Dealers should be opportunists in the year of clunkers

Automotive News | January 20, 2012 - 10:25 am EST

My car is 4 years old, yet it’s practically a “spring chicken” on today’s roads.

In fact, the average age of light vehicles on U.S. roads is nearly 11 years, according to a study by automotive research firm Polk.

But these road antiques present a lot of opportunity to dealers beyond the obvious chance to get some folks out of their aging clunkers and into a hot new ride.

Sure, new-vehicle sales, already predicted to rise this year, could grow even more than expected now.

But the service and F&I guys should be salivating, too.

I spoke to the service director of a major dealership group who could hardly contain himself after reading about the new Polk data.

With smart marketing, effective use of social media and aggressive service guarantees, many dealers are primed to win increased service business for such work as tire sales, brake repairs, new clutches or transmissions, he told me.

And once a dealer gets those customers in the shop, there is a chance to sell them a highly profitable extended-service contract right there in the service bay. And that guarantees they return.

In short, it could prove to be an interesting year for dealers who appear poised to make money on either end as the average vehicle on the road creeps closer to its end.

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.

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