Recent reports indicate that there could be as many as 2400 dealers closing due to the GM restructure. Chrysler themselves have said they plan to close around 789 themselves. With more than 100,000 people working for those dealerships, local communities around the country will be hurting due to the loss of employment. However, the demand for new and used cars are still there. The average person who has a car that’s getting old, got into an accident or plain just stopped working still needs to buy a car and with over 3000 dealerships around the country closing, that leaves smaller, independant dealers and big box dealers from other brands in the mix. So what are those dealers going to do to make sure they don’t fall prey to similar circumstances as GM and Chrysler dealers? Here’s a short list to make sure you’re maximizing what you do in this tough time:
1. Talent is plentiful right now. Make sure that you have the best sales staff you can get. Many of the dealers closing has a solid staff that knew what it takes to get someone into a car. Ask around and see if there are any mavericks looking to get out before the axe comes down. If you’re in a small town, perhaps hiring some of the soon-to-be laid-off staff will be a good gesture to those in your community. Ford, GM or Chrysler, we’re all in the same boat. Sometimes helping those less fortunate can be better for business than pushing out that next sale.
2. Make sure your own dealer finances are sustainable in these tough times. Cash is king, especially in a downturn like our current one. If you’re making your money selling used cars, play to that strength and make extra effort to move your used inventory. Look outside your immediate town and look to other parts of your state. A larger population is looking outside even their home states to get great deals on cars in the current economy. If parts and labor are your main source of income, make sure the local community knows that your dealer is the best place to have their cars worked on. Have an open house. Build relationships with your community. It’s hard to find someone to work on your car you can really trust. Sharing some conversation over a hot dog and soda can go a long way to consumer trust.
3. Technology is key! Why spend thousands of dollars on antiquated forms of automobile ads. Pay only for those sources that are bringing in money. EasyAutoSales knows exactly what you’re going through with some sources that charge you thousands of dollars just to be listed on their website. Being smart means only paying for what you need. Listings these days are all but free in most cases. Utilize pay-per-lead systems where available so you’re not throwing money out with no measurable results. Free and premium tools may not make you money (directly), but will save you time and allow you to spend more efforts elsewhere.
The picture at the top of this post is a rare McLaren F1 that recently caught fire and burnt up. It was later found that the car hadn’t been driven in almost 6 months. Cars, like businesses, need to be cared for every day. Even neglecting something for a few months can get your into a drastic posistion. Just like you drive your car every day, drive your business every day. There are a thousand things you can do to make your business more profitable and ensure you’re safe in these tough economic times. The above 3 are important though, albiet basic. Sometimes you need to get back to basics and streamline what you do to ensure you’ll be around.