I spent some time last week with the folks from the National Automobile Dealers Association who were in Detroit for some meetings and publicity, mainly talking about the threat of rising tariffs on the auto business.
I have to admit they had some great points, and I was impressed with the way they articulated their views.
Although it was not a discussion point with NADA, I am always struck by how important the auto industry is to the nation and how well the association represents the auto retailer.
It is sobering to reflect on how many millions of new cars and trucks are sold in the U.S. every year. It is even more sobering to realize not only how many car dealers there are in the U.S., but how many businesses big and small that do nothing but take care of anyone who wants to buy or service a car.
More than a century ago, the number of new vehicles sold in this country topped 1 million for the first time. Aside from a break during World War II, the number has steadily risen to its current streak of four straight years above 17 million. No matter if you want to buy a car or truck, domestic or import, electric or diesel or plain ol’ internal combustion model, you’ll be able to find what suits you — and in the color you like. There are several million vehicles sitting on dealer lots all across the land just waiting for someone to pick out what they want to buy.
But the part you should never lose sight of is this: No matter how many vehicles this huge industry makes and distributes, they are sold (with the exception of fleets) one at a time. You may be one of the biggest dealers in the country or the owner of one of the smaller dealerships in rural America, it doesn’t matter.
Every so often, we should all stand back and think about just how big this business is and how important it is. That’s easy to forget when we are busy taking care of our customers.
We still find customers one at a time. And we sell them cars one at a time. That’s what makes this business so powerful. It really is quite amazing.