Outside-the-Box Tips for Getting Cars on Your Lot

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We’re hearing from dealers that they’re working overtime just to keep inventory on the lot. Doing things the same way you used to probably isn’t getting the job done. Today, finding cars to sell means you have to think outside the box. When wholesale dealer auctions, off-lease vehicles, off-fleet vehicles, and trade-ins aren’t cutting it, you may need to get creative.

For some real world practical tips on growing trade-in volume, boosting home grown inventory, and more, you can check out this recent Just The Fax podcast. Bob and DJ, with guest David Kain (Kain Automotive) offer the kind of ideas you can really use. Here is a quick run-down of some effective strategies we know dealers are using today:

Rethink Acquisition Policies

You could be letting cars slip through your fingers when you need them the most. Rethinking policies about acquisition could make a difference.

  1. Keep all the off-lease vehicles on your lot. You probably send a lot of less-than-prime cars to auction. Maybe take another look at these cars and consider keeping some on your lot. You can get even more proactive with this strategy — some dealer groups are scouring lease portfolios. When you see a lease car worth buying, reach out to the customer earlier than normal and make an offer. But be careful only to go after deals that make financial sense.
  2. Require a Trade-in. Some dealers require out-of-town shoppers to have a trade-in if they want to buy a car. You build acquisitions for the dealership and prioritize local shoppers who are more likely to become your repeat customers.

Proactive Strategies

Get creative and focus your resources on finding the deals where you can.

  1. Mine car ads on Craigslist, Facebook, and other online resources. There are no statistics on the rates of success, but in today’s market this might be a better use of your sales team’s time than cold calling. Armed with professional knowledge and CARFAX Vehicle History Reports, they can negotiate for the cars wherever they might find them.
  2. Invest in software. Competing dealers are looking at private sales for vehicles, too. Some dealers are investing in solutions designed to connect them with private sellers and the estimated 11 million used cars sold privately every year in the U.S.
  3. Enlist your service department. Vehicles that come through your service department can be a great source for acquisitions. Give service staff a list of vehicles you’re after so they can keep an eye out for potential deals. They can give your sales team the information they need to approach service customers about an offer. If you have CARFAX Advantage, make sure your staff is using it to get the right price on those service acquisitions. (You can even post the list in your service lobby so customers know you want the car they have!)
  4. Offer spiffs for acquisitions. Some dealers offer their salespeople (and even the service team) spiffs when they find used cars and trucks that the dealership buys. Let your team get creative with social media, personal connections, local papers, and even searching public lots to get you the inventory you need. Everybody wins!

Getting innovative now will help get cars onto your lot today. And those new sources of inventory you tap into might be valuable even after the world is flush with new cars again.

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