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Welcome to NCM's Up to Speed Blog

Are You Prepared for 2020 and Beyond?

Brandiss Drummer
Written By: Brandiss Drummer
Posted on January 16, 2020

As we enter 2020, I believe it’s critical to ask yourself the following question: Are you (and your dealership) prepared for the future? As with the start of any new year, it’s time for you to start preparing yourself not only for 2020, but for the foreseeable future as well. We must all be prepared to adapt if we want to succeed as the automotive industry continues to evolve. In the genetic sense, adaptation literally means to evolve or build new mutations. This was something that the dinosaurs did not do 65 million years ago, and as a result, they could not survive their new climate and became extinct. In the business sense, evolving translates to building new skills or knowledge to survive. If you don’t actively pursue new knowledge and skills, you too will quickly become extinct in the workforce. This is exactly why I believe training and education is so important and relevant in today’s automotive landscape.

Do you want to be like the dinosaurs and go extinct? Or, do you want to prepare yourself for success by developing new skills? For those of you who want to become leaders in your store, here is a quick guide to some training and education topics you should consider in 2020.

The Automotive Industry Continues to Face Disruptors


Carvana is a completely online buying experience for used cars and is ranked #8 in used car retail sales. You may not be aware of the perks of this new business model, but your customers are. Consider it: if you are not aware of the other buying experiences, how can you compete with them? Prepare yourself by mystery shopping your competition—have a family member or friend attempt to buy online and take notes about their experience. Read up on articles about Carvana, such as this blog on how to capitalize on its shortcomings.


Ridesharing has been predicted by some as affecting sales volumes in the future. Personally, I don’t believe this is the case, as less vehicle owners would still translate into more mileage per vehicle, and associated repairs/replacements. However, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t still ways that a dealership may need to prepare. Ridesharing operators will not be interested in the typical bells and whistles of a vehicle owner, but rather longevity and safety. Begin incorporating training into your sales meetings on creating a value proposition for this new class of buyer. You may also wish to retrain your sales people on the benefits of CPO, which makes an excellent fit for a buyer who may be looking for a “like-new” car without the cost.

Customer Experience

Customer experience is the #1 business differentiator, and our customers are speaking out about the ways they want their traditional retail experience to change. According to the Car Buyer's Journey study by Cox, 61% said their retail experience had not improved and that the paperwork and negotiating on-site was the worst part of the purchasing process. What can you do to work on your experience? Read the automotive case study from Disney Institute and consider getting started with them, or attend the Automotive CX Conference Summit. And remember, since 90% of customers want to begin the buying process online, begin educating yourself on digital retailing tools and how your sales process may need to change in our Preparing Yourself for Digital Retailing class.

Technology Continues to Expand Its Footprint

Statistics predict a spend of almost $27.6 billion in automotive display market by 2024, nearly doubling since 2017. In addition, some sites predict almost 22.6 million fully autonomous vehicles by 2040. In other words, companies will not just sell the hardware for their vehicles but will also become the software provider. Get your salespeople prepped on selling technology by spending more time training them on the current features (such as pre-collision centers, blind-spot warnings, etc.) in sales meetings.

In the future, I predict we will see an increase of data available through connected cars. This will help dealerships learn more about their customers and create key communication strategies to increase dealership loyalty. While we aren’t at that point yet, dealerships can prepare themselves by maximizing their strategies around the data they have in their CRMs and DMS. Have you asked your CRM and DMS reps to perform a training lately? Many features and reports go unused in these systems and most companies will provide free training for you. Use this to create a comprehensive customer picture and train your sales team on how to mine your own customer/prospect base.

Employee Retention and Recruitment Continue to Plague Dealerships

The average turnover rate is 40% for all dealership employees (and 67% for salespeople), according to the Cox Automotive Dealership staffing study. Company research shows that 50% of people hired are not the correct person for the job. This costs the dealership time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in turnover costs. Consider sending your managers, most which have never been trained on how to make accurate hires, to our Hiring Top Talent training class.

Training can also be used as a recruitment tool. NCM works with many progressive dealerships that have successfully created their own branded training institutes for high-potential employees. These training and development opportunities create a positive reputation within the workforce for the dealership, which helps attract the best talent. In addition, training creates a natural succession plan for an internal group, who are poised and groomed to handle the challenges of the future automotive industry. This is a much better action plan than reacting to a loss and having to throw someone into a position due to unanticipated turnover. Consider our custom training programs to help you develop your own customized solution.

Forget the New & Focus on the Current Market

There are many new things to prepare for in 2020 and beyond, but there’s also plenty going on in our current market that tells us what we should focus on going into each year. For the average dealer, using November 2019 YTD data:

  • New vehicles and used vehicle departmental profit is down 97.4% YOY.
  • Expenses are up 6.3%, including a 7.5% YOY increase on advertising costs.
  • Progressive benchmark dealers are putting a higher focus on fixed operations to sustain dealership gross with a 90.2% increase in profit YOY vs. only 25.1% for the average dealer.

Which brings me back to my original question, are you prepared to face this market? One way to prepare yourself is to invest in your department manager’s ability to manage their own departmental operations. The reality is many managers do not understand the multi-million dollar business they are tasked to operate.

Consider NCMi’s unlimited annual training subscription to commit yourself and your managers to improving next year. Make a plan now for 2020. Without a proactive plan at the beginning of the year, we often forget about training in the midst of the hustle and bustle. As an example, take one of our clients who signed their store up for the NCMi Subscription last year. They proactively committed their managers to a schedule for the full year ending with a total of 68 courses completed. As a result, they saw a 51% increase of total dealership net profit in that time.

Get Prepared for a New Year

There isn’t some hidden secret to getting you prepared for success that only the sharpest, most progressive minds know about. The great thing about training is you don’t have to know it all, you simply have to be willing to invest in the resources and time to get with the people who know what you need. Your commitment and follow-through on bettering yourself, your employees, and your business by participating in professional training is all you need to be prepared for 2020. And this, often, is what separates the best from the rest. To learn more from our automotive experts, please consider reading the following articles.

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