Electric connectors

Banking On An Electric Vehicle Future? You May Need To Pump The Brakes

So much uncertainty has been thrown at the world this past month. This sudden left turn naturally leads each industry to take a look and try and see what is on the horizon so that we can prepare. Some industries impact the world more than others, and changes there send ripple effects to the rest of society.

The auto industry is one of those giant industries that everyone from politicians to economists keeps an eye on. Prior to this sudden left turn, we were looking like we may soon become an all-electric car reality. But the EV market is especially vulnerable in this upheaval because major investments still need to be made in the technology, the supply chain, and the infrastructure to support it. Forward progress is easy to put on hold when you are forced to make cuts.

Analysts agree that this crisis is very likely to cause carmakers to revisit their manufacturing strategies, which could be especially bad news for electric vehicles.

Dependence on China for Batteries

The EV market’s newness and its dependence on global sourcing for batteries are two hurdles to seeing the EV to fruition, and electric vehicles have already been tough to sell in most mainstream markets.

Last fall, Ford unveiled the Mustang-inspired Mach-E electric crossover, which was well received by the public. Elon Musk’s Cybertruck led to immediate pre-orders, and the EV market has been growing slowly, thanks in large part to enthusiasts, early adopters, the Tesla, the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius. But EV’s only account for 2.2 percent of new vehicle sales in 2019.

Oil Price Drops Kill The Economic Argument for EV’s

Falling oil prices, combined with economic fallout, could keep those who are leaning towards purchasing a more expensive EV purchasing internal combustion vehicles for a lot longer. EV leader Tesla alone has seen its stock value cut by more than half in the past month, due to a mix of demand fears and dependence on to Chinese suppliers who are dealing blows due to mandatory shutdowns.

Price May Be The Dealbreaker

The biggest deal killer for EV’s in terms of demand will be the higher than average price tag. When gas is cheap, it undermines the cost of ownership advantage that comes with owning a more expensive vehicle that costs nothing at the pump. This is also true for Hybrids, even with the federal tax credit. At the current national average gas price of $2.25 gallon, it would take 80 years to recover the $8,000 premium from energy savings alone in an EV.

Oil prices could rise once the pandemic is over, but for now, this is reality. Under these conditions, a recession could force lots of consumers to burn through savings and shift any automotive spending to used cars or even hybrids rather than to the more expensive EVs.

Government mandate Fuel efficiency Regulations are a wild card for EV sales. Stricter emissions regulations in the European Union and China might help sales of EVs over there, the fairly modest support for electrics in the US may not be enough to overcome the challenges EV’s face from higher costs and low gas prices.

Some industry experts still believe in the long-term future of electric vehicles. The premium price electric vehicles demand won’t always continue to be expensive, and costs of EVs’ relatively immature technology will likely fall as global production increases.

One thing that may rise up out of this pandemic is an increased demand for autonomous vehicles. If that demand drives production decisions, then the EV is a natural fit for a vehicle with no steering wheel or gas pedal.

So if your dealership was betting large on the future of the Electric vehicle, this pandemic might pump the brakes for a few years. That is not to say the demand will be erased entirely, but you should plan on selling gas-powered cars in your business plans at least in the next five years.

Street sign displaying "Time to say Goodbye"

How to Help Your Laid-Off Automotive Employees Manage Unemployment

Social distancing is the end of in-person auto auctions, at least for a while. If you are like most auction companies, you have switched to simulcast. An online-only situation and a potentially declining demand for sales (although the numbers aren’t out yet) may have forced a layoff for some of your employees. The same is true for many related specialties, like dealerships, body shops, and large recon MSO’s. Here are some tips to help them through this process.

If you lay off or furlough your employees, they are eligible for unemployment. Some states like Mississippi have ridiculously low caps, barely enough even to buy groceries each week. As an employer, you have no control over what they can receive when they apply for unemployment benefits.

But here’s what you can do:

Don’t block unemployment.

When the state sends out unemployment eligibility documentation, don’t mark the employee as fired for cause, which would keep your unemployment insurance rating low, but would lock the former employee out of a check. It could also save you a wrongful termination suit down the road.

Severance pay if you can afford it. 

In Maryland, you can file immediately for benefits and begin receiving a check, but other states have red tape and waiting periods. Your employees will need money now, not later, and severance will help get money in their bank while they get their ducks in a row.

Extend health benefits. 

The humanitarian thing to do during this health crisis is to continue paying benefits. You will save the bottom line in reduced salaries and payroll taxes, but be kind and keep the health insurance going at least until the nation is in the clear. Hopefully, it will only be a month or two at most.

Rehire as soon as possible. 

When life returns to normal, so too will the business demands. Your former employees are the best suited, best-trained employees for your business because they used to work there. If these employees are still available, not only will they be grateful that you wanted them back, they will probably be even more productive than they were before they were laid off.

Keep an Eye on the Federal Stimulus Package. 

As of this writing, the federal stimulus package is still not passed. But if it does, there will be some financial relief for small businesses and some options for you as an employer. It’s too soon to advise on that in a blog other than to suggest that there may be solutions for you forthcoming, and they should be taken into consideration for you and any employees you have to cut from the team.

