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Vehicle Acquisition Strategies

Dealers face a choice: Are you going to be passive or proactive in your vehicle acquisition strategy?

Ben Putano is the Content Marketing Manager for VinCue.

Are You Being Passive or Proactive?

Inventory is slim pickin’s right now. With used car demand surging, dealers are getting creative with vehicle acquisition. 

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Buying vehicles directly from the public — also known as private-party acquisition — is gaining popularity. It’s a great way to find quality inventory at prices that boost your bottom line. 

But not all private-party acquisition is created equal. Some dealers sit back and wait for deals to come to them. Others proactively pursue the inventory they need. 

Dealers face a choice: Are you going to be passive or proactive in your vehicle acquisition strategy? 

You can either rely on tactics that require minimal effort — but deliver minimal returns — or put in the time and elbow grease to drive record profits.


Let’s look at both angles to help you decide which is best for your operation.

Passive Vehicle Acquisition

Passive vehicle acquisition means relying on traditional sourcing channels where you have less control. These include: 

1. Trade-ins and Auctions: Buying inventory through auctions and trade-ins may be an active process, but it also forces you to buy whatever comes your way — leaving you stuck with vehicles that aren’t right for your market. 

2. Using a Third-Party Instant Cash Offer (ICO) Tool: Many dealers rely on third-party ICO tools to easily generate leads without ever having to lift a finger. The catch: These tools use book data to create their offers, meaning you have zero say over the quotes customers receive.


3. Walk-ins: Sinking money into traditional marketing channels, such as TV and radio, helps you cast a wide net but makes it hard to track results. That leaves your team waiting for sellers that may never show up.

With consumer demand at an all-time high, dealers have the opportunity to secure record profits — but only if they have the right vehicles to sell in the first place. Relying on these passive acquisition channels can leave you with unwanted inventory and slim margins. 

Proactive Vehicle Acquisition

To stay ahead of the competition, your dealership should take a proactive approach to vehicle acquisition. 


Many consumers are willing to sell their lightly used vehicles, but most dealerships don’t even ask. With a proactive acquisition plan, you’ll attract ready sellers and avoid the high costs of competition. 

Let’s look at six tactics your dealership can use to take acquisition into its own hands:

1. Create a Dedicated Landing Page for Acquisitions: By creating a dedicated landing page with its own domain (e.g.,, you make it easier for customers interested in selling or trading in their vehicles to find the information they need.

2. Utilize Real-Time Market Data Valuations: Relying on real-time market pricing data (as opposed to book data) helps you give customers the most accurate quotes possible while also leaving you in control of the final prices.


3. Reach Out Over Text: Research shows that about 66% of customers prefer to engage via text compared to emails and phone calls. Make sure to follow-up with leads by delivering custom text messages to interested sellers.

4. Use a Mobile-Responsive Acquisition Tool: Look for a trade-in and acquisition tool that integrates with your existing vehicle detail pages (VDPs) and search results pages (SRPs) while also boasting mobile functionality so your team can pull up pricing information from anywhere on the lot. 

5. Make Sure Your Acquisition Tool Integrates with Your CRM: Data siloing gums up the works and keeps your team from following up with leads as quickly as possible. Make sure your acquisition tool integrates with your existing CRM so that customer data lives in one place. 


6. Use a Digital Marketing Platform to Boost Lead Generation: Instead of waiting for leads to come to you, take advantage of a digital marketing platform that targets sellers in your area and serves them custom ads encouraging them to bring their vehicles in.

Taking control of your acquisition strategy also means arming your team with the right tools. Look for a unified digital platform that will help you manage your entire proactive vehicle acquisition strategy. The company should incorporate all six of these tactics — including pricing, lead management and digital marketing tools — to help you attract and follow-up with potential sellers. You’ll close deals faster while buying cars at prices fair to both parties.

Buy Smarter AND More Profitably By Taking a Proactive Approach to Vehicle Acquisition

Proactive vehicle acquisition is about optimizing your buying strategy so you earn more on each sale. But it also means putting in the work. This strategy is for the dealers who want to go out and get it — not those satisfied with the status quo. 

Remember: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Stay competitive in today’s market by creating profit-driving opportunities for your team. 

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