Feeling the Car Inventory Shortage? These Tips Will Get People to Sell You Their Cars

If you’re worried that the car inventory shortage is going to slow your business, here are some ways to bring in more vehicles. 

Auto dealerships have always had to manage that balance between bringing new vehicles onto the lot while moving enough out that the bank account held steady, the lot itself was full but not a mess, and making sure that, above all things, there was never a car inventory shortage. A half-empty car lot is not the most enticing to customers. 

People want choices. They want to decide between the red Honda Civic or the black one. They want to sit and compare the way it feels behind the wheel of a Toyota vs. a Ford. Add to that the fact that a lot of sales is about presentation. Does your car lot look nice? Is it welcoming? Is the office comfortable? Clean? 

car inventory shortage

You can certainly take steps to make your dealership lot look inviting and exciting to potential buyers. But at some point, when you’re down to the last few vehicles, it’s time to face the facts and decide what you can do to turn around your car inventory shortage.

If you’re going to auctions and still need to bring more vehicles onto your lot, it might be time to figure out how to get people to sell their cars to you. 

Why a car inventory shortage doesn’t have to leave you with a boring lot

How can you get people to sell you their cars? For that matter, how can you offer to buy cars from people at a price that they’ll accept and still allows you to turn a profit? 

One of your first moves is to make it known that you want to buy cars from people. Post it on your social media sites, add it to your website, and make it part of your signature on your emails. Then, ask your followers to share the news. It takes so little effort to spread a message this way, so there’s no downside, and there’s plenty of potential to ease your car inventory shortage even if you only get a few responses. 

car inventory shortage

Next, get in touch with your previous customers. Write a letter or email that you can send out, letting people know that you are interested in buying cars. Here’s the trick, though; you have to make it easy for people. Agree to meet them at their homes or places of work to look at the vehicle and make them an offer. The more work you can take on, the more likely someone will sell to you.

You may even be able to make pre-offers based on photos and factors like current mileage and condition.

If your dealership includes a garage or repair service, you may have a golden ticket. People are often happy to get a reasonable price on a car that needs work. And if you’re buying parts wholesale and keeping the labor in-house, things like new brakes, tires, belt replacements, and similar items are easy and inexpensive to take care of. Those “junk” cars in someone’s driveway can turn your car inventory shortage into an abundance if you have a good mechanic on staff. 

car inventory shortage

There’s some good news in this, too, however. Because so many dealerships are contending with a car inventory shortage, prices for used vehicles have increased. So you may not need to sell as many vehicles to meet your revenue goals.

After all that, if you’re still concerned about your lot looking a bit boring, you can do some things to make your space
look fuller. Increasing the distance between vehicles and parking them at angles will create more visual space. Add some large potted plants to give your lot more vertical interest. 

And whether you have five cars on your lot or 50, keeping it clean and tidy will always help customers feel more comfortable. When your lot looks nice, it gives the impression that your cars are cared for and in good shape. And ultimately, that’s what your customers want: a good, solid car that they can feel comfortable buying. 

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    Patrick H.
    Patrick H.