Offer outplacement or other unique support options. 

This will definitely depend on your company’s budget, but there are outsource outplacement companies that you can hire that specialize in the outplacement of displaced employees. These experts help employees polish resumes and work their networks to find employment. This is especially useful if you have no intention of rehiring any of this staff.

Layoffs are simply one of those business decisions that you have to make to ensure the survival of the company. It can be uncharted territory for many business owners, especially in the wake of a new-to-all-of-us global pandemic. Hopefully, these tips will help you handle this rather unpleasant situation.

Fortune telling future

How Will Covid-19 Impact The Automotive Market? The Industry Weighs In

Anybody who can factually answer this question is a time traveler who has come back to fill us in. As an industry, all we can do is speculate ad build plans to manage the reality that does end up coming our way. We have gathered some speculations from industry insiders in various sectors of the Automotive industry to weigh in on what the near-term future may look like for car dealers.

The Auction industry Speculations

March 13’s report from Blackbook included positive news of an increase in sales volume for the fourth week in a row. Demand was outpacing supply.

Foot traffic at dealer lots will slow down as people adhere to both the CDC and local governments’ guidance on social distancing or complete shelter in place quarantines.

Dealers will need to figure out how to sell cars with minimal physical contact. Internet sales tools may be the answer.

As for this week, auction volume is expected to continue to grow as dealers fill their lots and take advantage of the lowered interest rates and low fuel prices.

Long-Term Impact on Wholesale Values Speculation

Auction houses anticipate a significant reduction in new vehicle sales in 2020. Factors that will determine the new sales volume:

Positive scenarios

  • Low-interest rates will fuel new vehicle sales
  • More credit is available to prime consumers
  • OEMs are creating consumer relief programs
  • Increased incentives to stimulate demand/lease replacement

Negative Scenarios

  • Unemployment will increase substantially, at least temporarily.
  • Supply chain issues in Europe, Asia, and domestically will limit new vehicle inventory.
  • Consumer confidence and buying behavior will falter, resulting in fewer big-ticket item purchases.
  • There might be a substantial reduction in fleet and lease purchases as leisure travel, and business travel will be reduced in at least the second quarter of 2020.

What we can learn from other countries

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC is disrupting economic, political, and social norms not seen in decades, and major industries, from finance to airlines, have already felt the impact. The US auto industry announced a total shutdown of all three Detroit carmaker manufacturing operations that will last at least through the end of the month.

After the virus appeared in China, auto sales there fell 80 percent. Auto Shows across the world, such as the Geneva Auto Show and the New York Auto show, are canceled.

European manufacturers began temporary factory closures last week. They were also feeling the pressures of falling demand, and severe disruptions to manufacturing from Chinese supply chains.

Prior to the outbreak, the IHS was predicting that US car sales this year will decline to 15.4 million vehicles, from 16.5 million a year ago, but there is a strong possibility that it will decline even further.

On the positive side, the automotive industry is better positioned to make it through the downturn than the airline industry. After changes made in 2008, the three domestic manufacturers have more cash on hand and have done a lot of restructuring, including buying out a lot of older white-collar employees as they try to shift toward new skill sets to support electrification, automation, and mobility.

So what does this mean for dealerships? Certainly, the days and weeks ahead will be a bumpy ride. And the best plan is to create contingency plans for all scenarios, be creative, and be ready to deal with whatever scenario plays out at your dealership.

Empty Shelves

Will Parts Shortages Increase Your Time To Frontline Ready Following COVID-19 Shutdowns?

OEMs respond to replacement auto parts supply chain questions following the virus peak.

Each day we wake up to a changing situation. What is breaking news this morning is old news by the end of the day. Old news like all the auto factories shutting down seems like really old news even though it just happened last week. What is still new, however, is the conjecture about what the post-outbreak will hold for everybody in every industry. This is especially true for the auto industry and the many industry verticals that support it, such as parts jobbers and the collision industry.

Despite factory shutdowns amid national COVID-19 coronavirus concerns, multiple OEMs continue to assure the industry that replacement parts for body shops aren’t significantly affected. But we must understand that the situation could evolve rapidly and today’s hope could become today’s bad news.

The auctions have been shut down, putting a hold on your inventory buying, but when they reopen in a few weeks or even a couple of months, your purchases will need reconditioning, and that will require new parts. The presumed recession that will follow Covid-19 will bring with it a reduction in new and used car sales. You don’t want parts scarcity to further reduce profit on the vehicles that you do sell. Front line readiness will be where the margins are gained or lost.

What The Domestic OEMs Are Saying:

Ford

Ford announced that it would pause North American production after the Thursday evening shifts until March 30, but spokeswoman Kelli Felker told us Repairer Driven news, “Our parts depots will remain open.”

Chrysler

FCA on Wednesday said it would close “starting progressively from today through the end of March,” but spokeswoman Jodi Tinson on Thursday evening told Repairer Driven News in an email that parts distribution continued despite the shutdown to provide support for dealers and customers who rely on FCA for their repairs and maintenance.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation carefully and are taking all necessary precautions to safeguard the health and welfare of our workforce, including more frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all working areas,” said Tinson last week.

