Dealers who just a few months ago may have been reluctant to plan for the future could be shifting their perspectives now.
When I asked some dealers about three months ago what they were doing to prepare for the future -- not two years from now but 15 or 20 -- many rattled off a typical list of initiatives, such as improving training, efficiency or online financing capabilities. The ideas were all good, but few addressed an industry on the brink of serious change.
When it came to how a dealership would fit into a model that included autonomous vehicles and short-term car rental services, many dealers I talked with shrugged their shoulders, said it was too soon to think about, or said they would rely on the manufacturer to tell them what to do.
Of course, dealers must focus on their day-to-day operations first, but I was a bit surprised that so few had thought about how the not-too-distant future could affect their business.
But those dealers' stances could have shifted since our conversations. Lately, more dealers have been calling forward-looking experts for guidance, citing the speed of industry change, one source told me.
And when it comes to F&I's role in the future, dealerships could attract more business. Some sources have suggested that dealerships establish banks to finance their vehicles or get involved on the finance side of various mobility solutions.
Whatever changes lie ahead for auto retail, it's unlikely they'll spell doom for dealerships or F&I. But it's worth planning for the future now.