Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers' Association president: 'Right mix on the lot' can help with predicted flat sales for 2019

This year is off to a strong start, but for the auto industry, there will likely be some hurdles in 2019 that dealers will have to overcome if they want to come out on top.

Lou Vitantonio, president of Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers' Association, spoke with Mega Dealer News about how his dealers plan to counter predicted 2019 trends, such as flat sales and an increase in sales of used vehicles.

“I don’t think that this will have a great effect on dealers currently because we rely on new and used sales every day," Vitantonio told Mega Dealer News. “In our market, we measure 21 counties in Northern Ohio, which is about 280 dealers in our association, our breakdown for used sales is 45 percent and new sales are 65 percent, so they complement each other. There is also the fact that a lot of vehicles are coming off a lease - those are also used vehicles coming off the market to be resold, and people are adjusting to that."

The Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association (GCADA) is made up of nearly 300 dealers and is already looking to the projected trends for the new year and what they may mean for business.

AutoNews.com reports car sales have been on the rise over the last five years, but projections are that sales will be flat in 2019, a challenge to dealers who will have to ensure that their businesses can still remain profitable in the midst of such a difficult climate.

“When we do have flat sales, we have to work to make sure we have a good balance between new and used and see if there are opportunities to find vehicles that customers are desiring to supplement the sales of new vehicles being flat,” Vitantonio said. “We thought 2018 was going to be a flat year, and we certainly think that 2019 is going to be flat or down. You just have to have the right mix on the lot and continue to earn as much as you possibly can.”

Most important for dealers to remember, however, is to continue running a tight ship, regardless of ever-changing trends in the auto industry.

“In the over 20 years I’ve been around auto dealerships, I’ve found that we really just need to look at our expense structures, how we’re spending money, whether those are providing return-on-investments, having a level of customer service, and making sure that the systems in place are still valuable moving forward and then adjust accordingly,” Vitantonio said.

AutoNews.com reports the depreciation rate is expected to be higher than last year's 12.4 percent, with it topping out at 15 percent in 2019. Additionally, while sales will be flat in general, SUV sales are expected to be on the rise this year.

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Organizations in this story

Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers' Association 9150 S Hills Blvd Broadview Heights, OH 44147