CarProof pledges $1 million for research


CarProof’s new CEO, Ed Woiteshek, is a man with a lot on his to-do list.

The company has new products coming down the pipe and has expanded its staff from 60 to 110 in recent months to make sure those products are effective and sell.

Add to that the aspirations the London, Ont.–based company has in terms of expanding verticals and it is clear he has a lot to plan for.

Since taking over last fall from now CarProof chairman Paul Antony, Woiteshek is the man who has to see it all gets done. Still, he wants to look ahead five to 10 years, even though he admits that sort of planning rarely gets done, no matter how well intentioned the planner. Three years is more realistic.

“What happens is that you have all these conversations with your customers and talk about what the transactions should look like in seven years. You take notes. You say ‘that’s great and let’s all go follow up on that.’

“Then you go back to your day jobs and you find yourself focusing on the emails you missed during the meeting and you’re lucky you can think three years ahead. Five to 10-year planning is something very few folks can do that well.”

He’s a believer in long-term planning and he’s made the trek from the bright lights of San Francisco to London, Ont., to innovate at CarProof.

Woiteshek says the auto retail industry has no choice; it has to innovate or someone else will do it.

“Thirty years ago, it would take forever for the competition to figure out what you were doing. Business is much different today. You have to innovate. It’s not a choice.”

If the industry doesn’t, he warns it faces the certainty of new players and “disruption.”

Since CarProof is a national player and profits from a healthy industry, he says the company wants to pave the way to non-disruptive and profitable change both in and outside the area of vehicle history reports.

“We want dealers and OEMs to be successful. We don’t want some disruptive force coming into the market.”

He says the “burning” issue is the virtual transaction, cars bought online.

“The industry isn’t ready for that. It hasn’t thought out what the role of the dealership is in a virtual transaction.”

He likens the transaction to buying a pair of shoes online: if the consumer doesn’t like the purchase, they return it.

“I don’t know what percentage will be sold that way, but it will be a lot.”

To overcome the odds against long-term planning, CarProof is pledging $1 million to fund a think-tank called the Transparency Advantage – a channel designed to push the industry to think five to 10 years ahead.

The Transparency Advantage already has 11 founders, including the Trillium Automobile Dealers’ Association, Birchwood Automotive Group, Leggat Auto Group and reps from Kia Canada, GM Financial Canada, Ford Canada, Nissan Finance Canada, Porsche Canada, Toyota and Lexus Financial Services, VW Credit Canada, FCA Canada and Mercedes-Benz Canada.

Each founding member can expect a 45-minute interview once a quarter on a variety of topics.

The think tank is recruiting members – 1,000 of them – who get to submit ideas for research and access to the research.

He stresses there will be no quarterly meetings with quarterly reports bound for the wastebasket.

“This is not a bunch of talking heads,” Woiteshek says. “We are going to source ideas from our founding members and other members, prioritize where to research and spend money with outside parties to get that research done.”

CarProof is recruiting a coordinator and one other person to manage the effort.

Woiteshek says he is already getting topics for research and expects that most of the results of the research will be made public.

The effort will launch in May with more details to be revealed then.
 
For more information and to request an invitation to join, visit www.transparencyadvantage.org.