A New Look at Used Cars: part 1

October 15, 2012 / Advertising, Inspiration, Strong, Web / 0 Comments /

[wpvideo DKADfSF3]

This is the introduction to a series of commentaries on Used Cars and it comes from a real-life experience that some might not even see as being in the same ball park as properly balancing inventory at a car dealership: going to the bakery.

Before I began my new fitness program, I shopped a local bakery popular for cakes, pies, muffins and a variety of sweet rolls –and it was always crowded. Some bought the whole cake or pie, some just a slice, others took a dozen of this or one of that and always, always someone would be browsing the bakery’s ‘day old’ section looking for a bargain. The delicious fresh-baked aromas had no effect as these people dug through the day-old, wrapped in wax paper baked goods, and if they didn’t see something they liked, they didn’t buy. I’m not talking about riff-raff, these shoppers included upscale professionals browsing for a better buy.

I believe this analogy applies at a dealership – you need to have the inventory balance to be ready for ALL KINDS of shoppers. They come looking for what they want, and that ‘want’ is 100% based on their personal preferences in a multitude of combinations: buy or lease new, shopping used but qualified for new, firm on price or payment range and don’t care about new or used, vow to never absorb new car depreciation or grateful just to find something to drive – long list and even crazier when in the shopping cycle.

When I drive on the lot for a dealership visit, one of the things I do is walk the inventory and assess it from a shopper’s viewpoint. The best presentation is chalk-line straight rows of new and used displayed to give the shopper easy access in fulfilling their preference: new, used, certified all grouped by model or marked with price. It is this balance of new and used that is going to give you the best chance of turning a shopper into a customer. With the latest statistics saying shoppers physically visit only 1.8 dealerships [down from 5+ only a few years ago], the first impression has even more importance.

I understand there are going to be times of ‘skinny’ as well as ‘overload’ in terms of inventory and both situations need to be treated with the same priority. Competition comes from every other dealer as well as on every corner that has a mom and pop operation. Online used car shopping continues to grow. Our Next Day Traffic goal for this Used Car series is to revisit what we know works, share what innovations we have seen, and hopefully give a renewed perspective to this critical area of operation. “Appealing through appearance” will be the next blog, followed by segments on price-point, acquiring cars through your service lane, and the importance of what time of year you’re stocking up your used inventory.

You know the percentages for new versus used sales – we’re not talking 90-10 but the 60-40 range and more often closer than that. In terms of profitability, the value of used sales is a game-changer at the bottom line. Used cars, you’ve got to have them because that shopper who was digging in the ‘day-old’ bin at the bakery, I’m pretty sure that’s what he drove home in…with his bargain bagel!

About the author

John Paul Strong: For someone who spends an average of 135 days outside of the office meeting with clients, John Paul Strong remains the driving force behind his Birmingham-based advertising agency, Strong Automotive Merchandising. Strong began his career as an account executive at Martin Advertising. Learning much, but never satisfied, he convinced his father to partner with him in reopening their own advertising agency in 2004, catering exclusively to the automotive industry. The company started strong but humble. The original roster of 10 employees and eight clients has exploded today, growing to 100 full-time employees and more than 220 automotive dealers. And it hasn’t gone without notice. Along the way, Strong Automotive Merchandising has been recognized as a perennial winner in Birmingham’s Best Places to Work contest and as a Top 20 Agency among Google’s National Ad Partners. Yet, Strong still finds time to share what he’s learned along the way. As an avid writer, he has published two books in the Next Day Traffic series, along with more than 1,000 automotive-focused blog posts. He is also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and his success has been recognized in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40.” In 2018, Strong was named CEO of the Year by the BBJ. The foundation for Strong’s career began at the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and advanced public speaking. Always staying ahead of the competition, Strong later went on to study in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Amid all of his endeavors, Strong always makes time for what matters most – his family. He is a proud husband to Amy, and father to Lilly Grace, Anne Charlotte, Hudson, and Ford.


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply