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The Value of TrueCar Are You Using It or Is It Using You

Updated on September 27, 2015

Taking the Guesswork Out Of Buying A Car Know the Real Price. Should consumers use TrueCar when shopping for a new vehicle?

As a consumer, when you log on to their website, this is how you are greeted. "Know the real price." Their goal and their mission is to answer for the consumer the big question plaguing everyone's mind, "What should I pay for a new car? What is a fair price?" will also address the age-old question, "How do I get the best price on a new car?" Let's face it, we've all had the car buying experience that just didn't feel right after it was over. Nobody wants to feel that way.

TrueCar provides a service. They collect data to pass on to the consumer so that a consumer can know the invoice price in its comparison to the MSRP. The consumer will then be able to request actual bids from local dealers and receive a guaranteed price quote for the car they want. TrueCar also shows what other people in your area are actually paying.

TrueCar claims to be the only way you can confidently buy a car. From their website:

"TrueCar also provides the true price of what people are paying on average for new cars in your local area. Thus, our TrueCar average price paid feature lets you know how much you should pay, as well as what a good or great price really is. TrueCar provides all of this new car pricing information at both a national and local level - free of charge - so you can understand how cars are being priced and sold all around the country. Knowing the real price means truly knowing new car prices - TrueCar makes you a car price expert."

Why TrueCar Exists (in case you were wondering)

TrueCar exists for multiple reasons, but the main reason is this: Not everyone in the market to buy a car wants to travel back in time and do business like it's 1986 again. The Internet or Information age has "leveled" the playing field for those consumers interested in doing so.

There is a fair percentage of the marketplace who are looking for the fastest most economical way to get their new car.

TrueCar founder, Scott Painter, like any good entrepreneur, recognized a growing need and found a way to capitalize on it using the Internet.

Let's take a look, real quick, at other Industries and companies who have fundamentally changed how business is transacted for a very similar reason...

  • Video/DVD Rentals. Netflix has essentially handed it to Blockbuster because they made it convenient to rent a movie and customers got sick of late fees, poor disorganized selection and lame service. Netflix answered a need that was greater than price alone.
  • Travel Agencies. Most travel agencies lay wasted in the wake of Priceline, Travelocity and the likes because consumers now have the option to book their own flights, compare prices and DIY their vacation.
  • Online Banking. More and more consumers flock to online banking and ATMs in lieu of standing in line for 15 minutes simply to be apathetically upsold on a savings account they neither need, want or will use.
  • Retail Music Stores. Has anyone seen a record store lately? Napster and Amazon have virtually eliminated the need and the traditional experience of "shopping" for music.

It is this writer's humble opinion, that behind all the technological advances driving these fundamental changes in commerce, there is one core element that drives customers online to shop and buy.

That one thing is a lack of real service.

Allow me a moment to define what I mean. Back in the day, when you would go to the Video store or Record store, you would encounter people passionate about movies and music and legitimately wanted to not only share their passion with you but help you in your quest to satisfy your thirst for that particular video, record or CD. Eventually, these enthusiasts got "real jobs" and as corporate America (Blockbuster) moved out smaller companies these passionate players were subsequently replaced with people just looking for a paycheck.

Consequently, service began to suffer and then the entrepreneur stepped in and answered the need of the consumer. Customers got tired of dealing with apathetic employees and technology evolved enough to allow business to transact without the "apathetic human" element. Throw the whole convenience factor in the mix and it's a complete no-brainer.

A great guy I worked for used to use the phrase "G.A.S. and GO" G.A.S. means "Give A S#!7."

If you're a customer facing employee or business person, regardless of the title someone DYMOED on your name tag, you're also in the sales department AND you are constantly selling your company to customers as to why they should start or continue to do business with you.

And the key element in selling and reselling is to G.A.S. about the customer in front of you. The lack of G.A.S. is exactly why customers have gone to the internet. Convenience and price rank a far distant second place if you ask me.

The bottom line here is as Grant Cardone puts it, "people will pay more for a great attitude over a great product" all day long and when there is no value built into the experience and the location, price will become the deciding factor.

