It’s that time of the year when dealers start to think about increasing their used car inventory for the selling season. There are many sources for acquiring inventory and more often than not some of them are right under our nose and we either can’t see them or choose to ignore them.
I was at the CarMax store in Clearwater, FL recently and spoke with a very chatty sales person. He proceeded to tell me that 70% of the traffic they get at that CarMax store is from people who want to sell them a car. Do you think their campaign of “We will buy your car even if you don’t buy ours” is working?
If you have not put a big push on to buy cars in your market maybe it’s about time you did. You may not get instant results, but over time you will. You must remain consistent in your advertising and marketing of the concept.
You will be wasting your time and money doing so if you do not set up internal procedures to handle these sellers when they show up. It’s a combination of the paper work, the offer, the documentation of the offer and the way the sales person greets and handles the customers when they show up that makes it successful. What CarMax has figured out is that the person showing up to sell them a car is a “Customer.” They don’t treat them any differently than someone who comes in to buy a car. They all get the “full routine.”
One of the things we all know to be true is we get the nicest cars and trucks at the front door. Without exception almost every dealer and manager I work with will tell me “We never missed a trade at the door?” Really? Do you really believe that?
If you are not using the vAuto appraisal tool then you should. You should be tracking “Look to Book,” for your store and each manager who appraises used vehicles. You should always be looking to drive your “look to book” up. Don’t fool yourself by thinking a certain percentage is acceptable unless it’s 100%. Yes, that’s silly, but that should be your thinking. Until you get it to 100% you haven’t gotten it right. Duh, you never get it right.
You should demand that every vehicle that’s appraised is put in the system. Since I know you are holding a “Save-A-Deal” meeting every morning you should make sure that you review every appraised trade from the day before during the course of that meeting. You’re going to find some cars in that stack that you will now go back and put some extra money on. Voila, you make another deal and get another nice used car or truck for your inventory.
While I’m discussing trades I need to point out that any vehicle that you are attempting to trade that has the potential to be retailed for $15,000 or less is a vehicle you need to step up to. You have three great tools at your disposal to ensure you are stepping up on the right units. vAuto, Auto Trader and Auto Count USA. These tools are going to zero you in on the fastest movers in your market. When you combine those tools with the mindset of retailing cars under $15,000 you put yourself in the catbird seat.
Another great method of finding more used cars is to get some of your sales staff involved. I would suggest picking two sales people. Assign one trucks and one cars. They need to be detail-oriented people with good communication skills. Have them work all the “for sale by owner” publications and websites they can come up with.
Another very popular technique these days is to have them contact all your customers who have appointments in the service department the next day to confirm the appointment. When doing so they should ask the customer if they would like to have their car appraised while it’s in for service. For any car they find for you that you decide to buy pay them a finder’s fee in the range of $200.
One of the greatest opportunities to find more cars and trucks is from your existing customer base. This list can be a powerful marketing tool for finding great cars and trucks to sell. You absolutely know which cars of your own brand you do well with. You should be contacting these customers via direct mail or email with an offer to purchase their vehicle.
You could make them an offer like this: “We have a need for your 2008 Toyota Camry. Print this coupon out for an extra $1000 trade allowance and present it after you make your best deal. If you’re not interested in buying a vehicle we are more than willing to buy yours and give you an additional $1000 over Kelly Blue book.” You have a huge customer base that you need to go after and most of you are not doing so.
I go after my customer base each week by staying in touch with you via this newsletter. It’s my way of asking for the business. One way you can stay in touch with your customer base is by letting them know you want to buy their car. It’s not rocket science, it’s just smart. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs