Best Practices

Before You Sell that Used Car, SELL that Used Car!

Are your sales representatives skipping right past that 112 days in stock vehicle like it’s the plague?

05 BMW 335i – days in stock 93
06 Toyota Sequoia – days in stock 123
03 Jaguar X-Type – days in stock 154
07 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer – days in stock 112

Why are these cars sticking around?

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen sales professionals tiptoeing around a vehicle ONLY due to the perception that the vehicle was priced too high or for some reason or another felt as if the vehicle was not worthy of being on the front line.

Where do they come up with these conclusions?

I’ve seen it arise from something as simple as 1 or more potential customers telling the sales representative “you’re asking too much for this car” or “wow, I thought this car would have been equipped better”. Many sales people, after hearing this more than once, actually start to believe it’s true.

The car is just sitting there, it’s not being demonstrated nor test driven and now the sales team seems to be avoiding this vehicle like it’s the plague. Before you know it, that same vehicle is 112 days in stock, sucking up your floor plan and messing with your churn rate.

The problem; your sales team is not SOLD on this vehicle. You, as a sales manager have not SOLD the vehicle to who you need to FIRST. If your sales department is not SOLD on the vehicles you have in stock, how do you ever expect them to have the confidence and enthusiasm it takes to sell a car to a customer while also retaining gross?

Before you can sell that used car, it’s imperative you SELL that used car to your sales team first.

  1. Be transparent with your sales staff on the price of your inventory. Explain and include them in on the pricing. Show them how it compares to like models in the retail market and/or competition.
  2. Build value in your inventory with your sales staff. Review the CarFax, any history reports or stories that go along with each vehicle. Review the options and specifications that make this vehicle worth the asking price.
  3. DEMONSTRATE the vehicle to your staff. Do a detailed walk-around while explaining the feature and benefits just as your sales staff would do with a potential customer.

Get your sales team on board and educate them on the inventory. You’ll be surprised by the lack of knowledge and information your sales team has on each used vehicle you have in stock.

I recommend doing this as soon as the vehicles comes out of the reconditioning department OR better yet, have a morning inventory walk with your sales team reviewing the fresh inventory.

Before you sell that used car, SELL that used car.

Side note: If your used car sales manager is too lazy to do this, get it done yourself!

Another side note: If you have a days in stock issue, well then you have a whole ‘nother issue.

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
I just heard one of the best pieces of advice from vAuto: use technology to plan your exit strategy before ever buying the car.

With technology capable of telling you how a car ranks in the marketplace, it is easy enough to calculate what your absolute worst retail price should be and what a "quick turn" price is as well. Use those figures to trade and buy the cars so you have a pricing strategy up front for each vehicle.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • March 2, 2009
@alex - you touched on "Another side note: If you have a days in stock issue, well then you have a whole ‘nother issue."

I always wonder what would happen once every dealer was using the same "technology". Thought knowing most dealers they would have the "technology" but not use it right.

Either way, with all the technology in the world..we still need to be sure our sales team are on board and are educated and informed on their inventory.
Speaking of vAuto, I wrote a piece on this subject that will HELP sell aged units.

------Do You Know Your DSD?------

DSD = Days Since Detailing

Clean cars sell for more and I have proof. First, let’s explore the study by Manheim and their findings, then, let’s make MORE money together.

Its a cycle:

Cleaner Inventory = More Turns
More Turns = Cleaner Inventory.

one pushes the other, over and over again.

Cleaner Inventory = More Gross.

  • G
  • March 2, 2009
Great topic Jeff- One thing salesmen also fall into the trap of is "It's an old age unit" thinking it should qualify for a greater discount. Problem is, it is NEW(er) to the prospective customer. Furthermore, assuming it is an Internet customer, they have specifically chosen THAT vehicle for some reason- found out why.

One thing does need to be said though, that 03 Jag X type has dropped in book value more than a little in the last 4 months since it was entered into inventory!
If you haven't read Velocity by Dale Pollak yet, I highly suggest you buy it off Amazon. It will change the way you think about your used (and new) car inventory.

I second Jeff's comment about what if everybody used Vauto. It is only a piece of technology suggesting you to buy a certain unit, price it a certain way, appraise a vehicle at a certain value, etc. There are still way too many people in this industry that will ignore what a silly computer is telling someone with years and years of experience what to do. To those experienced "know it all " people, I say, thank you...keep thinking that way!

I just dropped AAX and signed on with Vauto on Friday. Installation should be complete by next week...looking forward to it!
  • S
    Stephen Douglass
  • March 8, 2009
I don't this as a problem of clean cars, or pricing, I see it as a issue revovling around the sales staff working the system. I believe that if you can get your sales staff to focus on what's important the unit will sell...Commission.
Get your sales staff to focus on creating their own commission based on unit age. In the example above the BMW would be paying an additional $93 in commission. Plain and simple if you offer a $1 per day for inventory you'll notice sales people showing the oldest units first. That 93 day old unit looks a lot better when there's a $$ sign base on the age. I really don't believe you have to lower the price to a break even point to get the customer interested. I believe that's the sales persons job.

It's time to get creative. Don't let your sales staff be the tail that wags the dog. Get them selling instead of working the desk for their commission. I've done this and it works.
A car dealership or vehicle local distribution is a business that sells new cars/ old cars at the retail level based on a dealership contract with an automaker. It may also provide maintenance services for cars. It will not cost much if you purchase an old car instead of new if you are getting good deal.

<a href=' /' rel="nofollow">Used Car Dealers </a>
Great topic! Another avenue to unburden yourself from aged units is to use online marketplaces to sell them to another dealer, who may have more success. is a good one (its the one we use), but I am sure there are others. It never hurts to have constant feelers out there in case you can unload one of your aged vehicles. We also sometimes offer a bonus to the sales professional each month who sells the oldest unit.
  • C
  • August 27, 2009
Many of our 100 plus day units come with a $500 commission regardless of loss of profit, so we're excited about aged units. We don't ever have many though. The customers get a great priced car and the salesperson makes 5X that of a flat for new. I love used cars.
  • C
    Charles Gallaer
  • August 28, 2009
Great points made thus like vAuto are excellent and will get you in the game in regards to internet pricing and wholesale vehicle acquisition(we've used vAuto where I work for over a year). However, at the end of the day the same things that have moved cars for 60+ years apply today: clean/mechanically sound vehicles that elicit praise and not apologies, pertinent and informative marketing (multiple photos and great descriptions on websites like Autotrader and and an product-educated and engaged staff that can give a great walkaround. If your store is weak on the basics, utilization of tools like vAuto are the least of your worries.