Industry expert Dave Martin offers quick profit tips on selling used vehicles and turning used-vehicle inventories for maximum margins. His suggestions include:

  • Provide incoming telephone call scripts for sales people. Some untrained sales people tend to wing it. That can result in them failing to get names and phone numbers, forgetting to ask for an appointment, or giving too much information over the phone.

  • Conduct used-vehicle walk-arounds with sales people. The best product presenter should do it.

  • Learn and use the formal color names on used vehicles. “They give positive feelings and emotions. It's better to say carnival red, forest green and white platinum rather than red, green and white.”

  • Show the original MSRP of the vehicle. “It enhances the sales presentation to say, ‘Sir, this Infiniti originally sold for $30,000.’ Your $19,950 price sounds better after that.”

  • If a customer asks whether a car's been in a wreck, the sales person should say, “We can't possibly know the history of all our cars. So we invite you to take it to a shop of your choice to be inspected because we want you to be comfortable.” Mr. Martin says nine out of 10 pass up the offer, but are reassured by it.

  • Keep the reconditioning turnaround time to under 72 hours. “Require a list of all used cars in the service department for reconditioning.”

  • Rotate the lot display weekly. “Changing the look of the lot keeps customers interested.” Also most lots have “hot spots,” or prime display locations. “Consider putting older cars next to, but not in, hot spots.”

  • Replace aging or torn stickers. “It's easy to do. Old stickers make a car look like it's old and like it's been sitting around too long.”

  • Give a bonus to employees who sell vehicles before they've been on the lot for 10 days.

    “The tradition is to put bonuses on the older ones. If sales people are told there's a $50 bonus to sell a car within 10 days, it inspires enthusiasm and competition.”

  • Save original new-car brochures for eventual use by the used-car department. “If you have a left-over 1997 Taurus brochure that you paid for anyway, give it to a customer looking at a '97 Taurus on your used-car lot.”

  • Treat new- and used-car customers alike. “Used-car customers don't expect to be treated the same, so when they are, they're impressed.” Giving them a second key or a full tank of gas are nice touches.

  • Assign vehicles to sales people for “adoptions.” They make sure it's clean and ready to show.

  • If a customer is interested in a particular car that's not in stock, keep such requests on record in the event that the vehicles will come into inventory later. “Put it in a notebook, not on a business card or scrap of paper that can get lost.”