I heard a stock market report this morning on the news that interviewed traders on the floor of the NYSE that talked about how happy they were that today was New Years Eve.The interesting part about it was they were not talking about parties or watching the ball drop in Times Square; instead they were thrilled that 2008 was coming to an end. The reports were citing which stocks lost what this year, how many jobs were lost and which major companies either reported a loss or had just gone out of business. Basically, this was another doom and gloom news cast that we have all gotten so use to seeing and turning a deaf ear to in the third and fourth quarter of 2008. Of course I was pleased to see that the news report then turned to focus more time and attention to the Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich; there is nothing like a good political scandal to turn the negative news media away from harping on the economy.
At a hunting camp over this past weekend, someone who is outside our industry asked me, “just how bad is it for the dealers around the country?” This is a question that I have probably been asked at least a dozen times in as many of the last days and my reply has been very simple, “the car market is not great, but there still is a market.” The past 12 months have proven to be the most unpredictable that anyone has probably ever seen.
So the question of the day on the last day of this year… WHAT IS COMING IN 2009?
From my perspective and the customers and dealers whom I have the pleasure of working with (and learning about more and more of their business with each day we work together) here is my prediction:
2009 is going to be like driving a race car into a 90 degree turn.
You are cautious going into the turn and don’t try to take it
with too much speed, but as you pass the apex or center of the turn,
you roll your foot back on the throttle and gain as much speed
as you think you can stand for the straight-away without losing control.
A racing analogy may seem very simple, but I like to think and make illustrations in a very “big picture minded” way. (I learned that from Mike Strong).
While 2009 is going to be a challenge, it is also a time that an underperforming dealership can take back a lot of market share that has been lost in the last 5 years. 2009 is a time that a “not so good” used car dealer can become a good one because we know New Car sales will still be off, while Used Car sales will probably remain less affected. 2009 is a time where a dealer who is already in control of their market, and runs a very solid operation, can truly “Take Over” a market.
Make no mistake about it, 2009 is going to be tough as it gets out of the gate. Just remember, when the pie shrinks, you have to get a bigger piece of it to make do until it gets back to a larger size. This is the time to grow your business even further through your E-Commerce, and Used Cars. 2009 is a time when you have to spend more per car in advertising, but your share of voice will be exponentially greater.
The purpose of this blog is to give an outlook for what I truly see coming: I see this market getting back on track because of the simple principle of the law of supply and demand. There is too much pent up demand for the market to stay down forever. The ones who will dominate in this market are the ones who are cautious going in, but know when it’s the time to drop the hammer.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!
John Paul Strong
John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 140 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.