As I work with buy here, pay here dealers throughout the nation, I often get questions on how they can improve their profits and cash flow. Surprisingly, the answers to these questions are often simple. Dealers must do the following to be successful in the buy here, pay here business today:
1) Educate themselves on new developments and the fatal industry pitfalls which can cost millions of dollars.
2) Network with other dealers to learn from their mistakes and about best operating practices.
3) Control costs and expenses by implementing efficient systems and procedures.
4) Train key personnel and “inspect what they expect” and;
5) Learn to do the “common things, uncommonly well”.
Although many of the items above seem obvious; doing them is the challenge. The quickest way to become better at all of the above is through dealer education. Knowing what to do is the first step toward doing it!
The dealers who tell me that they are too busy “selling cars” to attend dealer education are the same names I see in the business obituaries. Learning what not to do, is as important as learning what to do. There is considerable value in validating your existing policies and practices against those used by other successful operators.
Although we always think that the problems we face each day are unique, dealer networking usually proves they are not. Through networking, dealers often find that others have already solved the problems they face each day. In addition, networking provides a great way to find solutions without utilizing the trial and error approach which can cost you millions of dollars!
Another important way for dealers to keep current on industry events is to read industry trade publications. Awareness of the latest industry legal and regulatory developments is important but awareness of changes in economic and business trends is also needed to plan properly. Once dealers become aware of developments that affect them; they must obtain additional information and an understanding of how to utilize that information for their own benefit. Educational conferences, seminars, and training help dealers obtain important information quickly and efficiently.
Technology is an important part of controlling operating costs and expenses. In the current inflationary economic environment it costs more to do the same things you did last year! Therefore, implementing technology in your operations is critical in minimizing costs and maximizing efficiency.
Although not everyone in the buy here, pay here business follows the same business model, certain models are more profitable than others. Dealers should identify which practices work best for them and implement them prudently. Analysis of historical operating performance can provide valuable insights into making better decisions.
In summary, the dealers who take time for education often prosper while their competitors are failing through trial and error. It has been my experience that, in buy here, pay here, what you know usually won’t hurt you, but what you don’t know can kill you!
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Education!
Kenneth B. Shilson, CPA
Kenneth Shilson, CPA is Managing Partner of Shilson, Goldberg, Cheung and Associates, LLP a Houston based CPA firm which serves the used car industry. He is President of Subprime Analytics which performs electronic portfolio analysis. Mr. Shilson is also the founder of the National Alliance of Buy Here, Pay Here Dealers (NABD). For further information on this training, visit the NABD website at www.bhphinfo.com or call (713) 290-8171.