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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 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,, CarWoo, CarPerks, AutoNation Direct, Costco, and probably more than a hundred others all 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: 3121

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Replies to This ADM Discussion

How do you define a sale?  Do you define it as the moment money is exchanged for a good or service?

Most people I know who truly care about the customer define a sale as an exchange of currency (not always money) for a good or service.  They also believe that a sale is a process that begins when the customer decides they need or want a good or service and doesn't end until currency is exchanged.  They also believe that the sales experience and process doesn't end until the customer no longer needs the good or service or refuses to go back to a brand, store, website, etc. due to a negative impression (at which point a new sale process begins).  I could go on, but that's for an entirely different topic.

Under that description of a sale, TrueCar does, in fact, sell something.  They sell their service to dealerships.  They start a sale (part of the sales process) by enticing a customer to buy a vehicle at one of their member dealerships.  They give a customer a guaranteed price for a vehicle (although, from what I've seen and heard, dealerships seldom truly honor that price).

The only difference between TrueCar and Amazon is that Amazon collects the money and delivers the product to your door.  I'm sure if there was a way to deliver a vehicle to a house, complete with all paperwork completed and all that fun stuff, AND do it in a cost-effective manner, TrueCar or some other website would come up with it.  TrueCar and Amazon both offer products for less than you would pay at a brick-and-mortar location.  And both offer you the opportunity to shop without human interference or sales pressure from the comfort of your home.

As for the DMS stuff...whose fault is it that TrueCar has access to it?

I give Keith full props for what he wrote about reviewing your DMS and other agreements for clauses that allow access to dealership data, even after the contract has expired.  In fact, I've passed that posting on to our owner, who had just in the past week or two voiced concerns over who has access to our data.

My point comparing Amazon to TrueCar isn't about DMS access or anything like that.  My point is that Amazon redefined the bookstore and, in the process, put a number of other businesses out of business and cost who knows how many people their jobs.  Yet while so many are ranting about how evil TrueCar is because they want to make dealerships a relic of years past and cost so many people their jobs and so on, no one apparently has stopped to think that by supporting a company like Amazon, they are contributing to putting brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business and causing people to lose jobs...all the while ranting about TrueCar wanting to do the same.  Seems quite hypocritical to me.

Doug - My job at the dealership is basically the same as an any ad for a discount get people talking about the dealership and in the door.  Once they're in the door, the sales and service people take it from there.  I have no clue if anyone is tracking that traffic through the door and / or bothering to ask what brought them in.  All I track is comments and social media usage...and both are well above average for our area.  Considering we have one of the largest social media presences in the state, I'd say we're doing something right.

You probably could spend an afternoon introducing yourself and sell more cars, but what's your ROI both financially and reputation-wise?

I totally agree that most dealerships don't have a clue about marketing online.  I'm willing to bet most of it goes to a mindset of "we've stayed in business for xx years doing things this way, why 'fix' something that isn't broken?"  I deal with it every day.

Tim, do you remember Y2K?  Businesses were selling a product, computer protection, that wasn't needed and profiting handsomely. They purchased it out of ignorance which is the same reason that the "old school" dealerships are unwilling to change, spend a fortune on social media and will sign up with TrueCar.

As long as we have franchises, TrueCar will never make a dealership a relic.  If they did, they are out of business.

“A data set of 1.5 million shoppers was taken to see how many clicked on a link directly from a social media site to a dealer website. That number? Less than 1 percent of auto shoppers made a direct link from a social media site to a dealership website. Of that 1 percent of people who did link directly, only six people out of 1.5 million sent leads.”

                                                       Jason Ezell, Co-Founder of Dataium LLC

As for reputation, my last department, sold 70% of new and used vehicles, closing 20% of leads, out grossed the floor and maintained a nearly perfect CSI score.  We raised the bar for one of the largest automotive groups in the country.


Nobody has dictated anything:  No editor has removed your posts, and in fact the thread you posted in was featured. You just have a lame argument, undermined totally by video from your own CEO, and you just ignored it for wayyyy to long--or did you think that your calls and emails to folks to try and gain support while you weren't posting, and later when you WERE posting, were not common knowlege?  It's a short list of support, so far.  I don't think it's going to grow.

