Digital Dealer Review – What Time is It?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
If you’ve read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, either as required reading when in school, or perhaps because you’re a fan of the classics, you surely recognize this line. But, you may not have thought about how it relates to the automotive dealership space, so let’s expand on this thought.
While in Las Vegas at Digital Dealer in October, it was clear there were differing mindsets, opinions and approaches to where we are today. On one hand, inventory levels have have been rising and some customers are still buying. On the other hand, most say the economy is surely heading toward a recession and interest rates are the highest they’ve been in years. Said another way, floor traffic, based on my not so scientific “eyeball test” coupled with conversations with several of those at the show, revealed fewer dealership personnel than in shows past.
So, does that mean there’s doom and gloom on the horizon for the automotive sector? I’d say not so, especially for those in the commercial vehicle space. That’s right, those of us reading this publication should consider ourselves optimists – but with good reason. We know that the commercial vehicle ecosystem, and the demand for the vehicles used by small to medium sized businesses (and even large ones), is strong.
As such, we know that while some may see hurdles, we know better; we know there are significant opportunities. These opportunities might be finding ways to offer more to our commercial customers, such as mobile vehicle servicing, or telematics, or a variety of other things that can help us strengthen our partnership with these business owners by helping their businesses grow.
While it certainly felt like there weren’t as many dealer principals, general managers, commercial managers, etc. at Digital Dealer this Fall, those who were there were looking for paths to expansion. And the best news of all – the businesses in our communities are frequently our hedge against economic factors. For example, when housing starts are up, this means there’s a great deal of construction happening, which equates to a need for work trucks. And when the new housing market isn’t strong, it usually means homeowners are staying put and looking for ways to increase the value of their current homes, which results in those in the various housing trades having an uptick in their business. In both scenarios, the need for work trucks, vans and SUVs is strong, and this means the dealerships selling and servicing these commercial vehicles are in positive positions.
So when you hear someone lamenting that it’s the worst of times, you might set them straight; or maybe you’ll just smile to yourself because you’re part of the commercial vehicle ecosystem and you know better.