Low on Inventory? Here Are 2 Strategies for Your Dealership

Low on Inventory? Here Are 2 Strategies for Your Dealership

The result of shutting down automotive factories for two months during COVID-19 has caused a ripple effect throughout the U.S. Delays in manufacturer shipments have created a vacuum for used vehicles in almost every market.

So what’s a dealership to do?

CBT News reports a bottleneck of new vehicle orders due to dwindling inventory on lots throughout the country, which is forcing dealers to push used vehicles to reach revenue goals.

If you’re struggling to find used vehicles, waiting for new vehicles to ship, or just needing to jump-start your marketing strategy, know that technology is on your side.

Now that dealers have figured out online buying, vehicle pickup, and vehicle delivery during COVID-19, it’s time to accommodate leads when you don’t have exactly what they need on hand.

Here are two strategies your dealership can use to continue bringing the right vehicles to the right leads at the right time.

1. Don’t Bank on the Auction

Auction houses have always been a staple for filling dealer lots, but because of the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 outbreaks, many markets are faced with either limited or no auction availability.

When the auction is temporarily halted, many dealers worry about filling their lots with desirable used vehicles to continue supporting sales goals.

Instead of hinging your dealership’s success on the local auto auction, consider alternate sources for great used vehicles: private parties.

A dealership’s most valuable marketing asset is its own CRM. This treasure trove of historical data can allow dealership marketers to reconnect with valued customers — and their valued vehicles.

Create a list of customers who own the vehicles you’d like to re-stock, and connect with them via email, phone, or even digital ads.

The message should be straightforward: We want your vehicle, and we’re willing to pay top dollar for it.

Here’s an example of a Facebook ad requesting trades:

But the tactic doesn’t only apply to Facebook ads: It also applies to dealership websites and email marketing.

If you want to connect with people who might just be “passing by” your website, consider publishing content like this:

Developing your dealership’s trade-in message will also allow you to leverage it for other areas, including email, landing pages, and search ads.

It’s a winning tactic for dealers of all makes.

2. Support New Vehicle Leads Ahead of Time

Hoping that your low inventory will suffice is a losing strategy.

By the time a person hits your lot (or your inventory pages), you’ve already lost. If you don’t have the right vehicle in stock, a normal lead won’t wait. They’ll go down the road.

However, in times of factory backlog, your dealership has an opportunity to educate leads so they’ll stick around.

The average buying cycle is around one month long. It often starts with a Google search and ends with a Google review.

But what if you could get ahead of that trend? What if you could connect with top-of-funnel leads to show them the unique brand values at your dealership? What if you could be the primary expert about the vehicles they want to buy?

Here’s an example of a local Ford dealer going the extra mile to educate its audience on the new Ford Bronco (which, at the time of this writing, has yet to hit the lot in most markets):

Another aspect to consider: original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) already pour millions into differentiating their products from their competitors.

So, as a dealership, your marketing message should associate you with that product and also position you as the trustworthy local expert.

As you begin to attract website visitors and accrue leads for certain models, you’ll create a valuable audience for new vehicle incentives down the road.

Thanks to digital marketing, your dealership can publish helpful blog posts, make long-term connections on Facebook, and get the email conversions you need ahead of time.

How Inventory Shortages Affect Your Dealership

The sky isn’t falling. In fact, declining inventory and increased demand allow dealers to grow their profit margins for both new and used vehicles.

In pre-pandemic times, we regularly saw automakers oversaturating dealers with inventory. This allowed dealerships to accommodate virtually every wish from every customer.

Things have changed.

What are the implications? Dealers are finding ways to cope.

Said Automotive News reporter Larry Vellequette in a recent interview on the Daily Drive podcast:

“It’s kind of a touchy situation. You have dealers who have struggled for many years in a market with 17 million sales or more. They’ve struggled with having high inventories. New car margins have been horrible for a very long time. Suddenly it’s gone downward. New car margins are better than they have been in years. . . . Customers are willing to buy and are willing to pay extra.”

9 Clouds Can Help You Accommodate Your Leads

Finding used cars is one thing. Keeping your sales team busy is another.

Today’s inventory environment creates pressure on your dealership to accommodate motivated leads.

In our next live webinar, 9 Clouds will explain marketing tactics that can help your dealership get new trades onto your lot during an inventory lull.

Plus, you’ll hear some new ideas on how to engage current leads, so when their desired vehicle finally arrives on your lot, they’re ready to buy from you.

Sign up for our webinar today. If you want to take it a step further, request an online marketing assessment.