Will a lack of decent used car stock change car retailing in 2011?

Its Snow joke this week in the motor trade, a sprinkling of the white stuff and the tumbleweed flows through showrooms which are already seasonally down on traffic. One positive however is that it gives sales teams the opportunity to re-group and identify where there next customers might be coming from, and this very much maximises all areas of potential sales traffic.

Interestingly, as we move into 2011 we have highlighted the fact that, with a shrinking car parc, acquiring quality used stock will be a major challenge and as a result many car dealers are looking at drastically changing their stock profiles. This means dealers will look at cars which are much older and of higher mileage to try and find ways of appealing to a different customer demographic than the one which they are used to.

The major challenge however is that, especially with franchised dealers, they are already playing catch up with the supermarkets and independents that are battle hardened to this market and are very good at it. There is not necessarily the expertise within franchised showrooms for selling cars which are at the moment just auction fodder to them.

If, as a sales exec, you are used to demonstrating shiny 1 year old cars which require little or no preparation and can virtually sell themselves, it becomes an awful lot harder to sell a 6 year old car with 60k on the clock without defaulting to the mode of saying that the car will look like new.

The reason that independents see more opportunities in this kind of stock is that they do not have to work under the constraints of overbearing and controlling manufacturers and they have flexible warranties, which suit the requirements of their customers, but also they mainly sell on price.

Whilst it is far more likely that there are more potential buyers around with much lower budgets, there is still a different set of skills required to sell these types of older cars.

Main dealers may have traditionally looked at this kind of business as supplemental but with the distinct lack of stock around they may need to get their people and processes right quickly.

They may very well need this business just to replace lost sales.

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