Rumor has it this will not be the case for long.

The Detroit Free Press cited two unnamed sources who reported: “the UAW and General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have agreed to shut down all U.S. parts distribution centers at the end of business Friday.” The facilities would still operate with volunteer workers, according to the newspaper.

GM

GM communications senior manager James Cain said in a statement “while today will be our last day of normal operations for GM Customer Care and Aftersales, GM and the UAW have reached an agreement that will allow us to continue delivering service and repair parts to our dealers and customers, including the police agencies, fire departments and emergency service providers who rely on our vehicles all over the country. The service centers would be run by volunteers.

“These facilities will be staffed by hand-raisers,” he wrote in an email. “We will be working through staffing and scheduling plans to resume operations on Monday.”

Fiat-Chrysler

FCA issued the following statement:

Throughout this challenging period, FCA has been focused on enabling a stable supply of parts to our dealers to help keep our customers on the road. Be they first responders driving ambulances and fire trucks or commercial needs such as delivery and postal services, FCA and its dealers are working to keep all our customers operational. Following an agreement with the UAW, from Monday, March 23, FCA will begin operating our Mopar Parts Distribution Centers (PDC) using hourly-paid volunteers.

As with all our facilities, we have implemented an extensive program of cleaning and social distancing protocols across all our PDCs, and we will continue to operate with the safety of our employees as a priority. Further, for any employee volunteering to work at our PDCs, we will ensure they are all equipped with gloves and masks. FCA and the UAW are proud to continue supporting our customers when they need our help the most.

Tesla

Tesla announced it would cease production in a news release:

“As such, we have decided to temporarily suspend production at our factory in Fremont, from the end of day March 23, which will allow an orderly shutdown. Basic operations will continue in order to support our vehicle and energy service operations and charging infrastructure, as directed by the local, state, and federal authorities. Our factory in New York will temporarily suspend production as well, except for those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure, and critical supply chains. Operations of our other facilities will continue, including Nevada and our service and Supercharging network.”

What the Asian OEMs are saying:

As you can imagine, the Asian OEM’s are suffering from production disruptions. Most have production facilities here in the US, but those are also shutting down.

Honda

Honda said it would stop manufacturing in North America from March 23-30, which would reduce projected production by 40,000 vehicles.

Honda spokesman Chris Martin wrote in an email, “at this time, Honda’s six-day North American new-vehicle production suspension is not expected to affect the availability of Acura or Honda Genuine Replacement Parts”.

Hyundai

An employee at the Hyundai plant in Alabama tested positive for COVID-19, prompting an immediate shutdown. Hyundai said it would reopen when it was deemed safe.

“Currently, the impact on parts availability is very minimal,” Hyundai spokesman Michael Stewart wrote in an email. “We don’t have a supply issue at this time with the exception of some select wire harnesses. There are no significant issues from suppliers from China and Korea either, and the China supply chain is recovering.”

Kia

“No parts shortages are planned or seen at this time,” corporate communications director James Bell wrote in an email.

Mazda

Mazda North America President Jeff Guyton asked, encouraged all employees to work from home through the rest of the month and suspended all business travel.

Any impact on manufacturing in the U.S. or abroad was unclear as Mazda has not put out a statement as of yet.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi North America CEO Fred Diaz on Thursday said all Mitsubishi “headquarters and regional team members” were working remotely.”

Mitsubishi communications senior director Jeremy Barnes on Friday described efforts to keep replacement parts distribution centers safe.

“I can tell you that we are doing everything we can to keep our parts distribution centers open while ensuring the safety and well-being of our team members,” Barnes wrote in an email. On a dealership basis, I cannot give you a blanket statement. In some states, all non-essential businesses have been closed. In some of those states, service facilities have been carved out as essential, but not in all. At this time, it’s a moving target, and we – like everyone else in the industry – are working closely with state and local officials to ensure we’re doing what we can to protect everyone, while still providing the crucial service and support our customers need in these uncertain times.”

Nissan

Nissan announced it would suspend U.S. production March 20-April 6. “Areas deemed business-essential will operate with enhanced safety measures.”.

Spokeswoman Lloryn Love-Carter confirmed that parts were considered “business-essential.”

“Our parts distribution centers continue to operate as they are deemed business-essential functions,” she wrote in an email.

Toyota

Toyota said it would stop production in North American March 23-24. On Thursday, it said it wouldn’t restart production until April 6.

In their news release, Toyota stated: “Our service parts depots and vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate.”

Toyota spokesman Victor Vanov sent an email stating, “at this time, we have ample supply of replacement parts available in our pipeline to meet customer needs, and we do not anticipate any impact due to the temporary production halt at our North American facilities.”

Subaru

Subaru issued a statement saying it would close its Indiana plant for a week: “To further ensure the health and safety of associates and to adjust the volume for market demand as a result of COVID-19, Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) is suspending production, March 23-29. All associates will receive full pay during the one-week shutdown.”

Subaru of Indiana communications and external relations manager Craig Koven wrote in an email, “as it relates to the availability of replacement parts, we do not expect the one-week shutdown to have a significant impact.”

