Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflecting Back on 2011 & Moving Forward in 2012

Here we are!...December 2011! We all know that time flies, but for me, 2011 was a little different. The best way that I could describe the past year is that it was a "transitional" year. After experiencing a dip in the last few years prior, 2011 seemed to be the year where we all got settled back in to doing business after adapting and changing to market fluctuations previous. Our belts got tighter, our market strategies changed and quite honestly...we just started to work even smarter and harder.

In 2008, we experienced a growth in our service business as new vehicles sales dropped drastically. Customers seem to shift their focus to repairs and maintenance versus buying new vehicles due to the uncertainty of our economy. A recent Wall Street Journal study through October of 2011 revealed that New Car Sales rose over 8% over the same period in 2010 and New Truck Sales rose over 12% over that same period with the biggest jump in Mid-Size SUV's of over 40%!

This "upswing" in the sales market gives us not only new opportunities, but actually "requires" us to adapt and make the appropriate changes to remain competitive moving forward. We also have to make sure that these increases in new vehicle sales customers are coming back to our dealerships.

In my opinion, remaining competitive has never been more important than it is today. Our Fixed Operations has to be poised and ready, utilizing all the latest resources as well as having a trained and knowledgeable staff to insure the utmost in Customer Satisfaction and most importantly, Customer Retention.

In the Parts Department, we have a host of new avenues for marketing parts such as "SkyParts" where dealers complete parts inventory can be a "google" click away by just entering a part number with global exposure. Many Parts Managers are also experiencing great success on sites such as eBay, Dealer Market Place, Craig's List, etc. There are also many new parts shelving systems and even "automated" bin systems to maximize storage capacity and increase efficiency.

In my many travels, I am often asked what's new in the marketplace and how business is in general in other parts of the country, both in the U.S and Canada. The first thing that comes to mind is "what's NOT new" as I believe there is no substitute for great customer service in all dealer departments. Even in this day and age, it still amazes me that many dealers look for the latest and greatest, but do not have the basic "core" processes needed for success.

Geographically, there are culture differences, various parts & labor pricing guidelines, seasonal business opportunities, etc., but when you come right down to it, we are still in the "car business" where building relationships and trust are the two main ingredients to success. Customer retention can never be over emphasized enough, as you will also see in the future as more and more manufacturers move away from CSI as we know it and shift most, if not all attention to customer retention and brand loyalty.

Looking forward to our Parts Department opportunities in 2012, I believe the combination of the right core values and processes, having "first time" off shelf fill rates over 80% or more, combined with the latest innovations via the internet, you can be assured that 2012 can be "Your Best Year Ever"!

Dave Piecuch is the Vice President of Automotive Consultants Group Inc. and is the Head Coach for Smart PartsTM.  Dave can be reached at Cell 786-521-1720 or E-mail at Vist our Website at