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Surveyed dealers give thumbs up to CATA activities on their behalf

November 18, 2010

More than seven of 10 dealers are "very satisfied" with the work of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, according to a survey of CATA dealer members administered last spring via mail and e-mail. 

Dealer principals and general managers were asked to rate various activities on a five-point scale, with five being most commendable. For the 135 dealers who completed the survey, most endeavors averaged better than four on the scale. The survey also elicited many additional comments about the CATA’s work.


"The response rate from among the association’s 520 dealers was healthy, maybe even a little greater than you’d normally expect," said CATA Chairman Bob Loquercio. "And the comments really helped to give us a clearer idea of what the dealer community thinks about what the CATA should be doing for them." 

Half the respondents said the Chicago Auto Show is "very effective" at increasing their springtime showroom traffic. But five dealers said the show was "not at all effective" for them. Said one: "The only direct response comes from the factory providing an ‘Auto Show Rebate.’ It’s not the show, it’s the incentive."


Six of 10 poll-takers said First Look for Charity, the auto show’s black-tie event that has raised millions for area charities, is "very effective" at conveying a favorable image of CATA dealers. 

Dennis O’Keefe, the long-serving CATA general counsel, averaged above 4.5 on the 5-point scale on three topics: responsiveness to my questions, knowledge of the retail auto business, and quality of legal advice.


Respondents rated Franczek Sullivan, the CATA’s employee relations law firm, at about 4 out of 5 on three matters: responsiveness to my questions, knowledge of the retail auto business, and satisfaction with the (July 2005) Local 701 agreement. 

Several dealers regretted that, during the 2005 negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement with the technicians’ union, the contract did not broach employee contributions towards escalating healthcare costs. One dealer said: "I did not want a (701) strike but would have liked to see employee participation in benefit payments. We need to break that ice sometime."


The portal, which in 2005 transformed to a free means for CATA dealers to promote their inventories, was considered an effective means for delivering referrals by 70 percent of the respondents. Much of the CATA’s annual $1 million media strategy budget is devoted to promote 

Since 2000, the CATA has retained lobbyists who complement the work of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association in Springfield and who interact more closely with local legislators in northeast Illinois. The efforts gained mostly positive marks, but several dealers said they were not aware of the lobbyists’ accomplishments, and a few northwest Indiana dealers regretted that the lobbyists have no presence in that state.


Other CATA activities mentioned in the survey:


  • CATA Learning University training
  • F&I certification
  • Free educational seminars
  • The "Drive Chicago" show, at 8 a.m. Saturdays on WLS-AM 890
  • BBB-CATA Advertising Review Program
  • Free meeting space for CATA members
  • Free forms for CATA members
  • Biweekly CATA Bulletin
  • Chicago Auto Outlook quarterly sales report
  • Staff responses to various inquiries and information requests


Suggestions for new endeavors included having the CATA host job fairs, especially for technicians and salespeople; offering more training courses; creating a group health benefits trust; and establishing a legal defense fund to fight frivolous lawsuits.