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But all retailers were feeling the brunt of the pandemic, after seeing strong sales in 2019.
Findlay Automotive Group, based in Henderson, Nev., jumped seven spots in the 2019 rankings to No. 33. Its used-vehicle retail sales grew 17 percent to 20,504.
Robby Findlay, the group’s director of operations, credited the success last year to using Cox Automotive’s vAuto software to implement competitive pricing and focus on vehicle turns.
He also said the group zeroed in on enhancing its digital presence, particularly its vehicle images.
In the first quarter of 2019, the 32-store group parted ways with an outside vendor and brought its vehicle photography in-house, while also buying four photo booths. “And just got cleaner, crisper pictures for customer viewing,” Findlay said.
The group, which has stores in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Oregon, had traditionally been more focused on new-vehicle sales.
“We still focus more on new, but I think in the last year we’ve realized the importance of used-vehicle sales, probably before the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said. “It’s become a bigger focus.”
Findlay said the group was on a record pace for used-vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2020 and was ramping up inventory levels for tax-return season. “Who knows what it’s going to be like now?” Findlay said. “We thought it was going to be a record used-car year.”
Since the outbreak, Findlay Auto Group has been doing three to four times more online sales and at-home deliveries as usual. At the same time, foot traffic at the group’s brick-and-mortar stores has been at about 40 percent of its typical level.
Even before the pandemic struck, Findlay said one of his biggest takeaways from 2019 was that “CarMax and Carvana and some of these other disrupters really stepped their games up. And I think it made us realize that if we don’t become better at used cars, we’re going to be on the outside looking in.”