Automotive, Education, Insights

The industry’s long pause: your chance to recover (better)

By Andrew Tai - Dec 17, 2020

For the past few months, we’ve heard something from dealers that we haven’t experienced before: “We want to do more with digital retailing, but we have no inventory.”

It varies by OEM and region, but our conversations with dealers increasingly sound like a chat with the miner who showed up too late to the California Gold Rush; the supply has dried up.

This is particularly frustrating in a time when, as I wrote last month, sales among certain demographics are on the rise despite downward market pressures. People are willing to buy, but there aren’t enough cars to go around. What can be done?

Well, the first thing to remember is that this is temporary. We all know that, at least on an academic level. But it sometimes doesn’t feel like the months of lockdowns, supply shortages, and other setbacks will ever be over -- especially with many regions re-entering total shutdown.

Things will return to normal, though, and it’ll seem to happen overnight. Suddenly, the world will be open again and you’ll wonder if COVID was just a singularly weird dream. When that happens, those dealers who made the most of their downtime will have a clear advantage over those who sat back and waited.

If you aren’t able to sell cars right now, then you have an unusual opportunity to redirect your efforts elsewhere. This could be as simple as showroom improvements or even a deep-cleaning of the staff room. But there’s more you could be doing.

A prolonged period of light workloads is the ideal time to introduce new training to your staff on new technologies, particularly those technologies that you might have fallen behind on.

At Motoinsight, we have introduced a weekly training webinar to help our clients brush up on their digital retailing skills so that they can hit the ground sprinting when customers and inventory once again reach parity. Dealerships who don’t yet have digital retailing, though, are in a great position to make the switch.

In the past six months, hundreds of dealerships in North America have jumped headfirst into digital retailing so that they could continue selling cars even when showrooms were closed. When inventory issues are resolved, those digitally-enabled shops are going to have a leg-up on the competition right out of the gate – and they’re only going to accelerate from there. Here’s why.

Back in the spring, Frost & Sullivan released their COVID Auto Assessment Briefing, a comprehensive report outlining the impacts and remedies of the global pandemic upon the automotive industry. Even back then, they accurately predicted the supply limitations we’re now experiencing.

But even as Frost & Sullivan projected severe inventory shortages and interruptions in consumer demand, they also identified the key driver of growth that would repair the industry: digital retailing.

According to this report, digital retailing is ideally positioned to aid the recovery of the automotive industry in the months to come. But it’s important to remember that digital retailing, like any sales process, requires training and commitment.

That’s why this is the perfect time either to re-train your team on your digital retailing tools, or to implement an all-new platform in your dealership. Get set-up while things are slow, and begin training your staff on their new, improved way of selling cars. That way, you’ll be ready to win when things return to normal.

Dealerships face a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a major change without interrupting their daily operations. You can be a different dealership when things return to normal than you were when the world went on pause. What are you going to do with this opportunity?

Andrew Tai is the CEO and co-founder of Motoinsight, but his influence extends far beyond the company. A contributing columnist to The Globe and Mail and a prolific speaker, Andrew is a recognized authority on digital retailing within the automotive industry. Connect with him today to learn how your dealership is going to change, or see the future yourself at

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