Positive attitude is key to riding through to better times, says dealer

December 28, 2022

Although 2022 proved difficult for dealers because of declining sales of new vehicles, used car values dropping and soaring interest rates, one general manager is looking on the bright side.

Carson Grant, GM of Comox Valley Dodge in Courtenay, B.C., is maintaining an upbeat attitude.“There’s a lot of stores that are out there that are hurting, something (good) needs to happen, and it will,” said Grant in a year-end interview with Canadian auto dealer. “That’s the best thing about the car industry. It’s relentless, and that’s why it is so unique. It takes a unique person to see success in the industry and we’re super lucky to be in this.

“We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through the 2009 (experience) where we didn’t have any money and now it’s just a little bit of a different correction. It’s actually very exciting because it makes us dealers better.”

He said part of the reason for his positive attitude is that he doesn’t want to scare his team.

“If they are starting to second-guess themselves and they start squeezing the stick a little bit, it just doesn’t work,” said Grant. “I was really proud of my team, even though we didn’t make the same amount of profits as 2021 and sell the same amount of vehicles. It was definitely harder to sell vehicles, but my team grew as individuals and overcame obstacles that were thrown at them that they weren’t used to. I feel year over year we’ve got a stronger team, so I see that as a big win.”

He said November was probably the worst month his store has experienced since COVID-19 and December is tracking in that direction “unless something magical happens” in the final few days. He said one of his strategies is moving from radio advertising to TV.

“It’s going to be more expensive, but it will be more impactful if I can jump at it and be that dealer that is leading the charge,” said Grant. “An old saying is, ‘the only way to fight intimidation is with intimidation’. If we sit back on our heels and we’re playing defence all the time, there’s nothing really good that’s going to come out of that.

“Moving forward into the new year, I know a lot of dealers are looking at budgets—and obviously I do as well—but they are looking to cut and save expenses,” said Grant. “I kind of go in the opposite direction. I want to invest in my team in training to prepare them for when the market turns around.”

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