Should Your Dealership Focus Its Sales Campaigns on Acquiring Trade Vehicles?


The used car market is strong and shows no sign of slowing down. Dealers across the country are devoting more resources to building up their used-car sales departments. With all of this opportunity, there are plenty of ways to improve your used-car processes and sales. Here are some best practices to consider across various aspects of used-car sales:

Used-Car Acquisition

used-carFor new vehicle franchise dealers, there is a huge opportunity to acquire quality used inventory through new vehicle sales. Some of these same tactics can work for used-car only dealers as well. Consider focusing some of your sales campaigns toward acquiring trade vehicles. If the focus is primarily on acquiring certain types of used inventory, then you will not only sell a new car, but you will have a better mix of quality used inventory as well.

Used-Car Merchandising

The most successful used-car dealerships have a dedicated display area for used vehicles. Do your customers know which vehicles on your lot are used? Each vehicle should be clearly marked with a “pre-owned” sticker, a model year sticker, or other identifiers that let the buyer know clearly that the vehicle is used.

Are your used vehicles front-line ready? The best merchandising tools any dealer can have are a qualified reconditioning manager and an experienced detail bay. First impressions of a used vehicle will make or break the sale. Make sure you’re spending appropriate time and money on each used vehicle up front to avoid a long relationship with that vehicle while it sits on your lot.


It is a fact that most buyers shop online before setting foot in a dealership. First impressions are often made through your website or other sites where your inventory is listed. How detailed are your online photos? Successful used-car dealers are aware that a picture is literally worth 1000 words. If the car has a sunroof, show it in the pictures. Does it have new tires? Show a picture of the tread. What about the small tear in the driver seat? You should show an image of that as well. The purpose of online pictures is for the buyer to virtually inspect the vehicle before coming in so as to avoid surprises. Detailed images can dramatically increase your closing ratios for used-car buyers.

Used-Car Sales Process

Used cars sell better when they come with peace of mind. Does your dealership offer an in-house warranty or money-back guarantee? If not, do you offer other warranty options? If a buyer can save some money by buying used AND get some peace of mind in case it breaks down, it will result in more used-car sales.

Add as much value to the sale (and your dealership) as possible. This may include some free oil changes, car washes, or some other incentive that will set your dealership apart from other dealerships with similar vehicles.

The game of selling used-cars is not overly complicated. When it comes right down to it there are only three basic components of a successful used car department:

  • Stock relevant inventory that buyers want
  • Make sure it is in good condition and that buyers know what they are getting
  • Sell it at a competitive price with as much added value as possible.