Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TrueCar: Out to destroy our retail business model or a sales tool you should consider?

If True Car was a republican political candidate Herman Cain would still be in the race for the Republican nomination. Cain’s troubles would have been overshadowed as attention shifted to this revolutionary polarizing candidate “True Car.” But TrueCar is not a political candidate. TrueCar is a consumer website that offers a “low retail price” to car shoppers.

In general this isn’t a revolutionary idea at all. Sites like,, and have been around for years providing consumers with information about fair prices to pay for cars. Consumers for long periods of time have been able to replicate invoice pricing on any new car as they prepared for their trip to the dealer. So why the buzz about TrueCar? Well it’s in their execution. TrueCar in many ways is on steroids. TrueCar’s sell isn’t just that they can tell you a fair price to pay; it’s that they have done the leg work for you and the dealer has already AGREED to sell it at that price. Scary? Maybe…but genius in execution. Oh yeah and that price is based on REAL DATA based on what other customers have actually paid. At least that’s True Car’s story.

Before our venture into the car business I knew my Father to be a Lexus guy having leased 3 in a row from the same salesperson at Lexus of Tampa Bay. When asked why (they had his business) my Dad would always mention “exemplary and professional customer service.” I remember asking him once if anything ever bothered him about the experience. “I always wondered just how much they were making off of me.” I have to think that’s a concern felt by SOME of our consumers. That’s who TrueCar is talking to.

I’m not excited about the price per deal ($300 dollars) or giving a third party access to our DMS. BUT having said that True Car has loaded their guns with 200 million in advertising dollars and despite some compliance challenges doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon. Some of our stores will not want to be left behind … especially volume driven stores with factory unit bonuses. I have enjoyed Honda’s stiff stance citing involvement with true car as a violation of Honda’s ad covenant. Honda has been proactive to a degree that is consistent with their personality and market position. Other car companies aren’t looking like they wish to make the decision on True Car for you. So what’s your take on True Car?


  1. It seem like the "true car" buyer does not care who sells them the car, its the bottom line price. Would I drive an extra 30 miles to save $100.00 or would I be better off paying a little more to have a knowlegable sale person who can direct me to the best vehicle for my needs or show me how a prepackaged discount can save me money in the long run? Probably yes! As manufacturers they have done it to themselves, giving the public way too much information on how our business works. Go into Publix and ask then how much that steak they are selling me costs and see the reaction. But "Detroit" (just using that word to describe auto manufacturers) give out the information and all it does is hurt the dealers. We are entitled to make a fair and reasonable profit.Cutting profits to ridiculous levels will only short change the customer in the long run as our every day costs of operation ,only goes up.I wish everyone who buys a car would work at a dealership for a week before purchasing to get a "true" understanding or our business.....
    Jeff Kasman
    Internet Manger
    Ford/ Mitsu of Port Richey

  2. I have been reading about truecar over the last week or so. There have been strong opinions on each side of the issue. The reality is truecar is here for now and probably will not be going away for quite some time. I don't have time to wait. I need to sell cars right now.

    Question: A sales call comes in and the customer says they have a truecar certificate to a dealer that is 50 miles away. Then the question from the customer is "will you honor the truecar price?"

    How would you answer the question?

    What process is in place for your sales team?

    Has your sales team heard of truecar or Zag?
    Scott Petricone Internet Manager/Finance Manager 20 years