Effective Marketing Strategies for Auto Dealers Experiencing Inventory Shortages
Bare car lots have become the new normal coming out of the pandemic.
Despite consumer spending rising coming out of 2020 and in early 2021, complications from new vehicle production delays have impacted auto dealers in ways they haven’t seen in decades.
In fact, some estimates predict that new vehicle inventory levels won’t be back to where they were pre-pandemic until the year 2025 due to the global microchip shortage, among other factors.
The problem is, people still need vehicles. So how can your dealership sell vehicles you don’t currently have on your car lot?
Making New Vehicle Orders the Norm for Dealerships
Giving car shoppers the ability to place a custom vehicle order through your dealership has likely always been an option. The difference now is that this type of offering is no longer just a convenient option for customers — it’s a necessity.
Car manufacturers simply can’t keep up with the current demand for vehicles. Even when auto manufacturers do catch up, the emphasis placed on pushing custom orders as the best option for shoppers is expected to continue.
Three Tips for Educating Shoppers About New Vehicle Order Options
Even though most adults have purchased a vehicle at some point in their lifetime, a much smaller percentage of those purchases have occurred as a result of the vehicle ordering process.
This means there is an opportunity to educate those currently in-market (and those who soon will be) about the vehicle ordering process.
Tip #1: Address the Inventory Issue Upfront
Transparency is extremely important when discussing inventory shortages with customers. Without transparency, your ability to maintain customers and attract new ones will disappear.
If someone is interested in a vehicle that you don’t currently have on your lot, be up front about this fact. Instead, try to educate shoppers about the vehicle they are interested in. Allow them to test drive similar vehicles, and take the time to explain how the vehicle order process works.
Transparency should also be present once a customer has decided to place a vehicle order through your dealership. Have your sales staff do their best to give customers a timeline of when they can expect their vehicle to arrive. And if you don’t know when it will arrive, be honest about this, too!
Tip #2: Utilize FAQs About Vehicle Orders
Those in-market for a vehicle are becoming more open to the idea of placing a custom order, but they still have questions. This is your dealership’s opportunity to educate them about the vehicle ordering process and explain why they should order from your dealership.
Do you have a landing page or blog post on your website dedicated to talking about this topic? If not, your customers are going to look elsewhere for this information.
You can take this a step further by answering new vehicle order questions on your dealership’s social media channels, as well as through video like the examples below.
Tip #3: Don’t Give Up on Advertising New Inventory
Since new vehicles can be hard to come by these days, many auto dealers are making the choice to pause new vehicle advertising and focus their efforts on used.
While this strategy may work for some dealerships, it is still possible to promote new inventory when the country is in the midst of a major inventory shortage.
If you run Facebook ads for auto, transition your traditional new inventory promotion ads to promote placing a direct vehicle order. You can also highlight incentives certain vehicle brands offer for those who choose to place a direct vehicle order.
Partner with 9 Clouds to Take on Inventory Challenges
Before 2020, it was quite common to see auto manufacturers over-saturating dealers with inventory. This allowed dealerships to accommodate most customer requests coming their way.
Moving into 2022 and beyond, it’s unlikely that dealers will ever have the new vehicle numbers they once had. And as more shoppers turn to ordering exactly what they want, dealers will need to embrace vehicle order messaging in their marketing strategy.
9 Clouds has worked with car dealerships before and during the pandemic, so we’ve seen what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to promoting inventory during a worldwide inventory shortage.
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