Open virtually any Automotive trade publication and you’re likely to see some sort of reference to a doom and gloom scenario where our industry is beginning to circle the drain. Whether it be autonomous vehicles, increased environmental regulation or concerns over drivability on modern roads, it seems like somebody is always projecting the inevitable downfall of classic, collector and specialty automobiles. While these scenarios are all likely worth concern. We are collectively ignoring the biggest, scariest, angriest 10,000 pound gorilla in the room.
I think it would be foolish to overlook the fact that we in this business have a tendency to somewhat live in a bubble. Due to the general scenery and surroundings that we experience on a daily basis, we often times sort of don’t have an opportunity to see what’s really going on outside of the rally routes, vintage races and the concours lawns. I think it’s no secret, that virtually all of us absolutely work our asses off. I know that’s certainly the case for myself and I am doing drastically better than nearly everyone who is my general age demographic that I know. Here’s the fun reality: Almost everyone I know works just as hard as I do and has made as good or better financial decisions throughout the course of their lives than I have. What’s the difference? I have been in the right place at the right time over and over again throughout my career and they have not. Bottom line? I have been VERY lucky. I think it’s high time we recognize that hard work isn’t the only thing that’s required to make it anymore. There’s also a heavy element of chance involved and there’s far more people on the other side of the fence then there is on ours.
This morning, as I thumbed through my Flipboard feed, I was taken by an article over viewing a recent study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, highlighting the current financial reality being experienced by people that were young adults during the Great Recession. The study concluded that this group of people was 34% behind previous generations in overall net worth and have continued to slide post-recession despite the alleged “recovery” that the economy overall has appeared to experience. It also concluded that people born in the sub generation prior where an additional 11% to 18% back of where expected.
Our industry needs to pay close attention to this. We’re going to be in big trouble moving forward if more than a decent percentage of the mass population can’t afford our products and services down the line. If that becomes the case, it doesn’t matter how smart or lucky we are, or how hard we work. We’re out they’re fighting over avocado toast too. When a Honda is out of reach, dropping $200,000 on a Porsche 930 is obviously completely out of the question as well. Let’s face it, that’s the stratosphere that most of our financial stability lives in. The fact is, nobody needs to own a cool car. They want to own a cool car. Our industry is completely based on discretionary income, which a huge portion of the population does not possess now, and potentially won’t possess on track with previous generations moving ahead.
We spend a lot of time collectively coming up with ways to cultivate passion in the younger generations in order to keep this hobby and this industry alive. All those efforts become completely irrelevant if we don’t also address the means in which people need in order to be able to afford it as well. Think about it…..
This not only breaks down to improving and making accessible a quality education across the board, but also providing an easier path for younger people to put themselves in the right place at the right time. Sometimes, this means taking chances and handing responsibility to somebody with the intention of teaching and improving. I’m not talking about handouts here. What I’m talking about, is removing the model of nickel-and-diming every little last thing within your business model and concentrating on your most important asset: your people. Saving yourself a couple of pennies today doesn’t mean very much if it by default, removes $100 from you in down the line a few years. So much of this hobby is wrapped up in the investment side of things, but this is simple math. A dollar not recirculated never grows. We need to think harder about investing in the future of what we do financially. It’s equally as important as the passion element that we all seem so interested in cultivating. Take a kid to a car show? How about we stop treating the younger generations like barnyard animals and we give a kid a quality, good paying job?
If you wish to read further, a link to the study can be found HERE
Darin Roberge is CEO of Motorwerks Marketing and is a Marketing and Media Consultant in the Specialty Automotive and Live Events industries. Darin has been named a Business Trendsetter by Arizona Foothills Magazine, is a two-time nominee to Phoenix Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list and is one of Sports Car Market Magazine’s 40 Under 40. Learn more about Darin at www.DarinRoberge.com