Tech vendors waive fees, offer aid to dealerships

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Dealerships are getting some help from technology vendors to counter the financial hit brought by the COVID-19 virus, which has slowed sales and forced some showrooms to close to help limit its spread.

Over the past week, dealership technology providers, vehicle listings companies and other third-party vendors said they will waive or reduce some fees for dealership customers starting in April. Some companies left open the possibility of revisiting the fees at the end of next month, depending on the status of the virus outbreak at that time.

Dealership management system giant CDK Global Inc. told dealers in a letter this week that it will temporarily waive all subscription fees for layered applications, such as its Elead CRM and service products, and cut fees for DMS and related products, such as document management and digital contracting, by 25 percent.

April bills will be adjusted automatically to reflect the changes, CDK said.

“I want to make sure you know that we’re all in this together,” CEO Brian Krzanich wrote in the letter. “It looks like it may be difficult for a while.”

Many other companies have followed suit. Here’s a sampling:

• Vehicle listings sites CarGurus, Cars.com, TrueCar and Edmunds said they will cut dealerships’ subscription fees by half in April. Some listings companies advised stores that they still will receive leads, though volume is expected to be lower than normal.

• Cars.com also will discount dealers’ Cars.com and DealerRater bills by 30 percent in May and June, the company told dealers. The company will add badges to dealers’ listings if they offer virtual appointments or local vehicle delivery, and offer chat services and templates to customize online videos, at no cost. “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help promote your dealership, drive sales and keep your business moving forward during this unprecedented time,” CEO Alex Vetter wrote in a letter to dealers.

• Cars.com, CarGurus and TrueCar, citing market uncertainty because of the spreading outbreak, are also suspending financial guidance for 2020.

• RouteOne, which provides software for auto financing, electronic contracting and digital retailing, said it will reduce subscription fees for digital retail products by half. In addition, the company will waive fees for other select products. All discounts will be offered through May 31.

• DealerSocket CEO Sejal Pietrzak said in a letter to dealers that the dealership technology company will cut customers’ April bills by half for its customer relationship management software, a data- and equity-mining tool, DealerFire websites and some other products. It also will reduce fees by 25 percent for its DMS for independent dealers and the DMS for franchised dealerships that it acquired with its recent purchase of Auto/Mate.

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