In a Post Pandemic World “Things have changed”

As I look back to January 2020, I would have never imagined the series of events my life and the lives of those around me have endured.

It was winter in Ohio and I just sold the house my family and I had enjoyed for over a decade. We ended up closing on the 6th at a price just below our asking price. My household just experienced an unimaginable ride of “dad” leaving the beloved automotive industry of 20 years to become a restaurateur in a Columbus suburb, a dream my wife and I had for many years. This was an experience worth having to say the least. But alas, like everything good or bad that enters and leaves your life, “this too shall pass.” After a six-month stint of enjoying the restaurant business, my wife and I decided to sell the house and move to the sunshine state. This was a move that would bring us closer to my mother, sister, and brother-in-law.

On that cold winter morning, we started the journey; I in the rented Penske truck with a car in-tow and my wife in the family truckster with the dog and kiddos. We left to enjoy a new life with new beginnings. As we pulled out of the driveway I had an eerie feeling, the feeling that we were escaping a tragedy, a feeling that something really wrong was about to go down. So I called my wife and she asked if we forgot something. I said, “No, I just have this feeling that we’re making the right move. Off to new beginnings, my love.” Her voice replied in satisfaction, “Off to new beginnings!”

A couple of months later after settling into our new life, the world began to shutter. Governors’ orders went into effect. Pandemic! Pandemic! Stay at home orders were being enforced. Layoffs, furloughs, terminations, and freezes were now the new normal. Did you get your stimulus? Did you get your PPP? Do we have enough PPE? Why is everyone buying up all the TP? The world had been turned on its ear.

Manufacturers of every industry had to shut down production and everything was in a state of uncertainty. No one had the answers — not the experts, not the government, not the media, no one.

What do we do now?

So we all did what we had to do: Sit on the couch and wait it out. Work from home, start a new business, teach the kids, bake bread, or learn how to sew. It was almost as if the Amish and advocates of homeschooling suddenly had the upper hand on everyone in society.

With all of that, here we are in the summer of 2020. A very strange and altered world. It’s a fearful world, especially if you’re in the age bracket of 60+ or have a weak immune system.

Things have changed! Now we are trying to get back to the old normal or at least one that is faintly familiar.

States are opening up their economies. Manufacturers are coming back to life with rates of 90% production. Restaurants are starting to welcome patrons and the small businesses that did not get completely wiped out are coming out of hibernation. It’s time for a new beginning.

This change and new beginnings stuff have really changed the overall landscape of automotive:

  • Customers don’t like to spend time at the dealership and they don’t like to haggle. Customers want transparency and value!
  • Supply chains have been interrupted so new car inventory is precious. New car incentives are the highest we’ve ever seen. No payments till 2021, 0% interest rates up to 86 months, free maintenance, and so on.
  • Dealers are going to need to sell from their new car pipeline. They will need to earn every unit that comes back in the Fall. Dealers are going to need to keep their pre-owned inventory lean and profitable.
  • Profitability is now going to mostly come from the reliable departments of fixed operations and pre-owned. So please, please, please start giving the proper advertising budgets to fixed-operations and pre-owned.

The digital retailing folks are all smiles, saying we told you so.. Of course, there will always be the old-school car guy saying we didn’t do any of this and our business is still up.

The e-commerce parts folks are in the same boat. Imagine how much profit you would have made if you really took this seriously. Look at the profits Amazon is raking in right now.

Drop off and pick up service will soon become a necessity, with home delivery becoming the new luxury that customers will enjoy.

Sure, you will still get folks coming in but the marketplace is starting to evolve.

So what do you do Mr. Dealer? You learn from this experience and you evolve. Embrace the change fully and don’t half-ass it, please.

Much like the global economy I am optimistic and primed for action! If you are one of the many leading professionals in automotive who thought you had a handle on things pre-COVID-19 but now just aren’t sure how to evolve your business, please give me a call.

In the digital world, we are ready and prepared. I personally have been preaching movement in this direction for at least six years and I stand ready to help you bring your dealership profits safely into this new reality that we share together.

Justin Bay
Sales Manager