What it is: A pulse check of the franchised, independent and overall auto retail industry. Each quarter, Cox conveys dealers’ sense of the market today and what they expect in three months. It also inquires about other topics, including store profits, inventory and business challenges.
Where it comes from: Cox surveys hundreds of franchised and independent dealers to produce an index each quarter. The answers typically come from department managers or highly ranked staff, and are weighted by dealership type and sales. Most responses are scored between 0 and 100, with higher numbers signifying strength or increases. A 50 signifies stable or average.
How it’s used: Dealerships can compare their own situation and market to national sentiments expressed by peers, both on a quarterly basis and over time. The survey allows comparisons between the current market, the pandemic years, and conditions before the COVID-19 pandemic.
How it might be misused: Franchised dealers and independents can have significantly different assessments of the market. It can be difficult to suss out what dealers mean when they select from Cox’s list of factors hindering their business. Dealer sentiment is subjective and shouldn’t be viewed as hard data on conditions or performance.