Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 5

So far in this series of seeing the commercial truck business through the eyes of the bold, I have talked about inventory in various ways. First, it was buying past year models from desperate dealers for fun and profit and relief to the other dealer. That's pretty bold (and profitable). Next, I suggested a well-designed program of taking advantage of bailment pool inventory and letting them help you make some money by getting some unusually good buys. Then, we moved on to used commercial trucks. That is bold. Very few dealers get involved with them as I was describing. Then, yesterday, I moved into stocking colored units. That is one of the boldest moves yet, but to me is just simply paying attention to the market and stocking what people want. Where is the market where everyone wants white? It doesn't exist. Yet, many dealers insist on it. Silliness to me. Pay attention to the market.

Today, we will continue on the inventory part of being bold and here again we will depart from the crowd. And, let me add right here and now that this is where the money is and this is where the fun is.

In the last four years, I have travelled to many dealerships on a regular basis and kept track of their inventory. I will use the actual numbers from some of these reports to demonstrate today's theme. Here is dealer #1. This dealer has 25 upfits in stock:

  • 8 Contractors (32% of inventory)
  • 2 Combo Bodies (8% of inventory)
  • 3 Flatbeds (12% of inventory)
  • 10 Service Bodies (40% of inventory)
  • 2 Plumber Bodies (8% of inventory)
  • 0 Van Bodies (zero % of inventory)
  • 0 Dump Bodies (zero % of inventory)
  • 0 Other Bodies (zero % of inventory)
Here is dealer #2. This dealer has 26 upfits in stock:

  • 3 Contractors (12% of inventory)
  • 1 Combo Body (4% of inventory)
  • 4 Flatbeds (15% of inventory)
  • 11 Service Bodies (42% of inventory)
  • 0 Plumber Bodies (zero % of inventory)
  • 5 Van Bodies (19% of inventory)
  • 1 Dump Body (4% of inventory)
  • 1 Other Body (4% of inventory)

And, the this is dealer #3. This dealer has 35 upfits in stock and is a medium duty dealer as well as light duty:

  • 5 Contractor Bodies (14% of inventory)
  • 1 Combo Body (3% of inventory)
  • 4 Flatbeds (11% of inventory)
  • 5 Service Bodies (14% of inventory)
  • 0 Plumber Bodies (zero % of inventory)
  • 20 Van Bodies (57% of inventory)
  • 0 Dump Bodies (zero % of inventory)
  • 0 Other Bodies (zero % of inventory)

I did not count any empty chassis in this presentation because I want to focus on the upfits as you should on your lot. Empty chassis are incomplete vehicles.

What do I see here? I see a lot of the same things over and over again. I see some dealers who stock more flatbeds than others and in this case it is not the market but I think price driving that. Service bodies is a good mix at the first two and a silly mix at the last one. The medium duty dealer is like many medium duty dealers and focuses a lot of their energy on Van bodies. 57% of inventory of any one body is huge. To have a representative sample of the market would require a wider mix here.

Another thing I really notice is the Other Bodies, Dump Bodies, Plumber Bodies. The first dealer is out of a good mix with zero Van, Dump and Other bodies. Only the second dealer even had an Other body. It is my opinion that you should stock a minimum of 5-10% Specialty bodies, or Other bodies and I don't look at that number as being aggressive--it's a minimum. I think 25% would be much more progressive and profitable.

One of the primary things that you sell as a bold commercial dealer is solutions. A lot of customers know their business, but they do not know truck bodies. That's your job. You need to have some bodies that you can sell them to solve their problems and create solutions. You need to show them better ways, not the same old bodies that are on every dealers lot who stocks any commercial trucks. Sure, you have to have some standard bodies, but you need to have more and better solutions for people with different bodies, different solutions.

Here's some solutions to stock:

  • Crane body. Stock a 3,000 lbs Crane Body on a 9' or 11' body. As you get bolder, stock a few larger crane bodies as well. This is a gross market for sure.
  • Gooseneck body. A simple concept and a great and inexpensive solution.
  • 4x4's. There is a great market for 4x4 chassis. Here's the ones nobody seems to stock, but are great pieces: 350 dually, 60CA regular cab and super cab and crew cab. You have the turning radius similar to a pickup and the space for a great body. Of course stock the single rear wheel 4x4's as well.
  • Saw Body. This is an awesome body to show for solutions.
  • Mobile Maintenance Lube Truck. This is a great solution for a lot of companies.
  • Small Beverage Body. This is a solution for a lot of companies and not just people who carry beverages. Just think what other things could go in these compartments for easy access.
  • Plumber Bodies. These are sweet, nicely equipped plumber bodies. Check them out!
  • Highliner Body. Carry more stuff on the same truck. What a concept!
  • Fire Body. This will get attention.
  • Chipper Body. This is a very good choice to stock at least one of.
  • Debris Body. Another nice unit that can be used for Landscapers as well.
  • Custom Tile Body. Here's an interesting choice.
  • Various Dump Bodies. Here's a selection of various dump bodies. Get some ideas!
  • Other Custom Bodies. Here's a few ideas.

One thing to think about is how many different ways or different users you can envision using a certain body. For example, the small beverage body from Hackney makes a great plumber type body with different compartments on the outside and it can be used by other delivery companies and it can be used where van bodies might be used and it can be used for beverages. The chipper body can be used in landscaping as easily as tree service. The more uses and users you can think of the better.

The goal is to offer solutions that they will not find anywhere else. When you have the product there or can take it to your prospect so they can see it, touch it, watch it move and drive it, you can really let them see for themselves how the truck becomes a solution they would not have thought of. When you solve your prospects problems by offering solutions, they love you. That makes for solid repeat customers, good referrals and a sweet long-term relationship.

Looking through the eyes of the bold means to boldly go where others fear going. My favorite two questions to ask whenever there is hesitation: 1. What am I really afraid of? and 2. What is the worst thing that could happen? That might help. My job would be to make the best return for the dealer and grow a department to a much more profitable future. By leading in the creative thinking of inventory, I am doing this and more. I am also having a blast doing it. Trying new things is fun. Showing customers great solutions they would have never seen is awesome. Charging for your expertise and service is wonderful. Your customer will pay the extra for the right solutions.

Break out of the mold and lead. You will become more bold and see with the eyes of a bold one. It is a great place to be. Truly.

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