And I told you in the thread that I don't think you are a liar; I said, in fact, that I think you are NOT a liar and think highly of you.  However, posting this reply without my reply says you are, imho, a spin doctor.  Shocker.  Bought and paid for.  You get paid for this, but I do not.

Spin that.

Personally, I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT disagree with Ralph's highlighting of this post.  However, using that highlighting, let me say this:  YOUR company, TrueCar, has set its sights on dealerships and intends for a market without them.  You know it, I know it, and your CEO Scott Painter has said it.  So, in closing, I suggest your company is now the "Herman Cain't" of the car biz:  "Libya?  Libya?  Oh, yeah, I didn't sleep with her, either!"

I'm the dealer advocate I've been since the beginning.  And for the record, yeah, I'm pissed off.  I'm glad it's a lonely place where you are--everybody who sells to dealers will commiserate, yes, on poor TrueCar.    However, they, unlike you, know who pays their livelyhood.  Unless they live in a $25million home.

Call some more of those.



Charles, where is your integrity? I believe in my heart you know what you're doing to these people. You're working for a company dedicated to destroying them.  Be the honorable guy and resign. Just my opinion, JIM

It's time to man-up (or woman-up, as the case may be.  State your simple support here, dealers and vendors:  Yes to TrueCar or No to TrueCar.  I'm tired of this whiney B.S. blamed on fairness.  Maybe the message of the company is lousy?  Who knows.  TrueCar, yes or no.  RIGHT F'ING NOW, if you've got the backbone.  

Me:  NO.  HELL NO.

What say YOU?

Oh boy...Chuckie whatever will we do with you?

I wish you were here so I could get you a tissue.  But I thought I would give you a present for Christmas gift also.  It might be useful after you except Jerry's gift.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year pal. 

To continue calling themselves a 'lead provider' is perhaps the most insulting part of ZAG's defense. To compare themselves to Edmunds is a complete farce as Edmunds gathers consumer info and sells it to dealers to follow up with and hopefully sell a car to. Each dealer has to ability to know what Edmunds recomends as a True Market Value price, which btw in my over 20 years of this has never been BELOW invoice, and the dealership that does the best job of EARNING the consumers trust and showing them value usually gets the deal. ZAG does not operate this way. They broker car deals plain and simple. They give a consumers info to mutliple dealers while displaying to the consumer a price that ZAG has determined to be a 'Good Deal' using the dealerships info against them and then CHARGE the dealership for that individual sales, ie a BROKER FEE.
Perhaps when being solicited to advertise on the ZAG site dealerships should ask to see what the actual cost to run their site is and then offer to run an ad for less than it costs to run the site. There are many sites that dont cost much at all so it should be realistic to advertise online for next to nothing right?

That's right, get over here and vote, if you have the guts!  MAN-UP OR WOMAN UP, TRUECAR GOOD OR BAD??

"No one has presented any data to support that pricing transparency fuels a race-to-zero"
2012 Honda Fit Base w/Auto
MSRP - $19745
Invoice - $16181.64
H/B - 319.50
Net - $15862.14

TrueCar Shows that a consumer should buy this car for $15942. which would amount to around $80 profit HOWEVER, the salespersons (mini) commission of $100 would eliminate even that, now factor in the costs of business that ZAG oh so conveniently forgets about and that deal is a huge loss. How many industries could last at this type of market trend?
To say there are too many dealers as a justification for their all out attact on the retail auto industry is a joke, who made ZAG the consumers represenative agency to determine that? Who made Scott the judge of this industry and how many dealers there should or shouldnt be? The simple truth is that he has figured out where the REAL money is, pandering to the publics fear of car dealers and the car buying process. "Trust us folks, dealers have all kinds of secret ways to make a ton of money off of you but we will help you stick it to them and together we can put car dealers out of business. And the best part is that we have convinced the car dealers to PAY us to do it"....


Damn straight, Manny!!! SING IT, brother!!!  :)


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