When old issues seem to have gone away, they can crop up again. Sometimes they are good ideas that have been ignored. Sometimes they are practices that you hope have disappeared but that come back again.
Just when it seemed momentum had turned the tide on stair-step incentives, they're back as strong as ever.
Doesn't anyone remember last year? Tight inventories, high grosses and good times were had by all. Automakers did not chase sales with production that didn't make sense then dump vehicles on dealership lots and offer all sorts of incentives to move them.
Doesn't anyone ever learn?
As soon as some executives saw good sales numbers for a couple of months, they cranked up production, loaded those vehicles onto dealership lots and were off chasing increases in market share. Once again, self-control seems to be out the window.
Stair-step incentives are back in fashion, and no one seems happy. Before long, someone will hold a seminar on how to turn your dealership into a rough house for fun and profit.
Memories in the car business are short. Whatever lessons were learned last year and the previous few years were forgotten when there was a chance to pick up a point of market share.
That amazes me. There were some good lessons learned, only to be discarded when temptation came along and it was easy to fall into the old ways of doing business.
Profit is a great incentive, but no one seems exempt from the incentives offered by the factory. The quest for market share seems to have overridden any thoughts of fiscal conservatism.
Everyone seems to be chasing the gold ring. But if they're not careful, they will fall off the merry-go-round and permanently hurt themselves.
How do you get in the way of an industry that seems intent on recreating all the sins of yesterday? It looks like we're going to see a sprint to the finish line this year, and financials be damned.
Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks, but it will go back to its bad habits quickly.