At least one of the publics is still in expansion mode. Lithia Motors Inc. reported a 19.8 percent increase in total net income per diluted share for the third quarter. In a trend that has been evident for some time, the main drivers of growth were same store used vehicles sales – up 14 percent; F&I per unit up 7.3 percent; and service, body, and parts up 9.5 percent. New vehicle retail sales rose 4.6 percent.
Lithia will use some of that income to continue to acquire franchises, president and CEO Bryan DeBoer indicated. “The acquisition market remains robust and we are well positioned to accelerate our growth strategy in the coming quarters,” he said.
Before acquiring a franchise, every buyer should make sure that business is in full compliance with the FTC Safeguards Rule requiring financial institutions – which includes dealerships – to have measures in place to protect customer data. Not doing so could be costly, writes Kevin Timmons of Bellavia Blatt in this week’s issue. That means making sure the dealership’s customer information is secure at every level, from paper to personnel to digital. Safeguards range from having strong locks on cabinets to having strong passwords to making sure software is updated regularly.
One increasingly vulnerable area at dealerships is the IT department. This week, we revisit an excellent column by Rick White on five steps to prevent what he refers to as “online mayhem.”
And of course we have Transaction News.