This is a real concern, and one I address every day. The concern is that if everyone rushes to be a little more competitive, there will be no gross left in your used cars. One dealer after another will participate in a race to the bottom.
The truth is the used car market is much more dynamic, with lots more moving parts, than this simplistic view represents.
- If you pay no attention to the market, your customer base will be only the 10% to 15% of the market that doesn’t shop online.
- If you can stay ahead of the trends by using real data in real time, rather than historical data and outdated registration figures, you’ll be stocking less price sensitive cars – the ones in short-supply and higher-demand, right now, than your competition that is “living in the past”.
- Price isn’t everything (but it does matter)! On many cars, being in the ‘Competitive Range’ is enough to get your share of online traffic. Add in great merchandising and a good dealership reputation and you have a winning combination. But if you stock High Market Days Supply units that are dying on the vine at every dealer in town – and price those cars higher than the guy down the street – be prepared to see very little traffic, have aged inventory, and higher wholesale losses.
- Trend-followers will have trouble identifying the right inventory from the troubled inventory and make poorer decisions than the dealers that are staying ahead of the trends. Those watching the market will be moving to cars with more potential for a higher gross and identifying the trends much earlier.
The Real Used Car Death Spiral comes from reduced traffic due to over-pricing. The higher you price the less traffic you generate. Then you feel that you must have a higher mark-up per car and make more gross per deal to make up for the short-fall… and you get even less traffic. Or you hide costs to the consumer in your advertising and eventually destroy your reputation… and you get even less traffic.
Make no mistake, living in the past is no way to succeed in the future.