As most of you know, I am part of the third generation of Snyder’s at the Checkered Flag Automotive Group. My grandfather founded the company in 1964 after he himself was part of another third generation of Snyder’s at a department store we used to own in Downtown Norfolk since the late 1800’s (closed in 1969). He is the wisest man I know. He was born before the Great Depression and only has the kind of memories one can have of that time when you’re not even a teenager. He has lived through a few recessions and has had to make some tough business decisions in all of them. He has been the top operator, in both businesses, most of his life. Many of our recent conversations have revolved around the current economic issues and just how unpredictable things are.
Checkered Flag has made some serious moves toward the lean side in efforts of survivability. My grandfather says it is too hard to envision what the next month may bring. The turmoil in the market, changing gas prices, mass lay-offs and consumer fears have turned any future strategizing on its heels. He said he has never witnessed anything like this before. This is a frightening statement from a man who is so grounded and experienced.
I know Virginia is only a small microcosm of what is happening across the United States. The VADA (Virginia Automobile Dealers Association) recently met with Southern Virginia dealers to discuss what they should do should a manufacturer declare bankruptcy. It was the first non-pep-rally meeting from the VADA. I heard it sent the Chrysler dealers out with a lot more gray hair.
I bring these examples up to let you know that we are also in the same boat a lot of you are in.
I just don’t know, and I don’t think anyone does.
I speak to a lot of people around the nation on a daily basis. Lately I’ve been receiving at least 2 emails a day from various Internet Managers, or vendors, asking how to get a dealer principle to not cut such and such product. I have been asking that same question myself. So, I want to put it out in the open: Where do we draw the line on what to cut and what not to cut? Bring your comments!
If you’re worth your salt at all, you probably leaned your Internet budgets out before things in the market ever got bad – this is just something any good operator would constantly be working on. I’m sure most of you have a threshold for a quarterly performance closing ratio that you hold all your lead vendors to. You gauge your SEM spending based on the number of clicks you get based on past trends. You look at your people based on their closing ratio and have numerous measuring tools for your own website.
I’d like to see this turn into a thread of comments that can help all of us find some direction in this crazy market. Let’s talk about:
- Reporting – using it to show value before just saying “kill it”
- Statistics – where are you falling off? Maybe we can help show why.
- Conversion – is a different consumer attitude killing your conversion ratios?
- Branding – what is a performance-based ad and where do you continue to brand?
- Consumerism – it has changed. We are dealing with a totally different buyer now.
Anything else you want to discuss