by Sarah Einselen
Local car dealers saw stronger sales in 2012, driven mainly by banks’ low loan interest rates and increasing willingness to lend to clients with less-than-stellar credit ratings, dealers say.
Sales at the Mike Anderson Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram supercenter on North Third Street were about 20 percent better than in 2011, said general manager Terry Osborn.
“We had a good year. It slowed down a little bit in December but I think it was more because of the holidays,” Osborn said Friday. “As the banks softened up, I think, they started approving people with lower credit scores.”
Leasing also helped increase the number of cars rolling off the lot, he added.
“That was always good because it got people back in the door after 36 months instead of after 48 months or 72 months,” said Osborn.
Across town at Cass County Ford, owner Jim Hayden said the dealership posted a great 2012 comparable to the “unbelievable” 2011 he’d seen.
“Believe it or not, as far as cars, we sold the exact same number in 2012 as in 2011, but 2011 was the best we ever had,” said Hayden. The stability covered both new and used car sales, which were pretty much exactly what they were in 2011.
He’d set no expectations for 2012 after that year, he said. “I didn’t know what to expect after 2011 because I’d never dreamed of having a year like that. Every department exceeded my expectations in 2011.”
So what’s in store for 2013?
The Ford dealership is beginning to work with a lending agency specifically targeting people with low credit scores, hoping to attract some of that “booming” business.
The dealership has also added one full-time employee to manage social media outreach and will be adding at least one more in sales.
“I’m predicting that this year will be as good as last year,” Hayden said. “I expect parts and service to continue to grow, but I don’t see anything major happening either way.”
Osborn thinks the superstore’s new showroom, expected to be finished in April, will boost sales significantly.
New car sales will probably jump 40 percent for the year, he said, based on his experience with opening a new showroom at a Monticello dealership.
“Sixty to 70 percent of our business used to be Kokomo business,” Osborn added. “This store used to average 130 new cars a month, before everything went bad. So we’re trying to get those customers back in the door.”
Repair services will probably draw more people, too, once the building is complete.
Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.