I am in China this week for the annual meeting of the China Automotive Dealers Association. I am struck by how familiar some of the themes here sound. Chinese dealers are faced with slowing new vehicle sales, shrinking margins, and a growing reliance on income from used car sales and fixed operations.
There is an international session every year at this meeting, where the executives from other countries’ dealership associations give presentations. Listening to a talk today by Antje Woltermann, director of the German Federation for Motor Trades and Repairs, EU, I was struck by how fortunate dealers in the United States are to have such strong franchise laws backing them.
Antje said that Volkswagen aims to cancel the contracts of a significant portion of VW dealers because it believes the way people buy cars is changing and it aims to take over the sales function. She believes VW will be successful in this move.
Despite the shrinking margins at U.S. dealerships, becoming a dealer principal is still a dream for many. This week, I profile John Buelow, a former contributor to Automotive Buy Sell Report who is now owner of a growing dealership group.
At this writing, he still only owns one dealership, but he indicated that count would quickly grow. Read this week’s story to find out what he is looking for.
I frequently harp on the topic of U.S. dealers not doing enough to prepare for the way the new car retail market is changing. I found that many here have the same worries regarding Chinese dealers.
It seems manufacturers are also not adapting their dealership image programs to future realities. In this issue, Miguel Yelos San Martin discusses how he sees dealership design needs changing and how manufacturers have ignored his earlier suggestions that they begin changing dealership design now to be ready for the coming changes.
And we have, of course, Transaction News.