Dealership Training Economy EFG Companies Electric Vehicles Industry Trends

Educational Revenue Opportunities

Attention agents – it’s time to dust off your playbooks, education resources, and training best practices. Your retail automotive and powersports clients are going to need some knowledge in order to have a successful second half of 2023. Gone are the days when sales teams simply responded to pent up demand and took orders for units. Economic headwinds and rising interest rates are prompting consumers to delay purchases. And growing inventories are erasing those healthy margins logged over the last three years. Agents who focus on electric vehicle (EV) education, debt protection products, and sales best practices will prove invaluable to dealers who need to ramp up their level of customer service for a profitable close to 2023.

Let’s look at some of the issues facing your clients – and how you can help them overcome the challenges.

According to Kelley Blue Book and Cox Automotive, May new vehicle inventory reached its highest level in two years. The average listing price ended the month at $47,172, four percent higher than a year ago. To add insult to injury, interest rates on auto loans also continued to climb in May. Your dealer is working with a lot full of high-priced vehicles and consumers who are increasingly uncomfortable taking out a loan for a new car.  These challenges spell opportunity for agents to serve as the trusted resource for dealers, providing their staff with the tools and resources to make the most of every sale and maximize revenue opportunities.

Economy EFG Companies Industry Trends

No Longer A Seller’s Market

While the industry bemoaned the vehicle production challenges over the last few years, dealers were able to sit back and let the sellers’ market work in their favor. Now, with new vehicle production ramping up and the market stabilizing it’s time to use a different approach. For a dealership to continue to see a sustainable level of profitability for the remainder of 2023, dealers must focus on returning to customer service best practices for both sales and the service drive.

The first half of 2023 saw a surprisingly strong new vehicle market as the available inventory issues resolved. For the most part, a heavy push of fleet sales and a resilient, prime-rated, U.S. buyer overcame high prices and record auto loan rates. However, according to Cox Automotive’s Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke, the second half of 2023 will likely not have the rosy sales experienced earlier in the year. “I do not believe we are on the cusp of exciting growth ahead. The market will still be limited by total available supply, but demand will also be limited by the level of prices and rates, which are not likely to come down enough to stimulate more demand than the market can bear.”

In fact, the first glimpse of this decline began in May as new vehicle inventory reached its highest level in two years and interest rates on auto loans continued to climb. May’s average listing price ended the month at $47,172, approximate four percent higher than a year ago. The average transaction price (ATP) for May increased a scant 0.5 percent from April to $48,528, up $251, according to Kelley Blue Book, a Cox automotive company. While Cox Automotive has increased its 2023 new-vehicle sales forecast to 15.0 million, a gain of nearly 8 percent from 2022, the company expects “headwinds will grow in the second half of this year as credit availability and unfulfilled demand become scarcer.”

Industry Trends

2023 – Focus on the Need

Retail automotive dealers are gearing up to face a variety of challenges in 2023. From economic uncertainty, fluctuating profitability targets, changing sales models, and the persistent overhang of compliance regulations, the ‘good times’ for dealers could come to a screeching halt. While some dealers will manage the transition smoothly, others will be caught off-guard. Successful agents will need to be nimble, focusing their client service models on what each dealer needs. A one-size-fits-all model will not work as the industry evolves.

Need for Consumer confidence

Over the past few years, car buyers gravitated towards the vehicle they ‘wanted’, focusing on the features and benefits of the latest models. With a recession looming and inflation rising, car buyers in 2023 are expected to scale back those aspirations and focus on the features they ‘need’ because it’s likely their current vehicle is on its last leg. This transition from ‘want buyers’ to ‘need buyers’ involves a different sales mindset for the dealer. Agents can smooth this transition for dealer clients, by providing the tools and resources they need to tap into those need-based buyers.

For example, F&I managers will need to be prepared to present the value of consumer protection products in terms of saving consumers money throughout the life of the vehicle.  By adding $25 to their monthly loan payment today, the educated consumer could save hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars tomorrow.