Baseball and Chevrolet (or just cars in general) have a rich history in our country. Dating back to early part of the 20th century, our infatuation with both baseball and cars has been linked to the likes of Babe Ruth and his Lincoln Continental, Mickey Mantle and his Plymouth Super Deluxe, and to the 1975 Chevy commercial invoking baseball and Chevrolet. As such, today’s modern baseball game has some great advice for our dealership clients across America.
The past twenty years has brought a new brand of competitor to sports – auto insights and analytics. And I’m serious when I say modern day baseball can teach us all a lesson in data analytics. In the movie Moneyball, Billy Beane flipped the baseball world upside using what seemed to be unrelated data points to develop a method in identifying top baseball prospects. He stopped looking at how many homeruns a prospect hit in high school or college, but rather how many times he got on base or more simply put – did not get OUT. As a result of taking the time to dig into data analytics, the Oakland A’s made the most incredible run for the championship in baseball history while spending a quarter of what the big boys spent. Unfortunately, today’s car dealership often use outdated auto insights to determine if they’re winning or not. Add to that the added OEM pressure to hit multi-tier bonus programs just to make any profit has hit unattainable levels for a large majority of dealerships.
Today’s automobile business environment is laden with the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers as well as the more “cash-strapped” A’s, Twins and some will argue the Mets (jab to a friend). We all know those big boys—they exist in almost every US market, spending advertising dollars on every form of traditional media or new digital platform that promises more leads than ever before. Sure, they sell a lot, and I mean A LOT, of cars but when you look at their cost per win it often exceeds to NADA averages by more than double – think $1,200/car sold! Like the Yankees it can be a winning strategy but at a significant cost, literally.
On the other end of the spectrum there are some dealers and dealer groups who have used auto insights and market share data to reduce their “outs” and increase their “OBP” (on base percentage). Finding these key auto insights and data points can turn your dealership from missing key sales in your market to securing the right sales within your market that lead to more profit per vehicle and a longer-term relationship with your customer through your service department.
Let’s start with how well you control your assigned market area (ASA). In most markets this means retaining between 50% and 65% of the customers buying your brand. In other words, of all the Chevrolet buyers over the past two years in your market, how many of them actually bought from you and how many bought from your competitor. I realize in larger metro markets and some of the northern plains states controlling your ASA can be much harder to do. However, finding the right benchmark for your region is key to defining how well you’re doing keeping good buyers by monitoring these key auto insights. I say good because the closer the consumer lives to your dealership the less likely they will go to your competitor for services or to buy their next car.
Next, you should determine what your market potential is and how you compare against this. Most OEM’s provide these reports monthly, but they are often looked at briefly and focus moves to the next thirty-day sales cycle. Understanding (think Billy Beane here now) how your dealership has performed historically, in aggregate, can help you identify where your misses have been and where you need to focus more resources. This gives you context as you keep an eye on these auto insights on what you need to watch, and that’s where you spot your opportunities.
A note of caution on constant monitoring: I hear all the time about live data but that’s like watching a live baseball game: a guy who bats a career .220 could go 4 for 5 in a game, but that doesn’t make him an .800 hitter. He will always normalize to his trends. If your dealership has historically sold at 88% potential it is very likely it will maintain that into the future, but one- or two-month’s success over the course of a season doesn’t put players on base. Don’t get hung up on individual data points in time – auto insights are insights because they represent trends that hold up over time. The more actual auto insights you have the more likely you are to stop wasting dealership marketing dollars and replace them with more profitable customers.
Finally, the last piece for today is looking at your inventory. A recent article cited the average inventory for new cars is up to 75 days. For some dealers that could be a death knell while other dealers would scoff at the idea of how little inventory that is. There is so much public and proprietary information available today to allow you to find the ideal inventory mix and levels for your dealership. Translating that information in to usable auto insights so you can identify the best opportunity is another thing.
I recently worked with a Hyundai dealer who had 67 days supply in market while his competitors were running over 90 days. When we looked more closely, he was under-supplied in Elantras which was allowing his competitors to steal from his area because he lacked what the consumers were shopping. A few recommended tweaks to his inventory profile to match how his market was buying helped this dealer realize a 30% increase in Elantra sales over the next six months. I acknowledge this isn’t always perfect given allocation formulas from the various OEMs but aligning your inventory to better reflect your market area demand can help you be more efficient than your competitors and retain more of your buyers.
In summary, take time to find out what’s been happening in your market over the past two to three years and, more importantly, at your own dealership. Monthly performance reports from your OEM or another supplier are great for looking at this “week’s box score,” but they seldom give you an idea of what your OBP is over the course of the season. A clear look at auto insights based on the right data will give you a more informed outlook on where you have the best chance to win.
If you’re not comfortable with data, find someone in your dealership who enjoys it (believe me there’s a bunch of us out there) or reach out to a trusted adviser that can help you. Or just email me – I’ll do a quick snapshot for you for free. : )
Contact us to request a free Dealer Scorecard evaluation.