the full kit and caboodle” right off the bat, and the incredible array of features will allow for consistent, thorough review monitoring year-round.

“With Reputation Butler, online reviews will no longer be feared or ignored, but will instead be embraced and incorporated as a strategic, effective and efficient part of everyday business,” he said.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

TEGNA to Spin Off Cars.com

MCLEAN, Va. — Cars.com is going public, the firm’s parent company, TEGNA Inc., announced on Wednesday. According to its announcement, the digital automotive marketplace will be spun off, creating two independent publicly traded companies.

TEGNA, which was called Gannett until it spun off its newspaper business last year, is the largest broadcast station group among major network affiliates in the Top 25 markets. And according to the company’s announcement, TEGNA is evaluating “strategic alternatives” for CareerBuilder. TEGNA owns a 53% controlling interest in the job search site. Minority owners include Tribune Media and The McClatchy Co.

The company also announced that President and CEO Gracia Martore, who is also a member of TEGNA’s board of directors, will retire upon closing of the spin-off. That’s expected to happen during the first half of 2017.

“Over the last four and a half years, we’ve taken a series of important strategic steps to increase the value of our business, including the acquisition of broadcast stations from Belo Corp. and London Broadcasting, the acquisition of full ownership of Cars.com, and the spin-off of Gannett publishing business,” Martore stated in the company’s press release. “The spin-off we’re announcing today is the next logical step in our ongoing transformation to best position our market-leading businesses and continues our strong track record of creating value for shareholders.”

Cars.com, which completed its acquisition of DealerRater in late July, will remain headquartered in Chicago once the spin-off is completed. It will trade under the ticker symbol “CARS.” Officials said the planned spin-off would result in a trading multiple for Cars.com “that is commensurate with other pure-play digital companies, greater flexibility to pursue merger and acquisition opportunities, and benefits associated with aligning capital structure and allocation with specific business needs and opportunities.

As an independent company, officials added, Cars.com will be able to “focus more sharply on its key strategic priorities,” which, according to the company, include rapid innovation and “active evaluation and pursuit of acquisitions to open up new, adjacent opportunities.”

TEGNA, which will remain headquartered in McLean, Va., will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “TGNA.” According to the company’s announcement, TEGNA’s management team will develop and present detailed separation plans to its board of directors over the coming months. Completion of the spin-off will be subject to certain conditions, including receipt of final board approval, receipt of an opinion from tax counsel regarding the tax-free nature of the distribution, and the effectiveness of a Form 10 registration statement. The latter is expected to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission later today, officials said.

According to the company’s announcement, the impending spin-off will allow TEGNA to focus on opportunities specific to its broadcasting business, which consists of 46 TV stations. They include the No. 1 NBC affiliate group, the No. 1 CBS affiliate group, and the No. 4 ABC affiliate group.

The company’s current debt, according to officials, will remain with TEGNA. However, TEGNA expects to receive from Cars.com a one-time cash dividend immediately prior to the spin-off. It will be used to maintain TEGNA’s current credit rating.

The completion of the spin-off will also mark the end of Martore’s 31-year career with TEGNA and its predecessor Gannett Co. Inc. Upon his retirement, according to the company’s announcement, Dave Lougee will assume the role of CEO and president of TEGNA, while Alex Vetter will maintain his role as president and CEO of Cars.com. The two executives will also serve on the boards of TEGNA and Cars.com.

Lougee currently serves as president of TEGNA Media. He was named president of Gannett Broadcasting in July 2007, and previously served as executive vice president of media operations for Belo Corp. Vetter was one of the original members of Cars.com’s management team. He is credited with helping to shape the company from its initial concept into a leading online automotive destination. In November 2014, Vetter was named CEO and president of Cars.com. The company currently employs 1,300 individuals and serves 20,000 retailers and every manufacturer.

“I am incredibly grateful to have spent more than 30 years servicing this outstanding organization and deeply honored to have had the opportunity to lead TEGNA during its inaugural year,” said Martore, who joined Gannett in 1985 as assistant treasurer. “… It has been an amazing ride, and both TEGNA and Gannett will always hold a special place in my heart.”

