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Name a publication or forum that claims to be "open" and "fair," but where at least two key contributors/editors have used it to fuel their own personal agendas and actively shut out the opposition?  That would be ADM.  Here is an example...


In case you missed it, I posted this (see below in italics) in a thread in defense of TrueCar after two key editors of ADM created an incredibly hostile, non-open, biased environment over the past several days to serve some hidden/personal agenda.


Sure, anyone can chime in so technically it's "open."  But when it's YOUR house, YOUR forum, YOUR rules, YOUR personal agenda, and YOUR editors literally 1) dictating what is shown and not shown, 2) dominating the conversation, 3) misstating facts and/or taking others out of context, and 4) blatantly dismissing opposing viewpoints and even launching PERSONAL attacks on the integrity of the opposition (including respected professionals like Grant Cardone or Tom Stuker, both of whom support TrueCar, as well as TrueCar employees including myself, etc.), that is hardly a "fair" and "open" forum. 


These unprofessional actions have resultantly shut out the silent MAJORITY from rationally laying out opposing viewpoints to get a fair discussion on this topic.  It is IMPOSSIBLE for this to be a "fair" debate, because we simply don't have the time to debate multiple editors who are online all day fueling this fire and agenda when we have day jobs.


Fortunately, the silent majority IS speaking off-the-record because they know this forum debate is one-sided and therefore completely futile to comment on at this point.  Instead of comments, we actually had a record number of dealers contact us and sign up to become TrueCar Certified dealers in the past couple weeks because dealer PRINCIPALS a) recognize the significant value proposition we represent to dealers and consumers alike, b) understand the incremental profit we help provide to dealers, and c) are working hard to adapt to the rapid shift in customer demand going on in the marketplace and believe we help them to that end.  So we sincerely appreciate the tremendous off-line support we've gotten from top industry consultants, analysts and firms, dealers, vendors, and even competitors (as crazy as that sounds) who have reached out to us privately to keep pressing forward.  The fact that the thread in question fails to create a "fair" and "open" forum and has factually silenced the majority is disappointing.


In fairness, Ralph Paglia has reached out multiple times privately to assure me that ADM continues to be a fair and open forum, and thanked me for toughing it out and participating in the discussion to the limited extent I am able as I can't be online 24/7.  I respect him for reaching out like that and have no beef with Ralph (or even Keith or Jim quite frankly, as I don't think they're bad people...I just happen to disagree with them on this issue based upon the facts).  But the reality is that this is not a fair and open discussion on this particular subject, but an editorial soapbox with an ulterior motive.


So to the silent majority that has viewed these threads and continues to reach out to us daily, thanks for the support and keep your private comments coming in...we appreciate it.


P.S.  I don't have any more time to post on ADM!!!  Too much work to do, so this is it for the foreseeable future...and don't expect any other posts from me until I get my projects done, which will probably be in a few months...peace out...


(Here is the post in the previously mentioned thread)


@Keith...I have to say I do take some offense to you essentially calling me, Devin and others we work with liars.  First, I have built a tremendous reputation of integrity and a proven track record of helping dealers knock it out of the park throughout my entire career.  Second, we have clearly stated facts, which you and others have twisted and misstated to suit an agenda. 

 

From a professional and journalistic perspective too, you are an EDITOR for ADM.  That is a special title that does not give you or any other ADM editor the right to baselessly attack participants to suit your own agenda and/or create a hostile, biased, editorialized environment in the process.  That flies in the face of a welcome/open forum and journalistic standards.  Keith Crain does not chime in and attack people in threads at Automotive News for expressing their differing viewpoints.  My friend Dutch Mandel at AutoWeek doesn't do that either.  Stephen Moore doesn't do that at the WSJ.  And so on.  They create and facilitate an environment that fosters healthy debate and learnings. But when the editors of a publication or forum actively create a hostile, biased, environment to suit their own agenda, it absolutely prevents and discourages the silent majority (and yes, it is the majority) from offering their differing viewpoints, which is counterproductive to the learning process in a truly "open" forum.

