January 23rd, 2023

No one really knows if there will be a recession, or a challenging economy, or what will come next given the last 3 years have been so unpredictable, but it’s good to be prepared. The best way to win when you get thrown curveballs, is to get back to basics.
We’ve scoured the automotive community for insights and some of these are sure to help. (ASOTU and the All Things Used Cars podcast were great sources of information for this piece – they are fantastic resources we recommend subscribing to if you don’t already.)


The average customer is putting increasing value on time and convenience and you should too. Ever lost a lead or a walk-in because they were forced to wait? Customers want to feel like they are important, don’t waste their time. 

  • Are keys easy to find, is the unit clean, and do they have enough gas? Make sure units are always ready for a test drive. 
  • Do a 30 day check on units… do they smell good, does it start? Remember to start your cars regularly, they won’t show well if they sit too long.
  • Lead & opportunity followup – how long will a customer wait for a response by email, chat, phone, or on the lot? Track your response times,  your customers value their time and convenience.


Are you exploring all your options when it comes to handling opportunity? Are you capturing every lead into your CRM with an effective follow up process? 

  • Are you using video? Dealers are finding a lot of success in the ability to engage or re-engage with a customer. Be personalized!
  • As inventory levels rise, now is a good time to reach out to prospects you have engaged with previously. Has their situation changed? The worst case scenario is that you get to update your CRM, and that is an investment in the future. 
  • Get specific – 100% logging in the CRM. Was the prospect interested in a specific color? That could be useful… A lot of prospects got cold feet due to price and scarcity, do you have what they were looking for now? Details matter, make sure you team logs prospect interests in your CRM.


Market conditions can always get better or worse, you can’t control that. But you can control (to a certain extent) what is on your lot and for how long. Low mileage units are turning but high mileage units are slow to go. The industry average for used on lot is (at the time of writing) 50 days.

  • Insulate you from market conditions by allowing no car to be on the lot for more than 60 days.
  • Don’t get stuck in the trap of age management, waiting until a car has been on site too long before taking action. Practice activity management instead. Once that vehicle has been properly merchandised, track the engagement on it week one – track spend – and identify challenges early.
  • Practice inventory analysis – tracking the model/trim engagement stats on your current inventory can help you determine the right strategy to move units more quickly.
    (Example: If sedans aren’t being shopped – price to sell quickly)
  • Do a tradewalk. After you take in new trades, evaluate them and do an honesty check on where you stand. Don’t lie to yourself, identifying if you are over invested is key to preventing aged units.


It’s all in the name, the term second impression doesn’t exist for a reason.

  • Leverage all your free channels (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) to show how your dealership stands out. Let them know why they should come to you first.
  • Sometimes it’s not what you say it, it’s how you say it. Don’t assume your sales team is locked in… Roleplay, practice, make sure they can do a needs assessment.
  • Tell a story with the car instead of feature dumping. A story told is a car sold. Connect the prospects needs with a story on how the vehicle will improve their situation.
  • Remember that shoppers are anxious – talk to your team about making the experience calming and comforting for the prospect. Work on your soft-skill training. This can help with positive reviews, and don’t forget to ask for the review!
  • Mystery shop – consider having a professional company play hard to get with your sales and service teams. You can vet how well your teams are managing your leads.
  • And/Or, consider having a new employee mystery shop prior to starting with the company to vet process.
  • Have your people go to a competitor and tell them they are looking for something for their brother/sister, and learn from your competitors process.
  • Confidence is key… Don’t let someone go 3-5 days without selling a car, they lose confidence. Ask them to sell you a car,  get them excited, keep morale high.
  • Record your training and make it available to your team so they have a resource to help them elevate their game.

You can’t control supply, or interest rates, or the economy, but you can control how your dealership and team approach every day. 

Terry Bell
sMedia Team


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