Article

Technology Evolves Used Vehicle Buying Practices

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Terran Lamp - Also by this author

Individual consumers pay close attention to the cars they purchase for themselves and their families. They are concerned over issues regarding options, warranties and whether the vehicle has ever been in an accident to ensure they are getting the best deal for their money. Although the process is slightly different from the dealership perspective, the concept remains the same. Dealerships must make wise buying decisions to meet their goals. Dealership goals must be to meet the customer’s goals while at the same time making a profit on the resale of the vehicle.
The process of buying used vehicles has evolved slowly over the years, but new technology is now impacting that process. In the past, buying a used vehicle was somewhat a game of chance. Used vehicle buyers went to auctions with pages of outdated printouts of what they thought would be on the block and relied on their gut instinct to buy. There was no real method to the buying madness. Buying was not based on real historical data of what actually sold at a profit. Additionally, every purchase involved a certain amount of skepticism regarding the complete history of the vehicle. Over time, auctions have provided more up-to-date listings while more dealers have taken advantage of inventory management systems, vehicle valuation guides, car history reports and other used vehicle buying aids. These aids enable used vehicle buyers to make educated buying decisions, improve inventory turn, reduce cost and increase vehicle selling potential.
Some precise and accurate information is available almost instantaneously with a PDA solution offered by George Heppe, president and owner of GigglePop.com. GigglePop is able to provide up-to-date information to buyers at the touch of a button, by leveraging updated auction listings and technology. The software allows the buyer to specify the criteria he/she is looking for and instantly download an appropriate run list for an individual auction. “Our whole goal was to enable the buyer to retrieve information they need to make a decision quicker, so they can get to the block and bid on more vehicles.” says Heppe. Buyers refresh their PDA’s often to keep up with all new arriving vehicles. The software includes the ability to run a vehicle history report and locate the vehicle on the auction lot.
VehicleBank is another great tool that provides used car buyers fast, accurate and reliable pricing information. VehicleBank is the only software developer to offer valuation guides from all four major vehicle valuation guides: Black Book, Kelly Blue Book, Galves and N.A.D.A. The electronic valuation guide allows users to select a vehicle, and enter options, year, and mileage. Buyers then instantly receive the price from all four guide books. “You can book a car faster than you can say it,” says Terry Elson, owner and president of VehicleBank.
 
“The software is great,” commented Rick Clark, Internet director of Ricart Automotive, Columbus, Ohio. “We can now easily push a button on a pocket PC and scan a VIN number to get the value of a vehicle. It saves us time since we aren’t flipping through books.”
 
In addition to software products, tools like paint meters can eliminate guessing games regarding body damage. The handheld Milgage Elcometer 311 can quickly and accurately indicate the presence of body work or other abnormalities in the paint on the vehicle. “The Elcometer 311 helps us quickly determine the extent of prior paint work which affects the value of any vehicle,” says John Tinsley, owner of MotorCars of South Texas, in San Antonio. Prior to using the device, Tinsley and his team felt that they were missing too much paint work, causing a loss of gross profits. The ability to state that a vehicle you sell has had no body or paint work can significantly bolster its value and more importantly, its gross profit.
 
While the “gut” instinct of the used vehicle buyer may never be removed from the buying process, new tools will certainly cause this aspect of our industry to change at a quicker pace than it has in the past. Which tools will you be using?
 
Vol 3, Issue 6

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