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Successful charity event

Scheckübergabe vor dem Bauwagen

In the course of the charity party of the Tuesbrassers in Oldenburg, which has been a recurring event for a few years now, all proceeds are donated to a specific purpose. This year, 2,500 € were collected from entrance fees and private donations. These were handed over to the association "pro liberis", which supports children and young people, some of whom have been severely traumatised. The money is to be used to repair a construction wagon on an adventure site so that the children and young people have a place of retreat there.

In the picture (from left): Uwe Brake (MK Siemer Tortechnik), Imme Helpertz (pro liberis), Dr. Bernhard Becker (comes Unternehmensberatung), Heike Gunske (pro liberis) and Josef Kempen (The Tuesbrassers). The picture was taken before the Corona crisis.

Understanding the crisis as an opportunity - how the car trade can actively shape structural change

Can the automotive industry be reinterpreted?

Individual mobility means freedom, which every person is entitled to and must be made accessible. It must be the claim of both politics and the mobility industry - car, air and rail transport and all other mobility providers alike - to protect this freedom for those who already have it, to open it up to those who wish or need it, and to secure it for future generations.The automobile trade in Germany has been in crisis for a long time: firstly, a lot of trust was lost among the public and customers due to the Diesel scandal. Germany's former showpiece industry had lost its sympathy bonus practically overnight. After that, ongoing discussions about CO2 limits, possible driving bans in city centres and a widely announced (but so far missing) turn towards electric mobility have led to uncertainty among consumers. Postponed vehicle purchases and the resulting drop in sales figures caused the already narrow margins in the retail sector to crumble further - fuelled not least by the increasing competition from online brokers and independent leasing companies. The business is in a dangerous downward spiral: in order to achieve bonuses or target premiums, ever larger quantities must be marketed. In the process, inventories are constantly being increased and liquidity is being used to the maximum. This increases the susceptibility of companies to crises. As soon as the market weakens only slightly, stocks have to be reduced and vehicles sold - at all costs. On the stock exchange, this phenomenon is called "margin call" - the point in time when everyone has to sell in order to maintain their minimum margin and from then on prices know only one way - downwards.

Verlauf Absatzzahlen

The young groups of buyers are breaking away because the purpose of this type of mobility is no longer understood. Especially in the cities, more and more people are abandoning their own cars and using an individual mix of car sharing, ride-ailing buses and trains, rental bikes or e-scooters. The own car becomes a burden here: the purchase of a new car is hardly worthwhile for private individuals, because the decline in value is enormous. In addition, the costs of keeping the car are also a burden. The cost-benefit ratio is becoming increasingly unbalanced. Anyone who has recently been looking for a parking space in the city centres also understands the annoyance that driving a car in the city regularly causes.

Driving less does not mean that people are less mobile. On the contrary: the number of kilometres travelled per person has risen steadily in recent years. This trend will continue in the coming years. Mobility service providers are successful if they are technologically up-to-date, ecologically sustainable and affordable, in ride sharing, on-demand mobility services or the purchase of a family car. The winners are those who know best how to bundle mobility services in ecologically implemented business processes. The driving force becomes secondary. What counts will be the demonstrably sustainable implementation of the easiest to acquire and most attractively priced offer on the respective market.

Marktindikatoren

For the automobile trade, this means developing from a seller of new and used cars to a distributor of mobility. In 2025, successful suppliers will no longer measure themselves solely by the number of vehicles sold, but also by their profit per passenger kilometre - for most of them a completely new concept. The car of the future is a vehicle on demand that drives independently to where it is needed.

The car trade must reinvent itself

It is necessary to break down the wall between the online and offline business in the automobile trade and to link both distribution channels. The physical touchpoint of the car dealership brings the brand experience to the point. However, new concepts are becoming more relevant for an omnichannel dealership, creativity and variety is required: a pop-up store, a shop-in-shop, an outdoor showroom or a mobility shop, in which different mobility offers are available. The car trade is expected to be imaginative, which is usually lacking. Imaginative dealers such as Autohaus König from Berlin, which has been offering its Fiat 500 models via the electrical retailer Media Markt since 8 June, are a rarity.

This example illustrates two fundamental problems of the car trade: the difficulty of gaining access to customers shaped by the digital shopping culture, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the difficulty of designing the buying process as a stimulating customer journey, which links the online channels (currently still primarily used in the information phase) and the offline channels (such as test drive, sales talk or the service appointment agreement) consistently and optimally. Data glasses, virtual showrooms and / or video consultations do not fill the car dealerships, but generate attention and drive the comfortable customer off the couch. These offers should have long since become part of the standard repertoire of the dealerships. The challenge is to see digitization as a holistic strategy for the entire company and not just as a collection of individual measures. A future business model should therefore answer the question of which sales channels will still exist tomorrow and which new digital channels the company can use to offer its products and services. In practice, however, there are still too few car dealership entrepreneurs asking these questions. The reason is often a generational issue: the active management team often comes from an old industrial world in which the manufacturer sent off the assembly line what the trade should sell. In the new, digital world, however, it is the customer who determines what he buys when / where / from whom.

