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4 Steps for Dealers to Address Inventory Shortages with Consumers

According to a recent industry survey, 76% of in-market vehicle buyers are aware of the ongoing chip shortage, 83% of which are aware of its impact on the new vehicle market.  

While that doesn’t necessarily mean customers will be more understanding when it comes to limited availability, it does present an interesting opportunity for dealerships to build trust with buyers through proactive and personalized communication related to ongoing shortages.  

In this blog post, we share four steps for dealers to address inventory shortages with customers including: 

  • Building a strong plan for when inventory arrives
  • Maximizing your service drive acquisitions
  • Identifying proactive sales opportunities
  • Continually communicating with customers

Build a strong customer communication plan for when inventory arrives

To navigate production delays, inventory shortages and other external factors, its critical dealership leaders take a data-driven approach to planning customer communication efforts – and effectively communicating that plan with their team. 

For example, how closely is your team following inbound units? They’re likely checking the status of new model-year deliveries as frequently (or more) as customers are eagerly awaiting them. But as more pre-owned cars, trucks and SUVs are acquired via trade, your team needs a solid plan for internally communicating inbound units and externally marketing your available vehicle inventory. 

Task your dealership’s inventory management team to put their heads together and come up with a customer communication strategy reflective of your brand promise. From start to finish, your customers should be well versed in how your team has handled inventory shortages and the various opportunities at their disposal to easily purchase a vehicle that meets their unique wants and needs. Internally, this means putting processes in place to both set expectations and ensure your entire dealership is on the same page when communicating with customers. 

Maximize your service drive acquisitions

As the average age of light vehicles in production in the U.S. rises to a 12.1, accelerated by the chip shortage, engaging customers by leveraging the service drive is a growing opportunity for dealers.   

But with research finding more than 40% of service drive customers needing reactive vs. routine maintenance, it’s critical for dealers to take a proactive approach to engaging their audience.  

Dealerships need the right people, processes and tools in place to proactively engage service customers. For example, consider tasking specific personnel in your BDC to serve as an ongoing customer concierge. This person or team is responsible for identifying customers who will likely need service soon and then delivering personalized messaging at the right time to entice customers to act. 

To automate this process, some proactive dealers are leveraging behavior prediction technology to mine their upcoming service appointments to identify and engage customers who are predicted to begin shopping around soon with personalized messaging tailored to their needs. 

Taking a similar approach with Market EyeQ, our dealer partners convert service customers into new car buyers at a 4x higher activation rate than the competition. 

Identify proactive inventory acquisition opportunities 

Amid inventory shortages, dealers who can proactively identify and speak knowledgeably to their audience’s unique wants and needs have a significant advantage over the competition. For example, in the previously mentioned survey, 73% of car shoppers expect to face higher prices, while 59% expect less favorable deals and lower incentives. 

With little room to lower prices, its critical dealers identify prospective buyers before they return to market. This empowers dealers to engage prospects with personalized messaging that includes tailored offers and financing details that speak to a buyer’s unique situation before they can go price shopping.  

Using dealership marketing tools powered by behavior prediction technology that integrate with data from their CRM, DMS and sales platforms, dealers can further maximize these opportunities by automatically identifying and engaging the best prospects with personalized messaging that speaks to their unique situation and establishing trust from that first touchpoint. 

Never stop communicating with your customers

Every dealer across the country has their usual set of touchpoints they typically leverage to contact customers. Whether it is regular emails, SMS text campaigns or something a little more old school, your customers expect to hear from you in certain ways. 

Even amid inventory shortages, its critical dealers do not stop communicating with their audience. As dealership loyalty falls to an all-time low, engaging buyers with personalized messaging that speaks to their unique needs, delivered in their preferred format, enables dealers to stand out from the crowd to support both loyalty and conquest efforts. 

Start by identifying opportunities to engage audiences with brand-focused messaging that keeps customers informed on the topics that matter most to them. This includes communicating with customers seeking out-of-stock units on the status of vehicle deliveries or details on pre-ordering new models. 

Ensure to update any external touchpoints such as your dealership’s website. Consider creating an easy-to-access information center that speaks to frequently asked questions such as whether your dealership is selling inbound units or allowing your customers to place specific orders while they wait. 

To address inventory shortages with customers and meet buyer demands, effective communication is key. This includes internal communication to build and support an inventory management strategy that leverages your team to their fullest and external communication to keep audiences engaged and informed.