Steel Waiting: What American Tariffs May Mean for Canadian Automotive

Two businessman pulling a rope in opposite directions over sky background with copy space

At Strathcom, we make a point of taking our client’s concerns seriously, which means staying up-to-date with the Canadian auto industry that keeps our (and our clients’) bread buttered. Talking to clients in recent months revealed a widespread concern over one issue in particular: the looming prospect of American trade tariffs that may hold serious economic implications for Canada’s automotive sector.

With the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a target of considerable “gutting”, the big fly-in-the-ointment takes the form of aggressive tariffs on Canada’s steel and aluminum, effectively stabbing the very heart of our nation’s automotive sector. Taking aim at such a significant economic driver generates huge concern throughout Central and Eastern Canada.

Continue reading “Steel Waiting: What American Tariffs May Mean for Canadian Automotive”

Western Canadian Dealer Summit 2017

Another amazing event hosted at the Banff Springs Hotel is in the books. The Western Canadian Dealer Summit brought together dealerships from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan to listen and learn from industry experts about what’s happening in the automotive industry. So what did we learn this year? Here’s our highlight reel.Western Canadian Dealer Summit was hosted at the Banff Springs hotel

Continue reading “Western Canadian Dealer Summit 2017”

A Vending Machine for Supercars?

The year is 2017, and seeing the advances technology has made over the past few decades, it’s hard to imagine where we might go from here.

For now, it appears we’ve reached a milestone. As far as vending machines go, this may be the greatest iteration. A Singapore dealer, Autobahn Motors, has created a 15-story vending machine – its sole purpose? Dispensing supercars. Continue reading “A Vending Machine for Supercars?”

Our Visit with our Friends from Facebook

met with Facebook to discuss the benefits of Facebook advertising

On Wednesday we were visited by our friends Brian and Nim from Facebook. We discussed the many reasons that dealers should be advertising on Facebook, and how we can improve our current Facebook campaigns. Here are some of the key takeaways from their visit: Continue reading “Our Visit with our Friends from Facebook”

Online Presence: why it is vital in today’s car buying process

typing on a laptop

As consumers, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. It’s no doubt that the research process during the car buying experience has changed dramatically. According to studies by Google, “consumers in their early research moment, such as which car-is-best or is-it-right for me moments, are signaling intent to visit a dealership within a week”. A visit to your website is ideally followed by a visit to the dealership. So, for automotive retailers, having a strong digital presence is crucial.

According to Google, the car buyers’ thought process looks a little something like this:

  • Which car is best?
  • Is it right for me?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Where should I buy it?
  • Am I getting a deal?
Which car is best?

One of the most impactful mediums for consumers looking to make a vehicle purchase is video. In fact, when buying a car, 69% are influenced by video opposed to other mediums such as TV, newspapers or magazines. When using the search network, the most common searched terms are “[brand/make] + reviews”, “[brand/make] + specs” and “best luxury cars”. 

Is it right for me?

After consumers have narrowed down their search, they begin their hunt to find out if the vehicle is right for their lifestyle and needs. This is where the consumers discover features/options and the interior/exterior aesthetic. This is mainly a visual process, and a majority of time is spent looking at photos. The photo searches of “[brand/make]” is up 37%  and 80% of these searches are now happening on mobile.

Can I afford it? Where should I buy it? Am I getting a deal?

After the first two questions have been answered, the consumer generally begins searching for a dealership. This is where the individual dealer’s web presence will become a factor. Dealers need to make sure that they are showcasing OEM incentives, internal promotions, as well as leasing/financing information. But most importantly, prices need to be shown because that is what the customer is ultimately looking for. Dealers should also make sure that their site provides a positive user experience; something as simple as having an unresponsive webpage can impact whether or not a user decides to visit the dealership.

Dealers also need to utilize tools such as Google+ reviews, automotive forums, Unhaggle, and other mediums that customers use to help them make their decision.car salesman congratulates a family for buying car

Despite the evolving methods of how consumers access information, the end of the process always ends at the dealership. As consumers come into dealerships equipped with their researched knowledge, they expect sales staff to also be product-experts. In order for manufacturers and dealers to fully understand the decision making avenues of the buyer, they must understand the small “micro-transactions” involved throughout the entire procedure. Having a strong digital presence in each of the avenues will always set a dealer ahead of the competition.

