In the used car industry, time is a critical component to your lot’s success. It’s always ticking, always marching forward, and no matter how hard you try, it can’t be stopped or slowed down. This isn’t to say that time is against you. Rather, we need to acknowledge the role of time in used car operations and learn new ways to harness its power to ultimately grow your dealership.
The first friction point to overcome is in preparation. After all, it’s been said that plans don’t matter, but preparing will always make a difference. Think about all of the obstacles our industry has faced in the last 2-3 years alone. Situations we would have never dreamed of became realities. Dealers across the country scrambled to understand which operations were sustainable and which needed to be tinkered with. In several ways, there was no method to properly prepare for the outbreak of COVID-19 or the chip shortage.
However, there were a great many best practices in place that could be modified to meet those demands. This should be your mindset moving forward toward the end of the year. We will likely encounter new issues and emerging trends that will interfere with normal operations. Disruption will always be a constant. This doesn’t mean that we need to retreat. Rather, it is an opportunity to maximize what we have been doing right for so many years and scale processes to meet future challenges.
When the concept of time as a powder keg comes into play for the used car industry, we need to examine which areas are strong and which need to be cleaned up. Preparation means constantly evaluating what is working and comparing it against past trends and future developments. Know your staffing needs, consider your inventory levels, and understand your technology stack. Don’t take for granted how the old stand-bys might evolve to match needs. Prepare today for those fluctuations.
From there, build data into your processes to get a clear picture of how your operations need to work in the face of adversity. Another way this becomes critical is through the depreciation of your inventory. Dealers and consumers alike are aware of how time degrades the value of a vehicle. Much like fruit, automobiles need to be monitored, cleaned, and arranged in such a way that drives interest while keeping things fresh. Don’t let your lot go stale. And data makes a difference here.
Think of your solutions as providing a flashlight into the darkest corners of your dealership. Where you previously were guessing or left with questions, you now have insights to help you make informed decisions. Deprecation will still be a concern, but time as a factor will be a reduced risk. You will be able to maximize your efforts and structure your lot in ways that will break you free from the pack.
As part of your efforts to reduce the negative impact of time and leverage opportunities, you need to enhance your ability to efficiently manage your inventory. Assets will depreciate, so you need to keep everything in order and properly aligned. Utilize reports that are designed for different functions throughout your lot. Your dealership has distinct qualities and a unique community, so don’t stuff your lot into a predefined box. With data outputs that speak your specific language, dealers can get a leg up on the competition while promptly providing more options to consumers.
The final component is service and experience. Empower your sales team to engage with every customer they encounter whether it be in a virtual space or brick and mortar. This means your digital properties have to be up-to-date and searchable. Your inventory needs to be attractive and your ads need to be SEO-rich. As every second is important to your bottom line, your inventory must be interactive throughout your community and beyond.
There are no longer any selling restrictions based solely on radius. Work together with your customers to bring them inventory that is properly maintained and merchandised correctly. The better the service you provide and the experience the consumer gets, the greater the chance you will build your reputation to increase sales down the road.
Your ultimate goal is to increase profits while providing customers access to quality automobiles. Don’t downplay the importance of data’s impact on timing. Every tick of the clock is a battleground for you and your lot. Reduce the friction points to enable consumers the ability to shop on their schedule.
As we head into the last quarter of 2023, now is the time to analyze your operations to discover new chances that help you maximize time and leverage new opportunities on your lot. Everything from inventory management to digital retailing deserves an intricate examination. Enable your sales team while properly juggling the marketing and merchandising of every vehicle. You’ll unlock new chances to connect with consumers, increase profits, and make the most of every second at your dealership.