In the dealership world, the one topic on everyone’s mind right now is inventory shortages. From coast to coast, nearly every brand is experiencing new vehicle inventory shortages, challenging dealers 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. Despite this, only 37% of in-market shoppers say higher prices and lower incentives would likely delay their purchase.
In addition to focusing on pre-owned sales, some dealers are leveraging pre-orders and pre-selling incoming deliveries to keep up with consumer demand amid inventory shortages.
Pre-selling, essentially taking significant deposits for inbound vehicles to earmark them for customers, used to be almost entirely exclusive to highly anticipated model releases or fulfilling a specific product or feature request.
Flying in the face of the popular sales acronym “S.W.A.T.” (sell what’s available today), 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 dealerships’ new inventory pre-sales and pre-orders, including:
Seek Proactive Sales Opportunities
While delivery time is always dependent on brand, constantly evolving supply chain challenges complicating OEM production schedules means some brands and dealers will be waiting even longer than anticipated for new 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 that integrates with data from your dealership’s CRM and DMS, look for opportunities to engage prospective buyers preparing to return to market in the coming months. This includes prospects who are approaching the end of their lease or finance term, or the end of their warranty.
To take your dealership presales one step further, forward-thinking dealers are using advanced dealership marketing tools like Market EyeQ to tap into factors driving a prospect’s upcoming purchase decision, such as career changes or identifying growing families.
By using these insights to map potential buyers who match with in-bound vehicles marked for pre-sale, dealers are empowered to meet customers where they are in their buying journey. With this personalized approach, customers will get the vehicle they actually want and when they need it, versus picking from limited inventory when it’s time to buy. This results in both happier customers and higher CSI scores.
Focus on Convenience for Your Customers
The car-buying experience has long been a thorn in the side of many customers. However, for many dealerships, new retailing options ushered in by the pandemic have led to significant improvements. 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 industry-wide inventory shortages largely inconveniencing customers, offering customers an exceptionally convenient buying experience enables dealers to stand out from the competition.
When pre-selling vehicles or marketing pre-orders, it’s critical dealers offer convenience from the very first customer touch point by reaching buyers with personalized messaging in the format and at a time they would most prefer.
To make the dealership pre-selling experience better for your customers, consider convenience from their perspective. This means more than haggle-free pricing and keeping your inbound inventory online. It should come from your dealership’s internal culture while reflecting the needs of your loyal customers.
Interactions and processes that speak to customers’ concerns with pre-ordering from the beginning will leave them feeling assured and, in turn, convert them into loyal service and sales customers. Analyze common customer qualms gathered from your sales and service teams for opportunities to improve. Look for solutions to trade-ins, ordering and even F&I assistance for customers to raise their credit scores during their long wait.
Deliver Consistent Messaging Across Every Channel
Pre-ordering a vehicle can be an intimidating process for customers and requires dealers to focus on establishing a sense of trust and transparency when building relationships with customers. Look for opportunities to build trust, 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 online and in-store. Much like the OEM signage across your dealership, brand-specific messaging on your dealership’s website focused on solving your customers’ problems is critical for success when pre-selling new inventory. Consider creating an easy-to-access information center on your website related to the sales availability of inbound units or allowing your customers to place specific orders while they wait.
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 well aware of each vehicle’s estimated timeline, including what is currently available for pre-sale. Consider creating easy-to-reference guides for your team that clearly detail the pre-selling process at your dealership for customers and answers commonly asked questions.
While for most dealers, vehicle pre-sales may have been possible before the chip shortage, pre-selling their incoming inventory has never been as critical as it is today. To offer a convenient sales experience and meet buyer expectations, even amid inventory shortages, it’s critical dealers take a proactive approach to stay a step ahead.