To find out more about how to improve your online presence and get more leads, give us a call today or subscribe to our newsletter!

How are You Not Running a Paid Search Campaign for Your Dealership Yet?

While there is a good chance that your dealership is currently running a Paid Search Campaign, there are still (surprisingly) a good portion of dealerships that aren’t.

There can be many reasons for deciding not to: lack of marketing dollars, lack of expertise, lack of knowledge, lack of time, etc.

Nowadays, it goes without saying that businesses have a plethora of digital marketing options to choose from, but I’d like to make my case on why dealerships can’t afford not to be running a paid search campaign. Continue reading “How are You Not Running a Paid Search Campaign for Your Dealership Yet?”

Fanatics: Don’t fear the hybrid

Hear the word “hybrid’’ and you’ll likely conjure up images of dull, wedge shaped vehicles being driven by environmentalists (cue DiCaprio and his Prius). Yet it’s been nearly 20 years since the hybrid drivetrain was introduced to our automotive markets, and throughout the nearly two decades that we’ve had hybrids available in North America, the connotations surrounding these vehicles have remained unchanged. Beyond the stigma given to seemingly all hybrid vehicles, there is a reality that many car enthusiasts (myself included) have to face. The technological advancements made to not only electrical motors but also to small displacement internal combustion engines mean hybrids no longer have to be synonymous with the meek image of a Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight. These progressions now present uncharted potential territory for performance advancements.

On a sunny spring day a Toyota Prius hybrid car drives through a tree lined road in Montana while on a road trip. The bright sun casts and in camera lens flare across the scene.

As supercar manufacturers have proven with their most recent offerings, the electric motor isn’t merely there to meet emission regulations or boost fuel efficiency, they play a substantial role in acceleration, handling and braking. Beyond the obvious ecological benefits, the use of electronic motors presents an entirely new set of possibilities to nearly all areas of a vehicles performance metrics. Engineers would not spend extended periods laboring over heavy batteries and potential cooling issues within performance vehicles if the substantial benefits of hybridization were not present.

Look across a list of sports car manufacturers and it appears each brand has their own interpretation of performance-hybrid vehicles on offer: Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918, Honda/Acura NSX, Koenissegg Regera, BMW i8. Though they utilize diverse layouts and technologies, the idea surrounding the electric motor’s input and applications remain relatively unchanged: provide power to the drivetrain ‘where and when’ traditional combustion engines fall short.

The McLaren P1 has an electric motorIn the McLaren P1 for example, the electric motor fills the void in propulsion when waiting on the V8’s twin Turbo’s to spool up, much like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System on a formula one car the hybrid set up minimizes lag stemming from the traditional motor. The Ferrari on the other hand, uses two electric motors. One dedicated to onboard electronics while the other connects directly to the drivetrain, the outcome is an increase of 163hp coupled with a lower center of gravity due to battery placement and an engine whose power band is no longer subject to an A/C Compressor or any other cabin elements. The Porsche 918 went a different direction entirely, attaching one electric motor to the front axle to power the front wheels giving the 918 the surefooted-ness characteristic of AWD when coming out of corners, while another motor is attached to the rear axle providing additional torque output to boost to the vehicles already potent 4.6l V8 engine. The Honda NSX, employs a similar idea, attaching one electric motor to each front wheel, relying on each individual motor to deliver distinctive torque vectoring while cornering.

There’s talk of the upcoming BMW and Toyota’s jointly developed sports car also being powered by a hybrid system. Volkswagen (who has made it clear that they plan to produce 20 EV’s by 2020) has already begun working on a hybrid setup for one of their most beloved models, the GTI. The Mark VIII Golf GTI is slated to reach dealers in 2020, and is said to be adopting a 48-volt electrical assist system distributed between both axles much like the Porsche 918’s current layout. As the technologies implemented in today’s super cars (LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918) slowly become increasingly affordable, we will begin to see a trickle-down effect as affordable hybrids begin adopting these substantial technical advancements. It won’t be long until these applications collectively transform the hybrid from its meek ecologically conscious-image, to the responsible sports car of the future.

eMarketer’s Automotive StatPack, 2016

eMarketer has released their Automotive StatPack for 2016. This statpack gives an overview of digital automotive trends in 4 categories:

  1. Industry Sales & Transactions
  2. Ad Spending
  3. Buyers & Consumer Behavior
  4. Consumer Attitudes Toward New Automotive Technology

Below is a quick summary of the report; even though it contains primarily U.S. data, there are still trends in ad spending for OEMs and Dealers, as well as changes in consumer behavior that are relevant to the Canadian market.

