Service Strategies for Inventory Shortages



Implement a few smart service strategies to acquire cars and keep profits high when inventory is low.

A lot has been said about the current inventory shortage—causes, effects, and predictions about how long it will last. But one aspect that has flown under the collective automotive retail radar is that many dealers are thriving now. These dealers are sourcing vehicles and staying profitable, despite facing the same industry obstacles.

As a dealer, you have a choice. You can choose to wait out the supply chain shortage, or you can face inventory challenges head-on and find success now with a few smart service strategies to stay profitable.

Acquire More Cars: Review Records and Send Trade-In Reminders

The perfect storm of supply chain disruptions, unexpected demand, and a shortage of a miniscule microchip have combined to create big inventory problems that have rippled throughout the industry—used cars included. But as new cars are slow to come off the assembly line, you can source inventory through your existing customers.

Start by going through past service records in search of potential acquisition opportunities. Look for customers with predictable buying patterns, expiring leases, or those who tend to visit your service department frequently for repairs. All of these customers may be potential targets for trade-ins and a valuable source of used inventory.

Use your CRM and service department technology to communicate with these customers and make personalized offers. Send trade-in reminders to customers with repair-prone vehicles and give them the option, through your online scheduler, to tell you they’re trade-in ready.


This strategy can help you see signals that a particular customer is ready to buy, opening up an opportunity for you to acquire more inventory. In fact, 58 percent of thriving dealerships send personalized, one-to-one marketing and communications to customers, using data from external web sources and their CRM.

Acquire More Cars: Use Cross-Departmental Data to Spot Opportunities

Your service department gives you continual access to customers, even when inventory is low. And your service department can contact customers and source cars much more effectively when connected with your dealership’s other departments.

One way to implement a coordinated, comprehensive, cross-departmental strategy for sourcing vehicles is to bring your sales team into the service loop. Start by inviting your sales team to spend more time in the service department. This will allow them to proactively seek out in-demand cars and identify prospects based on vehicle type, as well as maintenance and repair history.

Your sales team can also follow up with service-weary customers and offer trade-ins on newer, lower maintenance vehicles. Coordinate between your sales and service staff to flag declined service recommendations, especially for important or expensive repairs. This may be a sign that your service customers are ready for a change.

Your dealership’s technology can even automate and facilitate this type of service-to-sales transition. Set up an automatic text or email notification to your sales managers anytime a customer declines work over a specific amount. This can help your sales team stay alert and give them a chance to speak with customers before they leave the dealership.


Find Sustainable Sources of Revenue: Customer Experience

Even as you implement service strategies to source more vehicles, the fact that there are fewer cars available in the market means you should probably have a backup plan to keep profits high. As manufacturers struggle to provide inventory, sales may become increasingly hard to come by. You’ll have to rely on your service department to drive sales and bring in additional revenue.

Implement a few measures in your service department to improve your customers’ experience, with a specific focus on convenience, communication, and transparency.

  • Create convenient options like online scheduling and service pickup and delivery to serve as a real differentiator for consumers with so many service options.
  • Communicate with customers using their preferred method, texting, to help them (and you) keep track of conversations and get additional service recommendation approvals more quickly.
  • Be totally transparent with your service customers by capturing and sharing high-quality video of needed repairs to increase trust in your process and create customers for life.

Your customer experience is everything. It can build to service department loyalty and cultivate additional referrals, while creating goodwill for your dealership down the road. Customer satisfaction always correlates to retention, approval rate, and service recommendation approvals, which drive revenue for your dealership.

Face Your Inventory Challenge

A lot has been said about the current inventory shortage. When all is said and done (whenever that happens to be) don’t let it be said that you didn’t try to find ways to keep profits high when inventory was low. Implement these service strategies to acquire inventory and find sustainable sources of revenue at your dealership to face inventory challenges head-on and succeed now.

To learn more service strategies to help you succeed during lean inventory times, download our guide here.


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