Commercial vehicle sales are good business. This business is a great way to incrementally increase your monthly sales volume in a new niche, without cannibalizing business in other areas. For some dealers, it is a stand-alone business model all by itself.

For new vehicle franchise dealers, there is great support available from manufacturers of brands who carry a line of commercial vehicles. Ford, GM, Dodge, Nissan and Mercedes, among others, have well developed commercial support programs for dealers that will give you an advantage in the commercial business.

While being a franchise dealer can give you an advantage, there are many used vehicle dealers having great success in the commercial market as well. For new vehicle dealers, pre-owned commercial sales are a nice complement to the new vehicle sales, and tend to precipitate out of new vehicle marketing activities. But how do you specifically market your pre-owned commercial inventory?

When it comes to marketing your pre-owned commercial inventory, the main strategy should be to let buyers know you have inventory. Simply by stocking pre-owned commercial inventory, you are putting your dealership in rare company. Even dealers that sell new commercial vehicles are often afraid to sell pre-owned.

So, your main goal is to get the word out that yours is one of the few dealerships who specialize in pre-owned commercial inventory. Here are some suggestions:

1. Put your commercial inventory in a prominent location on your lot, and consolidate it in one place. When local contractors, delivery drivers, and other business owners drive by, you want them to know that you have commercial vehicles. If the trucks are parked in the back and the vans are scattered between convertibles and 4×4’s, the buyer will assume that the one or two commercial vehicles they see are a fluke. Use your lot as your best billboard by putting it all up front.

2. Network with local associations. Get out into the surrounding community of contractors, plumbers, electricians, parcel delivery, caterers, etc. and let them know you are in the business. Place ads in their publications, and work out special incentives or perks for their members.

3. Put up a billboard near your dealership that is dedicated to showcasing your pre-owned commercial inventory. You really can get away with only one, if it is on a road with high commercial traffic. If you are unsure of the best location, grab your lawn chair and go sit on a few busy street corners for 30 minutes at a time and count how many commercial vehicles pass by (you might also note the most popular vehicle configurations to determine what inventory to stock, but that is another article for another day).

4. Offer commercial financing. If you are truly committed to commercial business, then you need to start treating your commercial buyers a bit differently than you would traditional retail buyers. It is not unusual for a commercial buyer to own several commercial vehicles for their business that are all financed under their personal credit. This can cause major credit problems for the buyer. 

You can offer a great service to your commercial buyers, and boost your commercial reputation by providing ways to finance these vehicles on their business credit instead of their personal credit. There are a handful of banks out there with commercial programs for dealers, including most captive lenders.

5. Ask for referrals. It is a staple of success for any sales endeavor, and pre-owned commercial is no different. Commercial business owners are a close-knit group. They talk a lot and are prone to bragging about ways they have found to improve their businesses. If you approach the pre-owned commercial business the right way, your buyers will be anxious to share the treasure they have found (remember that very few dealers stock pre-owned commercial inventory).

Good luck and happy selling!

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