Category Archives: Auto Sales

Automotive News stats & ranking  “TOP 125 DEALERSHIP GROUPS”

Top 125 Dealership Groups front page

        I’ve yet to find someone who has been able to explain the claims made by the publication  “TOP 125 Dealers for 2013.” Actually it is sponsored by a vendor and when you say sponsored it sound like the stats were compiled by the publication and the study was sponsored by the vendor.  Being in the consulting side of the automotive industry and after Slicing, Dicing & analyzing over 500 dealers including some of the largest groups in the country, I found it fascinating that some of the larger groups and dealers, who are hands down larger and better performers are not in the list. It intrigued me to find the real stats behind the scene, one of my dealers who I have visited and conducted training, the Classic Chevrolet of Grapevine who are the N0 1 dealer in the nation for last 8 years running and I witnessed them selling over 140 New Chevrolet in one single day, which was not even a record day for them.  Not only are they the No. 1 dealer in new cars sales, Classic Chevrolet officially Adds #1 volume GM Parts Dealer title as well. They stock over 7 million dollars in inventory and have about 50 employees to handle the parts and customer requests. In 2003, their parts department was number 76 in the nation. From there, Classic Chevrolet reached number 2 in 2012. Today – in early 2014 – They are the number 1 volume GM parts dealer out of approximately 4,000 GM dealers in the United States. If I give you their mind boggling stats for the used vehicles sales you most likely will scratch your head as to how do they do it? That is topic for another day.

  • Who is No 1?

Classic Chevrolet of Grapevine and the masters orchestrating this huge operation Mr. Tom Durant and Hagen Durant are geniuses in disguise and my hats off to them. Yet they fail to make it to the top dealers list!!!

classic image for Tom and Hagen Durant with awards
There are other dealers and dealer groups, that I know personally, that fail to make it to this list despite the fact that  their successful operations are far better than most of the dealers and groups on the list. Some of these dealers are not interested in divulging their private information for the sake of keeping a low profile while laughing all the way to the bank and others quite frankly were probably not informed to submit the information, since they are not the privileged client of the vendor who is compiling the information for the sake of showcasing their own clients. If all the dealers participated it may not be the case.

  • True Benchmarks

Keeping the above in mind Automotive News should have a disclaimer that their report is an advertisement.  If Automotive News is a credible news authority for the automotive industry, it should be totally unbiased in reporting the news or any stats since most of the industry owners, executives, managers and public who are investing money on publicly traded auto groups are looking at this information and making serious financial decisions. There are some dealer executives who are making these reports as a benchmark for their operations. On the other hand, if and when a successful dealership’s manager offers these numbers as a bench mark he or she will be immediately replaced for a real manager who can and must outperform above and beyond these numbers. I would say it can be a starting point for some real performers.

  • Who is competing here for the Top Spot?

Let’s not forget that currently NADA “National Automobile Dealers Association” is quoting more than 17,000 new car and truck dealers with approximately 37,500 separate franchises. This top 125 dealer list is not reflective of the top dealers doing business in USA. Let’s not kid ourselves and read between lines to see what is the real information presented to you.  Now we understand that the list of these TOP 125 dealers and the dealer group are not the real one, but since it is out on the Internet I wanted analyze it to see how they are performing just among themselves in their own little world. If you study the breakdown you will find it fascinating in a lot of different ways and I would like you to just see from statistically driven point of view.

  • Where do we fit the sales numbers for wholesale vehicle!! Not in RETAIL?

Auction or floor sales

At this point, I would like to highlight one point “WHOLESALE” which is not retail. I do not believe that we should be taking account for the wholesale units as success performance indicators for a dealership or a group. Actually high amount of wholesale should be taken as a negative impact for a performance indicator. Since when is wholesaling a vehicle is considered to be a good thing?   The dealers who are buying your vehicles at auction are taking those vehicles preparing it and selling right under your nose across the street for much higher rate of return.  “If you are serious in taking a wholesale unit as a performance indicator than I would say that Manheim Auction is wholesaling over 10 million units a year with over 50 billion in revenues and they should be the number one dealer in the world”.

