Mike Cimino, vice president of Phil Long Dealerships in Colorado Springs, Colo., says his group has made a lot of changes in the way it runs its used-vehicle department in recent years.
In 2009 the group started trading used vehicles among its 19 dealerships and soon reduced the average used-vehicle inventory turn from 60 days to 30 days. The group also began sending to auction any used car or used truck that did not sell after 60 days on the lot.
Those practices, born during the recession and nurtured over the years, helped the Phil Long group increase sales of used cars and trucks by 11 percent in 2013, to 8,529. Through mid-March, 2014 used-vehicle sales were up about 30 percent, to around 1,200.
"During the recession you only had so much cash and you managed your assets better," Cimino says. "We found when we did that the cars were fresher, inventory had more sizzle, and managers were more accountable. Everybody became smarter in this business."
New-vehicle sales took center stage last year, but used-vehicle sales are still a big deal at the biggest public and private dealership groups. That fact is documented in Automotive News' latest list of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States based on 2013 new-vehicle sales.
Of the groups on the list, only 17 reported that they sold fewer used vehicles in 2013 than in 2012, and 66 increased used-vehicle sales by 10 percent or more.
Phil Long ranked No. 118 in new-vehicle sales and No. 66 in used-vehicle sales.