In the auto industry since 1974, Dave Evans has seen things change dramatically over the decades.
Chaos Headquarters, Dave Evans speaking,” came the voice on the phone.
Evans holds down the fortress in his role as Director of Fleet Sales, Dueck Auto Group. While he is physically located in the Richmond, British Columbia location, his responsibilities involve him in fleet leasing in Dueck’s downtown Vancouver and Marine Drive locations, as well.
The pace of change
Evans estimates he does about 1,800 vehicles per year, spread over 30 to 40 customers, including three rental car companies.
He’s seen a lot of change in the business since his early days as a market analyst for Nissan, back in 1974. Along the way he has worked on the distribution side, put in a couple of years with Suzuki when Allarco out of Calgary owned their Canadian franchise, then back as a district sales manager at Nissan, then to Carter GM in Vancouver as sales manager before moving over to Landsdowne GM in Richmond as fleet manager. Landsdowne was bought out by Dueck some 12 years ago, and Evans “came along with the furniture” as he puts it.
“It really is like organized chaos around here. The pace of the business has really accelerated over the years,” Evans says.
“People’s expectations have changed. They’ll send you an email and then ten seconds later call you because you haven’t responded yet. It’s all about immediate gratification. The patience level has definitely dropped,” he says. “If you’re not on top of it immediately, people will just Google somebody else.”
One of the results of the ADHD Internet attitude has been a decline in the number of factory orders. What used to be half of Evans’ business is now on the order of ten percent. That creates a challenge in managing inventory. And then there’s the growing practice of running a vehicle until it blows up before shopping in a panic.
“We have to be aware of stocking risk. These days we spend a lot more time communicating with other dealers, searching, trading vehicles…” he says.
Another challenge is to stay on top of OEM announcements. “Buyers get so much more information right away. If a manufacturer makes an announcement before informing dealers, as sometimes happens, you get forty calls the next day and you don’t have the answers because the customer has learned the news before you have.”
He also observes that people don’t make appointments so frequently these days. Instead, they’ll just walk into a showroom. That means more random demands on a fleet manager’s time in a day that is already chaotic.
Evans also notes that the quality improvements in GM vehicles makes a big difference. “We don’t have to make apologies for poor quality anymore,” he says.
When asked about electric and autonomous, Evans doesn’t see an overwhelming demand in the immediate future. “People come in interested in these vehicles, but when they see the sticker prices they back away pretty fast,” he says. As for electric vehicles, “There’s still a lot of range anxiety, too.”
Even though it’s ‘Grandpa Dave,’ these days, he has no intention of putting his feet up on the deck of his power boat. “I love what I do here. I’m on the Freedom 80 plan. If something happens to me, I’m sure there’ll be an app for that, too.”