Manheim’s DealerMatch sibling grows as it sidesteps auctions

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NEW ORLEANS -- DealerMatch, the corporate sibling to Manheim that helps dealerships buy and sell used vehicles among themselves while avoiding the auctions that are the core of Manheim’s business model, has upped its base price, launched optional enhancements and more than doubled its paying members from last summer.

DealerMatch lets dealerships buy as many vehicles as they want for $399 a month, up from an introductory $249 last summer.

The idea is to help dealerships avoid traditional auctions and fees and tap into the dealer-to-dealer used-vehicle market, says DealerMatch President Greg Easterly.

“We’re giving dealers the tools to do the nonauction trading they’ve always done faster and more efficiently,” Easterly says. He estimates the dealer-to-dealer used-vehicle market at 10 million units a year.

DealerMatch parent Cox Enterprises Inc. also owns Manheim and AutoTrader Group.

Sandy Schwartz, president of Manheim and AutoTrader Group, says DealerMatch’s business model is “disruptive” to the traditional auction business but one Manheim and Cox must engage in.

“We don’t know for sure how successful, how big it can be, but at the same time dealers trade cars and we think we can help them do that,” says Schwartz. He is chairman of DealerMatch’s board of advisers.

By early this month, DealerMatch had increased its paying dealerships to 1,300 from 505 in June, while its listings grew to more than a million vehicles from 823,000. The vehicles were advertised for retail sale by DealerMatch members and nonmembers on AutoTrader.com.

Nonmembers’ vehicles shown on DealerMatch have been advertised 40 days or more to retail consumers. They are shown on DealerMatch to ensure that nonmembers get bids on units for which they are more open to selling wholesale.

By April, DealerMatch will introduce a diagnostic tool that identifies dealerships that have the vehicles a member wants to buy and ranks those sellers based on their past behavior on DealerMatch. Dealerships that respond slowly or not at all to offers from other dealerships are ranked lowest.

This month, the company introduced higher-priced membership packages with added benefits.

For example, a $999-a-month package adds the upcoming diagnostic tool, the ability to sell unlimited vehicles in DealerMatch’s weekly auctions for no extra fees and the ability for big dealership groups to use DealerMatch to host internal sales or to invite selected, nonmember dealerships to their sales.

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com.


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