Unexpected challenges are truly the new normal for almost all dealers. Between labor and part shortages, increasing costs, and pandemic protocols, not one operation we’ve spoken with has made it through the past two years completely unscathed or unchanged. While some obstacles have passed, AlixPartners predicts supply constraints through 2024. In a recent poll we ran on LinkedIn asking if the pandemic affected the creativity, flexibility, and ingenuity in dealerships operations, 71% said ‘We found some unique solutions’ and 14% said ‘Our mindset has shifted’. Today we’ll explore what those solutions and mindsets might be and how dealers can survive (and even thrive) during a time of difficulty and constraint.
Everyone we speak with can agree it’s been a challenging time, but each regional market is unique and dealers have reported a wide variety of unexpected curveballs. While we can’t give you a step-by-step guide to solving all the specific problems that have arisen for your dealership, we can help you build a perspective that supports the reality of the current market. We’ve spoken in the past about the surprising historical trend of recessions leading to innovation, for example, Automotive News explored how the ‘08 crash caused a measurable boom in innovation and helped dealers mold their operations to better withstand future downturns. To make the best of whatever situation your dealership is faced with, it’s important to internalize the reality that we are in fact in a recessive period, and that what used to work might not work anymore. Adopting a mindset of creativity, openness, and willingness to step outside of your box will allow you to shift into whatever solutions are the right fit for your operation. Now is the time to figure out what works, and trash the rest.
For dealerships needing to expand their loyal customer base, nurturing unresolved recalls can be a great way to build relationships and establish trust. Parts departments have emerged as a steady source of profits as new and used inventory has dwindled. Giving your parts inventory the attention it needs to thrive can better position your entire dealership to withstand constraints. With the hiring crisis limiting employee pools, retention is more important than ever. Adapting your dealership to support loyal, long-term employees will help your overall stability immensely.
We don’t have a crystal ball, but trends point to expansion in certain markets. A clear trend has been illustrated over the past decade of higher supply and demand for EV and hybrid vehicles. Now, with record-breaking fuel prices, inflation, and other economic duress from the pandemic, more and more car buyers are opting for electric. Online sales have continued to grow across all products and industries, and online parts sales are no exception. The pandemic has only increased the demand for parts sold online. Taking advantage of these online sales can bring your parts department to new heights of profit, expanding your reach and connecting with new buyers.
Constraints are frustrating, but with the right mindset, tools, data, and support, your dealership can let the challenges lead to innovation, creativity, and resiliency.
What are the issues you’ve dealt with over the past two years? Any creative solutions? Leave a comment below!
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