Welcome to the MTIADA newsletter. Recently elected, I am excited to serve as President of the MTIADA Board of Directors and work diligently for our association. I think I can safely say that as dealers we are very lucky to live and do business in this great state.
Over the last few years, the secret of Montana is not so secret anymore. Troves of people are moving into the state, and for the independent dealer this is good news but also brings more challenges.
Challenges to find and stock your lot with the right inventory at the right price. Challenges to hire employees. Challenges to compete in the advertising marketplace. Challenges to find mechanic or body shops that can squeeze your vehicle in to get it “lot ready”. Challenges in competition from new dealers coming into the State and Challenges on titling your recent acquisitions that you may have had to purchase out of State.
The MTIADA understands these challenges because its members and board of directors are just like you. Not only do we understand these challenges, but we also understand that on a state level there are a whole host of new laws and enforcements that we will have to navigate.
Whether you are a long-time member, a new member, or you are thinking of becoming a member, I hope that when we see each other we can talk about the state of our industry and what MTIADA can do for you as a dealer and a business owner.
It is with great sadness that I return to my computer to write this article. I say that because I wrote what I considered to be one of my finest, most encouraging, straight forward and highly information filled articles ever! Unfortunately, I filed it away on my computer so I could mull it over and decide if it was as good and encouraging as I thought when I wrote it and today, I opened my computer to read it and possibly make corrections before sending it to Camilla and it is gone! I don't have a backup! I checked my brain, and it is gone from there too. Which is something that happens all too often at my age. It is like when I walk into the kitchen, look around, then wonder, “Now what?”
Has this ever happened to you? You have a plan or schedule, and something disrupts it and at the last minute here you are. Now what? I guess I'm guilty of something I have known all my adult life.
I want to succeed but life can get in my way and upset my efforts. Without planning I may find myself at square one all over again because I waited until the last minute to complete my project and it is too late or simply gone.
This last 2 years in the automobile business has been like that. Everything we know about the business especially acquiring the right inventory at the right price for our particular clientele has gone away or the opportunities have diminished considerably, employees are hard to recruit, marketing has changed completely, large corporations are telling people to stay away from us high-pressure dealers and deal direct with them, people can obtain buy bids just by putting their vehicle info online, they can buy online and have the vehicle delivered, new car dealers have become more aggressive in the pre-owned department retailing vehicles they used to wholesale and on and on we go.
So, what do we do? We do what we need to do to succeed! We all have our areas where we are struggling and mainly it is inventory, recon, and staff. When I look around in my travels, I sometimes see two Dealers across from one another and one has a good selection, and the place is hopping with activity and the other one isn't. Why? One is waiting for this to get over and the other is playing with the hand they were dealt and being aggressive in inventory acquisition, marketing and motivating their people. We need to remember that if this business was easy everybody would be able to make it but we all know that isn't the case. So, we do what has always worked. We plan our work and work our plan. No waiting for this to get over or we might not be here when it does. We need to be aggressive in overcoming our weak spots in our business and encouraging and motivating our people. Let's not become a casualty of the pandemic.
Sometimes our best new idea is an old idea that we haven't used lately or forgot we even know. What did we used to do that we can try to make work now? Take a few minutes to step aside and just think and brainstorm ideas but most of all....do something! If it doesn't work, try something else. Maybe even copy what a successful Dealer is doing. Your business survival depends on it. Most self-employed businesspeople will agree that the toughest day as an independent businessperson is better than the easiest day employed by somebody else. Now back to my title... “Let's make lemonade out of the lemons we have been given the last two years.”
Your Fellow Dealer Jimmy Brown
PS. If I ever remember what I said in the article I will share it with you.
*State news: We haven't heard much from thestate lately on any new regulations. TheElectronic titling test sights are underway andthis will be coming soon. It will be up to thedealer as to if they choose to use ET.
*County news: We are planning to attend theCounty Treasures meeting in Sept. 2022 whichwill strengthen our relationships and have avoice from our dealers.
Dealer education: We are revamping oureducation and planning some virtual workshopsfor any dealer education concerns.
A message from AFC’s Nikki Azure:
How are you handling customers that want to shop online before they buy?
Did you know 95% of buyers use digital sources of information and 83% of consumers want to shop online to save time before buying a car.
Let AFC help expand your inventory! Dealers can floorplan vehicles purchased outside the auction network. – AFC provides the services to process the transaction on behalf of the dealer.
Early in our Montana expansion, our founder and CEO, Janice Lucero believed in the huge value of MTIADA. She became a board member shortly after because of her belief in associations and in professional alliances. She and we believe in mutually beneficial business relationships, and we are excited to introduce a few new initiatives that will help us all in that spirit.
During last month's board meeting an idea came up that building value in the membership could attract additional members. We know the important function this association plays legislatively, in government relations, in best practice, education, and support. While its value to auto dealers across the state and nationally is not paid for by all, all dealers benefit from the work it does. We can never top that importance, but we would like to increase the value of your membership with a few things we can affect. As a thank you to all who have supported us, and as a conversation starter for Camillia in a drive to attract more members we would like to offer five free transactions with MVD Express, Commercial Division, every year on renewal or on the initial membership if doing business in our Tracer program. Tracer is a free interface to MVD Express that is a value unto itself in its utility. MVD Express currently charges dealers $26.99 per transaction in Tracer which is an over 25% savings from our Retail rate.
Many of you already use our service outside of Tracer. Please allow me to introduce you to the program that will make your life easier.
We are closer to you than ever. We have Commercial and Retail offices in Billings, Bozeman, and Missoula. More dealers can now access our services in person and save the Fed Ex fees. You should know that we are processing, Replacement Title, Electronic Record Transfer, Bond Title, Dealer Title Only, and Repo Title. We print the title on the spot in all our locations.
We are excited to also announce the start of our Dealer Referral Program. Dealers now have the okay to send documents directly to MVD Express on request by the customer. Basically, the customer requests that the docs be sent to one of our Retail locations, we review, call you if we need something before the customer comes in, we text or call the customer and set up a time to come in and finish the deal. You always look like an MVD professional, and we get the most valuable introduction to a customer, your referral and endorsement. Give me a call for details, referral forms, and FAQs.
We are also starting our Dealer Registration Program with a few select dealers as capacity allows. This program will allow you to collect the fees from the customer and send the documents directly to one of our Commercial locations for completion. The customer never needs to come in. You can add the State fees to their financing and look like the hero when they come back for their plates, title, and registration. Call or email and we will start a conversation about your dealership becoming one of the first to offer this valuable service to your customers. We think it will be a real competitive advantage, especially to the early adaptors.