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Auto Trader CEO on what makes the good car dealers great

  • Nathan Coe gives his opinion on what’s keeping the best car dealers at top of their game
  • Auto Trader boss was speaking to Car Dealer Live for an exclusive video which you can watch above
  • He also gives his opinion on used car price rises and how long they can go on for

Time 3 weeks ago

Auto Trader CEO Nathan Coe has given his thoughts on what is keeping the best car dealers at the top.

In an exclusive video interview with Car Dealer, the advertising giant’s boss was asked what he thinks the good dealers are doing well.

Here’s what he had to say…


We always see across our whole customer base that it’s a bit of a bell curve. 

You do have some retailers that are outstanding, some that are having an average time and some that are having a tough time. 

I do think that most people would say that these are some of the best trading conditions that we’ve ever seen in the car industry so now is the time to make a good fist of it and get things right.

The good retailers probably do 100 things well, that’s the nature of the job, it is so difficult because there are 100 things to do and doing them all is incredibly difficult to stay on top of.


If I was to pick three big things that I think really distinguished retailers materially, one is really obvious, but I just think at now point in history has this ever been more true. The really good retailers are running their businesses and their pricing not on their gut feel, they’re running it on data. 

They’re of course overlaying their brain and their experience and their knowledge of individual vehicles but your knowledge and experience can’t move in days like is happening at the moment. 

The really, really good retailers, and some of the most progressive, are actually getting to the point where they’re willing to centralise and automate a lot of their pricing based on data. 

That doesn’t mean they don’t exception report and go through it in detail because retail is detail, but they will let data drive a lot of what their pricing is doing on a daily basis, and of course at no time has that been more critical or a more important thing to do – because you can put your prices up which is not normally the decision that you’re making. You’re normally trading off depreciation versus discounts.


Probably most important is working out where you can get those cars and do you have to go to the same place as everyone else?

The second thing that they’re doing is the really good retailers are getting on this journey to really build the foundations for digital retailing. 

That’s everything from the basics of the data used to describe your stock, how it looks on site, how often it’s updated, whether the cars are actually available and what experience the consumer has when they come in to look at that car, right up to starting to look at how they might provide a fully transparent online journey for their consumers.

The third one won’t come as a surprise, but the really good retailers are thinking really hard and hustling on how they source vehicles. 

This is true for independent retailers as well, but much more acute for franchised retailers, if you start not getting those part exchanges coming in on new cars then you pretty quickly learn to fill a hole that you’ve never had to fill before and the really good retailers are going after that really aggressively. 

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Whether that’s using data to identify the cars they should be getting through to using data to price those cars. 

Probably most important is working out where you can get those cars and do you have to go to the same place as everyone else, like the auctions, to compete or are you able to find different routes of supply due to your scale, or where you deal, or the sorts of stock that you deal in?

You can watch the full interview with Nathan Coe at the top of this story

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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