You can’t get units to sell, but you have customers calling, emailing and waltzing into your dealership, asking you to take their cash. What’s a dealership owner or manager to do? Should you stop marketing if you can’t get wholegoods inventory to sell?

The quick answer is a resounding no, you shouldn’t stop marketing, but how you market each department will be slightly different than what you have experienced in the past. You have to consider two things: what do you have inventory of and how it will solve your customer’s pain point. 

Marketing Inventory in the Service Department

In your service department, your inventory is your technician’s time. That’s right, every day, you buy 8 hours from every technician. What you don’t use gets thrown away, never to be reclaimed. If you aren’t selling 8 hours a day per technician, you have excess inventory, and I want you to market that. 

Specifically, one thing you can market in service is high-capacity service days. To put it simply, a high-capacity day is where we take easy jobs and stack them over the course of one day and get as many done as we possibly can.

To do a high-capacity service day, there are a few simple steps to follow: 

  1. Tell your customers that you can turn their units around in a week or less if they need a basic service. If I were in your shoes, I would make sure every customer who came into the dealership or reached out about buying a new unit knew that we did high capacity days once a week. While we don’t have the inventory to get them a new unit, we could turn around their current units quickly. 
  2. When you are ready to implement the high-capacity day, pull the parts and line up the units to come into the service department. Think about this like an assembly line for your service department, moving as many units as possible while keeping the work’s quality high. 

Keep in mind that a high-capacity day is not only an incredibly profitable day for your service department, but it allows you to stay in front of your customers with the positive things happening in your dealership. 

Marketing Inventory in Parts Department

Parts kits are king (or queen) when it comes to empowering your customers to maintain their units. In parts, I would focus on any parts kits that your customers need to perform annual services on their units. I know not all of your manufacturers put these kits together, but you, as a parts person or a manager, probably know what’s involved to do a specific maintenance on most units that you carry.

You can market this through a few different approaches. Still, my favorites are the personal touch, where you send a direct text message, or pick up the phone or you can move to a hybrid approach where you couple a personal touch with a direct mail piece or an email. Don’t over-complicate this but let customers who want to maintain their units easily get the parts they need when they need them.

Marketing in Wholegoods

What do you market when you have no new units on your lot? We have seen many dealers have success with bringing units in on consignment. When you bring a unit in on consignment, a few things happen. First, you get inventory on your lot. Second, you don’t tie up your cashflow. Third, if you take a unit in on consignment, it needs to go through your service department and be brought back to OEM specs or as close as possible, which the person who is consigning the unit is responsible for. 

Right now, it’s not the issue of getting the unit sold but finding the units that has been more of a challenge. Start promoting your consignment programs to all of the customers you interact with on a regular basis, depending on your specific inventory situation. 

Make your program easy to understand and easy for your customers to turn their units into cash. 

I know that in this environment, there are a lot of unknowns. While you may not have physical wholegoods inventory on your lot, you still have access to inventory in each department. 

If we can just think a little bit differently about what we’re doing, it will allow us to continue to generate revenue as we move into the second half of this year.