It’s over. December is over. The manufacturers’ extended programs are over. Your last deal is in the books. The last rush of commercial deals and all that comes with it has settled.
For those of you new to this business, late December is when many consumers pull the trigger on large purchases such as cars to avoid paying as much in taxes. They generally like to finance as much as they can. This makes selling aftermarket products and service contracts that much easier.
The salespeople are frantically trying to sell or pre-sell limited numbers of premium new cars. Dealer trades are happening so fast, you almost don’t know which car goes where.
The gross profits are high, everyone is making money and the customers are leaving happy. This is why we love the car business!
Then the New Year comes. The excitement and the flurry of customers start to dwindle. The reality of limited or no inventory starts to set in. You realize if it weren’t for the employee parking in the back lot, it would appear there’s even less inventory.
People are spent. They are experiencing a bit of a financial hangover. They overspent on Christmas and are worn out from the holidays. They are watching the change of political power and keeping a close eye on the stock market.
Anyone who was in the market for a vehicle who had any sense of urgency already bought. In fact, most dealers probably pulled ahead 2-4 weeks’ worth of business before 2020 ended, for tax reasons.
This is a time where salespeople, managers, F&I and honestly the whole store start to feel the lag. All the deals are billed. The DealerTrack funding screen shows every deal is booked or funded. The e-leads have slowed, and the phones aren’t ringing as much.
Walk-in showroom traffic is noticeably down. The high of a huge December is wearing off and the idea of a “bad month” starts to set in.
There is an old quote: “Just remember…there was calm before the storm… there will be calm after…”
This is the time to be thankful for that year-end rush. Take this time to focus the extra “slow” time on controllable activities. Start by cleaning your workspace or your office. Get rid of things no longer adding value to your work life or bring joy to your space.
Get your accounting in order. Finalize your year-end numbers and start setting goals for the upcoming year, both professionally and personally.
Refill the empty folders in your office that need forms. Order more for your stock room so you are ready for the year. Fill up your printer with more paper and change your ink cartridges.
Wipe down the dusty pictures. Disinfect your keyboard and mouse. Pre-sign some basic forms you will need on your next deal. Basically, spend the idle time prepping for the next “storm.” This will keep you focused on something positive and not allow your mind to focus on how slow it is.
It is all about keeping your attitude positive and your outlook bright. Doing incremental things daily will build the mental toughness you need to survive the calm after the storm.
Go forth and profit!
Justin Gasman (left) is financial service director at McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC in Boulder, CO.