Low-Inventory Dealership Messaging

In the automotive industry, we like to say, “Always Be Selling.” But what do you do when you have a very limited inventory to sell? All across the country, auto dealers are experiencing inventory issues due to COVID-19 related production delays. They’re getting fewer new cars in from the factory, and since there are fewer new cars customers are cleaning out pre-owned inventories as well, leaving dealers with not much to sell. The question shifts from, “How do I sell my inventory,” to, “What do I sell?” The good news is that there are still opportunities to keep your revenue stream flowing in times of inventory drought.

Trade-In and Pre-Owned

If you can’t get inventory from the factory, it’s time to start bulking up your stock of pre-owned vehicles. Peppering in trade-in references into all of your messaging is a great start. Remind customers that their current vehicle is more than just a way from point A to point B, it’s a potential goldmine of value and a great tool toward getting that new vehicle they’ve had their eye on. Be sure to make it clear that you also purchase vehicles outright and that they don’t need to buy from you to take advantage of this unprecedented pre-owned value. You can also run a pre-owned vehicle sales message if you have the inventory to support it. This is best used as a standalone campaign since most OEMs allow for very limited pre-owned messaging in new car ads, while trade-in mentions can often run concurrently with new. Whether you want to focus on bringing units in or moving them out, pre-owned advertising is a great way to keep your inventory flowing in spite of backed-up factories.

Some of our clients have also been finding success buying pre-owned inventory off of Facebook marketplace. If you’re not getting everything you need from trade-ins and auctions, this can be a great tool for building up your inventory.

Fixed Operations

TAAA Blog - Fixed OpsIf there’s one thing customers will always need, it’s vehicle maintenance and repair. They may have limited purchasing options during periods of low inventory, but they’re still driving. While it’s always a good idea to maintain some level of fixed operations messaging year-round, now is a great time to remind customers of the quality of your parts and service department. A general mention of your services across your campaigns is a great start, but we recommend going a little deeper. Hold dealership events focused on battery checks. Run boosted social media posts pushing tire rotations. Post a blog going into detail about the benefits of regular oil changes. You should be maximizing your value by pushing a parts and service message across all of your platforms.

Purchase Orders

Another more unique road to go down is vehicle purchase orders. You can be up front with customers and let them know that inventory is down, but that if they order a vehicle they can get exactly what they want after a short wait. We recommend jazzing up the language a bit to make it sound more exciting and exclusive for the customers. Call it a Special Purchase or a Pre-Order, rather than a purchase order. You can even run an event that offers additional value for any purchase order made. Summer is on the way, so you could run a “Pre-Order Your Summer” event by offering a few free nights at a resort with every purchase order. When they get their vehicle in a month or so they’ll be ready to hit the road for that summer road trip. Essentially, you want to make it look like waiting for the vehicle they want is a good thing. This reassures customers that while they might not be able to get their dream ride right now, they’ll be the first ones in line once units hit your lot.

All in all, there are many ways to keep selling your dealership even if you don’t actually have much inventory to sell. If you’re looking for more advice, inspiration, or insight, just ask the experts at the Automotive Advertising Agency. We’ve seen it all, and we’re happy to help you navigate through all of the ups and downs of the auto industry. Give us a call at 512-610-7300, or contact us at TheAutoAdAgency.com/contact/ for more information.

About the author

Michelle Camacho is the President of The Automotive Advertising Agency.