By: Danny Zaslavsky, Dealer Principal, Country Hill Motors and Managing Partner, VINCUE
Early in my career as a car salesperson, I learned a valuable lesson when selling to customers who needed a car versus wanted a car. While all my customers wanted a deal, that deal was only worthwhile if the car and my dealership aligned with my customers’ value judgment.
The customers who needed a car often didn’t have another vehicle in the driveway to use as a backup. The car I was selling to them represented access, freedom and sometimes even a lifeline.
I continued to be curious about how to create value and exceed my customers’ expectations. In that journey, we shared with our customers our “Why” followed by our “How.” It went something like this:
“When you buy a car from Country Hill Motors, know that we start with a used car inspection that checks for major and minor mechanical and cosmetic defects. We then make the decision to service and recondition the vehicle or deem it not retailable to our standards. We also know that how and where we acquire our cars plays a big role in the quality of our inventory. Let me start by sharing where we purchased this car and what we’ve done to it.”
Customers love transparency, and they love value. Moreover, we did this selling cars in a $3,000 – $12,000 price range through the ’90s and early 2000s.
With the advent and adoption of dealer websites and many third-party marketplaces, this dynamic became harder to demonstrate relative to how thoughtful a vendor was about the dealers they were serving.
As I progressed through my career as a salesperson then manager, I grew to know one thing for sure:
The goal is to delight the customer through the highest authentic value and experience.
This has been and continues to be my journey and those who align with that mission.
Allow me to share how I’ve learned to develop the critical actionable and profitable steps.
The four primary functions that contribute to providing the Highest Authentic Value are:
- Know what cars to buy, where to buy them and for how much
- Have a multichannel disposition execution strategy backed by live reporting
- Merchandise every car to its highest authentic value through correct options and features
- Market each piece of inventory in a way that masters each marketplace it lives in
Achieving Highest Authentic Value for increased gross and turn has been a journey in changing the way I made decisions, my behaviors, and the culture inside my dealership. We all tend to fall back on experience, intuition, and sometimes ego to make decisions, but thanks to software solutions and data I have available at my fingertips, there are better and more profitable ways to run our businesses. I organize the inventory lifecycle into three stages: acquisition, inventory management and marketing. Let’s break it down.
I relied on instinct and experience to tell me what I should be buying for the longest time. But instinct doesn’t have the same efficiency as data. Only data can make me aware of market disruptions and emerging trends – and most importantly, only data can help me take advantage of them to get ahead of my competition.
Knowing what I need means nothing if I can’t get to it – and if the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t rely on a single source for inventory. Auctions will always be part of the inventory acquisition story. Still, smart dealers understand that they need to adopt a multi-channel sourcing strategy that combines auctions, dealer networks, and private-party acquisitions to ensure healthy and stable inventory levels.
Advanced inventory management is more critical than ever. Dealing in used cars is highly competitive, so every photo, line of description, option and feature is essential to elevating your inventory above other vehicles.
Achieving your inventory’s Highest Authentic Value is as much about understanding the actual value of your inventory as it is being able to communicate it. It means leveraging systems to know and communicate the full scope of features, options, and your dealerships’ unique selling values, such as recon and certification, and then making sure it’s accurately and attractively attached to the vehicle. Then it’s about how much the market is willing to pay and how quickly you can expect it to turn.
Good marketing is storytelling; good storytelling is marketing. When you’ve bought right, you understand what you have. All you have left to do is tell the market you have it. Now we can meet our customers where THEY are. This requires us to reimagine our websites and invest more in digital brand properties like Google My Business and Social Media – reducing reliance on some more traditional marketing channels like email and mailers.
What if instead of dropping your prices every week by as little as $500 and as much as $1,000 a unit, you could spend a fraction of your marketing spend on the cars that need it before they get old. We know that the highest profit vehicles sell in the first thirty days on average. Attracting the right eyeballs should be our first line of attack, not lowering the price. This changes our approach from the race to the bottom to obtaining the highest value for the vehicles on our lots.
I love this industry and am grateful for the great people in it. I learn something new every day, and it takes all of us to build solutions that change our industry for the better. Thank you to our team and dealer community for making VINCUE stronger. We’re just getting started.
Are you interested in learning how you can prepare your dealership to compete against the forces changing the entire industry? Schedule a VINCUE Test Drive today.