2019 was a strong year for used car dealers in the US. The market was just ahead of 2018, with approximately a third (36.9%) of dealers reporting improvement year over year, and a smaller proportion (32.2%) finding conditions tougher. But if you polled a room of franchise and independent dealers how their year went, you’ll get a mixed response. 46% of franchise dealers reported improvements in their market over 2018, but only 32% of independent dealers agreed.
Built around a survey of nearly 1,000 independent and franchise car dealers and our annual Dealer Council meeting, the inaugural CarGurus One Voice Report examines topics set to be key to retailer performance in 2020. A few challenges all used dealers faced in 2019 include:
- Inventory is getting harder to source: 76% of used dealers found it more difficult to source the inventory they wanted in the last 12 months compared to 2018.
- Dealers have their minds set on online financing: Half of the dealers surveyed expect online finance completion to trend in 2020. But used car market is still a long way from a fully digital sales process—68.3% said customers had only used the phone or email to contact the dealer before they entered the showroom.
- The urban/rural divide is effecting hybrid and fully-electric vehicle (EV) adoption: Urban dealers are feeling the heat of consumer interest and expect buyers to completely skip over hybrids to EVs. On the other hand, rural dealers believe they have a long way to go before there’s an even reasonable uptick in EV interest.
- Employee recruiting is getting harder, but retention is easing: 38.6% of those that took part in the CarGurus One Voice Report said recruitment was either more difficult or much more difficult than in 2018. But, more than a quarter also said retention improved in 2019.
To read more, download the full inaugural CarGurus One Voice Report.