October was a dud.
When employee pricing stopped, so did sales. Sales dropped even for the companies that didn't have big incentive programs.
Now, everyone is searching for the next big idea, something that costs little or nothing for the manufacturer and the dealer. It should be something that generates enthusiasm in the marketplace, something that creates floor traffic.
I think the industry had it and lost it.
The best part of the recent employee pricing promotion that was started by General Motors and followed by others was the fixed price on new cars and trucks.
Most folks don't object to automobile dealers making a profit on the cars and trucks they sell. What bothers most people is that they might pay a lot more than their neighbor or the guy at work.
When employee pricing came along, not only were there some good incentives, but for the first time ever, there was a fixed price on a car.
No more haggling. If you wanted to haggle, you could argue over the trade-in, but the basic price of the new vehicle was set by the factory.
Everyone I talked to loved it. They said they finally could be comfortable inside a car dealership. And they were right.
Perhaps the time has come for a new way to put the factory's list price on the Monroney label. There is no reason an automaker can't create a manufacturer's suggested retail price that is the "price."
There always will be dealers who insist they would be leaving thousands of dollars on the table with a fixed price. I don't think so.
If we want the stature of the automobile retailer to make a quantum jump in the eyes of the consumer, this would do it.
And having a fixed price might be just the thing to attract buyers who have avoided buying a new car because they didn't like the hassle.
It just might work and just might change the image of the car dealer.
Keith Crain is publisher and editor-in-chief of Automotive News.