In this edition of Next Day Traffic, guest author Jasen Rice shares his do’s and don’ts for used car merchandising during the pandemic. Rice is the owner of automotive consulting agency Lotpop.
Do: Virtual Lot Walks
Do make sure that you complete a “virtual lot walk” on all your vehicles online. Make sure that all the “goodies” like a sunroof, navigation, and Apple CarPlay are at the beginning of both your descriptions and photos. Do not bury these pictures.
Don’t: Hold On to Late-Model Inventory
Don’t sit on your late-model vehicles. New-car incentives and rental car fleets are hitting the market hard, both in retail and in wholesale. These vehicles’ values are going to be moving fast and low over the next 60–90 days, so getting rid of these vehicles quickly, even at a loss right now, will be better for you in the long run.
Do: Adjust Pricing
Do make price adjustments if the market is moving. Make sure your price-to-market strategy is maintained daily. Again, this market is going to move faster than it ever has, and if other dealers start making a move on pricing to try to get ahead in the upcoming market shifts, or change prices to drive more traffic, you need to adjust with them or make sure you stand out from them with photos, videos, and marketing strategies.
Don’t: Use Old Metrics
Don’t rely on “old” metrics that are looking at 30- or 45-day sale rates to make pricing or stocking decisions. Neither your inventory nor the market’s inventory will be doing a whole lot over the next 45–90 days. So, using metrics that look back 30–45 days will be obsolete. Think about this: Just look at how your life and business have changed in the last 2–4 weeks. What you did 2, 3, and 4 weeks ago in your life and at your dealership has totally changed and so has the market. Plus, once May or June arrives, referencing back to April’s performance will not represent the same circumstances (hopefully).
Do: Continue Following Up
Do follow up with leads, and make sure you have a 90-day follow-up process in place, if not 120. I would always keep a lead active until they “buy, die, or unsubscribe.” But make sure your call, text, and email processes are set up for the long haul. Customers could be shopping now or even last month, but they may not pull the trigger on a purchase until we are well past this virus. A.B.C.: Always Be Contacting.
Don’t: Use Old Templates
Don’t let your old email templates go out without changing them up. The days of “When can you come in?” or “Please click here to schedule a test drive” won’t work right now. So, change them out to make sure you are offering home appointments, home deliveries, contact-free services, and so on. A.B.C.: Always Be Changing, especially over the next 60–90 days until we are back to normal services.
Do: Communicate Customer Safety
Do promote the steps you are taking to make your buying service clean, quick, and easy. Do videos and testimonials on what your store and your team are doing to make sure customer and employee health is #1. Promote what you are doing in the community to help, and don’t be afraid to seem like you are “showing off.” People like doing business with a brand they know and trust. A.B.C.: Always Be Caring.
Don’t: Give Up
Don’t sit on your hands and give up until this all blows over. Your virtual lot is always open. Make sure it is standing tall and the customers who visit your virtual lot are taken care of. The best of habits form at the worst of times, so get great processes in place and don’t let them slip. A.B.C.: Always Be in Control.
Related: Tips from Lot Pop on Used Car Merchandising