Land Rover dealer: Tight supplies are holding us back
Dealer since: 1987
Dealerships: Land Rover Dallas, Dallas; Land Rover Frisco, Frisco, Texas; Jaguar Land Rover Austin, Austin, Texas
Other brands: Jaguar
Average monthly sales at Land Rover dealerships in 2012: 110 new, 75 used
Quote: "Build more. If we can get more cars, we can sell more."
As the Land Rover brand continues to expand, keeping supply matched to demand has been challenging. A supply shortage will likely continue in 2013, dealers say.
Land Rover dealers could have sold more vehicles last year if they had more product in stock, says Jim Snell, a member of the Land Rover Business Operations Council.
Snell says he expects supply of the redesigned 2013 Range Rover to be especially tight this year given heavy pre-orders for it late last year.
Snell, who owns three Texas Land Rover dealerships, spoke with Staff Reporter Jamie LaReau about the issues ahead for Land Rover dealers.
How was 2012 for dealers?
Another good year. Nationally we're up 15 percent in year-over-year sales. In 2011, we were up 20 percent. So, two good, back-to-back years.
What major issues do Land Rover dealers face this year?
Our biggest continuing issue is availability of product. With our sales increases, we've been fighting to get enough cars. This is the second or third year in a row where I think our sales would have been better if we'd had more product.
In our three stores, we probably could have done 10 percent more sales volume with more availability last year.
All the Land Rovers have become very popular vehicles throughout the world, and the increase in demand in especially China, Russia and India means they struggle to keep up with demand.
Will that continue?
I think it will somewhat. They're putting on an additional shift at the plant that builds the Evoque so that will help. But we had the 2013 redesigned Range Rover just hitting our stores in December 2012. In our three stores, we had in excess of 250 of them pre-sold. So I think availability of the new Range Rover will be a problem for the foreseeable future.
What's happening with the dealer council?
They're combining the Jaguar Business Operations Council and the Land Rover Business Operations Council into a singular committee. About 50 percent of the dealer body is dualed with Jaguar and Land Rover both. It makes sense to combine the two.
Are Land Rover dealers profitable?
Yes, it's been a really good year, some of the best profit we've ever had.
Are they making money on new-car sales?
Our new-car business has been great, and that leads the way, but the used-car business has been good and service business is strong.
Is there a dealership improvement program?
There's a facilities refresh program. If your facility is more than 10 years old, they're asking you to do a refresh, which is just really cosmetic stuff.
A lot of dealers have done it. We've done it in the Dallas store. We're in the process of doing it in the Austin store, and then we'll begin in the Frisco store early this year. It's not terribly expensive.
Does the certified pre-owned program work for dealers? How could it be improved?
It's worked great for us. Land Rover just launched a new certified pre-owned program in 2012 and it carries the warranty out to 100,000 miles. It's been a great deal for us, I can't think of any improvements.
What are Land Rover dealers doing to attract service business?
We have a tire program working very well in our three stores. We're really focusing more on being a one-stop shop: If you need tires, come to us. If you need brakes, come to us. We're not just here to fix things that are broken. So focusing on the maintenance has helped us because our warranty work, with improved quality, has been down.
Is the factory helping?
Land Rover is helping us by offering a roadside assistance program if a person buys tires. They're co-oping some marketing pieces for us with direct mail and service reminders, all that together helps.
What are Land Rover dealers doing to attract more F&I business?
You gotta sell a car before you can get F&I business, but I think our partnership with Chase, who is our private label finance source, has grown stronger. Chase is working with us a little bit better to help us with leasing programs and finance programs.
With all financial institutions, everything is kind of freeing up a little bit, so there's more availability of leasing and financing programs.
We do see more sales of wheel and tire protection. People seem to be upgrading the wheels -- that's a big accessory that people tend to want to personalize -- so wheel and tire protection is a good product for that.
We've also done well with extended service contracts.
How can the factory help you sell more vehicles?
Build more. If we can get more cars, we can sell more.
What's missing in the product lineup?
Everybody wants the Defender back, and hopefully at some point in the next generation of that product it'll come to the United States. I think there's some desire among the dealer body to have a diesel powertrain, and I think that's in the near future, too, within the next several years.