As we turn the corner into the new year, most dealerships have just completed (some are just beginning) annual forecasting and planning meetings. Dealers and management teams have rehashed their performance of last year and are setting their sights on an improved year.
As we go to press, the tone of the industry bodes uncertainty, much like it has each of the past five years. This year, employee pricing by GM, Ford and Chrysler have dampened dealer optimism. At the same time, gas prices hit $3.00 per gallon in the wake of Katrina and Rita. Between the glut of used cars in franchise dealers’ inventory, and consumers becoming more fuel conscious, wholesale prices for used vehicles plummeted, especially large trucks and SUVs. As GM and Ford then attempted to turn to value pricing, eschewing incentives, you could hear crickets chirping in new car showrooms. As if on cue, industry experts once again warn of a tight market for the upcoming year, cautioning dealers to batten down the hatches. The more things change, the more they stay the same.