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Tips for selling cars as a motor trader

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Monday, 08 July 2019 GMT

Author: Peter Cresswell

If you’re a motor trader, then it’s important to know how to make as much money as possible when buying and selling cars. This handy guide can help you to identify the things you’re doing which could be costing you valuable sales and to illustrate what methods you could take to maximise profits.


Selling cars from a private address

If you’re selling cars from your home address, then you’ll need to contact your local council to find out how many vehicles you can have parked on the road at any one time.

Find and contact your local council before you start selling cars.

Know the value of a vehicle

A key factor in making profit is knowing the value of the cars that you plan to buy and sell. Start by researching the market to find out the highest and lowest prices of vehicles and what can prevent them from selling for the maximum price.

The best way to begin researching prices is to use websites like Auto Trader, eBay and Gumtree to keep an eye on the prices of some specific makes and models.

Before you buy a car, always research whether you’re getting a good deal or not, as it’s very easy to be misled in to spending more than a car is worth.

One thing which catches unsuspecting buyers out is not performing a full HPI check on a car. Vehicles involved in collisions can be repaired but then listed as a category S for example, which makes the value of the car decrease dramatically. You should always perform a HPI check before buying a car as it will show up if the vehicle is stolen, has outstanding finance or has been involved in a collision.

You can use www.hpicheck.com to get the full history of the vehicle and prevent any nasty surprises.

If you want an instant valuation, then you could use www.motorway.co.uk to get a vehicle value from several online car buyers.

Another useful tool for getting accurate valuations on cars is www.glassbusiness.co.uk. They analyse data throughout a vehicles life to provide the best and most accurate valuation to help give people an edge when it comes to buying and selling cars.

Where to buy

Many car traders visit auctions to pick up cheap vehicles but it’s now becoming more difficult to do this as everybody else has the same idea making the profit margins of auction vehicles very small. Read our beginners guide to car auctions.

Instead of buying from auctions, many traders have now turned to Social Media platforms. There’s plenty of car buying/selling groups on Facebook with thousands of members. Lots of people in a group are trying to make a quick sale on cars, creating a perfect opportunity to buy cheap and make a good profit.

If you have a Facebook account, then you can search for local car buying/selling groups in your local area.

If you’re not on Facebook, then you can quickly sign up and create an account by visiting www.facebook.com.

Before driving the car you’ve just bought, you’ll need to add it to your motor trade insurance policy using our Easy MID app. You can get the app on from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store or visit the website www.easymid.co.uk.

How carrying our repairs and cleaning vehicles can make you more money


To maximise your profit when selling cars its important to make sure the car is presentable and appealing. Nobody wants to buy a car covered in dents and scratches and a filthy interior. As the saying goes, first impressions count!

Giving the car a good clean and polish that will help make it stand out and instantly increase the value. Having it valeted with freshly cleaned seats will make the car feel newer and more attractive to prospective buyers because buying a car is an emotional purchase, so a fresh and clean smelling car stands a better chance of being sold.

You can also make some money on the side from offering valeting and repairs as a service but you need to take out motor trade insurance before you start.

What other insurance products do you need?

If you’re dealing with cars as part of your business, then you need to have right insurance in place.

So, if you’re buying and selling cars, fixing and servicing, providing a valeting service or offering breakdown cover service then you’ll need to make sure you have a suitable motor trade insurance policy.

As providers of motor trade insurance, we can provide a quick quote in just a few steps and you’ll be covered for any of the above.

You may also want to consider taking out public liability insurance to protect your business from any costly claims made by the public. To get a quote for public liability insurance, give us a call on 0800 023 7210.

Quick sale or maximum profit?

After buying a car you should decide whether your goal is to make a quick sale or maximise profit.


When deciding this you should take in to account how much time you’ll spend making repairs and cleaning the car, advertising and meeting buyers. Is it worth investing this time to make marginally more money?

A quick sale can mean less profit but also less work, giving you more time to search for new cars to buy and sell. If you don’t have somewhere to store/sell the vehicles, then a quick sale may be your best option as you don’t want to be stuck with a car taking up valuable space.

Is this your secondary business?

One of the best ways to sell more cars is to have a secondary car related business such as car repairs, servicing and car valeting.

By offering these services, your business will be getting more exposure to potential buyers who will see the cars advertised every time they come for a valet or a repair. This is also a perfect opportunity to try and sell the vehicle to the customer, offering a test drive or explaining the benefits as well as the price you’re willing to sell for.

