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Buy/sell market remains robust amid industry trends – Willie Beck | Bel Air Partners

The buy/sell market appears to be continuing at a high activity level. Co-Managing Partner of Bel Air Partners Willie Beck joins us on this edition of Inside Automotive to discuss valuations and the market’s future.  

Key Takeaways 

1. The buy/sell market for car dealerships remains robust and active. Beck mentions the closure of several transactions and the upcoming launches of new deals, indicating sustained interest and activity in the market despite any economic fluctuations.

2. The automotive market is demonstrating remarkable resilience as it normalizes after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This resilience is evident in the return to pre-pandemic inventory levels and the strategic pricing adjustments made by dealers to attract consumers. Interest rates are also playing a role in pricing, with some sellers adjusting their expectations, further indicating the market’s adaptability.

3. Valuations of dealerships are a complex process, influenced by a combination of pre-COVID performance, current market conditions, and future outlooks. Beck elucidates that buyers take into account not just the current market conditions but also the historical data and future earning potential of a store. This comprehensive approach to valuation underscores the depth of analysis in the industry.

4. Certain brands, particularly luxury and high-demand models like Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus, and Land Rover, are receiving significant interest and commanding top prices. Conversely, brands like Nissan and certain domestic brands are seeing less interest, particularly in smaller markets where throughput may not justify the investment.

5. The rise of EVs is a topic of interest, but some dealers are hesitant due to infrastructure challenges and market readiness. The discussion also touched on self-driving technology and its slower-than-expected adoption. Despite these challenges, dealers are prepared to sell whatever their customers demand, indicating a flexible approach to future market trends. 

"When you put a valuation on a store today, you look at what happened before COVID, what's currently happening, and what's the outlook for the brand in that particular market." – Willie Beck

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