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CATA Bulletin
November 10, 2014, AIM to deliver auto shoppers directly to CATA-member dealer websites

November 7, 2014, the automotive portal owned and operated by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, is partnering with Automotive Internet Media to help CATA dealer members get more exposure to vehicle inventory and dealership websites. 
"Automotive portals are fantastic for helping auto shoppers find vehicles," said Tony French, president of AIM. " is terrific for Chicagoland auto shoppers because they can see every dealership’s inventory without going back and forth between other sites.
" is provided free to CATA dealers, and it has become a clearinghouse for Chicago area automotive information."
Until now, worked like most other automotive portals. When a consumer modified the search based on her vehicle preference and clicked into a specific vehicle, the vehicle-detail page would render. Now, participating dealers will have the ability to drive the consumer who is interested in a specific vehicle from directly to the vehicle-detail page on the dealership website. 
For Chicago auto dealers, this increases the opportunity for high quality leads. Leads from third party automotive portals have been decreasing in quantity and quality for years, as car shoppers are becoming more reluctant to submit their personal information through third-party lead forms. 
Working directly with the dealership builds consumer trust and dramatically increases lead conversion because consumers know they are connecting with the business that can help them. It’s a much safer and better experience for the auto shopper.    
How it works
AIM will charge dealers a small fee for every customer who is sent to a vehicle detail page on the dealer’s website. Compared to other forms of advertising, the fee charged is below marketing costs. Most important, part of that fee is reinvested back into advertising that will drive more auto shoppers to, resulting in greater lead generation.  
"This program is a winner for our dealer members, and a winner for," said Tony Guido, chairman of the CATA’s Committee and proprietor of Arlington Heights Ford. "Our dealers are getting great traffic directly to their websites at a cost lower than market value. At the same time, they are reinvesting in 
"This marketing program will provide dealers with more options on how they reach Chicagoland auto shoppers."   
French said: "This innovative digital marketing approach is somewhat new to the automotive industry. Most dealerships measure and compare their marketing efforts in terms of leads. This is an important metric to measure; however, the data will tell you the most effective metric in terms of actually selling a car is getting your inventory more exposure. 
"If people don’t know you have a car for sale, they can’t possibly buy it. We are excited to add to a network of automotive sites that produce millions of auto shoppers." was launched in 2000 and has been providing Chicagoland auto shoppers with the ability to see "Virtually Every Vehicle in Town" in one easy-to-use website. The portal lists nearly every vehicle from every Chicago-area new-car dealership, so shoppers don’t need to search multiple websites to find the vehicle they want. 
For more information, contact Tony French at Automotive Internet Media, (312) 505-6301 or

USO of Illinois fetes CATA for barbecue efforts

November 7, 2014

The Chicago Automobile Trade Association, comprised of more than 400 Chicago area new-car dealers, on Oct. 25 received the USO of Illinois Salute to Leadership Award during a special award ceremony at a USO gala. The USO of Illinois recognized the CATA and its member dealers for their leadership and involvement in the USO Barbecue for the Troops program, a national grassroots fundraising initiative aimed at supporting troops and their families. 
In 2013, the inaugural year of the Barbecue for the Troops program, CATA dealer members rallied together to host community events and collectively raised $37,500 – about 40 percent of the total funds raised nationally through the barbecue initiative. Last summer, the dealers more than doubled the inaugural amount, collecting about $90,000 – totaling more than $125,000 in just two years.
"Because car dealers are, in many cases, family-run businesses with deep roots in their communities, the partnership with the USO of Illinois is a natural fit for our members," said John Webb, a member of the CATA board of directors and the 2015 Chicago Auto Show chairman. "When the idea was presented to the CATA to host local barbecue fundraisers at dealerships across Chicagoland, we knew we could count on our members to go above and beyond – and that’s exactly what they did."
Alison Ruble, the president and chief executive of USO of Illinois, said: "We are so pleased to present the CATA with the 2014 USO Salute to Leadership Award. Through their tremendous support of the USO of Illinois with the Barbecue for the Troops initiative, they have set a shining example of the difference that grassroots, community support can make and represent the appreciation that the American people have for the service and sacrifices of our troops and their families."
Beyond the USO Barbecue for the Troops initiative, the CATA is committed to supporting both active duty military and veterans year-round. As producer of the Chicago Auto Show, the CATA waives the show admission fee for active-duty members of the military as a gesture to thank them for their service. The CATA also ran a recent program called Operation Troop Train to train and hire veterans for careers in local automotive dealerships.
"Although the U.S. military is the real hero, we’re beyond humbled to receive the USO Salute to Leadership Award for our active role in supporting our troops," said CATA Chairman Colin Wickstrom. "We look forward to advancing in our partnership with the USO of Illinois and providing support to local troops through the association’s year-round efforts. This is certainly a cause everyone can rally around."  
The mission of the USO is to enhance the quality of life of the U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families and to create a cooperative relationship between U.S. military communities and involved or supporting civilian communities. The USO of Illinois is a civilian 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit, not a government agency, and is supported solely by the generosity of the American people.  
See a short video on the CATA’s involvement in the USO.

