It’s Time to Get Creative with Used Car Acquisitions
May 26, 2021
Rapid change is a fact of doing business for car dealers right now. After chip shortages led to production delays, the demand for used vehicles spiked dramatically. This dramatic shift in demand has now led to massive price hikes for used vehicles. In fact, Consumer Reports cites the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ research which shows that used car prices have jumped 21% since April of 2021.
With such fierce competition, dealers need to focus on fixed ops and getting more creative with their used car acquisition processes. Today, let’s focus on used car acquisition. James Klaus, Chief Sales Officer for Dealer Teamwork and former GSM for a successful Ford dealership, provides some tips for dealers to do just that!
Improve your website’s “we buy cars” messaging.
For example, change language from “value your trade” to “we buy cars”. If a consumer doesn’t see anything in inventory to trade with, they may not realize they can still sell you their car. If you test alternate language, collect baseline data from Google Analytics on how much traffic goes to this page to see if the change makes an impact after a few weeks to a month.
Also, it’s time to accept the fact that your competition isn’t just the dealer down the street anymore. With companies like Carvana and Vroom popping up that center their business philosophies around making car buying as easy and fast as possible for the consumer, you have to compete on a much larger scale.
You can compete with these companies by researching their process and making your online shopping experience clear and straightforward on your website. Don’t be afraid to include short videos with steps explaining the process. Make the experience simple and show the consumer that selling to you is just as easy as it is with online-only brands. Highlight the benefits you provide that others don’t provide or don’t do as well.
Apply this same philosophy to your used inventory acquisition process. Make customer-centric processes and communicate them in a clear, straightforward way. Your goal should be to make processes as smooth and painless for the consumer as possible, not the other way around.
Run “we buy cars” campaigns.
If new vehicle inventories are low, shift marketing dollars towards other campaigns for the time being to focus on branding, service, used inventory and “we buy cars” efforts. You don’t necessarily want to stop new vehicle spend altogether, but shifting a portion to other profit centers in your dealership is a smart move.
This is also a good opportunity to invest in a long-term SEO strategy. Organic search optimization will help your dealership appear in more places in search results. If you can dominate page 1 of the search results, it’ll bring credibility to your dealership in the eyes of the consumer. This also helps you maintain visibility even when ad spends are shifted.
Quote cash offers to your fixed ops customers and follow-up.
Loop your sales team into service appointments to quote customers a cash offer on their vehicle. In the words of James Klaus, “would anyone get mad at you for quoting them a cash offer?” Realistically no, the most you have to lose is they say no. The best, you get a vehicle out of the deal!
Don’t forget to log the price quoted in your CRM and make a plan to follow-up with the customer. It’s likely they won’t be ready to sell to you on the spot, so it’s important to remind them that the offer is still on the table a few weeks later, a month later, and even at their next service appointment. Also, if the price changes, be sure to communicate that as well.
Email campaigns are a great way to execute personalized follow-up in a cost-effective manner.