The financial plan for a car dealership business

car dealership profitability

Running a successful car dealership involves more than just an eye for the latest models; it's about making informed financial decisions that drive your business forward.

In this post, we'll explore the key components of a financial strategy that can put your car dealership on the fast track to success.

From calculating your initial investment to managing operational costs and forecasting sales trends, we're here to steer you through every financial turn.

So, buckle up and let's accelerate towards turning your car dealership ambitions into a profitable reality!

And if you're looking to get a comprehensive 3-year financial analysis of your dealership without crunching the numbers yourself, please download our custom financial plan designed specifically for car dealerships.

What is a financial plan and how to make one for your car dealership business?

A financial plan for a car dealership is a comprehensive guide that helps you navigate the financial aspects of your automotive business.

Think of it as planning a strategic route for a road trip: You need to be aware of the vehicles you have, the market you want to cater to, and the costs involved in acquiring, maintaining, and selling cars. This plan is essential when launching a new car dealership as it turns your passion for automobiles into a structured, profitable business.

So, why create a financial plan?

Imagine you're planning to open a modern car dealership. Your financial plan will assist you in understanding the expenses involved - like leasing or buying a showroom, purchasing cars for inventory, costs associated with vehicle maintenance and repair, hiring salespeople and service staff, and marketing expenses. It’s similar to checking your route and fuel gauge before embarking on a long journey.

But it's more than just adding up costs.

A financial plan can provide insights similar to finding the most efficient route to a destination. For example, it might reveal that stocking high-end luxury cars is overly expensive, prompting you to focus on more affordable or popular models. Or, you may discover that hiring experienced technicians for a service department adds significant value to your business.

These insights help you avoid unnecessary expenditures and impractical investments.

Financial plans also serve as a forecasting tool to identify potential risks. Suppose your plan shows that reaching your break-even point – where your income equals your expenses – is only feasible if you sell a certain number of vehicles monthly. This insight points out a risk: What if your sales don't meet these targets? It encourages you to consider alternative strategies, like expanding into used car sales or offering car financing options, to augment revenue.

Now, how does this differ for car dealerships compared to other businesses? The primary difference lies in the types of costs and the revenue patterns.

That’s why the financial plan our team has developed is specifically tailored to the car dealership business. It cannot be generalized to other types of businesses.

Car dealerships have unique expenses such as vehicle procurement costs, showroom maintenance, and specific automotive industry compliance standards. Their revenue can also be more variable - consider how new model releases might boost sales, while economic downturns might dampen them. This contrasts with, for example, a grocery store, where inventory turnover is quicker and sales trends could be more consistent.

Clearly, our financial plan takes into account all these specific points when it has been created. This way, you can easily create customized financial projections for your new car dealership venture.

business plan car dealership business

What financial tables and metrics include in the financial plan for a car dealership business?

Creating a financial plan for a new car dealership is an essential step in ensuring the success and viability of your automotive business.

It's important to understand that your future car dealership's financial plan is more than just numbers on paper; it's a roadmap that guides you through the initial stages and helps in sustaining the business over time.

Let's begin with the most fundamental component: the startup costs. This includes everything you need to open your car dealership for the first time.

Consider the cost of acquiring a lot or showroom space, initial inventory of vehicles, office equipment, IT systems, signage, and even the marketing for your grand opening. These costs give you a clear picture of the initial investment required. We have already listed them in our financial plan, so you don’t have to search for them elsewhere.

Next, factor in your operating expenses. These are ongoing costs that you will incur regularly, such as salaries for your sales and service staff, utility bills, maintenance of vehicles, insurance, and other day-to-day expenses. It’s vital to have a good estimate of these expenses to understand how much your dealership needs to earn to be profitable.

In our financial plan, we've already filled in all the values, giving you a good idea of what these might be for a car dealership. Of course, like any other assumption, you can easily modify them in the 'assumptions' tab of our financial plan.

One of the most important tables in your financial plan is the cash flow statement (included in our plan). This shows how cash is expected to flow in and out of your business.

It’s a monthly (and annual) breakdown that includes your projected revenue (how much money you expect to make from selling cars) and your projected expenses (the costs of running the dealership). This statement helps you anticipate periods when you might need additional cash reserves or when you can plan for expansion or upgrading your inventory.

Another crucial table is the profit and loss statement, also known as the income statement. This is also included in our financial plan.

This official financial table gives you an idea of how profitable your car dealership is over a certain period. It lists your revenues and subtracts the expenses, showing whether you're making a profit or a loss. This statement is especially important for understanding the financial health of your dealership over time.

