As yet another topsy turvy year in the motor trade draws to a close, there are many things to be optimistic about and many lessons learned from these uncertain times.
Behind every stat there is a story. For example, on the face of it, we will register more new cars than last year with a probable 5% increase which on the surface is fantastic but, according to many in the business, a large chunk are mainly down to manufacturer pressure, heavily subsidised offers and self/pre-reg cars which somewhat distorts the actual number of new cars sold to actual customers.
With the increasing pressure on retailers to buy in to the market share war being fought by car makers, we have also seen several small to medium sized dealer groups bite the dust in 2012 – with many predicting more likely to be under severe financial pressure in 2013.
The used car market has continued to struggle this year with numbers significantly down from the giddy heights pre-recession (or whatever it’s being called these days) and, as customers look more to value for money, lower running costs and smaller more economical cars, many dealers especially in the franchised world have not had the profile of cars to appeal to this kind of demand and as a result have missed their targets.
We have spoken to many contacts that have recognised stocking their forecourts in today’s world with a heavy bias towards nearly new cars is simply not the way forward, given the incredible manufacturer backed offers on new cars. Also with a lack of expertise in selling genuine used cars the industry has realised how difficult it is in getting the right people to deliver targets in such a challenging environment.
Of course it has to be said that the motor trade has been more resilient than most in adapting their businesses and, where there are people who genuinely want to make a difference to their customer’s success, has continued as we recognise the importance of the customer and their meeting their expectations wherever and whenever possible.
Whilst many in our industry are being cautious about their future prospects, we believe it will be more of the same, i.e. the best businesses will be ok and the others will fall by the wayside, especially those that continue to embrace technology which is and will continue to be of massive importance in the modern world in how car dealers interact with their customers.
Car dealers will need to get smarter in ensuring that their profile of stock including age, mileage and model reflects the needs of the consumer and the manufacturers will need to realise that creating a new car market by force could lead to fields full of unsold new cars again and could create a new carmageddon!
At MTI we have also had a challenging year but a rewarding one, we continue to try and reflect what is going on out there by ‘telling it like it is’ and ensuring our readers and subscribers understand how best to deal with the crazy world of car sales where the increase in models and specs available are getting mind boggling.
Our publications ‘How to buy a new car‘ ‘Sell your car like a pro‘ and ‘The car buyers crib sheet‘ contain everything you could ever want to know about all aspects of the car business and are available now on Amazon.
Our predictions for the New Year? Well for certain there is likely to be more consumers than ever before empowering themselves with knowledge via the net before even venturing into the showroom, So expect to hear more about car buyers knowing more about the models than the person seliing them. As a result it will be vital that car dealers make their ‘virtual showrooms’ as appealing as possible and easy to navigate. We can look forward also to technology improving the cars we buy with even the most basic cars having adequate comfort levels and the larger more luxury cars likely to be able to virtually drive themselves! We also expect the popularity of “eco” and electric cars to continue as manufacturers work harder than ever before to make them more appealing to a wider range of buyers.
Most importantly however, customers will get a huge choice across the range as car makers look to try and cover every option to appeal to a broad section of car buyer. All in all we look forward to the New Year with enthusiasm for the fight ahead, the continual improvement in cars and service, value for money and the service to profit chain which will ensure we have a vibrant, relevant exciting business which can bring joy and pleasure to millions.
Let’s face it, there is nothing quite like the excitement of getting behind the wheel of a new car whether it is brand new or new to you, it remains one of the finer pleasures in life and long may it continue.
MTI would like to wish all its readers and advertisers and of course staff a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013.