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What Drives a Successful Vehicle Acquisition Specialist?

Do you have a dedicated acquisition specialist in your dealership? Well, according to VAN Performance Manager Emily Gehrke in a recent VAN University webinar, a dealership needs to have someone designated for the role in order to be competitive in today's market.

Taking on this added responsibility for a general manager or another person is not a good idea. “You simply won’t be able to see the results like you would if you had a designated person,” she says.

What to Look For in an Acquisition Specialist

Traits a potential acquisition specialist needs to be successful according to Gehrke are passion, drive, and enthusiasm



A dealership also needs to incentivize the specialist, so the effort is truly worth his or her while.

In fact, VAN has several incentivized pay plans we like to share with our dealerships, she added. “You have to be incentivized to perform.”

Find Your “Rock Star”

Brandon Horth, VAN customer and super successful Vehicle Acquisition Manager for the Wheaton Chevrolet and Honda dealerships in Alberta, CA, is incentivized via the outreach process, not through the dealership’s website.

That person also needs to be able to motivate others and present new networking opportunities.

“Right away we knew Brandon was going to be a really good candidate for this position,” Gehrke said. “He was super engaged in the training.” She knew he would be a “new rock star,” and admits to using his story by example whenever she presents a VAN demonstration.

Additional ‘logical’ traits

Horth uses his connections from his many years in the business, as well as other means to reach out to potential used vehicle sellers. Another trait of Horth’s is diligence and transparency: “There are so many people on the market trying to buy these vehicles,” he said. If the vehicle’s been on the market for over 45 days, Horth said, chances are “it’s priced way too high. 

“In most cases, I try to educate that seller...Because they’ll often come back with the remark, ‘Oh, man, you lowballed me.’” Horth explain, “I provide them with the educational logic of why I provided them the offer. And I send them comparables...If you look at the market, here’s what you’re competing against.

“And nine times out of 10, they’re like, ‘You know what? That makes a lot of sense.’ They’ll follow up with me: ‘Hey is your offer still on the table?’ Because you’re nice to them, you’re logical, you’re not getting upset with them, versus several others who get frustrated and talk down to them.”

Horth’s approach actually allows customers to “trust dealers again,” Gehrke said. Horth said he is trying to change people’s perception of dealerships. Using the tools of Facebook Marketplace, “the process and results are the same.”

Bearing and sharing the fruits of his labor

Through VAN’s platform, Horth closes approximately 30-35 sellers per month and said he intends to stay the course. He estimated that the Wheaton Chevy story “picks up 55 to 60 percent of the used car inventory from private party acquisition, whereas on the Honda side, it’s probably closer to about 25 percent.”

Gehrke said of the Chevy number, “to see that high of a quite “impressive.”

Despite his success, Horth is happy to share his knowledge about with other dealers about what makes him successful. "Zig Ziglar said it best," Horth proclaimed, "If you can help other people reach their goals, then you’ll reach yours.”