“I don’t have inventory,” or “We are mostly preselling all of our vehicles.”
These are two common objections you have no doubt heard from car dealers when you or your salespeople talk about preloading some stock inventory or doing a showroom vehicle package, according to THE SHOP contributor, Josh Poulson. It has been this way for a while now, thanks to the chip shortage and COVID-19, and it looks like it will be at least a while longer until we get back to normal—if normal ever returns.
The truth is, some manufacturers and dealers hope the industry never gets back to 90-plus day inventory levels, and I don’t blame them. The biggest reason dealerships and OEMs like this new normal is that they are making tremendous profits.
So, what are some things restylers can do, immediately and long-term, to maintain their business?
Load One Up—Or a Few!
Although dealers are saying they don’t have inventory, the reality is that the majority of dealers aren’t preselling more than 50% of their inbound vehicles. However, when they do get vehicles in, there aren’t as many, so they sell much faster.
So, what can we do? Poulson offers two types of preload programs. The first is talking to the dealer and discussing a package we would like to do.
They look at their inbound allocation that is coming in over the next week or two and find a vehicle that will work. Poulson’s team then orders the parts, designates time in the shop schedule to complete the work, and have everything ready to go when the vehicle arrives to get the job done as fast as possible.
Load Them All Up!
While individual upfitting jobs are nice, it’s even better if you can do a bunch of them. Some restylers have created successful programs installing products or packages on a dealer’s entire inventory.
Look for quick, popular, easy-to-install products that are readily available and make sense for every vehicle on the lot. It also helps if the products are not easily removable, thereby preventing customers from demanding that they be taken off and the vehicle. Poulson says his shop has found a lot of success with paint protection film, and has dealers that preload every vehicle they sell with PPF.
The ultimate goal is to build a popular program and get your roots in deep so that if/when inventory levels start to rise, the dealerships will choose to continue your program.