Automotive Digital Marketing

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Automotive Website Provider All Access Pass! (AWAAP)

UPDATE: VinSolutions has ALSO thrown their hat in the ring! Another Pinnacle award winner!!!


UPDATE: DealerEProcess has ALSO thrown their hat in the ring! Another Pinnacle award winner!!


UPDATE: DealerFire has ALSO thrown their hat in the ring! Another Pinnacle award winner!


UPDATE: Autofusion has thrown their hat in the ring as well! Great response so far!


I didn’t build too much hype with that title did I? Hype aside, that is exactly what I’m aiming to do. For various reasons, Marlboro Nissan and the rest of our dealer group has decided that it is time to seek a new website provider. But we’re taking a very different approach this time around. 


I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but some people have alleged that there are a few people out there who know who I am and who have followed Marlboro Nissan’s successes over the years. So I thought I would put that considerable exposure to work, not just for my group, but for the benefit of the entire automotive community!


First, a little back story. Marlboro Nissan has always done things a little differently than everyone else. In the past, we’ve partnered with smaller, boutique style vendors and this has allowed us to do some pretty amazing things and simultaneously given us a tremendous competitive advantage in the marketplace. But, frequently these boutique style operations are successful and as a result, get acquired by larger companies and then that “xfactor” that made them once great gets lost. For this reason we've decided to look for a partner that has already been through the "growing pains" of success and has the offerings and culture to give us a competitive edge now and for years to come.


In automotive we talk about “Customer’s for life”. Well we’re looking for a vendor partner that wants a customer for life.


Having used a dozen different providers over the years there have been some questions we’ve had during the vetting process that often go unanswered and so, my staff and I are going to seek to answer those questions, and maybe, a few that you, the collective community may have as well. Here is how we’re proposing to accomplish that.


Our intention is to travel to the head quarters of the 5 top providers. Meet with their staff, examine their culture, listen and be exposed to their most incredible sales pitch and document (in High Definition) every step of the process. 


I’m talking full production here folks. We’ve acquired some of the most unbelievable professional audio and video equipment on the planet. Now I know I’m setting the bar really high here, but I can guarantee, that no one, anywhere has ever seen anything like what we’re going to put together. 


We’re going to document:


-the phone calls to the vendors

-the e-mails exchanged

-the friendliness/attitude of employee’s we interact with

-the trip out

-the culture of the staff

-the office environment

-the pitch

-the interview process

-the questions we want answered

-the questions YOU want answered

-the follow up

-the kitchen sink


What’s more, I’m going to give commentary on the entire process throughout and provide my opinion on the authenticity of the feedback and interaction provided by the vendors.


This is going to be an all access pass; a behind the scenes look at the very best vendors on the market today -- not just what they say they are; we're going to show you who they really are!


This is what we would like to accomplish. How will we accomplish this goal? Well we’re going to be relying heavily on the vendors to play ball. I suspect that for the true best of the best, this will be a no brainer. Because if they’re good, we’re going to make them look great. Of course, if they’re not good... well you get the idea!


We would simply ask that the vendors bring my staff to their head quarters at their expense for 1-2 days - as long as is necessary to conduct a thorough interview, document and collect the data we need. 


We began our search by using PCG’s AWA Awards Report and are putting the offer out to the Pinnacle Awards Recipients first. If we do not get at least 4 vendors to choose from who are willing to participate from this group we will then open this up to other vendors as well. But be forewarned: You will expose your company to my brutally honest scrutiny. If you are truly exceptional, you will have no superior cheerleader in the marketplace, however, if you are anything but, your inadequacies will be brought to bear in a very public way.


Our aim is to begin the traveling portion of the process in February 2012 following PCG’s DMSC at the beginning of the month. We hope to visit 4-5 vendors systematically over the course of that month. Upon conclusion we will document all of the subsequent follow up and proposals and make our decision on a new vendor partner.


Editing will take 6-7 weeks and we will release our findings exclusively at PCG Digital Marketing’s Automotive Marketing Bootcamp in Las Vegas in May at which time our full length film will be displayed for the attendee’s. 


Following that conference the video will be made available on line at no cost to dealers on Wikimotive’s website.


Dealer’s: If you would like the opportunity to have a voice in our vetting process and have us ask your question: Please send questions do


Vendor’s: If you would like to discuss this opportunity in further detail, please contact Timothy Martell via e-mail or via phone (888) 975-9454.


Views: 1358

Tags: automotive, evaluation, provider, website


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Comment by Timothy Martell on November 28, 2011 at 1:29pm

UPDATEVinSolutions has ALSO thrown their hat in the ring! Another Pinnacle award winner!!!


Comment by Timothy Martell on November 28, 2011 at 9:14am

UPDATEDealerEProcess has ALSO thrown their hat in the ring! Another Pinnacle award winner!

Comment by Stan Sher on November 16, 2011 at 12:15pm

It is amazing to see how some vendors and dealers built these great relationships.  Things go well. The vendors spend a killing putting themselves along with the dealer on the cover of a magazine to promote a success story.  The vendor at that point really is a good service provider and you think that nothing can ever go wrong but then a few years later things change.  The relationship goes sour because the vendor is no longer providing the service like they used to.  Maybe they got too rich and stopped caring or maybe the situation just changed.  I worked for a training company like that once so I know that situation all too well.   Perhaps, the dealer got harder on them.  If the dealer got harder on them, GOOD!  If my dealership is making a large investment we want to be the best dealer out there and we want to work with vendors that will bring the solutions that will help do our jobs better and bring results.  From the list of vendors that are competing here I can honestly say I know which ones do not even stand a chance.  I will not say it though for professional reasons.

