How to Master Your Market with the Basics for the Used Auto Industry in 2023: Introduction

June 21, 2023

Michael Jordan. Mickey Mantle. Serena Williams. All professionals who conquered competition at the top of their game. But how did they do that? For them, it wasn’t a simple task. Mastering one’s craft requires a recipe of hard work, dedication, and often times…failure. And while there isn’t an exact formula for perfection, there sure is a pathway to get there. 

And that path? It starts with the basics

Let’s break that down a little bit as to how the basics scale from small to large. When it comes to improvement, there is something about stepping to the plate and taking batting practice before every game that should ring true. The pros do it. The minors do it. Even little league players do it. Batting practice breaks down the fundamentals into components that are easy to control. As you prepare for showtime, focus on your eyes, your hands, your hips, and your feet. It’s all the pieces of the puzzle that come together in practice to get you ready for game day.

And like most things in life, all the individual parts come together for the perfect swing. The concept of getting back to basics and practicing applies to all sports. The same can be said for the automotive industry. Start by taking a look at your sales team, your BDC, and your marketing efforts. 

What do you see? 

If you aren’t achieving the sell through rate you want, then it’s time to reevaluate. Your online and marketing conversions are probably lower than you’d like. And your inventory acquisition strategy? Well, let’s just say that you can likely be doing a lot more to secure valuable consumer vehicles.

Therein lies the beauty of automotive retail. As the year marches forward, my head is swirling with possibilities. How do we sell better? How do we convert higher? How do we acquire more? It isn’t enough to just simply theorize improvements or discuss strategies over coffee. Instead, I want to issue you a challenge to get back to the basics. The road to improvement starts one step at a time. 

So, together, I want to break down what those steps are. There are four core principles that your dealership needs to focus on when going back to the basics. For automotive, these basics encompass everything from how you sell, buy, market, and interact. The four steps to mastering your market and getting back to the basics are:

  1. Identify
  2. Build
  3. Execute & Adjust
  4. Own it!

Begin by identifying each area of improvement for your dealership. Don’t be afraid to do an audit of what’s working and what’s falling short. The basics begin by identifying. Grab your magnifying glass and examine every corner of your operations. Some might seem small. Others intimidating. Either way, don’t back down from the task at hand.

Once you identify areas of improvement, it’s time for implementation. Build processes to put you on a path to success. The reality is that the pandemic changed a lot of things. In the years coming after quarantine, many dealerships experienced recorded grosses with minimal effort. But as a sense of normalcy returns, it’s important to integrate the basics back into a normal day-to-day cadence. This is going to require bringing in new solutions. Use the evaluation step to examine where you have shortcomings, but use the second step as an opportunity to correct those mistakes.

After implementing change, execute on it and adjust as needed. Dig into what areas are truly working and develop a plan for where you need a little more work. Use a microscope to evaluate areas where your implementations need to be repeated, fixed, or reevaluated. Sales and marketing are key areas where new processes and technologies might result in the need for more intense iteration. Enact the change you want to see, and let it grow to match the trajectory you are wanting to experience.

After you have fine-tuned your processes, it’s time for a little fun. The final step is to own it. Bring in your branding, start a contest with your staff, or find a way to bring consumers into the fold. Personalizing the way you do business is a big part of helping you master your market. This is your department, your dealership, your customers, and your future. Put your stamp on how you want to be known and you’ll be able to drive into the upcoming years with confidence.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to own your used car operations. Get past the last two years and get back to the basics. Much like Michael Jordan warming up before a game, take the time to practice what you preach. Not only will you be able to maintain the high grosses we have seen since the pandemic, but we will stop ourselves from racing to the bottom while also improving training, customer service, and acquisition.