How to Start a Car Buy Back Program That Drives Sales for Your Dealership

How do you relieve cold feet and buyer's remorse? Give assurance with a car buy back program that serves as a money-back guarantee  Buying a vehicle is a big investment for most people. Even if they receive great deals and discounted price...


How do you relieve cold feet and buyer’s remorse? Give assurance with a car buy back program that serves as a money-back guarantee 

Buying a vehicle is a big investment for most people. Even if they receive great deals and discounted prices, customers feel anxious about signing the dotted line. They don’t want to make a decision they cannot undo.To combat buyer’s remorse and cold feet, you have to make the buying process as simple, comfortable, and reassuring as possible. Give customers a guarantee that, if they sign the papers, they can change their minds down the road. Here is one way to implement that guarantee: a car buy back program.

Allow the customer to feel more confident in his purchase by saying, “If you feel different about your purchase within 30 days, you can return it to us hassle free.” The results are surprising—more people feel comfortable closing the deal, but only a few will decide to return the car.

How to implement a car buy back program that drives more sales for your dealership

  1. Make sure the terms and conditions cover all your bases

The program you decide to implement must have a detailed set of terms and conditions. You have to consider all the angles that make sense for your dealership. When you offer customers the ability to return their cars, think about the possible pitfalls.

Here are a few things to consider when drawing up the terms of a car buy back program:

  • How many days will the customer have to return the vehicle?
  • What if the customer gets into an accident within the trial period?
  • What is the minimum down payment to enter the program?
  • How many miles can be put on the car before returned?
  • Does the program include leased vehicles?
  1. Give the program a marketable name and catch phrase

01-how-to-start-a-car-buy-back-program-that-drives-sales-for-your-dealershipWhen it comes to marketing your program, you need to give it a catchy, benefit-driven name. Promote the program as a special deal.

Chevrolet ran a very successful car buy back program called, “Love it or Return it.” Chevy offered customers a 60 day period to return their purchased vehicle if they were not completely satisfied with it. All of their promotions were selling the associated tag line. Come up with a phrase that catches the attention of your audience.

  1. Choose a particular product line to focus the program

Programs with a broad offer usually don’t perform well. When the program is more focused on a singular product, it creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency (more on this below) and helps draw attention.

Instead of including all of your vehicles for the buy back option, choose one particular vehicle or product line.

  • Focus on one product to create a sense of “exclusive” offering.
  • Choose a vehicle line that is popular, in-demand, and higher-priced. People who bring home a high-priced car will be more motivated to figure out a way to keep it.
  1. Promote the program for lead generation 

Spread the word about your car buy back program. An incentive is only effective if it reaches the right people at the right time. Actively promote across the platforms your potential customers visit.

  • Advertise the promotion on your homepage with a call-to-action to request more info.
  • Place a banner with your catchy, benefit-driven tag line outside the dealership.
  • Write blog posts about the program and promote it on your social media channels.
  • Send out an email promotion to specific groups (past customers, contacts, referrers, etc.).
  1. Give a deadline—create a sense of urgency!

As with any marketing effort, promotion, or incentive, creating a sense of urgency is key to driving more sales.

02-how-to-start-a-car-buy-back-program-that-drives-sales-for-your-dealershipYour car buy back program should be promoted as if it were a special, limited-time deal. When a customer reads it, he should think, “Man, I don’t want to miss out on that deal. Let me check it out.”

  • In every piece of promotion or advertising, include the “from now until ‘X’ date” deadline.
  • Plan your program timeline carefully. What time of year do you see the most (or least) amount of traffic from customers?
  • Always include a call to action with your marketing material. Give your customers an easy way to follow up with your offer and try out the car buy back program.
  1. Have a strategy in place to re-capture customers 

Here’s the great thing about buy back programs: most customers will not return the vehicle. In the Chevrolet “Love it or Return it” program, they included within the terms that each customer must keep the car for 30 days, and have 60 days to return it. Have you ever bought a product, used it for 30 days, and then decided to return it? Probably not, and that’s what Chevy’s and your own car buy back program are banking on.

However, there will be the rare ones who decide to return the vehicle and receive their money back. What strategies do you have in place to “re-capture” these customers? Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer a discounted price on a similar make, model, or class size vehicle.
  • Get them to test drive another vehicle or two before they leave.
  • Identify the reason why they decided to return the vehicle. See if you can work to negotiate prices, rates, and expenses.

A strategic car buy back program will boost lead generation and remedy buyer fears 


You’re essentially giving a money-back guarantee to the customer. A guarantee is powerful. It’s an old trick, but it still works, especially for big purchases. Customers get cold feet all the time. They’re afraid of making a mistake they can’t take back. If they go through with the purchase after feeling anxious, they usually develop buyer’s remorse shortly after. A car buy back program fixes those issues right away. It takes the pressure off and gives reassurance to the customer. Plus, once they have the car in their possession, it’s more likely they will keep it.

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.