Kelley Blue Book Finally Matters To Car Dealerships

Remember those days when customers would come in to the dealership saying “Well Kelley Blue Book is saying my trade in is worth $xxx” after you opened them up at $2,000 below that KBB figure? Sure you do. You cannot forget how many times you wanted to say “No problem. Call KBB and see if they will cut you a check for that figure.”


How many sales consultants get flustered and do not know how to respond? How many would get upset or offended because they felt that the customer just turned up the heat on them?

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In all my years of selling cars and managing dealerships I remember using a great rule of thumb. In most cases if you took the KBB value for a trade in vehicle in fair conditioned and deducted around $1,000-1,500 you would pretty much be right on the money for what the trade in value really is according to Galves or auction data. I have tried this hundreds of times and was always in that range. Back in the old days we would tell the customer that “KBB is a research site that takes provides average figures but they do not actually buy and sell vehicles.” This was very true at one point in time. But as Bob Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are A-Changin” and yes they are.


My business partner, Peter at Auto Ad Builder the other day and I had a disagreement about how KBB operates. I talked about how Kelley Blue Book took over AutoTrader Trade In Marketplace just this time last year. I also discussed how they now promise to buy the trade in vehicle if the dealer is not willing to accept the Trade In Market value. But we took it even further. I told Peter that KBB trade values are shockingly very close by give or take a few bucks to the data that a manager or used car manager is using when appraising vehicles. He disagreed with me and told me that it was not true. He logged into MMR by Manheim too compare values to five vehicles that I was looking up on KBB. Peter was very shocked, surprised and impressed.


My next statement was “Do you know why that is?” to which he responded, “Not at all but it is interesting”. I explained how powerful each and every single one of Cox Automotive companies is with their data. The data integrates so that all of their systems whether it is vAutoVinSolutionsHomeNet, KBB, Manheim and even understand how the industry is selling cars. These systems are built so intelligently that they are setup based on consumer behavior. I first realized this a few months ago when VinSolutions was being installed at one of our client’s stores. These sites and systems share data as part of being a division of such a massive company like Cox Automotive. I even explained the game changer that took place when DealerTrack became a part of it.

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Please understand that these companies provide tools for dealers to be able to sell cars and some of the tools are provided to consumers to be better educated. Since they own all of these powerhouse companies and share the data of what is going on in the business the data is almost accurate. The data can be used to help close more deals. In fact, one of the things that make Dealer eTraining so unique with our training method is that we train our dealers how to leverage the technology. We have created and trained word tracks to Internet, BDC and Sales Consultants as well as helped managers understand how to work deals smarter.


In the car business change is very difficult to grasp because we are all use to making a significant income doing things a certain way. In some cases our egos stop us from moving forward. Thanks to technology and multibillion dollar data companies our business is able to evolve and change for the better. The sales process must be more efficient, professional and customer centric thanks to tools like Kelley Blue Book. So stop saying that it is just a consumer friendly research when in reality it is now your sales assistant.

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