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2023 may be less challenging for car buyers

Dealers from across Canada continue to do what they do best: remain resilient in the face of difficult situations, and continue to give back to those in need.

January 12, 2023

By Perry Lefko for Canadian Auto Dealer

Consumers shopping for new or used cars will have a better understanding of the marketplace this year, said a dealer with more than 30 years in the business.

Paul Valentine, Dealer Principal of Valentine Volvo in Alberta, is projecting it will be a less disruptive retail year because consumers will have become accustomed to the “black swan” events coming from different directions in the marketplace.

“Nothing shocks anybody anymore,” said Valentine in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. “I think when there’s such a massive change in the buying environment, the shock sets in and it takes a while (to get adjusted). People are getting used to the new reality of interest rates and will figure out a way that makes sense for their family finances.”

He said there are always cycles in which some strong brands weaken and become strong again, segments that get hot and cold. There are also new segments emerging.

“I’ve seen lots of waves and troughs and good times and bad,” said Valentine. “They all flow up and down, and (as dealers) you make sure that when times are good all you should be focusing on is when times get bad because they will.”

He said dealers need to make sure they recession-proof their organization and that they do not overcommit or overspend. “You just make sure, when people come into your place, they get treated as well and as fairly when the market’s hot as they do when the market’s not so hot.”

Valentine said he didn’t gouge buyers by selling cars over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

“When times are tough I want them to come in and look me in the eye and buy a car and say, ‘yeah, you didn’t overcharge me when you were short of cars and now you’re giving me the same fair price when there’s over supply,’” he said. “I think everything you do in business — and maybe everything you do in life — should always be thought about for what’s the best thing to do for the long-term. . . .” He said there are two ways to do it: “the majority of very successful dealers and dealer groups look at the long term.”

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