There are a few obvious things which any car or truck dealership could do to improve their bottom line. Many of them are exactly what other companies are doing: first trim your expenses, and second cut your overhead. These measures can only take you so far. When the people who used to come and visit the car dealership every two or three years for a new car are now underemployed, or laid off, the dealership will not see any sales from that family until things turn around for more of us little guys.
So there has to be some way to make small changes to their business model which can help them to offset some of their lost revenues? The first thing they should all be looking at is how well they utilize the resources which they already have at their disposal? For example, if they have a service department, odds are they have the people, tools, and materials to do a decent job of auto detailing. They can offer this translate driver license service for a fee to the general public. This could generate a whole new revenue stream, turning an overhead department into a profit center.
The idea for exploiting these “value added” opportunities built into the service department at a car dealership leads to things like opening up their service department car wash systems to the public one or two days a week?
Auto Dealerships could use their service department to sell and install new tires for existing customers. Instead of people going down the street to the super big chain stores, they can stop at the dealership, rent a loaner car for the day cheap, and get new tires from a pro!
Most of these service departments have the tools to change tires, balance them, and do alignments as well. Another service dealerships all have at their disposal is hauling cars between locations. They have access to these car haulers, and many times these big fuel hogging rigs are rolling down the highway only partially filled. There are a great many of us regular people who occasionally need to move vehicles around when they relocate, and the dealerships could offer this service for a small fee.
The parts department could probably sell a lot more parts if they would offer free diagnostic check ups on customers cars. I have a computer code reader device, and I find it to be an invaluable tool when you have no clue why your engine is sputtering, or the exhaust smells funny. Think about it, if the big auto parts stores are doing this code reader deal for free, and they don’t even fix the cars for you, then why is it not logical that a dealership should offer the same service? They can make money on the parts sold, and probably pick up some extra service work fixing things that the average D.I.Y. guy cannot handle at home.
Dealerships who have used cars on the lot, or have dealer demonstration cars, could set up a small local car rental location right at their dealership. I know a lot of people who were not truly sold on the car they bought until they took one home for a day or two. Typical car rental companies want your travel business, and your insurance work, not necessarily your prom date, or special vacation ride.
Dealerships could offer educational programs on their lot for new drivers to learn things like how to drive a stick shift? Or they could set up a course to teach drivers important safety things like how to steer out of a skid, or how to properly use four wheel drive both on and off road? Some people would pay to learn these things. They could also offer a race driver training program? How much fun would that be? Take a brand spanking new tricked out Challenger to the track with your instructor in the passenger seat!
Dealerships should all be thinking about diversifying!
There is a small used lot near us, and he is selling cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, motor homes, ATV’s, garden tractors, and more! Last week he had a Troy-Bilt rototiller, and a landscapers trailer! Bear in mind he is still a car dealership! This is fabulous to see because he is thinking outside the box, and it seems to be paying off for them!
In summary, I believe that car and truck dealerships have a lot of options to help them recover from this seriously debilitating economic situation we all find ourselves in. The main ideas I am offering are simple, and are low or no cost, and could make a long lasting change to the bottom line at the dealerships who are wise enough to try new things in order to survive! Hopefully someone will make the effort to try some of the ideas which I have presented here. If any dealerships out there are interested in discussing these ideas further, I would be happy to try and help as a consultant!
Thank you for reading my article!