Car Dealers, Prepare for Lease-Return Tsunami

How to conquest all those in-market consumers.

Adam Armbruster, Senior Partner

June 30, 2020

2 Min Read
tsunami of money
Will you be swept over by the massive wave or surf it to massive sales success?Getty Images

In March and April, many consumers got extensions on their leased-vehicle terms because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, get ready for the Great Lease Return Tsunami.

What can dealers do take advantage of this movement and regain revenue lost because of slow or nearly non-existent sales during the COVID-19 business lockdowns earlier this year?

Here are three smart ways to convert some of the millions of lease returns into buyers:


Automakers’ attractive finance incentives are still trumping many new lease deals. But consumers can’t choose a dealership if they don’t understand the difference in monthly payment. 

Market your values against lease offerings, make clear the value difference and the added value of owning vs. leasing. Explain the “You Own It” benefit. Move up the sales funnel and get to consumers early. Get involved in their thinking.

Everyone’s a Prospect

Many consumers buy something other than what they initially intended to buy. And many people who turn in their lease vehicles don’t lease the same model again or don’t re-lease at all.

People change their minds as they shop: used-vehicle buyers become new-vehicle buyers (and vice versa) and lessees become purchasers. Market to all of the them to ensure you get a big shot at everyone in the market.


Is a certified preowned vehicle a better deal than a new lease? Maybe. Tell that story. CPO buyers are often businesspeople and salespeople who want the look of a new car without the first-owner depreciation impact.

Some dealers are all-in with CPO, such as The Hyundai Giant in Florida and Ricart Auto Group in Ohio.

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If a lease return customer could compare your CPO with their lease payment side by side, would you win? If so, market this comparison. Max this out on your dealer website and digital and TV marketing. Show this as an “always” option for a buyer. Don’t wait and hope the customer will analyze values on their own. Real data is hard to find among the fog of sales pitches on the Internet. Help customers decide. (Adam Armbruster, left)

The 2020 Great Lease Return Tsunami is imminent. Will you be swept over by this massive wave or surf it to massive sales success?

Adam Armbruster is a senior partner at Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co., a media consulting firm. He can be reached at [email protected] and  941-928-7192.

About the Author(s)

Adam Armbruster

Senior Partner, Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Company

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