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Marketing Strategies: Dealerships in a Low Inventory Environment

Marketing Strategies: Dealerships in a Low Inventory Environment

Marketing Strategies Dealerships Should Focus on in a Low Inventory Environment

If you’re in the car industry, you are aware of the low inventory issue that many dealerships are facing. As car dealerships wait for more cars to sell, they need to shift their marketing strategy. Keeping customers coming back is imperative to the success of any dealership.

How do you market your business when you don’t have products to sell? Here are 3 marketing strategies that your dealership should be focusing on now.

Focus on Branding

When inventory is low you need to change your focus from sales to branding. Fight for top of mind branding now to get customers to come back and buy from you when inventory is full.

During this time, you should focus on staying relevant and gaining loyal customers. Ways to do this include increasing positive brand interactions with consistent communication touchpoints. Whether it be direct mail, e-mail, or phone calls, reach out to your customers to stay on their mind.

In these touchpoints you can discuss what makes you a better choice over your competitors (better service, sales offers, easy ordering process, etc.). Through data analysis you can also see what your customers’ needs are allowing you to better target your messaging to them.

Be mindful of staying positive in your messaging and reminding them that even though you are out of stock now, you are working on getting the item back. Remember to thank them for their interest.1

Capitalize on Demand for Products You Do Have

Whenever possible, try to sell the products you do have. Focus on capturing sales by steering shoppers to vehicle upgrades, accessories, and maintenance.

If your dealership provides service, explain how you can keep their current vehicle running smoothly until they’re able to buy a new one.1 Consider creating buzz with specific maintenance offers for make and model or the type of service or repair. One area you should target for service offers is mileage. Currently, high mileage offers are in demand as cars are being driven more.

If a product is unavailable, try to find a substitute or help the customer upgrade the product they already own with accessories.

Exceptional Customer Service Coupled with Presale Promotions

Many dealerships turn away customers because of low inventory. Instead, get their business by preselling them units. When you presell, get them excited about customizing their dream car. Use phrases like, “Save your spot in line for the newest car!” Or “Come in and customize you dream car!”

Form a process for preselling as you will need to be transparent to customers. Communicate with your customers using your website, social media channels, and email.1 Keep them updated and let them know how long they can expect to wait. Some great communication options include signing them up for email alerts and creating a reward system for loyal customers who wait.

Provide each customer with excellent service from the moment they step onto your lot. You may also want to offer incentives and promotions for buying cars not in stock (extended services, free oil change, complimentary floor mats, etc.).

How long should you focus on branding and service over sales?

There has been much talk surrounding when the number of cars available to dealerships will increase. US dealerships should hope to return to normal by 2022. It won’t be until the third or fourth quarter of this year before the industry hits the trough of the inventory problem.2

With the impact of COVID-19, it is difficult to say when the situation will improve. So, dealerships may need to focus on branding and service over sales until 2022. It is imperative to continue to analyze and shift when needed. There’s no way of knowing how long customers may be waiting, so focus on what you can sell until we have a clearer picture.

Contact Us

Shifting your marketing strategies can be a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. Ross Media is happy to help you during this time to keep you top of mind. Contact us to discuss more.


  1. Thumbstopper, “Low on Inventory? Consider These Tips for Selling What Your Dealership Has in Stock,”
  2. Jane Ulitskaya, “How Long Will the Vehicle Inventory Shortage Last,”, June 17, 2021,


19 / 08 / 2021