Lastly, don't forget about the break-even analysis (also included, obviously). This is a calculation that tells you how much revenue your dealership needs to generate to cover all of its costs, both initial and ongoing. Knowing your break-even point is vital because it gives you a clear goal to aim for in terms of sales.

We've also included additional financial tables and metrics in our financial plan (provisional balance sheet, financing plan, working capital requirement, ratios, charts, etc.), providing you with a comprehensive and thorough financial analysis of your future car dealership.

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Can you make a financial plan for your car dealership business by yourself?

Yes, you actually can!

As mentioned above, we have developed a user-friendly financial plan specifically tailored for car dealership business models.

This plan includes financial projections for the first three years of operation.

Within the plan, you'll find an 'Assumptions' tab that contains pre-filled data, covering revenue assumptions, a detailed list of potential expenses relevant to car dealerships, and a staffing plan. These figures can be easily customized to align with your specific project requirements.

Our comprehensive financial plan encompasses all essential financial tables and ratios, including the income statement, cash flow statement, break-even analysis, and a provisional balance sheet. It's fully compatible with loan applications and caters to entrepreneurs of all levels, including beginners, requiring no prior financial expertise.

The process is automated to eliminate the need for manual calculations or complex Excel manipulations. Simply input your data into designated fields and select from the provided options. We have streamlined the process to make it user-friendly, even for those unfamiliar with financial planning tools.

Should you encounter any issues, please don't hesitate to reach out to our team. We guarantee a response within 24 hours to troubleshoot any problems. Additionally, we offer a complimentary review and correction service for your financial plan once you have filled all your assumptions.

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What are the most important financial metrics for a car dealership business?

Succeeding in the car dealership business requires a deep understanding of both automotive trends and the principles of financial management.

For a car dealership, certain financial metrics are particularly crucial. These include your revenue, cost of goods sold (COGS), gross profit margin, and net profit margin.

Your revenue encompasses all income from vehicle sales and services, providing a clear picture of how the market responds to your dealership. COGS, which includes the cost of acquiring cars and direct labor, helps in understanding the direct costs associated with your inventory.

The gross profit margin, calculated as (Revenue - COGS) / Revenue, reflects the efficiency of your sales process, while the net profit margin, which is the percentage of revenue remaining after all expenses, indicates your overall financial health.

Projecting sales, costs, and profits for the first year involves a detailed analysis of several factors. Start by examining the local market and your target customer base. Estimate your sales based on factors like local demand, competition, and pricing strategies.

Costs can be categorized into fixed costs (such as showroom rent and utilities) and variable costs (like vehicle procurement and sales commissions). Be prudent in your estimates and account for seasonal variations in sales and costs.

Creating a realistic budget for a new car dealership is essential.

This budget should cover all expected expenses, including showroom rent, utilities, initial vehicle inventory, staff salaries, marketing, and an emergency fund. It's important to allocate funds for unforeseen expenses as well. Maintain flexibility in your budget and revise it regularly, adapting as needed based on actual performance.

In financial planning for a car dealership, key metrics include your break-even point, cash flow, and inventory turnover.

The break-even point tells you the volume of sales needed to cover your costs. Positive cash flow is vital for daily operations, while a healthy inventory turnover rate indicates efficient management of your vehicle stock.

Financial planning can vary significantly between different types of car dealerships.

For example, a dealership focusing on used cars might prioritize inventory turnover and cost-effective vehicle acquisition, aiming for volume sales. Conversely, a luxury car dealership might have higher vehicle costs and customer service expenses, focusing on premium pricing and exclusive customer experience.

Identifying signs that your financial plan may be unrealistic is crucial. We have detailed them all in the “Checks” tab of our financial model. This provides guidelines to promptly correct and adjust your financial plan to achieve relevant metrics.

Red flags include consistently missing sales targets, rapidly depleting cash reserves, or inventory that either turns over too slowly or becomes obsolete. If your actual figures are consistently far off from your projections, it's a clear sign that your financial plan needs revisiting.

Lastly, key indicators of financial health in a car dealership's financial plan include a stable or growing profit margin, a robust cash flow that comfortably covers all expenses, and consistently meeting or exceeding sales targets.

No worries, all these indicators are “checked” in our financial plan, and you will be able to adjust them accordingly.

You can also read our articles about:
- the business plan for a car dealership business
- the profitability of a a car dealership business

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