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BIDDING FOR THE BUSINESS Bidding for the Business L ast year, Grogan's Towne Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Toledo, Ohio, realized its best year in its 55year history, selling 3,200 new and used cars. Denny Amrhein, who became managing partner of the dealership in 1990, says a major player in that feat was Ally and its SmartAuction remarketing site. In the past few years, Grogan's has dramatically bolstered its used-car sales, thanks in large part to vAuto's inventory management software and "Velocity 2.0," a book written by the software company's founder, Dale Pollak. Those strategies, combined with SmartAuction, Ally's online remarketing platform, fueled the store's turnaround after the Great Recession backed it against the wall in late 2008. Before the economic downturn, the dealership averaged 50 to 70 used-vehicle sales a month. But at the height of the Great Recession, that average dropped to 30 to 40 used units a month. Today, Grogan's averages 200 used-vehicle sales a month, but Amrhein says the dealership has yet to reach his monthly target. "I've already told everybody we're going to do 300, so Marc [Ray] needs to fnd more cars every month," Amrhein says of his business partner and general sales manager. And with Amrhein targeting a 25 to 30 percent annual increase in used-vehicle sales, Ray and his staff will be spending a lot more time on SmartAuction. "I said I wanted to be No. 1 in the state of Ohio in three years. That was two years ago and our new-car business is up 40 percent," Amrhein says, adding that 70 percent of transactions include a trade-in. "But to realize the goal I set, our used-car department needs to keep pushing. And that means buying cars online," he adds. More than four million vehicles have been sold on SmartAuction since its launch in 2000, and users have access to more than 15,000 vehicles of nearly every make and model on any given day. But that's not the only reason Amrhein prefers the auction site. "SmartAuction simply has a superior site," he says. Amrhein has worked in the auto business since he was 19 years old. He worked his way up, becoming a dealership general manager at age 30. Six years later, he bought his frst store, a small Ford dealership just outside of Toledo. He kept that for about fve years before he and his partners bought Grogan's. Ray didn't join the store's sales staff until early 1993. He didn't have any prior dealership experience, but he caught on quickly and was invited to buy into the dealership and become a partner just 15 years later. Ally was there to help the dealership navigate the Great Recession, but Ray says the bond grew even stronger after the dealership obtained permanent foorplan fnancing with the frm. The operation also signed up to participate in Ally's Dealer Rewards Program. It also became a member of Ally's Champions Club, an exclusive group of top-performing dealers who retain wholesale foorplans with Ally. Ray says the dealership also uses Ally for mortgage loans and a working capital loan. "The Champions Club is unbelievable," Ray says. "It's been about a year and a half now that we've been Champions Club [status] and we haven't missed a month. And we don't plan to, either, because we get things like a pointand-a-half reduction in foorplan. It's big money when you start talking about 40 to 60 cars on SmartAuction some months." SmartAuction Training Are you interested in receiving SmartAuction training? After you've signed up, contact the SmartAuction call center between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET at (877) 273-5572. Select option 1 to: ■ Learn about upcoming training session schedules ■ Get access to Ally's helpful reference materials. During your scheduled training session, you'll learn how to use the SmartAuction system to help your used vehicle business.