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Inventory controls boost sales

May 7, 2004
Filed under Archives

It is important that you and your entire sales staff physically check the inventory and know the location of every unit. This should be done on a daily basis.
I had the good fortune to work as a sales manager for a dealer who had several hundred units in inventory. He told me, “I want you to look at every unit in our inventory, every day. I want you to keep an eye on how my money is doing.” I’ll never forget that.
I would walk through the showroom and unit storage areas every day. I knew what was out there and what wasn’t. You know the old saying, “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind.” It’s true. You can’t have the same feel for what’s in stock just by looking at a computer print out. You have to go out and see that inventory every day.
Once my salespeople saw me walking the inventory, they started doing it, too. I had set the example for them to follow.
I once worked as a salesperson for a particularly creative sales manager. He would hide money in various places on new units. We knew we could always find a few bucks by checking out the inventory. He might hide a dollar behind a license plate frame. Sometimes he would tape five dollars under a fender. Once he even put a $10 bill under a seat. The objective was to get us to walk (and touch) our inventory everyday.
One year, I visited the #1-volume used unit dealership in the country. I asked them how they got the sales staff interested in used inventory.
They said, “We have a unit add option program. We take the stock numbers of each unit in our used inventory and put them in a hat. Each salesperson pulls out a stock number until they are all distributed. Those units become their adopted inventory.
If one of their units is sold, they get $25, regardless of who sells it. If they sell their own unit, they get $50. That’s in addition to their commission.
Since they know that when their adopted unit gets sold they get a spiff, they do everything they can to sell it. They always make sure it is clean and that the battery is charged. They actually go out and argue over who gets what space to put their unit in. They know they will make money if that unit sells — whether or not they sell it.”
Knowing the inventory is one of the keys to ensuring customer satisfaction. Wouldn’t it be a shame if your salespeople took their customers to a unit that “comes close,” and are unaware that two rows over is the exact unit the customer wants? What do you think the chances of closing them are? Furthermore, what gross profit would be earned if they did close them?
Displays are Key to Sales Success
Changing and improving your displays often is a key to a sale. Someone should personally spend two or three hours each week making sure your unit displays are attractive and attention getting.
First impressions are often all we get. Everyone who walks into your dealership should see only things that are attractively displayed.
You should create product-specific displays that will allow customers to “visualize” using the unit. For example:

  • Highlight hunting scenes with camouflaged ATVs.
  • Use fake snow or cotton batting to simulate snow scenes for snowmobiles
  • Family camping scenes can help sell adult and youth motorcycles or ATVs.
  • Beach scenes can show PWC or sport boats.
  • Including fully “decked out” mannequins helps with the visualization and provides additional sales opportunities for riding gear.
    One highly successful dealer I worked with has a rule that every unit displayed must have at least one accessory installed.
    Pay special attention to the display of “slow sellers.” The longer they sit, the harder they are to sell. These units need to be creatively displayed at the front of the showroom.
    Try packaging the units with popular accessories or changing their appearance with special decals or even different paint or plastic colors
    These techniques frequently improve profits, since these exclusive units can’t be shopped at other dealerships.
    The appearance of your unit displays extends beyond the showroom. Check everything from foliage to the sidewalk and gutters in front of your store. Remember: Customers often come in wanting to buy, but looking for excuses not to. Don’t give them a reason to dislike your store.

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