As for Cars.com, Martore added: “Spinning of Cars.com from TEGNA will establish two strong, industry-leading companies that are well positioned to compete and to continue to profitably grow in their targeted markets. Each business will have increased strategic, operating, and financial flexibility at a time when the broadcast and digital sectors are both rapidly evolving … Cars.com will have the flexibility to invest in further organic growth and to participate in the active digital automotive M&A market, and TEGNA will have a strong balance sheet and cash flow to continue to pursue investment in organic growth and opportunistic acquisitions and to provide an optimal mix of capital returns to shareholders.”

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

ADT Names 2016 Dealers’ Choice Award Winners

TORRANCE, Calif. — The publishers of Auto Dealer Today announced the winners of the 12th annual Dealers’ Choice Awards. The awards are based on a comprehensive survey that allowed dealers and dealership personnel to recognize their favorite vendors, suppliers and finance companies in 34 categories.

Voters must write in the name of each provider and score them in a number of areas related to performance, customer service, and the likelihood the voter would recommend each company to another dealer.

“This year’s winners include Dealers’ Choice Awards regulars as well as a number of new companies that have emerged as major players in a variety of categories,” said David Gesualdo, publisher of Auto Dealer Today and F&I and Showroom magazines. “But they all have one thing in common: They have earned the loyalty and praise of dealers, and they deserve our congratulations.”

The 2016 Dealer’s Choice Awards winners are:

New-Vehicle Lead

Used-Vehicle Lead

  • Diamond: Autotrader
  • Platinum: Cars.com
  • Gold: CarsDirect

Special Finance Lead

  • Diamond: CarsDirect
  • Platinum: DealerLink
  • Gold: Auto Credit Express

Digital Marketing

  • Diamond: Digital Air Strike
  • Platinum: ELEAD1ONE
  • Gold: eBizAutos

Website Provider

  • Diamond: eBizAutos
  • Platinum: VinSolutions
  • Gold: Dealer.com

Chat Provider

  • Diamond: ActivEngage
  • Platinum: Client~ConneXion
  • Gold: Contact At Once!

Mobile Media

  • Diamond: Dealer.com
  • Platinum: eBizAutos
  • Gold: Dealer Synergy

Social Media Management

  • Diamond: Ally
  • Platinum: Naked Lime
  • Gold: DealerClickz

Reputation Management

  • Diamond: Dominion Dealer Solutions
  • Platinum: CDK Global
  • Gold (tie): DealerRefresh
  • Gold (tie): DMEautomotive

Direct Mail

  • Diamond: ProMax Unlimited
  • Platinum: Action Integrated
  • Gold: Strategic Marketing

Virtual BDC

  • Diamond: ELEAD1ONE
  • Platinum: DealerStrong

Online Inventory Listing Management

  • Diamond: Dominion Dealer Solutions
  • Platinum: eBizAutos
  • Gold: Auction123

Inventory Management

  • Diamond: Dealertrack
  • Platinum: vAuto
  • Gold: FirstLook Systems

Hiring and Recruitment

  • Diamond: GSFSGroup
  • Platinum: Hireology

Sales Training

  • Diamond: Ziegler SuperSystems
  • Platinum: Ally
  • Gold: Joe Verde Group

Internet Training

  • Diamond: Dealer.com
  • Platinum: Dealer Synergy
  • Gold: Ally

Compliance Training

  • Diamond: American Financial & Automotive Services (AFAS)
  • Platinum: United Development Systems Inc. (UDS)
  • Gold: Mosaic Compliance Services

F&I Training

  • Diamond: United Development Systems Inc. (UDS)
  • Platinum: American Financial & Automotive Services (AFAS)
  • Gold: Reahard & Associates

Special Finance Training

  • Diamond: DealerStrong
  • Platinum: NCM Associates
  • Gold: Ally

Fixed Ops Training

  • Diamond: DealerPro Service Solutions
  • Platinum: CDK Global
  • Gold: The Cardone Group

F&I Products

  • Diamond: IAS
  • Platinum: RoadVantage
  • Gold: National Auto Care

Service Contract

  • Diamond: CNA National
  • Platinum: Protective Asset Protection
  • Gold: AUL Corp.

