CDK Global

Whether you consider summer starting on Memorial Day, the last day of school, or the official start on June 20, it starts at dealerships much sooner. Millions of families are planning their vacations, and according to experts at The Vacationer, nearly 80% of people say they’re planning a road trip this summer. Memorial Day road travel was the busiest in 20 years according to AAA.

The automotive retail industry is known for long-held stereotypes about its workers and roles. To say it’s a misunderstood industry is an understatement at best. Nearly 2 million people were employed in the motor vehicle industry over the last 18 years, contributing to this multitrillion-dollar sector’s success, and dealerships are a big part of it.

The all-American pastime of the summer road trip is alive and well. The Transportation Department reported travel rose to over 3 trillion miles in 2023, setting a new yearly record and topping pre-pandemic levels for the first time. All predictions point to 2024 beating that already sky-high number.

As the electric vehicle revolution propels forward, dealers across the country are coming to terms with learning, selling and servicing a new class of vehicles that many consumers have never driven and show little interest in.

CDK has covered the state of the EV landscape from the EV shopper, the ownership experience and the impact on dealership service in three studies over the past year.

Nothing can steer your auto dealership off course faster than poor accounting practices. And it’s not just about the importance of accurate numbers to chart a course to survival and success.

It’s harder than ever to find qualified hires capable of handling today’s accounting software and reporting requirements. Then there’s the growing complexity of managing costs, accounts payable, accounts receivable, P&Ls and balance sheets.

When you spend your days servicing and repairing vehicles, it’s easy to forget that most people know very little about the cars they rely on to get them where they need to go every day. No wonder there’s a lot of confusion — and often suspicion — when a customer in for an oil change is presented with a list of additional recommended services. The customer is certainly going to demand an explanation, and that’s where many franchised Service departments are falling behind.

The heady days of low inventory and high profit margins have eased into a more normal buyer’s market. As the market comes back down to earth, so have dealership sales and revenue. That’s making dealerships rethink Sales staffing levels.

In the CDK Friction Points 2024 Study, Sales Representative headcount is much closer to pre-pandemic levels, with dealerships shedding an average of two Sales employees from the previous year. That’s a full headcount less than before the pandemic.

As car shoppers and dealers adjust to the electric vehicle phenomenon, they’re looking for answers to questions about the inevitable road to an all-electric future. Commercial charging stations are popping up at banks, parking garages and along highways to meet the increasing number of EVs on the road but despite the progress questions remain.

Some roadblocks, whether the range or the not-so-affordable price tags, have impacted recent consumer demand and seemingly endless headlines.

So, who exactly is the owner already behind the EV wheel?