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The 2015 Dealer's Choice Awards

The 2015 Dealers’ Choice Awards recognizes the industry’s best vendors, suppliers and finance companies as selected by dealers and dealership personnel.

July 2015, Auto Dealer Today - Cover Story

by ADT Staff

The 2015 Dealers’ Choice Awards recognizes the industry’s best vendors, suppliers and finance companies as selected by dealers and dealership personnel. 
The 2015 Dealers’ Choice Awards recognizes the industry’s best vendors, suppliers and finance companies as selected by dealers and dealership personnel. 

It is time again for dealers to recognize their favorite industry partners with the 11th annual Dealers’ Choice Awards. Sponsored by Auto Dealer Monthly, the programs gives dealers and dealership personnel the opportunity to vote for their favorite providers in a survey that includes 29 categories, including two new categories: Compliance Training and F&I Technology.      

Each voter entered the names of their favorite providers manually. The companies were then scored on the product or service itself, customer support and service, value, and whether they would recommend the company to another dealer. In order to receive a first-place Diamond, second-place Platinum or third-place Gold award, the provider must be among the top three of those companies who were rated above the average score in each category.   

“Eleven years into the program, the Dealers’ Choice Awards remains the standard by which recognition in our industry should be judged,” said David Gesualdo, publisher of Auto Dealer Monthly. “Each winner has earned their dealers’ loyalty and our heartfelt congratulations.”

The Dealers’ Choice Awards are based on an online survey that allows dealers and dealership personnel to vote for providers in a multitude of categories. Survey respondents are asked to cast votes only for providers with which they have firsthand knowledge and experience.

In addition to identifying their primary providers in each category, respondents must rate their providers in four areas: (1) the product or service provided, (2) customer support and service, (3) the overall value for dollars spent, and (4) whether they would recommend the provider to another dealer. The 2015 Dealers’ Choice Awards survey was open from April 15, 2015, to May 15, 2015. Those who voted in at least five categories qualified to be entered in a random drawing in which two Amazon Fire HDs were given away.

When it was launched in 2005, the survey was set up as multiple-choice, with a list of companies under a category from which to choose, plus the option of a write-in vote for a company that wasn’t listed. Starting in 2012, there were no multiple-choice options; respondents had to write in their primary provider for each category in order to vote. While this process did create some extra work in matching up companies based on differences in how respondents identify their providers, this eliminated some past concerns regarding write-in votes. In the auditing process, all votes were reviewed, scrutinized and cleansed for companies that received votes in the wrong categories.

At a Glance

  • 29 categories
  • 62 winners
  • 81 awards
  • 29 companies won consecutive awards
  • 14 companies won multiple awards

As always, the sheer number of votes is not the deciding factor. What matters is quality, not quantity. Scores were totaled, averaged and weighted for each provider. Then the overall average vote across all categories was assigned a value of 100. Then the scores — including group averages and company scores — were adjusted accordingly relative to their position above or below the overall average.

Final placement is determined by raw scores. Ties can only happen if two nominees have the exact same raw score. The provider with the highest above-average score receives the Diamond award, followed by the Platinum award and the Gold award, respectively, provided their scores are above the group average.

2015 Facts and Figures

Annual Winners (Award Winner Every Year)

  • ActivEngage*
  • Autotrader
  • CNA National
  • Client~ConneXion
  • Joe Verde Group
  • Kain Automotive*
  • Manheim
  • Portfolio*
  • Reynolds and Reynolds
  • SmartAuction
  • United Development Systems (UDS)

* These companies have won awards every year in categories that have been added to the DCA after the program’s inception in 2005.

Multiple Category Winners (Won More Than One Award This Year)

  • Ally (4)
  • Dealer.com (3)
  • Dealertrack (3)
  • ProMax Unlimited (3)
  • ADESA (2)
  • AFAS (2)
  • Autotrader (2)
  • CNA National (2)
  • Dealer Synergy (2)
  • Dominion Dealer Solutions (2)
  • eBizAutos (2)
  • Manheim (2)
  • Reynolds and Reynolds (2)
  • United Development Systems (UDS) (2)
  • VinSolutions (2)

Triple-Diamond Winners (Three or More Consecutive Diamond Awards in the Same Category)

  • ActivEngage
  • Autotrader
  • CNA National
  • Dealer.com
  • DealerLink
  • eBizAutos
  • ELEAD1ONE
  • Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS)
  • Manheim
  • ProMax Unlimited

Triple-Platinum Winners (Three or More Consecutive Platinum Awards in the Same Category)

  • ADESA

Triple-Gold Winner (Three Consecutive Gold Awards in the Same Category)

