Dealers Rejoice

Canadian finance director and controller Jeremy Grafstein explains how Dealertrack Canada has put a claim on the top spot in the auto-lender industry and what it’ll take to stay there

If you’re a part of the automotive retail industry, Dealertrack Technologies can help. By providing intuitive, high-value, web-based software solutions and services, Dealertrack can drive efficiency and profitability for all major segments of the automotive retail industry. That means dealers, lenders, OEMs, third-party retailers, agents, and aftermarket providers can leverage its services. Jeremy Grafstein, Dealertrack Canada’s finance director and controller, plays a big role in keeping an eye on its bottom line. Here he presents some of the metrics that have kept him and Dealertrack at the top of their industries.

20,000 dealers

Dealertrack not only provides the industry’s largest online credit-application network, which connects more than 20,000 dealers with 1,500 lenders, but it also offers the industry’s most comprehensive suite of integrated technologies that is transforming automotive retailing. Some of these solutions include dealer management, digital marketing, inventory, and sales.

2 pivotal roles

“Everything related to finance falls into my sphere,” Grafstein says. “This includes all of our general accounting, accounts receivable, accounts payable, taxation, treasury, cash management, and payroll, as well as our planning and reporting.”

And while keeping an eye on a corporation’s finances is a huge undertaking, Grafstein also serves as a member of Dealertrack Canada’s leadership team, helping guide the organization as it develops strategies concerning Canada. He also oversees all of the facilities in terms of lease evaluation, terms renegotiation, facility planning, and capacity needs.

Minor hockey is important to Grafstein. “It really boils down to my kids being important and their involvement in it,” he says. “Minor hockey is really the second job that I have, and I’m the manager of my son’s minor hockey team.” Grafstein’s skills come in handy, for the team he builds budgets, manages contracts, and collects and disperses payments. “Hockey is a passion of mine, and it’s something that has been passed on to my kids.”

More than 1 individual

Grafstein’s previous experiences made him the perfect fit for his current position. He’s held jobs where he was responsible for general accounting, closing books at the end of the month, booking journal entries, financial planning analysis, managing the company’s business model and building the forecast and plans associated with that.

“Other roles had more discreet responsibility on tax or more discreet responsibility on treasury of cash flow,” Grafstein says, “but as I have evolved and grown in my career, those individual responsibilities have sort of aggregated and become more of the management and oversight of the completion of those deliverables, which are done by members of my team and providing the guidance for them to execute on what we need to have happen. I’ve done all the pieces that are under my responsibility, and I’ve done them at various points in my career. Now I’m providing the guidance and the oversight to a team of individuals that are doing this for me.”

#1 online credit-application network

Dealertrack has been in business since 2001 and has become the top online credit-application network in Canada partly because of its extensive reach. According to Grafstein, the lending community in Canada is narrow and dominated by big banks. Those big banks that operate in the auto-finance space are Dealertrack customers.

Having that connection to all of the offerings that market has, has made Dealertrack a market leader. “We’ve also been able to provide value to our customers and lenders that wanted to stick with us,” Grafstein says. “From a user perspective—and our product is a business—our customers are the lenders, but our users are the auto dealers. So the auto dealers are the ones logging into the system and selecting how to go through the Dealertrack portal to get their financing completed.”

Dealertrack has created an intuitive, user-friendly tool that makes it very easy for dealership business managers to complete what they need to do, which has built a lot of favour and garnered support within the dealership network. It has allowed the company to branch out and offer other products into dealerships.

2,100 Canadian dealers

When the United States is included, Dealertrack has connected with more than 20,000 dealers and more than 1,500 lenders. In Canada, those numbers are shrunk down to 2,100 dealers and 50 lenders, but that’s a majority of the lenders operating in Canada’s auto-finance space. “Dealers and lenders value the ease of use, the familiarity, and what Dealertrack has to offer,” Grafstein says.

Despite being tops in its industry, Dealertrack wants to keep pushing forward to maintain its current success and make sure competitors don’t get close. Grafstein believes the key to keeping Dealertrack’s success going is for the company to continue building new products, supporting them, and being comfortable explaining its value to customers.

“Growth is going to come from doing things better, different, faster, and stronger,” Grafstein says. “As a leader within the finance team, to me that boils down to being able to provide the finance team that leadership and that support so they can find ways to be better.”

Editor’s Note: All facts within the article were true at time of publication.