European OEMs:

Audi

Audi on Thursday said it would shutter its plants in “Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm, Belgium, Mexico, and Hungary in a controlled manner by the end of this week.”

Audi has yet to issue a statement about its U.S. operations or the status of replacement parts.

BMW

BMW corporate communications manager Phil DiInnani wrote in an email that their Spartanburg, S.C. factory remains in operation.

“As of this morning, Plant Spartanburg continues to be operational, we will keep you updated on any new developments.”

Land Rover Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover said in a news release that it would cease production “over the course of next week” in the United Kingdom.

“The company’s intention is to resume in the week of 20 April, subject to review of the rapidly-changing circumstances. Currently, Jaguar Land Rover’s manufacturing plants in Brazil and India continue operating. The company’s joint venture plant in China reopened in the week of 24 February, as life begins to get back to normal in the country.”

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes parent company Daimler on Tuesday said it would “suspend the majority of its production in Europe, as well as work in selected administrative departments, for an initial period of two weeks.

“This is a dynamic situation that continues to evolve, and we are closely monitoring developments together with our dealer partners to ensure we are supporting our customers in a safe and responsible manner,” Mercedes said in a statement Wednesday when asked about parts. “In light of this, we will continue to make adjustments to our operations and communicate any relevant changes as needed.”

Porsche

Porsche issued a news release saying it would stop production for at least two weeks.

“As from the coming week, Porsche will suspend production for an initial period of two weeks,” By taking this step, the sports car manufacturer is responding to the significant acceleration in the rate of infection caused by the coronavirus and the resultant measures implemented by the relevant authorities.

“In addition to the primary protection of the workforce, bottlenecks in global supply chains no longer allow orderly production. At the same time, Porsche is preparing for a decline in demand and securing its financial strength with the decisions made. The parent plant in Zuffenhausen and the production location in Leipzig will be closed from Saturday (21 March 2020). These steps have been taken as part of an orderly process and in close cooperation with the works council.”

Volkswagen

Volkswagen announced that it would shut down its Chattanooga, Tenn., plant for a week.

“Effective Saturday, March 21 at 3:45 a.m., Volkswagen Chattanooga will suspend production for one week, with current plans to resume production Sunday, March 29 at 10 p.m. This action is being taken to help ensure the health and safety of our team members as we conduct additional sanitation and cleaning procedures throughout the factory. We will also use this time to assess future production plans and market developments.”

The Volkswagen Group said it would shut down Volkswagen Passenger Cars plants even longer in Europe.

“Initially, production facilities in Wolfsburg, Emden, Dresden, Osnabrück, Zwickau, Bratislava (Slovakia), Pamplona (Spain) and Palmela (Portugal) are affected, as well as the Components plants at Brunswick, Chemnitz, Hanover, Kassel, Salzgitter and SITECH.”

“The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand is gradually suspending production at its European plants. This will also affect the Volkswagen Group Components plants. This is the brand’s response to the impending rapid decline in demand on the automotive markets. Risks in connection with suppliers’ supply chains are also increasing. This is due to the significantly accelerated rate of infection by coronavirus and the resulting measures taken by the authorities. Initially, the factories are therefore expected to remain closed for two weeks. For the affected German sites, the measures are to apply from the end of the late shift on Thursday.”

Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh noted in a statement that “Volkswagen has supply problems.”

Volvo

Volvo said it would shut down U.S. manufacturing in South Carolina as well as operations in Europe.

“The Belgium plant will remain closed until April 5,” Volvo wrote in an email. “The Swedish and US plants will be closed between March 26 and April 14.

“People working in our offices will generally work from home as of March 26, and the working hours will be reduced,” Volvo said these offices were in Sweden and Belgium.

Volvo has not as yet issued any statement about parts supply or supply chain issues except to note that Chinese manufacturing had reopened.

“Earlier this month, Volvo Cars reopened its four manufacturing plants in China after an extended closure period,” Volvo wrote. “Today´s showroom traffic is indicating a return to normal in China’s car market, which is clearly demonstrating the advantages of being a globally balanced company.”

So, as you can see, the ability to get replacement parts is uncertain, with some brands such as Volkswagen having more problems than others with production and parts supply. Use this information when your auction activity resumes.

Were Open Sign

How To Let Customers Know Your Dealership Is Open For Business During The Coronavirus

Even if your state has a shelter in place order, dealerships are allowed to and will continue to stay open as you are all deemed essential businesses.

However, your customers may not be so sure of your status. Sales will undoubtedly be down this month and perhaps for months to come. That is why it is essential to communicate today that despite the current situation; your dealership is still open for business. Continue to generate as many sales as possible to help operational continuance during and immediately after the pandemic has passed.

Your dealership has likely also experienced some altered protocols with how you deal with the public to maintain social distancing.  As this has likely altered your normal business procedures, and how customers are accustomed to working with a dealership. It is important to get the word out about any alterations to how the public is to conduct business with your dealership. This includes information such as “the doors are locked, but we are here to meet your needs” type of communication.

Here are four quick and easy ways to let your customers know that you are still open for business during the outbreak.

