Here are two lessons learned in the downturn that Kucharski said dealers can put to work in the recovery.
1. Lesson learned: Franchised new-vehicle dealers -- and auto lenders -- turned to used-car sales to make up for the drop in new-vehicle sales.
"Franchised dealers account for 35 to 38 percent, call it 37 percent of used cars. That's what kept you in business in the meltdown. A lot of dealers that had an imbalance in their business really learned how to sell used cars," Kucharski said to an audience that included many F&I managers.
How dealerships can put it to work: Selling -- and, not incidentally, helping finance -- used cars represents a big opportunity, Kucharski said, even for private car sales.
"There's titling, etc., etc., … all those things consumers don't want to deal with. If someone wants to sell their car to someone else, you might be able to facilitate that sale and put yourself in a position to make some money along the way."
2. Lesson learned: Commercial customers hang on to their vehicles when the economy is bad. "Those trucks are coming in awfully tired, with 150,000, 200,000 miles," Kucharski said.
How dealerships can put it to work: Sell, and facilitate financing for, more cars and trucks to small-business customers who use their vehicles for work, including small fleet customers and individual buyers.
"There's a tremendous amount of pent-up demand," Kucharski said. "If your lender is not focused on that commercial lending, you're missing a tremendous opportunity in that space."
After the presentation, Kucharski said in a brief interview that Ally has encouraged the dealers it does business with to contact prospects who may want to finance vehicles for business use.
"There's confidence in the economy," he said.