‘Crazy Ivan’ strategy at M.K. Smith Chevrolet gets used-car shoppers’ attention

'Crazy Ivan' strategy at M.K. Smith Chevrolet gets used-car shoppers' attention

What does a 2014 Jeep Compass Sport have in common with a Soviet submarine? At M.K. Smith Chevrolet in Chino, Calif., they both could be labeled “Crazy Ivans,” courtesy of the dealership’s Timothy Vondran and, ultimately, thanks to the Tom Clancy thriller The Hunt for Red October.

The novel, adapted into a film starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, follows a Soviet navy captain who is defecting to the United States in a state-of-the-art nuclear sub. The term Crazy Ivan in Clancy’s tale describes a Soviet submarine’s maneuver to see if it’s being followed.

“The submarine guys do a 360 to check if anyone’s behind them, and, periodically, they’ll just do that out of nowhere,” said Vondran, the dealership’s director of acquisitions and marketing.

It’s an apt description for Vondran’s treatment of the 2014 Compass and some other vehicles at the dealership: He increases prices to see how closely they’re being followed by online shoppers. He’s dubbed it the Crazy Ivan strategy.

In the case of the Jeep, it had been at M.K. Smith Chevrolet for 44 days, but the average market-day supply for that model was 28 days, according to inventory management tool vAuto. Like most dealership inventory managers, Vondran monitors pricing at nearby competitors. The Jeep seemed to be priced competitively. Web traffic showed some interest, but the crossover hadn’t sold.

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