1. Google My Business

When people Google your business or when they Google the phrase “(Brand) dealership in (town name)” they are going to find the Google maps, also known as Google My Business, as the very first result, except any Google ads that might appear this may differ by specific keyword searches).

Not many people realize that you can post messages directly into Google My Business. This message can be a post, a blog, even a video. If you have claimed your Google My Business (GMB) page, you will have the ability to post messages on your GMB page.

It’s important to realize that the GMB page is different from your website. When a person clicks on your dealership name from the maps, the box that pops up to the right is the GMB page, and within that page, it can contain a link to your website, and it can contain content.

How to Access Google My Business

To get to this for your shop, you need to log into your Google my business account https://www.google.com/business/ and click sign in. If you have a google account, this will be the @gmail.com email that you used to claim the page. If you have not claimed your page, you will need to do that.

Once you are signed in you will see a side bar with options. Click on “posts”

From there you will see a box with some options such as “add Offer, Add Update, Add Event, and Add Product. Click on “Add Update”

From there you can insert a photo and add your text.

Once you are done, hit “publish” and this is what you will see:

Here is an example of a dealership that takes advantage of this Google My business posting option:

It is worth noting that of all the Ford dealerships we searched in this particular are, only one dealership was posting content to their GMB page. Unfortunately, they missed an opportunity to post a message directly to their customers here.

Clicking on “View all” shows a list of posts from this dealership:

2. Website Pop up

Posting a pop-up to your website is the fastest way to disseminate information to your customers. Your website is where people will go to confirm if you are open (if they haven’t looked on your GMB page). Most dealerships are using a platform from Dealeron, Dealer.com, or some other similar dealership platform. Each of these service providers should offer the ability to quickly add a pop-up. If you have a custom-coded website, you may want to contact your website development company to request that they add a pop-up.

3. Social media posts

The third place people will look to see if you are still open is your social media. I don’t need to walk you through how to make a social media post, but our suggestion is you just create a post and make it a sticky post or pin it so that it will always stay on top until you un-stick it.

4. Email blast

Now would be a good time to do an email blast to your whole database. You could either do this on a dealership level or have your sales staff reach out individually to their customer list. Let your prospects know how to reduce their interaction with outside people during this time of social distancing. You may also want to include any discounts or rebates that are happening now.

So there you go, four quick ways to let your customers know that you are open for business and taking every precaution with their vehicle. Stay healthy and stay safe.

Social media Facebook iphone

7 Tips For Taking Your Dealership’s Facebook Page To The Next Level

We live in a digital age where consumers decide who to give their business to long before they ever step inside. To ensure that their businesses remain competitive in this new age, more and more dealers are improving their online marketing techniques. Especially today, one of the most popular and crucial ways that dealerships are connecting with consumers is through social media.  The very nature of social media has made it imperative for any business that wishes to remain competitive today. 

Consider the example of Facebook; the nature of the platform allows businesses to interact with customers when needed with an ease and convenience that would have been inconceivable only 15 years ago. It allows them to build and connect with communities of consumers, colleagues, and even competitors that help to keep them in touch with their base and their industry. Businesses can now interact directly with their customers instantaneously, which means that they can now assist those in need. It also means that they can now market to them with ease, whether by buying ad space on the site itself or by creating communities and profiles to reach out to customers personally. Its wide scope of usable formats, including text, photo, video, and stories, gives businesses the freedom to choose how they wish to communicate on the platform. And it’s certainly an important platform to be communicating on,  with Facebook consistently reaching over 2 billion active users a month.

Even as far back as 2015, 75% of consumers in the car buying market found that social media was one of the most helpful resources when choosing a car dealership. (DigitalJournal). Consumer reliance on crowd-sourced information and social media channels has only expanded since.

The following are seven tips for bringing your dealership’s Facebook page to that next level: 


1) Only Use The Best Photos

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why the photos you use should be as enticing to customers as possible. The photos you choose should both create interest in customers and communicate to them what your business is. Your Facebook profile picture and cover photo should be an accurate representation of what your dealership stands for. The pictures you post should show the range of cars you sell, and they should also show customers that those cars are quality vehicles. Facebook’s wide range of usable formats means that you can choose to use videos or even stories to appeal to customers, giving you the freedom you need to choose the right images for your page. Recently, Facebook also added the ability to use a video or slideshow as the cover photo for your page, which can add an immediately visible flair to your page, especially if you can’t choose just one image that really communicates who you are to the world. It’s important to be honest and proud of who you are as a business, and images allow you to communicate exactly that, but always keep in mind that you want someone to look at those photos and say, “This is the place I have to buy my next car.” 

2) Include Your Hours

People will often go to a business’s Facebook Page to find out all the information they need. Are your hours of operation listed on there? Are there any holidays coming up that might affect those hours? Make sure this, and any other important operating information you choose to include on your page, is up-to-date and accurate to keep customers aware and prevent upsets. 