 

I have stated facts, and also have provided context for my perspectives (my extensive and diverse OEM, retail, marketing, consulting/Six Sigma, and technology background), and yet my facts and perspectives have been summarily dismissed as "liar liar pants on fire."  For example...

 

  • As I've previously stated, I'm a franchising expert, have stated that it is basically impossible to eradicate a dealer network (unless the OEM ceases to exist of course), and asked for anyone to explain how exactly that could be done since many of you actually believe that about TrueCar.  Yet I've gotten no answer.  Why?  Because we all know it can't be done.  That said, why is this even remotely a topic of discussion if it is impossible and untrue for TrueCar or anyone to do?
  • I've stated that TrueCar factually generates incremental profitability for dealers, yet that is dismissed with no data to the contrary. 
  • I've stated that EVERYONE thinks and knows there are too many dealers...dealers think this, many OEMs think this, industry experts (e.g. Roger Penske) and analysts think this, and so on.  So if I or anyone says that the market needs fewer dealers, there is no debate on that...it is a true statement.
  • Edmunds gets far more traffic than TrueCar and shows TMV cost and pricing data.  KBB gets far more traffic than TrueCar and shows Reality Check cost and pricing data.  So they have far more volume than we do, have shown cost and pricing information far longer than we have, yet no one here has ever criticized them for fueling an alleged race-to-zero for showing that cost and pricing information to far more customers than we do.  Strange.
  • No one has presented any data to support that pricing transparency fuels a race-to-zero.  Yet while more customers have seen pricing and cost information in Edmunds, KBB, and TrueCar year-over-year, overall transaction prices and margins have increased year-over-year.  How is that possible if such information fuels a race-to-zero?
  • It has gotten so low that even Grant Cardone is being accused here of lying on behalf of TrueCar (because of a Fox News affiliation?!).  So is Tom Stuker lying too for supporting what we do?  Are the other top consultants throughout the industry all lying too in their support of TrueCar?  Or they are all just wrong and everyone here is right? 
  • I asked a simple question before...if your daughter/mother/sister/wife was buying a car for the first time, would you let them go to a random dealer in the market and buy a car with no input or help from you?  To date, I have NEVER gotten a "yes" answer to this, and many dealers have even added half-jokingly that they probably wouldn't let them buy a car unannounced from their own dealerships.  Therein lies the problem, customers aren't getting a great experience, and we all know it.  And that is part of the reason why TrueCar (and our partners like Consumer Reports, USAA, et al), Edmunds, KBB, AutoTrader, Cars.com, CarWoo, CarPerks, AutoNation Direct, Costco, and probably more than a hundred others all exist...to try and meet the rapidly evolving wants and needs of current and future car buyers, and work WITH valued dealer partners to mutually achieve that goal.
  • Regarding this eradication of the dealer network notion, I'm reminded that Costco has never been the subject of outrage, yet they facilitated the sale of FAR more vehicles last year than TrueCar, at rock bottom prices, and if they could figure it out, they'd get rid of all dealers and sell and service vehicles themselves (i.e. become the dealer themselves) because they have the central locations and brick and mortar to do it.  They legitimately are a FAR greater threat to dealers than TrueCar or anyone else, yet again, I never heard one word about them.
  • About 1.5% of retail sales will be facilitated by TrueCar and our nearly 100 partners this year.  Again, how can this possibly destroy the entire dealer network as you know it, and overcome the other 98.5% of sales they make outside of TrueCar?  And if we absolutely CRUSHED it in the next few years and miraculously got to a whopping 5% somehow, explain how that will overshadow the other 95% of sales dealers make?  When I was running a store, I did the math and we could have literally sold 5% of our cars every month for a $5,000 loss each, and STILL turned a profit for the entire dealership.  I could have literally given a way 1.5% of our vehicles every month and still turned a profit for the store.  If 1.5% of retail sales is going to devastate your dealership, as Grant Cardone said in his video, and Tom Stuker told me the other day, you have some serious problems and have only yourself to blame.
  • AutoTrader has HomeNet, KBB, vAuto, VinSolutions, etc. in their portfolio, and a huge warchest too.  They just enhanced their cost and pricing data for consumers with Reality Check, but again, not a word from anyone here despite having FAR more volume and more brand awareness than us.  They are a well-run company, plan to IPO, have a warchest, have DMS access, and have Stapleton (I love ya Stapes! =), etc.  But again, not a word from anyone here about it despite the similarities.

