KEA Advisors research shows stabilization of service business, ‘new normal’ in used equipment space

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Another week of repair order and parts invoice volumes accumulated through KEA Advisors’ weekly survey of truck dealers shows more signs the trucking industry has stabilized from its initial COVID-19 downswing.

Dealer repair orders (RO) fell again last week among KEA Advisors’ 81 survey responders to a 2020 low of 4,700 units, but RO totals for the previous weeks were updated and rose in the survey, the company reported Monday. Since the sudden drop of repair orders in Weeks 10 through 12, which coincided with the latter half of March, ROs held steady between 5,050 and 4,860 units in Weeks 13 to 17.

Average labor sales per RO data also shows steady income totals for most of the past month. KEA Advisors survey data indicates Week 9 as the most productive week of the year at $693.20 per RO, but also notes average sales remained in the mid $600 range through Week 14. KEA Advisors says the last four weeks have shown the average labor sales slip into the $500 range, but the company notes each of those weeks are likely to trend upward in the coming days as more complex ROs that were open during those weeks are closed, and their financial impact integrated into each week’s data.

Parts invoice numbers also are on the rise among survey responders.

According to the data provided by the 79 responders to this week’s KEA Advisors survey, the total number of parts invoices recorded last week was approximately 34,420, a rise of more than 2,000 orders from the prior week and was almost 3,000 orders higher than two weeks ago. The week also saw a notable uptick in average total sales per order. After hitting a 2020 low two weeks ago in Week 16 at $153.29, last week’s sales averaged $310.17 per invoice, the highest total since $336.56 in Week 9 — which represented the close of February business and the last full week before the pandemic began.

KEA Advisors says last week’s sudden uptick in parts invoices can to some degree be attributed to End of Month routines, adding it will take more time for dealer responders to close all recent business to determine how much of last week’s data can be attributed to a bounce back in the market.

For more information from KEA Advisor’s weekly volume indicator dealer surveys, please CLICK HERE.

Used market showing progression toward new normal

KEA Advisors also published its most recent used truck market report update Monday. The report touches on how COVID-19 has forced the adoption of online sales tactics in the used equipment space, and the likelihood these previously untapped resources are likely to gain marketshare in the equipment selling space for years to come. Data shows the percentage of day cabs and sleepers sold at auction was already rising pre-coronavirus.

The company states, “This crisis has forced truck buyers to get more comfortable buying trucks on the internet. It’s too soon to tell if this two-month trend will permanently alter how customers buy trucks, but the time to start fine tuning your online marketing presence for used trucks is now.”

Additionally, the company reports that while auction houses were able to transition their business online quickly because they were already accustomed to it, it remains to be seen how quickly used truck dealers will be able to do the same. KEA Advisors states dealers who wait too long to adapt could permanently damage their operations.

“The most challenging piece of this equation is still in front of you,” the company says. “Customers have quickly embraced changes required to buy a (new or used) truck. What changes will you make to your selling process to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales team? The time to consider these things is now!”

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