On this episode of Inside Automotive, Chad Martin, President of Martin Management Group, joins host Jim Fitzpatrick to discuss the car business and Black representation in retail automotive. Martin Management Group is one of the largest Black-owned dealers in the U.S., with nearly 20 dealerships and service stations. Recently, the group added three new stores in as little as four months.
Most dealerships have performed surprisingly well over the last three years, benefiting from new vehicle scarcity, low interest rates and pent up demand. However, as manufacturers continue to ramp up production and the Federal Reserve continues its dis-inflationary measures, retailers are wondering whether the market is returning to normal. Martin believes the answer is somewhat complicated. “Varying by manufacturer, we’ve seen a larger day supply come into play,” he remarks. Martin also notes that dealers are exercising more care in the acquisition process, as they seek to balance their cash flow with high interest rates.
The car business is also changing on the consumer side as well. Martin notes that dealers now need to compete on more than just brand. Car buyers are more interested in getting the model they want in a reasonable amount of time, meaning dealers will need to compete with each other in terms of inventory, pricing and efficiency. “It’s becoming a lot more of a dance,” Martin comments.
While the industry is undeniably more diverse than it once was, the lack of minority representation in retail automotive is still a key issue which organizations like the National Association of Minority Auto Dealers are trying to shed more light on. However, Martin notes that manufacturers and retailers are working closely together to improve communication on the subject, while they look for new dealers to enter the space. “There is opportunity now to change some of the thinking about how we want the dealer body to look…” he explains. However, Martin acknowledges that work still remains, and expresses hope that the industry will work towards removing some of the barriers surrounding store ownership.