Auto Dealers Surging Ahead in 2010

ESA & Company | Real Auto Answers WebinarSOUNDBYTES FROM THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
REAL AUTO ANSWERS WEBINAR | ESA & COMPANY
The following article is one of a series highlighting the insights from ESA’s Real Auto Answers webinar. The webinar’s panel included Steve Finlay of Ward’s Dealer Business, Adam Armbruster of ESA, and four principals from successful auto dealerships.

Don’t let the title of this article fool you. Yes, there will be a higher volume of auto sales in 2010 than last year, but even the rosiest projections fall 3-4 million units short of the level from years past. Whatever the final tally is for ’10, many dealers across the country are finding ways to make this a year of opportunity.

Yes, auto dealers have reasons for optimism. These reasons are pinned to the decisions they make over the next few months, namely their capacity to be aggressive while still adhering to the good habits that helped them survive the worst economic period of a generation.

Mike Johnson of Hickory Toyota is one such dealer. Johnson’s success is no overnight phenomenon; his dealership has been doing it right for years, as evidenced by the fact he has created a destination in Hickory, North Carolina (60 miles outside of Charlotte). His advice to his fellow dealers is simple in concept, but challenging in execution: Don’t forsake the good habits that have made us leaner operations. Johnson is keeping a close eye on everything these days, realizing his efforts will not only lead to stronger sales, but higher profit margins along the road to recovery. Mike’s decision to use local broadcast television is at the heart of the extreme efficiencies to which he refers.

ESA & Company | Real Auto Answers WebinarDEALERS: KEEP GOOD HABITS IN GOOD TIMES TOO
Listen to Mike Johnson, Hickory Toyota
ESA’s Real Auto Answers | May 14, 2010 | MP3 File (3.6mb)

Scott Fink of Hyundai of New Port Richey echoes Johnson’s insights, and adds that dealers need to seize the window of opportunity upon them in 2010. It is one thing to resume growth, recovering at the same pace as the auto industry. Smart dealers that accumulate share in an expanding market will benefit tremendously and separate themselves from the pack. This is possible now because many retail points in the auto market are still hunkered down and “waiting to ride the wave”, rather than create their own forward momentum. Fink’s aggressive posture has already paid dividends at the dealership.

ESA & Company | Real Auto Answers WebinarNOW IS THE TIME FOR AUTO DEALERS TO BE AGGRESSIVE
Listen to Scott Fink, Hyundai of New Port Richey
ESA’s Real Auto Answers | May 14, 2010 | MP3 File (2.0mb)

Many auto dealerships across the US are expecting — and already seeing — a gradual return to better times in 2010. Opinions and projections vary widely as to how strong and at what pace the recovery will happen. Those like Mike Johnson and Scott Fink have already made a few moves — and have a few more planned — that will clearly place them in the driver’s seat for 2010 and beyond. We’ll discuss more of these “good habits” for auto dealers in the next article, and take a closer look at how media decisions play a big role in their continued success.

Dave Eckstein, ESA & Company | Real. Local. Results: 2012Dave Eckstein is a Partner in the firm ESA & Company. He specializes in highly profitable market share growth for local businesses and gets a kick out of demonstrating a declining cost of customer acquisition. He plays baseball, but isn't that Dave Eckstein.

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