In December of last year, Feldman Automotive Group celebrated the grand opening of their 19th dealership; the first freestanding Jeep dealership in Southeast Michigan. The group runs 13 stores in Michigan and partnered with actor Mark Wahlberg to open an additional six locations in Ohio. In the second part of this Inside Automotive interview, Jay Feldman, the group’s chairman and CEO, sits down with host Jim Fitzpatrick to discuss the state of the industry and how dealerships are changing with the times. To watch the first part of this interview, click here.
Feldman notes that affordability is an issue facing both his business and its customers. High interest rates have raised monthly financing payments to all-time highs, while car prices broke records in 2022. Although the Federal Reserve has hinted they would end interest rate increase by this summer, the impact is likely to be felt by dealerships for a long time.
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Meanwhile, the strain on consumer finances has had negative consequences for vehicle demand. Despite production and manufacturing finally catching up, dealerships in many areas of the country are having a difficult time bringing customers in, as many would rather wait for a market normalization. However, Feldman notes that incentives should be making a return soon, as companies are forced to meet their buyers halfway.
However, while dealerships have struggled over the last few years, the challenge, Feldman notes, has been a good thing. Businesses have been forced to change outdated practices and policies, replacing them with innovative methods that take better care of customers, while saving money and time. Whenever a market normalization occurs, auto-retailers will come back stronger than ever.
The current way manufacturers and dealerships conduct business is vastly different than it was a decade ago, and Feldman notes that practices are only going to change even more as new technology arrives and consumer demand shifts. As the CEO points out, a “customer is a customer,” and auto-retailers will need to focus on treating the buyers of today and tomorrow as best they can.
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