Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007, 07:00 PM UPDATED 11:59 AMBy Nick Zulovich
CENTREVILLE, Va. — From free advertising for their service department to helping their customers lift the resale value of their vehicle by about 15 percent, dealerships have much to gain by registering their maintenance records with the Carfax ServiceLink program, at least that's the word from Larry Gamache, the company's communications director.
Gamache also pointed out that dealers can benefit from the Carfax One Owner designation program, which can provide a retail lift to used vehicles.
Launched in 2006, ServiceLink creates free ad opportunities for all Carfax-subscribing dealers who report their service data to Carfax, Gamache said.
"Dealerships with service bays can promote their service department on the Carfax Vehicle History Report," Gamache explained. "By supplying their maintenance data directly to us on the vehicles they've provided service for, we'll publish it on our vehicle history report with that dealer's name associated with it and display information next to it."
This constitutes free advertising, Gamache noted. "We run millions of reports each year, and every single car that the dealership services will have that maintenance information recorded permanently, including when ownership is transferred," he said.
"This is a free value-add program that we offer our dealer customers. It's included in their subscription," he continued.
On a related note, Gamache said the ServiceLink helps retain customers in the dealership's maintenance cycle, and thereby augments a dealership's service department profitability.
"We help a dealer keep cars in the service bay even after the car transfers ownership because the new owner will have access to the vehicle history report and our research shows that customers tend to go back to the place that's been servicing the car," he highlighted.
"They feel that the mechanic, or the facility that's been servicing the car, knows its quirks and foibles best and they want to continue going to that service bay," he added.
At the same time, customers benefit when dealers participate in the ServiceLink program.
According to Gamache, "It's a real value-add for the dealer's customer because we have found that this service information helps lift the resale value of the cars by about 15 percent. So a dealer can tell his customers that not only is he keeping their car working properly, he's also putting extra money into consumers' pockets because when they go to trade the cars in, they are able to show it was properly serviced."
Independent dealers may have the most to gain through participation with ServiceLink, especially when it comes to enhancing their public image, Gamache said.
"Unfortunately in our industry, some people do not trust used-car dealers, but in all candor, Carfax is one of the most trusted names in the used- car industry when it comes to consumer confidence," he stated.
"We allow our independent dealer customers to leverage our name to the max," Gamache continued. "They can put our point-of-sale material on their cars. They can use us in their advertising, and now, we can help them in their service bay.
"At the same time, Carfax can act like a virtual glovebox for their business by helping dealership customers keep track of all of their service and repair information, and this only adds to that consumer confidence," Gamache added.
For information on this program, call (800) 561-5496, or e-mail.
Carfax One Owner
Meanwhile, Gamache said the company is presently teaming with a respected industry source on a major research study of the impact a Carfax One Owner designation can have on the resale value of a used car.
In April 2006, Carfax unveiled its new product development — Carfax One Owner — which is designed to "highlight these highly sought-after vehicles" on the AutoTrader.com and Carfax sites.
Gamache said consumers are willing to pay a premium for a one-owner vehicle. By working with a third-party to analyze reams of data, Carfax has been able to determine how much more customers are prepared to spend for these units.
"We are almost ready to formally release the results of this study, but I can say that this leading research firm has determined objectively that the lift in the retail value of units that have a Carfax One Owner identification is 15 percent," Gamache noted.
"From a dealer's perspective, this increased premium that consumers are willing to pay increases their profitability," Gamache explained. "By stocking cars with Carfax One Owner designations, they are going to lift their bottom line."
Carfax Offers Update on Flooded Units
A new study by Carfax shows that waves of flood-damaged cars are washing up in areas all across the country.
Over the last five years, the number of waterlogged wrecks reported by Carfax Vehicle History Reports has doubled nationwide. Furthermore, massive increases have occurred in numerous states, according to executives.
"Our data shows a clear pattern of growth for those states within close proximity to the Gulf Coast or that have large populations and sprawling urban areas," said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax.
"Flooded cars are indeed on the move, and consumers everywhere are at risk. However, using the information gathered in our database, and new resources like Carfax Xpert, used-car shoppers can uncover some of the nasty secrets a car may be hiding," he added.
Water can fatally damage a car's most important features — like the electrical and safety systems — causing airbags and antilock brakes to malfunction and effectively turning the car into a ticking time bomb, executives explained.
However, Carfax said that under its buyback guarantee, cars purchased with Carfax Vehicle History Reports that do not contain DMV-reported incidents (salvage, flood damage, lemon, odometer problems) may be eligible to be bought back by the company.
"In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, an unprecedented effort was made by the auto industry to identify, process and report these vehicles, as well as warn consumers about the dangers of flooded cars," Gamache noted.
"We are ever-vigilant in making sure our customers have the information they need to protect themselves. We urge anyone buying a used car to get a Carfax Vehicle History Report that qualifies for the Carfax Buyback Guarantee and have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle prior to purchase," he concluded.
Over the last five years, reports have doubled nationwide. Carfax posted individual state results as follows:
Alabama — 374%
Delaware — 112%
Kansas — 151%
Minnesota — 173%
New Hampshire — 30%
Oregon — 57%
Utah — 7%
Arkansas — 122%
Florida — 96%
Kentucky — 102%
Montana — 170%
New Jersey — 46%
Pennsylvania — 161%
Virginia — 189%
Arizona — 84%
Georgia — 159%
Louisiana — 343%
Mississippi — 633%
New Mexico — 27%
Rhode Island — 40%
Vermont — 39%
California — 25%
Iowa — 28%
Massachusetts — 26%
Montana — 172%
Nevada — (-4%)
South Carolina — 63%
Washington — 47%
Colorado — 77%
Idaho — 32%
Maryland — 136%
North Carolina — 47%
New York — 35%
South Dakota — 86%
Wisconsin — 108%
Connecticut — 6%
Illinois — 23%
Maine — 127%
North Dakota — 131%
Ohio — 99%
Tennessee — 52%
West Virgina — 44%
Washington, D.C. — 8%
Indiana — 62%
Michigan — 162%
Nebraska — (-12%)
Oklahoma — 231%
Texas — 68%
Wyoming — 54%
Jennifer Reed, editor, contributed to this report.