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November 17, 2021 3:45 PM, EST

Used Truck Market Faces Low Supply, High Demand

 Charles Bowles Charles Bowles of Commercial Truck Trader broke down online marketing tactics for used trucks into price, appearance, images and description. (Michael Freeze/Transport Topics)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dealing with the current low-supply, high-demand market and rising prices were the focal points highlighted during the Used Truck Association’s annual meeting.

The gathering of the nation’s used truck dealers and partners, which ran Nov. 10-13, hosted sessions tackling best practices and what lies ahead for the sector.

In one workshop, Charles Bowles, director of strategic initiatives with Commercial Truck Trader, explained several digital marketing strategies that could help dealers attract more sales. Bowles broke down tactics of marketing online via four points: price, appearance, images and description.

UTA 2021 annual meeting banner

He stressed that nine out of 10 consumers usually know what dealer they will call before they buy. Dealers, he explained, can take advantage of that dynamic by properly pricing their inventory. In addition, Bowles recommended that dealers should provide images of their trucks with relevant information to stay atop of search engine results.

“A stock image is better than no photos,” he stressed to the attendees. Bowles added that the more detailed a truck’s description, the better chance of attracting a prospective buyer.

“When a customer is looking for a truck, they don’t type ‘2019 Peterbilt,’ ” he explained. “They are typing ‘sleeper cab in Houston,’ or ‘trucks near me.’ Specialization is important.”

Other sessions included the importance of warranty management and how dealers should communicate with customers to ensure a more robust relationship. Also, an analyst panel discussed what’s ahead for the used truck market, which — the panel agreed — will continue to run hot.

Chris Visser, commercial truck senior analyst at J.D. Power Valuation Services

Visser

Chris Visser, senior analyst and product manager of commercial vehicles with J.D. Power, conceded that he thought market turnaround would be in the fourth quarter. However, he stated that scenario factored in an increase in supply.

Scott Lubischer, manager with TruckPaper, gave a rule of thumb to the audience to notice when the market begins to cool.

“With prices crazy as they are, watch the auctions,” he said. “Once the values are declining, that’s one of the indicators that market prices are going to fall.”

Josh Giles

Giles

Although it appears no end is in sight with rising truck prices, Josh Giles, principal automotive analyst with Black Book, warned that the bubble has to burst at some point.

“There are a couple of bubbles out there [spread throughout the trucking segments], but heavy-duty and OTR will be hit really hard,” he said, adding that medium-duty truck demand could soften the blow. All agreed that level of demand for trucks will still continue as the lack of supply may drag on for years.

The 22nd annual meeting was UTA’s first in-person event since 2019, as last year’s conference was canceled due to the pandemic. This marked the association’s largest gathering as more than 700 members attended.

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