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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...

 

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Replies to This ADM Discussion

No offense but after all the evidence you still decide to work with TrueCar? That is downright foolish. I mean people are canceling and you are joining. Wow. Maybe you have a tactic that we don't.

Charles,

Interesting stuff coming from a man who works for and represents a horrible company.  First of all, this community is completely fair.  This community is where people like myself create a name for themselves in the industry and build long lasting relationships that help enhance our careers.  This community has content that can literally build a dealership from the ground up.  This community has served the industry well and it is a shame that there are people that still have not joined (my opinion).  Ralph and his editors are full of integrity and are some of the top automotive people in the industry.  You see, unlike your employer (who is trying to destroy the automotive industry), this community is trying to help the industry and make our industry better.  If this includes fighting off nasty and unethical companies such as TrueCar/Zag (your employer) then so be it.

I have not seen where Tom Stuker made an opinion about it.  Be that as it may, I still respect the man for being a pioneer in the field that I work in.  Tom Stuker (right or wrong opinion) still works to help our industry.  If he is in support of your lousy program it is because he probably has not had a full understanding of it or experience of working with on the showroom floor.  The same thing goes for Grant Cardone (who I a lot of respect and appreciation for).  Grant does a service to help us sales professionals be motivated and be professional.  However, Grant has not worked a Zag lead.  Grant has not dealt with the troubles that retail automotive professionals are dealing with when working Zag and TrueCar leads.  What kind of close can you use when your $1000 behind triple net and you would rather not sell the car?  You know you are not going to get a customer to pay $2000 more just for you to break even.  Why?  Because your company (TrueCar) is making it that way.  Sometimes consultants who have not worked in a dealership for many years lose fate of the reality of the situation and we will spin propaganda just to motivate you and get you to stop thinking about reality.  No offense to Grant Cardone and Tom Stuker (I admire and respect the both of you).

Back to this community.  When I need to find out about how good a vendor is I use ADM.  When I needed help creating email templates I used ADM.  When I needed to find a job and connect with people I used ADM.  Ralph Paglia is the reason why Stan Sher is known by people.  Ralph Paglia and ADM helped create an idea that eventually moved onto various other social networks where Stan Sher has made a nationwide presence.  I learned to leverage it to become a speaker at dealer associations, to write for multiple publications, and to start my own company.  Thank you Ralph and ADM for what you do for the industry and for my career.

Let me tell you why your debate seems to be unfair and why it is impossible to show your point of view. YOUR COMPANY IS HURTING THE INDUSTRY IN MANY WAYS!!!  We have all seen the damage that TrueCar does.  You will never know what nightmares your employer has caused me in past in the retail world.  Read my blog (http://www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com/profiles/blogs/the-realit...).  When you represent the a bad company you will be treated like it (notice I had to carefully choose my words to biased just for you).  

Oh and if you don't have time to debate all of us.  Well then sit back and let us true automotive professionals do our thing and destroy your lousy company.  After all that is what it deserves.

I think the dealers that were foolish enough to sign up tells me that there are not enough dealers reading our blogs and your sales staff is once again pitching them a product with no integrity whatsoever.  I know for a fact that a lot of dealers cancelled.

I am sorry that my very good friend (who I also admire) called you, your fellow employees and your cancer of a company for what you guys really are.  Let's be honest here.  If you meant well and were an honest and fair person you would not be working for a company like TrueCar.  

I am reading your so called and in reality they are not facts.  Look at how many consumers you guys pissed off at TrueCar.  Look at how many dealers you guys pissed off.  Come on man, stop lying to yourself.  If you want me to respect you, quit your job and go do something honorable.  Stop hurting business from providing opportunities for humanity.  These dealerships have employees that are working to provide for their families and your low-life of a boss (Scott Painter) wants to put them out of work.

Really?  What is so honorable about TrueCar?  You guys got some big players to be partners.  These big players are not on the front lines to see the damage that you are really doing.  Any when these big players start to see that your service pissed off their customers we will see how long they will keep being affiliated.

Just stop crying to us about fairness because you represent unfairness dude.

Charles, I agree with you that there are many, many companies in the automotive space dedicated to providing consumers with transparent information.  The big difference between Truecar and these other players is very simple - none of them were dumb enough to state publically that the consumer should not have to deal with "high pressure, highly compensated" salespeople to buy a car. The number of high pressure dealerships is certainly declining rapidly and to call auto salespeople in this economy "highly compensated" is laughable.  Scott Painter is clearly a brilliant guy and wants to transform the delivery of a product to the consumer.  Consumers may demand that change happens and if that's the case, nothing that is written on these blogs will affect that.  As a former salesmen, I love the car business and believe that we provide a valuable service to our customers. 

I've listened to all of the Charles Kim and Devin (what's his name?) posts about how we're persecuting poor TrueCar and Zag... Charles here's the bottom line.... 

Cracking up reading this...tears streaming down my face laughing... "Minority?" No Charles we are the swelling majority coming at your dishonorable shady cause from all sides. TrueCar is on the run and we are going to turn up the heat even more. 

Personally, I like you a lot... you and I, we had some fun in Kansas City last spring. BUT, you and I both know what you and your company are doing is Wrong... Sorry about your stock options. 

I've talked to a number of people you've lobbied to support you and we both know, you're feeling like a leper... nobody wants to back TrueCar. You're posts reek of desperation because you know the tide is turning as the spotlight brightens. You got a couple of "Sellouts" to back you but the majority is growing and your company is losing. Scott Painter is a liability, can't keep his mouth shut.

