February 26, 2014

I am always urging small businesses owners to spend more time “on their business,” not just “in their business” – i.e. take time every day to see where your customers are heading and get there before them. Case in point: today’s car industry. While the industry is back to making tons of money, two recent studies point out that car-sharing services (Zipcar, Cars2Go, etc.), smaller households and mass transit improvements pose long-term challenges for car sales.

A consulting firm with an automotive practice, AlixPartners LLP, says Americans would have purchased about 500,000 more new or used cars between 2006 and the end of 2013, if they didn’t have car sharing services as an alternative. Looking at car-sharing customers in 10 large urban cities (where car-sharing is popular), the firm concluded that about 48% of the people who use car-sharing regularly, eventually end up not purchasing a car or selling a car.

So, what do you do with this information? Lithia, Southern Oregon’s homegrown super-sized auto dealership owner is listening. That’s probably one reason they are focusing on smaller, rural markets where car-sharing hasn’t caught on.

What are you doing to look into the future of your industry and business? When was the last time you conducted research or spent time looking at secondary research?

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