Chris Saraceno of DealerELITE and Cliff Banks
Cliff, Welcome and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed by DealerElite.
Thanks Chris. You know, it’s a little different being on this side of the microphone. I appreciate the interest and the opportunity.
You recently launched The Banks Report. Explain to our readers what it is.
The Banks Report is a newsletter for the powerbrokers in the automotive retail industry. Dealer executives, Wall Street, vendor and OEM executives – anyone that wants to be able to see around the corner to see what’s coming and be able to profit from that knowledge.
Historically, there has never been more interest in the automotive retail sector. And there is a lot of big money looking to get into this space – both at the dealership level and vendor level.
We’re seeing a lot of interest from analysts who are signing up for The Banks Report, as well as are numerous dealers and vendors.
So Cliff, does the industry really need another information source?
The Banks Report provides analysis and insight you can’t get anywhere else.
I often use the term, “Predictive Business Intelligence.” We don’t necessarily report the news. Although, there are times we break stories – such as recently, when we broke the story that TrueCar was suing the Sonic Automotive Group for trademark infringement.
Our focus is more on putting the news into context and telling you what it means for the future of that particular sector, or company.
Another way of putting it is, “Read The Banks Report and get the news before it becomes the news.” This has long been a passion of mine – providing the kind of insight and analysis that’s been missing in the automotive retail sector.
Our dealer group here experienced that a couple of years ago. I think you advised us not to buy a dealership we were looking at because of information you had found regarding the management team at the automaker level. Anyway, Automotive News reported on that information a couple of weeks ago, two years after you had shared it with us.
Thanks for bringing that up, Chris. I think that’s a great example of the type of information that’s in The Banks Report.
We do look at what’s going on at the manufacturing level and how it affects or will affect the dealers. For example, we just published a few weeks ago an in-depth analysis of what’s happening with Chrysler and Fiat and what the future holds. Will Marchionne be able to pull together his grand plan of building a global automotive powerhouse? We think that’s very much in doubt especially now that Chrysler has registered for an IPO. What does that mean for dealers or the specific brands? What does it mean for investors?
I read that report. There is a lot of meat in it. And you were pretty blunt.
Thanks, Chris. One fact that’s interesting that came out of that analysis is that Chrysler-branded dealerships are the hottest selling stores this year when it comes to acquisitions. More of those dealerships have been bought and sold this than any other brand. I know on the surface, Chrysler looks great, but I don’t know that I’d be so quick to buy one of their dealerships right now.
How are you able to get this information and put it together?
I’m in a unique position in the industry, Chris. I talk to everybody and am probably as connected as anyone in this space. And as someone who covered the industry as a journalist and editor for several years, the perspective I bring and the relationships I have enable me to provide the type of analysis that’s been missing.
What is the business model? How are you making money?
It’s $795 for an annual subscription. I want to make the distinction here that The Banks Report is not a media product – it’s about research and analysis. This is the type of information you would pay thousands of dollars for in any industry.
So, we don’t have advertisers even though I’ve had several companies ask. I think that would distract us from the mission.
I also want to mention that I’ve got a strict policy of not selling or providing our subscriber data to anyone.
Cliff, it’s been great talking with you. I’m a subscriber and the content is awesome. We wish you a lot of success.
Thanks, Chris. This has been fun. Keep up the great work with DealerElite.