Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 20

There is a lot of old commercial inventory around on dealers lots--at least on the West coast. It's the oldest inventory I have ever seen. Some dealers have had units on their lot for well over a year and even a few for two years or more. It is a widespread problem, but I have some ideas to help you move some of that iron. In the next few posts, I will discuss them in some detail.

I will start with some observations. The first observation is there is not very much focus on commercial. The trucks are there, and they may even be out front here and there, but there isn't a real focus on commercial. The focus is on something else. One of the things you can do is to think about it. If all you sold were commercial upfitted trucks, what would you do differently? How would your focus need to change? What methods of creating sales would you employ? How would that thinking change your stocking influences? Would that change your thinking about the use of a database? Focus will change the results!

I see trucks that aren't ready to sell. Paint peeling off of the beds, filthy dirty, water stains inside the service body compartments, missing keys, missing or incorrect stickers. These are the easiest things to fix, so that would be good to do. Get them ready.

Generally, I see a mix of bodies that is not conducive for sales. When I see a lot of empty chassis on one lot, I see something that to me would not be good in great times, let alone the current fear-based economy. My advice there is simple: get rid of them or put a body on them. It is an unsaleable piece the way it is. Once a body is on it, the unit become saleable. Unsaleable inventory is a waste of resources. This might have been a strategy that worked at one point, but it is most likely not working now. I am a firm believer that I would rather have the wrong body on the truck than no body. At least then you can demo it and tell the customer, "we will swap this body with that body, and deliver it in just a couple of days." I know all the reasons dealers like to stock empty chassis, but I don't think any of them are good for business.

Next, I see an unbalanced mix of product. I see some dealers with just two or three different kinds of bodies leaving gaping holes in their mix. Plan out a basic mix that covers the bases and add a few specialty pieces for pizazz and then keep it going. Replace sold units with like units, so you keep your mix alive. We talked in depth about mix in this series.

I see very few price leaders. Perhaps you had them, sold them and haven't replaced them. Price Leaders are critical to me, so I always want to have them and replace them in days not weeks. I always want at least one cheap Flatbed, on cheap Service body and a price leader Contractor or other. I don't care how old your other units are, keep the price leaders in the mix. They help draw traffic.

Merchandising is very weak. A lot of stores, I see the commercial trucks in the back up against a fence. Negotiate for a small amount of display space. You don't need the whole lot, so shoot for two trucks at an angle which is about 4 spaces. Then, pick your coolest display pieces to put out there. If you have a dump, that is always a crowd pleaser, color is good, price leaders next, everything else after that. Mix it up. Don't leave the same ones there all the time. Keep it fresh for the public view and for the rest of the dealerships view. It's okay to put pricing on the window like the used car lot does. It's okay to tie balloons to them just like retail does. Every little bit helps. When you focus on commercial, you will consider merchandising more.

More on this tomorrow.

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