Car Dealer Insider Feb 1, 2008
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Car Dealer Insider Feb 1, 2008

What's working in dealerships

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What's working in dealerships

Strategic six pack: A half-dozen cost-cutting and profit-pumping ideas Not getting much mileage out of your usual profit making strategies? Operations so lean that you are unable to trim any more fat using your traditional expense-cutting tactics? Get used to it - and get ready to think outside the box.

The automotive industry won't be rebounding anytime soon, predict most industry experts, but creativity and resourcefulness could give you a much needed boost.

Carving out a niche with little competition - a product or service - is one way to go. Stronger customer follow-up efforts can help too, as can tweaking your ad budget's media mix. Auditing dealership expenses and operations may help expose unseen waste and savings opportunities. Gently nudging up prices and bringing an outsourced service in house can also help money matters.

Or, as in the case of the Ricart Automotive Group of Columbus, Ohio, you could launch a multi-faceted game plan.

CEO Rhett Ricart, who returned a call from _Dealer Business Briefing just after lunch one recent afternoon, likened his approach to a salad bar - picking and choosing a little bit of many different things to work on concurrently.

If you've ever spoken to Rhett, who co-owns with brother Fred the 55-year-old Ricart group founded by their father, you know he's a big proponent of capitalizing on trends and using technology to move the auto group ahead. Here are six areas Ricart is working on, many of which you may be able to adapt to your own retail automotive operations:

Customer relationship management

Customer relationship management (CRM) is playing an increasingly important role, says Rhett, who strongly believes in linking phone, Internet, and walk-in leads under a single system. "It's critical to blend it into one" for tracking and for streamlining follow-up efforts, he explains. Ricart's system,... (302 of 1206 words)

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