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I have been involved in the auto industry for many years and have encountered this situation multiple times: a person comes in looking for a used vehicle that the dealership just doesn’t have. Most dealers I know either try to change the customer’s mind to a vehicle they do have in stock or simply state that they don’t have the vehicle and let the customer walk away.
Some CRM technologies have a “Check New Inventory” feature which allows the salesperson to save the vehicle of interest, and the CRM will automatically notify the sales person when a similar or matching vehicle is received into inventory. Another feature allows you to pull a list of those looking for a certain vehicle which you can use as a “wish list” for purchasing vehicles at auction. Although these are great features, I have found there is a better way.
Your CRM should have a way to search your historic sold data through some sort of listbuilder. If a customer comes in looking for a specific vehicle which you don’t have, simply go to your CRM and create a search for everyone you have sold the exact vehicle for which your customer is looking. Search for a vehicle that your dealership has sold in the past 36 to 60 months. With this search you should have a large list of owners to call who have had their vehicle for some time and might be looking for a change.
Simply call on the list and state to them that you have a customer looking for the exact vehicle they currently own and you'd like to know if they are willing to sell it. Some dealers I know even look at the service history and state to the customer that the reason they are calling is because they know they take good care of their vehicle.
Remember, your goal is not just to sell the one vehicle but also to sell a replacement vehicle to the person who is getting rid of theirs. You might even luck out and get a trade out of the prospect.
You can also take advantage of a listbuilder every time you receive a trade. The moment you even look at a trade you should be building a list of all active prospects who are interested in this vehicle to gauge interest. This can help forecast if this vehicle is just going to sit on your lot. A good practice is to begin calling on these prospects before you even take in the trade. This can allow you to give more on the trade if you already know you have a potential buyer. And, again, you are hoping that they have a trade as well.
The dealerships I know who use this method are very successful, often turning a one car deal into two or three.
What are your thoughts and opinions?
Hunter Swift is the Business Analyst at DealerSocket and specializes in Automotive/Dealership processes that help dealerships become more effective by maximizing their opportunity to improve all aspects of the sales cycle, including: driving traffic, marketing, proper sales, and demonstration techniques. He also specializes in helping dealerships increase their customer satisfaction, reduce their web-lead response times and to improve accountability.