Radio ‘buy’ ads sound like a moneymaker

The results? Nothing short of spectacular, no matter how you tally them up, Mehling said. The dealership has bought an average of 40 used vehicles per month from private sellers brought in by the $7,500-per-month radio campaign since it started. Resulting in an average profit of $5,000 per vehicle when they’re sold, the strategy has netted at least $1.1 million in additional profits to the dealership just since last fall, Mehling said.

Plus, the dealership’s used-vehicle inventory — which had shrunk to just 65 vehicles when the emergency radio campaign began — sat mid-February at a relatively robust 135, and is chock-full of vehicles that would be out of reach had they gone through an auction lane.

“I could not have touched some of these vehicles at an auction right now,” says Joe Matthews, the dealership’s buyer and inventory manager, who has been at Dave White Chevrolet for 18 years.

“I’m online, trying to buy cars like every other dealer, and the prices at the auction are just silly. Plus then you’ve got the auction fees on top of that, and those auction fees are just money that we’re giving away that we could have had for the store. But because of this, we’re now at a [pre-owned] inventory level that we haven’t seen in 18 months.”

Other dealers have, of course, pivoted some or all of their local advertising from selling to buying vehicles, with varying degrees of success. One dealer in Texas told Automotive News this month that he began running “buy” ads a year ago, and now buys up to 100 used vehicles per month from private sellers.

The secret to Dave White Chevrolet’s strategy lies not only in the radio ads, but how Matthews and other dealership personnel pursue leads that come in as a result.

“We work them just like we would a buy lead,” Mehling explained. “The people that respond to the ad phone into our [business development center], and we handle it just as though they were calling about buying a car. We respond quickly. We do a personal reach-out. We try to develop a relationship to get them through the door so we can take a look. And more often than not, they go home with a check.”

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