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KKR Buying CarsDirect.com Owner Internet Brands for $1.1 Billion


The private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has agreed to buy Internet Brands, which operates a portfolio of websites and software, in a bet that it can help the company expand its services.

The deal, which Internet Brands is expected to announce later on Tuesday, is worth $1.1 billion, according to two people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly. K.K.R. is buying the company from two other private equity firms, Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity, which bought it for $640 million in 2010.

Members of the Internet Brands management team, including Bob Brisco, the chief executive, are investing in the deal alongside K.K.R. They will hold a minority stake and continue to run the company.

Internet Brands, based in El Segundo, Calif., owns websites like Lawyers.com, CarsDirect.com and ApartmentRatings.com. The company historically has generated a large portion of its revenue from advertising, while also selling leads to law offices and car dealerships

But more recently, under Hellman & Friedman’s ownership, it has expanded in an area called “software as a service” that provides companies with software to accomplish certain tasks. Its Autodata Solutions business, for example, provides services to companies like Toyota, Ford and Chrysler.

K.K.R. is aiming to expand each of these various business lines, while maintaining the focus on certain broad categories: automobiles, health, legal and a fourth category the company calls home and travel. There are no plans to break up the business, the two people briefed on the matter said.

K.K.R. has previously had success with another technology company that managed a portfolio of assets. In 2010, it acquired Visma, a company based in Oslo that provides businesses with software for accounting and payroll tasks. K.K.R. sold part of its stake in Visma this year.

The private equity firm is also an owner of Go Daddy, a domain name registration company.

“Internet Brands is at an exciting inflection point of growth as the company transitions from a portfolio of web assets to a vertically integrated provider of media and client software solutions,” Herald Chen, the co-head of K.K.R.’s technology investing team, said in a statement. “Its growth has been driven by its powerful, proprietary operating platform and a management team with a focused vision.”

Source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/k-k-r-to-buy-internet-brands-for-1-1-billion/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1& 

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Internet Sales 20 Group Discount Code

CarsDirect.com is pleased to be a presenting sponsor at the upcoming Internet 20 Sales Group Los Angeles , taking place November 12-14 at the Renaissance LAX Hotel. This award-winning sales workshop is focused exclusively on Internet sales!

Our seasoned CarsDirect Internet sales experts will explore the latest buying trends, the reasons customers aren't buying, and how you can change your processes to immediately improve closing ratios. Attendance at this event is limited, so secure your spot today! 


Best of all, take advantage of these great benefits - a $2,000+ value! - for registering as a CarsDirect dealer: 

  • $250 off registration costs! Simply use discount code carsdirect1112upon registration check-out.
  • A free month of Used Car listings on CarsDirect*
  • 25,000 free banner ad impressions on CarsDirect's leading network of automotive websites that gets 35+ million monthly visits**

* with the purchase of two months of CarsDirect Used Car listings
** with the paid purchase of any CarsDirect product

Connect with us:

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El Segundo, CA 90245

1-800-260-5857

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http://www.internetsales20group.com 

What Are Your Most Important Assets?

Guest Post By Sean V. Bradley, CEO, Dealer Synergy

I have been immersed in automotive Internet sales, BDC, and digital marketing for almost 15 years. Needless to say, in this time there have been countless evolutions in social media, lead generation, mobile devices, and every other form of technology.

Through it all, one thing has always remained constant and important – PEOPLE. We have always needed, and continue to need, good quality people. No one has invented robots that sell cars, and no one has eliminated the need for automotive sales professionals, Internet directors, or appointment setters. Through all of the technology upheavals, social media fads and the Google ZMOT craze, the ONLY thing that has not been eliminated or genetically enhanced is the “People” aspect of the department.

People are the backbone of this industry. People sell cars, people conduct product presentations and demo drives. People qualify prospects, identify their wants, wishes and expectations, and then meet them and exceed them. No matter how much technology we have at our disposal, it is the “People” that make everything happen – before, during and AFTER the sale!