Happiness of Buying a New Car Continue reading “eMarketer’s Automotive StatPack, 2016”

The Ford Bronco and Ranger Will Ride Again!

The Ford Motor Company announced on Monday at the Detroit Auto Show that the Ford Ranger will be returning again in 2019, followed by the Ford Bronco’s return in 2020.Ford Bronco Concept

Both of these models will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant. The two models are expected to be built on a shared body-on-frame platform, which will create a midsize SUV and midsize pickup.  The Bronco has not been in production since 1996, while the Ranger is currently sold in other markets outside of the U.S. and Canada; we are likely to see the next generation of the model once it is available.

Ford Ranger ConceptFord has not speculated on technical details or images of the vehicles, yet, but they have suggested that the Bronco will offer some serious off road capability!

Ford is also planning to launch 13 new electric models by 2021, including hybrid models of the Mustang and the F-150.

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How to Reach More Customers in January, According to Google

As we near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, Google has shared 4 ways that you can optimize your online strategy this year according to their data.categories seeing higher traffic from Google in January 2016 than October 2015

Use click share to drive more engagement

We all know that, generally, the closer to the top position you are on Google, the higher engagement you will see from shoppers; especially on mobile. As shown in the chart below, for the Vehicles & Parts category you will need about a 15% click share to be competitive in reaching the top positions. How do you increase your click share? Increasing your bids as well as your ad relevance are good places to start.

Create a strategic seasonal campaign

Having a separate campaign for certain products at certain times (winter tires, for example) allows you be more flexible with your budgets for these products.

Use custom labels to create seasonal product groups

Use custom labels to create a segmented product group in your campaign for products like winter accessories for vehicles. This allows you to adjust your bids for winter accessories and to monitor your click share.

Remarket your products to previous shoppers

Remind your customers of the products they viewed in the holiday season but didn’t convert on – chances are they are still interested in finding the best deal!

For more information on how to optimize your site for the Google SERP, give us a shout or subscribe to our newsletter!

Autonomoose – Blackberrry’s self-driving car

Blackberry has just re-positioned themselves in the global marketplace. The longtime manufacturer of mobile phones is now shifting its focus and recently launched a new research center to develop self-driving cars.

autonomoose

Blackberry obtained the green light from Canadian authorities to test Ford’s Lincoln vehicles equipped with stand-alone driving software – a pilot project dubbed Autonomoose. Blackberry also signed an agreement to work directly with the automaker, which plans to launch their autonomous vehicles for car-sharing by 2021.

While Blackberry believes that it will take time for autonomous vehicles to be fully operational, this announcement demonstrates the appetite of computer giants to enter the automotive sector, as computer software and hardware are very likely to be key elements to the car of tomorrow. In fact, for many, this news may come as no surprise, as technology companies such as Google and Apple have already confirmed that they too are working on self-driving cars.

Luckily, the automobile division of Blackberry already boasts 400 employees, having already developed software currently embedded in vehicles. With safety and security at the forefront of self-driving car development, Blackberry’s high standard of security may give them a competitive advantage consumers seek. No matter the company, it’s great to see strides and significant financial contributions being made in the automotive space.

Black Friday Deals Increase Automotive Sales for November in the US & Canada

Black Friday SalesNow that a week has passed since Black Friday, the stats are rolling in.

The Black Friday deals were so successful this year that they actually increased automotive sales by 4% for the month in the U.S. This makes November, 2016 the highest on record with 1.38 million units sold, beating the previous 2001 record of 1.32 million according to Kelley Blue Book.

Since 2013, sales during the weekend after American Thanksgiving have been nearly double the sales during a typical November weekend, according to car shopping site Edmunds.com. Prior to 2013, automakers only saw a 39% increase in sales that weekend.

