Here we go again, my friends, staring down the oil barrel of rising gas prices and pondering the question of do we or don’t we advertise? I assure you my sentiments are not half-empty and anyone who even considers dropping out is misinterpreting the big picture. When the Wall Street Journal and USA Today are both in agreement that ‘consumer confidence is rising despite higher gasoline prices’, my half-full mentality kicks in to say now is the time for Tier 3 dealers to advertise like never before with the best possible deals.
This is not 2008! When gas prices shot up back then the domestics lost share because they were selling a greater percentage of trucks and SUVs; the imports were sitting pretty selling smaller vehicles. But this time around the playing pieces have definitely changed with domestics holding some very formidable MPG performers. And be assured the buying public knows that Cruze gets 33 and Ford has 3 models over 40 just as well as they know Prius delivers 40 plus miles per gallon.
Just like every factory is predicting big sales increases [some in the neighborhood of 23%], every dealer I talk to is expecting to increase, but guess what – the pie is only so big! Now is the time to step up and use your hottest product to generate traffic. By merchandising the vehicles the public wants to buy, you will see next-day traffic in the showroom and that is where you control your own destiny.
In closing, USA Today in an article published February 28th pointed out that ‘economists were caught off guard’ by the jump in the consumer confidence index. And I’ve always put that crowd in the ‘half-empty’ category. Don’t let your dealership be caught off-guard as our market grows tired of vehicles they have now driven on average for over 10 years!
This is the first in a series on gas prices and how they affect automotive retail.