Dealership Success: Crystal Ball vs. Magic-8 Ball vs Data

By Shawn Horswill

In April of 2021, I wrote about stepping back in order to acquire a new perspective on business—and personal—challenges that seem overwhelming. New perspectives can lead to clarity when decisions must be made. As I said then, sometimes you just need a little help from the right people, whether from within your dealership, your OEM reps, or other business partners. But sometimes you find that you just plain need more information to make, well… informed decisions. And the quality of your information is going to have a good deal to do with your success in using it.

Current world events seem to indicate that the near future will hold as many uncertainties as the last two years have. It seems that B2B transactions may be following the retail trend of an increasingly online nature. Covid-related issues have reached “Terminator” status, refusing to go away, and continue to hamper staffing at manufacturing facilities. Rising inflation and global tensions continue as unstoppable forces. Naturally, dealing with the complexities and ambivalence in your inventory supply chain can send you searching for the nearest crystal ball. Which would be lovely, if only there was such a thing.

Or you may try to do business as usual, but we are dealing with the most unusual circumstances. Using outdated strategies to deal with such an uncertain business landscape is like making decisions based on answers from the old Magic 8-Ball. Remember the toy 8-ball that you’d shake up and then one of the multiple answers on a die would show in a window? … “It is certain,” “Reply hazy, try again,” “Don’t count on it.”
Great fun at a cocktail party, but no way to run a business. A more mature approach may be transparency surrounding uncharted environments. Leaders show strength when they admit a new approach may be necessary to thrive in uncertain circumstances.

The most effective way to gain market and behavior insight is through data. Using data really is the best approach to dealership success. Although data is not a crystal ball with a streak-free vision of future events and circumstances, it can give us information that can help formulate both strategic and tactical steps to take to achieve our business goals.
2022 Q1 and Q2 report data show business owners continue to be active, even aggressive buyers. My recommendations would be to ask yourself some questions regarding what data will help you successfully engage those buyers.
Even without a crystal ball, you can determine what data you might need, and use, to handle high demand and low inventory. You can ask yourself what data will help you anticipate and offer solutions for your customer’s problems and help your dealership build long-term relationships.
My parting advice is this; To achieve commercial department success, make sure your data is current and reliable. Good data is indispensable for attracting the best customers, as well as generating and converting high-quality leads.