Where’s the real info?

I was re-reading the below post on GM truck inventory and some great Edmunds.com data and I thought I’d share some history.  20 years ago when I first started working with the auto sector, we had the good ole’ 10-day sales report.  Yep, sales every 10 days, data crunchers’ dream.  After a few years on the inside, I quickly learned that retail sales numbers are totally relative.

The business was (and I fear still may be) totally factory driven, and in the end, we were going to sell whatever Japan and Tennessee churned out, and retail sales only tell you how you dealt with that last 10-days, month or quarter.

If you want to get a future outlook, you gotta talk to the Supply Chain people.  For understanding business, I’ll take an inventory analysis any day over sales analysis!  It’s not just that most (not all) sales teams like to talk up their game.  Face it, that’s what they too often get paid to do. It’s been my experience that supply chain teams are too often ignored, they’re the poor cousins and usually it’s just fine with them. At least until we get hit with a crises, and then we expect them to fix the problem in 30 days that it took overzealous ordering and  over-achieving manufacturing to build up in six months.

So, to my former supply chain and inventory colleagues, thanks for helping me understand the business better.  I am confident that every CEO out there has been wonderfully gracious that you and your counterparts worked off billions of $’s, euros and yen of bloated inventory over the past two years, and that the sales and production planners have your back now that things are “all better.”  Here’s to you.


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