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Bold Idea No. 7 – An alternative way to obtain used inventory

July 9, 2010
Filed under Features

AL’S SNOWMOBILE PARTS WAREHOUSE
Location:
Newport, Vt.
Staff size: Customer service 9, service 5, shipping 2, other 4
Sells only preowned units
Brands: All years, makes and models
The right used inventory can be difficult to come by for dealers, especially now that there are about four preowned units sold for every new one.
To help move inventory and keep fresh units on the floor, Al’s Snowmobile Parts Warehouse decided to work with other dealers to trade preowned inventory to better fit their customers’ needs.
“We started on a small scale two-three years ago,” said Denise Martell, marketing director. “We would have an event or an open house, and we would ask a few local dealers if they had any leftover units they wanted to display, and if they sold, we would share the profits.”
That eventually turned into close relationships with a few dealerships. Al’s currently works with up to six different dealers in three-four states, says Martell. However, all the dealers are within a 250-mile radius of Al’s.
“It’s easiest to do business with those close by or those in locations you travel to frequently,” she said. “We do the transporting ourselves so it saves on shipping. It is probably more time spent than money spent on shipping.”
The dealers exchange on average about 50 units a month. Since Al’s is mainly a snowmobile dealer, they do a lot more trades in the winter months, notes Martell.
“We check other dealers’ inventory,” she said, “and they check ours when we have buyers interested in a type of vehicle we don’t have.”
It’s important to have a strong relationship with the dealer before you engage in something like this, comments Martell.
“We didn’t do any cold calling as something like this needs to be done with someone you trust,” she said. “We work with people and dealerships that we already had a good working relationship of some sort with.”

Results

Preowned sales have increased by more than 40 percent over the past couple years, says Martell.
“Besides increased unit sales, we have seen improved relationships with other dealers, even local dealers who you may feel are your competitors,” she said. “If everyone is working together, even just a little, then no one sees the other as such a threat. After all, everyone has their own niche. Our specialty is used snowmobile parts and preowned snowmobiles, and if I have a customer that I have a relationship with and he likes buying from me, but he wants a motorcycle or a new Ski-Doo, why not work together with another dealer? Then next time when that dealer needs a used sled or a used snowmobile part for his customer, he won’t hesitate to give Al’s a call.
“The dealerships increase sales and the customer gets what they want, so we all win in the end.”

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