Was perusing our websites today, looking at available inventory at our stores, and realizing how once again we have to access our adaptability genes within our organization. We’ve all been through a lifetime of worries in the last 18 months, worries that I don’t have to list because if you’re like me they are all painfully fresh in your psyche. But while business-centric issues are decidedly less important than the pandemic itself, it is fascinating how many curveballs have been tossed at us since Covid struck.
The most shocking was having to necessarily shutter operations at our stores, leaving only a skeleton crew in service to handle customer emergencies. After that it was figuring out how to slowly ramp up operations as the Covid-restrictions were eased, not only figuring out social distancing and cleaning and safety protocols, but also working out new processes and procedures as we and our customers embraced the new normal (e.g., solo test drives, paperwork done online or via FedEx, digital retailing tools). We then had to figure out the used car market – which went bonkers in 2020 – with prices through the roof and inventory shortages left and right. Then there was the terrifying Covid spike over the holidays and into Q1 of this year. And now – beyond Delta and the subsequent and necessary efforts to mitigate its spread – we have this chip shortage wreaking havoc with new car inventory. Every store of ours is impacted, and while some OEMs are doing well under the circumstances, other brands are getting slammed: we have a few stores where new car inventory is off 75%! Thankfully we have adapted, and we have robust used car inventories to offset the shortage for our customers, but it is just one thing after another.
This isn’t to say that we are special or gifted in any unique way – pretty much every industry has been buffeted by unforeseen headwinds, and we’ve all hunkered down and figured things out. It’s just good once in a while to take a pause – breath in and breath out as one of my favorite people on Twitter likes to say – and marvel at what we’ve been through and the changes we have made.