Reality Bites

Needless to say, TrueCar has stirred up quite the controversy in the automotive industry. There're multiple opinions here about what is fair business practice, the right of the consumer to information, the right of the dealer to make a fair and reasonable profit, competition in today's market and economy, consumer privacy, and so on and so forth. And so on and so forth is quite a literal statement as this is a bottomless rabbit hole.

The automotive business as we know it employees countless people. Not just sales people, but service technicians, accounting departments, parts departments, porters and lot attendants and management. Not to mention the vendors that help keep the dealership running. The dent guy, the gardener, the detail guy, glass repair, etc. What about the individuals who work for the dealership managing their on-line presence? Sales trainers? Advertising? City Tax? Countless individuals quite literally have built their lively hood around the automotive industry.

So when business as usual is threatened, some people are going to speak up.

That being said, as an industry, if you can not adapt and grow in a changing market and economy, then fiduciary Darwinism will prevail no matter how loud you are.

The automotive industry can not die as the automobile is too necessary an item and also too valuable to the consumer. It is not just a commodity either. The automobile for many, is a symbol of success, a piece of one's identity. The automobile is also a symbol of American ingenuity and the freedom this country provides is represented in the freedom of the open road.

That's more than a commodity. So with that in mind, buying a car should be a moment of great joy and excitement; not a total pain in the ass, which is what is has become for so many.

Transparency is good

An Open Letter To Car Shoppers

Dear Car Shopper,

How you decide to buy a car is ultimately your decision and the more informed you are about the market, the product, the dealership and the sales person the better.

Allow me to advise you in a few things.

Behind every car dealership is a network of men and women just like you. They have kids on soccer teams, go to church, families to feed, pay into the community, support local charities and pay a bunch of local taxes. They, like you, deserve to make a good living and prosper.

The media has, courtesy of a few bad apples dropped the car salesman in there with politicians and lawyers. There's a valid reason for that and I understand it. Just keep in mind, they're not all like that.

That being said, where you do business is your decision and you don't have to feel like you lost because you decided to pay a little extra for excellent service. Do you tip your waiter? Do you like to stay in a nice hotel? You buy a car every 3 or 4 years, sometimes more. Get a good deal and a fair price, but also, treat yourself. You work hard for your money. Blow some of it and pick a dealership that's willing to over deliver and over service to earn your business.

Consider The Ritz verses Motel 6. Both a place to sleep but one has significantly more value and wow factor and it's worth it. Step up just a little bit because you've worked hard and deserve a stay at The Ritz.

An Open Letter to Car Sales Professionals

Dear Car Dealer,

This TrueCar thing, Edmunds,,, ""The Internet Shopper," etc... they're not going anywhere.

FYI, the "Internet Shopper" died around 2004.


98% or more of your business, hit's the Internet in one way or another before making a purchase. And why is that? Because they are looking for information and don't want to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it.

The dealerships that recognize this and are able to adjust to this concept will be the ones who survive. You will always be more successful when you learn to control the process, not the customer.

My next suggestion for you is to take 100% responsibility for the situation. Realize that basically, whether or not you believe you created this "mess" or not, take ownership of the situation so you do not end up joining the ranks of Circuit City, Boarders Books, Blockbuster Video, and so on and so forth...

Even if TrueCar goes away, there will be another site exactly like it popping up in 30 minutes or less.

Once upon a time, people actually plugged their phones into the wall, then technology changed the way people used the phone and consequently some companies folded and others expanded. Did you know that in the early 1900s many people thought movies were simply a circus sideshow?

You can either embrace it and ride the wave or get pulled under, the choice is yours.

Allow me to quote Elise Kephart from her blog entitled, TrueCar Thoughts From Elise Kephart, "CREATE AN EXPERIENCE that has no price tag."

Then work from a place of abundance. TrueCar was a participant in 2% of all cars sold in one month of 2011. There's more than enough money, there's plenty of customers waiting for someone to grab their attention, treat them like a million bucks and help them with the second largest purchase of their life. Those people will always pay more for a great attitude and experience. That's why we have Neiman Marcus, Saks, The Ritz, and why great tickets to a great show cost so much. Value. What is your value?

Share Your Opinion Here

What do YOU consider a fair profit to the dealer?

See results

One study suggests...


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