Auto Industry Leaders Discuss Car Buying Process At Panel Discussion Moderated By CBT Automotive’s Jim Fitzpatrick

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Jim Fitzpatrick, CEO of Atlanta car dealership media company CBT Automotive Network, moderates "The Future of the Car Buying Experience" panel

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Autotrader President Jared Rowe updated his company’s startling research on consumer satisfaction with the car shopping experience during a recent panel discussion in Chicago moderated by Jim Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of CBT Automotive Network.

In March, Autotrader released its “2015 Car Buyer of the Future” study, which revealed that just 17 of 4,002 people surveyed were satisfied with the current car purchasing process. Recently, Rowe joined a panel of auto industry executives for “The Future of the Customer Buying Experience” discussion in Chicago and reported on follow-up findings, such as the average consumer devoting 17 hours to pre-purchase research (12 of the hours online) and a disconnect between how much that buyer says he or she knows about finance contracts and actual knowledge.

The Chicago event was co-sponsored by Zurich North America and Atlanta-based CBT Automotive. Other auto industry executives on the panel included Raj Sundaram, chief client success officer at Cox Automotive; Rachel Richards, chief marketing officer at Sonic Automotive Group; Collin Sewell, president of the Sewell Family of Companies; and David Putz, VP and head of direct markets at Zurich North America.

The panel discussion led up to an address by business leadership guru and New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell. He warned an audience of franchised new car dealers that 80 percent of the CEOs he sees “lead by assumption” and fail to ask questions of executives who report to them. Leaders who isolate themselves with their own judgments “don’t need to go to a leadership conference, you need therapy. You cross the finish line with people.”

Dealers attending the event were in Chicago for the Automotive News “2015 Best Dealerships to Work For” gala.

Atlanta-based CBT Automotive Network is an online and print media news source dedicated to providing the retail automotive industry with news and analysis, best management practices and training. The company offers separate web portals targeting new car dealership personnel, CBT News ( and dealership service department managers, Service Drive Today ( It also publishes two monthly trade magazines, Car Biz Today and Service Drive Magazine.

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