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The Inventory Issue

The computer-chip shortage has left dealers with the fewest offerings in decades. Don’t miss this great advice from dealers and our AutoSuccess contributors.

Acquiring inventory — it’s a hot button issue right now. The computer chip shortage is taking its toll on the automotive industry, and if you’re not feeling it now, you likely soon will be. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The lack of computer chips has disrupted production at dozens of auto factories across the U.S., including those that have been closed for months. Car makers are building some models without needed semiconductors and parking them until chips are available to install. Tens of thousands of these vehicles sit at airport lots, a quarry, a racetrack and other makeshift holding pens near assembly plants in the South and Midwest.”

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Every dealer I speak with has his or her own story to share as well. I have had the opportunity to speak with successful dealers from across the country to hear more about how their businesses are thriving or surviving through this turbulent time. They all offer great insight for other dealers.

“You never want to let the short-term situation dictate the long-term outcome,” says Brian Benstock, vice president and general manager of Paragon Honda and Acura in Queens, NY. He encourages dealers to stay active in marketing their dealerships, especially in the digital realm, so as to not lose ground with search engine algorithms. He notes, “When you go dark digitally, it takes a while for that algorithm to build back up,” so don’t give your competition a chance to slide into your place. 

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I also recently spoke with Miles Edmark, the general manager of Edmark Toyota in Nampa, ID. (Read more about his dealership in our Dealer Service magazine, which is included with the mailing of this issue.)

“We sold a little over 200 new cars last month (June), and we had two new left on our lot last night,” Edmark says. “So, we’re basically selling down to zero. This is the second month in a row we’ve gone down to basically zero. So, we’ve had to adapt our sales process on the new side, selling into the pipeline, all of the inbound units. We’re doing some cool things with that, but the vehicles are coming in, and they’re going out just as fast. 

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“There’s a lot of empty asphalt out there,” Edmark continues, “which is a little weird to look at, but when you can hit your numbers and not have the holding cost of the inventory, you realize it’s just a different way to do business.”

Kim Huffman, the managing partner of Neil Huffman Automotive Group, which has locations in Louisville, KY, and Clarksville, IN, encourages dealers to be creative in their efforts to locate inventory. Her entire staff is involved in finding new vehicles to sell. “I rely on my employees, because they have that frontline experience,” she says. She counts on their innovativeness and familiarity of the market to source used vehicles.

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You can find my interviews with these dealers and more online. These “Dealer Insider” videos are a new feature on our site and provide great insight from dealers who are in the trenches with you. Just go to AutoSuccessOnline.com/category/video.

If you prefer to just listen to the interviews, each of the videos will also be available as podcasts. You can find them on your favorite podcast platform. 

Keep an eye out for our Women at the Wheel honorees to be featured in these videos — coming soon!

Many of this edition’s contributors also have addressed the inventory shortage, providing unique advice to help dealers do everything from sourcing pre-owned inventory to maximizing marketing and sales promotions. I hope you can use their wisdom to help your dealership’s success.

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