 

So given these facts, I have to ask again, why are we spending so much time and energy a company impacting 1.5% of sales, and also not applying consistency in criticism of other similar businesses?  It's funny...when there are major disagreements on something, I turn it around and ask people to name one thing about it that is good or positive.  If people are honest, there is almost never a time you can't say something legitimately positive about it.  Hey, I understand Jerry has assailed us to no end, but he's entitled to his opinion, he's not an editor or contributor here, and I respect that.  And I'm sure his company does some good work for dealers too, so I have no beef there either.  But if we all take a step back, breathe for a second, I think we can look at everything a little bit differently...

 

Tags: ADM, Automotive Digital Marketing, Grant Cardone, Jim Ziegler, Keith Shetterly, Scott Painter, Tom Stuker, TrueCar, Zag

Views: 3016

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Replies to This ADM Discussion

Charles,

I know you are busy, so I am not sure you will be seeing this, but wanted to let you know that I am featuring your discussion post and sending it out to all ADM members in an attempt to give equal time and exposure to your views and perspectives.  I hope you will remain an active and contributing member of our community.

In answer to Charles Kim at TrueCar...

Charles, let me simplify this.... We don't believe you.

We don't like your company or your company's agenda....

Nothing you say is going to persuade us otherwise since there is a mountain of solid evidence that says otherwise.

Your company is evil (my opinion of course)

Your agenda is to destroy us...Scott painter said so... watch the video Charles, maybe you'll get it.

You got a couple of "Bell-Cow Sell-outs to support you"

You're still evil as a company.

We're NOT a minority, it's a growing movement and you're nervous.

Sorry about your stock options.

Get out of our Data-bases leave our customer information alone.

What you're doing might be illegal...I don't know but sure appears to be. 

Scott Painter might be a genius...most geniuses are nutcases... watch and be sure he doesn't cut off his own ear or something.

Be on the lookout for subpoenas from States Attorneys General about your business practices in conflict.

Watch for major manufacturers to boycott you ala Honda.

Dealer Associations don't like you BUT their hands are tied...  still they talk.

Federal privacy Laws are a slippery slope... somebody must be watching.

Several people have said you guys are selling and buying customer data...  I never said that because that would be a criminal, prosecutable offense if anyone ever got into "Discovery"

Charles, it appears to me that YOUR COMPANY IS IN DEEP DOO-DOO....  Warmly- JIM

GO Ziegler GO! Guess you don't know the old saying, "Mess with the Bull and you'll get the Horns", Charlie boy,  ;P  I really wanted to say the same thing, but you said it better anyway James.

BTW, As far as Ralph is concerned, when we first met I was working for Reynolds and Reynolds, the opposing team, and he's always treated me like a friend from the word go. I'll always have his back.

Ken - Thank you... I have admired your professionalism and expertise for a long time.  Also, having worked for Reynolds and Reynolds for several years, i have a lot of friends still working there and a ton of respect for the company.

The video was compelling, very difficult to argue the agenda of TrueCar after watching/hearing it directly from them.

Wow.. Pretty intense... Seems to me most of the people replying on ADM ARE from the dealerships.....

Unfair.. no? Biased... towards the people who work in the auto industry, no doubt! I to am an editor here and there has never been an agenda of any kind set by Ralph or anybody else. Each one of us have our own free will to say what we want, within a specific code of conduct.

