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Aged inventory: Time to let go

By Scott Hochmuth

Too often, dealers hold onto aged inventory long past the time products can possibly sell with retail prices. Compiling old stock not only ties up valuable inventory dollars, but also conditions customers to expect the same old stacks of dust-covered goods. Therefore, customers will not likely choose these dealerships as the place to go for the latest and coolest new gear. If a dealership looks more like a rummage sale rather than a thriving business, then the time has come to let it go. The following strategies can help dealers release the stale stash:

1. Shake things up! 

Some outdated items may just not have the visibility to get noticed. Dust off the merchandise and move things around to spotlight pieces needing to be sold. A new location in a prime space for a month may be just the thing for that helmet to catch the attention of a happy new owner. Additionally, dealers can freshen up price tags and signage in an attempt to breathe new life into older stock. Please note that dealers should not let a stockpile of last season’s leftovers discourage ongoing orders of updated products. New models will help boost interest in the accessory area while also drawing attention to lingering sale items.

2. Host a clearance event

Having a clearance event at the dealership is a great opportunity to bring focus to difficult-to-sell items. Try putting remaining surplus inventory outside under a tent to heighten visibility. The bigger the event, the more likely a customer will have a sense of urgency to buy a marked down piece before someone else does. Events like this are best celebrated only once or twice a year so that customers do not wait for a big sale to make a purchase.

3. Take advantage of vendor assistance

Work with dealership staff and vendors to identify slow moving product while items are still current. Most vendors will work with dealers on inventory exchanges for sluggish current models if identified before discontinued or closed out by manufacturers. Vendor assistance is a good strategy for keeping fresh and up-to-date inventory going forward even if help with current stock has expired.

4. Package deals

Heavy on spring gloves? Try offering a free pair of these gloves with a new helmet purchase. Bundling items gives dealers a good opportunity to absorb the cost and ease the pain of moving out the old product. With this strategy, any less expensive older item can be bundled with a newer, more expensive item to get that oldie sold. Or, perhaps choose BOGO (buy one, get one) at half price from a clearance area to unload those gloves.

5. Donate and earn a write off

Every dealership receives constant solicitations for donations. Once obsolete items have become stale in the store, a donation option can earn a write off and be appreciated by the receiver. Please first check with an accountant for the tax rules in the area of your dealership. Donations create goodwill in the neighborhood and allow the dealership to receive a tax break.

6. The last resort

Deep discounts are scary to dealers, but often necessary and unavoidable. Dealerships usually set aside space for clearance merchandise where customers can easily find marked down items. At some point, the discounts may need be reduced to cost – or even below – to free up space and funds to invest in new faster-moving inventory. The more proactively the supply is managed, the less products will end up here. Also, a clearance area can serve another purpose: When a customer asks for a discount on best-selling or newer items, sales staff can direct that customer to the clearance area to choose something already marked down or as a bundled item.

In addition to the aforementioned strategies, pay attention to customer feedback on the sales floor, buy more of the traditional best-selling colors and models, and tread lightly on riskier colors and models until proven sellers. When these recommendations still leave dealers with a stale stash, shake up the location of products, work with suppliers on inventory swaps on current products, promote older inventory with events and close-out areas — and then, when all else fails, slash prices and let it go.

Scott Hochmuth is the owner of Real Performance Marketing, an Atlanta-based company representing ten different Powersports related product lines in the Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee areas. He comes face-to-face with over 200 dealers every 8 weeks. He has been in sales since 1982 and started in the powersports industry in 1989 as a sales representative for a helmet manufacturer.

Email: scott@realperformancemarketing.net

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