Article

Automation Changes Everything

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Randy Barone - Also by this author

For years, consumers have enjoyed the ability to be “one-up” on both the new and used vehicle purchase process. They have mastered the Internet and today, are armed with enough information to be strong contenders of what once was an elusive industry. To stay abreast of changing times, many dealers have wisely “revisited” the appraisal process at their locations and brought in automated systems. Those who haven’t are realizing that they must “get with the program” or keep losing potential sales. With current “click here” technology, the key business question – especially for used vehicle dealerships – has become, “How can we better use technology to beat the competition?”
Consider this: A customer has an appraisal done at one of your sister stores. He then drops in to see what’s on your lot. For stores without automation, the appraisal process must begin all over again. The standard questions are repeated: What’s the make, model, year, VIN? Your valuable time and energy, as well as your potential customer’s, are wasted.
 
Imagine automation! With an automated system, when a customer arrives on your lot after having had an appraisal done at one of your sister stores, you are alerted that an appraisal has already been completed. This information is now at your fingertips, empowering you to move forward with more critical functions like sealing the deal!
 
Now imagine appraising a vehicle that you know is a similar make and model to ones you’ve appraised dozens of times before. Your sister stores have also done these appraisals. You know that you’ve traded this vehicle, and even though you can always reference the book in your back pocket, you’re still going with the, “I think, I feel” approach regarding the appraisal process.
Now consider, with automation, you instantly tap into updated master book information for your area. You also have immediate access to past transactions on this vehicle, with exact trade and profit analysis for dealerships in your group. You compare sales history across your network, and determine if the vehicle would trade better at a sister location. You know, for your dealership, how many have sold retail, the wholesale quantity sold and the average of the following: retail turn, cost of sale, retail profit, retail price and mileage. You also know the same information for your entire dealership group. Additionally, you’re aware if the vehicle was “bumped” at subsequent dealerships in your network, as some vehicles are justifiably valued higher at different lots based on available sales history.
 
With one click, you know how that particular make and model is priced on other Web sites within a designated radius of your dealership. All this information helps you appraise the vehicle at the most accurate and beneficial price. You can also print out a report that reflects how many similar make/model vehicles you’ve appraised in the past, but did not trade for. After a quick review of a Like History Performance Report, you realize that this vehicle traditionally hasn’t performed well at your dealership.
 
So, based on the above information, what decision do you make? You launch the vehicle, at time of appraisal, to your sister stores knowing that the vehicle has performed well there. Your associated dealership reviews pictures of the vehicle, book values and detailed sales performance at their lot, and decides they want the vehicle for more than you were willing to offer the customer. This enhanced process helps your customers get more money for their vehicles and helps you make better deals. Plus, your sister dealership gets a “core” vehicle for considerably less than it is currently running for at auction. In the end, you print out a professional appraisal form that details the information for the consumer. This important data is also available, now and in the future, to your sister stores as well.
 
Automation ultimately translates into “competitive armor” or market place data that provides for a much easier and professional appraisal process, giving you a strong advantage. The question is, “Are you ready to make the change?”
 
Vol 2, Issue 11

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