Selling used cars has never been simple. It’s easy to make small mistakes that could cost you customers, hurt the reputation of your dealership and cut into the bottom line of your business in a big way.
Here are some of the top errors dealers make, along with steps you can take to avoid them.
Underestimating the current value of vehicles.
It’s usually easy for dealers to figure out the prices of the used cars on their lots. There are plenty of online sources that provide cost information. Typically, you would check out a few of them — and use your knowledge and experience — to come up with a reasonable sticker price. If a vehicle doesn’t sell, you lower the cost.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted used vehicle pricing. Limited inventory, high demand and regional differences have destabilized prices. Today, you may need to do more due diligence to price your cars. Instead of using national resources, which may not be timely or reflect current vehicle values in your area, you should comparison shop the dealers you compete directly against.
You may find that you’re underestimating the value of the cars you’re selling and could charge more for certain models than you expect. A little extra pricing research could make a big difference to your dealership’s bottom line.
Relying on inexperienced or untrained sales help.
It’s a hot market and many used car dealers are hiring. The issue: They bring new people on board but don’t take time to train them. They could be people who know how to sell, but don’t fully understand the used car marketplace. Allowing untrained people on your sales floor is a recipe for disaster. They could be taken advantage of by savvy buyers because of their lack of knowledge and experience.
Or worse, they could say something, or make a mistake, that impacts the reputation of your business.
If you don’t have a new employee training program, implement one right away. A quick cost benefit analysis will show that it will cost your dealership far less in time and money when compared to the damage an untrained employee could do to your operation.
Not maintaining cars regularly.
Cleaning cars and getting them ready for sale isn’t good enough. If they don’t sell on day one, they’ll quickly be covered in dust or dulled by bad weather, especially during the winter.
Used cars don’t have the benefit of that “new car” sparkle. That’s why it’s important to keep them impeccably clean. It conveys to shoppers that they’ve been well cared for. During the pandemic, it also helps demonstrate that they’re sanitary and ready for a test drive.
Studies have proven that clean used cars sell faster and fetch higher prices. Take things to the next level and make sure the tires and hubcaps look awesome as well. Old looking or worn tires are a sign to buyers that a car may not have received ongoing maintenance.
Dropping the marketing ball.
Are you marketing your dealership and the used autos on your lot? If you answer YES, that’s GREAT!
Do you have someone actively monitoring all your marketing programs and channels? If you’re not, you should!
Imagine the experience if a shopper responds to an ad or social post expressing an interest in a vehicle on your lot and… Crickets.
Or, if you wait too long to answer, they’ll move on to the competition.
If you’re making the effort to market your dealership, make sure you have a follow through plan and that it’s executed perfectly. It’s the only way to optimize your investment in advertising your business.
Exaggerating a little. Or a lot.
How would you describe your advertising? Would you call it 100 percent accurate or not-so-much? If it’s the latter rather than the former, reconsider your approach.
If you don’t put everything your prospective customers need to know about a vehicle in an advertisement, or you include false or inaccurate information in your marketing, you’re not only going to disappoint shoppers, you’re also going to use your advertising dollars to transform a prospective customer into someone who no longer trusts you. Its likely that they’ll spread the word that your dealership isn’t trustworthy. Even worse, it could expose your business to legal action because of the false claims in your advertising.
It’s not what you intended when you exaggerated your advertising. But, it’s what could happen.
Always be honest in your promotional efforts. This includes things you say in your advertising and on your lot. It will go a long way toward building trust in your business and enhancing its reputation in the community.