3) About Us 

Dealership team

Your “About Us” section is the perfect opportunity to gain the trust of any potential customers. You have the absolute freedom to choose what information you feel might be relevant for any customers looking to purchase a new car. What are the important things you want a customer to know? Building trust and confidence with your customers is a crucial part of operating a business, especially in an industry as maligned and distrusted as car selling. This is the perfect opportunity to address any potential trust issues your customers might have before they actually become an issue. 

This section is about much more than just how long you’ve been operating or the brands you sell. What makes your dealership different? What is your mission statement? Why should customers choose you over your competition? Here’s a trick; try to fill out this section as if you’re asking a potential customer, “How can we help you?” 

4) Username and URL

Facebook provides an easy way to change to the URL attached to your Page; just change your username. In doing so, you can easily link your Page to your website, and anywhere else you have a web presence. Using a shorter URL rather than a long, numerical link also helps customers to easily find you on Facebook and anywhere else. 

5) Bring Attention To Your Facebook Page 

There are many different ways to increase traffic to your Facebook page. One method is using “Web Exclusive Offers,” which can be placed on your Facebook Page and are a great way to bring more attention to it. You can post weekly specials that only those who follow or like the page would be notified about. To create an initial following and continue to grow it, you could include a plug for customers to follow your Facebook page for exclusive offers, such as weekly specials, at the end of emails or on business cards. 

6) Include a “Call To Action” On Your Page 

Facebook has made it easier for businesses to connect with their consumers using their Pages by creating compelling CTAs. This can be done right underneath the cover photo, where you’ll find a variety of different CTAs to choose from. Find the one you feel would best entice potential customers to do business with your dealership. 

7) Pick the Right Admin

It’s vital that whoever you choose to be your Page’s administrator knows they need to be actively monitoring and adding to the Page. This means consistently updating it with creative content related to your dealership, responding to customers, listing important information, posting photos and videos of your inventory, and keeping customers up-to-date about any upcoming sales events and promotions.

These are just a few of the ways you can make your Facebook Page into a powerful business tool for your dealership. Consider taking yours to the next level by implementing some of these same tips. You’ll find that correctly interacting with customers online will keep your business competitive in an age where failing to do so would mean stagnation, and ultimately the end of your dealership. The key to success in the digital age is an active commitment to the online world. 

U.S. Service men and women hold U.S. flags

How To Market Your New or Used Car Dealership To Active Duty Military

Is your dealership located near a military base? With multiple bases and US military institutions in every single US state, the chances are, it is. And even though armed guards may staff those gates, you can still enter with your dealership marketing.

Why focus on the military?

The military community’s income is 35% higher than the national average, and their focus is on online spending, because of mobility and relocation. For many service members, this is their first job out of high school or college.

Let’s take a look at a few buying-power statistics:

Active Military

  • 1.3 million active duty
  • 46% Gen Z
  • Avg age = 28.2
  • Spending power = $53.8 Billion

Reserve/Guard

  • 1.1 million reserve/guard
  • 32% Gen Z
  • Avg age = 31.8
  • Spending power = $63.6 Billion

Active Military Families

  • 1.0 million military spouses
  • 48.7% of DoD is married
  • 78% are ages 18-34
  • Avg # of children = 2

Veterans

  • 20M veterans (non-retiree)
  • 3.1M post 9/11 Veterans
  • 85% are ages 25-54
  • 2.2M retirees
  • Spending power = $939 billion

Digitally connected and on the move.

The majority of military service members are younger, and nearly half are supporting a family of at least a spouse. Those with children have two kids on average. This younger generation are all digital natives, and they have lived their entire lives connected with people and brands through digital devices. In turn, they must be communicated through multiple media channels, both digital and traditional.

Military service members and their families are mostly transient, with a move coming every 17 months on average. Because of this, military service members must be adaptable and are their purchasing decisions are influenced by the temporary nature of their living situation.

On the flip side, this also means that newly transplanted service members and their families arrive every month and have no connection or family history to your dealership brand. Word of mouth, if any, comes through military peers and leadership who have a significant influence on purchasing decisions during their time on base, so marketing is vital to reach them.

Service members and their families

Even though their address changes frequently, military service members and their families are very brand loyal. Research indicates that military service members and their families said they have a strong brand affinity to brands they’ve seen on base by as much as 68%.

So what else appeals to the Military service member or their spouse?

  • 95% of active and retired military personnel are more likely to shop from a retailer who offers a military discount.
  • 94% say they notice when companies are “military-friendly” and that they have a positive impression of those companies.
  • 60% of spouses say that quality is essential.
  • 40% of active-duty members say special military offers to influence their buying decisions.
  • 41% of veterans say that a product made in America is preferred.

Marketing to Military Spouses (MilSpouses)

Ninety-three percent of the nation’s 1.1 million MilSpouses are women who, on average, are 35 years or younger and have two children under the age of five. Because they regularly move their homes, these spouses have an increasingly difficult time maintaining consistent employment.

Some statistics on female military spouses’ buying behavior:

  • 85% of the military family’s consumer purchases are determined by the female spouse.
  • 75% consider themselves the primary shoppers for their household.
  • 58% of all total military family spending that occurs online.
  • 22% shop online at least once a day.

On-Base Advertising

Military bases have their own newspapers, and surveys commissioned by the Air Force and Army indicate that active-duty personnel prefer reading military newspapers, making them valuable places to advertise.