For November, some automakers said:
— General Motors sales rose 10%. Its Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands all saw double-digit percentage increases in sales, while Chevrolet sales were up 8%. Full-size SUVs were strong sellers; sales of the Cadillac Escalade were up 25% while sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe jumped 31%.
— Toyota Motor sales rose 4%. Luxury Lexus sales were down 1 percent but Toyota brand sales rose 5%. Toyota Highlander SUV sales jumped 67 percent
— Ford Motor sales rose 5%. Lincoln brand sales were up 19 percent thanks to the new Continental sedan and the redesigned MKX SUV. Sales of Ford’s best-seller, the F-Series pickup, were up 11 percent as the new F-250 and F-350 went on sale.
— Fiat Chrysler’s sales fell 14%. All brands saw double-digit percentage declines except Ram, which was up 12%
— Honda Motor sales rose 6.5%, a November record for the company. Luxury Acura sales dropped 5%, but Honda brand sales were up 8%. Honda’s best-seller, the Accord sedan, saw sales rise 6%.
— Nissan Motor sales were up 7.5%, which was also a November record. Nissan brand sales were up 8%, helped by strong sales of the newly redesigned Armada full-size SUV. Luxury Infiniti sales were up 4%.
— Hyundai Motor sales rose 4%, another November record. Sales of the Sonata and Elantra sedans fell, but the Santa Fe and Tucson SUVs both saw double-digit percentage gains.

Row of cars

This is only U.S. data, but November was a successful month for Canadian dealers as well. Toyota Canada has reported that their hybrids and trucks have set annual sales records, Kia Canada November sales are up 20.5%, and GMC and Ford both reported double-digit rises in Canadian sales.

Black Friday may have a bad rap in terms of large crowds and crazy customers, but it appears to be a very successful way to boost sales boost in the automotive industry!

Millennials’ Growing Purchasing Power

Good news for the auto industry!

Contrary to the popular belief that auto sales would dwindle with the rise of millennials, it turns out that they are actually longing for vehicle ownership. Turns out the selfie-generation is also the generation of self-transportation.

Happy millennials on vacation

Young people have moved beyond ride-sharing services. This is indicated in studies showing that companies like Uber and TappCar are used only for specific events and purposes, which suggests that ride-sharing services could become a means of replacing cabs, but not necessarily car ownership. In 2014, for the first time, millennials purchased more vehicles than generation X. As time goes on, we can expect further purchasing power from millennials to dictate automotive trends. In fact, the growing amount of choices in the sport-utility segment are a reflection of millennial trends.

You can read more about this study here!

The Purpose of the Halo Car: What is it Used For?

In an age of “hybrid synergy drive”, CVT’s and FWD, you may be wondering what purpose an archaic, performance-focused flagship vehicle can serve?

2016 Audi RS7 4.0T
2016 Audi RS7 4.0T

Often complex, under produced and over-engineered, halo cars can be described as a figurehead of a brand. They act as a symbol of a brands research, ability and image. One could argue it to be so much more than a symbol to a manufacturer, a flagship vehicle serves one of two purposes. Primarily, drawing eyes both young and old to a distinct brand. Additionally, a flagship vehicle can enthrall and inspire buyers into purchasing a brands comparable models. In doing so, a halo car helps sell a large number of “mainstream” vehicles to consumers. Whether they’re as common as a Miata, or perhaps as rare as Mercedes’ Maybach series, each serve a purpose.

2017 Toyota 86
2017 Toyota 86

Take the Scion FR-S (now Toyota 86), for example. This small performance coupe served the purpose of bringing in young, upcoming buyers, buyers who might be searching for performance and aesthetic appeal at the moment, but will likely find themselves needing to trade into something larger and more utilitarian down the road. This buyer has spent the last number of years building a relationship with Toyota, and Toyota now has a particular advantage when it comes time for the buyer to make that upgrade and buy a new vehicle.

Further, buyers may feel inspired by a flagship vehicle’s performance metrics or luxury offerings to the level at which it will influence their next purchase. An example of this would be those seeking an Audi RS Model after being influenced by the acceleration, looks, and overall presence of an Audi RS7. The buyer decided to pursue the closest option he could achieve – the Audi A7. The A7’s 333hp 3.0-liter turbo engine may not enjoy the same potency as the RS7’s 605hp 4.0-liter turbo engine, however the buyer has achieved similar styling, luxury, engineering and presence.

2016 Audi 3.0T
2016 Audi 3.0T

So what are halo cars used for? These distinct luxury or performance oriented vehicles serve a much more prominent role than simply portraying a manufacturers potential. These figurehead models ensure similar vehicles are sold in large numbers so dealers can facilitate in generating lifelong customers.