Let's Face it, TrueCar - Zag would not need to be on these posts defending if we weren't gathering support for truth and what's right. 30,000 page views of people and 99% don't like your company! OR what you're trying to do to us!  We're pulling the plug on TrueCar and dealers everywhere are forwarding these posts to others.

My goal is to make Wall Street so nervous nobody would throw a nickle at investing in TrueCar - Zag because of your dishonorable intentions and thinly hidden, possibly illegal agenda. I smell your fear AND it is justified...Brace yourself...we're coming. 

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

We don't like your company or your companies 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

Charles

I often think Ralph is too full of marketing himself as his product, and often don't care to engage in this medium, frankly the volume of this thing he perpetuates says someone doesn't have a job.  But your version of believing you help dealers really stirred me.  I have facts less than 30 days old of multiple dealers I train, that not only have reduced gross on the true car mooch deals, but it caused them to not properly work the online business they should paying attention to with better gross. You don't make it up in volume.  Any time you want to truly look at the facts of the damage True Cars is doing to dealers bottom line, I will review the deals straight from the DMS with you.  Cardone and the likes get paid for training sales staff and its to their benefit to tell the dealer they need to be trained better to handle this stuff.  The reality is that the consumer doesn't like the process and many people in the industry don't either, but giving the dealers profit away wont fix that and you and True Car are delusional to think so.  All you have to do is listen to Painter talk at the tech conference he spoke at, about the billions of dollars of income stream he gloats over. It rightfully belongs to the hard working dealers who bought their franchises.  You and and True Car are planning (in Painters own words) to go after the other profit areas with in the dealers franchise.  I hope dealers wake up and get in gear with their congressional law makers to stop your plan. The first step is to cut off your data stream.   WAKE UP DEALERS!!!!!!!

@ William... very good point about the "other profit areas comment from the video". I don't recall that being brought to the surface where it belongs in this forum. TrueCar's business plan, as stated by Mr. Painter, is to directly compete with dealers finance departments. Wonder how dealers would react if they knew their direct competitor was walking in their front door to take business away form them? Has anybody thought that they are likely also taking finance data? Can anybody else see the next coming bell curves? Thanks again William. Good Selling, dtg

As a bit of an outsider, I have to say this post and the comments are quite amusing.

The author talks about this site not being "open" or "fair".  I don't think anyone will disagree that he's entitled to his views.  What's really amusing, though, is the number of people posting anti-TrueCar sentiments while talking about perception becoming reality.  I dare say the author's perception is his reality...and the anti-TrueCar sentiments have done nothing to change his perception.

As for the perceptions about TrueCar...

History shows time and again that a new, novel, often controversial idea or product is the catalyst for change and improvement in an entire industry.  A prime example is use of social media as a marketing tool.  There were plenty who said social media wouldn't last because it was too invasive and any number of other things - I'm sure all of you can add to arguments that were made against social media.  MySpace dominated early on, but Facebook learned from what MySpace was doing and offering...and now MySpace is almost irrelevant and Facebook is closing in on 1 billion users.  Now Google+ is attempting to learn from Facebook and to become a relevant player in the social media game.

My point is...if you don't like what TrueCar is offering, I'd encourage people to take the high road and instead of calling names and throwing around accusations, dare to come up with a product or service that is better and is a better value to dealers.

Tim, as far as his perception being his reality, his reality is guided only by personal gain.

Social Media is not a marketing tool.  It is a public relations tool.  Consultants go after the internet departments because they have much bigger budgets.  Larger dealerships have consumer relations managers which should be dealing with this.  The ads that TrueCar run, just reinforce the stereotypical dealership/consumer relationship: "don't go there or you will get screwed".

80% of dealerships buy a website, pay their dues to AutoTrader, Cars and spend some money on SEM.   They don't have any real marketing strategy and concentrate all of their efforts on following up with marginal leads.  These dealerships don't participate on sites like this. 

Dealerships don't need lead providers like TrueCar, they need to learn how to market their cars.

If you use social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc., to attract customers to your store, you are, by definition, using it as a marketing tool.  If you're using it only to manage your online reputation, then you are using it as a PR tool.

You say the author's perception is guided only by personal gain...but what are you guided by in trying to talk down TrueCars?  Your perception is guided by wanting to stay in business or not lose business.  In other words, your personal gain.

How many of you shop or have shopped on Amazon.com?  Don't you think that by doing that you are taking business away from brick and mortar bookstores?  When stores lose business, people lose jobs and those businesses often end up closing.  Amazon sells at a cost that brick and mortar bookstores can't compete with and would lose money if they tried to match prices with...just like TrueCars "selling" at a cost brick and mortar dealerships can't compete with and would lose money and / or go out of business if they tried to match prices with.  But I bet none of you think twice about ordering through Amazon...

TrueCar doesn't "sell" anything.  The comparison to Amazon.com is not valid.  However, comparing your labor to your expenses, and fighting down that "margin", very much is.  www.TrueLaborCost.com.  Think about it.  Thanks.

Tim, show me the ROI report with you social media on it.   I could spend an afternoon at the mall, introducing myself, and sell more cars.

I'm a consultant.  I teach dealerships how to market their vehicles, over the internet, and make money. The first thing that I recommend is to generate their own leads and they don't need companies like TrueCar.  It is sad but the majority of dealerships don't have a clue.

I buy from Amazon and I model much of my marketing from them.  Like Keith said, TrueCar doesn't sell anything.  I'm absolutely sure that Amazon doesn't get DMS access from the companies that sell products through them.

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