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 and an unexpected shortage in microchips caused a ripple effect throughout the U.S. COVID-19 created a vacuum for used vehicles in almost every market, and new vehicle lots are eerily vacant.

In July 2020, CBT News reported a bottleneck of new vehicle orders due to dwindling inventory on lots throughout the country, which forced dealers to push used vehicles to reach revenue goals.

Then, in early 2021, a shortage of semiconductors created another wave of challenges for dealerships, which still lingers.

So what’s a dealership to do?

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 still 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 demand brought on by COVID-19, 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.


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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:

Trade In Lead Ad Example

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.

  • What if you get ahead of that trend?
  • What if you show your dealership’s unique brand values?
  • What if you become 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 over-saturating 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 an 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 (And Your Inventory) Stay Top-of-Mind

Today’s inventory environment creates pressure on your dealership to carefully communicate and to thoughtfully manage expectations for motivated leads.

9 Clouds has the services and expertise to put your inventory in front of the right people online, and give your dealership an edge in your market.

When you’re ready to take the next step toward a better online presence, request an online marketing proposal.

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