One way to reach the active-duty military is with radio, TV, and digital ads. Few dealers consider dedicating entire ad campaigns to active duty beyond Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day sales, so there is a lot of opportunity there. You could also consider Geo-Fencing the military base and surrounding areas.

Become Part of the Military Community

Most military bases have programs and groups that help to connect the installation to the community. Consider volunteering with these organizations or even donating. This will cost you more time than money, but the payoff in connections made makes up for it.

One way to reach into the military community is to reach out to your local chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). AUSA is a private non-profit organization that supports Army causes. Ask how your dealership could effectively get involved with the Military base community that your dealership serves. They can help you get the name out and let personnel know that you are there to serve.

“Credibility is everything,” noted Ron Taylor, president of the AUSA Fourth Region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana). “Once you’ve lost it, you won’t ever recover.”

Marketing Messages to Military Members

Because of the sizeable spending power of the active-duty military and their families, they are often the target of scammers that hound military veterans and retirees with franchise “opportunities” or real estate “deals,” causing many in the military community to view some special military promotions with suspicion.

The solution is to keep your promotion honest and straightforward by offering a discount and a sincere “Thank you for your service.”

The Power Of Word Of Mouth

According to surveys, 76% of the military community say they learn about military discounts and special offers from word-of-mouth. Print ads account for only 30% of awareness building. Military members have close-knit social connections, and you can leverage the power of word-of-mouth within this community. Members of the military community have strong bonds and trust each other’s opinions. This is why, when marketing to the military, your offers and promotions must be thoughtful and generous.

Connecting your dealership to a steady pool of newly-transplanted soldiers who are often making their first real steady paycheck could be a viable revenue source for any dealership willing to put in the work to make the right inroads. But once those connections are made and those pathways established, the investment will pay off.

Eco car

Are You Preparing Your Used Car Dealership For Its Electric Vehicle Future?

Today, tomorrow, five years from now, twenty years from now. 

That’s about as accurate as any projection for when we will see an all-electric fleet. At the moment, only one in 250 cars on the road is electric. Battery electric cars comprise just 2.1% of new global auto sales -about 2 million passenger vehicles. 

If you are working out any sort of long-term plan for your dealerships, electric vehicles should be part of your equation. 

Regardless of your preparedness, car companies are moving ahead with E.V. production. Huge investments in electrification have already been announced by all manufacturers. Volkswagen has committed $50 billion, Daimler placed a $23 billion order for E.V. batteries, G.M. and Ford are restructuring their business around electric cars. Like it or not, automakers are preparing for an electric future today, and so should you.

And yet, dealerships are steadfast in their resistance to this change. Who’s job is it to take a dealership that has sold gas vehicles for generations and switch it over to electric? Is it your fault that automakers are banking on an all-electric future?

The Europeans are offering to help the new car dealers, Domestics, not so much. 

The head of Volkswagen Group of America Inc., Scott Keogh, offered to cover half the costs of getting their dealership facilities ready for electric cars at NADA last month by providing fifty cents on the dollar for any electric vehicle improvements among its dealers. This incentive includes building charging stations, training technicians, and inventory changes. It was a unique value proposition because, for the first time, an automaker offered some skin in the game towards the success of their E.V. program and future.

Most automakers, including General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., regularly advertise that they are fully committed to an electric future. Still, they stick it to the dealers, leaving them to pay for upgrades that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars. This mismatch will ultimately stifle sales of E.V.’s in the U.S.

And where does that leave independent used car dealers?

As we move towards the all-electric future, investments will need to be made in charging stations, specialized tools, and training for repair and reconditioning staff. You may have difficulty finding reconditioning vendors who can handle the needs of Electric Vehicles. Your dealership will need to get comfortable with servicing a vehicle whose battery and design are nothing like the vehicles they are selling now. Can your techs swap out an electric vehicle battery currently? What will you need in terms of training and equipment to make this happen?

The debate right now is whether new car dealers will need to fund their own investments in the electric vehicle. But unless you are part of a new car dealership, you will be left having to make these investments yourself.

The success of Electric Vehicle sales “hinges on this partnership between manufacturers and dealers,” said Rachelle Petusky, a research manager at Cox Automotive.

Last year, Petusky co-wrote a survey of more than 300 U.S. auto dealers and their relationship to E.V.s. It found that only 9% of dealers thought their parent auto company was pressuring them to reach E.V. sales targets.

Are your salespeople ready to sell used Electric vehicles?

The Sierra Club did a survey of 900 U.S. auto dealerships. It found that less than 25% of them actually sold E.V.s, and those that did often did little to highlight or promote them. 

Additionally, salespeople were uninformed on crucial selling points such as sales rebates available and where to find charging stations.

The study found that ten percent of the dealerships selling Electric vehicles, the cars weren’t even charged and were unable to be driven. In other dealerships, the E.V.’s were shoved so far in the back of the lot that they took a long time to move the cars in order to retrieve them.

