How to Overcome Inventory Challenges and Finish 2020 Strong

With Labor Day in the rearview, your dealership is likely saying farewell to long, summer days and ready to take on the next big challenge. Yet, as 2020 rounds the corner and heads into the final stretch, many dealers are looking at nearly empty lots and (still) low foot traffic on the sales floor.  

Normally, your sales team would be offering deep discounts and manufacturers’ incentives for model year turnover. Yet, according to Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke, “Only 2.5% of new-vehicle inventory consists of 2021 models. At the same time a year ago, the new models represented 19% of new-vehicle inventory.”  

Adapting to change has been the name of the game in the retail automotive industry this year. So, what exactly can your sales team do to close out the rest of 2020 looking strong, resilient, and accomplished? We turned to the Senior Director of Performance Management for VinSolutions, Mark Vickery, to find out.  


Temporary Problems Are Likely to Self-correct. Focus on the Future. 

“The biggest problem dealers are facing this month is inventory,” Vickery said. Low new and used inventory drives prices up, raises risk for dealers, and upsets the traditional balance this time of year. A temporary manufacturing shutdown in March, combined with decent sales over the summer, has created a unique problem for dealerships this quarter.  

Yet, as Vickery sees it, the solution should eventually correct itself. The bigger problem then becomes, how prepared are you for the future?  

“Things are going to change, they always do,” Vickery said. “What did your sales teams  learn to do better in March and April that they can use to take advantage of the opportunities that come up when things do change and your inventory problems flip?” In Vickery’s view, your sales team should be hyper-focused on preparing for the future by paying attention to the lessons learned this year. 


The Old Way Won’t Work. Adopt a New, Progressive Mindset. 

Dealerships and sales teams adopted digital retailing best practices and implemented new tools this year in order to maintain business continuity amidst shutdowns and regional regulations. But as Vickery points out, maintaining a competitive advantage will ultimately require a new, progressive mindset. 

When it comes to your sales team’s processes and operational efficiencies, ask yourself these questions: 

  1.  Does my sales team have a method in place to hold people accountable for software utilization?

    Communicating with your customers in the way they expect can be  a challenge in light of the new digital sales reality. Failing to hold your team accountable to leveraging the dealership CRM to better understand the needs of your customers will cost you.  


  1. Does the sales department have an updated  process to train new hires?

    Aligning your sales team to the right tools and technology will be critical next quarter. And, when your dealership is suddenly flush with new 2021 cars to sell next year, hiring for your business and training  new hires on your CRM, desking software, and other dealership software solutions will require updated processes from your hiring team and  management. 


  1. What are we better at now than before that sets our sales team apart from the competition?

    Many dealerships were forced to make difficult staffing decisions throughout 2020 that caused sales leaders to take on more of the workload. This period of adjustment was full of insights for many sales teams who learned through the process that lead management through the CRM is extremely important.  

“What do you wish you had been paying attention to before? What are you going to do to make certain CRM processes permanent in the future?” Vickery asked.  

New viewpoints and new operational efficiencies from this transition are a huge benefit, but only if you leverage your learnings moving forward. 

Learn more about how to drive success and finish 2020 strong with the Digital Sales Playbook.