Service Contract Reinsurance

  • Diamond: Portfolio
  • Platinum: GSFSGroup
  • Gold: CNA National

F&I Desking Software

  • Diamond: ProMax Unlimited
  • Platinum: Reynolds and Reynolds
  • Gold: Dealertrack

F&I Technology

  • Diamond: F&I Express
  • Platinum: MaximTrak
  • Gold: StoneEagle


  • Diamond: ProMax Unlimited
  • Platinum: ELEAD1ONE
  • Gold: Reynolds and Reynolds


  • Diamond: Dealertrack
  • Platinum: Reynolds and Reynolds
  • Gold: Auto/Mate

Data Mining

  • Diamond: ELEAD1ONE
  • Platinum: Dominion Dealer Solutions
  • Gold: AutoAlert

Online Auction for Purchasing Inventory

  • Diamond: Manheim
  • Platinum: SmartAuction
  • Gold: ADESA

Traditional Auction

  • Diamond: Manheim
  • Platinum: ADESA

Prime Captive Finance Company

  • Diamond: GM Financial
  • Platinum: Honda Financial Services
  • Gold: Toyota Financial Services

Prime Non-Captive Finance Company

  • Diamond: Ally
  • Platinum: Chase
  • Gold: Wells Fargo

Subprime Finance Company

  • Diamond: Wells Fargo
  • Platinum: Regional Acceptance
  • Gold: Capital One

Biweekly Payments

  • Diamond: U.S. Equity Advantage
  • Platinum: SMART Payment Plan
  • Gold: Economic Advantages Corp. (EAC)

More detail about this year’s awards will appear in a Special Awards Section in the July issue of Auto Dealer Today. The winners will be honored in a special ceremony in August at Industry Summit in Las Vegas.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact David Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or at (727) 947-4027.

Posted in P&A NewsComments (0)

Gannett Co. to Acquire Cars.com

MCLEAN, Va. — Gannett Co. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire full ownership of Cars.com for $1.8 million in cash. Under this agreement, Gannett will acquire the remaining 73% interest in the company from Classified Ventures LLC, which owns Cars.com.

The publishing company also announced plans to create two publicly traded companies: one exclusively focused on its broadcasting and digital businesses, and the other on its publishing business. The planned separation of the publishing business will be implemented through a tax-free distribution of Gannett’s Publishing assets to shareholders. The transaction will create two focused companies with increased opportunities to grow organically across all businesses as well as pursue strategic acquisitions, officials said.

“The bold actions we are announcing today are significant next steps in our ongoing initiatives to increase shareholder value by building scale, increasing cash flow, sharpening management focus, and strengthening all of our businesses to compete effectively in today’s increasingly digital landscape,” said Gracia Martore, president and CEO. “Cars.com doubles our growing digital business, while our recent acquisitions of Belo and London Broadcasting doubled our broadcasting portfolio. These acquisitions, combined with our successful initiatives over the past two and a half years to strengthen our publishing business, make this the right time for a separation into two market-leading companies.”

Cars.com is the No. 2 auto-related site, officials claimed, with approximately 30 million visits per month. Annual visits, according to officials, have grown at a rate of 17% for the last several years. Since its inception, Cars.com has grown consistently, and today the site displays approximately 4.3 million new and used cars from nearly 20,000 dealers.

Acquiring all of Cars.com further accelerates Gannett’s digital transformation and is consistent with the company’s focus on local media and marketing services. Gannett will enter into new five-year affiliate agreements with the existing owner-affiliates of Cars.com upon the closing date. The company expects the transaction to be accretive to free cash flow by approximately $0.43 per share and neutral to non-GAAP earnings per share in 2015, growing thereafter.

