Chicago Automobile Trade Association
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CATA Bulletin
June 8, 2015


How consumers pick a dealership

June 5, 2015

By Nancy Walter, Foresight Research
Like their counterparts around the country, Chicago area dealers wrestle with how to get the greatest return on investment — whether related to facility, inventory, marketing or training.  Foresight Research measures what is important to new and used auto buyers to help you make the right business choices.  
What do Chicago shoppers/buyers look for in a dealer?
Nine of the top 10 dealer choice factors are shared by new-car shoppers and buyers (see list below).  But more buyers vs. shoppers rate non-pricing factors as important. Buyers deeming "location close to home," and "comfortable environment" leapt to 60 percent (from 43 percent and 48 percent of intenders, respectively). "How skilled or good the salesperson was" ranked No. 6 (36 percent) when buyers did the rating, and fell to No. 17 for shoppers (14 percent). 
Top 10 important factors in dealer selection for shoppers/buyers
Cost/pricing experience Other factors
Price or lease deal Location close to home
Financing available Comfortable environment for browsing/shopping
No price haggling Reputation of the dealer/recommendations
Fair trade-in offer* Selection of vehicles in inventory
  How skilled or good the salesperson was**
  Previous experience with dealership
  Overall service department
*only asked of shoppers **only asked on Buyer Top 10
This range of important factors presents a challenge and an opportunity for Chicagoland dealers who have to cover more bases in marketing and sales, but have a wider breadth of ways to engage meaningfully with potential buyers.
How can my dealership best influence the purchase decision?
Six in 10 buyers in the Chicago market said the price/deal and the salesperson influenced their purchase decision. Forty-fifty percent of buyers were influenced by inventory (having the specific desired vehicle / vehicles on display), and location (close to home). Chicago new auto buyers are 40 percent more likely to be influenced by "location close to home" than are all U.S. buyers, indicating there is value for Chicagoland dealers in hyper-local sales and marketing focus.
Shoppers Source: 2015 Chicago CSA Market Test
Buyers Source: 2015 CHIPS Study – Chicago
Foresight Research provides syndicated and custom research for OEMs, dealers, auto show producers.  Dealer-focused reports include dealership influence on the new auto purchase process; market-specific buyer and shopper intelligence to guide traffic and sales generation; concise one-topic reports to help manage, market, and sell at auto dealerships; and custom studies to answer questions specific to your dealership. For more information, go to or email Nancy Walter at

Supercharge dealership profits with intensive one-day workshop

June 5, 2015

Join Digital Dealer at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Oak Brook on July 7 for a full day of learning how to use the Internet and technology to sell and service more vehicles, more profitably. 
In partnership with the CATA, Digital Dealer Workshops Chicago will showcase game-changing strategies and best practices from top automotive industry experts.
Choose from 20 cutting-edge sessions to gain the knowledge and inspiration you need to map out an actionable growth strategy. CATA members receive exclusive partnership pricing. 
For more details and to register, click here.

Google’s mobile-friendly search algorithm: What’s it all about?

June 5, 2015

By Mark Bilek, general manager 
A month ago, search giant Google unleashed a new search algorithm designed to improve web searches on mobile devices. Commonly referred to as Mobilegeddon, the search change hasn’t had much of a negative impact on auto dealers.
The change was aimed at significantly altering the mobile search results to give preference to mobile-ready web sites over non mobile-ready web sites. That meant that if your business didn’t have a mobile friendly website, its search ranking would be lowered. 
Most dealers have websites that are mobile friendly, so in many cases search results actually improved. Also, the change didn’t affect long-tail searches like, "Arlington Heights Ford." That’s because Google is still going to list a business first when it’s a proper name. Finally, most dealers don’t rank on the first page of Google for vehicle listings in generic searches like "Ford Escape." So, the mobile search change wouldn’t have affected a dealer listing. 
The webmaster community, as a whole, hasn’t been too impressed with the level of significance in the mobile results. Meaning, most are not noticing significant changes to the mobile search rankings yet. 
Still, the important takeaway from all this is that dealers must have a mobile-friendly website. Nearly 50 percent of all Web traffic now comes from mobile devices and that number skews higher each month. If your dealership website doesn’t display properly on a phone or tablet, you are losing online customers to your competitors. 

DriveChicago introduces CarClicks, a low-cost/high-quality linking program

June 5, 2015

By Mark Bilek, general manager
DriveChicago and its technical partner, Automotive Internet Media, have partnered to offer CATA member dealers an innovative and extremely affordable form of pay-per-click advertising that links online auto shoppers directly to your vehicle-detail and search-results pages.
The CarClicks program leverages a network of automotive shopping sites, search engines and to give you more exposure to in-market shoppers. The program targets auto shoppers who are deep in the purchasing funnel and directs them through or other online automotive portals to your website. The more people looking at your inventory, the better your chances are to make a sale.
"We've been using CarClicks for about two years. CarClicks connects the online car shopper directly to our website by linking them to our vehicle details pages," said Colin Wickstrom, Wickstrom Ford-Lincoln in Barrington.
The CATA is offering this program to dealers at a special introductory price of $475 a month for a risk-free two-month trial. For more information, contact Tony French at (312) 505-6301.

