Bill Cole Automotive Group

10 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE VOLUME 9, ISSUE 10 Encova Insurance and USI are proud to partner with Bill Cole. USI Insurance Services 304-545-3174 PROVIDING TRUSTED INSURANCE SOLUTIONS FOR AUTO DEALERSHIPS B I LL COLE AUTOMOT I VE GROUP While getting access to car histories has been an advantage of buying directly from owners, skyrocketing used car valuations have proven to be another hurdle the dealership must jump. “Many owners are getting as much as they paid for a car three years ago, even after putting 30,000 miles on it,” says Jason Cole. “They’re better informed with instant offers from Carvana and CarMax, so they don’t care what they initially paid for it. Although this makes the market tougher for us, we know that we can still sell their car at margin and that the person selling us the car will need a replacement, so we can also make a sale that way.” The scarcity of inventory, both new and used, has significantly pushed up vehicle selling prices, offsetting the inflated cost of acquiring stock, especially with pre-owned cars. “Due to free market dynamics, limited supply and high demand pushed up prices dramatically,” says Bill Cole. “So, although we sell fewer units, transaction prices have improved significantly, giving us adequate margins to keep the business running profitably. Another interesting factor is that, although we are selling cars, we currently maintain only about five percent of the stock we used to keep at the shops. That is mostly because all our cars are pre-sold or immediately sold when they arrive at the shop.” As the auto industry shakes off the effects of the pandemic, it might take up to five years before manufacturers catch up with demand for new vehicles. Bill Cole also predicts that auto shows, halted due to COVID, might become a thing of the past as manufacturers and dealers move on to more pressing matters. Another area he believes the pandemic might have permanently changed is the dealer-manufacturer relationship. He acknowledges, “During the pandemic, manufacturers started experimenting with direct-to-consumer retail models, which might impact dealer businesses if they press that matter. As dealers, we expect manufacturers to do what they are best at – building cars – and leave the car sales to those who do it best – car dealers.” Bill Cole Automotive Group participates in community-based initiatives to give back to society. One of these is known as ‘Bill Cole Cares’, a charity event that gave away a brand-new car in 2020. Other community initiatives the company has participated in include donating to a local oncology center and a homeless shelter in Princeton and restoring the historic Bluefield Grenada Theater. “We stay involved in the community because they buy our products and keep us in business,” says Bill Cole. “I am a fifth- generation businessman in our local community; Lee and Jason are the sixth generation, so we try to go above and beyond to participate in every community-based opportunity.”