In the automotive industry, the one topic on everyone’s mind right now is dealership inventory shortages. From coast to coast, nearly every brand is experiencing new vehicle inventory shortages, challenging dealers of every kind to strategize and adapt.
Inventory shortages aren’t just on dealers’ minds. A recent industry study found:
· 76% of in-market vehicle buyers were familiar with the microchip shortage,
· 83% of which were also aware of its impact on the new vehicle market.
· 37% of in-market shoppers say higher prices and lower incentives would likely delay their purchase.
What is automotive pre-selling?
Pre-selling is when a dealership takes a significant deposit for an inbound vehicle, reserving it for a customer. Previously this kind of system was exclusively reserved for highly anticipated model releases or fulfilling a very specific request. Today, pre-orders are growing in popularity. In fact, according to a recent study, 41% of buyers said they plan to pre-order their next vehicle through a local dealership.
While in the past, dealers often leveraged a “S.W.A.T.” (sell what’s available today) mindset, pre-selling during inventory shortages has become a key way for proactive dealers to meet customer demands and maximize their sales ROI.
In this blog post, we’ll share three tips for dealership inventory management, pre-orders and reserved sales including:
· Seeking proactive sales opportunities to pre-sell vehicles
· Focusing on convenience for customers interested in inbound vehicles
· Delivering a consistent messaging across channels to maintain a consistent customer experience throughout the pre-sale process
Seek Proactive Sales Opportunities
Delivery time is always dependent on the brand, and even more so on the exact situation Constantly evolving supply chain challenges complicating OEM production schedules means some brands and dealers will be waiting longer than anticipated for vehicle deliveries.
To stay ahead of vehicle delivery delays, it’s critical dealers identify and engage prospective buyers early – before they’ve decided to start shopping around.
Leveraging dealership marketing technology integrated with your dealership’s CRM and DMS allows your team to engage prospective buyers preparing to return to market in the coming months. This includes high-value prospects who are approaching the end of their lease or finance term, or those at the end of their warranty.
Download the Whitepaper:
Dealership Cheat Sheet: 5-Steps to Marketing with Low or No Inventory
Utilize Forward Thinking Strategies
To take dealership presales one step further, forward-thinking dealers are using advanced dealership marketing tools like Mastermind. This technology allows dealers to tap into factors driving a prospect’s upcoming purchase decision, such as career changes or identifying growing families.
By deploying this dealership marketing strategy to engage potential buyers who match with in-bound vehicles available for pre-sale, dealers are empowered to meet customers where they are in their buying journey. With this highly personalized approach, customers will be able to buy the vehicle they want and when they need it. Customers don’t have to pick from limited inventory when it’s time to buy. This results in happier customers – and higher CSI scores.
Focus on Convenience for Your Car Buyers
The car buying experience has long been a thorn in the side of many shoppers. However, for dealerships, digital retailing options ushered in by the pandemic have led to significant improvements for those with negative and positive opinions alike. A recent industry study reported a 74% year-over-year increase in the number of buyers satisfied with their overall shopping experience in 2020.
Amid inconvenient industry-wide car inventory shortages offering customers an exceptionally convenient buying experience enables dealers to stand out from the competition.
When pre-selling vehicles or marketing pre-orders, it is important that dealers offer convenience from the very first customer touchpoint. It’s important dealers personalize their approach when engaging prospects, tailoring their messaging, timing and format to each buyer’s preferences.
To improve the dealership pre-ordering customer experience, dealers need to consider convenience from the buyer’s perspective. This means more than haggle-free pricing and keeping inbound presell inventory updated on your dealership’s website. Improving your dealership’s customer experience needs to start from your dealership’s internal culture while reflecting the needs of your most loyal customers.
Interactions and processes that speak to customers’ concerns about pre-ordering from the beginning will leave them feeling assured and convert them into loyal service and sales customers down the road. Analyze common customer concerns gathered from your sales and service teams for opportunities to improve the overall customer experience. Additionally, seek to offer solutions for processes like pricing trade-ins, ordering specific units and even long-term F&I assistance for customers to raise their credit scores during their wait.
Deliver Consistent Messaging Across Every Channel
Pre-ordering a vehicle can be an intimidating process for even the most loyal customers. The process requires dealers to focus on establishing a sense of trust and transparency when building and maintaining customer relationships. Look for opportunities to build trust by starting with transparent messaging that offers buyers a sense of security.
From available inventory and pricing to process and procedures, customers should find consistent and clear messaging from your dealership both online and in-store. Much like the OEM signage across your dealership, brand-specific digital messaging focused on solving problems before they arise is crucial for success when pre-selling new inventory.
Consider creating an easy-to-access FAQ or information center on your website related to the sales and availability of inbound units or even allowing your customers to place specific orders in real time while they wait.
Download the Whitepaper:
Dealership Templates for Customer Communication Amid Inventory Shortages
Maintain Consistency Throughout Pre-Sales
Finally, ensure your customer experience is consistent across your dealership at every step of the dealership pre-sales process.
When a customer calls, your BDC and sales team should be utilizing an inventory management system filled with notes to stay well informed of each vehicle’s estimated timeline. Include ample information about the vehicles, including what is currently available for pre-sale and what may be delayed further. With the customer in mind, consider creating easy-to-reference guides for your team that clearly detail the pre-selling process at your dealership and answers frequently asked questions.
For most dealers, vehicle pre-sales were completely possible before the chip shortage, but pre-selling incoming inventory has never been as critical as it is today. To offer a convenient customer experience and meet buyer expectations, even amid inventory shortages, it is key for dealers to take a proactive approach with inventory management software to stay a step ahead.