COVID-19 Update: New Inventory Is Slim Pickings

By Desiree Homer

Leveraging FOMO to Drive Car Buying Traffic

Everyone anticipated fluctuation of used vehicle pricing and new vehicle availability, post-COVID-19. But as the market has begun to re-emerge from the shelter in place orders, the reality is hitting. New inventory is slim pickings these days, primarily due to those temporary automaker shutdowns. Stories are surfacing about customers having to travel to multiple dealerships to find the car they want. The rapidly shrinking supply presents a real opportunity for dealers right now. Promote what new inventory you do have and leverage the FOMO (fear of mission out) marketing strategies.

What Customers Are Seeing

Some of the customer stories are starting to emerge as they frantically take to social media for help finding the car they want to buy. One woman claimed to have contacted multiple Chevy dealers in her area, each with varying prices, frantically looking to find a 2020 Equinox. Her lease was about to term, and she was concerned that finding a replacement would even be feasible. Luckily for her, she was able to find her replacement SUV. But she’s not alone. Customers are scrambling to turn in their leases and finally buy their new vehicles. Having what they want to buy, now that’s another story.

What Dealers Are Facing

Pack Auto Group in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is facing backorders. In fact, president and CEO, Sam Pack, says they practically have backorders on everything. Out of his six dealerships, including Ford, Chevrolet, and Subaru brands, shortages of new inventory is a reality. The stalled production lines dried up the supply, and now dealers are trying to sell vehicles they don’t have. Many automakers are still offering lucrative incentives, but as the pools begin to shrink, dealers are seeing more and more backorders.

The Marketing Opportunity

Dealer Groups can often rely on multiple locations to navigate some of the new inventory shortages. But ultimately, to keep customers from leaving your dealership in the car they came with, you might have to get creative. Now is a great opportunity to market what remaining new vehicles you do have, with a message that inspires a fear of missing out. Dangle the carrots you have on your lot and create a sense of urgency that the new 2020 models will be hard to find. The incentives and pricing will sell themselves. But the reduced availability of inventory can be the inspiration customers need to buy right now, instead of waiting.

The car-buying demand is there. Zohaib (Zo) Rahim, Manager, Economics and Industry Insights for Cox Automotive, says, “Demand never went to zero!” Tune in to a recent Dealer News Today podcast conversation to explore more insights. The buyers are out there but keeping up with demand with a limited supply of new vehicles may be a challenge. Get creative with your marketing and selling techniques. Tap into some FOMO strategies with your advertising. Develop a plan for lease returns with the inventory you do have. It might be the only way to make the best of the limited supply.