Zeigler Auto Group of Kalamazoo, Mich., significantly improved its used-to-new ratio in 2021 beyond the 1-to-1 ratio it posted for 2020, company President Aaron Zeigler told Automotive News. Zeigler rose nine spots to No. 23, retailing 29,604 used vehicles last year vs. 20,920 in 2020 — a 42 percent increase.
Dramatically increasing used-vehicle inventory became a point of concentration for the group in May 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, Zeigler said. The focus persisted into 2021 with the chip shortage and constrained new-vehicle supply.
"Almost everything that we knew about the used-car business changed," Zeigler said. "Historically, used cars have depreciated. All of a sudden, they started appreciating, so they were going up in value instead of down over time."
In previous years, Zeigler Automotive cleared out used cars after 60 days in stock, aiming to avoid losses from their depreciation. But throughout 2021, as cars rose in value, even after 90 or 120 days in stock, Zeigler relaxed that 60-day rule.
The group didn't escape the difficult task of finding used inventory, however: It bought cars at auction, sought trade-ins, purchased vehicles in bulk and worked out deals with some automakers to buy vehicles coming off lease.
Purchasing a dealership in Indiana and four in Wisconsin in 2021 gave the group a "little bit of a bump in volume," Zeigler said.
Step One Automotive Group's used-to-new ratio also improved as its stores concentrated on selling used vehicles. The group based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., entered the list at No. 82, retailing 11,307 used vehicles in 2021, up 54 percent.
In 2021, the group sold 1.1 used vehicles for each new vehicle sold — up from 0.7 two or three years ago, CEO Fernando Arellano Geddes told Automotive News.
"Overall, the used cars allowed us not only to keep the performance of the volume but also overcome performance versus 2019," Geddes said. "It's a key, key component."