  • ADESA
  • Auto Credit Express
  • Capital One Auto Finance
  • GSFSGroup

Double-Diamond Winners (Two Consecutive Diamond Awards in the Same Category)

  • Dealertrack Technologies
  • Portfolio
  • ProMax Unlimited
  • SmartAuction
  • Ziegler SuperSystems

Double-Platinum Winner (Two Consecutive Platinum Awards in the Same Category)

  • Auto/Mate
  • CNA National
  • Chase
  • Dealer.com
  • ECP
  • Joe Verde Group
  • Manheim
  • Protective Asset Protection  
  • Toyota Financial Services

Double-Gold Winner (Two Consecutive Gold Awards in the Same Category)

  • AFAS
  • AUL
  • Bi-Auto (div. EAC)
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

New-Vehicle Lead

  • Diamond: Autotrader (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: Dealer.com (Platinum in 2014)
  • Gold: Autobytel (new for 2015)

Used-Vehicle Lead

  • Diamond: Autotrader (Diamond in 2014)     
  • Platinum: Cars.com (new for 2015)   
  • Gold: eBay Motors (Platinum in 2014)         

Special Finance Lead

  • Diamond: DealerLink (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: CarsDirect (Platinum in 2014)
  • Gold: Auto Credit Express (Gold in 2014)

Website

  • Diamond: Dealer.com (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: eBizAutos (Platinum in 2014)
  • Gold: VinSolutions (new for 2015)

Chat

  • Diamond: ActivEngage (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: Client~ConneXion (Gold in 2014)
  • Gold: Contact at Once! (Platinum in 2014)

Mobile Media

  • eBizAutos (Diamond in 2014)
  • Dealer.com (Platinum in 2014)
  • Dealer Synergy (Gold in 2014)

Social Media Management

  • Diamond: Naked Lime (new for 2015)
  • Platinum: Ally (new for 2015)
  • Gold: Driving Sales (new for 2015)

Reputation Management

  • Diamond: Dominion Dealer Solutions (new for 2015) 
  • Platinum: CDK Digital Marketing (new for 2015)
  • Gold: Dealer Refresh (new for 2015) 

Direct Mail

  • Diamond: ProMax Unlimited (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: Credit Mail Experts (new for 2015)
  • Gold: Strategic Marketing (Platinum in 2014) 

Online Inventory Listing Management

  • Diamond: eBizAutos (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: Dominion Dealer Solutions (Gold in 2014) 
  • Gold: Auction123 (Platinum in 2014)

Inventory Management

  • Diamond: Dealertrack (Gold in 2014) 
  • Platinum: vAuto (Diamond in 2014)
  • Gold: FirstLook (Platinum in 2014)

Sales Training

  • Diamond: Ziegler SuperSystems (Diamond in 2014)   
  • Platinum: Joe Verde Group (Platinum in 2014) 
  • Gold: Ally (new for 2015) 

Internet Training

  • Diamond: Dealer.com (Platinum in 2014)
  • Platinum: Dealer Synergy (Gold in 2014)
  • Gold: Kain Automotive (Diamond in 2014) 

Compliance Training (New Category!)

  • Diamond: Compli
  • Platinum: AFAS    
  • Gold: United Development Systems (UDS)

F&I Training

  • Diamond: United Development Systems (Diamond in 2014)  
  • Platinum: Ally (new for 2015)
  • Gold: AFAS (Gold in 2014)
  • Gold: Reahard & Associates (Platinum in 2014)

F&I Products

  • Diamond: Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS) (Diamond in 2014) 
  • Platinum: ECP (Platinum in 2014) 
  • Gold: RoadVantage (new for 2015)  

Service Contract

  • Diamond: CNA National (Diamond in 2014) 
  • Platinum: Protective Asset Protection (Platinum in 2014)  
  • Gold: AUL (new for 2015) 

Service Contract Reinsurance

  • Diamond: Portfolio (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: CNA National (Platinum in 2014) 
  • Gold: GSFSGroup (Gold in 2014)

F&I Desking Software

  • Diamond: ProMax Unlimited (Diamond in 2014)  
  • Platinum: Reynolds and Reynolds (Gold in 2014) 
  • Gold: Dealertrack Technologies (Platinum in 2014) 

F&I Technology (New Category!)