As specialist providers of motor trade insurance, many of our policy holders have another occupation and here are some of the most popular:

  • Valeter
  • Mechanic
  • Bodywork repairs

If you do have one of the above occupations, then this could also be covered under one single motor trade policy.

Many people in these professions opt to take out liability insurance which can protect them from claims made by the public in the event of damage or injury.

If you wash cars and the water/car shampoo causes someone to slip and injure themselves as they walk by then you’d be protected through liability insurance.

You can find out more about liability insurance and get a quote here.

Why negotiating is key

The art of negotiation is a crucial when it comes to buying and selling cars. It’s important that you practice your sales techniques and deliver fantastic customer service.

Some of the strategies used by current car dealers are:

  • Offering a valet instead of reducing the asking price of a car – this is also used by traders when buying cars from people who are selling due to getting a new car.
  • Making sure all the cars they sell come with a full service and 12 months MOT – many people buying new cars don’t want the hassle of having to get the car a service and MOT, so they may look to avoid vehicles where the car needs this doing.
  • Offering a free full tank of petrol or diesel, which can be a better option than reducing the price of the vehicle.
  • Presenting a 12 months free car service can also be an effective way to close a sale.

Forecourt optimisation

If you sell cars, having a forecourt is essential when your business begins to expand. With a forecourt you can sell more cars at the same time meaning fewer forced or quick sales maximising your profits.

When deciding on a good forecourt you should take into account how much traffic your business will get in the location. You want your forecourt to get as much visibility as possible so choosing somewhere busy is important as more people will see the cars meaning a wider range of people to potentially buy from you.

Is it on the side of a road where people are going to be constantly driving passed and seeing your cars or is it down an industrial estate where very few people come?

By having the vehicles off the road and on a forecourt instead, there’s less chance they may get damaged from passing cars, pedestrians or cyclists.


However, you must factor in rent prices when pricing your cars. If your rent is expensive, then you could end up overpricing your stock and making less profit than somewhere with less traffic but better prices.

One way to maximise your profit on a forecourt is by making sure you optimise it.

In the same way a supermarket entices customers to come inside by offering deals on products, you should get people to come inside by displaying your best priced cars in the area which gives them the most traffic/visibility.

This will take some trial and error, but you will begin to notice that placing cars in certain positions on your forecourt can lead to quicker sales. By finding this position, you can place your best stock in and around it.

Clear prices on cars

Well established car selling business often use tactics such as clear signage and stand out prices on cars in order to make more people notice.

Without clear signage and prices on cars, it can be easy to mistake a pitch for a car park. Having clear prices on vehicles along with other details like “low mileage” and “1 owner from new” can help to attract people to come take a look at the cars on the forecourt.

Working unsociable hours

It’s no surprise that by working and being available during the more unsociable hours can lead to more sales. If you’re willing to work weekends as well as after 5pm during the week, then this’ll help to increase your opportunities to gain those all-important sales.

Lots of customers are only available to collect cars during the weekend or after they finish work so by being open during these times is a huge benefit.

This also shows you’re willing to go the extra mile for the customer and creates a more trusting relationship for future dealings.

Facebook selling groups

As mentioned earlier on in the blog, Facebook is becoming a more popular method of buying and selling cars.

As a trader, Facebook can help you quickly sell cars at a minimal price. There are no fees for posting in selling groups, unlike the listing fees of both eBay and Auto Trader.

The ability to comment on posts also allows people interested in the car to ask any important questions they may have and allows you to respond quickly. For useful tips check out our handy guide on the things to avoid when promoting your motor trade on social media.

Facebook advertising

If you’re familiar with Facebook advertising, you could use it to your advantage.

Facebook advertising can specifically target people in a local area who are members of car buying groups or show interests in vehicles. This allows sellers to promote the cars they’re selling to potential buyers for a small cost and they can decide how much they’d like to spend on the advert.

Utilising online platforms like Autotrader, eBay and Gumtree

When buying a car, many people now search online first to see what is available in their local area. The sites people usually turn to are Autotrader, eBay and Gumtree.

Lots of car dealers use these sites to advertise vehicles because of the geographical reach and they maximise chances of selling by advertising the car on all 3 sites.

The best adverts on these sites have detailed and accurate descriptions along with high quality pictures of the car. The pictures are extremely important so many established businesses invest in a high-quality camera specifically for photographing vehicles they’re selling.

Looking for useful apps? Check out the top 5 apps that every motor trader needs.

Do you have any other tips for selling cars as a motor trader? Share your advice with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Remember to take out motor trade insurance to protect your business, get a quote with Staveley Head in just a few steps.

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