Growing up in Wyoming, I learned many lessons about the value of being in a secluded place and not being surrounded by a crowd. One memory that standouts in my mind, was when I was in Yellowstone National Park. There is a really terrific tourist bridge on the north end of Yellowstone Lake that funnels countless cutthroat trout into the Yellowstone River. From the bridge, the river winds hundreds of miles before dumping into the Missouri River. Fishing Bridge as it is called, was made from old timber in 1937 and still remains standing open to passenger and vehicle traffic today.
If you have ever been to the bridge; you know how busy it can get. While you can no longer fish from the bridge due to the decline of the fish population, at one time you could place your pole in the water and without a doubt catch a fish. I remember being told that during the fall months finding a fish from the bridge could be much more difficult because the fish went to deeper waters of the lake. However, because Fishing Bridge had a reputation for being the best fishing hole in the West, anglers continued to fish from the bridge even though they knew that it was the wrong time of year. Most fishermen during the fall months left the bridge with looks of disappointment and little fish to show for their days’ work.
In a lot of ways, that old fishing bridge reminds me of auctions houses in today’s competitive car market. In general, when there are a lot of fisherman, usually the good fish are gone fast and at a premium price. However, few dealerships buyers will change what they have always done to get the bigger fish.
Outside of the auction house, the used car market has many options for the dealership to acquire more units. Most dealers continue to believe that the only place to fish is the auction. Some dealers unfortunately look at other sourcing places for used cars as inefficient, taking too much time or money to make it worth their effort. When looking for places to source cars dealers need to be able to think outside the box.
Here are a few locations for where dealers can source inventory outside of trades and the in-person auction houses.
- Online Auctions – DealersLink, OVE, SmartAuction, ACV, BackloCars
- OEM Lease Returns Websites
- Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Local Classifieds
- Private Party – Drive by Units
- Dealership Database Mining – Email and Phone Campaigns
- Dealership Service Lane
- Automotive Classified Websites – Private Party Listings – Cars.com, AutoTrader, CarGurus.com
- AutoTrader/ Kelly Blue Book Instant Trade-In-Offer
- eBay Listings
Would you go fishing with everyone on one bridge or would you rather row out in a boat and get the best fish? Sourcing used cars is very similar. Don’t get me wrong, auction houses all have their place in today’s used car market. They do serve a valuable function to dealers as a way for them to buy and source vehicles. However, living off trades and auction purchase is not the only way to find great vehicles to stock for your lot. Start thinking outside the box and you will be surprised what you come across.12
My dealership knowledge stems from working inside a thirteen store dealer group for ten years and knowing what works first hand. I have worked all the variable operations positions at a dealership and ultimately ran multiple stores as the General Manager over the course of 10 years. I am well versed in tools of the digital marketing trade including Google Analytics, Google Adwords, SEM, SEO, website optimization, lead generation add-on tools and have relationships with many vendors in the automotive space.
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