To Go Boldly. . . Risk vs Reward

When it comes to Commercial Truck inventory, I go boldly where very few go and that has made a huge difference to my past operations. There are now a lot of Commercial Truck dealers that stock upfitted trucks and most of them stock the same things. You would typically find Contractor bodies, Service bodies, Flatbeds, Dry Van bodies, and an occasional Dump body. A dealer who stocks about 25 upfitted trucks would normally have a selection of these type of bodies in various lengths and with various options. Great. That's a wonderful start, but almost every dealer has a mix of those bodies. They are very easy to come by and the law of supply and demand, automatically reduces the gross profit.

Many times a prospect really doesn't know what they want and need, and if you were stocking some unique and different items, the prospect would be introduced to other options that the prospect would not find anywhere else. In my experience, this has created long-time repeat customers by being able to help them solve their business problems with the right vehicle.

If I were again running a dealership Commercial Truck department and was limited to 25 upfitted trucks for inventory, I would only stock a maximum of 15 of the common bodies everyone else is stocking so that I have a representative sample (and I have my network partners. . .) and the other 10, or about 40% of my inventory would be unique upfits. In my consulting with dealers, I always recommend that 25% of their inventory be unique because they have to start and gain more confidence in time and experience.

What is unique? I used to go to truck shows always on the lookout for something interesting and effective. I would keep my eyes open on the road and a camera nearby. Ideas are everywhere when you are looking for them. Here's another advantage of unique: Gross profit! Remember, supply and demand. With unique, the supply is low and you can create the demand by having it to show. Chances are the prospect didn't know such things were available.

Here are some unique ideas to think about:

  • Welder body (empty and also ready to go to work with welding machines, etc.)
  • Add unique options like Transverse compartments, rear work platforms, raised cargo bed enclosures, side steps, HD drawers, horizontal compartments, etc. This easily sets you apart.
  • Color! 40% of my inventory was colored. The typical dealer: 100% white. White is a safe bet. I'm looking for excitement. . . and gross profit!
  • More dumps!
  • Unique storage boxes such as I-pack, L-pack, and others.
  • If you have a medium duty line, stock a number of bodies other than the typical Dry Van and Flatbed. Try Service Bodies, Crane Bodies, Walk-In Bodies, Plumber Bodies, etc.
  • Cranes!! Very rare to find a dealer bold enough to stock a Crane body.
  • Refrigerated Van Bodies
  • The list is endless, but here are a few to consider.

The fear. The fear is that if it doesn't sell, what will I do with it? Boldness doesn't worry about fear, it confronts it. In all of my experience, I truly had trouble moving one body only. I transferred it from one truck to another three times and finally sold it. It is rare. Concentrate on marketing your trucks, displaying them well, having off site displays, letting people know what you have. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is once you get past the fear of the concept of stocking unique items. And, you will love the increased gross profit!

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