As we approached the 11-11-11 launch of Provision, I’d been thinking a lot about dealerships’ inventories – what you stock. My question is, “Is what you stock a marketing decision?” Not necessarily a capital ‘M’ Marketing Department decision, but rather a small ‘m’ marketing decision. The noun, not the business unit. I’d submit to you that not only is it a marketing decision, it’s one of the most fundamentally important decisions made at your dealership. The classical Four P’s of marketing that have been around since the 60’s are as important today as they were 50 years ago: Product, Price, Promotion and Place. While a number of folks have tried to redefine things like the “Dealership Experience” as the product, at the end of the day, what the customer is spending thousands of dollars on is the car. Whether you have a crusty old Used Car Manager or a handsome young one. Whether you’re using cutting edge market analytics, or shooting from the hip. No matter how the decision is made, I contend this is a marketing decision. This decision has a direct and substantial impact on your traffic today. With the amount of online research being conducted today, one of the easiest ways to eliminate yourself from contention is not having the car your customers are looking for at a price they are willing to pay. I believe your inventory has much more impact on your success than how fully you’ve embraced Social Media, or what percentage of your budget goes to PPC campaigns or even whether you show up above your closest competitor on a Google Search. If you don’t have the car they want, at a price they are willing to pay, their search will continue. So back to my original question, “Is what you stock a marketing decision?” What are your thoughts? Do the folks buying your inventory have a real appreciation for how crucial their decisions are to your success?