  • Seeing the forest from the trees

Let’s talk about another fact before I go into the detail of the analysis, most of the dealers will agree that just selling more cars means nothing if they are not making money! Anyone can give away cars and that is not rocket science. Similarly if a group sells the highest number of cars doesn’t mean that they are the top dealer especially if their per location sales, revenue and profit is below average. For example if you take the top performer dealer group in the list, The Auto Nation Inc. when you see the numbers in the report  states that The Auto Nation Inc. has 228 Roof Tops, Sold 292,922 New Units Average 107 Units Per Roof top per month and if you go back to the top of this article about Classic Chevrolet who sells that many vehicles in a single day not a month.

  • Pre-Owned Vehicles Sales and Profit a strong relationship.

The Auto Nation sold 204,572 used vehicle averaging 75 units per month per roof top.  Now these are the stores just selling and focusing on new vehicles only. Look at your average profitable dealership across country they are selling more pre-owned units vs new vehicles by far and making money hands over fist. In the industry it is well known that you can’t really make huge profits on new vehicles compared to that special pre-owned vehicle which is unique and only you have it. But if you don’t have that vehicle, how would you do it? Back to wholesale, since the same report shows that Auto Nation has wholesaled 70,742 vehicles. We all know who the buyers were at the auctions – the other dealers were the buyers at the auction and they fetch up those units to sell them right across Auto Nation locations.  To be fair to Auto Nation they are not at the bottom in sending cars to wholesale, actually they ranked 29th out of this 125 dealers and the crown goes to  Fitzgerald Auto Malls ranked 1st.  Out of the list of 125 dealers for having the lowest number of units wholesale per location. The highest number of units wholesale was at West-Herr Automotive Group Inc. wholesaling on an average of 1,010 units per location or across 18 locations they wholesaled 18,177 units last year, if Auto Nation with 228 locations were to wholesale at the same scale they would have to wholesale 230,242 units while they only wholesaled 70,742 units. Back to my points – do not lump sum an entire group’s numbers to showcase the larger amount rather see how they are performing across board by per roof top. Like someone said “Seeing the forest from the trees.”


  • Can you tell fact from fiction?

At this time I just want to remind the readers that the original report is on the Internet available free to download. It may be a publicity stunt as usual to drum up new business by having a feather in someone’s hat. I have seen numerous times that certain magazines behind the scene partially or wholly owned by vendors who showcase their ranking or awards with great hype. If all the dealers are not participating or informed to participate, you will have more fiction than fact.  This reminds me of vendor, dealer rating and reviews sites. That is another topic and I have a great deal of information on; I will have a blog post especially dedicated to that aspect of our business. Transparency is great but how can you be anonymous and be a transparent at the same. It doesn’t work for me. In my opinion it should not work for you either. I will address that in another article fairly soon.


  • Automotive News, Is it a legitimate news source?

Automotive News site header

Automotive news is established and recognized as a legitimate and respectable source that is quoted by C-level executives across the country and across the world. According to Automotive News, “Automotive News is the nation’s pre-eminent newspaper covering the automotive industry serving vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, dealerships, marketers, and others allied with the industry since 1925.”

  • Read between the lines…..

Numbers and the analyses of the report, or slice and dice the report to read between lines: Now let’s look at the report and dissect it to determine the biggest gainer and the losers on ranking among their own little world of 125 dealers. I have strictly taken their numbers as it is published in the report available on the net. Below you will find a quick list of gainers and losers. You can also view the dissected report from this link on Google Drive. You can also view the original report from by clicking this link.


  • Biggest Gainer in Ranking:

Bommarito Automotive Group

Bommarito Automotive Group: was ranked 68 by Automotive News by our recalculation and positioning it ranked 6th in the group by gaining 62 positions or ranks in the group. Dealer Website powered by Dealer Track Interactive


Biggest Drop in ranking:

Bergstrom Automotive Group

Bergstrom Automotive Group was ranked 67th by Automotive News, by our recalculation and positioning it ranked 118th dropping 51 Ranks / positions in the group. Site powered by 

After a quick analysis over the week-end, I found the results very interesting and I wanted to share them with my network. This information is for your entertainment only and not to grade any provider or company. I would love to hear from you if you find this interesting and if there was another twist that I missed. Even though I have prepared these numbers with care and interest, but I request you to do your own research before making any decision and if you find any errors please let me know and I will update it as soon as I can. Do not use this report to make any financial decision, but if you have a question you can reach me via email at

Partial list of Top 125 Dealers and Ranking by AN & Updated by Rafi Hamid


Quick info on my next blog: I have come across my next article, we see all the dealers are struggling with reports and reviews for vendors. Just as you know that a shrewd dealer can manipulate his or her reviews & CSI, I have seen vendors and some of the rating sites for vendors are playing numbers and review games. I have been associated with as a founding member, on a Board of Directors and have seen the process in action. I have also seen Dealer Rater and other review sites and know how they market their product. What is in it for you and really what is at stake? It is fascinating information that you do not want to miss. Keep your eyes open for my next posting. Follow me on Twitter to stay in touch.      