Comment by Aj Maida on November 15, 2011 at 9:54am

Tim this is great. Can't believe I missed it but I am in the mist of some major changes with vendors as well. Had one that was delayed so that two solutions came to fruition at the same time. With that in mind it is amazing how it seems that we start with a vendor when they are of a small size and as they grow and the layers become more abundant it is harder and harder to get things resolved. The key to our business is turn. We need to turn our inventory over, we need to turn our customers over. We need to be agile, if you will. If we have to wait for a vendor to react, sometimes more then a day, then where is our ability to be agile? I so totally agree with the one way aspect that these relationships seem to take. At first it is all "Hunky Dory". But it seems that once you have given of yourself; your money, your time promoting or posting positive reviews, then it is all about smoke and mirrors. While they seem to be chasing new customers or growing their business in other directions those of us who helped that growth  seem to be left blowing in the wind. They tell us; we are doing this and we are creating that. We are driving traffic to your website, we just can't track it but it's there. We are driving walk-in traffic, even if we can't prove it. I am facinated to see these results of your evaluation but what I really want to see is the follow up in two years or so when the dew is off the rose and the dating is over and you've seen each other on the toilet with the bathroom door open!!!

Comment by Timothy Martell on November 15, 2011 at 8:28am

JD, I will always consider both you and Richard friends and value your insights. My commentary is in no way an indictment of TK Carsites as a whole. Be that as it may, it is reflective of our current experience and it is likely that you may not be entirely versed with the extent of our inability to utilize some of the products currently being provided by TK. 


One of the aspects of the car business that vendors in the technical space still fail to realize is that this is a people business. One in which relationships should and often do mean something. However, it continues to be my experience that relationships are one way and often not reciprocal in consideration. Vendors are quick to use us for their personal benefit when it relates to testimony that leads to the benefit of the company, but quickly forget the value of that bond when it comes time to reciprocate in the time of need from the client.


The majority of the automotive community operate day to day in a way that is based on principles, not leagalese. We do things because they are the right thing to do or in some cases because exposure of not doing the right thing is a compelling enough reason.


These principles are proven time and again to not be shared by many of the vendors who provide services to the automotive community. And while it may be your sincere desire to live by such principles, my experience is that those principles or ideals are not shared by the whole of TK or its new parent company. It is for this reason that we are where we are now. 


I sincerely appreciate your honest response.

Comment by J.D. Rucker on November 15, 2011 at 7:27am

Hi Tim. Sorry for replying so late - I was traveling all day yesterday.

I'm very sorry you feel the way you do. I consider you a friend and colleague in automotive marketing and I've always enjoyed your commentary, strategies, and perspectives. I do feel that this particular post was "over the top" and an inaccurate representation of both the performance of the websites and the client/vendor relationship we've had over the years.

ADM is a strong community, but it's not the place for us to debate over the events of the last 2 years. Yours is an extremely isolated and unique situation. As you know, we've had arrangements between our two companies as well as Wikimotive that have exceeded what TK or any other vendor would normally engage in and as a result, we're in the situation that we're in.

I will continue to do everything promised to make sure your sites and search marketing are operating at prime performance. I look forward to resolving the issues between you and my company.

Comment by Timothy Martell on November 14, 2011 at 6:16am

Mike, that is an excellent question. There is really far too much to cover simply in the comments so I will be dedicating a post covering just that very soon. But to summarize, for the last 18 months our website traffic has steadily declined all while we opted to move to a more aggressive SEO package that they offered - elite SEO. In addition, we were slapped with a Google penalty which they were unable to determine the cause of. (Most recently they tried to blame another vendor for this and that vendor doesn't even do work for Marlboro Nissan.) In spite of this, we went forward and had them build a new website for our new Nissan Dealership on their new platform, which has been a total failure from day 1. The back end tool simply does not function in any way whatsoever making using the site impossible. 


Every day, for many months now we send one support ticket after another only to find we are having the same problems again and again with no end in sight.


We have asked that they allow us to terminate our agreement 2-3 months ahead of schedule (2-3 months out of a 38 month contract mind you) and instead of trying to work with us at all. They have opted to avoid, evade and now have simply stopped responding ot my e-mails/voicemails altogether.


I would sum it up as a complete and total failure in every aspect possible in the client/vendor relationship.

Comment by Stan Sher on November 13, 2011 at 10:16pm

Where is DealerOn?  I like those guys.  They have a nice site.  But I want to see where they stack up.

Comment by Stan Sher on November 13, 2011 at 10:12pm

This should be interesting.

Comment by Mike Warwick on November 11, 2011 at 10:28am

Tim, as a little "cliff notes primer" for the vendors in question, can you give us some insight into why you are looking to switch vendors?  Most of us have gone through the dreaded website vendor switch and there are usually 3-4 top reasons why the current vendor wasn't able to keep us as a client.  I think it would be helpful for the vendors to learn where they are dropping the ball.

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