Often you have to go against the flow to succeed.
For instance, what contributes more to a profitable used-car department, stocking choice or online inventory marketing?
The “flow” tell you the right answer is stocking choices. But if the reason to operate a used-car department is to sell cars, then how you market that inventory online is the more critical function of the two.
Sure, having inventory is vital, but the goal for having inventory is to sell it as quickly as you can for the most margin. Stocking, even with the right cars for your market, does not guarantee that outcome.
However, what moves cars fast is online marketing fluid enough to change pricing as needed, that sells using descriptive and visually telling photos and detailed vehicle descriptions, and that attracts shoppers and triggers leads.
The right marketing attracts buyers for inventory still on the transport and helps clear the lot of aging units dragging down margin.
Stocking choice is somewhat limited, but how often you adjust online prices and how aggressive you want to be with online photos, videos, and specific and detailed vehicle descriptions determines your virtual page detail views and clicks that tee up sales opportunities.
You cannot always control what you put on your lot. Sometimes trades or auction buys are high-supply cars. It is difficult to buy the right cars for the right money at auction. When you do buy, it was your hand up last, meaning you bought at the top of the market.
Therefore, while you can control stocking choices a little, you have full control over how you will market your cars.
Attack your online pricing, at least weekly. Update online photos with those of the actual vehicles and use 360-view videos. Update and improve online description details.
Make VDPs sparkle, and the phone will ring to clear your lot at higher margin as you wait for incoming cars. Then give those units the same marketing energy.
Improve Your Descriptions
Study vehicle descriptions for missing data. Did your mention the sports coupe has a five-speed manual? Did you call out the panoramic sunroof on the crossover SUV? Does the CPO unit have one of the latest NAV systems consumers look for today?
Few shoppers use OEM color names for search, but they often appear in place of, rather than beside, the more descriptive white, black, blue, or red. Don’t eliminate viewers looking for red Ford F-150s or blue Volkswagen Beetles but likely not searching by “Toreador” or “Denim.”
Too vague or too specific search criteria can cause search engines to skip right over those listings — and you miss potential sales. With the right marketing focus, you can even find a retail buyer for that ‘09 Mercury Mountaineer you took in trade.
In the used-car sales game, going against the flow can be the hallmark of a smiling sales manager.
Stocking choices are essential but not always under the dealer’s control. You do control how you market your vehicles online.
Get marketing right first. Have your plan in place to retail out any cars you stock by tweaking online marketing to increase views, traffic, and leads.
Jasen Rice is the founder and CEO of virtual inventory growth company Lotpop.