Turning Data into Profits: Strategies to Maintain Dealership Profitability Amid Sales Challenges in 2023


The retail auto industry has undergone significant changes over the past few years, including shifts in consumer behavior, supply chain disruptions, and technological advancements impacting how dealerships operate. The current challenges of declining sales and affordability issues, along with the increasing number of older vehicles on the road, create an opportunity for dealerships to focus on areas like F&I, which can help maintain your dealership profitability.

Analyzing the most significant trends shaping the retail auto industry could help manage their impact on dealership profitability.
Therefore, it is critical to monitor the significant shifts in the industry, such as:

1. New light-vehicle sales in 2022 topped 13.7 million units, the lowest number of sales since 2011.

The National Auto Dealers Association reports that the industry sold 13.7 million new cars and trucks last year, the lowest number of total sales since 2011. In addition, the semiconductor microchip shortage and other supply chain disruptions dealt a significant blow to the retail auto industry, causing sales to drop by 8.2% compared with 2021. However, this disruption also allows dealerships to strengthen their F&I departments. Dealerships need to maximize profits on each sale. F&I departments could be a profit center to provide an additional revenue stream on each sale, helping offset any revenue loss from lower sales volumes and maintain dealership profitability.

2. Parts-and-service revenue is on the rise.

Six publicly traded new-vehicle groups reported same-store parts-and-service revenue of $12.7 billion last year, an increase of 10.5% year-over-year. The companies reported $3.4 billion in same-store parts-and-service revenue for the fourth quarter, up 9.1%. This reflects an opportunity for dealerships to offer F&I products like maintenance plans and service contracts. These products can help customers save money on future service needs while generating additional revenue for the dealership. Furthermore, the trend also highlights the rise in vehicle mileage.

3. Average age of cars increases to 12.2 years.

The average age of light vehicles in operation (VIO) in the US rose to 12.2 years, according to S&P Global (formerly IHS Markit). The 2022 average age marks another all-time high. According to the analysis, the global microchip shortage and associated supply chain and inventory challenges could have influenced consumers to continue operating their existing vehicles longer.
As the average age of vehicles on the road continues to rise, dealerships have an opportunity to capitalize on the increased demand for repairs and maintenance services. This presents a win-win situation for both customers, who could save on their repair costs, and dealerships, who could generate additional revenue from the services offered, including through their F&I department.

4. Aftermarket “sweet spot” is growing- 6.5% year-over-year increase.

According to Experian, 35.8% of vehicles in operation (VIO) now fall within the aftermarket sweet spot, a 6.5% year-over-year increase. As more vehicles fall into the 6- to 12-year-old category, they become ineligible for general manufacturer warranties, increasing the importance of maintenance and potential component replacement for owners. Aftermarket professionals must keep track of the model year and types of vehicles in operation to anticipate potential consumer needs and driving habits. In addition, F&I departments can benefit from professional training to assess consumer needs and offer valuable ancillary products to capitalize on the opportunity presented by the increase in vehicle age.

5. More car owners struggle to keep up with their car payments than they were in 2009.

As per Bloomberg, automobile repossessions are climbing, and Americans fall behind on their car payments at a higher rate than in 2009. If used vehicle prices continue to decline and the negative equity gap widens, the situation may worsen. People who cannot trade for a lower payment may end up surrendering their vehicles to the bank.

Dealers can improve their profitability by helping customers mitigate negative equity by offering payment solution tools. The tool would help customers make an extra payment each year by making bi-weekly payments, which saves them money in financing charges and helps build equity faster. `Reach out to your PRO Team to implement this tool in your dealership.

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