Recently I spent time with some dealer friends, and it struck me again why some franchises are strong and powerful and some just don't seem to have it together.
Cars and trucks are still sold and serviced one at a time.
Everyone should understand how the business operates. Aside from a handful of people like Enterprise Rent-A-Car CEO Andy Taylor, most people buy cars one at a time. And that's how they get them serviced.
As obvious as that seems, I am amazed at how many people on the automaker side still don't get it. When you're making cars by the thousands or your boat arrives with hundreds of vehicles, it must be tough to try to understand the dealers' point of view.
But if you spend time on the retail side, you know very quickly how this business works.
Customers who buy some Chevrolet Corvette models -- and who have the time and an extra $5,800 -- can come to the GM Performance Build Center in suburban Detroit and build the high-performance engines that then will be installed in their own cars when they're assembled. I am sure the customers will realize the enormity of the engine-building operation.
Everything on the manufacturing side seems enormous. Anyone who has been in a stamping plant knows the power of those presses. And the bigness keeps on going until a car leaves the assembly plant.
Then it all changes. A big dealership might have a few hundred vehicles in inventory. But even that large dealership lot seems small compared to some holding lots at the factory.
Auto executives who have worked in a retail environment have an advantage because they know how it works with the customer.
I've always thought that every auto executive -- especially in sales and marketing -- should have to spend at least a week in a dealership dealing with customers.
It would make a great education for a lot of people who don't understand that even after all these years, it's still one at a time.