BBB finding 'was $___, now $___' infractions in area dealer ads

November 7, 2014

The Illinois Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations prescribe that there is only one way to advertise a price comparison for a used car. The only comparison that can be made is to a retail value listed in a current, nationally recognized and published price guide book from the current regional issue from the trade area where the advertisement appears.
The advertisement must clearly and conspicuously disclose which book is quoted in close proximity to the advertised price. There also is a required disclosure in at least 10 point bold -faced type: "The value of used vehicles varies with mileage, usage and condition. Book values should be considered estimates only." Of course, the original MSRP of the vehicle when it was new can never be used as a price comparison for a used vehicle.
Rule 475.360(d) of the state’s Illinois Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations governs such price comparisons and bans "was/is" pricing. 
A dealer cannot compare a current price for a used vehicle to a price which the dealer set for the same vehicle in the past. Dealers rarely do direct price comparisons in a "was/is" format, although the monitors from the Better Business Bureau detect it from time to time and subsequently issue letters of violation.
The BBB has become aware of current advertising practices in the Chicago market that may violate this rule in a different way.
Some advertisements claim a price savings event for a limited duration — "3-day price slash," for example — and apply this event to both new and used vehicles in the same advertisement.
Patricia Kelly, general counsel of the BBB’s Chicago office, warns that dealers must be careful to eliminate such a claim with respect to used cars. "Any general claim of a special lower price event should be applied to new inventory only and not to the used inventory of that dealer," she said.  
Advertisements often feature both new and used vehicles in the same ad. Dealers should ensure that, as to the portion of the advertisement referencing used vehicles, there is no inference to the reader that the used vehicles are also being offered at lower prices during the price savings event. 
Such practice, Kelly said, essentially is "was/is" pricing because the impression for consumers is that the used vehicles have lower prices for the duration of the event than they did before the event and will have after the event is over.
The BBB continues to ensure that dealers have an even playing field in the northern Illinois market so that competition is fair among all dealers.

AutoNation CEO Jackson projects 17 million-plus new-car sales in 2015

November 7, 2014

U.S. auto sales are a cinch to top 16 million this year, and are projected to top 17 million next year, said the chairman and CEO of AutoNation Inc., the nation’s largest auto retailer.
Mike Jackson said those big, round numbers – especially 17 million-plus in 2015 – would really put the Great Recession in the rearview mirror. Sales in 2009 were 10.4 million, the lowest point for U.S. auto sales per capita since World War II, analysts said.
In a recent conference call to discuss third-quarter earnings, Jackson let on like his 2015 forecast was no big deal, since 17 million would only be a few percentage points above an estimated 16.5 million for 2014.
"To forecast a 3 percent increase for next year is not that far out there, as a bold statement," Jackson said in the Oct. 28 conference call.
"Of course, anything that begins with a 17 has only happened twice before, I recognize that. But I think indeed, the market will break through 17 million," he said.
The current all-time U.S. record is 17.4 million, set in 2000. However, that level of sales was sustained by price discounting and dumping units into daily rental fleets. The U.S. industry is much more profitable today at lower levels of production and sales.
Even 16 million-plus for 2014 is a big deal by historical standards. The last time U.S. auto sales topped 16 million was in 2007, before the latest recession took hold. Sales in 2013 were 15.6 million, an increase of 7.6 percent from 2012.
"I expect this year to end up around 16.5 million," Jackson said. "I mean, think about it. We had a selling rate of 16.8 million in the third quarter. So, we’re going to be in the mid-to-high 16s for the fourth quarter," he said. "So you’re carrying a very good selling rate into next year."

