Dear customer… You thought you were going through the simple process of getting a fairly common car – a Japanese import. You’d noticed a few enticing 4th of July promotions and concluded everything was on the up and up. Everything was set for takeoff. You’ve boarded this flight, yet it refuses to leave the tarmac. Your salesman politely points out some coffee nearby. If you’re lucky and the fleet manager hasn’t eaten all the donuts, you might find one left to snack on. You notice a fly in the cabin and wonder whether he’s spent time on the last donut. He seems particularly satisfied and large. The situation is not good.
As you recap your day, you question yourself. Where did you go wrong? How could you have avoided this? What you missed, because it wasn’t in the newspaper next to the 4th of July promotion, was the true story of dealership inventory: something that would warn you that your local Honda dealer for instance that normally has a few hundred cars in stock is now down to fewer than 100 – and the last vehicles in stock aren’t the ones customers likely want.
You went to the dealer’s site but you didn’t see a warning. When you called to schedule an appointment, you weren’t told. You heard nothing until after you fastened your seatbelt, opened the air nozzle above you, heard the air squealing out, fumbled with a few magazines in the seat pocket in front of you, situated yourself a little, looked around, checked your watch, and asked your salesman why you aren’t taking off.”Oh, didn’t I tell you?” he asks.”Tell me what?”
“We don’t have that car in stock.”
You might wonder what you could’ve done ahead of time. Here’s the answer:
Visit the dealer’s inventory page. Nearly every dealer has one.
If the car is in stock
There may be good reason this gem shows. The car may so many pre-installed accessories it resembles a Transformer more than a car. It may be a new arrival. It may be on hold for the owner’s friend. It may have even sold, but the system hasn’t been updated yet. Heck, it could have been dealer traded an hour ago and in another dealer’s wash rack for their customer so don’t blindly trust the inventory page. Contact the dealer as close to your planned flight time as possible to confirm the car is still there and what (if any) extras are pre-installed.
If the dealer doesn’t show the car in stock
All is not lost. The dealer might be able to get a dealer trade (but those probabilities aren’t what they used to be). If you’re lucky, perhaps one will arrive in the next day or two and you can work your deal on that incoming car.
The inventory situation won’t always be like this. In a few months it’ll all be over and customers buying cars this fall will likely never know the pain we went through this summer. But if there’s one important takeaway, it is the one piece of research that seems last on most car-shoppers’ lists. That is, is the car in stock?
As an Internet Manager, the first question most shoppers ask me is, “What’s your best price?” – inevitability followed by either, “Can’t you do any better?” or “I got a lower price from xyz.” I’m not saying price isn’t important, but shoppers should remember to consider inventory conditions. Inventory, like weather, can keep us stuck on tarmac and that’s never much fun. At any price.