  • Diamond: MenuVantage
  • Platinum: MaximTrak
  • Gold: F&I Express

CRM

  • Diamond: ELEAD1ONE (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: ProMax Unlimited (Gold in 2014) 
  • Gold: VinSolutions (new for 2015)

DMS

  • Diamond: Dealertrack Technologies (Diamond in 2014)  
  • Platinum: Auto/Mate (Platinum in 2014) 
  • Gold: Reynolds and Reynolds (Gold in 2014)

Online Auction for Purchasing Inventory

  • Diamond: SmartAuction (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: Manheim (Platinum in 2014)
  • Gold: ADESA (Gold in 2014) 

Traditional Auction

  • Diamond: Manheim (Diamond in 2014)
  • Platinum: ADESA (Platinum in 2014)

Prime Captive Finance Company

  • Diamond: GM Financial (new for 2015)
  • Platinum: Toyota Financial Services (Platinum in 2014) 
  • Gold: Ford Motor Credit (Gold in 2014)

Prime Non-Captive Finance Company

  • Diamond: Ally (new for 2015)
  • Platinum: Chase (Platinum in 2014)
  • Gold: US Bank (new for 2015) 

Subprime Finance Company

  • Diamond: Wells Fargo (Platinum in 2014) 
  • Platinum: Regional Acceptance (Diamond in 2014) 
  • Gold: Capital One Auto Finance (Gold in 2014) 

Biweekly Payments

  • Diamond: US Equity Advantage (Platinum in 2014) 
  • Platinum: SMART Payment Plan (Diamond in 2014) 
  • Gold: Bi-Auto (div. EAC) (Gold in 2014)

And the Winners Are …

New-Vehicle Lead

Autotrader completed a three-year run as the Diamond winner for New-Vehicle Lead, a category for which the online retailer has won an award every year since the program’s inception in 2005. Dealer.com won Platinum honors for the second year in a row while Autobytel finished third, notching its first win in the category since taking home the Diamond in 2012.

Used-Vehicle Lead

Autotrader also continued an 11-year streak in the Used-Vehicle Lead category, earning Diamond honors for the third straight year. Cars.com and eBay Motors took home the Platinum and Gold awards, respectively, swapping places from 2014. The three companies have dominated the category in recent years, accounting for every Used-Vehicle Lead award since 2009.

Special Finance Lead

DealerLink, CarsDirect and Auto Credit Express won Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards, respectively, for Special Finance Lead, the same awards the companies won last year. DealerLink won its fourth consecutive Diamond award in the category while CarsDirect took home Platinum for the third straight contest.

Website

Dealer.com and eBizAutos continued their domination of the Website category, finishing as the Diamond and Platinum winners, respectively, for the third straight year and the fourth year since 2011. VinSolutions took Gold for its first win in this competitive category, edging out last year’s third-place finisher, Dealer e-Process.

Chat

ActivEngage, Client~ConneXion and Contact at Once! won the Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards for Chat, finishing in the same order for the third straight year. The three companies account for every award earned in the category since it was introduced in 2011; ActivEngage has taken Diamond honors in four out of five contests.

Social Media Management

After failing to name any winners in 2013 or 2014, Social Media Management had three this year. Naked Lime won the Diamond award, edging out Ally and Driving Sales, which earned Platinum and Gold, respectively, in a category that is likely to continue to grow in importance in the years ahead.

Reputation Management

Reputation Management joined Social Media Management in naming three winners after drawing a blank in 2014. Dominion Dealer Solutions, CDK Digital Marketing and Dealer Refresh took home Diamond, Platinum and Gold honors, respectively, the first awards in the category since Digital Air Strike won Diamond in 2013.

Direct Mail

ProMax Unlimited won its second consecutive Diamond award for Direct Mail after notching its first win in the category last year. The Platinum award went to Credit Mail Experts, marking that company’s first Dealers’ Choice Awards win. Strategic Marketing won Gold, continuing a remarkable run of 10 awards in 11 contests, including eight consecutive Diamond awards from 2005 to 2012.

Online Inventory Listing Management

eBizAutos won its second consecutive Diamond award for Online Inventory Listing Management, continuing a run of seven Diamonds in the past eight years; the company earned Platinum honors in 2011. Dominion Dealer Solutions and Auction123, which took home Gold and Platinum, respectively, in 2014, traded places to take second- and third-place honors this year.

Inventory Management

Dealertrack won the Diamond award for Inventory Management after finishing in second and third place the past two years. The company bumped last year’s Diamond winner, vAuto, to Platinum status while last year’s Platinum winner, FirstLook, settled for Gold. vAuto continued a seven-year streak of wins in the category, including five consecutive Diamond awards from 2010 to 2014.

Sales Training

Ziegler SuperSystems earned its second consecutive Diamond award in the Sales Training category, edging out Joe Verde Group, which won the Platinum award for the second straight year. Ally won Gold, notching its first win in the category and knocking last year’s third-place finisher, The Cardone Group, out of contention.

