Automotive dealers: Forecasting to fail

Harry Bott

Written by Harry Bott

Category: Data and analytics Sector: Automotive

As part of running a business we all love to make comparisons to understand how we’re performing compared to previous periods. One of the key comparisons is year on year analysis.

The challenge facing retailers is that 2021 was such an exceptionally good year for sales. If you forecasted an increase on 2021, then you could well be feeling queasy. With the current year on year comparison and sales now dropping to pre-pandemic levels, any dealers basing their projections based on last year’s levels are in danger of forecasting their sales to fail.

It’s well worth standing back and reviewing the fundamentals:

  • New stock is still tight, but we’re seeing certain models coming through which is reducing the effects of this.
  • The used market is definitely more subdued, but I would argue that we’re back to a more usual June market. Compare your sales in June to 2019 to see the difference.

I’m in danger of sounding like a stuck record, but dealers’ complacency around telephone leads is still a huge problem. Around 60% of sales leads for car retailers come exclusively from the phone.

“Around 60% of sales leads for car retailers come exclusively from the phone.”

Senior management teams have become obsessed with digital sales, but when you actually look at the percentage of end-to-end digital sales, this is still miniscule as a percentage of overall sales. It can be argued that Covid-19 has changed the way consumers interact with dealers. However, what hasn’t changed is that customers will still use the phone as their primary method of contact.

Many dealers have stopped being ‘phone fit’ and this exacerbates their feeling that we’re operating in a challenging market. The phone is undervalued as channel. If you want to succeed, then you need to understand how important it is, and handle your inbound calls correctly.

How phone fit is your dealership? Check your calls are being managed properly by using received call alerts. Every time you receive an inbound call from a sales source, you can immediately listen to it – or, using speech analytics – instantly identify high priority calls, check that they’ve been entered into your lead management system, and followed up on. If you want more ideas and help to become phone fit, get in touch.

Headline Autotrader figures

  • 2022 stock MoM 34.4% increase, YoY 57.0% decrease
  • 2021 stock, MoM 4.4% increase, YoY 19.9% decrease
  • 2020 stock MoM 1.2% decrease, YoY 17.8% decrease
  • Total market MoM 0.1% decrease, YoY 2.8% increase

Top 5 brands by market share of 2021 stock

  • BMW 11.3%
  • Audi 10.8%
  • VW 10.4%
  • Ford 6.9%
  • Mercedes 5.9%

Enjoy the new quarter and hopefully you’ll get some holiday. But do make sure you find some time to review your projections and make sure you are not forecasting to fail.

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Harry Bott

Written by

Harry Bott


Harry has over 20 years of experience helping marketers generate a better response from their marketing. He enables businesses to improve their conversion rates through his consultative approach and deep understanding across various sectors, including automotive and care homes.

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