In the 2017 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey, we asked dealers to tell us about the best mistake they ever made — and how that mistake ended up benefiting the dealership. Here are highlights of the responses and you can read the complete story here

  • “We would try and source any brand/product someone wanted and then tried to support it. We tried to be everything to everyone. This just set us up for failure with the customer and the business. We reviewed our inventory turns, revenue and margins per vendor and reduced as needed. We then put a database together for all staff to see showing brands we now support with stocking parts and warranty information. We still service most brands.”
  • “As a small business, it becomes common practice to take shortcuts. We learned the hard way on how some ‘old school’ business practices can impact the financials, valuation, etc., of a business and the importance of running a tight ship if the dealership is on a growth trajectory.”
  • “It was a huge mistake to not have a plan for handling employees. In the past 3 years, we have developed and continue to finetune how we engage employees. We have job descriptions we hire from and use them when we evaluate our employees. We have also added incentives. Taking the time to really manage our employees has made a big difference for us.”
  • “I think the biggest mistake we made was believing that a mainline supplier is there to help the dealer and customers and that we can’t survive without a mainline. A year ago our mainline supplier terminated our agreement. Initially, we thought ‘Now, what?’ Make no mistake, our wholegoods and parts sales have declined, but our service department revenue is increasing. Rental revenue is increasing as well and our margins are getting better. We have a few shortline suppliers now that are great to work for; our business stress has declined dramatically; and our focus now is more about supporting our customers rather than supporting the supplier.”
  • “Firing an employee that everyone said we couldn’t survive without. We replaced him with an employee that has a positive attitude.”