If the FTC comes to call

June 5, 2015

By Mark Eichorn, Federal Trade Commission
It’s a question we’re asked a lot. "What happens if I’m the target of an FTC investigation involving data security?" We understand — no one wants to get that call. But we hope we can shed some light on what a company can expect.
First things first. All of our investigations are nonpublic. That means we can’t disclose whether anyone is the subject of an investigation. The sources of a data security investigation can be news reports, complaints from consumers or other companies, requests from Congress or other government agencies, or our own initiative.
FTC staff typically begins with an informal investigation, usually by reviewing publicly available information or even reaching out to the company directly. Sometimes no further action is necessary.
In other instances, what we initially learn may lead us to conduct a full investigation, often by sending a formal request to the company for documents, information, or testimony. We may ask to review materials like audits or risk assessments that the company or its service providers have performed; its information security plan; privacy policies and any other promises the company has made to consumers about its security; and employee handbooks and training materials. In addition, we may want to speak with people at the company knowledgeable about its data security practices. We may gather information from others, too, like experts, consumers, and other companies, perhaps including vendors or banks.
The next step is to review this information and consider both the facts and potential legal theories. We look at what a company says about its data security practices — as well as what it actually does — to determine whether its practices are reasonable in light of the sensitivity and volume of consumer information the company holds, the size and complexity of its business, and the cost of available tools to improve security and reduce vulnerabilities. 
If a company is subject to certain statutes, like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act or the Fair Credit Reporting Act, we may consider additional company policies to evaluate compliance with those requirements.
If we open an investigation following a breach, we’ll probably ask for information to help us understand the circumstances surrounding the breach: what happened, what protections were in place at the time, and how the company responded. In addition, we’ll often ask companies to provide information about the consumer harm — or likely harm — that flowed from a breach or about consumer complaints relating to security issues. When we do that, keep in mind that as a consumer protection agency we’re focused on the security of consumer information entrusted to the company – not its IP portfolio, trade secrets, or the loss of other company information that doesn’t concern consumers.
We’ll also consider the steps the company took to help affected consumers, and whether it cooperated with criminal and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts to apprehend the people responsible for the intrusion. In our eyes, a company that has reported a breach to the appropriate law enforcers and cooperated with them has taken an important step to reduce the harm from the breach. Therefore, in the course of conducting an investigation, it’s likely we’d view that company more favorably than a company that hasn’t cooperated.
Once we’ve reviewed the facts, if there is reason to believe the law has been violated, FTC staff will make a recommendation to the Commission to proceed with an administrative action or seek relief in federal court. We may attempt to negotiate a settlement with the company, or we may recommend that the Commission issue a civil complaint, either administratively or in federal court.
That summarizes the steps we typically take, but keep another key consideration in mind. Just because a company is the subject of an investigation does not mean that it broke the law. In fact, we close more cases than we bring, based on our assessment that despite breaches or data security problems, a company’s data security practices were – on balance – reasonable.    
That’s what companies can expect if the FTC comes to call.

Average new-car loan hits 67 months

June 5, 2015

The average loan term for a new vehicle rose to 67 months during 2015’s first quarter and to 62 months for used, both records. And more than one-fourth of all new light-vehicle loans had terms of 73 to 84 months.
Loans of six to seven years, the longest term tracked by Experian, were the fastest growing segment of the market, climbed 19 percent from a year earlier and now represent 29.5 percent of all new-vehicle financing. That was the highest share since Experian started tracking loans in 2006.
New-vehicle loans of 61 to 72 months held the largest share of the market in the first quarter, 39.7 percent, but that was down 3 percent from a year earlier.
'Nothing wrong’
With vehicles lasting on average more than 12 years, "there’s nothing wrong with a six- or seven-year loan," said Steven Szakaly, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association. Consumers have typically borrowed for half of their vehicles’ lifetime, he said.
"This is the outcome of increased durability and quality of vehicles," Szakaly said. "Cars last longer. They have many more features in terms of safety and emissions compliance. That’s not a bad thing."

Thanks, 2015 outing sponsors!

June 5, 2015

Many allied members of the CATA will participate June 9 as sponsors of the association’s 2015 golf outing, to help offset the event’s costs. Please express your thanks to the sponsors and give them your consideration when doing business throughout the coming year.
Platinum level
BMO Harris Bank N.A.
ABC7 Chicago/WLS-TV
FirstMerit Bank
Gold level
Automotive Compliance Consultants, Inc.
Franczek Radelet P.C.
Chicago Sun-Times
NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago
NextGear Capital
SunTrust Bank
AutoTrader/Kelley Blue Book
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Chicago Tribune/
Clear Channel Outdoor Chicago
ComplyNet Risk Management
Illinois Recovery Group Inc.
US Bank
Oscar & Associates
Silver level
Hillstrom Select Marketing Group
S&S Automotive
Shartega Systems
Phillip’s Flowers & Gifts
Bronze level
Fifth Third Bank
Crowe Horwath LLP
Principal Financial Group
Better Business Bureau
Toyota and Lexus Financial Services
Utility Management Group
Walsh, Long & Co.
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