Five Essential Tactics to Hit Your Used-Sales Goals

Even though business is better, running a successful dealership has never been more difficult. Today, dealerships are more complex; markets are highly competitive; and hitting healthy margins are more difficult than ever before. Further complicating matters, consumers have become more knowledgeable on the value of vehicles, and far less willing to compromise during the car buying process. The bottom line, managing retail operations has never been more complex and chaotic.

But that’s OK. We’re here to help.

Used by leading automotive retailers – below are five essential tactics you can perform at your store to gain better visibility and control of your pre-owned sales performance.

So what are you waiting for?

1) Analyze appraisals from every day

Identify trends in your previous day sales, and devise a plan to replace this inventory with additional pre-owned units.


Look at the Days to Sale, Margin, and Market Days Supply of the car in the market. What is your current stocking position? How did you acquire this car (trade or purchase)? Was this a market performer, or a store performer? Does it make sense to replenish your stock based on current conditions and the results that you saw at your dealership?
You may want to consider reaching out to other dealers and put together deals for their aging inventory (that match your core needs). Simply locate cars already in the market that have already been reconditioned and have low Market Days Supply. They may be overpriced or poorly marketed by their current dealer. In addition, check your Custom Inventory Analysis for the segments that make you the most gross and/or that you turn the fastest.
2) Execute your pricing plan by aging buckets

Put together a game plan for execution. Which cars do you price? It is easy to look at your aged cars or just the cars you bought/traded for (if multiple people are appraising), but when you are just making daily updates to the prices. Here are a few recommended best practices:

1. Stick to your Aging Policy and re-evaluate based on activity and market criteria.

2. PHYSICALLY pull the keys to each car on the planning tab. Book it out, check market listings, open the car (does it smell like wet dog?), start it, check the tires, do a “walkaround”. If you are doing this everyday, there will only be a handful of cars on the list.


Draw a ‘line in the sand,’ and say “When a car hits XX days, I will re-evaluate its position in the market for pricing and ONLY when it hits this age.” You HAVE to give a car time to adjust to new pricing and have a chance to sell. Be “in the game”. Don’t just look at a report to tell you the cars you are asking above AND below market average, know WHY you fail into each category on EVERY car.
3) Assess Time to Market and Low Online Ad Performance

Accelerate your Time to Market and streamline your process from appraisal through recon, and into Online ads. Follow up in your service drive to push cars through recon and get new inventory to market.


Recommended Benchmark: Time to Market should take no more than: 72 Hours. Time to Market will vary based on the dealership. Know YOUR setup and benchmark based on your top performing months and shoot for a 20% improvement each month.
4) Assess core inventory stocking levels

Plan for next week by identifying the best place to source these cars at auction.


Use your Inventory Manager to see which of your top volume, gross and turn cars you are under stocked in. Over/Under Stocking Guide and see what you need to source. Find them at local auction.
Drill down past the make/model (Are there certain years, trims, or price bands you excel at?)
5) Analyze immediate wholesale P/L

How close to $0 on the positive side did you get? How many deals did you save/miss by being too aggressive/ conservative on my numbers?


Manage the managers involved. Don’t knee-jerk and start giving $500/car more on every opportunity. Analyze the numbers and create an individual action plan for the people that are affecting the data the most. Your most expensive investment is PEOPLE – use this data to help you manage them.

Market Data – It’s Just Half the Story

I was recently speaking to a large dealer group in Wisconsin and the topic of CarMax came up. The big box auto retailer is finishing up construction on two stores in town (their first venture in that market), and there was a sense of urgency to “figure this out” before CarMax set up shop and put them all out of business.

As a former manager with CarMax many years ago, I saw this attitude many times before. I remember buying cars at auction in San Antonio in preparation of the Austin store’s grand opening and hearing dealers that were not exposed to a huge CarMax presence before screaming at me “are you going to leave any cars for us?!?!?”. Fast forward 10 years, and upon visiting a dealership in Katy, TX (outside of Houston), the tone was much different. CarMax was hanging their sign out in front of a brand new location, and the GM of the dealership across the street couldn’t have been happier. This market had seen CarMax for the last decade plus, and he knew what they represented. He was excited at the prospect of droves and droves of potential customers being drawn in by CarMax and was confident he could flip them. CarMax was basically sending hundreds of new customers right in front of his dealership for free! Why was he so confident?

Because he was dialed into what his store performs well with and knows which units he can hold gross on and which units need to be turned quickly by having an incredible amount of analytics behind every pricing decision. Relying on only market data in an area that has a large CarMax presence is a recipe for disaster. CarMax has teams of analysts and data engineers that have become really good at predicting market trends and staying ahead of the buy, meaning they are predictive, rather than reactive. Market Data-only dealers will only be able to stay a couple hundred dollars behind CarMax on units they have a much higher acquisition cost due to CarMax’s efficiencies. Race to the bottom anyone?

What keeps CarMax ahead of the curve is their ability to repeat successes and recognize their opportunities based on their own data. Market data is only half the story, and it is the half that drives grosses to the lowest common denominator.