Amazon launches Amazon Vehicles

We are experiencing a new chapter in the world of automotive distribution with the launch of Amazon’s new online car shopping tool, Amazon Vehicles.

Amazon Vehicles can be regarded as a giant car configurator and data bank where all vehicles from the U.S. market from 1996 to 2017 are referenced.

Visitors have the ability to do a multitude of things. Each model of each brand:

  • Can be configured (finishes, versions, engines, colors)
  • Can be added to the visitors “garage”, grouping all saved configurations by the user.
  • Can boast a complete datasheet with all manufacturer’s suggested retail prices

 

Amazon Vehicles vehicle listing Continue reading “Amazon launches Amazon Vehicles”

Facebook Automotive Partners Summit

We were one of only a few Canadian agencies invited to attend the 2nd Facebook Automotive Partners Summit in Menlo Park, California on Tuesday.  It’s always great to be recognized by a world class company like Facebook (it’s also very nice to leave the snow behind in Edmonton and hang out in Silicon Valley) but the greatest value comes from the industry-specific training and advanced learning that Facebook provides us.  So, here is the highlight reel of what we learned.

Facebook office in California

It was a jam packed day with over a dozen speakers covering over a dozen topics, as well as a tour and happy hour (more on that later).

First off, the technology that Facebook is working on and putting out is pretty slick, check this video out: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/04/using-artificial-intelligence-to-help-blind-people-see-facebook/. This isn’t going to revolutionize the auto industry, but it gives you an idea of what they are capable of and that Facebook truly can reach everybody. Just wait until Oculus is full swing!

I’ve said this before and I am going to continue to say it again: Facebook is not about likes and shares. It is about highly targeted advertising, to relevant people, with a variety of ad formats.  We know that consumers go on a journey when they buy a vehicle.  Facebook enables you, as a dealer, to provide impactful advertising from consideration to ownership. So, what does this look like in terms of format or targeting?

  • Local awareness ads and videos with broad targeting focused on reach
  • Carousel ads to showcase inventory or features of vehicles with in- market auto data or website retargeting and look-a-like audiences
  • Lead ads for test drives and website clicks to VDPs with MAX in-market auto data and/or website retargeting
  • It doesn’t end with sales though, there are huge applications for fixed ops
  • Messenger is going to be big, not sure how big, but it is going to be big and it is going to have an impact in the auto industry
  • The other takeaway that I found very interesting were the abilities Facebook offers you to market to a multi-cultural nation.  Obviously this is very applicable in Canada, take advantage.

Facebook office in CaliforniaBeyond the great information and data presented, it would be a shame if we didn’t talk about the campus. Security is tight so don’t show up just expecting to have lunch with Zuck’.  Once you are in, it is like digital Disneyland; in fact, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg sits on the board of Disney and had them come out to help create the community.  It is truly amazing, and the California weather doesn’t hurt either. They have everything that you would expect your typical Silicon Valley company to have: cafeterias and food, a bike shop, a spa, a bank (of course), an ice cream parlour, a BBQ smokehouse, a woodworking shop, and a pop up shop that local businesses from Palo Alto can occupy so that Facebook can support the local economy.  Watching people work on their laptops while eating ice cream truly makes one envious.  One of the most interesting and important parts of Facebook HQ, in my opinion, is that it is located in the old Sun Microsystems campus and left they some of the logos around to remind everyone how quickly everything can change.  It is a good message for all: keep pushing forward.

Dealer Talk X 2016 – Calgary

DealerTalk X Calgary 2016This past Thursday we were fortunate enough to attend the 2nd annual Dealer Talk X event in Calgary. It was amazing to see how the event grew and evolved in just one year. As always, there were some amazing speakers and here is a quick highlight reel of what they had to say.

The day started off with an inspirational keynote from the 2010 Canadian Olympian Gold Medalist, Jon Montgomery, titled Dreaming Big and Living Bigger. “Things are only out of your reach if you put them there” was the overlying message throughout Jon’s presentation. We all face so many challenges on a daily basis, but some of those challenges exist to push us further; we just need the drive to get there and to celebrate the small victories along the way!