The real issue here is TrueCar has failed at making auto industry personnel understand their point of view. Always remember that perception is reality, even if that perception is wrong. Not saying that's the case here, but since the perception is what it is, that is the reality of the people you mentioned in the post above.

Having said that it's going to be almost impossible to change that perception with all the so called "damning evidence" your protractors feel that they have.

My opinion on this matter is that these multiple editors you are referring to aren't fueling any fire because they are the fire, TrueCar is the real fuel here. What is it going to take to change that perception? I don't know. But what I do know is that by taking the stance you have taken in this post you are setting yourself up for even more anti TrueCar sentiment.

Maybe we can set up some sort of round table discussion, moderated by an unbiased third party...

Charles,

I can tell you from experience that Ralph is fair and open here at ADM.  I know because my first experience with Ralph was not a pretty one.  I basically called him a cyber bully and verbally punched him in the noes, but he took his licks and we eventually became pals.  He could have easily used his clout to discredit me, but he didn't.

We're all contributors here.  And those who are editors are more likely honorary editors in title.  We also have day jobs, but we find the time to be active since we are passionate about what we do.  We also know that driving you all to the unemployment line would be best for the automotive industry.

Ralph runs a fair forum here.  You just happen to work for a company that not too many people admire. The only thing that would make your company more despicable is if you hired Casey Anthony to head up your PR department.

So far you only have two names of people that support your company, and I wouldn't exactly say Grant came out and said you guys were "great."  It was an okay reference, but not a glowing one.

I can't imagine you all have signed any dealers up this week, from what I am hearing you all are losing clients faster than you can turn them off.  

Here's a little early Christmas present for you: Merry Christmas Charles!

ohhh Jerry.

Wow.  I love it!!!

I know this... United We Stand, Divided We Fall!  Pitting auto people against auto people, dealers against dealers, promotes an unhealthy situation where nobody wins!  As a Comptroller for a GM winddown dealer, I experienced first hand the go forward dealers (some were recipients of gifted franchises), fighting against the dealers fighting for rights for reinstatement, and it was ugly!! Too much focus on negativity and everyone loses!  I am not a fan of TrueCar and I am certainly not a fan of the perception the American consumers has of all car dealerships either!  For the past decade or so, numerous dealers and automotive folks have made great strides in our efforts to change this; embracing the community, transparent dealing with full disclosures, ethical marketing strategies, internal procedures to enhance customer service, etc... And what I see now is even if TrueCar's mission was to simplify the customers' purchasing process and make it a more enjoyable task, it now seems to have backfired.  Perhaps the ramifications were not researched and reviewed thoroughly, perhaps the philosophy of "the end justifies the means" is apparent.... But I do know that after reading the customers' negative comments to TrueCar after the proposed buying experience did not go the way TrueCar said it would...the dealer was again the bad guy! The scam accusations pointed back to the dealership, as TrueCar did not take any accountability in their responses to the disgruntal consumer.

I don't know if a roundtable discussion at this point would solve any issues; and I am not certain what stance NADA has taken in all of this, (I thought I read they had given TrueCar their NADA "blessing").  I do know that Ralph welcomes debate and a willingness to allow all parties to vent exists here and on other sites at which he is active.  I hope a resolution is met in regards to TrueCar, which appeases all parties; dealerships, manufacturers, vendor partners, and most importantly...the car buyer!!!  I feel as though we have taken two steps forward and three giant steps backwards when it comes to changing the perception of the auto industry to the esteemed level of respect it deserves!!!

@ Charles - Your "facts" are "your reality", not mine. No where in your rebuttal do you address the issues of TrueCar's business model and obscure (fine print) methods of dealer data procurement.

Are you really as shocked as your post sounds that dealers and their "supporting vendors" would stand their ground and speak out at the statement that your company (you through the president) believes there are still too many dealers even after the government backed blood letting of Chevrolet and Chrysler?

"My reality" is that TrueCar is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Your company business model does not support the vast majority of automotive dealerships and I remain very concerned about the probability of legal implications (consumer privacy laws) involved with TrueCar's data procurement.

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