This week we chatted with Mark Bland, Chief Sales Officer, about how he has evolved from surviving startups to having a record-breaking month in sales in the hottest market in automotive. Additionally, Mark shares his thoughts on the most under-utilized tool by dealers today. Check it out!
What is your background before being the CSO of CarOffer?
M.B.: I joined Bruce and the team many years ago during the launch of RedBumper. I started in a small call center and was able to produce the results to take over the Sales Team. We continued to exceed our goals and it was not long until we sold that company to CDK. We have launched many companies and products over the years and I have been lucky enough to be at the ground level and help launch each company. Building an "A-Team" was a huge privilege and opportunity to take the role of CSO at CarOffer.
You just came off of a record month for CarOffer sales. Tell us about that!
M.B.: We certainly did, and it was the product of company-wide collaboration and success. In sales, each month we set very aggressive goals for our team, but the month of March was a record level we could not have dreamed of. A lot of dealers are extremely understocked within their pre-owned departments and are struggling to find inventory. Once they try CarOffer and see they can acquire the exact cars they need and get the highest offers on their wholesale or aged units, they become instant fans. Dealers are competitive, but they are also very supportive of each other and share a “rising tide lifts all boats” mentality, so they have helped spread the word about CarOffer. I think a lot of dealers are pulling all of the inventory acquisition levers they can as we head into tax refund and stimulus check season, which sends consumers to dealerships ready to spend.
We’ve had an incredibly exciting year so far and it’s only April!
How have dealers responded to the ability to acquire inventory online? Do you think the pandemic was an influence?
M.B.: Yes, many dealers have adapted extremely quickly to the changes that we have all faced over the last year. With many of their traditional sources of inventory being shut or limited, dealers have had to find various online solutions to not only sell to their customers but also acquire inventory in ways that they have never done before. The pandemic has been an international disaster that has been, and still is, devastating to many people, businesses, and industries. It forced innovation and adoption of new solutions faster than we’ve seen in a long time. In many cases, processes and methods were reinvented for the better; people found ways to maximize time and leverage tech to accomplish the same or better goals with less time and expense. I think inventory acquisition was definitely one of those areas.
From reading the news, it appears that any kind of decent used inventory is nearly impossible to get. Is that the case?
M.B.: Unfortunately, this is correct. With a global chip shortage and many OEMs shutting down their manufacturing plants for months over the last year, many dealers and dealer groups are calling 2021 The Year Of The Used Car. With many dealers bidding on the same low supply of cars, this is driving up prices and some dealers are telling me that they are paying retail for wholesale vehicles across the country! CarOffer provides dealers with another avenue to source the exact vehicles that they need based on their own buying strategies. What one dealer does not want or can't sell is exactly what the next dealer needs. We are able to create that match, handle the inspection, transport, title and payment well before thousands of other dealers manually bid on them.
With used inventory in such high demand, who has the upper hand: dealers selling used cars or consumers that want to trade in and upgrade?
M.B.: Both. With stimulus checks, tax season approaching and the lack of new cars, dealers that have the right used car inventory are in a great position and trying to keep up with demand.
On the other side of the coin, dealers are being very aggressive with their trade-in offers. Speaking with dealers all day, many of them are using their trade-ins and lease returns as their main source of inventory.
What is one feature that you think dealers don't take full advantage of?
M.B.: The Instant Offers at the point of appraisal. Over the last 20 years, we have been able to see that the average dealers’ "look to book" or "appraisal to trade ratio" is only around 35-40% on the high-end. This means that in some cases 60 out of every 100 customers are leaving the stores for one reason or another, but a lot of them are leaving to find a better trade value. I tell dealers every day that if they have a non-core unit or a unit that they are not excited about keeping, they should utilize the Instant Offers from CarOffer. A dealer can see these offers within seconds and leverage someone else's money to make money on a trade that they don't want, or use someone else money to put a deal together that they may have lost. No one wants to see the taillights of a potential buyer in this market!
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