Dealers shared thoughts on challenges facing them in 2016 when they answered this question in the Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey: What is holding you back from moving to the next level with your dealership?

Many expanded on their concerns about employees, an issue that ranked No. 1 in terms of what dealers are most concerned about. A Massachusetts dealer says, “Finding help, mostly in the parts department. I’m concerned with service techs going forward as our current employees age out.”

A Tennessee dealer says, “Finding good technicians … I think the lack of vocational training and the lack of interest in ‘getting your hands dirty’ contributes to the problem of finding employees in this field. I am unsure about how to remove that obstacle.”

A Maryland dealer brings up the concern about career opportunities at dealerships, “Finding qualified help, mainly technicians. More education is needed for our young people about our industry and its opportunities … currently not viewed as a top career choice.”

A related issue regarding service techs and efficiencies was raised by a Kansas dealer, “We lack effective processes for moving equipment through the service department. We intend to find motivated individuals for the service writer positions and train them on a defined process that that will maximize the productivity of the service department.”

Cashflow, margins and business transitions were mentioned by other dealers.

“Cashflow — we need to build sales in our higher margin areas, like service and parts,” says a Michigan dealer.

A Virginia dealer says, “Margins are far too low and too much administrative expense is passed on from our manufacturers. We will reduce brands we service to increase profits.”

“Right now, I would say that space and finances are holding us back. We are a 5-year-old dealership and are still learning what works in our area. Experience and growth will eventually remove those obstacles,” says one Pennsylvania dealer.

A Texas dealer says, “Funding our internal infrastructure needs improvement. We are transitioning from a ‘mom-and-pop’ to a more established business, so there are a lot of growing pains — all good things, of course.”

Dealership marketing and awareness concerned others. “We need to get the word out that we are here, what we have and what we can do for people. We need to advertise to reach the right people and not waste money,” says another Texas dealer.

A Michigan dealer raised caution about the current upward trend in the market. “We have had 15-20% increases the past 4 years. I’m very concerned that going forward the next 3 years, this may go backward again as it did from 2004-2009.”