Few dealerships employ someone strictly as an inventory manager, but one day the job title may be as common as that of used-car manager and finance and insurance manager.
Inventory usually is a dealership's largest capital investment, so it makes sense to put a skillful someone solely in charge of it. That is why Resource Automotive, which traces its lineage to the founder of F&I, is proposing the modern-day position of inventory manager, reporting directly to the general manager or dealer.
Because of inventory management's importance and growing complexity, it's not the sort of job that simply should be an added responsibility, says Mark H. Mishler, president and COO of Aon Warranty Group, of which Resource is a division.
Parent company Aon Corp.'s chairman is Pat Ryan, whom Mishler credits as the creator of F&I as a designated dealership department.
“We invented F&I and now we're bringing out this concept which is similar to F&I in that it is a designated position,” he says. “We think dealerships need inventory managers.”
Resource is offering a week-long training course for what it calls dealer inventory profit managers who would be in charge of new-vehicle ordering, used-unit procurements, appraisals and wholesale transactions.
The training program includes how proficiently to use inventory-management software. Resource calls its particular computer system ResourceVIP.
It takes data from dealer-management systems, and processes it to track and sort what sells best and fastest by make, model, color and year. Also reported are inventory turnover rates, market demands, vehicle aging, price points, gross margins and other profit- and sales-related data.
Resource research indicates that getting the most out of such systems requires a singular focus.
There are various inventory-management computer systems on the market. They especially are useful for tracking used-car inventory activities.
Many used-car managers are stunned to discover the differences between what they think is happening with their inventory vs. what is actually happening, as revealed by the computerized tracking.
“We asked some used-car managers what they thought were their five top sellers,” says Mishler. “Then we clicked on the ResourceVIP results. None of the vehicles they thought were top sellers were on the screen. They were shocked.”
Mishler notes accurate knowledge of customer demands allows for more sensible procurements and, in turn, faster sales and higher profits.
“It's the power of precision,” he says.