Happy Motoring,


Rafi Hamid VAuto Image


4 Tools for Better Blogging

AutoMotive Blogging

4 Tools for Better Blogging

Technology, the internet, social media, internet marketing are all incredibly fast-moving industries. How on earth do you keep up to date with what is happening? How do you find what is important and fit in reading the relevant stuff in your busy schedule?  Here is a list of tools that can help you with your online marketing efforts.

Google Reader

Google Reader

  • Google Reader-Google Reader is a tool that enables you to pull content from web sites so that you can be notified of new articles and read them. Most blogs and news sites offer RSS or atom feeds that you subscribe. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds are a popular type of news feed on the internet. Most blogs and news sites offer RSS feeds that notified you when new posts are released.


  • Instapaper and Pocket-Instapaper is a tool used to archive articles you may want to read at a later time.  And Pocket (previously called Read it Later) is a tool to hide side bars and other distractions when you are trying to read an article.


  • SoundGecko- SoundGecko turns any article or RSS feed into a podcast which you can subscribe to in your podcast player (iTunes for example).


  • StumbleUpon- StumbleUpon is another fantastic network that helps you discover new content and it is very good at doing so. StumbleUpon has been around for ages, but it has made many improvements over the years.

These are just a few tools I use on a daily basis to make my online marketing efforts less work and more rewarding.  Use the listed tools for Marketing your business online or marketing yourself on the internet.

5 Steps to Online Reputation Management

Monitoring your online reputation is vital for your online business.  Here are a few tips that will help you with online reputation management.

1.    Monitor online reputation. This is the easiest and most critical step. Monitor what others are saying about the business online. This can be accomplished by simply setting up a Google alert. Searching on Facebook and Twitter can also yield information, as well as sites that serve the business industry

2.    Start to build defenses around for the business brand online. If possible, purchase any domain names that might be connected with the business name or brand. This includes the .com, .net, .org, .us and .info versions. A business may never even use all of these domains, but owning them builds some protection around a business name on the search engines. Do the same on Facebook and Twitter.

3.    Create a social media presence. Businesses should have active Facebook and Twitter accounts. Depending on the specific industry, it may be beneficial to use LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube, too. These social media sites help to build goodwill for the business brand, as long as there is activity and interaction. The sites will help populate the search engines with good content, news and reviews about the business, too. Businesses should actively monitor the sites for company mentions, and respond to any criticisms or compliments in a timely fashion. Think of this the same as if a customer called a business on the phone to vent frustrations or gush about a great experience. More and more customers use social media, so business should, too.

4.    Use the new social media accounts and websites to build positive content. Create positive and compelling content for your sites. Don’t forget to use online press releases, blogs and even advertising sites. Remember, the key to online reputation management is not to remove negative comments from the web (it usually cannot be done), but rather to overcome them with positive content. A negative review that shows up on page 8 of Google search results is not as important as one on page 1. The more positive content you can get onto the first few pages of the search engines, the better protected your business will be from any negative content that might get created.

5.    Commit. This final step ties in with step number 4. Businesses must be committed to continually publish positive company information, or encourage happy customers to do so. Even one new article a week on your website blog could do the job over time. Assign someone in the company for this important task, or outsource to get help.

Keep track of your online reputation management. It is your online business.  It should be you who controls the conversation.


Fun Facts about Google

What is it like to work for Google?  The company employs just over 34,000 people.


Google Stocks


Google’s stocks are soaring and people are baffled how much the company has grown in recent years.  Some researchers are predicting Google’s stock shares to reach $2,000 a share!

The first storage space for Google’s servers was made out of legos.

Google Facts

Google Legos


Google rents goats.  It rents goats from a company called California Grazing to help cut down the amount of weeds and brush at Google HQ.

Google Goats

Google Goats

The operation of 200 goats (plus herder and a border collie) is kind to the environment, and as Google puts it: “A lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers.”

Google is a super dog-friendly company. It proudly names “company dogs,” like Yoshka (described as a “free-range Leonberger”) pictured above. Yoshka accompanies Urs Holzle, senior VP operations and Google Fellow to the Googleplex. Less senior staff are also allowed to bring their dogs to the office.