For the first breakout session we listened to Rick Johnston talk about behavioural economics and how the consumer buying cycle has changed, but not in the way you think. Most buyers still go through these 6 phases: Meet & Greet > Fact Finding > Vehicle Selection > Present > Demo > Write-Up, but what has changed drastically are the Fact Finding and Vehicle Selection phases. It’s not uncommon to have a customer walk into the dealership and say “I want a 2016 Honda Civic EX-T in lunar silver metallic, what’s your best price?” So if that’s the case, have your salesmen adapted to this shift? If the customer is coming in to buy and ends up leaving without a vehicle, where is the disconnect? Just because customers are coming into the dealership already set on a vehicle, it doesn’t mean that you can’t provide them with different options for things like financing, leasing, warranty packages, etc. Don’t limit yourself just because the customer says they want to finance the vehicle for 72 months. Give them options.

Our second breakout session was with David MacDonald. David spoke to us about market strategy and financial research and how it pertained to 3 demographics: Albertans, women, and millennials. This was a data-heavy session, so it was perfect for us data nerds!  For Alberta buyers, here were the top three reasons why customers wanted to purchase a newer car:

  • 29% Previous vehicle had too many kilometers
  • 28% Newer or different features in their vehicle
  • 27% Treat myself to something newer

The decision process varied  from rational (too many km’s) to emotional (I work hard so I deserve this).

Here are a few more stats to get you thinking:

  • 85% of Albertans are searching on a desktop or laptop
    • 42% are also searching on mobile, but they tend to go back to desktop to dig deeper into research
  • 73% of Canadians said having no-pressure sales was the number one thing that mattered to them
    • 48% of Canadians also said they want an easy to navigate website
  • 42% of recent car buyers and future intenders in Canada are women
    • 87% of all car purchases are influenced by a woman
  • 60% of millennials will graduate with debt ($40 to $50k)
    • Millennials also lean more towards used vehicles: New – 46% and Used – 54%

Another important takeaway from this session was when David took us through the advertising mediums each demographic uses the most. For each demographic, newspapers were on the bottom and radio didn’t even make the list. Something to think about if you are using either of these to advertise.

After lunch, we got to listen to Rohn Jackson chat about changing our demographic targeting. He brought up a great example about how the data on him as a buyer says he’s a 32 year old male (so a millennial), but when he walked into a dealership with his wife and 6 month old son, he wasn’t seen as a millennial, he was seen as a parent in need of a family vehicle. So if that’s the case, why do we focus on demographics like age and gender? Why not focus on parents? His main message was: don’t focus on a product segment, focus on a people segment.

The day wrapped up with an invigorating keynote from Scott Stratten. If you haven’t heard him speak at an event yet, you should! The overarching theme of his presentation was customer service and how it affects your brand. From doing something as simple as responding to tweet, to going through the amazing sequence of events that the Ritz Carlton staff did to return a stuffed giraffe, (if you haven’t heard the story about Joshie, check it out here), the stories that your customers (or staff) write are usually the ones that stick. The most common issue is that customers simply don’t feel as though they are heard and it’s amazing what an immediate response can do to defuse a situation and how it can start to build a story for your brand.

If you would like to see any of the presentations, they will be posted on the DealerTalk website in a couple of weeks. A big thanks to DealerTalk for putting on another great event, we look forward to coming out again next year!

photo with Jon Montgomery and his gold medal!

GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2016: Full Review

For those of you who need more than a brief summary of think auto here is the big one, enjoy.

Google Think Auto 2016

This year, Think Auto was held in the historic Massey Hall. While the venue was definitely cool, the seats left something to be desired. The event featured a lineup of well known Googlers that took turns presenting different topics. Think Auto followed a similar path to previous years and updated a lot of the data points. There was a strong message presented again this year that OEMs and dealers are not living up to what the customer wants. One dealer group executive who attended the event told me he wasn’t quite sure he liked Google presenting itself as “the supreme overlord telling us how shitty we are at our jobs. We sold more cars than last year didn’t we?” Anyway, his words, not mine.

Sam Sebastian, the managing director of Google Canada, opened the event with a discussion about change which really set the tone for the whole day. Due to the fact that there are a lot of stats at Think Auto, I am going to use a lot of bullet points, this will make it easier for you if you are only looking for the numbers. Continue reading “GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2016: Full Review”

Highlights of DealerTalk 2016

This year’s edition of Kijiji’s DealerTalk went down at the Allstream Centre on Tuesday, September 20.  One of the changes for this year was having two streams that attendees could attend; one for sales and marketing, and the other for the executive level.  I personally thought this was a great way to provide attendees with the flexibility to attend what mattered to them most.

