Every experienced dealer has decisions or actions they’ve made over the years where they wish they had a “do over.” This roundtable discussion involved about a half-dozen participants, but produced some interesting thoughts.

  • Pay more attention to hiring quality parts people. One dealer asked, “Who has more contact with your customers than your parts counter people?” With that, this industry veteran says that knowing what he does today, he would give a lot more attention to the people he employed in his parts department. “They must absolutely be able to relate to people. If I could hire someone who worked for Nordstrom for 10 years, I’d grab them in a minute.”
  • No more 1-year rolls. “I would put a lot of effort into discouraging roll programs,” offered another dealer. “You don’t really make money until the second or third roll, which means 2 or 3 years. They can leave you with a lot of used inventory and they create ‘fictitious market share.’
  • Build a new facility when business is slow. “It would seem to go against conventional wisdom, but we should have built our new facility when things slowed down. But we were too conservative and waited until business was great. We built it when we were too busy, which distracted us from what we should have been doing: paying attention to customers. We were spread too thin and didn’t have time to pay attention to the building details either.”
  • Take care of good employees. “I was young and thought I knew better, but I had a great young guy working for me. He had a college education and he did everything well — sales, service, customer contact. But I looked at him like he was a threat to me and treated him badly and he eventually left. I wish I had 10 guys like him today.”
  • Carry fewer product lines. “Over the years we took on a lot of shortline products and didn’t do our homework or product research. We ended up carrying products we didn’t need or our customers didn’t really want. After we sold a few, we felt obligated to hang on to them because we needed to service them. We should have stuck to what we knew best.”