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Larry Bruce

Larry Bruce Founder / President / CEO

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Is What Your Dealership Stock a Marketing Decision?

Micrositesbyu.com OnlineDrive.com 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 VERY FIRST QUESTON YOU SHOULD BE ASKING YOURSELF WHEN YOU GO TO BUY OR TRADE FOR A USED CAR – “HOW AM I GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS USED CAR?” THAT IS A MARKETING DECISION
 

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

Ed Brooks
Since my friend Larry took it upon himself to ask my question here, I thought I'd at least post it in it's original format: Is WHAT you stock a marketing decision? As we approached the 11-11-11 launch of Provision, I’d been thinking a lot about dealerships’ inventories – what you stock. My question is, “Is what you stock a marketing decision?” Not necessarily a capital ‘M’ Marketing Department decision, but rather a small ‘m’ marketing decision. The noun, not the business unit. Is WHAT you stock a marketing decision?-auction.jpg I’d submit to you that not only is it a marketing decision, it’s one of the most fundamentally important decisions made at your dealership. The classical Four P’s of marketing that have been around since the 60’s are as important today as they were 50 years ago: Product, Price, Promotion and Place. While a number of folks have tried to redefine things like the “Dealership Experience” as the product, at the end of the day, what the customer is spending thousands of dollars on is the car. Whether you have a crusty old Used Car Manager or a handsome young one. Whether you’re using cutting edge market analytics, or shooting from the hip. No matter how the decision is made, I contend this is a marketing decision. This decision has a direct and substantial impact on your traffic today. With the amount of online research being conducted today, one of the easiest ways to eliminate yourself from contention is not having the car your customers are looking for at a price they are willing to pay. I believe your inventory has much more impact on your success than how fully you’ve embraced Social Media, or what percentage of your budget goes to PPC campaigns or even whether you show up above your closest competitor on a Google Search. If you don’t have the car they want, at a price they are willing to pay, their search will continue. So back to my original question, “Is what you stock a marketing decision?” What are your thoughts? Do the folks buying your inventory have a real appreciation for how crucial their decisions are to your success? Ed Brooks vAuto 402.427.0157 Phone
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!

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