Claiming Or Blaming? The Proof Is In The Results

Lately, I am seeing a good deal of old commercial truck inventory on lots. There are many who are blaming circumstances for this fact like the slower economy, less buyers, sales are down, gas prices, and many other things that are far out of their control. I understand. I've done it. It is a self-preservation response to a lack of results.

Since I have done it, I won't spend any more time about the blamers. I would rather focus on the claimers. Those who claim responsibility for the results, or for the lack of them. Claimers make it happen, or at least they give it their best shot and keep on doing. So, in thinking of all commercial truck dealers as claimers, here are some things that can be done about old inventory.
  • Accept responsibility for it. You probably ordered them. It's okay. It wasn't a bad idea. Accepting responsibility is the first and necessary step to liberating your lot of old stuff.
  • Accept that they are good. I've seen some very strange pieces in my time, but I have learned this: there are no bad commercial trucks. Everything sells. I've seen the strangest things sell first and some of the nicest things sell last. Your attitude about it is everything.
  • Now that the foundational things are done, next is to look at your marketing plan. What is your plan to market these trucks? Have you developed a plan? What have you tried and what is or is not producing any results? Let's lay it all out.
  • While you're sorting the marketing out, it's time to get a team working with you. You need some partners. If you don't already have a team of dealers you work with, get on the phone. Chances are good they have some old inventory too, so let's do some trading and that will get some fresh stuff on your lot and theirs as well. Many times this is enough to move a few. Work that angle every month and refresh your lot.
  • Got your marketing plan now? Where have you been marketing? Truck Trader? Lot display? Consider expanding your market. If you have a really specialized piece, you might want to find a way to market it nationwide or at least a larger section of the country. Contact the supplier for suggestions as to the market and possibilities they see. If you're not in the Truck Trader or similar publications, they are regional publications and they will expand your market area. Your budget will determine your possibilities here.
  • Price. Try to avoid cutting the price until it sells. That is not a good strategy in general. Price is rarely the thing that makes the sale. Think incentives instead of discounts when you are working on marketing.
  • Get them ready for sale. Clean them up and make sure they are showroom ready. The longer something sits around, the worse they look. Make it look like it just came off the truck.
  • Accessorize. Add some aluminum wheels, or other dress up accessory. Consider adding a generator and/or compressor to a Contractor Body for example. Make it more useful. Add value. Drill a few holes. What's the worst thing that can happen?
  • Take that stakebed and go get a load of straw or hay and fill it up. Put that on display right out front. Let people see it in action.
  • I'll never forget the time we took a black car that had been around for a time and we had bright red, yellow, orange flames painted on it and stuck it right out front. It sold in a week! That's pretty bold, but it worked.
  • If you have a van body or a WorkMaster or that kind of body, give away free signs for the customer who buys it. That's great extra value!
  • I've done this twice: sell it to your parts department for deliveries. There's no profit in that, but it moves the truck!
  • This is strange, but I have done it. Hire some drivers and do a caravan around town. Take 10-15 commercial units with signs on them and just drive them around town in a caravan for a couple of hours. It's amazing the attention that gets.
  • Do off site displays. In the mall, at The Home Depot, Lowe's, 84 Lumber, ACE hardware, or anywhere else that might make sense for the people you want to see the truck. If they aren't coming in, go to them. County fairs are great as well. Do drawings, get names and information for follow up.
  • This is key to me: Make it a priority to move the truck! Be determined and focused. Keep at it and keep doing different things until it goes.
  • It's only old to you and your staff. The customer probably does not know that you've had that truck for 297 days (unless it looks like it!). So forget how old it is when it comes to the customer.
  • Park a bright colored car on the back of the flatbed! Do bold displays. They get attention!
  • Do a broadcast fax to every dealer you can get a fax number for. Let them know you have some great pieces available. You might even be so bold as to package something with something else.
  • Send an email to all your customer base marketing just a couple each time. Target your vehicles to the most likely customer. This costs almost nothing. If you don't have the emails, send a one page simple, inexpensive flyer.
  • Get your suppliers to give you some marketing assistance or in other ways have them help you to move these pieces. Maybe they need some sprucing up like some paintwork or other things to make them saleable. They could help you with this. Consider them partners and get them involved. Truly, they are happy to assist you in any reasonable way.
  • Have a show at your store and invite your customers. Do a barbecue or serve hot dogs and soda. You need to plan very well for this to work properly. Here's an article I wrote on that subject that will be helpful: Event Strategies.
  • Take your units out prospecting! Go show them to potential clients. This is a great strategy.
  • Do some partner marketing. Get some local businesses to share in marketing your products. Get a backhoe and trailer attached to your truck. Put that on your lot or on theirs. Make sure there are signs depicting where it came from with business cards available, etc. Go to the boat dealer and hook up a boat and bring it to your lot and vise versa. Do some cross marketing. It does several things: 1. It brings attention to the display. 2. It helps market the truck. 3. It helps market the trailer and what's on it. 4. It's win-win-win. One of the things that is so hot in today's market is those dual axle 10k-12k GVWR dumping trailers. Work a deal with the vendor if the truck sells as a result of the partnership and vise versa. This is a powerful tool!
  • Market the truck with a video and put in on DVD and send that out to potential clients. Make a video and post it on YouTube. Do it funny. Do it extremely serious. Do it different. Bring attention and demonstrate value at the same time. Email the video!
  • Sell it on eBay or other marketing sites. eBay passed selling 1 million vehicles just last year. Over 200 million people buy and sell on ebay today. 200 million!
  • Get a blog going. Then stick with it.
  • Develop your own commercial truck website! The marketing possibilities are huge here! Call us on this and we can help!

I could go on. I was just getting warmed up. There are so many different things that you can do with some focus and enthusiasm. Do some brainstorming with your team. Move those old things and create a whole new way of marketing for the future in the bargain! It's like a cloud with a silver lining.

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