Chicago Automobile Trade Association
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CATA Bulletin
October 29, 2012


Bailout debate continues

October 26, 2012

“Auto bailout” was the most searched phrase connected to Mitt Romney on Google during the third presidential debate Oct. 22, as interest spiked after a heated exchange between Romney and President Barack Obama.
Four years after the move to save the U.S. auto industry, the $85 billion federal rescue plan remains one of the biggest issues looming over the 2012 presidential election.
Romney’s 2008 New York Times column garnered 400,000 to 3.5 million page views following the debate.

NADA Convention & Expo mulls moving off February dates

October 26, 2012

The annual NADA Convention & Expo, which for years has coincided with the dates of the Chicago Auto Show, might adjust its future dates so as not to conflict with the Chicago show, the NADA chairman pledged during a visit this month to the CATA offices.
William Underriner, who operates four franchises in Billings, Mont., also updated CATA directors on other current efforts of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
CATA President Dave Sloan has been petitioning the NADA to change its convention schedule because of the conflict with the Chicago show dates. The NADA gathering saps news value from Chicago, Sloan said, because industry executives can’t be in two places at once.
Could the convention itself move to Chicago?
The convention typically is in warmer climes, often rotating among Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco. If it were held in a northern city, Underriner said “it could cost us a lot of money, with people not showing up.” But he said a spring convention might be appealing in Chicago.
CATA Vice Chairman John Webb noted that seasonal highs for San Francisco in January are comparable to Chicago in April. Underriner added that Chicago is attractive because, like San Francisco, the city is compact. Underriner also noted that the first NADA convention, in 1918, was in Chicago.
On other NADA efforts, Underriner said the association is opposing manufacturers’ mandatory facility upgrades  and two-tier pricing. The NADA created a special dealer task force last summer to focus on the fairness of stair-step programs, also referred to as two-tier pricing, which is a manufacturer-to-dealer incentive tied to sales goals.
“There is no manufacturer with a plan that says there is a return on investment” on the image programs, he said. “A manufacturer wouldn’t build a billion dollar plant without looking at ROI. We won’t sell one more car because of the (facility) improvements. Small dealers don’t get the same ROI as large dealers.”
The NADA is continuing its campaign against stair-step programs with two ads in November issues of Automotive News. He thinks any legislation to ban the practices would come at the state level, not federal.
“It really hurts the brand credibility and CSI scores,” Underriner said. “Manufacturers do it for market share, but really, they’re just pitting Chevy Dealer A against Chevy Dealer B.”
Underriner also said the association is combating the government’s mandate for increased CAFE standards.
“When 2025 comes, it’s going to be a big thing,” he said. “The Environmental Protection Agency said (the mandate) would add $3,000 to the price of a new car. But they also said it would add $6,000. Really, it would add $20,000, so it’s hard to believe the $3,000 number.”
Hybrids, he added, would have to account for 15 percent of sales for the increased standards to be met. In 2002, hybrids represented 2 percent of all sales. In 2012, they remain 2 percent.
The federal estate tax is scheduled in 2013 to revert to 2003 levels, with a fortune’s first $1 exempted from taxation and the rest taxed at 55 percent. Underriner said the NADA is pushing for thresholds of $5 million and 33 percent, but his home-state U.S. senator, Max Baucus, said the thresholds probably will settle at $5 million and 45 percent.
“Let’s hope our legislators get this figured out by the end of the year and don’t kick the can down the road,” said Underriner.
Underriner was joined on his visit by Andrew Koblenz, one of eight vice presidents of the NADA and the association’s general counsel. Koblenz directs the association’s Legal and Regulatory Group, which represents the NADA and dealer interests before federal agencies.

Digital marketing expenditures by dealers continues to rise; do they get money's worth?

October 26, 2012

Every auto dealer is investing in digital marketing. Indeed, many have made it the central initiative for growing their sales. But no dealer can relax in the confidence of knowing his digital marketing programs are under control and will continue to pay back.
Why? Because the digital marketing industry simply isn’t “under control” — it continually changes in significant ways. What once worked well might stop, and important new marketing channels frequently appear and require a dealer’s consideration.
Compounding this problem is the digital marketing industry’s lagging capability to measure and report the results achieved from retailers’ investments. Most agency reports focus on metrics such as impressions, visits, clicks, likes and shares; they are not truly exposing the marketing channels that deliver results and those that don’t.
Bill Jenkins of Web Lever Consulting Services, a CATA allied member, examined the situation at a recent CATA seminar, “Digital Marketing: Prove the Payback.” Attendees learned how to tackle the problem of understanding the payback of digital marketing investments.
Jenkins walked through the creation of a special Dashboard using two steps in Google Analytics: 1) setting weighted goals, and 2) customizing the Multi-Channel Funnel views. The resulting Dashboard reveals the impact of each digital marketing channel tied to a business’s website.
Dealers who already have gained access to their Analytics data and regularly study it are ahead of the game. Those dealers who do not have access to their Analytics should contact their website vendors to get that process started.
With the Dashboard in place, a dealership can confidently take control of its digital marketing destiny, knowing that the impact of each channel can be understood and their investments adjusted accordingly.
Dealers with questions on the Dashboard setup can reach Jenkins at (630) 253-8502.

