New year, new challenges

It’s fitting that the new year brings with it changes and new beginnings. In the car business, it’s also our toughest time.

January is a slow retail sales month; we face a lack of available wholesale product; , the weather in Canada makes the daily tasks of managing our inventory and premises costly and difficult. In truth, car dealerships are not bright and shiny places to be in the new year; January can feel like a dealer’s bad dream on deja vu style repeat.

But if we look a bit deeper, past the mountains of snow and rows of aging inventory, there are some differences this year. New year, new challenges, right?

Yet, too, there are new opportunities. Changes in technology bring faster, easier ways of managing our information and communication. Changes in the economy make used cars more desirable, and bring new interest in Canadian used vehicles as export products.

Newer product with longer lifespan and more computer-based parts bring excitement and ongoing education to the fixed operations side of the business. Truly, this is not the same old car game!

I’m looking ahead with cautious optimism: Avoiding pitfalls will be impossible, but learning and growing from them is inevitable. This year, I am opening up the door to my business and sharing some of the top challenges faced in my own dealership with AuSM Canada readers.

Frank articles on relevant topics with real life situations where my dealership needs special attention or innovation. I’ve always been very open with my industry peers about my experiences and opinions, and this column is a nod to my goal of leaving this industry a better place than I found it. By sharing stories that others can learn from (either learning a new solution, or what not to do!), I hope to foster a more trusting dealer community, better equipped to operate good, profitable businesses which benefit the shareholders, the employees and the customers in a delicate tension.

It won’t always be pretty I already know a few topics I have to write on, and they are the gritty kind of things that we close the doors to our office to talk about. But that’s why I want to talk about them. It doesn’t hurt me or my business, and it could help you in yours.

Until next time, if you have any ideas or want to share something you are experiencing in minding your business, reach out. We’re probably connected on LinkedIn, or you can tweet me @autoinsidercat.

From my business to yours, Happy New Year, and all the best.

Cathie Clark is the dealer principal at Auction Direct and principal at Automotive Insider Consulting.

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