Already today, various brands are pushing network consolidation and trying to reduce the number of their partner retailers. In urban areas, new formats will gradually replace the classic car dealership. As margins continue to shrink, car dealerships will merge in order to benefit from economies of scale on the one hand and to be able to raise the necessary financial resources for investments in the future on the other. These dealer alliances will increasingly try to build up their own brand, establish it online and offline as platforms and become more independent from the manufacturers as suppliers of different brands. In this way, car dealers are resembling supermarkets, a business dominated by a few giants.

Megastores als Markt der Zukunft?

In so-called megastores, new car customers can compare products and prices across brands. In this way, they find the transparency they are used to from the digital world in one physical location. The difference to the Internet: Megastores and brand boutiques always score points with high-quality advice, which will be highly relevant at least in the medium term for a product that is becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of technology (especially in man-machine communication). So much for the theory.

Entrepreneurs must act now

The Corona crisis reveals another problem of low reserves: car dealerships across Germany had to close their salesrooms for several weeks. According to a survey by the ZDK, about 70% of the businesses had registered for short-time work in the meantime. For sales staff, the proportion was even 90%. The primary goal was: to secure liquidity at all costs. Nevertheless, most companies simply lacked the financial basis to be able to compensate for longer sales shortfalls with their own resources. In the past year, the average return in the industry was just 1.4% – too little in an environment of high investment and capital requirements to build up sufficient equity capital for emergencies. As a result, many companies are not in a position to build up a stable equity ratio of at least 25% and are consequently too heavily dependent on lenders. If even one bank calls in the loans, this means the end for many companies.

Die Unternehmer müssen jetzt handeln

However, the large remainder below the TOP 10 trade groups must ask themselves the question of how to proceed after Corona. The current crisis should be seen as an opportunity to relentlessly analyse one's own situation and to set the necessary course for the future. All important stakeholders should be involved: this includes owners/partners, the management and the most important investors. Only if all those involved pull together can a sustainable solution be achieved.

The options available for action are as varied as the individual company situations; there is no single patent remedy for all of them. Nevertheless, five strategic initiatives can be identified, with the help of which car dealership entrepreneurs should start today so as not to miss the connection to tomorrow:

Create awareness for change: Herbert Diess works according to the motto "Think from the customer's perspective! It is my company! Highest standards for me and my employees! Achieving impact! Concentration on the essential! Achieve more with less means! Rethink and simplify! Backbone, courage and endurance! Being sincere! Think positive!"

The upcoming transformation will lead to profound changes in terms of work forms, organizational structures and business models. The first essential step is to become aware of this and to be open for change. This is especially true for the company management – in the second step, they must then prepare the entire company and all employees for the change and take them on board. Many traditional managers are not familiar with this form of change management – it is too different from what they were used to in the past. At this point, a change manager or coach from outside can help to train and support managers in dealing with the new challenge.

Check strategic positioning: Margins in the automotive trade will continue to be put under pressure. At the same time, high investments in digitization, infrastructure and employees are necessary to keep up with the pace. Every company should question its individual strengths and weaknesses and derive its development opportunities and possible business risks from them. When defining a strategy, it is essential not to think too narrowly, but to be as open as possible to reinterpret one's own role. For example, one could determine that there is a great demand for motorhomes in a market area or that companies are interested in closed Car-Sharing pools and are looking for a service partner with roots in the region. Neither of these issues are part of the original car dealership business, but they can be addressed with the existing expertise.

Guarantee future viability: Change does not happen immediately, but is a long road. However, in order to achieve the goal tomorrow, all performance-related processes must be put to the test and optimized in the here and now (operational excellence). This also includes an assessment of your own organization and management structure: Are the right people on board to initiate and shape the change? If not, shareholders and management must initiate measures to get the right people on board. If necessary, the help of experienced interim managers who are familiar with crisis situations is needed. Within a short period of time, they can convey the necessary urgency of the situation to the crew and ensure that the required measures are implemented.

Secure financing power: In addition to cost discipline and efficiency improvements, adequate capital resources are just as important as a balanced capital structure. Here it is important to analyse in detail how the company's liabilities are structured and whether the maturities and, not least, the conditions of the individual financing arrangements match (matching maturities). This should be organised together with banks and financing partners. For this purpose, however, it is first necessary to define one's own strategic direction in the form of a resilient business plan. The business plan should cover a time horizon of five years and contain various scenarios as well as an integrated planning calculation consisting of balance sheet, profit and loss account and liquidity and cash flow planning.

