Dealers harbor a love-hate relationship with third-party automotive websites that have become firmly established conduits between vehicle buyers and sellers.  

In their perfect world, dealers wouldn’t need to rely on and subscribe to the services of middleman websites that list inventories, post customer reviews and deliver sales prospects.

And in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need hospitals.

Ideally, “we wouldn’t need (third-party providers) because your dealer name and recognition would be so strong, everyone would go right to you,” says Andrew Sergent, marketing director for Sellers Auto Group, based in Farmington Hills, MI, and representing Buick, GMC and Subaru.

But the third-party sites – some of which have morphed into new business models, most of which have enriched their content, functionality and usefulness over time – are go-to places for a majority of online vehicle shoppers.

“It’s kind of something you have to accept,” Sergent says.