That being said, dealers must make sure they have the RIGHT people in their departments, and not settle for anything less than what is needed for success. Too many times dealers take “ANY” “body” that is available. They only recruit when they are desperate and need “bodies.” It is rare to see dealers proactively recruiting for the right candidates.

The scary truth is that this is true throughout the dealership – but it is becoming an epidemic in the Internet Sales Department, the BDC / Call Center, etc. In these departments, many dealers are not staffing correctly. Horrifyingly, they are either hiring the wrong people to run their multi-million dollar department, and / or they do not have the appropriate number of people in their department. It is common to see departments with way too many leads and only one or two BDC reps managing 500, 600, or more leads.

If you’re not staffing these departments properly, know that this practice is just plain badon many different levels. Here’s why:

  • You are BURNING through Internet Ups, only capturing the “low hanging fruit.”
  • You are NOT able to effectively communicate with your individual Internet Prospects because you are spread too thin to have the proper amount of e-mail / phone call follow-up protocol.
  • You will have prospects slip through the cracks and potentially buy elsewhere.
  • It’s NOT just the leads for the current month that are not being handled properly; there is also your Residual Flow Factor to consider. The average buying cycle is 45 – 90 days. So, if there are 500 leads (fresh for the month), there are an approximately 250+ carry over leads that you’re still working.
  • Most painful: lost revenue.

Dealerships must have a consistent and proactive recruiting protocol. They must also know which sources are the best for recruiting top talent. Here are a few proven resources:

Here’s another, more creative way to attract qualified candidates for employment: Create a TV / Web Commercial. That’s right, a commercial for HR. Here’s an example of a commercial we created for one of our dealer clients, Bill Dube Hyundai (Scott Dube is the President of the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association):

Whether you create your commercial in-house or outsource the job is up to you. No matter how you do it, my strong advice is to produce one.

Once you have a Web / TV commercial created, I recommend you syndicate widely for maximum visibility through resources including the following:

  • Facebook and Facebook ads, sponsored posts, etc.
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Google Ads and Video Pre-Roll ads

You can even create a “We are hiring” button on your website!

Remember: you are only as strong as your weakest link. And if your weakest link is your people, you need to – and CAN – do something about it immediately.

If you have any questions about this article, please email me at sean@dealersynergy.comor feel free to give me a call at (267) 319-6776.

Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry.

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CarsDirect is proud to be a sponsor of the Internet Sales 20 Group, taking place March 19-21, 2013 in Dallas. This exclusive, attendance-limited workshop will showcase a panel of the most successful dealership owners, managers and industry experts who will share their secrets on what is working in today's market. Each attendee will be given a custom success strategy to ensure your dealership's success and growth in 2013.

3 Reasons to Register Now!

1. Internet Sales 20 Group attendees will get 25,000 ad impressions absolutely free* on CarsDirect's leading network of automotive websites that gets 35+ million visits each month.

2. We're giving away an iPad mini! Stop by the CarsDirect booth at the event for more details.

3. Get a $250 discount on registration to the Internet Sales 20 Group! Simply use discount code CARSDIRECT2013 upon check-out.

* with any paid purchase of a CarsDirect product

CarsDirect Is Giving Away 25,000 Banner Ad Impressions & A FREE iPad Mini - To Incentivize FURTHER Your Education!

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Why Didn't Customers Buy From You?


In today's world of the Internet, smart phones, and apps for everything, communication is supposed to be easier and more efficient than ever before. But when it comes to dealers communicating with potential customers, plenty of opportunities are still slipping through the cracks. That's one of the major takeaways from our latest exclusive quarterly survey of customers who submitted leads on CarsDirect.com.

Take a look at the following survey excerpts from customers who did not end up purchasing a vehicle after submitting a lead:





Looking at the first chart a full 41% of consumers said they either weren't contacted by a dealer or were not sure if they were contacted. In today's world, there's almost always a way to reach a potential customer, but almost half of leads are passing by unconverted due to something as simple as making initial contact with the customer.

