Lessons from the past

  01 September 2015

A wet weekend and some family motivation to rid the house of its junk saw me up in the loft last Sunday. I don’t know about you but there are some darker recesses of that roof space that haven’t been visited for a few decades.

Why do we all horde magazines? In one corner were my old copies of Automotive Management – covering the period 1996 to the turn of the millennium when many of the team now working on Auto Retail Network was producing (in my opinion) the best newspaper this industry has ever seen.

Browsing through the pages (well, I wasn’t going to just throw them away), I was struck by how familiar most of the stories seemed to be:

“PCP buyers in negative equity fears”

“Car supermarket chain calls in receivers”

“XXX (insert brand name of your choice) plans volume sales push”

“Pre-reg numbers hit new heights”

And that was just from one issue in July 1989. The point I’m trying to make is: apart from the advent of the online customer, which was still in its infancy at the time, nothing much fundamental about the industry has changed. The business challenges that face auto retailers trying to stay in profit are the same as they were 15 or 20 years ago.

Whether this is a comforting thought as we move into one of the busiest weeks of the year will probably depend on which franchise you’re selling. But, provided you focus on the basics and don’t get too carried away by all the hype, there’s every chance you’ll still be around in another 15 or 20 years’ time.

Meanwhile, enjoy September.

Rupert Saunders
Managing director
Auto Retail Agenda

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