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Larry Bruce

Larry Bruce Founder / President / CEO

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Is What Your Dealership Stock a Marketing Decision? This was a question asked on Dealerrefresh by Ed Brooks of vAuto. I find this a very interesting question for a lot of reasons and my answer is YES where you have control over it.

Obviously in a new car franchise you have less control as your inventory is dictated a great deal by the OEM but even they somewhat dictate your allocation by marketing. In our Toyota store here in Houston that I ran in the 90’s GST would give us our allocation based on our “Rolling 90” the average number of vehicles we sold in a 30 day period for the last 90 days. In a sense you could say they were dictating what we stocked by Marketing.

During the worst days of GM’s VOMS program at our Chevrolet store we fought to get the best vehicles including the Avalanche a very popular vehicle from 99 – 2001 Why? They sold better “Marketing”.

In a sense one could say and I will say it, what you stock has ALWAYS been a “Marketing Decision”.

Back then I would line up Chevrolet and Ford Trucks on the front line or our Toyota store, this would just twist our GST reps head, but my point then was the same then as it is now.

“I have huge sign that says I sell Toyota’s and people know that what they don’t know is what else I have and there are a lot of potential customers driving by our store that are going to buy a Chevy or Ford pickup and I want them to know we are a choice for them.” –

I made it a point to stock that “Product” on our Toyota lot and “Place” it where I did: IE “A Marketing Decision”.

In used cars you are 100% in control of what you stock (one of the reasons why I love that business) and if you are doing that right you are basing what you stock on marketing decisions “What Sells” NOT what you can buy cheap!


The “Book” really no longer has any value from a purchase perspective; the only thing that does have value is what cars are selling now and how much you can get for it. If you have a good recon dept. a great sales process and great marketing you can pay more for a car than the other guy because you can sell it for more and you can get out of it faster.

This was true 20+ years ago when I started in the car business and its true today, the only difference you have better tools and information to make those decisions but make no mistake if you are doing it right you are making them based on marketing.

Those are my thoughts what say you?  

Larry Bruce @pcmguy

Larry Bruce
I Said you asked the question in the post. You know why I answered it here and I told you that was what I was going to do.
Dennis Galbraith
It's finally hear, the day that Larry Bruce, Ed Brooks, and Dennis Galbraith all agree! We grow together by challenging each other, but this is indisputable, product is one of the four Ps of marketing. Buying a franchise takes some of the control for product out of the store's hands, but that does not change the fact that product is a critical element of the marketing mix. I will counter my good friend Ed on the importance of product relative to the other elements of marketing. Marketers get in trouble when they focus on one element. Making the marketing mix work together is more important than any one element. When I taught marketing to graduate and undergraduate students, the four Ps was the discussion for day one, and you had to know them to pass the class. Most of the rest of the class was about making the four Ps work together and all the challenges that come with that. I'm also going to stir the pot by suggesting the product is not just the vehicle but the financing and ownership of that vehicle, including parts, accessories, and service. Do you service what you stock? Does fixed ops revenue factor into your stocking plans? Do you factor in your back-end profit potential when developing your stocking plans, or is it strictly based on front-end gross potential? Frankly, the question here is the right one at this stage. Let's just start with the fact that product is a key element of marketing. And we can start our stocking strategies based on front-end gross, because at least that gives us a strategy to start with. However, the strategy discussions are going to get a lot more in-depth on DrivingSales, and dealers are going to learn how to make a lot more money. Billions are lost in high-margin fixed ops revenue because of a myopic focus on the core unit. It all starts with Ed's important question, "Do the folks buying your inventory have a real appreciation for how crucial their decisions are to your success?"
Jim Bell
Mark this day in history!! Truely amazing! We have had the opportunity to be on Provision for the last month and a half or so and it is truely the best thing since sliced bread that has hit our industry. Dealers will be able to see what the best vehicles are to stock and they will be able to market themselves on all of the classified website more effectively. More VDPs equals more traffic...pretty cut and dry.
Ed Brooks
The idea of aligning your inventory to what people are shopping for online, today, in your market, seems so simple and obvious. But when you see the power of it in action, it's pretty darn cool. Congratulations on your success Jim!
Dennis Galbraith
Ed, I'd like to make sure I understand the strategy behind the Provision tool. When you say aligning your inventory to what people are shopping for online, I think you don't necessary mean that as an across the board average. You can identify the pickups with the most demand relative to supply or the luxury sedans with the most demand relative to supply and know what to pay and where to find them. My understanding is that if radio stations had a Provision tool, it doesn't mean they would all be playing the same songs. One would become a better country station and another would become a better rock station. Do I have that right?

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