Google Dog

Google Dog


According to Google’s “Dog Policy”, one indiscretion too many on the Google carpets, or aggressive behavior, means Lassie will have to stay at home in the future. Strong bladdered and friendly canines are more than welcome across the campus.

Unfortunately, cats are not quite as welcome. Here’s an excerpt taken directly from Google’s Code of Conduct: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”

Google has a Dinosaur.

Google Dino

Stan the Dinosaur

By all accounts, there are many wondrous sights to be seen at the Googleplex, but one of the most arresting is surely the gigantic T-Rex skeleton — nicknamed “Stan” after a “real” dino found nearby — that looms menacingly at Googlers in Mountain View.

Joining Stan in the unique campus decorations is a scale replica of the SpaceShipOne, enormous Android-themed models, pink flamingos, a large LEGO man, Google-colored phone boxes and grown-up size ball pits. One thing seems for sure — just like the company itself — life at the Googleplex must be far from dull.




Internet Training Consultation

First Page Consulting

Internet Training Consultation

When is it time to bring in a professional?

Consultation is one way a dealership can more effectively execute a plan for their Internet Department.  Internet Training Consultants will research a dealership’s online presence before they arrive and point out areas of improvement.   Once there, they review the Internet Department and how it has worked in the past.  They will work on a process that will make the work for the department more efficient and effective.

When is the best time to hire an Internet Training Consultant? The answer is BEFORE decisions are made on switching website providers, vendors, hiring and firing employees are executed.  These decisions are best made with someone who is fully trained in the area.

Decisions made based on mismanaged and misuse of the tools in place will only lead to more startup fees, setup fees or other fees to start over.  Before…

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Implementing Google+ Local

Google+ Local

Google+ Local

Auto Dealers

Google+ Local Replaces Google Places

If Google Places has been a method of driving online customers to your brick-and-mortar business, big changes are on the way. Google is importing Google Places into Google+ Local, and this means big changes for businesses and consumers who use the internet to find local establishments. This post is all about Google+ Local Optimization.

What’s in it for My Business?

Google’s algorithms consider many factors when ranking sites. The more web presence and reviews your company has, the better it will fare. When consumers look for a business in their local area, Google is happy to provide the information. When it can provide a great deal of usable information to the customer, Google is even happier. Google+ Local works on Smartphones as well – enhancing the user experience when they are on the road and looking for your business.

Enhance your SEO

Most businesses that have been around for a year or two already exist in Google’s database listings, including Google Places, and will remain in a list of millions of results when users search for the solution to what they’re seeking. Most of them (some estimates are as high as 85%) will choose a business that they found on the first page of Google’s results. By optimizing your listing with SEO, it’s possible to reach a sizable portion of online consumers and grow your market share in the process.


Google+ Local is designed with social networking in mind, merging it with traditional indexing methods. SEO allows consumers to target themselves as your audience. Following these simple steps to maximize the types of information your target customers can find in the search engine results page, you’ll discover ready, willing, and able customers because your company will be one of the first with a Google+ Local result they can find.

Breaking down Google Panda

Internet Training, Automotive

Google Panda

Well now that we know that the Google Panda update is no joke in the way it has affected high page rank websites and big brands, we need to be more cautious about how it can affect us. The question we need to ask ourselves now is how this new Panda algorithm will affect our link-building.

  • Links will never be the same. Google’s Panda algorithm has uncovered shady link-building methods such as JCPenney,, Forbes and more. It has also penalized low quality sites as well as spammy/scraper sites in their recent update. What does this mean for SEO specialists and link-builders?
  • Don’t stick to what Google deems as ‘low quality’ sites. For example, if you were someone who liked to go with article submission through ezinearticles for links back to your site, you have to think twice now that it has significantly dropped in ranking due to its reputation with Google as a low quality site.
  • Watch out for sites that are peppered with Google adsense, text links, or other advertising gimmicks. They are not really something that neither Google nor people would call ‘quality sites’. Get away from them.
  • Sites with little or no moderation are to be avoided as well. Especially if you can see your comment link approved immediately after you post it. Those sites are most probably the home of lots of outbound links and spam. You don’t want your link to be found anywhere near there.
  • How should you do your link-building with the Panda update?

