by Joseph Schena
How Do Auto Dealerships Stay Ahead When Inventory Is Low?
By Joseph Schena – CBC Director of Operations
Pandemic or not, success in the car business comes down to maintaining flexibility, managing inventory and expenses, and keeping as much gross as possible. Sound familiar? While change has been the norm over the last 15 months, these core principles remain bedrocks for successful auto dealerships. Dealers who have maintained those principles are usually the ones who have reaped the greatest financial rewards.
While we can’t go back in time and change any of the variables that have led us to where we are today, CBC Automotive Marketing can help you position your dealership for maximum advantage – both now and when the inventory crunch subsides. As you’re reviewing your go-to-market strategy, here are three key areas of emphasis to keep in mind.
1.) Create Perceptions of Inventory, Versus Promoting a Specific Number.
With most dealership lots looking lean, promote the perception of selection rather than a hard number. People in the industry know that a dealer with 40 new trucks on the ground is probably in a really good position. But “Joe Customer” may not. Customers who search online will understand inventory compression, but more needs-based and emotionally-driven customers may not understand there’s a chip shortage affecting inventory availability. Position your marketing messaging to appeal to both customer types by replacing common appeals like, “over 250 to choose from” with something like “the best selection in the region”. When a customer comes in and asks where the inventory is, calmly tell them that you sold it all because you have the best mix of inventory, pricing, and experience. In-dealership messaging like this will reinforce the value, and authenticity, of your outbound messaging.
2.) Volume Dealers are Taking Anything They Can from the Factory.
I will start this section by saying that I respect any auto dealer who turns down a factory allocation or an offer of inventory. Only the operator knows best what sells in their market and what is ideal for their lot. But as inventory has dried up, consumers have had to search further to find the vehicle that they want and average customer travel distances have risen steadily. This can have an effect on the types of customers you’re seeing – as well as what they’re looking for. CBC Automotive Marketing’s largest-volume dealers are taking whatever they can from the factory and moving inventory out quickly. Are they taking vehicle builds that are less than ideal? Yes. Are they turning them quickly, at high gross margins? They sure are. And every vehicle turned is a vehicle earned for when inventory normalizes in the future.
3.) Own Your Strengths and Communicate Them.
As you will find in any crisis, there is opportunity. As inventory has dried up, many dealerships have scaled back on their marketing efforts, and that creates greater efficiency for you to go in and introduce new customers to your dealership or group. Conquesting is more effective right now because customers are being forced into different stores or brands to find the features they’re looking for, so you may find success marketing to a wider audience than you have in the past. Is your dealership known for customer service? Do you have an unconventional or progressive buying experience? Are you family-owned? Part of a regional group? Whatever your unique strengths and differentiators are, get them front and center in front of as many people as you can through as many effective media as possible. (Side note – CBC’s Media Habits Research Program can help you decide which media are most effective for your buyers.) Also, make sure you have all high-value differentiators on your website, in as many high-value locations as possible. If you’re only talking about what makes you unique in a TV commercial, or in the body copy of a Facebook ad, and not reinforcing those traits on your homepage and VDPs, then you’re missing a key opportunity to remind your potential customers of what makes your dealership unique. That will cut down on opportunities to do business before you even have the chance.
Are you looking for help in turning your inventory faster? Or perhaps for a marketing partner that can make your life easier by taking care of all of the details while you focus your time and energy on your staff? CBC Automotive Marketing is ready to help you get on track today by putting nearly four decades of experience, with some of the best dealerships in North America, to work for your dealership or automotive group. Reach out to us below today and let’s have a conversation.