This is an interesting topic for me and I’m anxious for feedback. I liken this to similar questions posed after 9/11 and again during the economic downturn of 2008. We had GM’s and FCA’s bankruptcy and I was at a Chevy store so this was something up-close and personal for me. We honestly thought the world was going to change, and to some extent, it did. Here’s what happened as I remember it:
1. Dealers were closing, whether it was through consolidation, acquisition or termination of the franchise
2. All of a sudden, we had a ton of talent in the pool and hiring instantly became easier since there were so many displaced workers – pay plans changed too
3. We had vendors lowering prices and fighting for our business as there were fewer stores and they were coming out with new offerings since we had everything we needed but they had to fill the void for the stores they lost – revenue was off for them
4. Influx in inventory levels but customers didn’t increase so they were being really picky, thus there was that 3 month period before cash for clunkers where we were bending over backwards for the first time ever unlike we ever did before to make a deal just to get rid of a unit with no profit – used cars sitting on the lot were becoming a huge issue with blackwater
5. Cash for Clunkers, good for new cars, bad for used
6. Used car independents started closing thus flooding the pre-owned market further and an already bad market became a catastrophe
7. I could keep going
We learned some things from the last two economic hits. We were confident some of the things we learned would last as “the business was changed forever” each time. Just like when a major OEM goes out of business like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, Saturn, etc. Remember when those closed? The idea is always to evolve or perish.
Maybe we can finally stop investing in Taj Mahal showrooms and working bell to bell. Maybe we can start looking at our technologies a little harder and using them better.
One thing is for sure, some of us need to STOP saying they are offering online retailing when they most definitely are not! These dealers are the ones that make me believe the COVID lessons will go the same way as the 9/11 and 2008 ones.