Talk amongst yourselves

December 24, 2008

For the past several months I’ve been touting the success of a handful of dealers that by all rights should be out of business.  Out of business because they have weak franchises in severely economically depressed areas of the country.  As the year winds to a close I think it would be highly instructive for any and all dealerships that are struggling with used vehicles to talk to the following dealers:

A discussion with Bill Pearson of Finish Line Ford in Peoria, Illinois could shed some light as he has increased his used car business by 1,129 retail units ’07 to ’08. 

Perhaps Bill Lavery of Lavery Chevrolet in Youngstown, Ohio could give you a good idea or two as he has taken his used car operation from ’07 production of 30 per month to ’08 production in excess of 100 used per month. 

Another suggestion would be to talk to Jon Whitman of Jon Whitman Ford in Temperance, Michigan (near Detroit).  Jon is on top of the world and has recently received numerous calls from his competitors questioning how he has gone from doing almost no used units to becoming one of the biggest retailers in southeast Michigan. 

And don’t miss the opportunity to talk to Cary Donovan of the Sam Swope Group.  Cary’s brilliance and discipline has helped bring his 14 store group’s used car performance up 15% in gross profit over the previous year.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  Each of these dealers and many more like them across the country are experiencing record sales and profits from a very simple but not often implemented strategy.  Their strategy is not just proving to be financially sound, it is also positioning them to thrive in the challenging year ahead.  Make no mistake about it, the used car business has changed and if we only continue to do business the way that we have in the past, we should not expect to see favorable results.  The good news is that you simply need to grasp the reality of the new market and execute the appropriate strategies. 

It’s all under your control.