To avoid missing these opportunities, focus on what customers see as making contact, and on your current process at your store. While your process might consist of sending an e-mail shortly after receiving a lead, it could be that the customer is expecting a more personal phone call. Experiment with different ways of making initial contact with customers to see which one garners the best response. As illustrated above, there are plenty of opportunities other stores are missing that you can seize on.

Moving onto the second chart, again we see that by far the top reason or not purchasing: no contact. If there's no communication with customers, it's impossible to make sales. That's why it's imperative to examine and refine your processes so your sales team knows they did everything they could to contact a customer and get them in the door.

The second most-cited reason customers gave for not purchasing was that they are still looking for a vehicle. These are the cases when contact is made with a customer but they drop off the radar. In these cases, it's important to examine why your team hasn't closed the customer. Are they still working the customer? There's usually plenty of opportunity to win a customer back if they're undecided.

Finally, the third most common reason that customers gave for not purchasing was price. Here, make sure that you're giving customers a price online so that there is no surprise about price on first contact. Also, make sure you're priced competitively in your area. It sounds simple, but your prices could be out of line with the rest of your local market if you're not keeping tabs on pricing trends in the surrounding area.

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Its official everyone! We have locked in the Date, Time, Location and are currently working on the details for our upcoming Internet Sales 20 Group!


Let Me give you some of the highlights...

  • This is a "REAL" 20 Group... An Internet Sales / Digital Marketing 20 Group. Complete with Bench Mark Composites. I have spoken to over 75 NADA & NCM 20 Groups, I have worked with current and former NADA / NCM Moderators as well as Dealer Principals to create the MOST Amazing Composite & Benchmark Data.
  • I have a FULL Partner on the Actual Composite... A Dealer Principal with over 27 years Automotive Experience!
  • The FIRST 20 Dealerships to SIGN UP for this 20 Group Workshop (BEFORE September 15th) will receive a FREE SWOT Analysis:
    • We will conduct 2 different Mystery Shop Calls, record the MP3, GRADE the calls on BOTH quantitative and qualitative measures.
    • We will evaluate your dealership's Social Media Relevancy
    • We will evaluate your website and create a "punch-list" to identify opportunities to evolve and enhance your site
    • We will analyze your dealer sip's online reputation
    • We will evaluate your dealership's SEO penetration and visibility....
    • And some other important evaluations...
  • We have AMAZING High Level DEALERSHIP Speakers... NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED!
    • Bill Finocchiaro - President of Peruzzi Toyota and COVER STORY for Auto Dealer Monthly Magazine. He took his store's Internet Department from 30+ units per month online to OVER 117 units per month online!
    • Durran Cage - General Sales Manager for Alan Vines Automotive... He will on the COVER of AutoSuccess Magazine THIS SEPTEMBER!! He went from Chrysler OEM Rep, To and Internet Manager selling 27 units per month to building his department to OVER 95 units per month and NOW he JUST got promoted to GSM!
    • Robert Wiesman - Nationally recognized by AutoSuccess Magazine for his profound internet sales success as a SHOWROOM SALES CONSULTANT! He sells OVER 25-30 units per month and has MORE visibility online than most dealerships!
  • We have Some INCREDIBLE Industry speakers in the roster:
    • Susan Givens - Publisher of AutoSuccess Magazine
    • Cory Mosley
    • AJ Leblanc / Car-Mercial
    • Carsdirect
    • Peter Martin - Cactus Sky
    • Fran Taylor
    • Stan Sher
    • Karen Bradley - Dealer Synergy / FranklinCovey
    • Sean Bradley - Dealer Synergy / FranklinCovey
  • We are going to have an AMAZING VIP Networking Cocktail Event & Dinner

*** There is MUCH, MUCH more... I just wanted to give you a little teaser to what is coming. October seems a long time away BUT... it will come faster than we all realize.


So, PLEASE mark your calendars!

Message me if you have any questions!

UPCOMING Internet Sales 20 Group - Mark Your Calendars... October 23rd, 24th and 25th Downtown Chicago at the Hilton

WEBSITE COMING SOON!

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