2010 – Car business takes its medicine and moves on

This time last year MTI was talking about the so called “big 3” in Detroit and the US administration’s fight to ensure the long term survival with a multibillion dollar bailout plan. We also talked of “Carmageddon” and businesses closing and factories cutting production and many good people losing their jobs amid the worst downturn seen in many years.

We also surmised that a lot of what happened would have been avoidable if dealers hadn’t embarked on disastrous pre–registration programs and buy back campaigns and car makers weren’t hell bent on increasing their market share even at any cost. By doing so there was a pile up of unsold cars just waiting to haemorrhage money at the first sign of a downturn and this ultimately forced the industry to take a long, hard look at itself and its future business strategy. Manufacturers soon realised that their franchised dealer network could not hope to remain profitable within the restrictive framework of the policies in place at the time.

Happily the car business is very much still alive and kicking albeit smarting from a bloody nose. Buyers have had a great year with scrappage presenting certain customers with an unprecedented opportunity to own a new car. The goodwill and publicity generated by the scheme benefited everyone including customers who were intrigued enough to visit showrooms and see if they could bag themselves a deal even if they didn’t own a banger.

Certainly customer service is improving and car selling is coming firmly into the 21st century where retailing is the new buzzword and all car dealers are starting to realise the importance of providing the correct experience. It’s a realisation that will not only help them sell more cars but will ultimately gain them more customers simply because they are doing things right.

Businesses are also realising now more than ever that people are the key and are training and coaching the right staff to appreciate that without customers they have no business.

We predict that the coming years will only continue to see improvements in the motor trade both in technology and innovation, in eco friendliness and in reputation and as the customer becomes yet more empowered and educated so the role of car dealers will evolve and adapt.

Although there is still a lot of hard work to be done the rewards for everyone will certainly be worth the effort and by getting its house in order and delighting more customers the future for the car business looks bright.

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