Wolf family making their point with Turning Pointe

October 26, 2012

A parent, said Randy Wolf, holds two main wishes for his children: for them to be healthy and happy. But when Wolf learned his son was diagnosed with autism at age 2, his son’s happiness became Wolf’s first priority, which meant helping his son reach his fullest potential.
Wolf, general manager of Lexus of Naperville and co-owner of the Dan Wolf Automotive Group, and his family sought answers for their many questions that often went unanswered. A lack of quality facilities nearby meant the family logged a more than one-hour commute — in each direction — to provide their son the best treatment.
The family reached a crossroad in 2007, when they founded the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation.
But even before Turning Pointe was created, the Wolf family was eager to raise awareness and funds for autism. Randy’s brother, Dan, helped jumpstart the program “Test Drives for Autism,” an annual opt-in fundraising opportunity in which participating local automotive dealers agree to donate $20 for each consumer test drive taken during April (Autism Awareness Month).
The test-drive program both brings awareness to a great cause and highlights the charitable acts put forth by the Chicagoland dealer community.
The Turning Pointe Autism Foundation has come a long way in the nearly six years since the family broke ground on the first building. Today, a second facility offers innovative programs that surpass expectations. Beyond the standard curriculum, Turning Pointe added built-in mock apartments to teach students self-reliant skills such as making their beds and cleaning laundry.
Turning Pointe also helps place students in the workforce upon program completion. Students’ interests determine their placement within one of Turning Pointe’s company partners, including Walgreens, OfficeMax and the Dan Wolf Automotive Group.
Because students are trained to work in each of these settings before their official start date (Turning Pointe has replicated each company’s exact work environment within its facility), these individuals hit the ground running upon employment as they’re already familiar with the work environment and tasks.
As Randy Wolf says, “Life is all about the legacy that you leave behind.” The Wolf family found a way to make sure their son is happy, and they helped other affected families fulfill that same wish.
And Randy’s vision doesn’t stop with the new facility; he hopes other states will adopt Turning Pointe’s principles and concepts.
Until that time comes, the Wolf family will continue to pour their heart and soul into the Turning Pointe Autism Foundation and the increasingly successful Test Drives for Autism program.
For more details about the new Turning Pointe facility or participating in Test Drives for Autism, call Randy Wolf at (630) 570-7948.

Westcott is next NADA chairman

October 26, 2012

David Westcott has been elected the next chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, making him the sixth dealer from North Carolina to hold that post.
“To be elected chairman of the NADA is the highest honor I have ever achieved professionally. I am excited about representing the new-car and -truck dealers in America next year,” said Westcott, the owner since 1981 of David Westcott Buick GMC Suzuki in Burlington, N.C.
“All dealers face many challenges today,” Westcott added. “I’m looking forward to working with all dealers, large and small, to keep our industry growing and prospering.”
Forrest McConnell, III, will be the NADA’s vice chairman for 2013. He owns McConnell Honda and Acura in Montgomery, Ala., and represents Alabama’s new-car dealers on the NADA’s board.
Westcott and McConnell assume their offices at the 2013 NADA Convention & Expo in Orlando, Fla., which runs Feb. 8-11. For more information, visit

Young consumers are buying again

October 26, 2012

After several years of holding off on the purchase of new vehicles, younger consumers are beginning to buy new cars and trucks at a faster rate than any other age category, according to a recent report by J.D. Power and Associates.
Easing credit, higher used-car values and an improving job market are helping 19- to 35-year-olds find their way into dealer showrooms. This age group accounts for about 23 percent of retail buyers, the highest level since 2008.
Younger shoppers don’t typically buy high-profit vehicles at first. But if they can be well-served by the manufacturer and dealer, there is a good chance that they can remain loyal and potentially move up to more profitable models as they get older and their incomes increase.

Election day is Nov. 6

October 26, 2012

Employers, remember: Under the Illinois Election Code, employees who are eligible voters are entitled to take up to two unpaid hours off work to vote. If an employee’s working hours begin less than two hours after the polls open and end less than two hours before the polls close, the employer must give the employee two hours off during working hours to vote.
Employers may require the employee to give advance notice of the leave and may specify the time of day during which the employee may take the leave. Proof of voting can be requested.

In Memoriam: Morton Rosen

October 26, 2012

A memorial service will be held Oct. 30 for Morton Rosen, 94, who in a 52-year career built one of the largest Ford dealerships in the country. He died Oct. 21.
Mr. Rosen operated two Ford stores in Chicago: Morton Motors, 3310 N. Sheffield Ave., which closed in the 1960s; and Alvin Ford, 2101 W. Irving Park Rd. Alvin Ford maintained a large fleet operation.
“Mort basically invented the practice of drop-shipping vehicles all around the country,” said Lee Weinman, who operated Bert Weinman Ford at 3535 N. Ashland Ave. “He had the Zollie Frank Wheels leasing account that bought thousands of new Fords annually.
“Even though our dealerships were the two closest Ford dealers in the country — two miles! — we always got along. He had his fleet business and we did used and retail new. I can remember many Ford execs going to see Mort, to find out how he set up his fleet drop-ship business.”
Mr. Rosen served as president of the Chicagoland Ford Dealers Association. He moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1995 and was active in many local charities, a member of Temple Israel, and on the advisory board of Good Samaritan Hospital. He is buried in West Palm Beach.
Survivors include a son, Steven; a daughter, Laurie; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Memorials appreciated to JCC Women’s Auxiliary, (312) 775-1806, or Temple Am Shalom, (847) 835-4800.
The memorial service is at 3:30 Oct. 30 at Am Shalom, 840 Vernon Ave., Glencoe, with a reception to follow the service.
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