Actively shape the future: There are numerous reasons why no long-term sustainable concept can be achieved: despite adjustments, the company's own market position no longer appears competitive, no sufficient financing can be secured for the necessary investments in the new business model, or the shareholders no longer want to go down this path. In all these cases, it is important to actively consider various alternatives in order to maintain the value of the company in the best possible way: these can be mergers or acquisitions with competitors, extended cooperations or even the initiation of a structured succession process up to the sale of the company.

Umbruch erfordert Innovationsbereitschaft

Mastering the upheaval in the car trade requires a willingness to innovate, the courage to act entrepreneurially, but also analytical skills and a certain objectivity in the face of facts. It is therefore advisable to work out your strategic re-orientation together with a neutral consultant who is not involved in the operational structures and who can provide an undistorted view of the company with its strengths and weaknesses. This will ensure that a comprehensive analysis is carried out which both meets the individual demands and requirements of the car dealership / car group and takes into account the changing market conditions.

Effects of Corona-related shutdowns - a case study

Auswirkungen einer Corona-bedingten Betriebsstilllegung

Many companies are currently affected by a shutdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This has far-reaching consequences for the success, liquidity and balance sheet of the affected companies. The situation is particularly dramatic for companies in difficulties.

In their case study, which was recently published in KSI 04/2020, our colleagues Dr. Jan Handzlik and Dr. Bernhard Becker together with Prof. Dr. Müller from Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg specifically address this problem. By means of specific calculation examples, the effects of a shutdown are presented, taking into account existing state support measures, and recommendations for action are derived from these.

Please klick here to download the article as a pdf file.

comes is TOP CONSULTANT

comes is one of the best consulting companies in the area of medium-sized businesses in Germany - this was determined by the TOP CONSULTANT comparison. The award is based on a scientifically founded customer survey. In the context of this year's award ceremony, which was held virtually due to the Corona pandemic, former Federal President Christian Wulff congratulated our partner Konrad Martin on this success.

Professionalism, competence and, of course, satisfied customers are among the decisive factors for the award of the TOP CONSULTANT quality seal.

Since 2010, the competition has been organised by compamedia and has since served as a reliable guide for medium-sized companies in the confusing consultancy market.

Which companies are awarded the TOP CONSULTANT seal is decided by the Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Management und Beratung (WGMB) in Bonn. The results of the surveyed reference customers of the participating consulting companies are evaluated with further company data and are included in the rating (further information on the test criteria can be found at www.top-consultant.de/pruefkriterien). Thus, those companies could be filtered out who know that consulting oriented towards medium-sized businesses requires a sense of proportion and perspective - and who have proven to practice this!

The award as TOP CONSULTANT, which is based on the anonymous feedback from 14 customers last year, once again impressively confirms the consistent focus of comes on highest professionalism, competence and highest customer satisfaction and thus a high recommendation rate. We are pleased that this has been successful against the background of the particularly demanding consulting environment of restructuring and insolvency support.

TOP CONSULTANT 2020


We would like to thank our employees for their extraordinary commitment and our customers for the trust they have placed in us!

Selected feedback from our customers:

  • Professional knowledge, very pleasant contact with customers, very high availability
  • Available at any time, not arrogant, very open-minded, always an "open ear", always available with "advice and action
  • Competent, solution-oriented, friendly, it is fun to work with intelligent consultants
  • Quick perception, top network especially in crisis situations and humanity
  • The open ear and professionalism to find answers to complex questions

comes team keeps growing

Maria Husemann joined the comes team in Berlin as a senior consultant in April.

After completing her Master of Laws (LL.M.) at the University of Applied Sciences in Nürtingen-Geislingen, she worked for several years as an insolvency administrator in two well-known Hamburg law firms.

Maria Husemann will focus on the areas of procedural support and restructuring.

Also since April Dennis Hoormann is part of the comes team in Bremen as a consultant.

Following his master's degree in Corporate Development at the University of Applied Sciences in Hanover, he completed an internship in the field of in-house consulting at a major Hamburg retail chain.

Dennis Hoormann will support comes primarily in the areas of financing and restructuring.

Further support for the Hamburg location

Since the beginning of the year Jens Sickendieck has been supporting the comes team at the Hamburg location as a Senior Manager. He will focus on the automotive sector and there on the automotive trade and will accompany our clients in the areas of restructuring, strategy / management and succession planning.

Jens Sickendieck has many years of experience in the automotive sector. After several years in reorganisation and restructuring consulting, he also held operational management positions in group companies.

Svenja Hürzeler joined the comes team as a consultant at the Hamburg office in mid-January.

In addition to her master's degree with a focus on restructuring and reorganisation and a final master's thesis in the preparation of an independent business review for a Munich-based company, Svenja Hürzeler worked as a manager at the Hürzeler/Zuhr Academy.