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What’s your pre-owned strategy?

By Jim Jabaay

In the latest issue of Boating Industry, they shared the data for the 2018 forecast. Reviewing the data points shows that we are very excited about our growth in 2018.

When reviewing the concerns going into 2018, the top two were affordability of boating and lack of skilled labor craftsmen for new boat production challenges. With those two concerns, perhaps it is time to look at your dealership's pre-owned strategy.

Many dealers that we talk with don't keep pre-owned inventory in stock and often times try to wholesale it with the deal. Building a used inventory strategy can easily take away your top two worries and add another line of profitability.

The affordability of boating has been an industry issue for quite some time. The cost of boating continues to climb, and we are losing first-time boat buyers. The costs factors for first-time buyers involve more than just the cost of the boat, although the vessel is a majority of the expense.

Used boats are a great alternative as they can be a cheaper solution than a new boat. In many cases, first-time boat buyers are looking to get on the water and may not need the latest and greatest model. As the lack of skilled labor continues to be a challenge for new boat production, having used boats in stock will also give you a larger and more diverse inventory for buyers to choose from for purchase.

Not only will used boats help boost your sales numbers, they will also increase your new boat sales by taking trade-ins and keeping them for retail.

I remember the days in the automotive industry where franchise dealers wouldn't keep a used vehicle trade-in from another OEM brand, regardless of how nice the model was. This practice has changed. Today, you will find plenty of Chevys at the Ford store and Fords at the Chevy dealership.

Researching and keeping trades from brands you don't carry on site will also help you gain product knowledge of your competition by having more pre-owned boats in inventory.

Incorporating used inventory at your location starts with a plan and a focus, just like any division in the dealership.

If you look at each division as its own profit center and manage to it, you will find that a pre-owned strategy will help all departments. It will help increase new boat sales by taking trade-ins, boost finance by selling more inventory, and grow the service department by putting each used boat through the shop.

Create your pre-owned strategy for 2018 and watch the change it will have on your overall business for years to come.

Jim Jabaay is the vice president of LotVantage, a digital marketing company for dealerships and original equipment manufacturers. LotVantage specializes in posting dealer inventory to Craigslist, eBay and driving engagement on social media on behalf of their customers. Visit lotvantage.com or call 1-888-569-3865

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