Gannett will finance the acquisition through cash on hand, the issuance of approximately $650-$675 million in new senior notes and borrowings under the company’s revolving credit agreement.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

Lease Deals, Incentives Abundant in April

Chicago – As dealerships across the country continue to unload old inventory to make room for new vehicles, lease deals and new-car incentives remain plentiful this month. April brings strong incentives in the crowded mid-sized sedan, compact and mid-sized SUV segments, where dealers and manufacturers are competing heavily for the attention of consumers.

Due, in part, to the overstocked large-vehicle category, manufacturers are expected to offer generous incentives as a means to help move inventory. Significant deals on vehicles in the increasingly popular compact SUV segment, including the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Sport FWD, 2014 BMW X1 xDrive28i, 2014 Buick Enclave and 2014 Honda CR-V 5 Speed Automatic 2WD LX, will continue throughout the month and into May.

“Relatively slow sales pace in the first quarter of 2014 resulted in higher-than-expected inventory levels at many dealers’ lots, which can only mean more attractive deals for consumers in April,” said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst, Cars.com, an automotive digital marketing company and car shopping site. “Manufacturers will take advantage of the seasonal uptick and warmer weather, which should bring an influx of shoppers to dealerships, by heavily promoting their vehicles. We’ll also see continued promotion of low-APR financing incentives and generous leasing offers. Consumers are leasing new vehicles at near-record levels due to special manufacturer promotions featuring low payments, especially in the luxury-vehicle segment.”

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

Mobile “Showrooming” Now Mainstream in Automotive Retail

Chicago – According to Placed Inc., 63% of car shoppers now use their smartphones to do research and make decisions while at automotive dealerships. In an independent study commissioned by Cars.com, Placed found that on-lot mobile “showrooming” significantly influences both dealership and vehicle selection, with pricing information, inventory availability and mobile advertisements persuading shoppers to visit competing dealerships – behavior that mirrors traditional retail shopping.

“In the same way online advertising revolutionized the automotive retail industry over the past decade, mobile shopping has exploded in just the past year, fundamentally changing the way dealers need to engage with customers,” said Alex Vetter, senior vice president, Cars.com. “Retailers should take immediate action to make mobile a cornerstone of their marketing strategy or risk losing out to mobile-savvy competitors.”

The study examined survey response and location data from more than 500 participants following visits to automotive dealerships, through the Placed smartphone app. The study’s findings include:

Universal adoption: 81% of auto shoppers used smartphones to do research when purchasing a vehicle, including 63% who used their smartphone while physically at an automotive dealership. A quarter (25%) of auto shoppers conducted research using a smartphone only, prior to visiting a dealership.

Automotive “showrooming”: The study found that mobile auto shoppers were 72% more likely to visit an additional dealership than shoppers who did not use a smartphone. Top on-lot activities included calculating price and payment information, confirming vehicle availability and comparing local competitors. Of shoppers who visited more than one dealership, more than half (52%) did so because of information gathered on their mobile device.

Mobile ad Influence: Advertising played a key role in influencing decisions as 33% of shoppers were lured to a competing dealership based on a mobile advertisement found while on a dealer lot.

“There’s been similar research around showrooming across other retail categories, but this is the first time anyone has been able to look quantitatively at mobile consumer behavior within automotive with this level of detail,” said David Shim, founder and CEO, Placed. “A vehicle is one of the largest retail purchases a consumer makes, so it’s understandable that shoppers use every resource available – including their smartphone – to make what is often a very complex, calculated decision.”

The study also analyzed the role of third-party automotive marketplace sites in on-lot mobile auto research. The top 4 third-party in-market shopping Web sites (Cars.com, AutoTrader, KBB, Edmunds) were utilized by 56% of on-lot mobile users in the study, far surpassing use of manufacturer websites, dealership Web sites and search engines. This signals a consumer need for unbiased third-party information while on the lot in order to confirm car buying decisions.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

Page 1 of 212