Member-discounted tickets to 2015 auto show on sale now

November 7, 2014

Tickets and vouchers that admit the holder to the 2015 Chicago Auto Show free or at a reduced price can be ordered by CATA members using this order form.
The passes promote goodwill with customers and even can help persuade a prospect to close a deal. Two kinds of passes are available, General Admission ticket and Weekday Discount voucher. The former, which costs CATA members $600 for 100 tickets, admits the holder to the auto show free, without a box-office wait.
The Weekday Discount voucher costs members $100 for 100 and admits the holder for $6 during the week. Regular admission is $12.
A minimum 100 passes must be purchased with either order. All CATA members in good standing will receive a package in early January that includes, among other things, 200 complimentary Weekday Discount vouchers.

Marketplace, Nov. 10, 2014

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NADA's solution reduces fair credit risks

November 6, 2014

By Forrest McConnell, NADA Chairman
When I met with the Automotive Press Association in Detroit in early October, I had one goal in mind: inform the journalists and industry executives about how the real dealer franchise system works and set the record straight. There’s been a lot of misinformation reported in the news lately about the business model of new-car dealerships. 
The fact of the matter is that the dealer retail network is the most competitive, cost-effective and pro-consumer model for buying and financing vehicles. 
Fierce competition between local dealers in any given market drives down prices for car buyers both in and across brands. If a factory owned all of its stores, it could set prices and car buyers would lose virtually all bargaining power and would be stuck paying the full sticker price. And dealer-assisted financing—which is always optional—provides car buyers with competitive rates on auto financing, which are frequently more affordable than what car buyers can get from a bank or credit union. But the federal government is trying to take away the right of car buyer’s to get discounted rates from dealers.
In March 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — without prior notice or public comment — issued ‘guidance’ on indirect auto lending that pressures finance sources to compensate dealers with a flat fee. The CFPB claims that negotiated interest rates between dealers and their customers can create a significant risk of unintentional ‘disparate impact’ discrimination. 
The National Automobile Dealers Association strongly opposes discrimination in any form and fully supports the efforts of the CFPB, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies to eliminate it from the marketplace. However, it is essential that the government address this issue in a way that will effectively address fair credit risks while preserving competition in the marketplace. 
A government imposed flat fee model wouldn’t benefit consumers because it would eliminate their ability to get a rate discount on their auto financing. Under the current system, dealers have an incentive to select lenders that offer them low wholesale buy rates and dealers frequently have to discount the APRs they offer their customers to earn their business. This dynamic drives down rates for our customers.
If the CFPB were to succeed in getting the industry to shift to an across-the-board flat fee compensation system, dealers’ incentive would shift to choosing lenders that pay them the highest flat fee, which in turn would frequently result in higher APRs for consumers.  
A mandatory flat fee compensation system also would fail to remove the fair credit risks that a dealer is exposed to when it lacks a legitimate business explanation for earning different amounts in its credit transactions.   
Fortunately, the NADA has identified a way forward that addresses both fair credit and competition considerations. 
Last January, the association developed the NADA Fair Credit Compliance Policy and Program that provides a dealer with an optional mechanism to promote compliance with fair credit laws. The program was released in partnership with the American International Automobile Dealers Association and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers.
The voluntary program addresses fair credit risks by ensuring that the amount of dealer reserve earned in a transaction is supported by a legitimate business reason. A dealer following the program sets a standard starting point for dealer reserve that it includes in its credit offers to consumers and only deviates from that rate for predetermined, legitimate business reasons. These include the presence of a monthly budget constraint, a more competitive offer and inventory reduction considerations. The dealer documents each pricing decision so that it can demonstrate that it was based on a legitimate, non-discriminatory factor. The NADA program fully incorporates the program created by the Department of Justice for two auto dealerships in 2007 to resolve fair credit cases.  
By creating this structure and supporting it with appropriate training and oversight, the NADA program provides a mechanism for addressing fair credit concerns at the consumer, dealer and lender levels.
Reps. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) in September introduced House Resolution 5403, a bipartisan bill that would nullify the CFPB’s 2013 auto lending ‘guidance.’ The bill would require new CFPB guidance involving auto financing to be transparent and open to public participation. Already 118 Members of Congress (46 Democrats and 72 Republicans) in the U.S. House of Representatives have committed to cosponsor or are cosponsors of this important measure. For more information, visit
The NADA Fair Credit Compliance Policy & Program presents the industry with a realistic and effective means of addressing fair credit risks at all levels and in a manner that preserves robust competition in the marketplace. The federal government should encourage its broad adoption.   
McConnell is a Honda/Acura dealer in Montgomery, Ala.