Short Story: How Exclusivity Solved a Dealership’s Inventory Problem
We all love our exclusive trims. Cars like the Buick Regal T-Type would normally be relegated to the small corners of the collector car market if it weren’t for appearance packages to keep the model interesting in the eyes of the consumer. In the Regal’s case, the Grand National package turned grandma’s turbo coupe into the edgy fun-loving 80’s icon we all love today. However, sometimes special trims are born from necessity on the local level.
Back in the early 2000s, the Ford Ranger was selling like hotcakes, especially in its base XL trim. Companies were scooping up XL trucks to be used as fleet vehicles, but the only standard requirement was that all trucks needed to be painted white. Dealerships around the US were desperately ordering as many Rangers as possible to keep up with demand on both fleet and retail markets. One dealership in particular put in an order for 40 units which had already been built a couple weeks prior. This dealership, which is not the one I currently work for, had no idea what options these Rangers were built with as they had been selected at random from a shipping yard. What arrived a few weeks later were 40 identical base two-wheel drive Rangers which were all painted black with no extra options to speak of. Realizing the major problem of trying to shift 40 identical Rangers without “accidentally” running over them with bulldozer to claim convoy damage, the owner of the dealership came up with a genius solution.
Instead of trying to convince companies that black was the new white, the dealership decided to sell all 40 trucks as retail units. A few special stickers, some tinted glass, 40 sets of custom wheels, and a small price markup later, and the dealership was now selling its own local specialized trim package for the Ranger. But surely the average consumer wouldn’t be able to see past the lack of electronic features and power options offered on XLT trims, right? As it turns out, exclusivity is one of the most powerful tools in the dealership world, and all 40 “special edition” Rangers managed to find homes within the end of the year. Not only did the dealership successfully fix an inventory hiccup, it actually turned a mistake into profits through the magic of “you’ll be the only one in the neighborhood with one of these bad boys.”
Image is a huge part of buying a car, whether or not a buyer wants to admit it. It’s common for people to say that dog owners reflect the personality of their dogs, and to some extent the same can be applied to car owners. There’s a huge market of potential buyers that want nothing more than something that makes them look cool and original at the same time. The “special edition” Rangers managed to check all the boxes for someone looking for the perfect inexpensive status symbol, ride characteristics or creature comforts be damned. Funny how some of best success stories in business are born from mistakes.