Internet Training

Dealer.com won the Diamond award for Internet Training, improving on last year’s second-place finish and taking home its sixth straight award in the category. Dealer Synergy took home the Platinum trophy after winning Gold last year while Kain Automotive finished in third place, its eighth award in as many tries.

Compliance Training (New Category!)

Compli, American Financial & Automotive Services (AFAS) and United Development Systems (UDS) won Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards, respectively, in Compliance Training’s inaugural year.

F&I Training

United Development Systems (UDS) earned its third consecutive Diamond award in the F&I Training category, notching its 11th first-place finish in 12 contests. Ally took home Platinum for its first win in the category. American Financial & Automotive Services (AFAS) and Reahard & Associates tied for Gold — the first tie in Dealers’ Choice Awards history — after winning Gold and Platinum, respectively, in 2014.

F&I Products

IAS and ECP won Diamond and Platinum honors, respectively, in the F&I Products category for the second consecutive year. The win marks IAS’s third consecutive Diamond award in the category. RoadVantage took home the Gold for its first win in the category, knocking out Safe-Guard Products International, which won Gold last year and Platinum in 2013.

Service Contract

CNA National won its fourth consecutive Diamond award in the Service Contract category, continuing a remarkable run of 11 straight wins, including 10 Diamonds. Protective Asset Protection took home Platinum, its third such win in the past four contests, while AUL took home its second consecutive Gold award.

Service Contract Reinsurance

Portfolio, CNA National and GSFSGroup held onto the top three spots in the Service Contract Reinsurance category, winning Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards, respectively, for the second straight year. 2015 marks Portfolio’s fourth Diamond award and eighth straight top-three finish since 2008; GSFSGroup has won Gold in three consecutive contests.

F&I Desking Software

ProMax Unlimited continued to dominate the F&I Desking Software category, notching its fifth consecutive Diamond award. The company has won Diamond or Platinum in every year but one since 2005. Reynolds and Reynolds took home the Platinum award after winning Gold in 2014. Last year’s second-place finisher, Dealertrack, settled for Gold, its ninth consecutive award in the category.

F&I Technology (New Category!)

Another new category for 2015, F&I Technology recognized MenuVantage, MaximTrak and F&I Express as its inaugural Diamond, Platinum and Gold winners, respectively. Look for heated contests in this important category in the years ahead.

CRM

ELEAD1ONE took home its fifth consecutive Diamond award for CRM, capping a remarkable run that began with a Gold award in 2010. ProMax Unlimited won its third Platinum in the category in the past four contests. VinSolutions earned Gold honors, the company’s first CRM award since it took Platinum in 2010.

DMS

Dealertrack finished in first place in the DMS category for the second consecutive year, continuing a nine-year run that includes seven Diamond awards and two Platinums. Auto/Mate and Reynolds and Reynolds took home Platinum and Gold, respectively, for the second straight year; Reynolds and Reynolds has finished in the top three for DMS providers since the program’s inception in 2005.

Online Auction for Purchasing Inventory

SmartAuction won its second straight Diamond award for Online Auction for Purchasing Inventory, a category in which it has won an award every year since 2005. SmartAuction held off Manheim, which won its second consecutive Platinum award, and ADESA, which took home the Gold for the third straight year.

Traditional Auction

Manheim continued a three-year run as the Diamond winner for Traditional Auction, continuing an 11-year streak that includes eight Diamond awards. ADESA repeated as Platinum winner, its third such award since winning Diamond in 2012. The category failed to name a third-place finisher for the seventh consecutive year.

Prime Captive Finance Company

GM Financial took home the Diamond award for Prime Captive Finance Company, its first win in the category. Toyota Financial Services won Platinum for the second consecutive year and Ford Motor Credit earned its second straight Gold award since winning Platinum in 2013.

Prime Non-Captive Finance Company

Ally won the Diamond award for Prime Non-Captive Finance Company after consecutive first-place finishes in the Prime Captive Finance Company category. Chase maintained Platinum status, notching its second such award in as many tries, while US Bank took home the Gold for its first award in the category.

Subprime Finance Company

Wells Fargo moved from second to first place in the Subprime Finance Company category, notching its third Diamond award since 2008. Regional Acceptance settled for Platinum honors after winning three consecutive Diamonds from 2012 to 2014 while Capital One Auto Finance took home its third consecutive Gold award.

Biweekly Payments

US Equity Advantage took home the Diamond award for Biweekly Payments, improving on its second-place finish last year. SMART Payment Plan settled for Platinum honors after winning Diamond in 2014 and 2013, the category’s inaugural year, and Bi-Auto (div. EAC) took home the Gold for the second consecutive year after winning Platinum in 2013.

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