The demand is not there yet for electric vehicles. But that could change rapidly if the sales of these vehicles take off. In that case, you have one to two years to begin your preparation to handle the sales and service of used E.V.’s. Why not start preparing today for the inevitability of tomorrow?

Black Book Trends

Surprises Found Inside the February 2020 Black Book Trends Report

If your used car dealership uses Black Book trends, then you know that they reported a modest rise month-over-month in sales (0.7%) in February. Interestingly, they also identified a couple of elements in its February Used Vehicle Retention Index that they found to be surprising.

What was so surprising? Trucks sales did not increase, but luxury vehicles did.

“The surprising change was the near-luxury car and luxury car segments that had the largest month-over-month change; however, these were no change and lower, respectively, on a year-over-year basis,” said Black Book senior vice president of data science Alex Yurchenko.

Black Book Used Vehicle Retention Index is calculated using Black Book’s published wholesale average value on 2- to 6-year-old used vehicles, as a percent of original typically equipped MSRP. It is weighted based on registration volume and adjusted for seasonality, vehicle age, mileage, and condition.

Spring Buying Trends

  • Volume-weighted, overall car segment values increased by 0.05% this past week. This change is the largest positive change since the end of August 2019 at 0.06%.
  • Sporty Cars are continuing their upward momentum with another increase of 0.28%, as compared to the prior week’s increase of 0.38%.
  • Volume-weighted, overall truck segment (including pickups, SUVs, and vans) values decreased by 0.01% last week.
  • In trucks, the Sub-Compact Crossover segment increased for a fourth week in a row.

Now just a week or two of data point changes is not enough to change to spot a trend necessarily, but it is something worth keeping an eye on. As automakers like Ford ad Chevrolet kill off all their cars and switch to SUV’s the used car lots are the only option besides individual sellers to obtain a car vs. a truck or SUV.

For those dealerships banking on truck sales, take note that the subcompact truck segment saw increases for four weeks in a row. The midsized pickup segment in the US has grown for six consecutive years, and the total annual volume of new vehicle sales for this class has improved from 244,300 in 2013 to 639,200 in 2019, which is more than 2.5 times in those six years. Vehicles in this category include the Ford Ranger, The Jeep Gladiator, the Chevy Colorado, the Honda Ridgeline and the Toyota Tacoma.

‘Sporty Cars’ are also increasing in growth, which is another trend to watch. In a strong economy, more people are able to afford less practical things such as sporty cars. If you used car mix has avoided these in the past, it may be time to mix some sportier models into the mix.

As with any used car sales, there is no crystal ball to predict what to buy, remarket, and sell. But following the data week to week as closely as a stockbroker watches the stock market can show you areas where it might be worth taking a little risk with your floor plan.

Natural disasters

Is Your Auto Auction Operation Prepared For Disaster?

Tornadoes hit Manheim Nashville, and the Coronavirus hits the US. That sums up this week’s gloomy headlines, and both events, if they happen to you, could take your business offline for a sustained period of time. If this doesn’t have you asking what your business would do in the event of a catastrophe, you need to start making plans.

Matt Trapp, Manheim’s regional vice president for the East, confirmed in a statement that Manheim Nashville, located in Mount Juliet, was “severely affected by powerful storm conditions” that came through the area Tuesday. The auction remained closed as of Tuesday afternoon.

“While no one was injured at the site, our human resources team is now working diligently to account for the safety of every team member in the area. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives in the storm,” Trapp said.

“Currently, Manheim Nashville remains closed, as we assess the damage. As access to our property is restricted due to safety reasons, we encourage clients to refrain from visiting our site at this time. We will provide more updates as they become available at Manheim.com,” he said. “Manheim is committed to protecting the safety of our team members, clients, and guests.”

Nearby Music City Auto Auction of Nashville was unaffected and will continue operations, including its sale this week. With Manheim offline for a while, it will likely be a boon for smaller auction companies in the area.

When the Coronavirus first hit the world, it mainly affected China and swept through Asia and into Italy. It has taken a while, but it has now hit the US, albeit slowly. Companies are beginning to prepare for the possibility that the Coronavirus outbreak may become more widespread, and several big tech companies have started to tell employees they should work from home. Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have all given their employees instructions to work remotely for the time being if they can do so.

Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle is an area that has seen several deaths from the virus, and a worker there tested positive for the Coronavirus. Amazon is currently notifying others who may have had contact with that employee and has asked its Seattle employees to work from home.

Most small businesses don’t have a plan in place to deal with a public health crisis but now is the time to start building a roadmap to how your company might respond should a more widespread outbreak or a natural disaster should occur.

Financially, your Auction company should cover any loss to the building, the inventory, and maybe even loss of use. But does your insurance policy cover loss of revenue caused by a widespread health crisis? Probably not. It’s time to do a review of your insurance policies and contingency for cash flow.

Can your auto auction operate with employees working remotely? Perhaps it’s worth talking to a company that can stream your auction online. You may even consider doing a test at one of your upcoming auctions.

How is your data storage handled? How can employees access it? What channels will you use to communicate with your employees? Who is in charge of your media action plan, or do you even have one? Who will the media contact if disaster strikes your business in a high-profile way? The key is to make a plan now so that you’re ready when you need it.