Well, there’s only one real authentic way to build links – create good, quality content that people love and will link to. Write your heart out. Be interested in people and in giving people the things they are interested in. Create videos that will get viral and create buzz.  Link-baiting is a great way to go and chances are, Google isn’t going to penalize your unique content because of its value and authenticity.

Digital Marketing Benefits with Google Tag Manager

The company is aiming to reduce the administrative overhead of both Web administrators and digital marketers, Google has launched a service that will manage their website tags.

The tag management system could aid in organization’s digital marketing efforts.

Google Tag Manager is a free service, such as Google Analytics or Google Adwords.

Using Tag Manager, an organization embeds a snippet of code that connects each page to Google, which then provides the needed tags for each page when it is called by a browser.

Shifting tags from the Web page to a hosted service could potentially help manage tags in a number of ways, according to the company. Google has developed a mechanism to load the tags so they don’t get in each other’s ways and slow the page load times. Google also offers a number of tools for debugging and the previewing of tags. Users can specify which pages, or which types of pages, can be delivered with which tags and multiple sites can be managed from a single Goggle account.

Google is not the first to offer to enterprises a tag management service. QuBit, co-founded by former Google executive Graham Cooke, has offered a tag management service, and plans to incorporate Google Tags into its offering.

The company has estimated that only 5 percent of the top 10,000 websites use tag management software or services, though it expects that number to grow rapidly.

Although the service is primarily aimed to serve digital marketing, it can be a handy general use tool as well, especially as an alternative to the sometimes cumbersome tag controls found in today’s Web content management systems, Cooke said.

While remaining enthusiastic for Google‘s new service, Cooke also expressed concern that Google would not keep its own system open and not be willing to work with partners, such as QuBit.

Digital Marketing will benefit for this tool. “The question for Google is, ‘are they going to allow a marketplace of third parties if they potentially compete with Google?’,” Cooke said.

Pinterest and Marketing

Social Media Marketing

Why Pinterest is Important

Pinterest is currently the fasted growing social network on the planet, with a current user base of over 11 million in the U.S. alone. Businesses should strongly consider how they can use Pinterest to grow and promote themselves, and this video from MDG Advertising does a great job of summarizing the key points, benefits and strategies for Pinterest success.


The People Who Pin:

  • 60% Female / 40% Male
  • 29% are between 35-44 years old, with most users falling between 25 – 54 years old
  • Income levels for 37% of Pinterest users are $25,000-$49,999

Why You Should Be On Pinterest:

  • As of Jan., 2012, there were more than 11 million U.S. visitors
  • Pinterest is the fastest site in history to pass 10 million
  • Pinterest drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ combined
  • Companies like Etsy and Real Simple are using Pinterest

How You Should Use Pinterest:

  • Pin your own content that has great images.
  • Repin great content and images that other people pin.
  • Collect your pins into Boards.

How To Make Pinterest Work For You:

  • Decide whether your customers are using Pinterest, and how.
  • Add a Pin It button to your site and content.
  • Improve the quality of the images you use on your website.
  • Pin News and Tips as well as products and services for variety.
  • Watch and Follow the large brands and learn from them.

Retarget your Audience to Sell More Cars


Retarget your Audience

Your official website is your most powerful tool on the internet to sell your brand or service.  Everything else is a tool to drive that traffic to your website.  Once you get them to your website they are looking at you and your product or service.  Retargeting is a great way to get an increase on your ROI.  Here are different ways to retarget your audience to your website.

  1. Search Retargeting-This type of retargeting is using keywords and search terms to your website on specific search engines.

  2. Site Retargeting-This works when someone has already been on your site and you can “tag” them and promote your advertisements as they surf the web.

  3. SEO/SEM Retargeting-This is similar to Search and Site retargeting.  You use search terms and keywords to drive traffic, but you also use the information of what they do on your site to refine your website to maximize conversion rates.

  4. Email Retargeting-Just like the name.  You are driving traffic to your site through an email campaign.  Take note on your engagement levels.

  5. Contextual Retargeting-This works when you work with another website.  You exchange pixels between sites that are highly relevant to searchers and targeting the others visitors.

  6. Engagement Retargeting-This is a way to target your audience by using video, rich media and flash games.  Based on the actions the user takes, advertisers can infer things like intent and level of engagement to serve highly targeted display ads.

Advertisers are constantly learning more and more about how people interact with websites.  We can use this information to market to a targeted audience to reach the people who are searching for us in the first place.  We, in the auto business, are in the people business who just happen to sell cars.

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