After talking to several of our dealers, it seems that they all agree that April did not start the second quarter as good as March ended the first. The mood in showrooms around most of the country is that there are decreased levels in traffic/lead volume from new car buyers while used cars seem to remain on a steady trend upward. Here are a few key points that I was reminded of when discussing April sales:
- We always seem to forget every year that April is a rather “soft” month compared to March.
- Tax time slows down consumers (as well as car salesman) from thinking that now is a great time to buy or sell a car.
- You cannot blame the weather, but an unseasonably cool spring with snow falling in the North and Midwest along with violent storms in the Sunbelt can make for some slow showroom days which cause the pace of the month to fall.
- The mentality of being “fat and happy” caused by most sales associates selling more cars in March than they have in months created larger paychecks and probably a little less intensity to get out of the gate in April and start selling from day one. It is hard for some sales people to recover from a big month, and if even half of your staff was affected by this – most likely your sales will be too.
- The demand is for USED CARS! Most of our dealers sold more NEW cars in March since December. This created a surplus of used cars on the Internet and lot that many buyers naturally gravitated towards these vehicles. It’s nothing that dealers did wrong, it’s just simply the law of supply and demand. You had better used car inventory than you had in a couple months, thus your used car business will remain robust.
The balance between new and used car sales is a pendulum that will constantly swing back and forth. Do not get frustrated if your April did not live up to the expectations created by March. As I was told by a very smart dealer in my travels this month, “One day doesn’t make your month and one month doesn’t make your year!” All you have to do is show up ready to fight and win on May 1 to succeed.
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 Merchandising.