Dealers Find Ways to Survive

By Tony Moorby June 19, 2021 366

Today’s dealers are about as close to chameleons as any comparison I can think of to describe the amount of clever ways they find to survive.

In the last couple of years, the environment for dealers has so radically changed in almost every aspect imaginable from inventory acquisition to serving a retail customer. The competition has also grown intensely. New players using different methods to access the multibillion-dollar used vehicle market, with all its layers of complexity, are disrupting accepted customs and practices.

“It’s a jungle out there,” says it all. Obstacles appear at every direction from legislation to lay-offs and production to the pandemic. You need eyes to see from back to front at the same time to assess the landscape and any opportunities or potential threats.

As the shape of the business changes, a successful dealer will move with it, changing tactics to suit the new surroundings, sometimes without even realizing the subtleties of change, transforming like altering camouflage to take advantage of a new position or blend in with others to move ahead.

It helps to maintain a tight grip as with disciplines that have served and suited a dealer best through fair or foul conditions, using experience and judgment to feel confident in any environment.

When a prize is in sight – a customer, a monthly profit goal or some great buys – deft and decisive actions are needed to strike and get an advantage. To beat the competition, dexterity is key like a chameleon’s lightning-quick tongue to seize its prey. An edge is always so important in this business.

Things have also changed on the supply side. Remarketing actions and timing decisions often used to be made on the basis of experienced fleet and manufacturers’ managers’ senses of the market – not exactly seat of the pants but a lot of gut feel. Seasons often had an influence on when to sell or to hold.

Much is now driven on the basis of statistics and computer-generated data. Masses of national information gathered, sorted and regurgitated in forms that almost make decisions for you. Responsibilities now shared with machines could make a blameless society if we’re not careful.

Who could have predicted a global pandemic (some did but no one listened) and the depth of changes that were and still are being made to every part of our business?

Used car values have gone through the roof as new car supply has faltered due to shortages of essential parts and equipment. Many things in the market have run counter intuitively as people have rushed to gain back what is now starting to be interpreted as a new normal. House prices going crazy, supermarkets charging whatever they can while the government is propping up the non-working classes and employers unable fill spots at the lower wage end of the scale. It feels like things are moving from calm to chaos.

As with all these affairs, I’m sure things will settle; where, when and at what level is yet to be discovered.

Maybe we’ll all turn into chameleons if we’re going to do well in our new surroundings.

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Last modified on Saturday, 19 June 2021 14:29