Jon Montgomery speaking at DealerTalk TorontoThe day opened with an inspiring keynote from Georgian College Alum, Olympic Gold Medalist and TV personality Jon Montgomery.  Jon is definitely a charismatic and fearless guy. Who else flies head first down a sheet of ice at 140km/hour? Or just hands his golf medal into a crowd and says: “I’ll get it later”?

After Jon Montgomery, dealers were invited to head to their first break out session.  Due to the fact that I can only be in one place at a time, I cannot give you a break down of all the sessions, but if you are looking for a bigger breakdown check out the site: https://dealertalk.ca/.

I checked out Alan Dickie’s presentation on how he uses video and Facebook for his business and how car dealers can do the same.  Alan is definitely an energetic presenter.  He opened with asking everyone in the room to go to Facebook and put in their status “if I can guarantee you $3,000 over what your vehicle is worth would you trade it in?”.  Towards the end of the session he asked the brave souls who did it what happened.  It definitely generated some buzz.

After Alan I checked out Susan Seto’s data driven presentation on what motivates Canadians to buy a car.  This was a jam packed session with a lot of charts.  Having just attended Google’s Think Auto event, I was interested in seeing what Susan had to say.  It’s important to note that Think Auto samples 5,000 individuals while, to my understanding, this data was based on 1,800 individuals.  Biggest difference in my mind was in the data on most important sources used when buying a car.  There was a little bit of overlap, but while Google says Search, OEM Sites, Dealer Sites and Reviews are where customers are looking, Kijiji – surprisingly – placed classified sites on the list and did not have a single mention of dealer websites.  Seems a little convenient, but then again, I sell dealer websites and Kijiji sells classified listings.  You’ll have to decide for yourself or trust Google!

After lunch I checked out Kyle Costa’s presentation which focused on some fundamentals that you need to get right and then some next level initiatives you can work on when you have the foundation laid.  I agree with Kyle’s mentality that other industries are being disrupted and our industry is ripe for the picking.  Companies like Carvana and Beepi are making an attempt to change the game and if you don’t step up, they will succeed.  Kyle provided real examples straight from the trenches that are working for him, not just ideas a consultant dreamed up and has never tried.

DealerTalk TorontoKevin Graff closed the day with an afternoon keynote which was very impressive considering he had only 30 minutes. Kevin had everyone agreeing that we can all sell more and provided us with five foundations to do this:

  1. Focus on Goals – if I called anyone in your store would they know their target?
  2. Share Results Constantly
  3. Accountability for Success – people play the game different when they know it matters
  4. Ongoing Training and Coaching – do you train every week?
  5. Make it Worthwhile

Overall, I thought that the day was well put on and well received by the attendees.  I also really appreciate the sweet K-Way jacket from Kijiji!

Google Think Auto 2016

Google Think Auto 2016
Massey Hall, Toronto, September 8, 2016

Another edition of Google Think Auto is in the books and, as always, it was an insightful afternoon from the online powerhouse.  The theme of the event was change, but this always seems to be the case with technology.  Technology drives change and creates the expectation of change.  We have all been talking about Uber, Air BnB and Netflix for awhile now, but it still remains relevant to be cautiously paranoid about someone coming to our industry and turning it upside down.  We need to continue to push forward and effect change.

Speaking of change, this year Google made some changes to their Think Auto study. They expanded their study from 3,000 car shoppers to 5,000 car shoppers which means that they have deeper data than they have had in previous years. This was also the first year that Google included a dealer-specific segment.

Here are some highlights from this year’s study:

  • Online video is continuing to become more important for consumers but is still not being fully utilized by the auto industry in Canada. Since OEMs are not producing the content, it is up to individual dealerships to start creating the content that customers are looking for.
  • The average car buyer is making 3 dealership visits, but:
    • 40% visit one dealer only
    • 23% visit multiple dealers of the same brand
    • 37% visit multiple dealers and brands
  • Prices and Payments and Booking a Test Drive are pain points for customers
  • 65% of shoppers have emailed a dealer
    • About half of customers are not happy with the timeliness or the quality of responses
  • Google is going to have a Dealer Digital Excellent Award this coming year

We will have a more complete summary to follow with more detailed info and stats, stay tuned!